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2014 Worldwide Wave of Action: Activist advises what YOU should do (3 of ?) Washington’s Blog

2014 Worldwide Wave of Action: Activist advises what YOU should do (3 of ?) Washington’s Blog.

As a political activist since 1977 (details here), here’s my “Top 3 list” of advice for what YOU should do during the 2014 Worldwide Wave of Action that begins ~April 4 on the anniversary of Martin King’s assassination by the US government (civil court trial verdict), and completing ~July 4.

1. Know your purpose has 95%+ agreement when people have the facts: There’s abundant power when you recognize people want what you know, whether they recognize it or not in a current state of relative ignorance. That is, if free choice were available under full knowledge, 95%+ of humanity would choose to have the purposes of the 2014 Worldwide Wave accomplished:

I mean, the alternative is the ongoing conditions we have that even most of our oligarchs wouldn’t choose to continue, if they had full freedom of choice!

2. Do what is natural and virtuous for your self-expression: Given a position of power that you have an outcome people really want, AND given a condition that people may not recognize easily the attractiveness of what we offer, experiment with your most virtuous self-expression to play this game.Your unique, powerful, and beautiful sense of virtue is attractive when expressed, and the best you have to offer. Connected with my next point, my own sense of virtue is to be of simple service and fun with others. I only offer information when a genuine opening occurs consistent with someone’s expressed interests. My friend, Bucky Fuller, called this particular indirect outcome precession (andhere), similar to the contribution honey bees make with pollination as a side-product of their interest in honey. The outcome is ever-increasing experience and expression of virtue.

3. Relax and have fun ‘cuz we’re guests on Earth, not management: For the first part of my activist career, I operated to save human lives from poverty as quickly as possible. The hard truth is that I am insufficiently powerful to produce that outcome on my own; I am only able to offer this outcome (or any other) in networks for various groups’ consideration. Given my gradual acceptance of an apparent status as a human guest on Earth outside of direct managerial decisions, I’ve looked at different perspectives to be effective and enjoy this experience. From having “played” as hard and fast as I could for years, I’ve surrendered to Bucky’s conclusion/observation of precession.

So what does this mean for YOU and possible actions for the 2014 Worldwide Wave of Action?

If a pathway hasn’t opened to your interests so far, and you’re interested, look from the power of purpose, what’s natural to your sense of virtue, and what seems fun. Having a chat with like-minded friends should also open valuable ideas :)

Activist Post: Human Rights group calls on World Bank to acknowledge role in the mass killing of one million Indonesians

Activist Post: Human Rights group calls on World Bank to acknowledge role in the mass killing of one million Indonesians.

Activist Post

The Oscar-nominated documentary THE ACT OF KILLING was projected on the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. Thursday in an action by the East Timor and Indonesian Action Network. The group is calling on the World Bank to acknowledge its role in the 1965 military coup in Indonesia that lead to the massacre of an estimated one million civilians. The World Bank helped prop up the corrupt government of Suharto, the general who lead the coup and ordered the mass killings. The Bank sent the Suharto regime $30 billion in development aid over the course of three decades despite knowing $10 billion had been looted by the government.

“THE ACT OF KILLING powerfully highlights the ongoing impunity within Indonesia for the 1965 mass murders,” said John M. Miller of the East Timor and Indonesian Action Network. “Tonight we highlight the World Bank’s support for the Suharto regime, which knowingly backed his corrupt government while his post-coup body count climbed. We urge the World Bank to acknowledge its role in Suharto’s many crimes and to apologize and provide reparations to the survivors. Institutions like the World Bank must also be held accountable for their financial assistance to the murderers and decades of support as they continued to violate human rights.”

“The World Bank gave $30 billion dollars to a dictator who killed an estimated one million of his own citizens,” said THE ACT OF KILLING filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer. “The murderers spent years profiting off of their heinous crimes with the World Bank and other global financial institutions footing the bill.”

THE ACT OF KILLING, currently Oscar-nominated for Best Documentary feature, has been recognized as one of the best films of 2014. The film has received over 60 awards including Best Documentary from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). While the mass killings of 1965 are an open secret in Indonesia, the government has never acknowledged or apologized for sponsoring the murders. THE ACT OF KILLING, which has been shown in thousands of private screenings and is available free online throughout Indonesia, is empowering victims’ families to demand reparations from the government for the first time.

