Report: Hundreds killed while defending environment, land rights
April 16, 2014

Hundreds of people have been killed while defending the environment and land rights around the world, international monitors said in a report released Tuesday, highlighting what they called a culture of impunity surrounding the deaths.

At least 908 people were killed in 35 countries from 2002 to 2013 during disputes over industrial logging, mining, and land rights – with Latin America and Asia-Pacific being particularly hard-hit – according to the study from Global Witness, a London-based nongovernmental organization that says it works to expose economic networks behind conflict, corruption and environmental destruction.

Only 10 people have ever been convicted over the hundreds of deaths, the report said.

The rate of such deaths has risen sharply – with an average of two activists killed each week – over the past four years as competition for the world’s natural resources has accelerated, Global Witness said in the report titled “Deadly Environment.”

“There can be few starker or more obvious symptoms of the global environmental crisis than a dramatic upturn in the killings of ordinary people defending rights to their land or environment,” said Oliver Courtney, a senior campaigner for Global Witness.

“This rapidly worsening problem is going largely unnoticed, and those responsible almost always get away with it,” Courtney said.

The report’s release followed a dire warning by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said global warming is driving humanity toward unprecedented risk due to factors such as food and water insecurity. Global Witness said this puts environmental activists in more danger than ever before.

Land rights are central to the violence, as “companies and governments routinely strike secretive deals for large chunks of land and forests to grow cash crops,” the report said. When residents refuse to give up their land rights to mining operations and the timber trade, they are often forced from their homes, or worse, it said.

The study ranked Brazil as the most dangerous place to be an environmentalist, with at least 448 killings recorded.

One case that especially shocked the country and the global environmental movement involved the 2011 killings of environmentalists Jose Claudio Ribeira da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espirito Santo da Silva.

“The couple had denounced the encroachment of illegal loggers in the reserve and had previously received threats against their lives,” the report said.

Masked men gunned down the couple near a sustainable reserve where they had worked for decades producing nuts and natural oils. The killers tore off one of Jose Claudio’s ears as proof of his execution.

Full article

returnthegayze

returnthegayze:

We Are Nothing (And That is Beautiful) 
Full Text by Alok Vaid-Menon

I’d like to begin with a poem

remember the first day of freshman year of college when we were nothing but a name and a dot on the map at the front of the hall?

remember when we did not cry when our parents left us in those rooms too cramped for all of our expectations (and, perhaps, naïveté)?

remember the first time we met and you told me that you were still open, but you were pretty sure
you’d declare a major in philosophy or english because
you wept the first time you read the perks of being a wallflower
and we shared a sacred and unquenchable lust for bad science fiction

remember how hopeful we were –
that this school would
allow us to “find ourselves,” 
“change the world,”
and other slogans we
recited from all the view books
the ones we stitched to our throats 
when they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up

so when you changed your major to econ,
so when you pledged that fraternity,
so when you replaced t-shirt with j-crew, 
so when you accepted that ‘prestigious’ position at an investment bank 
and expected me to be proud of you because you were going to ‘dismantle the system from within’
because you were different from ‘them’

i couldn’t help but wonder at what point
we become the tucked in shirt, the
wallet in pocket, the 9-5
we grew up fearing

you, whose love of learning stuck longer than the stickers your teachers adorned your homework with
you, who couldn’t fall asleep after reading marx in debate camp because things finally made sense again
you, who came to this university with a spirit unable to be disciplined 

what happened to you?

you who sacrificed dream for diploma,
revolution for resume,
in that factory that produces profit out of potential prophet
where change falls from hearts into pockets
won’t teach you how to stop it
'cuz gotta make that endowment rocket!

‘liberal arts college degree’ becomes a fancy way of saying
‘can spend 8 hours designing power point slides’  
OR
‘can forget all promises for promotion’
OR
'can quote classic literature at business dinners to seduce the clients'

so what if this education was really about making you so ignorant that you forgot how to think for yourself? 

so what if the best way to dominate a world is to pretend that you are saving it? 

you, the twenty something year old
idealist gone corporate in your 
first suit throwing theory at a Wall that will swallow you up and spit you back on the Street discharged like the cold hard cash
of an ATM machine your heart beat reduced
to a series of transactions
when you hugged me goodbye i almost expected you to ask me for a receipt:
proof of purchase for a friendship you
consumed when it made cents for your
career trajectory.

I’m sorry i did not make
the cut for the walking resume
you mistake as a body

But
I want to believe you because I want to believe in the power of a creativity undisciplined: that time we read our first book, saw our first eclipse, saw her smile. The joy and chaos of it all.

So what if it’s just chaos? 
That space and time before friendship got postponed by deadlines
future segregated into interviews and internships

So what if we are really insignificant like the dot on the map from freshman year?
Why does it matter?  What if we are nothing? What if that is beautiful? 
What if we cried when our parents left us but didn’t tell each other? 
What if I am crying because you are leaving me but will not tell you because I do not have the market value to make you listen
that I think you are worth more than any salary increase they will give you, that your mind cannot be transcribed on a spreadsheet of numbers, that I am waiting here for you, broke, but not broken,
remembering what you could have done
before you
sold out.

Thank you. In the spirit of full disclosure I am here to recruit you. This is not a recruitment interview like the ones your career centers have prepared you for. This is not about your resume and job skills. I do not care where you went to school nor what you majored in. These things are no longer relevant in a world where we are losing some of our most creative minds to the epidemic of success.

This is not the crisis they tell you about on the news: that the economy is tanking, the world is at war. This is something different. This is a crisis of success. Too many things are working too well. The government isn’t broken; it is thriving. The universities are not broken; they are perfect. Our generation is not apathetic; it is flourishing.

