No massive oil spill is currently lapping against the Gulf shore, but Americans still are unhappy about expanded offshore drilling. In coastal regions around the country, thousands rallied this weekend against offshore drilling and for a shift to clean, renewable energy.Begun as a grassroots response to proposals to expand offshore drilling around Florida, the massive BP oil spill last summer accelerated interest in Hands Across the Sand. The sponsor list grew to include traditional environmental groups like the Sierra Club, new climate change opponents like 1Sky and 350.org, and recreational groups like the Surfrider Foundation, and thousands rallied on beaches last summer.This year, despite the absence of a major oil spill from the headlines, thousands of concerned citizens came to the beaches, holding hands in a human wall to show their outrage over the US government's continued wasteful spending on a dirty form of energy production that is ruining some of America's great treasures.In California, Louisiana, Florida, the Carolinas, Texas, and Virginia, crowds gathered on beaches up and down the coast holding hands. Rather than relying on a short term "solution" - one attendant pointed out that all the oil off the coast of California might fuel our country for only thirteen years - that only exposes our fragile coastal ecosystems and valuable fisheries to further risk, attendees argued that we can shift to wind and solar energy, forms of energy production that will never swamp American coastlines, or poison fish and shrimp if an accident occurred.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Hundreds of Louisianans join hands along the waterfront in New Orleans. Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Louisiana Sierra Club. "][/caption]
Gov. Scott Walker already had to change the venue for his signing ceremony once because he had previously scheduled it at a tax cheat's business. With the venue once again set, hundreds of Wisconsinites awaited Gov. Walker at the signing ceremony for his extreme budget bill on Sunday to voice their opposition.Normally a governor's signing ceremony is a quiet affair, with a few local dignitaries and a small gaggle of reporters to record the moment for posterity. Instead, participants in the signing ceremony faced cries of "SHAME! SHAME!" as they entered from hundreds of protestors lining the street and corners outside the signing ceremony location.Because of his reactionary leadership thus far in Wisconsin, Gov. Walker and several supporters in the Wisconsin state legislature who helped him pass the controversial budget face a likely recall in the coming year.
Joined by noted economist Jared Bernstein, Van Jones chatted with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC about the launch Rebuild the Dream. He got the chance to expand on some of his comments during Thursday night's launch with The Roots, including why he takes such exception with Grover Norquist's "drown government in the bathtub" mentality.Watch it here:And before Thursday night's launch , Jones had the chance to talk with Keith Olberman, who just relaunched his own show on Current TV.Watch it here:
In case you missed Thursday's Rebuild the Dream launch spectacular, or if you watched it live and couldn't get enough, we now have video highlights!As a special bonus, we also have a shout-out from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. And of course, we have the full livestream of Van Jones' presentation and special performances by The Roots.For highlights, follow the link to http://www.rebuildthedream.com/highlights. Don't forget to share it with friends!
Overshadowed (with some justification) by other momentous news from New York last night, we have some good news from Manhattan. After a lengthy negotiation process, which included constant pressure from protestors, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office reached a deal with unions and opponents on the City Council to avert most of the promised cuts and layoffs. Teacher layoffs were avoided altogether, and no fire companies were closed. Services for elderly avoided almost all cuts, and HIV/AIDS housing funds were restored.The deal is tentative, however, and not all jobs were preserved. 2,600 teacher positions open due to attrition will be left unfilled. And the City Council still has to vote on the deal before Thursday before it can actually go into effect.Still, without constant public pressure and the courage and commitment of thousands of New Yorkers who rallied against the proposed Bloomberg cuts, thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of essential services for the most vulnerable New Yorkers would have been long gone. The victory is also a fitting coda for Walkerville, which perhaps didn't have the same immediate success in stopping WI Gov. Scott Walker's extreme budget, but ultimately inspired New Yorkers in their own successful effort.
