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Bill McKibben at #OccupyWallStreet: We Need to Circle the White House and Liberate Obama from that Stunt Double

5:58 am in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org and organizer of the Tar Sands Action protests at the White House and who with 64 others was arrested and spent two nights in jail because the D.C. police wanted to discourage more protests, spoke to a group from Occupy Wall Street who are also not discouraged.

As he’s been doing from the beginning, McKibben made a direct connection between the greed and corruption of the corporate/financial system represented by Wall Street and the greed and folly on global climate change represented by the Keystone XL Pipeline and tar sands oil development in Alberta, Canada.

Bill invited the Occupy participants to join him in circling the White House on November 6 to liberate Barack Obama.  It’s shaping up to be an exorcism.  The message to President Obama is classic:

Here’s the text, courtesy of Tar Sands Action:

Today in the New York Times there was a story that made it completely clear why we have to be here. They uncovered the fact that the company building that tar sands pipeline was allowed to choose another company to conduct the environmental impact statement, and the company that they chose was a company was a company that did lots and lots of work for them. So, in other words, the whole thing was rigged top to bottom and that’s why the environmental impact statement said that this pipeline would cause no trouble, unlike the scientists who said if we build this pipeline it’s “game over” for the climate. We can’t let this pipeline get built.

On November 6, one year before the election, we’re going to be in DC with a huge circle of people around the White House and they’re going to be carrying signs with quotations from Barack Obama from the 2008 campaign. He said, “It’s time to end the tyranny of oil.” He said, “I will have the most transparent government in history.” We have to go to DC to find out where they have locked that guy up. We have to free Obama, because there is some sort of stunt double there now. So on November 6, I hope we can move, just for a day, Occupy Wall Street down to the White House and get them in the fight against corporate power.

The reason that it’s so great that we’re occupying Wall Street is because Wall Street has been occupying the atmosphere. That’s why we can never do anything about global warming. Exxon gets in the way. Goldman Sachs gets in the way. The whole fossil fuel industry gets in the way. The sky does not belong to Exxon. They cannot keep using it as a sewer into which to dump their carbon. If they do, we’ve got no future and nobody else on this planet has a future.

I spend a lot of time in countries around the world organizing demonstrations and rallies in solidarity. In the last three years at 350.org, we’ve had 15,000 rallies in every country except North Korea. Everywhere around the world, poor people and black people and brown people and Asian people and young people are standing up. Most of those places, don’t produce that much carbon. They need us to act with them and for them, because the problem is 20 blocks south of here. That’s where the Empire lives and we’ve got to figure out how to tame it and make it work for this planet or not work at all.

Thank you guys very much.

Here’s the link to the New York Times article Bill mentioned, the original Think Progress blog by Brad Johnson that the Times, uh, forgot to mention, and our follow up at FDL.

Bill McKibben Talks About Tar Sands and the D.C Sit Ins on Countdown

11:00 pm in Energy, Uncategorized by Scarecrow

Bill McKibben, head of 350.0rg and a principal organizer for the White House demonstrations against the Tar Sands extraction and Keystone XL pipeline, was interviewd Tuesday night by KO on Countdown.   McKibben’s quietly understated message to the President was direct,  personal and moving, and equally important, evolving:

It’s going to be gut-check time for the President.

When he ran for President . . . the night he was nominated, in fact, he said, “you know what?  When I’m President , the rise of the oceans will begin to slow, and the planet will begin to heal.”   That’s powerful talk.

He hasn’t yet done heroic things on the environment.  He’s done some good things around the edges, but nothing transformative.  And he’s backed down on some important fights.

This time, he can’t blame it on Congress; he doesn’t have to ask Jim Inhoff for permission; he doesn’t need any help from the Congress.  He can turn down this permit himself.  And if he does — and here I think is the political calculation — if he does it will send a surge of excitement through that base.

We were sitting, lying on the metal shelves in what’s called the central cell block in the Washington jail the other day, and people were saying, “you know, the last time I was this uncomfortable, I was lying in a church basement getting ready to go knock on doors for Barack Obama.”  I sure hope I get reminded of why I was doing all of that.”

When Jane Hamsher asked me if I wanted to join her at a White House demonstration led by McKibben that would also include Dan Choi, I said “sure,” not yet realizing I would spend two days in the cell directly across from Bill and down the cell block corridor from Dan.