About East Timor and Indonesian Action Network

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste, West Papua and Indonesia. In 2012, the government of the Democratic Republic Timor-Leste awarded ETAN the Order of Timor (Ordem Timor) for its role in the liberation of the country. More information about ETAN can be found at: http://www.etan.org

About THE ACT OF KILLING

In THE ACT OF KILLING, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and executive produced by Errol Morris and Werner Herzog, the filmmakers expose a corrupt regime that celebrates death squad leaders as heroes.

When the Indonesian government was overthrown in 1965, small-time gangster Anwar Congo and his friends went from selling movie tickets on the black market to leading death squads in the mass murder of over a million opponents of the new military dictatorship. Anwar boasts of killing hundreds with his own hands, but he’s enjoyed impunity ever since, and has been celebrated by the Indonesian government as a national hero. When approached to make a film about their role in the genocide, Anwar and his friends eagerly comply—but their idea of being in a movie is not to provide reflective testimony. Instead, they re-create their real-life killings as they dance their way through musical sequences, twist arms in film noir gangster scenes, and gallop across prairies as Western cowboys. Through this filmmaking process, the moral reality of the act of killing begins to haunt Anwar and his friends with varying degrees of acknowledgment, justification and denial. More information about the film can be found at http://actofkilling.com/.

Sochi Olympics Going For Gold, But Not Green | A\J – Canada’s Environmental Voice

Sochi Olympics Going For Gold, But Not Green | A\J – Canada’s Environmental Voice.

Illegal logging during Sochi Olympics road construction.Activists with Environmental Watch on North Caucasus documented illegal logging in 2009 during construction of the combined (rail and motor) road from the Adler resort district (home to the Olympic stadium and athlete villages) to the mountain resort where alpine sports are taking place. Check out the EWNC website (in Russian) and Facebook page(English) for more photos.

When Russia bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, they committed to green building standards and a “zero waste” policy that promised not to add to landfills. The $51-billion Sochi Olympics – the most expensive in history – will truly have costly consequences to the environment. The area of development includes a UNESCO World Heritage site and a national park – the most biodiverse location in Russia. Eight thousand acres of preserved forests have been damaged and wetlands important for migrating birds have been buried under two metres of crushed rock. Suren Gazaryan, a zoologist with Environmental Watch on North Caucasus (EWNC) who is living in exile due to criminal charges stemming from his humans rights work, says that parts of the park have been totally destroyed. He adds that much of the government’s much-vaunted reforestation efforts have been “pointless.” The planting of 1.5 million new trees was often done by unqualified personnel who violated conventional methodology.

The Associated Press reports that Russia’s state-owned rail monopoly has been using illegal landfills to dump construction waste from an $8.2-billion, 48-kilometre highway and railroad link between the airport and alpine venues. These illegal landfills are in a water protection zone, and could potentially lead to the contamination of Sochi’s groundwater. Some IOC members have reportedly admitted to making a poor choice when they selected Sochi. Former IOC member Els van Breda Vriesman told Dutch broadcaster NOS that many members would vote differently today.

The Russian government stepped up law enforcement activity against local environmentalists during Olympic construction. Activists have been detained and criminally charged, some have lost their jobs. The government plans to illegally shut down EWNC due to the group’s insistence on legal compliance during Olympic preparations.

Before we get too up-in-arms about Russia’s environmental misconduct, let’s not forget our own here in Canada.

More reason for concern: Environmental destruction and Indigenous rights abuses often go hand-in-hand. We saw this play out at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where protestors linked environmental degradation and Indigenous sovereignty, and we’re seeing it again now with the Circassian community calling Sochi “the genocide Olympics.” The Circassians are indigenous to the North Caucasus region but were driven from driven from the area in the 19th Century. Historian Walter Richmond is calling Sochi the site of Europe’s first genocidein a new book.

Activist Post: New Research Supports Many Benefits of Local Farming

Activist Post: New Research Supports Many Benefits of Local Farming.

Policy makers should value environmental, health benefits of small-scale local farming, researcher argues.