This means that you are not actually a leader, an innovator, an exceptional student, and all of the other medals they have placed around your neck. These are merely accomplishments that you have been taught define your worth. Should you desire to be successful you will not actually bring human rights for all, eliminate poverty, end nuclear war, or fix Congress. If you go in with this mindset chances are you will be defeated like all the generations before us.

The key to changing the world is to fail to live up to its expectations.

My name is Alok Vaid-Menon and you could call me a fashionista, activist, or provocateur but I’d prefer to call myself a professional failure: someone who (at least my mother reminds me) was set for all the riches of the world but somehow took a detour on the way. You see, I grew up in a comfortable middle class Indian family where the expectation was that I’d always be some fancy schmancy academic.  Both of my parents were PhD’s so from a young age the bar was set high: I remember getting chastised for talking on the phone rather than reading the New York Times. I had to learn how to argue for the legitimacy of everything. The key was finding a scholar who had written about something and then it became magically legitimate: this is how I discovered Critical Youtube Studies (it’s real).

It’s not that my parents pressured me to do well in school; it was more of a quiet expectation. This was part of our immigration story: to move to this country and not challenge its rules, but do better than everyone else. Which goes to say that from an early age success seemed like the only way to justify my parents’ journey across the ocean. When I got into Stanford my parents didn’t really congratulate me, it was something more, well…expected.

But when I got to school I started to see how violent success could actually be.

At my opening convocation – before we had actually done anything — I was told that I was surrounded by the future leaders of the world. Yet what I soon realized is that the way we were defining success was less about our impact and actually more about prestige

In the beginning everyone seemed to have some brilliant idea of what it was going to take to change the world. But then at some point the methods became… shall we say…less specific. We were expected to congratulate the class leader– a self proclaimed ‘public servant’ – even though he accepted a job offer at a corporation that left hundreds of thousands of people starving. We were expected to applaud for a successful keynote speaker and not mention his vocal support for racist policies. Low and behold my classmates continued to flock to all of the talks by these ‘success stories’ not because of what they’d actually done, but because of this elusive concept of who they were.

Success has never really been about fixing problems; it’s been about perpetuating them. The pomp and circumstance around success masks over the incredible violence it takes to accomplish. Think about it: What happened to the thousands of students who were denied admission to your university? What happened to the hundreds of applicants who didn’t get the job you got? Who is made to suffer so that you can thrive? Do you even care?

Success is about self-promotion, not putting change into motion.

We are part of a generation whose elders expect us to fix the problems we inherited. But the irony is that we are bound to fail just like them because we are using the same tactics.

Success just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Ask yourself this:

If all the best universities really produced the most successful leaders then why do we still have so much corruption? 

If all the success stories throughout time were really successful then why do we still find ourselves living in a violently unequal world? 

I think it’s time we broke up with success, at least as it’s currently been defined.

I know you’re skeptical. This contradicts well everything we’ve been taught about how the world works. Success feels good and I am asking you to feel bad about it.  I get in: I sound totally ridiculous. It’s like what would it have felt like in second grade to write your first love poem and have your teach respond “you failed!” Hear me out. 

I didn’t always think this way. It took me failing — and recognizing how beautiful that was — to understand.

In 2011 I had the opportunity to work with transgender movement in South Africa. I was there to study the discrepancy between progressive legislation and the tremendous experience of violence. Naturally – as a type A model minority — things went according to plan. I got the most generous research grants, obtained cutting edge interviews and I genuinely felt that I had identified what could be fixed.

I returned to the US to start writing my thesis. In the process I got an email that one of the women I worked with in the office with had passed way. I had just listened to her interview the day before. Her name was Cym.

What is the point of a thesis written in a language inaccessible by the very people it is about? What is the point of a researcher who knows the name of theorists but not the names of her own neighbors? Who is invited to present a paper on a movement and who must die for it?

I never spent the time getting to know Cym because I was so fixated on being the perfect academic. I was so concerned with success that I glossed over the places where real transformative work could have occurred: the work of building trust, solidarity, empathy. The hard and invisible parts. I shared the same office with her for two months and I couldn’t tell you her favorite color, where she lived, and what made her weep for joy. The only parts of her that mattered were the parts that fit into my own analysis. 

Success can be a violent and manipulative process. The thesis committee didn’t care about my ability to contribute to the movement, my ability to make the knowledge relevant and accessible by local organizers. The publishing of my thesis would do nothing to end violence in South Africa – if anything it would continue it so that future foreign researchers could come and study it for their own job promotion. Let’s call that a success story.

So I changed my topic. I deleted Cym’s interview. And I started thinking. Even though I failed at being an academic, I succeeded at becoming a better human being. Failure is, in its own way, another type of success.

The system isn’t broken.

Every problem in the world can actually be reconsidered as the successful implementation of an idea: the persistence of segregated schools is the accomplishment of institutionalized racism, the crisis of student debt reveals the success of the logic that we should pay for our education rather than be entitled to it, the persistence of violence against LGBT people reveals the clout of a currency of intolerance. These issues are not problems. They are victories; they are success stories.

The system isn’t broken. It’s working. It is working so well that it teaches us that it broken in order to keep us continually trying to improve it rather than building alternatives.

To be successful is actually to maintain the status quo. Few of us have thought about who determines the standards of success let alone challenged them. Because we have allowed the crisis of success to go unregulated, we find ourselves in a peculiar state of contradiction: celebrating so many success stories while by and large – the world is actually getting more unhealthy, unequal, and unbearable for the majority of people.

Those of us interested in solving these problems can no longer defer to the typical success sorry. We have to create new models of success: models that are not as superficial and selfish. Our models might be thought of as failures, and to some degree they are right. We are failing to accept a world of injustice. We are failing to buy into the myth of progress. We are failing to leave one another behind.

So I encourage you to fail more.

