Tensions are flaring over San Francisco’s tech-driven gentrification. This morning, protestors calling for an end to the increasing number of evictions blocked a Google bus from leaving the city and shuttling its workers to the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. One Google worker inside the bus named Alejandor Villarreal, captured the scene and shared it on Instagram (pictured above).
The privately-owned Google buses (and their counterparts at companies like Facebook and Apple) have long been symbols of the city’s gentrification (a hidden map of their routes was published last January). Earlier this year, San Francisco native Rebecca Solnit published a piece in the London Review of Books on the impact of the buses. Solnit wrote:
The Google Bus means so many things. It means that the minions of the non-petroleum company most bent on world domination can live in San Francisco but work in Silicon Valley without going through a hair-raising commute by car - I overheard someone note recently that the buses shortened her daily commute to 3.5 hours from 4.5. It means that unlike gigantic employers in other times and places, the corporations of Silicon Valley aren’t much interested in improving public transport, and in fact the many corporations providing private transport are undermining the financial basis for the commuter train. It means that San Francisco, capital of the west from the Gold Rush to some point in the 20th century when Los Angeles overshadowed it, is now a bedroom community for the tech capital of the world at the other end of the peninsula.
Read Solnit’s essay in full over at the London Review of Books. As well-paid tech workers have moved into the city, many working class residents have been forced out as both rents and evictions have increased in recent years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The protest was organized in part by a group called Heart of the City, which wrote on its website that “the city needs to declare a state of emergency, stop all no-fault evictions, and prevent tech companies from running buses in residential neighborhoods, which is driving up rents (up to 20% along their route)..”
Hundreds tear down fences, break into Chevron site in Romania
December 7, 2013
Hundreds of protesters have broken into a Chevron site after the US oil giant resumed its search for shale gas in northeast Romania. RT’s Lucy Kafanov reports from the scene, where clashes ensued as riot police started streaming in.
Some 400 people gathered on Saturday in the village of Pungesti, according to local media.
RT’s Lucy Kafanov reports that the demonstration kicked off quite peacefully with the protesters chanting “Chevron go home.”
“The situation then escalated. Some people had run across the road towards the Chevron property, there was a bit of a commotion, and we saw the protesters run into the property; the surrounding perimeter fences were taken down,” Kafanov reports. Local media said people were able to tear down fences to 20 acres of land owned by the company.
Riot police officers were called into the area, which made the situation “very heated” as clashes between the demonstrators and the police ensued.
“We did see some demonstrators injured, as well as police officers injured. They were taken away in medical vans. We also saw probably about four or five arrests, possibly more, we’re still not confirmed on the numbers,” Kafanov says.
Following the incident, the US company later announced it was suspending activities in the area. “Chevron confirms the suspension today…due to the activities of protesters,” Chevron said in a statement.
The US energy giant has been persistent in conducting its shale gas exploration activities, and less than a week ago, riot police brutally removed a horde of villagers who had been camping out at the site protesting the company’s plan.
The site in Pungesti has been the subject of ongoing controversy. The village is believed to be sitting upon vast reserves of the natural resource.
The demonstrators also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, according to AFP. Ponta became a strong supporter of the energy source, despite apparent opposition prior to his election.
But protesters and environmentalists fear that the hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” would be disastrous for the local environment. They say that pumping water and chemicals at high pressure into deep rock formations to free oil or gas could contaminate groundwater.
In October, Chevron decided to suspend its drilling plans. To prevent Chevron from resuming the drilling, Pungesti villagers set up a camp in a privately-owned field next to the site where the well was planned to be installed.
The camp has been the scene of demonstrations for over a month and a half in total, with clashes taking place between police officers and protesters the previous week. Outraged participants were as old as 67, according to Kafanov. “There is this very tense climate, and people have a lot of anger…for what’s going on here,” said Kafanov.
"Fault Lines travels to Mi’kmaq territory in New Brunswick, Canada to find out what happens when a First Nation says no to fracking.
On October 17, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police raided a protest site set up by Mi’kmaq people and their supporters trying to prevent a Texas-based corporation from fracking. The company had received rights to explore for shale gas by the province of New Brunswick.
Carried out by police with dogs and automatic weapons, the raid turned to chaos as residents of the Elsipogtog First Nation arrived to confront them. Police pepper-sprayed elders and fired sock rounds to control the crowd. Six police vehicles were set ablaze. Some 40 people were arrested.
It was the most spectacular eruption yet of a struggle led by indigenous people to protect land they say they’ve never ceded and water they consider sacred – a struggle that grew quietly for three years, and shows no sign of slowing now.
Fault Lines has traveled to New Brunswick to ask why their fight caught fire, and find out what happens when Canada’s First Nations say no to resource extraction projects they oppose.”
(Fault Lines - Al Jazeera America - 06/12/2013)
November 25 2013: up to 12 people killed when a car was “incinerated” by an air strike in Al Mahfed province, southern Yemen. While the Interior Ministry of Yemen claimed responsibility, the Yemen Air Force has no precision targeting capabilities and is incapable of flying at night. #drone #drones #yemen (at Al Mahfad, Yemen)