Tag Archives: community

Happy Beltane! Merry May Day!

1 May

From Oakland to Asia, from Madrid to Moscow people are striking, and celebrating!

Here in South Florida the Earth First! Journalistas are celebrating the completion of the Betane 2012 issue of the Journal! It is out of our hands and will be into yours in the next few weeks.

Here is a sneak preview of two fantastic articles! Keep an eye out for more to come.

My Flaming Arrow to the Heart of the Movement: a Response to the OC “Give EF! a Kick-In-The-Ass”/Anti-Oppression Discussion

We Are The .00018%! Does EF! Carry the Capacity for a Justice Based Approach to Overpopulation?

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Enbridge Oil Spill Whistle-Blower Trial Updates

25 Apr

 July 2010, more than a million gallons of tar sands crude spilled into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. This is the largest inland spill in US History. A fired cleanup worker with a dark past claims he was ordered to cover up oil to meet federal deadlines. His case went to trial last week.

Even today two years later, one can still scoop up handfuls of Tar Sands Oil from the marshlands surrounding the river. The communities living around the river are still sick with nerve damage and other illnesses related to the chemicals diluting the Tar Sand Oil. Enbridge still claims the river is clean.

On Earth covers the story of the Enbridge spill, and its attempted cover up in a four part series. Click here for the full series.

Corporate Power vs. Animal Rights

16 Feb

*Cross Posted from Mickey Z at Infoshop News*visiting baboon in lockdown

“We know we cannot be kind to animals until we stop exploiting them—exploiting animals in the name of science, exploiting animals in the name of sport, exploiting animals in the name of fashion, and yes, exploiting animals in the name of food.”

– César Chávez

If anyone requires proof that dark green ethics and radical earth defense are becoming more and more widespread, consider how the all-purpose smear of “terrorist” is being increasingly used by governments and private groups to criminalize eco-dissent.

Mic Check: So, what exactly is a terrorist?

By current standards, you can pack a calf into veal crate or pump food down a goose’s gullet or grind up live male chicks to fertilize your fields—and you’d run no risk of being called a terrorist.

You could also clear-cut forests to make way for doomed livestock or blow off mountain tops in search of coal or pump toxin-filled smoke into the atmosphere and you’d garner virtually no attention at all—let alone be labeled a terrorist.

But if you choose a lifestyle based on compassion and logic or speak out against vivisection or protest use of fur? Well, thanks to the Green Scare, you deserve an orange jumpsuit and a one-way ticket to Gitmo.

Green Scare refers to “the federal government’s expanding prosecution efforts against animal liberation and ecological activists, drawing parallels to the ‘Red Scares’ of the 1910′s and 1950s.”

This term was first known to have appeared in 2002 in the wake of congressional hearings titled “The Threat of Eco-Terrorism” which discussed groups including the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).

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Occupy Homes: New Coalition Links Homeowners, Activists in Direct Action to Halt Foreclosures

5 Dec

“The banks are occupying many of our homes. And we are removing the banks from their occupation, and we’re liberating those homes.” -Max Rameau

The movement has recently enjoyed a number of successes in Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and, Chicago! A loose-knit coalition of activists known as “Occupy Homes” is working to stave off pending evictions by occupying homes at risk of foreclosure when tenants enlist its support. We speak with Monique White, a Minneapolis resident who is facing foreclosure and recently requested the help of Occupy Minneapolis. Now two dozen of its members are occupying her home in order to stave off eviction. We are also joined by Nick Espinosa, an organizer with Occupy Minneapolis, and Max Rameau, a key organizer with Take Back the Land, who for the past five years has worked on direct actions that reclaim and occupy homes at risk of foreclosure. “The banks are actually occupying our homes,” Rameau says. “This sets up for an incredible movement, where we have a one-two punch. On the one hand, we’re occupying them on their turf, and on the other, we’re liberating our own turf so that human beings can have access to housing, rather than them sitting vacant so that corporations can benefit from them sometime in the future.”

Source, Democracy Now

Read full story here

Protests Rising on Environmental Concern in China

20 Sep

By Bill Savadove

A major anti-pollution protest has forced the Chinese government to take swift action for the second time in as many months, spurred by a rising environment movement that is spreading online.

More than 500 residents living near a plant making solar panels protested for three days last week in the eastern city of Haining, forcing authorities to temporarily shut the factory, which belongs to the US-listed Jinko Solar.

The incident came just over a month after authorities in the northeastern city of Dalian agreed to relocate a chemical plant following similar protests, underscoring official concern over mounting public anger about pollution.

“Citizens, particularly a rising Chinese middle class, have become more aware about how deep the impact of environmental issues is to their health,” said Phelim Kine, senior Asia researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch.

“They are no longer willing to take it passively.”

