First Nations lead the way in Victoria protest against pipelines and oil sands

October 23rd, 2012
First Nations are leading the way in British Columbia’s opposition to pipelines, tankers and exploitation of the climate damaging oil sands

Protesters trickled in like salmon heading home—a few signs on the Canada Line at 5:30 in the morning, a big line up at the Bridgeport bus stop, a ferry full of protesters, all ages, a few costumes, lots of signs. I asked a man on the ferry if he planned on committing civil disobedience. “They’re having trouble figuring out what to do,” he said. “They’ve been given permission to protest on the lawn. Now they’re thinking about driving stakes into the lawn because that’s illegal.”

Eric Boyum, an eco-tourism operator in the Great Bear Rainforest offered a ride to several of us so we could avoid the over packed buses in Schwartz Bay. Boyum stated that tankers would destroy his business, Ocean Adventures, without an oil spill.

“The tankers would travel right through where I operate. They won’t be attractive to tourists.” Protecting his business is not his primary motivation.

“The First Nations in the area are like family to me,” he said. “They’ve subsisted there for thousands of years. Tankers are the biggest threat to their way of life that they’ve ever had.” He also feels responsible for the natural world. “Someone has to speak out for the animals,” he said. “The whales, bears and salmon don’t have a voice in this, but we can fight for them.” Continue reading

China: Among protesters, “middle class” slated for ‘loyal opposition’ role

Successful pollution protest shows China takes careful line with rising middle class

GILLIAN WONG,  Associated Press
October 29, 2012

NINGBO, China — A victory by protesters against the expansion of a chemical plant proves the new rule in China: The authoritarian government is scared of middle-class rebellion and will give in if the demonstrators’ aims are limited and not openly political.

It’s far from a revolution. China’s nascent middle class, the product of the past decade’s economic boom, is looking for better government, not a different one. They’re especially concerned about issues like health, education and property values and often resist the growth-at-all-costs model Beijing has pushed.

PHOTO: Chinese police officers monitor residents gathered outside the city government office in Ningbo city in eastern China's Zhejiang province Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. After three days of protests by thousands of citizens over pollution fears, a local Chinese government relented and agreed that the petrochemical factory would not be expanded, only to see the protests persist. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

[Chinese police officers monitor residents gathered outside the city government office in Ningbo city in eastern China's Zhejiang province Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. After three days of protests by thousands of citizens over pollution fears, a local Chinese government relented and agreed that the petrochemical factory would not be expanded, only to see the protests persist. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)]

The past week’s chemical-plant protests reached an unruly crescendo over the weekend, when thousands of people marched through prosperous Ningbo city, clashing with police at times. The city government gave in Sunday and agreed to halt the plant’s expansion.

Even so, the protesters did not back down, staying outside city government offices hours after the concession. About 200 protesters, many of them retirees, returned Monday to make sure the government keeps its word on the oil and ethylene refinery run by a subsidiary of Sinopec, the state-owned petrochemical giant.

“In yesterday’s protest, the ordinary people let their voices be heard,” a 40-year-old businessman who would give only his surname, Bao, said on the protest line Monday. Government officials, he said, “should say they are completely canceling the project. They should state clearly that they will stop doing these projects in Ningbo and the rest of China.” Continue reading

India: Thousands of protestors detained while laying siege to Tamil Nadu assembly

#Koodankulam
By Tariq Abdul Muhaimin, Kracktivist,  10/29/12  NEWZFIRST

CHENNAI, TN – Thousands of protestors including leaders of different political parties were detained by the police on Monday, when they were en route to lay siege outside the Tamil Nadu assembly demanding the closure of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNP).

More than 5000 protesters from across the state had gathered at Egmore, Chennai and started moving towards the assembly to lay siege to it until the KKNP is not shut down completely.

“We do not have permission for the rally or the protest; however we will march towards the assembly. The police is ready to arrest us when we reach there, but this will not stop us,” said Rajkumar, an activist from Tamils Cultural Centre, while speaking to Newzfirst before the rally began.

