May 22, 2012

Facebook Events with Activist Sentiments (for those who don't use social media)

I am not a fan of Facebook. Yet I now frequent the site almost every day. I harbor misgivings about how people's personal and political posts may be sold and used. For me, it is a matter of trust rather than a matter of privacy. Nonetheless, my Facebook page has been quite social - making friends and administrating other Facebook pages. I have a couple hundred Facebook friends. Almost all of them have an interest in the Occupy Movement and I get invited to many events.

Some Facebook invitations are for parties and fundraisers. I get a handful of these. More often than not, I get invited to protests, rallies, and meetings of a political nature. If I had a couple thousand Facebook friends, I would be overwhelmed with invitations and I would probably find them to be an annoyance. But as it stands now, I keep abreast of a variety of events going on in the region. Here is a sampling from this week and next.

Even though many folks leave Florida for the summer, June still features a range of events.
And some folks are already planning events for steaming, hot July.

Based on these Facebook events, I know that the spirit of the Occupy Movement is alive and kicking, around the country and in Southwest Florida.

May 14, 2012

Los Indignados Protest Austerity Measures, Barcelona

On Saturday, police estimated that about 100,000 Spaniards turned out for street protests. On May 15 of last year hundreds of thousands of people angered by a grim economy and the political handling of the international financial crisis came out to demonstrate. They called themselves Los Indignados (The Indignant Movement). Such demonstrations spread across Spain and Europe as anti-austerity sentiment grew. A year ago, Los Indignados put up tents and occupied city centers across Spain for several weeks. Police eventually moved in and evicted them. Many credit Los Indignados as the model from which Occupy Wall Street grew.

On Saturday, tens of thousands protested in Madrid. In Barcelona, about 20,000 demonstrated in the street. My adventurous friend, Jill, from Sarasota captured some of the spirit of the anniversary protest in her Barcelona photos.
Occupy Sarasota has attracted many folks who subscribe to what most people would call conspiracy theories - the Illuminati, 911 was an inside job, chemtrails, etc. I did not realize just how popular these theories were, but I see there are Barcelonans who also believe in the chemtrails conspiracy.
A wonderful sentiment:  You can cut all the flowers, but you will not stop the arrival of Spring.

The austerity agenda was rejected in Germany yesterday. When voters in Greece and France had the chance, they voted against the parties backing austerity measures. There's a referendum scheduled for May 31 in Ireland that will let the entire country vote directly on the European Union's austerity plan. And two days ago, tens of thousands of demonstrators flooded into plazas across Spain. The Associated Press quotes Javier Colilla, a 27-year old university student protester in Spain, who stated that the government austerity cuts targeting health and education, but rescuing banks are wrong. He feels they need to find other places to cut. I suppose we in the United States might take some comfort from the fact that our own bailed-out bankers and their supporters in Washington are not the only out-of-touch world leaders. But I don't really feel any better.

May 6, 2012

Connect The Dots on Climate Change, St. Armand's Circle

Many times, large corporate interests are at odds with the public interest. Nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to environmental issues. Since the beginning of manufacturing, it has always been cheaper to dump waste than to treat it properly. Clear-cutting of forests to harvest timber, mountain-top removal to mine coal, and massive toxic chemical application to grow food all speak to this. Recent industrial accidents have highlighted some of the finest devastation to our planet - the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the BP oil spill, the giant toxic coal ash spill in Tenessee, and the list goes on.

Even as many governmental and non-governmental organizations have pushed for measures to prevent such environmental destruction, it comes as no surprise that Big Industry has funded public relations efforts to downplay environmental hazards. Climate change denial is leading the pack. Many organizations have been formed to downplay or completely dismiss the near-universal scientific consensus on the theory and extent of climate change. These groups are typically funded by the same Big Oil and free market think tanks. Although there are now no credible scientists challenging the theory that human activity is a primary component of climate change, political debate continues. Over the last couple of years, the voice of science has been overshadowed by a very small group that has had a very real impact. Popular concern about climate change has waned during these years, even as the window of opportunity to mount an effective response has narrowed.

Floods, drought, warming, cooling, acidifcation, salination, and sea-level rise put our food and water supply at risk, threatening basic human needs. Unfortunately, these disruptions are becoming more and more common across around the world. Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature (1988), a book that brought global warming awareness to the public's attention, claims that rising counts in greenhouse gas emissions are threatening our world. To preserve our planet, scientists indicate that we must reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million (ppm) to below 350 ppm. McKibben cofounded the group,, that spearheaded yesterday's Climate Impact Day.

A merry group assembled to Connect The Dots on Climate Change in Sarasota at St. Armand's Circle. They wore bathing suits and life vests to underline the potential for sea level rise in this location. They were confronted by a host of Corvette enthusiasts, who were (unsurprisingly) unconcerned about climate change. Sarasota had denied Becca Holmes a permit for the protest, since the Corvette fans had obtained one first. No matter; she would not be deterred. The protesters let shoppers, tourists, and Corvette fans know that this spot might very well be under water in twenty years, if we continue business-as-usual. One protester, Cady Gonzalez, was shocked to find out that one passer-by had never heard of global warming. Before marching once around the Circle, they had a minor discussion as to whether they would chant any slogans. Some felt this would be perceived as hostile, while others felt they would receive more attention, if they were vocal. All things considered, this was a determined, yet considerate, band of protesters. Articulate, too!

Sources: Global Concern for Climate Change Dips Amid Other Environmental and Economic Concerns, Union of Concerned Scientists info on Global Warming, Connect The Dots: Climate Impacts Day,,, Anthropogenic Climate Change and Climate Science Denialism

May 1, 2012

May Day, Sarasota, Florida

In solidarity with workers, students, immigrants, and the unemployed, nationwide, standing together for economic justice.