The Rebuild the Dream launch stirred up plenty of excitement on Twitter last night. The #AmericanDream and #RebuildDream hashtags were hopping all night, with the launch audience tweeting their reactions and their favorite lines from Van Jones' powerful presentation as they occurred. Even Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak got in on the action, retweeting the line "The slogan was never Yes HE can, it was Yes We Can!"Here's a sample of the reactions:
This year has been full of protests against conservative governors and right-leaning big city mayors who have used the economic crisis as cover to attack worker rights and slash essential services. The austerity agenda and the resulting response from the people started in Wisconsin and spread to Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, and even New York City.Now it's San Jose's turn. The mayor of the self-proclaimed capital of Silicon Valley, Chuck Reed, has threatened to declare a fiscal state of emergency and put a pension cutting measure on the November ballot, threatening the promised pensions of thousands of city workers. Nevermind that California's Attorney General has stated that such a declaration of emergency is legally dubious.In this climate, a a large gathering of young activists camped out last night in front of City Hall to get a front row seat for today's City Council hearings on the pension cuts. Before they bedded down for the night, the activists from Next Generation Bay Area donned their zombie makeup and marched down Main Street dancing to Michael Jackson's "Thriller."
"We're dressed up as zombies because we want to represent that if the mayor and city council weaken collective bargaining in San Jose, we'll be the working dead," said Jamie Chen, a marcher. "There will be no future for young people here."
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Unlock image courtesy of Flickr user jwinfred, under a Creative Commons license"][/caption]Earlier this week, we told you about a California woman, Tanya Dennis, who fought Wells Fargo to keep her home, even getting a locksmith to let her back in to her own house. Due to the pressure of over 1500 e-mails to Wells Fargo executives and an ACCE delegation visit to Wells Fargo headquarters in San Francisco, Wells Fargo has agreed to halt the eviction and to meet with Dennis about a fair modification.It cannot be called a victory for Dennis until she meets with Wells Fargo and has a firm agreement, but it is certainly encouraging to see that people can come together, organize, and win back rights for at least one homeowner. Kudos to ACCE and the Home Defenders League for leading the fight for Tanya Dennis.
For the past ten days, New Yorkers have camped out at City Hall in Manhattan at "Bloombergville" to protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg's austerity measures when other options are available. They've even drafted a Bloombergville Declaration, a clear statement of why they are protesting and what the real solutions to NYC's budget problems might be.The Bloomberg budget would cut $400 million from essential services, laying off 6,000 teachers, closing fire companies, shutting down libraries, curtailing emergency dispatchers, senior centers, homeless shelters and so on.The Beyond May 12 Coalition has drafted a plan that would raise revenue from unpaid taxes and small levies on millionaires and billionaires who make millions trading in New York City.But now Bloomberg's budget is about to come up for a vote, so the coalition is pulling out all the stops to oppose it in favor of an alternative that does not lay off teachers or firefighters or cut essential services.First, they are holding a virtual rally on Facebook.From 2-5 pm tomorrow, they are also asking New Yorkers to tweet and Facebook their Council Members to oppose the Bloomberg Budget and to support the People's Budget. 16 Council Members have already agreed to do so.To find out what Council Members to contact and how to contact them, New Yorkers can go here: http://scr.bi/j4f4r8The coalition has also helpfully provided sample tweets:@firstname.lastname@example.org, please support revenue options instead of cutting vital services, learn more here - http://bit.ly/ii8Tpu@Edilan@council.nyc.gov - don't balance the budget of those in need, support the People's Budget - http://bit.ly/ii8Tpu
Organized by the National Nurses Association, registered nurses from around the country marched on Wall Street today to protest the inherent unfairness of Wall Street brokers making off with billions in bonuses and unpaid taxes, while nurses - people who do tangible, valuable work for the rich and poor alike - struggle to put a roof over their heads or put gas in the tank to go to work.The nurses are promoting the Main Street Contract, a seven point resolution to restore fairness to American society:
- Jobs at living wages, reinvesting in America.
- Equal access to quality, public education.
- Guaranteed healthcare for all.
- A secure retirement, with the ability to retire in dignity.
- Good housing and protection from hunger.
- A safe, clean, and healthy environment.
- A just taxation system where corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share.
Watch the video to find out more about why nurses are marching today: