RSS Feed   
  • Latest News:

    Another world is possible
  • Category: Press Releases

    Battle to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline Comes to New England

    by CASEJ

    Youth Climate Activists Arrested for Nonviolent Civil Disobedience at TransCanada Office in Massachusetts

    Westborough, MA- Eight youth climate activists staged a sit-in today at the TransCanada Corporation’s office in Westborough, MA to protest the Keystone XL pipeline. The students locked themselves to one another in opposition to a corporation whose business plan promises to “lock us into climate disaster.”

    The youth activists who organized the sit-in are current students or graduates of several New England universities including Brandeis, Boston University, Harvard, Tufts, and the University of New Hampshire. The group, ranging in age from 20-22, locked down with chains, locks and superglue in the Westborough office in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. They describe themselves online as the “representatives of a desperate generation who have been forced [into civil disobedience] by the reckless and immoral behavior of fossil fuel corporations such as TransCanada.”

    The Westborough sit-in is part of a nationwide week of action against Keystone XL, including a large scale action today in Houston. The week was coordinated by activists from the Texas-based Tar Sands Blockade, a group that has been staging direct action for five months to prevent construction of the southern leg of the pipeline. The fight to stop Keystone XL first entered the national spotlight with a mass civil disobedience protest in August 2011, the largest of its kind in decades, coordinated by 350.org. Tar sands oil has also become a flashpoint for the Canadian climate movement, where First Nations communities, politicians, and citizens have united to block the Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil to the coast of British Columbia for export.

    This week’s protests also foreshadow a cascade of actions planned against the tar sands for early 2013. A coalition of activists known as Tar Sands Free Northeast are preparing for actions on January 23rd and 26th to block a plan to transport tar sands oil through New England. Canadian activists with the Idle No More movement have protested the Keystone XL pipeline while 350.org has announced a 20,000 person rally against KXL to be held on February 17th at the White House.

    “The scientific and economic arguments against the Keystone XL pipeline are clear,” said Emily Edgerly, a sophomore studying at Tufts University. “The International Energy Agency reported in 2011 that constructing new fossil fuel infrastructure is locking us into irreversible global warming, which will have devastating impacts on our economy and our lives. We urgently need to be putting our society’s resources into building infrastructure that supports safe and renewable energy sources. We hope our peaceful civil disobedience today will add momentum to the increasingly powerful global movement to solve the climate crisis.”

    “The activities of corporations like TransCanada threaten the future of my entire generation,” said Benjamin Trolio, a senior studying at the University of New Hampshire. “We need our political leaders to do their job by standing up for us and taking action to solve the climate crisis. They can start by drawing a clear line in the sand and stopping the Keystone XL pipeline.”

    The Keystone XL pipeline is an export pipeline proposed by TransCanada to carry tar sands oil from northern Alberta across the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline has been the subject of intense national controversy since its proposal in 2008. It has been widely protested for the risks it poses to the Ogallala aquifer, which supplies drinking water for 2 million people, as well as for its potential to dramatically worsen global warming by facilitating the extraction and burning of the tar sands.

    CASEJ’s blog has several more articles about the Westborough activists.

    Rally in support of PFC. Bradley Manning

    Press Release-For Immediate Release

    Contact: Al Johnson-Event Coordinator at 781-891-0377 or email: alfrcdjohnson34@comcast.net Or Pat Scanlon – VFP Coordinator at: 978-590-4248 or email: PatScanlonMusic@yahoo.com

    Rally in support of PFC. Bradley Manning
    September 6th 3:00 pm
    Obama Campaign Headquarters
    77 Summer Street, Boston

    The Boston Smedley Butler Brigade and North Shore Samantha Smith Chapter- Veterans for Peace, the Boston Bradley Manning Support Network , Somerville Manning Square Committee, Boston United Anti-War Coalition, United for Peace with Justice and other social activists and concerned citizens support the call by the National Bradley Manning Support Network and others to rally nationwide at local Obama headquarters on Thursday September 6, 2012, the day President Obama is scheduled to accept the Democratic Party nomination for president. We call upon President Obama to use his constitutional authority and immediately pardon Army Private First Class Bradley Manning.

    The rally will take place at the Downtown Boston Obama Headquarters at 77 Summer Street (on the Downtown Crossing stop on the Red Line and Orange Line) starting at 2:00 PM

    Since Army PFC Bradley Manning’s arrest in May 2010 for allegedly sharing the “Collateral Murder” video and other evidence of war crimes and government corruption with the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, progressives and human rights activists have been asking, “Why isn’t President Obama stepping in to help Bradley?” After all, it was President Obama who in May 2011 declared with regards to protests in the Middle East, “In the 21st Century, information is power; the truth cannot be hidden; and the legiti­macy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens.”

