Anti-biomass and coal campaigners call for UK’s most polluting power station to close

April 23, 2014. Source: Biofuelwatch

Photo: Biofuelwatch

Photo: Biofuelwatch

Campaigners have disrupted Drax Plc’s AGM in London today, calling for the power station to be closed down because of the environmental and social impacts of the biomass and coal that it is burning. Three campaigners were removed from the meeting after unfurling a banner reading “No to biomass and coal – shut down Drax” and accusing company directors of misleading the public over claims that their biomass conversion is low-carbon, renewable energy. The protest happened against a backdrop of falling company share prices as the UK Government announced that it would not be awarding a lucrative new subsidy scheme, a Contract for Difference, to Drax’s second converted unit, sparking investment uncertainty.

Biofuelwatch campaigner Duncan Law was one of the campaigners removed from the AGM today. He said:

“Drax is calling itself the world’s biggest renewable energy power station, but looking past the shiny green façade you see it’s actually still a giant incinerator, only now fed on ancient wetland forests as well as opencast coal. And what’s more, it will be pumping out more CO2 than ever despite company claims that it’s doing the opposite.

It is clear that Drax and the UK government aren’t listening to evidence that big biomass power stations in the UK are fuelling forest destruction in the southern US and increasing carbon emissions. We feel we have no choice but to take this further action to highlight how, in the name of renewable energy, energy companies and their allies in government are causing yet another environmental disaster.”

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Standing our sacred ground: First Nations, Tribal leaders, and land owners send message to Canada, stop tar sands at the source

April 24, 2014. Source: Idle No More


Washington DC – Northern Plains Tribal leaders and land owners representing the Cowboy and Indian Alliance joined in cross-border solidarity yesterday with their First Nations counterparts on the steps of the Canadian embassy. Their aim was to send a clear message to the Canadian and US governments to Honor the Treaties. Representatives of the Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, Ponca, Ojibway, and Cree Nations stood alongside ranchers and farmers to hold up huge letters spelling out “Honor The Treaties” and blown-up images of Treaty 8, Treaty 6, and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which cover Indigenous people’s lands affected by the controversial Canadian tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline.

It’s time for our people to start developing our own policies and enforcing our inherent Treaty rights. It is time for us to start defining what that relationship looks like for our visitors and remind our visitors that they came here and we are the ones, as Indigenous people, that gave them the permission to settle here on Turtle Island,” said Crystal Lameman, member of Beaver Lake Cree Nation.

The Beaver Lake Cree Nation is currently engaged in a landmark constitutional Treaty rights challenge in the Supreme Court of Canada that has named tens of thousands of Treaty rights violations of Treaty 6 by the provincial government of Alberta, the federal government of Canada, and dozens of oil companies operating in the controversial Canadian tar sands. The Beaver Lake Cree Nation case represents a growing understanding that through Aboriginal Title and Inherent and Treaty Rights, the Native rights-based strategic framework is the strongest legally binding strategy to stop the expansion of the tar sands at the source, including all of the associated pipeline infrastructure coming out of Alberta to bring this land-locked resource to international markets. Continue reading

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Cambodia: World Bank investigates over ‘land-grabbing link’

By Amelia Woodside, April 23, 2014. Source: Phnom Penh Post

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has launched an internal investigation into a complaint lodged against the institution for investing in a Vietnamese rubber firm accused of illegal logging and land grabbing in Ratanakkiri, an NGO and villager said yesterday.

Earlier this month, representatives of the IFC’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) met with leaders from 17 indigenous communities in Andong Meas and O’Chum districts, along with representatives of Vietnam-based Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL), which operates rubber plantations on economic land concessions in the Kingdom’s northeast, according to Eang Vuthy, executive director at NGO Equitable Cambodia.

“This was a preliminary visit . . . the IFC met with community leaders [and] government officials at the company.

We’re very hopeful a resolution between the parties will be reached. They say the company HAGL is willing to negotiate, so we’re hoping for a positive course of action once the IFC releases their report,” Vuthy told the Post yesterday. Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Corporate Globalization, Forests, Land Grabs, World Bank

Killings continue at Canadian-owned mine in Tanzania

By Chris Oke, April 18, 2014. Source: VICE

Photo: VICE

Photo: VICE

Kibwabwa Ghati was herding cattle when he was shot to death.