Consider how your passion has been stolen from you and manipulated into a career trajectory oriented toward status and not substance. Think about whose standards define success and what this success will actually and realistically accomplish for people beyond yourself.

And what I hope you will find by failing is that a whole new world of possibilities opens up for you: like the time I failed and remembered how to love strangers. There are possibilities for transformation hidden by our drive to succeed. This is actually the most important work: work like building relationships with your neighbors, crying together, making art and movements, healing, and all of the million skills that will never fit on your resume. These can become your new standards of success. Think about the parts of the day you do not tell people about, the gray areas that do not make it into your conversations and job interviews. These parts are the most exciting and transformative. Major in that feeling.

Personally I am trying my best to reconsider the parts of my life I used to think were insignificant and find beauty in them in. The most important work I do now is entering data in spreadsheets, ordering food for political organizing meetings, listening to people share their stories, and calling my mom every night to explain my politics. These things are not going directly change legislation, they will not give me an award or a degree, but I hope they are doing the slow work of unweaving the fabric of our culture.

And this, I think, is what is going to change the world. It’s not going to happen tomorrow or the next day it’s going to happen when we stop aspiring to be successful and reaching to the top, but rather reaching our arms out and clinging onto one another desperately and ferociously. Remembering an interconnectivity that our schools, our careers, our own insecurities are trying to eradicate. Remembering that we are nothing and how beautiful that is because they won’t be able to anticipate what is coming.

I’d like to close with a poem to honor Cym and all of the other casualties of our success stories.

my summer in cape town: or, i’m sorry for using you

They will ask you
Whether your project can inflict ‘harm’
And you will respond: “minor discomfort” to expedite the review process 

Her name is Cym,
And the arc of her smile mirrors her painted eyebrows,

On Mondays she asks you what you did over the weekend.
You do not tell her. 

You are guilty of the conversion rate, how you can afford a club, a skin, a language that she never will.
She wants to know what it feels like to live in America
If you have a handsome boyfriend there who will buy you dinner sometimes

In your field research class they will teach you about the importance of obtaining consent.

Cym cannot sign your forms
So she communicates with the earnesty of hazel eyes
Smiles, tells you how she used to let heroine and men
Inside of her and sometimes couldn’t tell the difference,
Laughs
Tells you how the cops would beat her in men’s prisons

In the international research workshop they will tell you not to get involved in your subjects’ personal life.

Your palms are sweaty, do not let them smear the ink.
Keep writing as she laughs and encourages you to ask more questions

An aneurysm is a blood-filled bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. When the size of an aneurysm increases, there is a significant risk of rupture, often resulting in death.

A researcher is an ambitious distraction at the back of the room. When the amount of information increases, there is a significant risk of an epiphany, often resulting in a published paper. 

She will die nine months after your interview. 
You can still remember the scent her smile 

One.
Dear Cym: In America I am learning how to think that I am better than you.
In fact, I am majoring in you. Don’t worry, they don’t use your name, keep it confidential

Two.
I am turning your body into a new theory
Academics work like Johns sometimes don’t worry,
Don’t worry they will pay me to use you,
I will cut you some of the profit in my acknowledgements.

Three.
My thesis will be in English,
In the accent you heard on re-runs of friends, Cym I’m sorry we weren’t friends, but I wanted to keep it professional
I promise I will print it on the whitest paper I can find,
So they can see the black in your words

Four.
I will bury you in a library,
I hope you will find home there
In this haunted house of quotations
Hanging on the shelves like skeletons

Listen to the recorded transcript on repeat,
Feel her laughter crawl into you,
Watch it spark the timber wood of your bones,
And burn your paper in the flames

And cry because we refuse to let people inside of us in fear of imploding
And cry because you have the story of a woman nested in the back of your throat and you do not deserve it.

Dear Cym

What I really meant to ask is:
What theory did you use to stay warm at night? 
Is, Can you teach me?

This is probably my all-time favorite TED talk. So important - everyone should watch!

16 protesters delay tar sands megaload, arrested December 17, 2013
Police arrested 16 protesters late Monday as activists locked themselves to disabled vehicles in front of a tar-sands megaload near John Day, delaying the shipment’s passage.
“Climate justice groups stopped the movement of a controversial shipment of equipment bound for the Alberta tar sands,” said a news release issued at 1:49 a.m. Tuesday by Portland Rising Tide, an activists’ network. “Police responded and arrested 16 at the two blockade sites, using ‘pain compliance’ to extract them.”
The blockade is the second pulled off by activists slowing the 901,000-pound rig as it heads for Alberta via Oregon and Idaho. The load was first blocked Dec. 1, when two men locked themselves to the truck and had to be extracted by police, which took so long the shipment canceled its nightly move.
This time the megaload was able to proceed, said Holly Zander, a spokeswoman for Omega Morgan, the trucking company.
"After the protesters were removed from the road we proceeded with travel and are about 30 miles east of John Day now," Zander said in a Tuesday morning email. She expects the rig and its convoy to travel about 35 miles Tuesday night.

Protesters demonstrated at Omega Morgan’s Hillsboro headquarters last week. They say extraction of petroleum products from Alberta’s tar sands is environmentally destructive, hastening global climate change.
Zander says Omega Morgan is just doing its job hauling giant cargo, a routine project for the company that moved the Sellwood Bridge platform and helped replace the Skagit River Bridge.
The megaload is hauling an evaporator manufactured in Portland to the Athabasca oil fields north of Edmonton. Omega Morgan says the shipment is the first of three for General Electric Co., which owns the equipment.
Source

16 protesters delay tar sands megaload, arrested 
December 17, 2013

Police arrested 16 protesters late Monday as activists locked themselves to disabled vehicles in front of a tar-sands megaload near John Day, delaying the shipment’s passage.

