Activists protest and flier at World Bank sponsored greenwash concert

On the 18th of April, the World Bank Group staged the “Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day” concert, with Fallout boy headlining. This concert was during their Spring Meetings, and in spite of an increase in overall World Bank investments in fossil fuels. Global justice activists set up in front of the main bag search checkpoint and some went inside to hand out hundreds of fliers contrasting the message of the show with the World Bank Group’s actual record.

Security was insane for a rock concert. The concert site was surrounded by fences, police dogs and even automatic rifles were spotted by scout teams. In some places the fence was a double layer with cops and dogs in “no man’s land” in between. The “prohibited list” included bicyles and “unmanned aerial systems” meaning drones. Drones are becoming popular with some videographers and in dense crowds are hazards, though nowhere near to the extent that US government drones are in the rest of the world. Curiously, MANNED aerial systems such as gyrocopters didn’t make the list. The side of the perimeter and number of cops reminded me of IMF protests from 2000 to 2002, sort of like “A16/2000″ in reverse.

The fliers distributed to concertgoers correctly assumed they had been told nothing about the true work of the IMF and World Bank, and mentioned that 15 years ago tens of thousands of people fought in the streets in the “A16″ protests against the IMF and World Bank. Photos of both the protesters and the armored cops from that event were included in the flier. Some recipients said they felt used by the World Bank as a result.

Beyond the World Bank Group, other sponsors of what could have been called “Global Bad Citizen 2015″ included Caterpiller, Citigroup, and Toyota.

Video-crazy security at concert, contrasted to “A16″ IMF protests 15 years ago

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Clown Bloc tries to enter World Bank, IMF’s Infoshop

On the 17th of April, as the Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank got underway, a “clown bloc” showed up asking delegates if they would answer on camera “what is the difference between austerity and poverty?” Not one would answer this on the record. Seeking answers the Clown Bloc moved on to the IMF’s “infoshop” bookstore, which is open to the public or supposed to be. Security guards aggressively kept them out, this was repeated when some of the clown tried to enter the World Bank seeking the same answer.

Many of the protesters in Frankfurt, Germany at the opening of the European Central Bank were also dressed as clowns. Of course, the real clowns were at the circus inside the Spring Meetings, not outside asking the questions!

Video-clown bloc questions delegates, tries to get in

Video-Interview with Australian citizen concerning solidarity with United Voice union at IMF/G20

Solidarity at the IMF/G20 with Australia’s United Voice union

Clowns under the big tent seeking the big answer: “What is the difference between austerity and poverty?”

What a strange “Infoshop!” Most Infoshops are anarchist bookstores where activists would be welcome not only in clown gear but also in black masks

Security doesn’t like it when the clowns try to get into the World Bank’s annual Spring Circus!

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Unions protest TPP, demand Congress reject “fast-track”

On the 15th of April, large numbers of union supporters gathered on Capitol Hill oppose the proposed TPP or Trans-Pacific Partnership. They called this “another NAFTA,” and even used the term “SHAFTA” for the trade deals that have been offshoring US jobs and led to plummeting wages since 1994. Multiple members of Congress as well as union officials had some unusually tough talk against the “fast track” bill for the TPP. Fast track means a quick ratification vote with no debate if a treaty is signed, for a treaty whose very text is being kept secret.

MD Rep Donna Edwards asked “Do I look like a rubber stamp? and said the treaty would threaten food safety. A speaker from AFGE went even further, calling on everyone to “get that can of whoop-ass ready, take it across the street, and beat up everyone’s ass that wants to vote for such a stupid deal.” THIS is the kind of language politicans tempted by those fat bags of campaign cash now being passed out by the US Chamber of Commerce and Monsanto need to hear.

Perhaps speakers at the rally felt that those behind the TPP are acting like gangsters, so they’d better address them in their own language. There was even a speaker asking everyone to make members of Congress “an offer they can’t refuse.” That offer was simple: create the jobs inside the US instead of offshore, or lose their jobs too.

Video-tough talk at Capitol Hill rally against the TPP

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Hundreds ride to cherry blossoms in first DC Bike Party of 2015

On the 8th of April, hundreds of DC area cyclists gathered in spotty rain for the first of the year’s DC Bike Parties. They leave Dupont Circle at 8PM on the second Wednesday of each of the warmer months of the year. This one was the Cherry Blossom Chase, and rode to the Hained Point loop, under newly opened cherry blossoms. Just before the ride began the rain tapered off to nothing more than drizzle, nowhere near enough to dampen the spirits of hundreds of riders on the first Bike Party of the year.

