By Jocelyn C. Zuckerman, December 4, 2013. Source: OnEarth
Photo: Marco Di Lauro
You see that coconut tree?” said Daniel Krakue, gesturing out beyond the windshield. “That used to be a village.”
It wasn’t hard to see the tree. Apart from a skinny papaya trunk, it was the only thing rising from the surrounding sea of green. We were in Sinoe County, in southwestern Liberia, on a plantation run by a company called Golden Veroleum (GVL), and for miles around there was nothing growing but baby palms, whose lime-colored fronds stretched out about as wide, some three feet or so, as they did high. Earlier we’d driven through large expanses freshly cleared of their native vegetation, weird deserts of orange mud interrupted only by the corrugated wakes of the ubiquitous giant yellow earthmovers. The company has been in operation in Liberia only since 2009. And the 543,000-acre lease it signed with the government runs for 65 years, with an option for a 33-year extension, so GVL is just getting started.
Krakue is an environmental advocate who has worked with the Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI), a local partner of Friends of the Earth, and he had accompanied me here from Monrovia, the nation’s capital, on a road so riven with ditches, potholes, and impromptu lakes that it took us eight hours to go 150 miles. Sinoe County is home to some 104,000 people, but its isolation and its history as a center of the civil wars that wracked this tiny West African nation from 1989 to 2003 have left it with the ambience of a place that’s been forgotten.
We pulled over in a village called Pluoh, a scattering of mud-and-thatch houses, where a sign staked in the ground read Malaria Spoils Belly. Aside from a few chickens scratching around and a preschooler in a raggedy party dress vigorously cranking a water pump, there wasn’t a whole lot going on. Little clusters of people sat on crude wooden benches propped beneath the thatch eaves of their huts, and the cries of babies floated on the still morning air. Krakue introduced me to Benedict Menewah, a scrawny 45-year-old father of seven, who filled me in on the story of the lone coconut tree.
Note: Watch the video here
-The GJEP Team
September 27, 2013. Source: RT
In his dramatic speech in New York, Bolivian President Evo Morales called for the UN to be moved out of the US and for Barack Obama to be tried for crimes against humanity. Speaking to RT, Morales explained his controversial proposals.
In his most controversial demand, Morales said that Obama should face an international trial with human rights watchdogs among the judges. The Bolivian president accused his US counterpart of instigating conflicts in the Middle East to make the region more volatile and to increase the US’s grip on the natural resources it abounds in. He gave Libya as an example of a country where “they arranged for the president to be killed, and they usurped Libya’s oil.”
“Now they are funding the rebels that fight against presidents who don’t support capitalism or imperialism,” Morales told Eva Golinger of RT’s Spanish sister channel, Actualidad. “And where a coup d’état is impossible, they seek to divide the people in order to weaken the nation – a provocation designed to trigger an intervention by peacekeeping forces, NATO, the UN Security Council. But the intervention itself is meant to get hold of oil resources and gain geopolitical control, rather than enforce respect for human rights.”
By John Ahni Schertow, August 5, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry
In Sapmi, the traditional territory of the Saami Peoples, a group of indigenous and non-indigenous activists have joined together to stop the UK-based mining company, Beowulf, from carrying out another drilling program in Kallak (Saami: Gállok), an area of great spiritual and cultural importance to the Saami Peoples.
Since 2006, Beowulf, through its Swedish counterpart Jokkmokk Iron Mines AB (JIMAB–formerly known as Beowulf Mining AB), has been pushing its controversial Kallak mining project forward, ignoring the Saami Peoples rights in addition to Swedish legislation and international conventions regarding the right to consultation and free, prior, and informed consent.
The Saami began speaking out against Beowulf’s mining plans after the company carried out its first drilling program in 2010. With the company breaching its own ethical guidelines, the National Saami Association stated, “In contrast to what Beowulf has reported to its shareholders, the company has not shown any willingness to cooperate with Saami communities, as required by international conventions. This is demonstrated by the company’s refusal to assist the communities’ participation in impact assessments, which are necessary to obtain knowledge of how the proposed mining would impact upon the Saami communities and their land uses.”
By Miles Howe, July 23, 2013. Source: Halifax Media Co-op
By now a familiar site. Police and security together bar entrance to SWN’s seismic testing lines. Photo: M. Howe
Yesterday, Upriver Environment Watch called a press conference at the Super 8 motel in Dieppe, New Brunswick. Attended by about 50 people, including 4 representatives from the media, the anti-shale gas action group from Kent County hosted a panel of speakers with a variety of expertise and experience.
“Impunity is the word we’re working with today,” said Anne Pohl, host of the press conference.
Pohl had, on July 19th, sent an open letter to New Brunswick Premier David Alward. The letter was at once an invitation to Alward to attend the press conference (neither he nor any member of his caucus attended) as well as a point by point description of the experienced hardships that those continuing to call for a moratorium on shale gas exploration in New Brunswick have experienced in their dealings with the RCMP, SWN Resources Canada as well as their elected government representatives.
If there was a continuous thread to the press conference, it was a general sense of frustration.
By John Ahni Schertow, July 23, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry
Angelica Choc, Adolfo Ich Chamán’s widow, announcing one of three lawsuits against HudBay Minerals Inc. (2010) Photo: James Rodriguez / mimundo.org
In a precedent-setting ruling that has national and international implications, Ontario Superior Court Justice Carole Brown has ruled that three separate lawsuits against the Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals can proceed to trial even though the plaintiffs are from another country.