“Climate justice groups stopped the movement of a controversial shipment of equipment bound for the Alberta tar sands,” said a news release issued at 1:49 a.m. Tuesday by Portland Rising Tide, an activists’ network. “Police responded and arrested 16 at the two blockade sites, using ‘pain compliance’ to extract them.”

The blockade is the second pulled off by activists slowing the 901,000-pound rig as it heads for Alberta via Oregon and Idaho. The load was first blocked Dec. 1, when two men locked themselves to the truck and had to be extracted by police, which took so long the shipment canceled its nightly move.

This time the megaload was able to proceed, said Holly Zander, a spokeswoman for Omega Morgan, the trucking company.

"After the protesters were removed from the road we proceeded with travel and are about 30 miles east of John Day now," Zander said in a Tuesday morning email. She expects the rig and its convoy to travel about 35 miles Tuesday night.

Protesters demonstrated at Omega Morgan’s Hillsboro headquarters last week. They say extraction of petroleum products from Alberta’s tar sands is environmentally destructive, hastening global climate change.

Zander says Omega Morgan is just doing its job hauling giant cargo, a routine project for the company that moved the Sellwood Bridge platform and helped replace the Skagit River Bridge.

The megaload is hauling an evaporator manufactured in Portland to the Athabasca oil fields north of Edmonton. Omega Morgan says the shipment is the first of three for General Electric Co., which owns the equipment.

Source

While reading one of their emails, I’ve discovered that Strafor Vice-President Bartholomew Mongoven has some fairly strong feelings about me. In the leaked Wikileaks emails he describes me as “nuts. Like out there.”

Furthermore, he’s concerned that I’m inciting violence when calling for an escalation and nationalization of the anti-extraction movements. (Sorry Bart, as always, I call for a non-violent confrontation of the fossil fuel industry, unlike your bosses in those industries who actually do use violence against people and the planet.)

In another communication, Mongoven calls me “Nuts? Paranoid? Dramatic after reading a blog I’d written commenting on corporate surveillance of my employer. The irony of a private security firm calling me “paranoid” while spying on me at the same time is not lost on me.
Rising Tide & Rainforest Action Network organizer Scott Parkin, "Reflections on the Corporate Security State"

Today I wanted to share some quotes by several-decade-spanning American activist and self-identifying revolutionary Grace Lee Boggs. Here’s a near-release documentary which she is the subject of.

Grace Lee Boggs is a 98-year-old Chinese American woman in Detroit whose vision of revolution will surprise you.

A writer, activist, and philosopher rooted for more than 70 years in the African American movement, she has devoted her life to an evolving revolution that encompasses the contradictions of America’s past and its potentially radical future.

More here: http://americanrevolutionaryfilm.com

These image quotes are all available to share on Facebook via The People’s Record Facebook page as well. 

Green activists navigate life in the post-privacy eraNovember 2, 2013
We now know that the U.S. government can obtain virtually any email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, Skype messages, file transfers, and social networking details it wants. We know that it can monitor the location, duration, and telephone numbers involved in any phone call on an ongoing, daily basis.  We know that it monitored the foreign officials who traveled to the G20 summit in 2009. We know that it has deliberately weakened the encryption software meant to protect financial transactions. We know that it has tapped into the fiber-optic cables connecting international servers so that it can copy, basically, any information that moves through them.
What does this mean for environmental activists, who, like the rest of us, increasingly organize their lives over the internet? “I remember in the past we used to tell each other to wipe our phone’s contacts before protests,”  says Joshua Kahn Russell, who once organized protests with the Ruckus Society and now is a global community manager with 350.org. “I can’t imagine activists doing that now, since the government and private companies have infinitely more access to our personal information that we freely provide through Facebook and other social networking sites.”
The ’90s and early ’00s were, arguably, the peak of government paranoia about the environmental movement. In 2005, John Lewis, the top FBI official in charge of domestic terrorism, declared that radical environmentalists were the No. 1 domestic terrorist threat. State, local, and federal officials dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort to tracking down the disbanded members of The Family, an offshoot of the Earth Liberation Front that set fire to a car dealership, a ski resort, a horse slaughterhouse, and other sites in the Pacific Northwest. The FBI also spent three years monitoring Greenpeace [PDF] and put several members on the terrorism watch list, in an investigation that the Justice Department’s inspector general later ruled was improper.
If electronic surveillance is being used on environmental activists, there is not much sign of it yet. “We use everything from two-way radios to cellphones to internet to chat to Facebook to organize,” says Ramsey Sprague, a Texan who has worked with the Tar Sands Blockade. “We follow Basic Security Culture, which is just about being aware of what you are talking about, and who you are talking about it with.”
The most visible manifestation of surveillance in the environmental movement has been a rash of undercover agents. At times they have engaged in activities that blurred the lines between police work and entrapment; but for the most part, they’re a consistent enough presence that every experienced environmental group has a policy for dealing with them.
“It goes against the core values of inclusion to look at someone and say ‘That looks like a cop,’” says Sprague. “Although young officers do look very … sculpted. So you have them do outreach. Send them out to go talk to people who are really being affected by what oil companies are doing in their community.”
Both Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Sandy were visited by undercover informants, as were groups like the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance. That organization figured out it was being monitored this March, after its plan to block the gates to TransCanada’s oil reserves in Cushing, Okla., was derailed by the sudden appearance of police officers, who began to pull over cars full of demonstrators before they even reached Cushing.
SourcePhoto: Tar Sands Blockade in Nacogdoches, Texas November 2012

Green activists navigate life in the post-privacy era
November 2, 2013

We now know that the U.S. government can obtain virtually any email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, Skype messages, file transfers, and social networking details it wants. We know that it can monitor the location, duration, and telephone numbers involved in any phone call on an ongoing, daily basis.  We know that it monitored the foreign officials who traveled to the G20 summit in 2009. We know that it has deliberately weakened the encryption software meant to protect financial transactions. We know that it has tapped into the fiber-optic cables connecting international servers so that it can copy, basically, any information that moves through them.