Protests against pollution are not new to China, as breakneck economic growth over the past three decades has caused severe degradation of air, land and water.

But the growth of social networking, in particular Twitter-like “weibo” or microblogs, has helped spread the word about environmental issues and mobilize protests against perceived polluters.

Wong Yiu-chung, a politics professor at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, said the shutdown of plants in Haining and Dalian was directly linked to the rising power of the Internet.

To read full article go to source as cross-posted from here

Iron County mine proposal pits jobs against environment

3 Jul

Bill Heart of Trout Unlimited goes fly fishing on the Tyler Forks River. A proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin raises concerns about water pollution

Iron ore made this town, and many people believe an open-pit mine will help revive the fortunes of this once-bustling community.

“We need jobs now – not 10 years from now,” said hardware store owner Jack Giovanoni, who supports plans for a $1.5 billion mine 20 miles away.

But the project is emerging as a classic jobs-vs.-environment battle as opponents question how a large mine could influence another natural asset of the region – its water resources.

While the developer, Gogebic Taconite, hasn’t formally applied for a construction permit, the project is coming under fire from environmental groups and from a nearby Indian tribe.

The Bad River band of Lake Superior Chippewa voted to formally oppose the mine this spring.

And in a significant development, the tribe is poised to win new powers to govern water-quality standards that could affect the operations of the mine.

The tribe and the proposed mine are in the 1,000-square-mile Bad River watershed, a major tributary to Lake Superior.

The tribe, whose reservation is on the shore of Lake Superior, is close to receiving approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would allow it to set water standards on tribal properties.

This would enable the tribe to impose limitations on water users that operate upstream and outside the reservation, as well, state and federal officials said last week.

“The Bad River people stand to bear the environmental brunt of this mine,” Tribal Chief Michael Wiggins Jr. said at his office in Odanah.

Two of the tribe’s main concerns:

Will the water-intensive needs of an open pit mine and its processing plant reduce flows downstream and harm drinking water, fishing and wild rice beds on tribal lands?

Will sulfide chemicals in the waste rock seep into groundwater, streams and wetlands and harm water quality?

Gogebic Taconite says the company will avoid such problems.

Bill Williams, president of the company, said the processing plant will recycle its water. While there will be water loss in processing the ore, it won’t be sufficient to harm the watershed, he said.

As for the potential of sulfide pollution, early indications show that the region’s rock doesn’t have high concentrations. If it turns out the chemical content is higher, “there is no way that the mine will ever be permitted,” said Williams, who has worked on mines in Spain, Peru, Minnesota and Michigan.

Long-term project

Gogebic Taconite is owned by the Cline Group, a privately held mining company based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., with coal interests in Illinois and other parts of Appalachia.

Gogebic has an option on the mineral rights for 22,000 acres covering 22 miles of a mountain range known as the Gogebic or Penokee that runs through northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Plans call for operating the first phase for 35 years, but officials say the deposit, 20% to 35% iron ore, is significant enough to continue mining for the next century.

The Gogebic range in these parts rises several hundred feet above Highway 77 in Iron and Ashland counties, and is used for logging, as well as hunting and other recreational uses.

Since Gogebic’s plans became known, Bill Heart of Ashland, past chair of Trout Unlimited in Wisconsin, has been making visits with his fly rod to the Tyler Forks River, the closest river to the mine.

Last Tuesday morning, he caught and released a steady succession of brook trout, nearly stomped on a wood turtle – a threatened species – and nibbled on his first wild strawberry of the season.

“This river – these little streams out here and what they carry – make a difference,” said Heart, who is worried the mine will harm the watershed.

“Everything flows downstream.”

Life will change considerably if the Department of Natural Resources and other regulatory agencies approve the project, which Gogebic hopes to start operating in about five years.

In the initial phase, miners would cut a 4-mile-plus swath between Ballou Creek in Ashland County and the Tyler Forks in Iron County, which flows through Copper Falls State Park.

Plans call for digging a pit 1,000 feet deep to extract rock. A processing plant on-site would crush and concentrate the ore, baking it into marble-sized pellets used to make steel. Two trainloads of pellets would lumber out of the mine each day.

The Gogebic range has been mined intermittently since the late 1800s; and in Hurley, mining is as much a part of the city’s legacy as the Packers are in Green Bay.

Many of the streets bear the names of minerals, including the infamous Silver St., Hurley’s main drag where bars and strip joints once catered to off-duty miners.

Silver St. is tamer these days – the last iron mined in this part of Wisconsin was the Cary mine, which closed in 1965.

“The range never recovered from the collapse of mining,” said Paul Sturgul, a Hurley attorney who is chairman of the local mining committee appointed by the Iron County Board.