2 min video of the ride

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MD Residents rally in Annapolis for moratorium on gas fracking

On the 2nd of April, Residents of MD staged a rally in Annapolis demanding the enactment of a moratorium on gas fracking in the state. Although weakened limiting the moratorium to two years, the bill passed the MD House of Delegates by a veto-proof majority.

Pressure is mounting on MD’s GOP Governor Hogan to sign the bill once it clears the Senate, the overwhelming passage in the House of Delegates involved suppport from delegates of both political parties. One of them spoke at the rally saying he preferred his tap water “non-flammable.”

After the rally, some of the participants, many from Western MD where frackers now threaten, lined up to visit the Governor’s office. Instead of allowing the meeting, security forces closed all the upper floors of the State House and claimed the governor was elsewhere. This reminded me of efforts in DC back in 2008 to meet with former Mayor Fenty about the closure of Franklin Shelter.

There is frackable shale gas in about 50% of MD. Garrett County’s clean water supplies face destruction if even a single fracking well goes bad. In neighboring Pennsylvania it was reported that about 7 percent of fracking wells leak into groundwater. There is other frackable gas under Montgomery County, PG County, and even under Annapolis itself. Fracking wells in Fredrick and Montgomery Counties could contaminate the Potomac River with chemicals WSSC cannot remove. This could poison children all over DC and even force the President to take his showers in bottled water delivered by truck to the White House in a worst-case scenario. Many living near fracking wells in Pennsylvania have been warned never to bathe in water from their contaminated wells. Also, there are the famous videos of well water with enough gas bubbles in it to sustain a flame over a faucet, as referred to by one of the speakers at the rally.

Video of the rally and attempt to deliver petitions to the governor’s office

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DC Residents protest gentrification at Mayor’s State of the District Address

On the last day of March, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser held her “state of the district” address. Outside were scores of DC residents excluded from the event-and apparently excluded from the Mayor’s promises about affordable housing. There was even talk of housing that someone with a $75,000 a year income can afford being defined as “affordable.” The “Real State of the District” protesters beseiged the Lincoln Theater where the Mayor was speaking and at one point took to the streets to blockade 13th and U sts. A key slogan was “Black Homes Matter!”

Demands of the protest a total moratorium on demolitions of public housing, an end to the “New Communities” initiative, renovations of vacant homes for homeless families, and end to sales of public property to developers, and local funding to repair existing public housing. Also included were demands to reorganize the DC Zoning commission,and to shut off the flow of approvals of harmful development (such as new condos projects).

Protesters specifically called out demolitions of public housing as the cause of the current wave of homelessness in DC. One carried a sign denouncing “Condo Madne$$” and another said she would strongly prefer to have her old home in Arthur Capper back. Arthur Capper was torn down in a “Hope VI” project about ten years ago, few of the displaced residents were ever permitted to return to the upscale housing that replaced it.

For myself, I wonder how the Mayor can afford to live in DC, given that she effectively works for Wal-Mart! For her part, the Mayor refused to show her face before her claimed constituants outside, instead entering and leaving by a rear entrance.

Video of the “Real State of the District” protest

Protesting “Condo Madness” coupled with demolition of public housing

Pushing into the street as the protest grows

Shutting down 13th and U Sts

Marching back to the Mayor’s speech from blocking 13th and U

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March on Mexican Embassy remembers Ayotzinapa 43.

On the 26th of March, Members of the #Ayotzi43DC protested in front of the US Dept of State demanding a cutoff of US funds to Mexican military units involved in human rights violations. The rally was followed by a march on the Mexican Embassy. Six months ago to the day, Mexican police and military opened fire on a bus carrying 43 teaching students in Ayotzinapa and they have not been seen since. It is widely suspected that after police ambushed and fired on their bus the survivers were turned over to cartel gunmen to be killed and there is evidence their bodies may have been incinerated.

One of the demands of the march was an end to the War on Drugs, another was that “Plan Mexico” either be modified to cut off funds to murderous, cartel-collaborating military units or be scrapped entirely. This whole mess reminds me of the days of the death squads in El Salvador during the 1980’s. Another way to look at it is this: the cartel gunmen were often orignally trained by the School of the Americas before they deserted to the cartels. The Mexican military units they have gained control over are still getting US funds. Thus the relationship between the United States and these murderers is similar to that between Saudi Arabia and Daesh(ISIS).

Video clips of the March and rallies

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