What does this mean for environmental activists, who, like the rest of us, increasingly organize their lives over the internet? “I remember in the past we used to tell each other to wipe our phone’s contacts before protests,”  says Joshua Kahn Russell, who once organized protests with the Ruckus Society and now is a global community manager with 350.org. “I can’t imagine activists doing that now, since the government and private companies have infinitely more access to our personal information that we freely provide through Facebook and other social networking sites.”

The ’90s and early ’00s were, arguably, the peak of government paranoia about the environmental movement. In 2005, John Lewis, the top FBI official in charge of domestic terrorism, declared that radical environmentalists were the No. 1 domestic terrorist threat. State, local, and federal officials dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort to tracking down the disbanded members of The Family, an offshoot of the Earth Liberation Front that set fire to a car dealership, a ski resort, a horse slaughterhouse, and other sites in the Pacific Northwest. The FBI also spent three years monitoring Greenpeace [PDF] and put several members on the terrorism watch list, in an investigation that the Justice Department’s inspector general later ruled was improper.

If electronic surveillance is being used on environmental activists, there is not much sign of it yet. “We use everything from two-way radios to cellphones to internet to chat to Facebook to organize,” says Ramsey Sprague, a Texan who has worked with the Tar Sands Blockade. “We follow Basic Security Culture, which is just about being aware of what you are talking about, and who you are talking about it with.”

The most visible manifestation of surveillance in the environmental movement has been a rash of undercover agents. At times they have engaged in activities that blurred the lines between police work and entrapment; but for the most part, they’re a consistent enough presence that every experienced environmental group has a policy for dealing with them.

“It goes against the core values of inclusion to look at someone and say ‘That looks like a cop,’” says Sprague. “Although young officers do look very … sculpted. So you have them do outreach. Send them out to go talk to people who are really being affected by what oil companies are doing in their community.”

Both Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Sandy were visited by undercover informants, as were groups like the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance. That organization figured out it was being monitored this March, after its plan to block the gates to TransCanada’s oil reserves in Cushing, Okla., was derailed by the sudden appearance of police officers, who began to pull over cars full of demonstrators before they even reached Cushing.

Source
Photo: Tar Sands Blockade in Nacogdoches, Texas November 2012

Brazilian activists liberate beagles from pharmaceutical testing lab
October 30, 2013

Animal rights activists in Brazil rescued nearly 200 beagles last week from a laboratory that was experimenting on the dogs for the pharmaceutical industry.

According to one activist I spoke with in Brazil, the protest began with about 40 people outside of Instituto Royal in San Roque because the lab had been accused of animal cruelty. As the crowd grew to about 150 people, they could hear the cries of the dogs. Some activists entered the building, opened the cages, and began rescuing them.

Nearly 200 dogs were immediately taken to veterinary clinics in the area. They were found in filthy conditions. Some of them were mutilated and other had tumors. One dog had no eyes.

Since the rescue, Instituto Royal has been shut down pending a government investigation. The lab says that even if police recapture stolen beagles, they will be put up for adoption.

Yet, following the lead of the U.S. animal testing industry, the lab is also saying saying that the open rescue was an act of terrorism.

Source

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resistkxl:

Native Women: Leading the Fight Against the Tar Sands 

Faith Spotted Eagle, Ihanktonwan Dakota Signatory to the Treaty to Protect the Sacred. Testified at public hearing in Nebraska against Keystone XL. 

Crystal Lameman, Beaver Lake Cree Grassroots activist, organizing in Alberta against tar sands devastation on her nation’s territory. In 2012, she was a delegate to the UN Rio+20 Summit. 

Debra White Plume, Oglala Lakota Organizer with Moccasins on the Ground, which trains Native people an allies in direct action tactics in anticipation of the approval of Keystone XL North 

Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabeg One of the founders of the Indigenous Women’s Network, founder of Honor the Earth. Longtime indigenous activist, LaDuke is (at the time of writing) riding across the length of Enbridge’s pipelines in Minnesota to raise awareness.

Casey Camp-Horineck, Ponca Actress and activist, Camp-Horineck provided important support and guidance to Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance in their work stopping construction of KXL south

Tantoo Cardinal, Metis/Cree Born in Ft McMurray, Cardinal was arrested outside the White House at the massive 2011 sit-in against the Keystone XL pipeline. She has continued to organize against Keystone XL. 