Sturgul, whose father was a miner for 22 years, supports Gogebic’s proposal to mine the ore – if it can be done safely without harming the environment.

“This could be the last gasp for the Gogebic range,” he said.

To underscore the significance of the project, the Hurley Area Chamber of Commerce last month collected 2,040 signatures in a week and a half and sent them to lawmakers, urging them to back the mine.

Economic boost

Supporters believe the mine would jump-start a troubled economy. Iron and Ashland counties are poorer, older and less educated than the state average.

Food stamp usage is higher here, Iron County figures show.

Median household income in Iron County in 2009 was $34,210, or 32% below the statewide average, according to the most recent U.S. census figures.

One quarter of the population is 65 or older, projected to rise to 38% by 2030, according to the state Department of Workforce Development. Wisconsin’s 65-and-older population is 14%.

As for education, 15% of the county’s population has a college degree. The statewide average is 26%.

“We are basically losing our young people to other places,” said Jeff Gulan, principal of Hurley’s K-12 school.

In fact, Iron County’s population is the lowest in at least 100 years. Census figures reported a population of 5,916 people in 2010. It reached its peak in 1920 at 10,261.

“I can’t see anything else that will bring this area back,” said Jack Giovanoni, owner of Giovanoni’s True Value Hardware, which has been in his family since 1941.

But business is at its lowest point ever. Gogebic’s 700 mining jobs – with average salaries and benefits of nearly $83,000 a year – would be a boon to the local economy, he said.

Gogebic’s own economic analysis estimates the mine would stimulate a total of 2,834 jobs during the first 35 years of operation as truckers, rail workers, professional people and businesses move into the area.

Like many in Hurley, Giovanoni is frustrated by the opponents and their claims that the mine will harm the environment.

“It doesn’t make sense,” he said, gazing downtown from his driveway a few blocks away.

In a meeting with editors and reporters of the Journal Sentinel last week, Gov. Scott Walker said the mine is “something we should pursue,” but added the state can’t neglect its duty to enforce environmental regulations.

“If we can set a standard that shows we can be environmentally responsible, you’re talking about literally thousands of jobs that are generational,” Walker said.

Awaiting legislative action

Gogebic had planned to drill exploratory holes this year, but is putting the work on hold until lawmakers take up legislation that would ease the way to construct a mine. Staff, meanwhile, are evaluating other projects in the Midwest, according to the company.

This spring, legislators balked at fast-tracking a bill as they grappled with the budget deficit and collective bargaining rights of public employees.

Though never formally introduced, a draft bill heavily influenced by the company was widely circulated.

It would have required the DNR to act on an iron-mining permit within 300 days and eliminated an appeal process. Wetland protections would also have been weakened.

A bill could be back before the Legislature this fall.

“We need jobs and clean water, and we can’t live here without either one of them,” said Michele Wheeler, executive director of the Ashland-based Bad River Watershed Association.

“We are going to be the guinea pig for any legislation that comes out, so we really needed to understand what is going to happen.”

Wiggins, the tribal chief, opposes any changes to the state’s mining laws, and said that mining advocates’ talk of jobs tends to marginalize the value of tourism and the importance of clean water to indigenous people.

He sent Walker a letter in May complaining that the DNR authorized Gogebic to do exploratory drilling without soliciting comments from the tribe and others.

“If we didn’t stand up and exert ourselves, and sound our voices, we are going to be railroaded,” Wiggins said.

In June, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp and executive assistant Scott Gunderson, a former Republican legislator, joined Wiggins to tour the sloughs and wild rice beds that surround the Bad River.

“It quickly became apparent – and I say this with all due respect – that Miss Stepp and Mr. Gunderson were not familiar with the negative environmental impacts of the iron mining process,” Wiggins said.

Stepp agreed she did not know of the specific examples Wiggins had mentioned. “But I am not unaware of the problems associated with mining and the issues in the industry,” she said.

“My job was to go up there and reassure him that we are going to be diligent protectors of the environment.”

James B. Nelson of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

Cross posted from here

People’s Tribunal against the Criminalization of Protest in Ecuador

29 Jun

Written by Sofía Jarrín

During three days in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador, hundreds of representatives from several Latin American countries gathered to share experiences and strategies during the Continental Conference in Defense of Water and Mother Earth. The event took place between June 17 and 23, and was organized as an act of resistance against development projects that threaten this vital resource, Yakumama, our mother water. A letter of intention by the organizers reads, “We hope this gathering will become a permanent process of fellowship to protect water and food sovereignty, to create a new social order in harmony with nature, with justice and equity.” 