The Tanzanian farmer and his dogs were trying to coax the slow moving animals back to his family compound. The sun had set quickly and the grey hill of chewed up rock that he walked beside had turned red and then black against the night sky. This hill was the perimeter of an operation known as the North Mara Gold Mine. He was almost home.

Suddenly, young men were scrambling down the hill above him. Some were carrying the machete-like blade known in East Africa as a panga, but most had only hammers and buckets—the tools of their illicit trade.

These were the self-described “intruders,” men who risk their lives breaking into the mine to steal waste rock containing small amounts of gold. There are hundreds of intruders each night, sometimes thousands. And that night, like many nights before and since, they were being pursued by police and gunfire. Continue reading

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Earth Day greenwash: API front group sponsors pro-Keystone XL event

By Steve Horn, April 22, 2014. Source: DeSmog Blog

Gen. James Jones; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Gen. James Jones; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The political carnival that is the prelude to the Iowa caucuses has started over a year and a half early. At the center of it this time around: a game of political hot potato over the northern leg of TransCanada‘s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

American Petroleum Institute (API) deployed one of its paid consultants — former Obama Administration National Security Advisor General James “Jim” Jones — to deliver an Earth Day address in the home state of the presidential caucuses at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

James Jones used his time on the podium to promote the KeystoneXL tar sands pipeline, which another James — retired NASA climatologist James Hansen — once called a “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.”

“General James Jones…will discuss the benefits of the pipeline initiative, including more jobs, less dependence on foreign oil, and cheaper energy costs for Americans,” explained an April 15 Drake University press release promoting the event.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Tar Sands

Chile: Was Valparaíso fire a “natural disaster”?

April 20, 2014. Source: Weekly News Update on the Americas

The central Chilean port city of Valparaíso remained under military control as of Apr. 15, three days after forest fires began sweeping into some of the city’s working-class neighborhoods, leaving at least 15 people dead and destroying 2,900 homes. Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said the government hoped to have the fires under control by Apr. 16, but the national forestry agency indicated that it might take the 5,000 firefighters and other personnel in the city as long as 20 days to extinguish the fires completely. Some 12,500 people are now without homes in Valparaíso; this disaster follows an 8.2-magnitude earthquake in northern Chile that killed five people on Apr. 1 and made 2,635 homes uninhabitable.

Declared a World Heritage City in 2004 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Valparaíso is located in an area prone to forest fires. But experts and reporters said the extent of the devastation resulted less from natural conditions than from political failures. Witnesses reported that the firefighters–all unpaid volunteers, according to Chilean historian Sergio Grez–were slow to arrive when the fires started on the afternoon of Apr. 12, and they were equipped only with shovels and one truck. Driven by strong winds, the fires spread quickly through the close-packed wooden structures in the poorer neighborhoods, made vulnerable by decades of unplanned growth. Roads were often too narrow for fire engines, and there was no running water for fire hoses in the affected areas. Helicopters came with water hours later.

“We have been the builders and architects of our own dangers,” Valparaíso mayor Jorge Castro admitted on Apr. 13. Chilean president Michelle Bachelet told the national daily El Diario de Cooperativa on Apr. 15 that her government would try “to rebuild in a more orderly manner.” “It’s not enough to reinstall houses or support families,” she said. “We have to do something more substantive.” (El Mostrador (Chile) 4/14/14Les InRocks (France) 4/14/14US News & World Report 4/15/14 from AP)

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Brushing teeth with sewer water next step as Texas faces drought

Note: Desperate times call for desperate measures…

-The GJEP Team

By Darrell Preston, April 21, 2014. Source: Bloomberg

Photo: Torin Halsey/Wichita Falls Times Record News/AP Photo

Photo: Torin Halsey/Wichita Falls Times Record News/AP Photo

Pastor Bob McCartney of First Baptist Church tries to love his neighbor as himself. He’s just not thrilled that Wichita Falls will soon have him drinking water that once swirled down his neighbor’s toilet.

The Texas city of more than 104,000, suffering the worst drought on record, is about to become the first place in the U.S. to treat sewage and pump it directly back to residents. People who live in Wichita Falls, northwest of Dallas on the Oklahoma border, say they’ll buy more bottled water and try not to think about what’s flowing through their pipes when they bathe, brush their teeth and make soup.