**This in no way encompasses all the accomplishments of these women.**

Anti-fascist free speech not tolerated in LondonSeptember 10, 2013
A young man wearing a taqiyah looks up at me as his friend moves out of earshot. He is worried his friend’s family may not understand the minor nature of the crime they have committed. We are in the foyer of Croydon police station, where I am offering support to those arrested at an anti-fascist march. Both men, along with several of their associates, have been released from custody within the last half an hour. A few moments later, a woman informs us that she is three months’ pregnant. She says she was arrested, along with the others, at around 2pm on Saturday and has been in police custody for more than 12 hours.
More arrestees, Spanish, come out, the trickle now gaining some momentum. One of them, a young woman, tells me of how she had asked for an interpreter and had for some considerable time required access to medication while in custody. She was provided with an officer who spoke broken Spanish and who she thinks could barely understand her. At no point was she given access to a doctor or asked about the medication she required. Another man, of Bangladeshi origin, tells me he was arrested on the street on which he lives, while his friend says he was arrested on the street on which his mother lives; both are incredulous that peacefully assembling in such places is a criminal offence.
A few hours earlier, I had been in Sutton police station, once again assisting in legal support. This involved getting names and contact details as well as providing food and drink for people as they were released from custody. The range of languages I overheard in both stations was remarkable: English, French, Arabic, Turkish, Bengali, Italian, Spanish and German. The arrestees offered a representation of the London that I know. Spaniards and Italians talked to British Bangladeshis from Tower Hamlets. Some were activists, most were not. Earlier in the day a friend said he had seen several young women on the protest wearing Galatasaray jerseys while in Sutton I had the pleasure of meeting a group of cousins, nearly all in their teens, speaking Turkish to one another. They had all been arrested.
A total of 286 people were arrested in Tower Hamlets on Saturday as they moved to confront a nearby demonstration of the English Defence League. The arrestees were a mix of activists, many from the Anti-Fascist Network, and local residents. Nearly all were arrested for alleged offences under sections 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act. For many it felt as if their crime consisted of little more than exercising their democratic right to free assembly.
This episode follows on from the 145 arrests in Fortnum & Mason in 2011, the 182 arrests the following year on the eve of the Olympics, and the 58 arrests of anti-fascist protesters in Whitehall earlier this summer. In all four cases, not to mention countless others, there were few or no charges for more serious public order crimes such as affray or violent disorder (charges which have been deployed in a seemingly highly political manner, most prominently in the 2010 UK student movement on individuals such as Frank Fernie, Zac King and Alfie Meadows). A picture emerges from these figures: anyone who deviates from a choreographed protest route or seeks to step beyond the confines of official dissent, no matter how peaceful, will likely face arrest.
It should be remembered that protest is by nature both contentious and disruptive – any scholar of its history will tell you as much, and if a polity is incapable of dealing with collective contention it is difficult to see how it is embodying democratic principles. That the UK increasingly accepts protest only overseen by official administrators of dissent, such as the TUC, whose lives more closely resemble those with whom they are supposedly in contestation than much of the general public, is of great concern. Even for these institutionally embedded and well-resourced actors the scope for unchoreographed dissent is increasingly limited, and this holds true with regards to not only protest and public order law but also some of the most stringent anti-strike legislation in the OECD. In an age when policymakers claim to want a strong civil society and frequently ask how to politically engage younger generations, mass arrests, primarily of young working-class people whose only crime isassembly, renders clear how insincere such questioning actually is.
Those arrested on Saturday represent the London I have come to know: ethnically diverse, of all ages and from a range of economic backgrounds; bound together by mutual respect of difference and recognition of shared commonality. On the other hand the actions of the police on the day represented the continuation of a strategy based on a complete disdain for the principles of free association and assembly. A bronze commander standing by a number of empty buses, soon to be filled with protesters, smirked when he said: “We’re not leaving until these wagons are full.” Such words and the equivalence he drew between a politically engaged public and cattle to fill quotas belies the contempt in which the public, when they choose to disagree, are ultimately held.

Source

Anti-fascist free speech not tolerated in London
September 10, 2013

A young man wearing a taqiyah looks up at me as his friend moves out of earshot. He is worried his friend’s family may not understand the minor nature of the crime they have committed. We are in the foyer of Croydon police station, where I am offering support to those arrested at an anti-fascist march. Both men, along with several of their associates, have been released from custody within the last half an hour. A few moments later, a woman informs us that she is three months’ pregnant. She says she was arrested, along with the others, at around 2pm on Saturday and has been in police custody for more than 12 hours.

More arrestees, Spanish, come out, the trickle now gaining some momentum. One of them, a young woman, tells me of how she had asked for an interpreter and had for some considerable time required access to medication while in custody. She was provided with an officer who spoke broken Spanish and who she thinks could barely understand her. At no point was she given access to a doctor or asked about the medication she required. Another man, of Bangladeshi origin, tells me he was arrested on the street on which he lives, while his friend says he was arrested on the street on which his mother lives; both are incredulous that peacefully assembling in such places is a criminal offence.

A few hours earlier, I had been in Sutton police station, once again assisting in legal support. This involved getting names and contact details as well as providing food and drink for people as they were released from custody. The range of languages I overheard in both stations was remarkable: English, French, Arabic, Turkish, Bengali, Italian, Spanish and German. The arrestees offered a representation of the London that I know. Spaniards and Italians talked to British Bangladeshis from Tower Hamlets. Some were activists, most were not. Earlier in the day a friend said he had seen several young women on the protest wearing Galatasaray jerseys while in Sutton I had the pleasure of meeting a group of cousins, nearly all in their teens, speaking Turkish to one another. They had all been arrested.

A total of 286 people were arrested in Tower Hamlets on Saturday as they moved to confront a nearby demonstration of the English Defence League. The arrestees were a mix of activists, many from the Anti-Fascist Network, and local residents. Nearly all were arrested for alleged offences under sections 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act. For many it felt as if their crime consisted of little more than exercising their democratic right to free assembly.

This episode follows on from the 145 arrests in Fortnum & Mason in 2011, the 182 arrests the following year on the eve of the Olympics, and the 58 arrests of anti-fascist protesters in Whitehall earlier this summer. In all four cases, not to mention countless others, there were few or no charges for more serious public order crimes such as affray or violent disorder (charges which have been deployed in a seemingly highly political manner, most prominently in the 2010 UK student movement on individuals such as Frank FernieZac King and Alfie Meadows). A picture emerges from these figures: anyone who deviates from a choreographed protest route or seeks to step beyond the confines of official dissent, no matter how peaceful, will likely face arrest.