“As a result of this ruling, Canadian mining corporations can no longer hide behind their legal corporate structure to abdicate responsibility for human rights abuses that take place at foreign mines under their control at various locations throughout the world,” said Murray Klippenstein, of Toronto’s Klippensteins, Barristers & Solicitors, who’s representing 13 Maya Qeqchi from El Estor, Izabal, Guatemala.
The Maya Qeqchi turned to Canada’s court system over three separate injustices that were carried out by employees of the Fenix Mining Project, a nickel mine that was acquired by HudBay Minerals after the company purchased Skye Resources in 2008.
In January 2007, Skye Resources (subsequently renamed HMI Nickel) requested the eviction of five Maya Qeqchi communities from their ancestral lands.
By Jay Taber, July 9, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry
Over the last few years, participatory mapping by indigenous communities has been heralded as a breakthrough in their relations with corporations and modern states. As the theory goes, by mapping sacred cultural sites and natural resources essential to their survival, indigenous nations can help corporate states avoid unnecessary conflict through cooperative conservation. Of course, that is only one theory, the other being that by informing corporate states of their most fundamental vulnerabilities, indigenous nations are plotting their own doom.
As it happens, this concern over betrayal by modern states, corporations and NGOs behind the participatory mapping phenomenon is well-founded. According to renowned cartographer and social scientist Denis Wood, his research in Oaxaca, Mexico reveals that participatory mapping gets turned into a method for making maps that support state and military interventions into Indigenous life. The title of his forthcoming book — Weaponizing Maps, a genealogy of U.S. Army mapping of indigenous populations where counter-insurgency military measures have been used for U.S. interests abroad — kind of sums up his view on the topic.
While participatory mapping can help indigenous peoples better understand their situation, when shared with their potential enemies, it is a double-edged sword.
By Curtis Kline, July 2, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry
Native Americans in the northern great plains have the highest cancer rates in the United States, particularly lung cancer. It’s a problem that the United States government has woefully ignored, much the horror of the men and women who must carry the painful, life-threatening burden.
The cancer rates started increasing drastically a few decades after uranium mining began on their territory.
According to a report by Earthworks, “Mining not only exposes uranium to the atmosphere, where it becomes reactive, but releases other radioactive elements such as thorium and radium and toxic heavy metals including arsenic, selenium, mercury and cadmium. Exposure to these radioactive elements can cause lung cancer, skin cancer, bone cancer, leukemia, kidney damage and birth defects.”
Today, in the northern great plains states of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, the memory of that uranium mining exists in the form of 2,885 abandoned open pit uranium mines. All of the abandoned mines can be found on land that is supposed to be for the absolute use of the Great Sioux Nation under the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty with the United States.
May 6, 2013. Source: African Women’s Development Fund
We the undersigned participants at a strategic meeting on Women’s Economic Empowerment and Livelihoods, held in Cape Town on 3-4 May under the auspices of the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), wish to communicate the following key messages from our deliberations to the World Economic Forum-Africa meeting “Delivering on Africa’s Promise”, 8-10 May 2013
We welcome the new positive image of “Africa Rising,” and stand proud of the achievements of the continent’s women and men against overwhelming odds. As partners in the efforts to ensure that Africa’s growth is sustainable and is in the interest of the continent and its peoples, we wish to bring to the attention of this meeting, the following concerns in the hopes that they will form a part of the deliberations:
We remain sceptical that real progress for Africa’s one billion people—the majority of whom are women–will change radically through policies centred unremittingly on markets and profits, and based predominantly on the extraction of mineral resources. African people’s needs and interests—particularly those of women—are not part of this narrow economic vision. As African women, we are only too aware that:
By Erin Flegg, April 20, 2013. Source: Vancouver Observer
Photo: Erin Flegg
In the latest step toward opposing oil pipelines at every port in Canada, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation of Burrard Inlet signed on to the International Treaty to Protect the Sacred yesterday. The nation held a press conference at the Sheraton Wall Centre where newly elected Chief Maureen Thomas signed the document, witnessed by the president of the BC Union of Indian Chiefs Stewart Phillip and national chief of the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo.
The West Coast Oil Pipeline Summit followed the signing. The theme of the event was urgency, with several leaders touching on the need to oppose development at a grassroots level.
Stewart Phillip told reporters and community members assembled that the First Nations of BC are committed to using the legal system to defend their constitutional rights, but that’s not the only strategy they’re using.
“More importantly, we have committed to standing shoulder to shoulder on the land itself.”
By David P. Ball. April 11, 2013. Source: Indian Country Today Media Network
Photo: Derek Montague/The Labradorian
A 74-year old Inuit elder has ended a hunger strike and been released from jail after being arrested along with seven others protesting the controversial Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam on the Churchill River in Labrador.
But another of the arrestees says the protesters, who have been fighting for decades to gain full national recognition as Inuit descendants in Canada’s easternmost province, are undaunted.
“We’ve been pushed around for generations,” said Todd Russell, president of the NunatuKavut Community Council (formerly the Labrador Métis Association), who was taken into custody along with Elder James Learning for blocking roads to protest the controversial Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project. “We will defend ourselves in the court system, but we will continue to assert our aboriginal rights to our traditional territory, and we will continue to mount protest after protest if that’s what it takes to have our views known and our rights respected.”
At issue is the Muskrat Falls power project, a $7.7-billion plan to build a hydroelectric power station and a new dam on the Churchill River. The project would also see massive transmission lines installed to supply power to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.