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