Jeffrey Green
Activist Post 

While the biotech industry continues to assert that modern-day farming must be driven by genetic modification in order to provide more consistent crop production in ever greater numbers, an increasing number of independent studies argue just the opposite.

When it comes to food production, it is one of the manymyths of GMO; GMOs do not provide more food, but do offer Big Ag companies increased profits on the need for more pesticides, herbicides, and patented seeds.

Natural agriculture practices are the real answer, and another new study backs it up.

We are often shown images of starving people in Third World countries who presumably need saving by corporate conglomerates. However, in just one example, poverty-stricken rice and potato farmers in India confirmed record-breaking yields after switching to truly organic food production. (Source)

This is a similar story as others reported in Africa, with incredible additional benefits to the economy and human rights (read the full report here).

Another study showed that biodiversity from polyculture outperforms industrial farming by reducing the chemicals required.

A study by the University of California, Berkeley, presented exhaustive alternatives to current practices. One section of the paper cited research pointing to the positive effects of biodiversity on the numbers of herbivore pests, finding that polycultural planting led to reduction of pest populations by up to 64%. Later, combined results of hundreds of comparisons also favored biologically diverse farms with a 54% increase in pest mortality and damage to crops dropping by almost 25%. The introduction of more diverse insects also promoted increased pollination and healthier crops.(sourceecology and society)

And yet another:

A 9-year study conducted by researchers from the USDA, University of Minnesota and Iowa State University proved that in more complex systems, yield AND profits were both enhanced. When paired against the conventional corn/soy rotation, less fertilizer was used. This difference actually increased over the course of the study, indicating the quality of the soil was improving over time, instead of experiencing the depletion of common practices. (source Union of Concerned Scientists)

The switch to local farming methods protects and enhances this essential biodiversity that is now increasingly lacking around the world according to Timothy Johns, Professor of Human Nutrition at McGill University in Montreal.

Diets for most people around the world are becoming increasingly limited in biological and nutritional diversity. “Large-scale agriculture is characteristically simplified and less diverse than small-holder agriculture,” Prof. Johns cautions. “This is true in genetic, ecological and nutritional terms.”

The answer, according to Johns, is to use the intrinsic benefits of local farming; namely the “range of wild species of fruit, vegetables, condiments and medicines, as well as wild animal-sourced foods,” but then couple that with new technologies that can help local farmers meet the productivity levels needed for an increasing population.

Johns’ conclusions fly in the face of what we are consistently told by mega food corporations like Monsanto; that only they have the capacity to feed an exploding global population. On the contrary, local farming empowered with technology can surpass large-scale growing operations. Professor Johns explains:

Using family members in farming reduces labor and supervision costs, while a more intimate knowledge of the local soil, plants and animals enables smallholders to maximize output. In Brazil, for example, national data from the Censo Agropecuário shows that “family farms” produce 38 percent of national agricultural value from 24 percent of the agricultural land. An assessment of 286 projects in 57 countries, moreover, shows that low-cost, sustainable and diversity-enhancing technologies increased average crop yields on small farms by 79 percent since the early 1990s.

This research highlights the importance of local culture in offering inherent knowledge of which products grow best within a given region, while also preserving the health benefits that have been established through the same train of communicated knowledge.

“Products of biodiversity within culturally-based diets provide essential micronutrients and lower prevalence of diet-related chronic disease.”

Professor Johns specifically notes a developing malady in the First World – being obese, but lacking nutrients that provide true health. In other words, most of the First World is not caloriedeficient, they are deficient in trace minerals and nutrients:

Carbohydrates — mainly cereals, sugars, potatoes and other tubers — and vegetable oils produced efficiently by large-scale agriculture and distributed through global trade are more affordable for many people than lower-calorie, more nutritious foods. In many cases, the result is a form of malnutrition defined by overconsumption of calories. This has helped fuel a growing global epidemic of obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Johns research urges policy makers to look more closely at the growing body of research indicating that the Monsantos of the world are not the be-all, end-all answer to starving populations and the undernourished; the answer lies in local family farming that supports the previous studies linked above. In all of these studies, it is not only bellies that get filled; it is the strengthening of entire communities economically, socially, and culturally, while still providing healthy nutritious food.

