With Sit-Ins Around Country, Students Escalate ‘Divestment Spring’

At campuses across U.S., students are posing a crucial question to the public and their institutions’ leadership: ‘Whose side are you on?’

byDeirdre Fulton, staff writer


Some of the 48 students occupying Yale administrative offices. (Photo: Fossil Free Yale/Facebook)

With campus sit-ins taking place in several states, and more direct actions planned for the days and weeks ahead, a new generation of climate activists is taking the reins in an escalating fight for fossil fuel divestment that’s sweeping the nation this spring.

As a group of environmental leaders wrote in an open letter published Thursday at Common Dreams, “By taking strategic action this spring, students are posing a . . . crucial question to the public and their institutions’ leadership: whose side are you on?”

Close to 50 student members of Fossil Free Yale entered the university’s Woodbridge Hall on Thursday morning, vowing to stay until the administration publicly commits to reconsidering the case for divestment. Yale, which at $24 billion has the third-largest university endowment in the world, said in August that it wouldn’t sell its holdings of oil, gas, and coal stocks.

Fossil Free Yale communications director Chelsea Watson told the Yale Daily News that working through official administrative channels, such as meeting with the university’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, had been “completely ineffective,” making it necessary for the group to confront the administration directly.

A similar occupation has been taking place at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania for three weeks, with 340 Swarthmore alumni pledging on Thursday not to donate to the school until the university’s Board of Managers agrees to divest from fossil fuels. Led by Swarthmore Mountain Justice, the student-organized divestment actions have garnered support from environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, of 350.org, as well as United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres, herself a Swarthmore alum.

The students at the University of Mary Washington, in Virginia, have been holding their sit-in for almost as long—about two weeks. On Thursday, Divest UMW posted supportive messages from alumni, including one identified as Lee S., who said: “Students at UMW are exhibiting true leadership during a time when most are content to accept the current fossil fuel paradigm we live under. Thank you for seizing the day, actualizing truth, and showing us what it means to care about one another.”

Meanwhile, more than a half-dozen University of California Berkeley students held an overnight action on campus from Wednesday into Thursday, aimed at encouraging Chancellor Nicholas Dirks to “publicly stand with our campaign and support divestment from fossil fuels and a future that creates economic, racial, and climate justice!”

And at Harvard University, students, faculty, and alumni are gearing up for what they are calling ‘Harvard Heat Week’—five days of divestment-focused trainings, discussions, rallies, and “mass civil disobedience” starting on Sunday.

As Kate Aronoff noted this week for In These Times, “The group hopes that the week of action, which has already gained the endorsement of noteworthy alums Natalie Portman and Cornel West, will compel the administration and the Corporation to the negotiating table.”

Aronoff continued: “Escalation is seen as a strategic response to pushback from university administrators, forcing them to choose between supporting their students and the fossil fuel industry.”

Hence the #WhoseSide rallying cry.

In their open letter, the climate leaders—including First Nations representatives and those who are at the frontlines of the climate crisis—articulated what their side is fighting for:

Our side knows that, in the words of Crystal Lameman of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, “We can not eat money and we can not drink oil.” Our side sees a future built on not only surviving, but thriving. Our side fights for a future where amenities such as food, water, shelter, education, clean air and healthcare are considered basic rights, not luxury commodities. It is a future where work is valued regardless of its ability to generate profit for the 1 percent, and that recognizes the abundance of the earth and the people living on it. It is a future where Black lives matter, where First Nations’ treaty rights are honored, and where a person’s citizenship status does not determine their character. It is a future where workers have family-sustaining jobs building the vital infrastructure that will carry us through a just transition away from fossil fuel dependency.

via With Sit-Ins Around Country, Students Escalate ‘Divestment Spring’ | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

No Wall Street Cash for My Senate Campaign, says Rep. Donna Edwards

Email blast from Maryland legislator calls on other candidates for Mikulski’s seat to ‘reject contributions from Wall Street banks like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Bank of America’

by: Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Rep. Donna Edwards speaking at the AFGE 2015 Legislative Conference. (Photo: AFGE/flickr/cc)

Rep. Donna Edwards, who’s running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), pledged on Thursday not to take Wall Street money for her campaign.

In an email sent to supporters Thursday by the Howard Dean-founded Democracy for America, Edwards states:

I will not accept any donations from Wall Street banks in my campaign for Maryland’s open U.S. Senate seat. I am calling on all candidates in this race to stand with me in rejecting contributions from Wall Street banks like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Bank of America.

I am running for the Senate so I can join Elizabeth Warren and other strong progressive leaders in the fight against Wall Street. I don’t want Wall Street’s money. I don’t work for them. I work for you.

Edwards, the first member of the House to introduce an amendment to overturn Citizens United, and a vocal critic of the Iraq war, has also gotten support from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

The Washington Post reported last month she “won reelection in Maryland’s 4th District — which includes Prince George’s County and part of Anne Arundel County — three times while building a reputation as a protector of liberal values. Her vigorous advocacy has, at times, put her at odds with more moderate elements of the party.”

The other Democratic candidate vying for the Senate seat held by the longest-serving woman in the U.S. Congress is Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

George Zornick writes at The Nation that if Van Hollen “refuses to agree to the pledge [to reject Wall Street contribtions], it could give Edwards a powerful rhetorical weapon in the campaign, and help her paint Van Hollen as too close to Wall Street.”

The Hill reported last week that Van Hollen’s “campaign will file a report with the Federal Election Commission later this month showing it raised nearly $1.2 million in the first quarter and ended with more than $2.5 million cash on hand,” Edwards, the paper continues, “will likely begin her campaign at a significant fundraising disadvantage, as FEC filings show she ended 2014 with only $30,000 in her campaign account.”

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via No Wall Street Cash for My Senate Campaign, says Rep. Donna Edwards | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Class war  | pickupakiikii

Posted by pickupakiikii

The class war between the rich and the poor will continue until people stand up to the government, media and corporations that created it! Without one disagreeing that another has less or more, how could they divide us? Raise the conscience and see that no one should get left behind!

Realise that just because someone has less money, or disabled, has children or is mentally ill, it doesn’t make them lesser a human than the next man.

See that by removing the opportunities in life for those clearly targeted will indeed continue to grow as children also become poor and in need.

By not having the money to attend clubs/entertainment, sports and things all kids should be able to get involved in, it will have an effect on the emotional development which in turn is a part of learning development and overall self esteem and confidence. The government are hurting these people and damaging them for life from an age that can be regarded as child abuse!

Many of us stand up and fight for what is right, we choose daily to make a change and put pressure on the dictatorship that only applies to the poor or vulnerable.

More are needed to bring this bullshit to its end! Be counted in the move towards freedom for all…put yourself into something worthwhile and see that simply having a job doesn’t make u amazing or fit in, it makes you a cog in the wheel of misfortune that others can’t/won’t play a part in. Have a job, but fight for the future, don’t just work then go home and watch TV with the occasional night out, by not being a voice or trying to raise awareness, your a part of the problem.

Boycott giant corps, attend council meetings, attend protests, sign petitions, use a megaphone, reclaim what’s ours, services and buildings, join a fracking camp, start a movement, whatever your doing no matter how big or small, something is better than nothing! Direct action is coming!

via Class war  | pickupakiikii.