It should be remembered that protest is by nature both contentious and disruptive – any scholar of its history will tell you as much, and if a polity is incapable of dealing with collective contention it is difficult to see how it is embodying democratic principles. That the UK increasingly accepts protest only overseen by official administrators of dissent, such as the TUC, whose lives more closely resemble those with whom they are supposedly in contestation than much of the general public, is of great concern. Even for these institutionally embedded and well-resourced actors the scope for unchoreographed dissent is increasingly limited, and this holds true with regards to not only protest and public order law but also some of the most stringent anti-strike legislation in the OECD. In an age when policymakers claim to want a strong civil society and frequently ask how to politically engage younger generations, mass arrests, primarily of young working-class people whose only crime isassembly, renders clear how insincere such questioning actually is.

Those arrested on Saturday represent the London I have come to know: ethnically diverse, of all ages and from a range of economic backgrounds; bound together by mutual respect of difference and recognition of shared commonality. On the other hand the actions of the police on the day represented the continuation of a strategy based on a complete disdain for the principles of free association and assembly. A bronze commander standing by a number of empty buses, soon to be filled with protesters, smirked when he said: “We’re not leaving until these wagons are full.” Such words and the equivalence he drew between a politically engaged public and cattle to fill quotas belies the contempt in which the public, when they choose to disagree, are ultimately held.

Source

Here are two relevant quotes that come to mind:

"You can’t be neutral on a moving train." -Howard Zinn
"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." -Archbishop Desmond Tutu

EDIT: I had a third by Elie Wiesel, but apparently he’s a supporter of apartheid and oppression against Palestinian people so yeah, fuck that guy. 

Here are two relevant quotes that come to mind:

"You can’t be neutral on a moving train." -Howard Zinn

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." -Archbishop Desmond Tutu

EDIT: I had a third by Elie Wiesel, but apparently he’s a supporter of apartheid and oppression against Palestinian people so yeah, fuck that guy. 

Activist dies after stroke at protest resisting the further regulation of women’s bodies and deprivation of women’s healthcare
July 13, 2013

Anne McAfee, a longtime Democratic activist who suffered a stroke during Sen. Wendy Davis’ filibuster during an abortion debate on June 25, passed away Saturday morning at her home in Austin. She was 82.

Born Anne Elizabeth Castleberry on Oct. 15, 1930, McAfee was a lifelong Austinite and became interested in politics as a child, volunteering at age 13 on Minnie Fisher Cunningham’s 1944 gubernatorial campaign.

In the following decades, McAfee worked on a variety of issues from the advocating for the environment, to protesting against nuclear atmospheric testing, to protecting Barton Springs, to pushing for voting rights, Susan McAfee Raybuck, her daughter, said.

“She was very active in trying to make sure people of all races and colors could vote, even while the poll tax was in effect,” Raybuck said. “She was very opposed to anything that kept people from being able to exercise their right to vote.”

She was also heavily involved in civil rights issues and was an anti-war activist.

She was also passionate about women’s issues, which brought her to the Capitol on June 25 for Davis’ filibuster, Raybuck said. It was not immediately apparent that night to people around her that she suffered a stroke, Raybuck said. But after bystanders realized she was ill, she was taken by ambulance to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where she underwent surgery.

Following the procedure to remove a blood clot from her brain, McAfee was alert and talking, but she suffered a heart attack a few days later, Raybuck said.

She became unable to speak sometimes, but she used sign language to spell out “I love you,” and “How lucky I am,” Raybuck said.

While she was in the hospital, she received hundreds of cards and letters from people that had been at the Capitol when she had the stroke. Raybuck said that their favorite was one written on the back of a protest placard. It said: “You are a badass.”

McAfee’s health continued to decline before she ultimately passed away. Friends and family were by her side.

“Activism was just as much a part of her as the color of her hair and her big smile,” Watson said. “It was just who she was.”

A public memorial will be held for Anne McAfee at 2-6 p.m. July 20 at Green Pastures, her childhood home, located at 811 W. Live Oak St. in Austin. The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Safe Place and Planned Parenthood.

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Women are socialized to be quiet. We are socialized not to be political and to keep our opinions to ourselves. We are socialized to ask for things — to wait for things.

I and some other activists had even been talking that day about organizations insisting that demonstrators could not in any way be aggressive, that someone in an orange shirt [a symbol of being part of the reproductive rights contingent at the Capitol] doing something like that could ruin the whole thing.

That’s ridiculous. It’s civil disobedience and it’s civil disobedience for a reason.

Texas is a beautiful place. A diverse place. A place I’ll love for the rest of my life — but it’s an oppressive place. People, I think, with the ability and privilege to wait on the next election can say, “We’ll just keep quiet and wait.” But I think that we can’t wait. We have to stop them. […] What’s it going to take? Women dying like they did before Roe vs. Wade?

Texas activist Sarah Slamen on the passing of one of the country’s strictest abortion bills that bans abortions after 20 weeks.

Right before launching her testimony of the Texas legislative process, calling it “a farce,” Slamen was dragged out by Texas state troopers and escorted out of the Capitol. You can watch her speech here.

The California Prison Strike: Day Four

posted by  on THU, JUL 11, 2013 at 10:26 AM

By California prison standards, a person isn’t legally considered on a “hunger strike” until he or she has refused nine consecutive meals. We should know soon how many of those 30,000 prisoners who refused meals on Monday—about five times the number of prisoners who participated in a 2011 strike—are still refusing meals as of today.

But last night the New York Times reported that almost everyone who started striking on Monday was still at it yesterday:

LOS ANGELES — Nearly 29,000 inmates in California state prisons refused meals for the third day Wednesday during a protest of prison conditions and rules. The protest extended to two-thirds of the 33 prisons across the state and all 4 private out-of-state facilities where California sends inmates, corrections officials said.

Thousands of prisoners also refused to attend their work assignments for a third day, and state officials were bracing for a long-term strike.