Johns offers one concrete example of how this functions:

Brazil’s National School Feeding Law and program since 2009 requires that at least 30 percent of food in the program must come from family agriculture. It also has explicit guidelines for the use of healthy food in school menus, including foods that respect the culture and traditions; and it provides incentives for the purchase of diversified foods, preferably from local family agriculture.

“Food-policy makers around the world should seek to develop novel compensation mechanisms that reflect the benefits of small-scale, biodiverse agriculture . . . This may involve direct subsidies to farmers, but it must also involve investment in extension services, infrastructure, supply-chain research and development, and progressive market regulation.”

In lieu of solutions being found in the compromised political institutions of the West, which are often populated by the revolving door of corporate farming, I would urge readers to investigate novel technologies that are showing great promise for both small- and large-scale farming that have the power to supercharge natural production anywhere in the world – found in the following article links:

For more information on the symposium being given by Professor Timothy Johns please visit: http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2014/webprogram/Session7028.html

Hudbay Minerals: Confronting a Corporate Criminal | A\J – Canada’s Environmental Voice

Hudbay Minerals: Confronting a Corporate Criminal | A\J – Canada’s Environmental Voice.

Communities in Guatemala and Manitoba are getting their day in court against the Canadian mining giant.
Chief Arlen Dumas, Mathias Colomb Cree Nation at a Hudbay Minerals protest.Chief Arlen Dumas of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation speaks to a crowd gathered to confront Hudbay over its illegal operations on their territory and across Turtle Island. Photo by Clayton Thomas-Muller.

THE SCENE WAS ABSURD: four activists, each with a bundle of 75 black and gold helium-filled balloons, riding an escalator. As we reached the top, we clipped our banner to the bundles and let go, watching our work rise slowly toward the hundred-foot ceiling of the lobby of a downtown Toronto office tower. Suddenly there were security guards rushing toward us. One of them jumped to make a grab for the bottom edge of the banner. We held our breath. He missed by mere inches and groaned. And then for just a moment, everyone in the lobby was standing still, staring up, as our huge painted banner rose until the balloons bumped and jostled against the ceiling. The bold red letters made our message clear: “HUDBAY MINERALS, CORPORATE CRIMINALS.”


The banner announcing “Hudbay Minerals, Corporate Criminals” stayed up in the lobby of the building where Hudbay’s shareholders were meeting for two hours until the company was able to remove it.

Outside on King Street, we joined the group of protesters who had already been standing in the pouring rain for more than two hours. A banner just like the one we had raised inside was stretched out, soaked, between two elders from the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation. They had traveled from northern Manitoba to confront Hudbay at this shareholder meeting where important decisions were being made by people who may have a financial stake but whose lives will never be directly impacted by the actual workings of any of the company’s mines.

Hudbay Minerals is one of several Canadian-owned mining companies censured by environmental activists, human rights organizations and more recently by mainstream media for carrying out violent forced evictions, murdering a community leader who resisted one of their mines, robbing Indigenous peoples of their lands, supporting brutal police and security operations and criminalizing anyone who has tried to resist their mining projects around the world and here in Canada. Hudbay has gained increasing attention recently because they are the first Canadian company to be tried in Canadian courts for crimes committed at mines overseas.

I [Rachel] have been directly involved in supporting communities resisting Hudbay’s mines since 2010, when I traveled to Guatemala as part of a human rights delegation and had the chance to meet people in a Mayan Q’eqchi’ community impacted by a mine formerly operated by the company. One of those people was Angelica Choc, who is now at the centre of Choc vs. Hudbay, the groundbreaking lawsuit currently being heard by Canadian courts. Angelica’s journey through the Canadian justice system began with the murder of her husband in 2009. Her community’s struggle against Canadian-owned mining companies goes back decades and is interwoven with armed conflict, genocide, government corruption, and Canada’s international development policy.

The history of the Fenix nickel mine, on the shores of Lake Izabal in western Guatemala, began in the 1960s when it was started by Inco, a Canadian company with a deep involvement in the Guatemalan government’s efforts to wipe out opposition. The Canadian government provided significant financial support to Inco’s Guatemalan subsidiary while people who protested or organized against the mine were killed, kidnapped, threatened, and whole communities were forcibly evicted from lands that had been their traditional territory for generations. Inco shut down mining operations in the 1980s, and the Fenix mine site was purchased by two Canadian companies – first Skye Resources in 2004 and then Hudbay in 2008. Shortly after the announcement of a lawsuit against Hudbay for negligence concerning violent acts committed by its employees and subsidiaries, Hudbay sold the Fenix mine to Russian company Solway Group at a $290 million loss.

