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Nation Topics - Environmental Activism | The Nation

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Nation Topics - Environmental Activism

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The Green Party fell from power in recent German elections, but Greens continue to be the party to watch, a progressive influence on the world's third-largest economy.

As the House of Representatives voted to allow oil drilling in the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich decried
the back-door methods and contemplated the impact on the
indigenous Gwich'in people.

As part of a nationwide festival of tributes to Pete Seeger in 2005, Studs Terkel offered this essay on the life and times of an American balladeer.

Absent George W. Bush's undergoing a conversion like St. Paul's on the road to Damascus, there probably won't be much good environmental news out of Washington in Bush's second term.

America's environmental movement has failed and should die as soon as possible so something better can take its place.

Nature doesn't compromise on global climate change; activists must not either.

One of the nation's most important environmental organizations is in the fight of its life.

This article is adapted from Carl Pope and Paul Rauber's forthcoming Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress (Sierra Club Books) .

3/13/01
Abandons pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

3/28/01
Rejects Kyoto Protocol.

The $4.4 million damages award in June against FBI agents and Oakland
police for violating the constitutional rights of environmental
activists Darryl Cherney and Judi Bari, wrongly accused of terrorism in
1990, represents more than the culmination of a twelve-year struggle for
vindication. The case also highlights the risks of today's antiterrorism
measures and offers lessons both daunting and encouraging about the
years ahead.

In May 1990, an explosion tore through the car carrying Earth First!
organizers Bari and Cherney. Bari suffered a fractured pelvis; Cherney,
less serious injuries. They assumed the bombing was the work of
antienvironmentalists, meant to disrupt planning for the Redwood Summer
of civil disobedience against the logging of old-growth forest.

The FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force jumped to quite a different
conclusion. As soon as Bari and Cherney were identified, the FBI
informed the local police and leaked to the press that the pair were
terrorists. The authorities claimed that Bari must have made the bomb
herself and that it had accidentally exploded while the two were
carrying it to an unknown target. Bari was placed under arrest in her
hospital bed. Police and FBI agents searched houses in Oakland where
Bari and Cherney had stayed and questioned their fellow activists. Over
the next two months, until the government announced it would not charge
the two environmentalists, the local police and the FBI continued to
call them terrorists.

Only after years of litigation did the truth emerge: The FBI, before the
bombing, had been investigating Bari and Cherney because of their
political activism. When the bomb went off, the FBI shaded the facts to
fit an ideological presumption of guilt. It was also revealed that the
FBI, even after Bari and Cherney had been cleared, collected data
nationwide on hundreds of individuals and groups merely on the basis of
their association with the two Earth First! activists.

The case demonstrates how the truth will come out when the judiciary
fulfills its constitutional role. With patience, skill and funding,
committed activists and lawyers can bring accountability to the FBI.
Just as Bari and Cherney won, just as the secret evidence cases brought
after the 1996 antiterrorism law melted in the face of judicial
challenges, so the material witness detentions and other rights
violations of today will ultimately be held unconstitutional. But the
FBI and the Justice Department will resist oversight and use secrecy and
delaying tactics to evade accountability, prolonging personal and
political damage. Justice was too late for Judi Bari. She died of cancer
in 1997.

The most sobering lesson of the Bari-Cherney case may be this: The FBI's
focus on politics over hard evidence meant that the real bomber was
never captured. In the same way, the Attorney General's recent
announcement that the FBI can monitor meetings and groups with no prior
suspicion of criminal conduct is likely to take the FBI down the path of
investigations based on politics, ethnicity or religion, while real
terrorists escape detection.

Blogs

Every day that the Washington University chancellor fails to answer questions and demands for the university to cut ties with the energy giant, he and his university remain on the wrong side of history.

April 28, 2014

President Faust’s statement only amplifies the moral inconsistency of Harvard’s continued investment in the fossil fuel companies that are devastating the planet and blocking climate solutions.

April 24, 2014

Students put the pressure on Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking in California.

April 23, 2014

The most important day to advocate for the Earth is not April 22nd, but April 23rd.

April 23, 2014

As a student and politician and activist, Gaylord Nelson kept his eyes open. 

April 22, 2014

“Environmentalism” has failed. The planet now needs a movement far more radical.

April 22, 2014

A large group of Harvard faculty release an open letter to President Drew Gilpin Faust calling forcefully for fossil-fuel divestment.

April 10, 2014

Student climate activists in Massachusetts win a meeting with Governor Deval Patrick about banning new fossil-fuel infrastructure. But they need more than a meeting.

April 1, 2014

Harvard graduate student Benjamin Franta implores President Drew Gilpin Faust to be honest about her opposition to divestment.

March 19, 2014

Students talk divestment with Harvard President Drew Faust.

March 13, 2014