    “As Veterans of many wars, Veterans For Peace stand with Bradley Manning” stated Al Johnson, a member of Veterans For Peace and the organizer for today’s rally. “Bradley Manning has spent over two years hi jail for releasing information that exposed the secrecy of our foreign policy. Bradley Manning is a soldier of conscience, a hero to many, a whistle blower who saw a wrong, possibly war crimes and exposed the truth. We call on President Obama to immediately pardon Bradley Manning”.

    The Smedley D. Butler Brigade Chapter 9 of Veterans For Peace was established in the mid-1980s and includes more than 200 Veterans from the Boston area. The local chapter is part of the national Veterans For Peace and is named in honor of Marine Gen. Smedley D. Butler, the most decorated Marine in U.S. history, who turned against war and famously said “War is a Racket. A few profit, the many pay.”

    The website of the Smedley D. Butler Brigade of Veterans For Peace is www.SmedleyVFP.org. The national Veterans For Peace website is www.VeteransForPeace.org.

    Additional Information

    Support Rally for PFC Bradley Manning – September 6, 2012 – 2:00 PM Obama’s Campaign Headquarters, 77 Summer Street, Boston, MA

    On Thursday, August 16, US military veterans in Portland OR, Oakland CA, and Los An­geles CA, occupied Obama 2012 campaign offices and faxed a letter of demands to the Obama campaign’s central office. Those letters began:

    As those who have spent years serving our country, we have faith that as Commander-in-Chief, President Obama will do the right thing in answering our request.

    The letter went on to list the following demands:

    That President Obama retract and apologize for remarks made in April 2011, in which he said Bradley Manning “broke the law.” Because President Obama is commander-in-chief, this constitutes unlawful command influence, violating Article 37 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and prevents Bradley from receiving a fair trial.

    That President Obama pardon the accused whistle-blower, taking into consideration his 800 days of pretrial confinement. UN torture chief Juan Mendez called Manning’s treat­ment “cruel and inhuman,” as it included nine months of solitary confinement at Quantico despite Brig psychiatrists recommending relaxed conditions.

    The Bradley Manning Support Network maintains hope that justice will prevail and that President Obama can be the vehicle of change on this issue, but first he needs to hear loud and clear from veterans and civilians across the country that the American people want amends for the unlawful torture of Bradley Manning, and believe he should be freed.

    Organizers of the August 16 West Coast actions are now urging others to join them in a nationwide effort to hold actions at many more local Obama campaign offices on Septem­ber 6th, the day of candidate’s nomination acceptance speech. We want to share messages of support for Bradley with Obama campaign offices from coast to coast…

    Please contact emma@bradleymanning.org for more information about attending and/or organizing an event.

    Take Action on CISPA: Criminal Internet Spying on People Act

    On April 26th 2012, the US House of representatives voted on HR 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) [1].  The entire Massachusetts congressional delegation voted against CISPA, but it still passed the house by a vote of 248 – 168 [2].  In the coming weeks, CISPA (or similar cybersecurity legislation) will likely come up for a vote in the Senate, so it is imperative that we contact our Senators and ask them to vote against this overreaching surveillance bill.  Here’s why: CISPA would legalize an oppressive degree of domestic surveillance with no accountability or democratic oversight.

    (1) CISPA relies on an oppressive degree of surveillance.

    CISPA invites private industry to a government-sponsored fishing expedition.  Sections (b)(1)(A)(i) and (b)(1)(B)(i), allow “cyber security providers” and “self-protected entities” to “…use cyber security systems to identify and obtain cyber threat information”.  This means that any business can eavesdrop, collect the contents of your communications, analyze who you’re talking with and what you’re saying, and turn that information over to the government, without a warrant — as long as they claim they are doing it in the spirit of cyber security.   Currently, laws such as the Wiretap Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act prevent companies from monitoring your private communications [4].  Would you feel comfortable if the post office opened all of your letters, photocopied them, and shared that information with the government?  Of course not!  But that is exactly what CISPA would do with your electronic communications.

    CISPA places no limits on who’s data can be collected, or how long that data can be retained.  We’re not talking about spying on terrorists or foreign countries.  We’re talking about spying on everyone in the United States, and on people around the world who rely on US Internet companies for communication. You don’t need to be guilty, and you don’t need to suspected of a crime.  All you need to do is use the Internet.

    In terms of the types of data being collected, some limits are described in the bill (such as library circulation records and tax return records) but the vast majority of online data exchanges are fair game for collecting. And further, since language is included which shields the spying activity from public oversight, it would be virtually impossible to verify if any limits to data collection were actually being respected.

    (2) CISPA creates an environment with no accountability or democratic oversight.