And Bill is right that the cells and bunks were uncomfortable.  But we kept telling each other this isn’t anything compared to what the planet and its people face if we don’t stop the madness of releasing one of the world’s largest concentrations of carbon, stripping the forests, threatening the aquifers, and then burning the fuel.  How could we ever explain such shameful and reckless selfishness to the next generations?

But what Bill and the organizers did was to make sure that several generations understood all at once.  I’m 67 but was far from the oldest and clearly not the veteran of this kind of war.  Two cells down, 18 year old Lucas, who had just graduated from high school, was right there, and so were a dozen or more kids still in or just out of college or that age.  We had two ministers — one older, one newly ordained –  teachers, inventors, architects, former government advisers and more . . .  just regular Americans.  They all understood far more than I.

One of many favorites is Tom Weis, 45, who’s planning to ride his part electric three wheeler all the way from Canada to Texas, staring in October.  He’ll be biking the pipeline route and stopping to interview folks whose lands and water supplies risk destruction from leaks and pipeline failures.  Tom is planning to cross-post his experiences here at FDL, so check out his video and watch for “Renewable Rider.”  If you can help in his effort, follow the links.

The woman in the first 65 arrestees blew me away when they were arrested.  (Many great pictures here.)   We watched as the Park Police and SWAT guys handcuffed each of the women first, starting with a young women who stood up bravely, looked at us and held it together as burly men placed handcuffs on her for the first of what would be three or four times.  I will never forget that look, nor the next  from a woman probably older than I.  Proud, defiant, brave, she was. Unbeatable.  Hell, we all thought, look at that!  What are we worried about? And so it went, one after another.   Out of the way, guys, the ladies have got this.

And so it went. Jane’s posts provided great commentary on the conditions in the women’s cells at the first holding center — it was the same for the men, with 15 of us in our 6X8 foot cells.   The paddy wagons tanking us to the main jail became dangerous heat traps when we were left inside to wait for  . . . what?

Others have posted on the conditions at the main jails to which we were transferred late Saturday night and remained until Monday morning before donning ankle  shackles to be led to another large holding cell before release some 10 yours later.   I don’t have much to add except those were without doubt the most inedible not-really-cheese sandwiches in the history of food, but the only alternative was the almost equally undigestible baloney.

Inside the main jail, once it was clear we were to spend an exceptionally uncomfortable weekend courtesy of the DC Park Police, Bill McKibben had the difficult task of helping others keep the faith — since the original expectation was we’d be released on Saturday — so people needed to keep faith in the plan, the goal, and in themselves.  The mix of generations proved useful, here, and everyone hung in there, telling jokes, exchanging stories, quoting famous sayings, controlling the doubts and most of all, passing the time.

Like all of us, Bill is moving, learning from this event.  He’s telling his President there’s a promise to keep, a threat to be stopped, an alternative future to be built.  And people who worked for Obama are now prepared to hold him accountable.  I don’t think this President is listening, yet, not sure he can or cares.  But McKibben and followers aren’t done.  They’re just starting.   And there are now 65 more people from last weekend, and by today, another 200 or more who are ready to do it again and again, and more.   Because it doesn’t have to be this way, and it’s not okay for our government not to care about the only home planet we have.

John Chandley

Update:  Schedule of events and places/churches where the training is held nightly:  TarsandsAction.org If your in the area and want to the sights, come!

Power Shift 2011: 5000 Young Enviros March on White House, Chamber, Hill

12:46 pm in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

Over the weekend, some 10,000 environmental activist youth came to Washington D.C. to attend Power Shift 2011. The conference was designed to teach people already committed to saving the planet how to organize their communities to address climate change and confront corporate polluters. They’re also getting experience in how to remind Washington that America’s youth are not, as activitist Van Jones described Congress, “stuck on stupid.”

There are good summaries with pictures from A. Siegel here, and others here, here, and here.

After two days of training, a meeting with Obama, and speeches from Al Gore and EPA’s Director Lisa Jackson, etc, the group heard Saturday night from 350.org’s Bill McKibben (see video).

McKibben was also on a panel that included Lt. Dan Choi and FDL’s Jane Hamsher, with a focus on how progressive activists must confront, provoke, and embarrass the nation’s leaders into paying attention. As you might expect, environmental advocates are having the same conversation as the rest of us about the, uh, “Obama problem.”
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