Amidst intense police deployment, the protesters including several political party leaders, Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) and two Members of Parliament (MP) started their march towards the TN assembly at around 1:15 PM, where thousands of police personnel were waiting to stop the protestors and detain them. Continue reading

Covert War on Terror: UN team to investigate civilian drone deaths

October 25th, 2012 | by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Emmerson

[London-based UN expert says Geneva unit will investigate civilian drone deaths]

The United Nations plans to set up a special investigation unit examining claims of civilian deaths in individual US covert drone strikes.

UN investigators have been critical of US ‘extrajudicial executions’ since they began in 2002. The new Geneva-based unit will also look at the legality of the programme.

The latest announcement, by UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC, was made in a speech on October 25 at Harvard law school. Emmerson, who monitors counter-terrorism for the UN, previously called in August for the US to hand over video of each covert drone attack.

The London-based lawyer became the second senior UN official in recent months to label the tactic of deliberately targeting rescuers and funeral-goers with drones ‘a war crime’.  That practice was first exposed by the Bureau for the Sunday Times in February 2012. Continue reading

Prisoner Advocates Question Evacuation Plan for 12,000 Inmates in Path of Hurricane Sandy

Monday Oct 29, 2012 3:31 pm

By Amy Armstrong, In These Times

As much of New York prepares for the possibility of evacuation, 12,000 inmates at Rikers Island, which lies in the water between Queens and the Bronx, will remain in the facility throughout Hurricane Sandy’s worst wind, rain and waves.

New York Mayor Bloomberg made this clear at a press conference over the weekend, when he replied in response to a question about the safety of the 12,000 inmates, “”Rikers Island, the land is up where they are and jails are secured. Don’t worry about anybody getting out.”

In 2011, Bloomberg faced backlash when Rikers Island was left blank on the map showing evacuation zones for the city. Though Hurricane Irene resulted in the unprecedented evacuation of 250,000 New Yorkers, officials acknowledged that there was no evacuation plan for the prison. After the Centre for Constitutional Rights issued a statement urging that the prisoners’ lives “should not be treated as less valuable than those of other New Yorkers,” the mayor’s office said that it had reviewed the safety of the island and found that it did not need to be evacuated. Continue reading

Hague tribunal to investigate Iran massacre of political prisoners

Mahsa Alimardani, published on The Vancouver Observer (http://www.vancouverobserver.com)

Oct 26th, 2012

The world’s seat of international law, the Peace Palace in The Hague is host to a historic event this week – an investigation into the massacres of Iran’s political prisoners throughout the 1980s.

While this is the home of the International Court of Justice, this tribunal is a symbolic event underway through the voluntary efforts of human rights lawyers, judges, academics, and activists.

The event is modeled after Bertrand Russell’s tribunals for war crimes committed by the United States in Vietnam throughout the 1960s.

Amnesty International in London hosted the first session of the tribunal this past July. This session resulted in a report of details from over 30 prisoners, and 75 witnesses, with testimonies from officials and experts on Iranian law and punishment.

The legal team leading the second session this week includes key figures in international law. Sir Geoffrey Nice, the former prosecutor on the trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY); and South African constitutional judge Johann Kriegler who helped transition the South African government out of Apartheid are amongst those participating.

The tribunals only hold a symbolic truth and reconciliation platform for the victims of the massacres.

In his opening statement, the chairman of the steering committee, Payam Akhavan stated the Tribunals mean to prove that, “despite the lack of rightful rule of law, there is a way to find peace. There may never be justice and retribution for those responsible for these crimes, but a future democratic Iran will use this information for tangible justice.” Continue reading

Telling Our Stories: MXGM Member Talks NYPD Violence and Calls for Passage of the Community Safety Act

Oct 25, 2012 in New York, PSDC Blog

Greetings. My name is Djibril Toure and I am here today as a lifelong Brooklyn resident and member of the Malcolm X Grassroots to lend my voice to those calling for a change in the NYPD’s Stop & Frisk program, and passage of the Community Safety Act.