    The legislation spells out this lack of accountability quite clearly:

    • Section (b)(3)(C) declares shared cyber threat information exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Not only is the government planning on spying on us, they have no plans to let us know about it either.  If an Internet service provider voluntarily turns over “cyber threat information” to the federal government, then the American people have the right to know that this disclosure occurred.
    • Section (b)(3)(D) exempts disclosure under state, local, or tribal laws;
    • section (b)(4) exempts collectors of cyber threat information from criminal liability; and
    • section (d)(1)(A) limits the liability for violations of restrictions on the disclosure, use, and protection of shared information to the amount of $1,000 (which is not sufficient to serve as a deterrent).  So even if you can prove the government or “cyber security providers” have violated the meager restrictions laid out in CISPA, you can only win $1,000.  It’s almost as if the government is saying, “We don’t want you to sue us, so let’s make sure it’s not worthwhile to take us to court”.


    CISPA goes beyond dragnet surveillance of Internet communications;  CISPA keeps the American people in the dark about how their information is being collected and used.  Furthermore, CISPA provides little recourse to anyone harmed by the collection and sharing of their personal information.  This is a Big Brother, Big Surveillance bill, and it’s only purpose is to chip away at privacy and personal freedom.  The legislation might as well be called the “You Too Can Be a J. Edgar Hoover Cyber Surveillance Act”.

    (3) Conclusion

    The U.S. Constitution guaranteed, “The  right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and  effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be  violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,  supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place  to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The Bush-Cheney administration mounted an ambitious attack on this constitutional protection in their pursuit of the power to spy on the domestic population. The Obama administration’s Justice Department has demonstrated the same interest in surveillance and secrecy.

    Access to the private communications of U.S. citizens has been used in the past on numerous occasions by federal law enforcement to intimidate and suppress people engaged in lawful expressions of dissent.  This is particularly distressing for Occupy and other grassroots movements, but legalizing domestic spying on a massive scale, with no oversight of this enormous secret operation by the government should be viewed with alarm and rejected by everyone who uses the Internet.  It’s imperative for Occupy, and the future of secure online activism, that this bill not proceed.  Contacting your senators [3] and insuring they vote ‘no’ is one way to help.

    Tell them “Vote ‘No’ on the CISPA domestic spying bill!”

    [1] http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/C?c112:./temp/~c112gZKN9e

    [2] http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2012/roll192.xml

    [3] http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

    [4] https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/04/cybersecurity-bill-faq-disturbing-privacy-dangers-cispa-and-how-you-stop-it

    PRESS RELEASE: MBTA Refuses to Challenge Banks as Occupation Enters Second Day

    At ‘Camp Charlie,’ Occupy the MBTA’s occupation of the State House steps enters its second day. Meanwhile, the board of the MBTA still refuses to challenge the dominion of Wall Street banks over public finances.

    Last night, dozens of activists slept on the steps of the Massachusetts State House to protest the proposed service cuts, fare hikes, and layoffs. Occupiers also demanded that the T cancel its interest rate swaps with JPMorgan Chase, Deustche Bank, and UBS. Combined, these three cartels enjoyed more than $200 billion dollars in taxpayer bailouts. Their CEOs took home nearly $32 million in 2010 alone. Now, despite owing their existence to the goodwill of taxpayers, they will extract $26 million a year from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority every year for the foreseeable future. So far, the MBTA has resisted demands to cancel these toxic swaps and instead is attempting to balance its books through massive fare increases that will devastate seniors, students, the disabled, and low-income riders.

    JPMorgan Chase

    The MBTA loses $8.9 million a year to JPMC and is on the hook for another $115 million in the future to JPMC; it can only get out of these deals if it pays JPMC $40 million in penalties. The CEO of JPMC made $20.8 million in 2010 after the company received a $100 billion taxpayer bailout. JPMC is currently foreclosing on homes all around Boston.

    Deutsche Bank

    The MBTA loses $8.3 million a year to Deutsche Bank and is on the hook for another $75 million in the future to Deutsche; it can only get out of these deals if it pays Deutsche Bank $23 million in penalties. The CEO of Deutsche made $8.3 million in 2010 after the company got a $66 billion taxpayer bailout. Deutsche Bank is foreclosing on homes all around Boston.

    UBS

    The MBTA loses $9 million a year to UBS and is on the hook for another $97 million in the future to UBS; it can only get out of these deals if it pays UBS $39 million in penalties. UBS received a $77 billion taxpayer bailout. It does not foreclose on homes.

    As a result, the MBTA is ready to cut service on nearly two dozen bus routes and increase fares more than twenty percent. This must be seen for what it is: a new chapter in the officially sanctioned robbery of the public trust by consolidated, private interests. Interests, it will be repeated, with a demonstrated inability to survive the open market in the absence of obscene taxpayer subsidy. These criminal, rent-seeking organizations are the products of government corruption and monopoly control, not free enterprise or competitive advantage.