Prisoners have also reported that, unlike during the 2011 strike, they are "willing to die" because prison conditions are so wretched.

California corrections secretary Jeffrey Beard says the strike is counterproductive and that prison officials are already taking steps to meet prisoners’ demands, which were first negotiated and agreed to after the 2011 strike. Prison-rights activists say the CDCR has failed to follow through on its end of the bargain.

But the CDCR isn’t just slow to meet prisoners’ requests—it hasn’t been fast enough for the courts, who’ve demanded that the system reduce overcrowding. A 2011 US Supreme Court finding said the state of California’s prison system led to one “needless” death every eight days. As Justice Sotomayor asked in 2010:"When are you going to avoid the needless deaths that were reported in this record? When are you going to avoid or get around people sitting in their feces for days in a dazed state? When are you going to get to a point where you are going to deliver care that is going to be adequate?"

Not fast enough, apparently—besides the strike it’s also facing a court order to reduce overcrowding by the end of the year and release at least 10,000 prisoners.

To review the prisoners’ five demands as explained by prison-rights activist Ed Mead last weekend:

One, eliminate group punishments. That’s a no-brainer. If I do something wrong, don’t punish everyone on the tier.

Two, abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. The courts have held there has to be some evidence validating a prisoner’s gang status. Black prisoners have been validated on the basis of having a copy of my newspaper in their cells that mentions George Jackson. That’s been considered evidence. Once you’re validated, the only way out is to parole, debrief, snitch, or die. Debriefing is telling the administration who all the other gang members are. And if you’re not a gang member you have to make up names—it’s a bounty system. Now the prisons have an STG (security threat group) status. If they decide you’re a security threat, they lock you up indefinitely, and that requires no proof whatsoever, and also includes people who were never gang members, people who could be politically active.

Three, comply with recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons circa 2006.

Four, provide adequate food. [This includes having prisoners who serve meals to those in solitary eat from separate pans to prevent food theft.]

Five, provide constructive programs and privileges for SHU [solitary confinement] prisoners including educational activities and recreation. SHU prisoners are supposed to get an hour a day of exercise in a wire dog kennel, but guards make excuses, like they’re too busy to let them out.

Sounds reasonable to me—they’re not even asking for minimum wage for their labor. Stay tuned.

Source

Scientists in Serbia protest in the thousands against government neglect to fund research 
July 7, 2013

On July 2nd more than 3000 scientists gathered at the central Nikola Pasic square in Belgrade for the protest called SAVE-THE-SCIENCE (Spasimo Nauku in Serbian). The main reasons prompting the protests:

  • there has been several months of delay in funding for research and development

  • scientists have been treated poorly and have been publicly degraded by the current Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development

"Since the beginning of 2013, academics have not been paid for material costs and thus are left without basic resources for scientific research and equipment maintenance. In the government’s plan for rebalancing the budget, it plans to reduce the budget for science, which means that the present catastrophic situation will get worse and that is why this protest is necessary, " says Dr. Djurdica Jovovic, president of the Union of Science, Scientific Advisor at the Institute for Medical Research.

One of the organizers of the SAVE-THE-SCIENCE protest, Dr. Milovan Suvakov, a Fellow at the Institute for Physics clarifies:

"The basic point is that the funding planned in 2013, equals approximately $200 per researcher per year which is below the necessary minimum for sustainability of scientific work in Serbia. The fact that we receive salaries does not mean that we are scientists, we are scientists the moment we are enabled to work, and when we become a driving force for this society".

The Union of Science has prepared several demands for the government summarized as follows:

1. To return the amount of funding (so called “material expenses”) per researcher for fiscal year 2013 to 50% of the level it was at in fiscal year 2010, and in fiscal year 2014 to return it to the 100% of 2010’s level.

2. To increase the budgetary allocation to 1% of the GDP, in accord with the Strategy of Scientific and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia and recommendation of European Union.

3. To adopt a collective agreement that will regulate the working and legal status of employees in scientific and research organizations, according to the Labour Law, so as to stop the discrimination against researchers from scientific institutes in comparison with other employees in the public sector.

4. To stop unwarranted delays of payment of salaries and the material expenses, and to accelerate adopting necessary new legal acts.

5. To adopt a law, before the end of 2013, that will introduce a new organizational model for the financing of science, according to widely adopted European solutions.

6. Resignation of Minister Zarko Obradovic and others responsible for ignoring and not solving the problems in Serbian science.

7. An immediate meeting with Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in order to adopt and conduct necessary procedures for the survival of science in Serbia.

The official response of the Ministry was issued on Friday, July 5th and is more than disappointing to all the protesting scientists. The Ministry replied only in very vague terms deemed by the scientists as lacking guarantees, timelines and organized planning.

This caused the Union of Science to announce the prolongation of the SAVE-THE-SCIENCE protest with the main request to raise the R&D funding per researcher.

The main message of all the protesters is summed up in the words of Dr. Tijana Prodanovic, associate professor of astrophysics: “Science in Serbia is in a generally bad shape not only because of the lack of funds and basic work conditions, but because it has been chronically neglected for years and years, which culminated in termination of the ministry of science (that has been adjoined with Ministry of Education in 2011). As a result we are left with a scientific community where the entire value system is distorted, where science is done to collect points which impact our salaries and not for the discovery itself, and where any attempt to do any kind of science is made that much more difficult by the fact that we don’t even have basic things like access to scientific journals. Hopefully this protest is the first step towards the complete restructuring of the science in Serbia.”

One of the most well-known Serbian scientists and a leading stem-cell researcher, Dr. Miodrag Stojkovic commented on the whole situation: “It is a shame that government allows such conditions for the scientists who deserved better treatment and support and should be working at the bench instead of having to go to the street and fight for their rights.”

More activities are planned for Wed, July 10th.

Source