I am a college graduate, musician and business owner and I have directly experienced the racially biased stop and frisk policies of the NYPD.  I have had the disheartening experience of walking down the street in my own community where I grew up, being stopped for no reason, forced to stand against a wall and being illegally searched by four officers who demanded that I show them some ID or go to jail. This experience repeated itself so many times over the years that I became involved in providing assistance to others who had experienced the same or many times much worse treatment, sometimes resulting in physical injuries. I have heard too many stories of the humiliation and frustration of regular law abiding community residents who are repeatedly stop & frisked or tricked into consenting to a search. This is an all too common occurrence across neighborhoods and communities in this city. Too many of my peers have shared similarly frustrating stories of being stopped and searched, for no apparent reason without explanation.  The overaggressive policing approach taken in these communities has led to a widespread feeling of mistrust towards the police.

The issue of consent to a search without a warrant is a particularly important one. (Intro. 801) of the Community Safety Act would require that NYPD officers provide their name and rank to the subjects of law enforcement activity, such as New Yorkers being stopped and frisked. The officer would also have to provide the specific reason for the stop and a business card to the person being stopped that includes information on how to file a complaint. In my experience, this is a key issue that must be addressed because often when people in my community are approached by undercover officers for questioning, they do not even initially understand that they are dealing with a police encounter. This often leads to people not being able to identify who they were stopped by. In my personal experience, I have on several occasions witnessed officers refusing to provide their name and badge number – or even providing a false one. Continue reading

“Shocking” disclosure of extreme wealth at pinnacle of capitalist China’s power elite

[While the socialist fig-leaf of China no longer has the power to confuse all who have watched, from near and from afar, the discarding of socialist  -- peasant and workers' -- power for over three decades, the Western bourgeoisie have continued to slam the emergent exploitative and oppressive Chinese capitalist system as characteristic of "socialism" -- in hopes that once overthrown, socialism will not rise again.  But all this exposure in the New York Times does, is describe a common feature of capitalist systems worldwide.  Such "investigative journalism" is a good example of "the pot calling the kettle black." "If you live in a glass house, you should not throw stones at other glass houses."  The bourgeois Chinese state, in response, has blocked access in China to the New York Times online, in hope, no doubt, that the tattered and shredded socialist fig-leaf  may yet be a useful cover.  But, to use another analogy, "the Emperor has no clothes" that serve to disguise the reality. -- Frontlines ed.]

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October 25, 2012

Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader

By

BEIJING — The mother of China’s prime minister was a schoolteacher in northern China. His father was ordered to tend pigs in one of Mao’s political campaigns. And during childhood, “my family was extremely poor,” the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, said in a speech last year.

But now 90, the prime minister’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, not only left poverty behind, she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show.

The details of how Ms. Yang, a widow, accumulated such wealth are not known, or even if she was aware of the holdings in her name. But it happened after her son was elevated to China’s ruling elite, first in 1998 as vice prime minister and then five years later as prime minister.

Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.

Deng Xiaoping, who led the new and resurgent capitalists to seize power from the working people of China after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. He popularized the slogan promoting individual greed against social and collective advance: “To get rich is glorious!”

In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners. Untangling their financial holdings provides an unusually detailed look at how politically connected people have profited from being at the intersection of government and business as state influence and private wealth converge in China’s fast-growing economy.

Unlike most new businesses in China, the family’s ventures sometimes received financial backing from state-owned companies, including China Mobile, one of the country’s biggest phone operators, the documents show. At other times, the ventures won support from some of Asia’s richest tycoons. The Times found that Mr. Wen’s relatives accumulated shares in banks, jewelers, tourist resorts, telecommunications companies and infrastructure projects, sometimes by using offshore entities.

The holdings include a villa development project in Beijing; a tire factory in northern China; a company that helped build some of Beijing’s Olympic stadiums, including the well-known “Bird’s Nest”; and Ping An Insurance, one of the world’s biggest financial services companies.