 The conference began with a visit to sites where environmental conflicts have taken place, in Cochapata and San Bartolomé, more specifically, in the southern province of Azuay, both areas affected by mining companies. The delegation was composed of the Ombudsman, representatives of national indigenous organizations, the Inter-American Platform of Human Rights, Democracy and Development (PIDHDD), Real World Radio, and a team of FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) International. There they witnessed cases of abuse of power by developers, often in complicity with state agencies, that are laying out mining projects despite clear opposition from the communities where they plan to implement them.

In Cochapata, for example, a community of about 7,800 people, there has been great resistance against the construction of a dam by the mining company Explorsur SA. Seven community leaders were accused of sabotage and terrorism for engaging in public protest, and were recently sentenced to eight years in prison. This occurred despite the fact that the Constituent Assembly had granted them amnesty in July 2008, recognizing their role as environmental defenders. Since then, all seven have been in hiding with serious financial and emotional consequences to their families. Unfortunately, like in many other cases, the courts favour private interests instead of communal decisions on how to manage land and water resources. Currently, there are more than 189 pending cases of terrorism and sabotage in Ecuador.

Back in 2007, at the beginning of his government, President Rafael Correa made a public statement setting the stage for what was to come. “Don’t believe in romantic environmentalists. Anyone who is opposed to development in this country is a terrorist,” he said about the community of Dayuma, Orellana province, who at the was time protesting the environmental devastation in their territory that resulted from oil drilling in the region. The protest was met with police repression and 25 people were detained.
For this reason, one of the main objectives of this conference was to expose these kind of cases, thus exemplifying the ongoing criminalization of protest in Ecuador. An integral part of the conference was a Court of Ethics that analyzed “the criminalization of defenders of human rights and nature.” This people’s court took place on Wednesday, June 22, with the presence a jury of four international authorities: Elsie Monge (Ecumenical Commission of Human Rights, CEDHU, Ecuador), Raul Zibechi (writer and journalist, Uruguay), Leah Isabel Alvear (poet and academic, Colombia), and Mary Hamlin (International Movement for People’s Health). They listened to more than four hours of testimonies and 17 cases of people accused of terrorism.
“Democracy can only be guaranteed when citizens are guaranteed their rights to protest and resistance,” testified Ramiro Avila, a lawyer and professor at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar. “These laws are being used to suppress protest and should be immediately repealed.” Avila explained that the law under which the right to protest is criminalized in Ecuador dates back to the early republic, based on the Penal Code of 1920.

The current government of Ecuador, under President Correa, is driving an aggressive development program that is fueling social conflicts all around the country, mostly around mining and oil industries and the control of water sources. Unlike other countries such as Peru and Bolivia, large-scale mining is new to Ecuador and it’s expected to have severe consequences to its many ecosystems. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, there are 1990 registered mining concessions in the country, causing serious concerns among civil society, particularly campesinos and indigenous people. “The social leaders are speaking out to defend their human rights, but instead of welcoming them the State is criminalizing their right to protest,” said Fernando Gutierrez, the National Ombudsman.
The most prominent case is that of four top indigenous leaders, all of them charged with terrorism and sabotage: Pepe Acacho, vice president of the National Confederation of Indigenous People (CONAIE), Marlon Santi, ex-president of CONAIE; Delfín Tenesaca, president of the Kichwa Conferedation of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI); and Marco Guatemal, president of Indigenous and Campesino Federation of Imbabura (FICI). They were tried for participating in marches against the Water and Mining Acts during the ALBA Summit in Otavalo in June 2010.
“Is it a crime to defend the water? Is it a crime to defend Mother Earth?” said Carlos Perez, an indigenous leader of Azuay. “Ecuador was pioneer in recognizing the rights of nature, thus the Constitution should be above a criminal code created in times of a dictatorship.” Ecuador was the first country to recognize the Rights of Nature in its Constitution of 2008.
The jury’s decision did not make itself wait. The verdict given was resolute, not only in acknowledging that people opposed to the government’s extractive activities are currently living in an atmosphere of fear and criminalization in Ecuador, but that the State is directly responsible for promoting and maintaining this situation. “These cases confirm that there is a systematic practice to discipline social protest and thus eliminate it,” reads the verdict. “While justice is employed to criminalize the defenders of nature, it remains passive before human rights violations committed against them and against nature.”
It furthermore recommends that the President refrains from making public statements that “delegitimizes and stigmatizes” defenders of nature and human rights. To the judicial powers it recommends to comply with the amnesty granted by the Constituent Assembly in 2008 to all people prosecuted of crimes against the State under a ambiguous Penal Code that is largely considered obsolete.
Although this Court of Ethics does not have jurisdictional powers, it does hope to fill up the space created by the State’s omissions of abuses committed against peaceful social protesters and its exoneration of private companies “that operate in the country with impunity.” Correa´s government has yet to pronounce itself before the court’s decision.
Cross-posted from here