    For thousands of the 99% who rely on the T to get to work, the proposed changes amount to a massive tax increase, all of which will go directly to the banks. This should be compared to the four billion dollars in federal subsidies lavished on oil companies like ExxonMobil, who in turn spend nearly fifty-million dollars a year lobbying to continue their historically profitable destruction of the earth’s atmosphere.

    Despite these obstacles, many other cities have forced bankers to the negotiating table by passing resolutions forbidding further business if they refuse. In this manner, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland and many others have succeeded in reducing interest rate payments, not only preserving their public goods and services, but reminding the multinational trusts that it is they who are in debt to us, and not the other way around. Occupy the MBTA remains mystified as to why the Board of Mass Dot and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are not willing to pursue a similar tactic.

    We need a comprehensive, accessible, and sustainable public transportation plan for the 99% across the entire Commonwealth, not a short-sighted, short-term austerity band-aid.

    April 4th: Occupy Boston & Occupy MBTA Host People’s Assembly at State House

    On April 4th at 3:00 PM, Occupy Boston, Occupy MBTA, and other advocates for public transportation, environmental justice, and labor will converge on the State House for a People’s Assembly to demand “No Hikes! No Cuts! No Layoffs!” The Day of Action will include a People’s Hearing inside the State House at 3:00 PM, a rally outside at 5:00 PM, and at 8:00 PM a remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 44th anniversary of his assassination.

    “A good public transportation system works to reduce the effects of economic inequality by providing affordable access to work, school, and medical care,” said Ariel Oshinsky, an organizer for Occupy Boston.  “But the MBTA is attempting to do the opposite by balancing its books on the backs of those who can afford it the least. In the MBTA’s current proposal, four of the five biggest fare increases will fall on seniors and riders with disabilities, and communities that are already marginalized will be further isolated by the fare hikes and service cuts.”

    Occupy MBTA’s People’s Assembly will be a direct response to the 31 public hearings hosted by the MBTA on its proposals to slash service and raise fairs. The MBTA claims to incorporated feedback from those hearings into its most recent proposal, but the evidence suggests otherwise. For example, MBTA officials claim there is public support for raising fares, but only 2.5% of public meeting comments supported fare hikes.  In addition, MBTA officials have refused to explore many of the solutions that would have allowed the agency to balance its books without fare hikes or service cuts — including, but not limited to, canceling its interest rate swaps with Deutsche Bank, U.S. Bancorp (UBS), and JPMorgan Chase.

    “The MBTA’s austerity measures should be aimed at Wall Street banks, not the T-riding 99%,” said Tyson Hawk of Occupy Boston.  “We’re coming to the State House to make sure our voices are heard – to present our own solutions and to exercise a “people’s veto” over the MBTA’s disastrous plan.”

    With public transit under attack across the nation, the Occupy Boston General Assembly passed a Call to Action on March 3, 2012, which called on “occupations, general assemblies and people’s movements across the country and around the globe to mobilize on April 4th, 2012 to demand public transportation for the 99%.”  Events are planned on April 4th in more than twenty-five cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Portland, Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle. The Amalgamated Transit Union, the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the US and Canada, has pledged its support for the April 4th National Day of Action for Public Transportation.

    “People across the country are participating in this Day of Action because our priorities are not reflected in the politicians’ budgets,” said Noah McKenna of Occupy JP. “We say ‘no’ to endless wars of choice and propping up Wall Street against the weight of its own fraud.  And ‘yes’ to comprehensive, affordable and sustainable transportation plans that work for the 99%.”

    At 8:00 PM on the steps of the State House, Occupy Boston’s People of Color Working Group will lead a vigil for Dr. King.  April 4this the anniversary of Dr. King’s historic 1967 speech linking poverty and war and then his assassination exactly one year later.  Dr. King was a staunch advocate of public transportation, who stood for prioritizing social needs ahead of corporate profit margins and militarism and once wrote:

    Urban transit systems in most American cities, for example, have become a genuine civil rights issue—and a valid one—because the layout of rapid-transit systems determines the accessibility of jobs to the Black community. If transportation systems in American cities could be laid out so as to provide an opportunity for poor people to get to meaningful employment, then they could begin to move into the mainstream of American life.

    Occupy Boston will be observing this day and remembering a great visionary by continuing Dr. King’s fight against economic inequality.

    National Day of Action for Public Transportation
    People’s Assembly – State House

    3pm: People’s Hearing
    5pm: Rally to Save the T
    8pm: MLK Remembrance

    For more information, visit http://occupymbta.org/a4/

    Twitter hashtag: #A4bos

    Contact us

    Occupy Boston Media <Media@occupyboston.org> • <Info@occupyboston.org> • @Occupy_Boston