As prime minister in an economy that remains heavily state-driven, Mr. Wen, who is best known for his simple ways and common touch, more importantly has broad authority over the major industries where his relatives have made their fortunes. Chinese companies cannot list their shares on a stock exchange without approval from agencies overseen by Mr. Wen, for example. He also has the power to influence investments in strategic sectors like energy and telecommunications. Continue reading

China: Over 30 years since capitalism seized power, the slow discard of socialist fig-leaf

[While the  use of "reform" language undoubtedly refers to the planned bourgeois "democratic" invigoration of capitalist forces -- and to no hope for "democratic" relief for the peasants and workers suffering greater impoverishment (as fruit of their removal from socialist power) -- the discarding of Maoist imagery by the billionaire capitalist rulers of "reform" China is unmistakeably clear. -- Frontlines ed.]

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Reuters:  “China hints at reform by dropping Mao wording”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

* Removal of wording about Mao Zedong signals push for reform – analyst

* Internal debate about direction of incoming leadership

* Others say it may be too soon to write off Mao’s deep legacy

By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING, Oct 23 (Reuters) – The subtle dropping of references to late Chinese leader Mao Zedong from two policy statements over the last few weeks serves as one of the most intriguing hints yet that the ruling Communist Party is planning to move in the direction of reform.

Mao has always been held up as an ideological great in party communiques, his name mentioned almost by default in homage to his role in founding modern China and leading the Communist Party, whose rule from the 1949 revolution remains unbroken.

Which is why the dropping of the words “Mao Zedong thought” from two recent statements by the party’s elite Politburo ahead of a landmark congress, at which a new generation of leaders will take the top party posts, has attracted so much attention.

Also absent were normally standard references to Marxism-Leninism. Continue reading

New York: Police program stalking Muslims denounced by whistleblower

NYPD informant who tracked militants quits, denounces police

Police barricade in NYC (Mario Tama, Getty Images)
Police barricade in NYCBy Mark Hosenball, Reuters, October 22, 2012

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An informant recruited by the New York Police Department to collect information on suspected Islamic militants has quit and denounced his police handlers, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the case.

The informant, a 19-year-old American citizen of Bangladeshi descent, was recruited by the NYPD recently as part of an expansive intelligence-gathering program the department launched after the al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001. His assignment was to make contact with suspected Islamic extremists to try to determine if they had any inclinations to engage in violence, the source said.

On October 2, however, the informant, whom the source did not name, posted a message on his personal Facebook page exposing himself as an informant to people he had been in contact with. He declared that he had quit as a police informant.

“I was jus (sic) of pretending to be friends with ya cuz I honestly thought i was fighting terrorism, but let’s be real, it’s all a f…king scheme,” the informant wrote, according to the source. “It was all about the money,” he added.

The source said that the informant was not involved in an investigation that led to the arrest of a Bangladeshi man last week in connection with an alleged scheme to bomb the New York Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan. Continue reading

India: Tribal villagers displaced by fire set by Forest Department

Forest Department Burns Tribal Village to Ashes

Oct 12, 2012 by VideoVolunteers

On the morning of 15th June 2012, without any prior notice, the Forest Department broke into the houses of 18 tribal families. They used force to drive the families out before setting their homes on fire. When the men, women and children of the community tried protesting and pleading with the officials, they were threatened with consequences. In the end there wan’t much they could do. They ran with their lives and behind them, their homes and belongings — ration cards, school books, clothes, rations – were being reduced to ash.

The people of the Kiri Kasai Dorho tribal village in District Sundargarh, Odisha had been living in the region for over four generations. They used to live up the hill slope before but were forced to move downhill because years and years of the state’s promises of electricity, health centers and schools never materialized. They couldn’t move too far away because they rely on the forests for their livelihood.