“The idea is a bit grotesque,” said McCartney, 48, who has led prayer vigils for rain. “I’m not crazy about it.”

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Horses, teepees arrive on Mall for KXL protest

By Darren Goode, April 22, 2014. Source: Politico

Horses, Daryl Hannah, sacred fires and Neil Young — these are some of the things you’re likely to see on the National Mall starting Tuesday as part of the latest protest against the Keystone XL pipeline.

Keystone Pipeline Protest

Things kick off Tuesday morning with a short 24-horse ride from the Capitol. Photo: AP Photo

The “Reject and Protect” protest is a weeklong event hosted by the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, a group of ranchers, farmers and leaders of seven Native American tribes. Protesters said activists also plan to project anti-pipeline messages onto the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday night, hold an interfaith ceremony outside the Georgetown home of Secretary of State John Kerry and stage an unspecified “bold and creative” bit of civil disobedience.

They’re estimating that as many as 5,000 activists will take part in a march past the Capitol on Saturday. The rest of the week is expected to be more intimate.

Things kick off Tuesday morning with a short 24-horse ride from the Capitol to a reserved area near the Reflecting Pool. The Indigo Girls will perform two songs as a ceremonial teepee is erected “that will have a clear message to the president on it,” promised Jane Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska, the state’s leading anti-pipeline group.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Oil, Tar Sands

Klamath tribal members protest “celebratory” signing of agreement

April 21, 2014. Source: Warrior Publications

klamath-protest-1U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, State of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, State of California Governor Jerry Brown, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, Klamath Tribes elected officials and Klamath Basin irrigators held a “celebratory” signing of the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement last Friday at Collier Park, 4 miles north of Chiloquin.  With strong support from Senator Wyden, he stated “I am going to introduce in the first few days of May, legislation in partnership with Senator Merkley to make this agreement law.”

But the “celebration” was not held without opposition.  Members and descendants of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin tribes came together to object to the UKBCA stating that tribal membership had less than a month to review the 93 page document. Tribal Council only allowed 19 days from the mailing of the ballots by the election company to the deadline for return.

Although their addresses are current and updated, a large portion of membership either did not receive a ballot or did not did receive a ballot in time to cast a vote before the deadline. Therefore, membership feels proper voting procedure was not implemented and they did not have adequate time to make an informed decision in the referendum vote, which had a deadline of April 9th 2014 postmarked by 9 am.

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New Photo Essay Documenting Environmental and Social Struggles and Direct Actions From the 80s and 90s Released

Note: Orin Langelle is the co-founder and Board Chair for Global Justice Ecology Project

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Buffalo, NY – Earth Day 2014–Orin Langelle today released a new photo essay Defending Earth/Stopping Injustice – Struggles for Justice: late 1980s to late 90s” on his Langelle Photography website.

38-forest-activist-on-tripodOver the last four decades, Orin Langelle, a photographer who formally trained at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan, has uniquely woven together photojournalism and activism, with astonishing results. His newly released body of work covering more than fifteen years beautifully illustrates this accomplishment. The photos in this essay document direct action campaigns for both social, ecological and economic justice issues, as well as Indigenous Peoples’ struggles to protect their traditional lands. The fact that he is not just a photographer but also an activist has enabled him to gain access to these struggles in ways few others have.

Langelle explained the reason for this. “Because I approach my role as not merely documenting the struggle for social and ecological justice, but being an active part of it, I have been able to garner the trust of many of the people I have documented, allowing me access that would not have been possible otherwise. In this way, I have been able to expose the truth that is so often hidden by the powers of injustice.”

But, he points out, his photos are not meant just to expose injustice, they are meant to change it. “The photos in this essay document history. They counter the societal amnesia from which we collectively suffer—especially with regard to the history of social and ecological struggles. But this photo essay is also a call out to inspire new generations to participate in the making of a new history.  For there has been no time when such a call has been so badly needed,” he said.