This grievous violation would pass as yet another unheard atrocity committed by the state against the tribals. But IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent Amita Rahil Tuti, a tribal and an activist, came over from the neighboring state of Jharkhand to document the violation and the anguished voices of the people. Continue reading

China: Yinggehai Coal Power Plant Brings Chinese Villagers Clashes With Police Over Pollution

By LOUISE WATT, Associated Press,  10/22/12

BEIJING — Residents of a south China town protesting the building of a coal-fired power plant threw bricks at police who fired volleys of tear gas and detained dozens in the country’s latest unrest over an environmental dispute, townspeople said Monday.

At least 1,000 people in the small town of Yinggehai on China’s Hainan island launched several days of protests starting last week after construction resumed on the plant, which had been halted by earlier demonstrations. Dozens have been injured and many detained by police, who have put the town under strict surveillance, residents said.

Police and local officials declined to comment.

“They fired tear gas to disperse the crowds in the past few days,” said a resident who gave only his surname, Xian, because he didn’t want to be identified by authorities. “We don’t want a power plant here that will cause serious pollution.”

Yinggehai Coal Power Plant

Three decades of rapid economic expansion in China have come at an environmental price, and residents have become increasingly outspoken about pollution in their backyards. In July, a southern town in Sichuan province scrapped plans for a copper plant after thousands clashed with police, and another community in eastern Jiangsu province dropped a waste water plant after similar demonstrations.

The protests are especially sensitive because they come ahead of next month’s change in China’s top leaders, who will have to balance a push for economic growth with maintaining public stability. Meanwhile, local leaders must balance their desire to attract industry with a public who do not want it in their neighborhoods. Continue reading

US: Pesticide Threat Looms Large Over Farmworker Families

Saturday October 20, 2012

By Michelle Chen, In These Times

[Among agricultural workers such as these fruit pickers in Oxnard, Calif., birth defects and cancers are alarmingly high.   (Alex E. Proimos / Flickr / Creative Commons)]

No matter how good your next meal tastes, it’s likely it made society ill.

A new analysis by the Pesticide Action Network North America (PAN) draws a disturbing connection between pesticides in our food system and serious health problems among women and children. The report reviews empirical research linking agricultural chemicals to birth defects, neurological disorders, childhood cancers and reproductive problems.

Some of these chemicals make their way into the foods we eat, but they are more acutely concentrated in the environments surrounding farmlands. Children in or near farming areas can be exposed through myriad channels, from contaminated soil to the air in playgrounds. Continue reading

Police on playback — copwatch in New York City

by The New York Video League | October 22, 2012

Stories of police brutality are often told in a way that casts victims as helpless bystanders of cops run amok. We met with Sean Pagan, a recent victim of police violence, and found that his story changes how we think about policing in New York. Sean’s story shows that communities are finding new and innovative tactics for dealing with discriminatory policing, beyond waiting for legislative reform. One such tactic is copwatch, in which individuals or teams film police officers in action. But what’s the history of the tactic? What are the risks, limitations and impact of filming the police? And how do these videos change the way we understand narratives of police violence?

Philippines: “Outrage sweeps Mindanao over Tampakan massacre”

Protest of massacre by military and mining companies. Photo by Bulatlat

 

They are demanding the military to account for such “act of barbarity” and pull-out these troops “who have become attack dogs against lumads who are only defending their land from being turned into ugly mine sites.”

By WARREN CAHAYAG, davaotoday.com

Tupi, South Cotabato  – Anti-mining advocates led by church, lumads and progressive groups in Socsksargen and Davao strongly condemn the brutal slaying of the family of a Blaan anti mining leader in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

They are demanding the military to account for such “act of barbarity”, saying that relieving the perpetrators is not enough but the pull-out of these troops “who have become attack dogs against lumads who are only defending their land from being turned into ugly mine sites.”

The Mindanao Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN) said that the killing of Juvy Capion, the pregnant wife of anti-mining indigenous leader Daguil Capion and his two sons “was intentional and not a result of an encounter as claimed by the Philippine army.” Continue reading