Aziz Choudry, Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University in Montreal explains why the combination of activism and photojournalism is so important,

“Langelle’s unique work documents hidden and forgotten histories of the resistance against the war on the planet and the majority of its population. His images provide glimpses of possibilities– when ordinary people act collectively to fight imperialism, war and colonialism, and confront ecological devastation, to build a different world.

“Combining the passionate eye of a seasoned photojournalist, an organizer’s sensibility, and an unwavering anti-capitalist perspective, Langelle’s inspiring photography simultaneously zooms in on the soul of the struggle, and zooms out to take us beyond the image in front of us, willing us to address the root causes at the heart of the matter, rather than offer band-aid solutions,” Choudry added.

On the question of photojournalism and objectivity, Langelle says, “I take my responsibility as a concerned photographer very seriously.  Great journalists like John Reed and photojournalists like Robert Capa told the truth, and did not worry about being ‘objective.’  The myth of objective journalism, where the truth must be counterbalanced by the untruth has no place in a just society, especially when corporate propaganda already dominates so much of the media.”

Many of the campaigns documented in this photo essay had successful outcomes, including the campaign that stopped the killing of dolphins by industrial tuna fishing, the succession of direct actions that helped rescind the death warrant for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, a moratorium won against the aerial spraying of toxic herbicides on Vermont forests, the permanent cessation of all logging on Illinois state forests, and the campaign that stopped construction of hydroelectric dams on Cree territory near James Bay, Quebec.

The photos were taken all around the world, from the US, to Tasmania, Australia, to England, as well as on Indigenous Peoples’ territories in northern Quebec, Chiapas, Mexico and the remote reaches of Nicaragua.

Author and poet Diana Anholt explained what sets Langelle’s photos apart. “Few photographers possess the ability to convey the essence of a place with the authority and finesse of Orin Langelle. When I set out in search of an image for the cover of  ‘Lives of Straw,’ my collection of poetry which deals with the struggle for survival in Mexico—survival in every sense of that word— physical, spiritual and economic— it was all I could do to locate an image which didn’t include a piñata, a burro, mariachis…  By sheer accident I stumbled on the one that summed up the entire Mexican experience I was attempting to convey: A man bearing a burden. The graffiti on the wall behind him bore a political message: Libertad a Presuntos Zapatistas. (Liberty to Suspected Zapatistas)

“This was the Mexico I know and write about and Orin Langelle had captured more than an evocative image of the country.  He had captured its soul.”

Most recently Langelle became a part of the Critical Information Collective as a means to not only distribute his own historical photographs more widely, but to collect images from photographers covering struggles all over the world. Regarding his joining the collective, CIC Co-Director Ronnie Hall said, “Critical Information Collective is delighted to be joined by Orin Langelle, seasoned photojournalist and activist. He brings a wealth of communications and campaign skills and experience to the collective, and will help to launch and develop our new environmental and social justice image library.”

Orin Langelle may not be a combat photographer, but since 1972 he has risked his safety and well being to cover the war on communities and the land, sometimes in remote territories deep in the jungle or in communities imminently threatened by military or paramilitary invasion. There are few people who have been as dedicated to the movement for change or for as long as Orin Langelle. The photos in his new essay provide a powerful window into that lifetime of work.

Langelle’s photographs have appeared in numerous print and online publications including La Jornada, USA Today, Z Magazine, Race Poverty & the Environment, New Internationalist, Time Magazine, The Progressive, Christian Science Monitor, Earth Island Journal, Seedling, Radical Anthropology, Earth First! Journal, Climate Connections, World War 4 Report, Toward Freedom, UpsideDown World, plus several books. In 2010 his photographs illustrated the book covers of  Learning from the Ground Up, Indigenous Knowledge And Learning In Asia/Pacific And Africa, Towards Climate Justice and most recently, Lives of Straw.

Over the last decade Langelle’s photography has been exhibited in New York City, Boston, Washington, DC, Madison (WI), San Francisco, Santa Cruz (CA), Eugene (OR), Hinesburg, Burlington and Plainfield (VT), Buffalo, NY, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Copenhagen, Denmark, Warsaw, Poland and Bali, Indonesia.

His work has also been displayed in the Ayoreo indigenous community, Campo Loro, in the Gran Chaco region of Paraguay, and the indigenous community of Amador Hernandez, in the Lacandon jungle of Chiapas, Mexico.

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