The banner lift I organized in Toronto in the spring of 2013 was staged for the annual Hudbay shareholder meeting. It was an opportunity for organizations like the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network to counter the company’s media spin and to make evident – if only for the few hours that the crowds assembled outside and the banner floated near the 100 foot high lobby ceiling –  that there was a bigger story at play than the record growth investment and corporate social responsibility initiatives that Hudbay was announcing inside. It was one small part of a series of actions and events that tied together Angelica’s quest for justice and that of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (MCCN) in Manitoba.

Leahjane Robinson with 300 balloons, used for a protest at Hudbay's shareholder meeting.
Leahjane Robinson with 300 balloons, moments before packing them into a uhaul to drive downtown to Hudbay’s shareholder meeting. Photo by Ashling Ligate.

MCCN has never been consulted by Hudbay or the province of Manitoba regarding the company’s mining operations on their territory. In an effort to assert their claim to the land and prevent Hudbay from carrying out their operations without permission, Chief Arlen Dumas formally issued stop work orders against the company in January and March of 2013, and band members organized peaceful gatherings at the mine site where they held drumming and singing ceremonies.

Hudbay responded by obtaining injunctions against the community and by launching a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Chief Dumas. The result of the company’s retaliatory actions is that MCCN people, who live off the land, have been instantly criminalized and held in contempt of court for trying to maintain their livelihood. Because of a mining operation they don’t want and never agreed to, they can no longer legally hunt and fish on their own land. MCCN has since delivered formal eviction notices to Hudbay and the Province of Manitoba.

Clayton Thomas-Muller, a member of the Pukatawagan Cree Nation and campaigner with Idle No More & Defenders of the Land, also came into town to stand with protesters outside Hudbay’s Toronto meeting. He addressed the crowd: “Investing in disputed Indigenous Lands, not respecting our nations’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, trying to use the courts to suppress our Cree Nations’ sovereign right to protect our lands and water, are all signalers that the board and CEO of Hudbay are negligent, uninformed and morally bankrupt.” The community of Pukatawagan is located less than a hundred kilometres from the mine site.

Hudbay’s actions against MCCN, first ignoring the community’s right to determine what happens on their land, and later responding to resistance with significant legal threats, is heavy-handed and repressive, but less overtly violent than the threats faced by Angelica Choc’s community and those nearby. In 2007, Mayan farmers near the Fenix mine site were forced from their lands by hundreds of armed men from police, military, and private security forces who then burned down their homes.

In a village called Lote Ocho, eleven women were gang raped by the police, army, and security forces hired by Hudbay during an attempted eviction. The Canadian Ambassador to Guatemala attempted to discredit documentary film evidence of these violent evictions, claiming that the scenes were staged, or were filmed during the country’s armed conflict decades earlier. A Canadian court later found him guilty of slander, and ordered both the Ambassador and the Canadian Government to pay almost $10,000 in damages and costs to the filmmaker.


Angelica Choc addresses the supporters gathered outside of the courthouse where the trial began to hold Canadian company Hudbay accountable for the death of her husband. Also pictured: Grahame Russell fromRights ActionPhoto by Veronica Díaz.

Two years later, in the face of another round of possible evictions, Angelica Choc’s husband Adolfo Ich Chamán, a community leader and outspoken critic of the mining company’s operations, was shot and killed by security forces. On the same day, German Chub was shot and permanently injured. These incidents, along with the brutal gang-rapes in Lote Ocho, are part ofthe case against Hudbay currently being heard in the Superior Court of Ontario. There are currently three lawsuits against the company, all for negligence resulting in death or significant harm.

Angelica’s message to Hudbay, which she shared with those who came to support her during a Toronto court appearance, is unflinching. “You made a mistake with me because I did not remain silent with my arms crossed…I demand justice.” She is a powerful speakerher words and her emotions impacted the crowd deeply as they heard about the brutality her community, like many others, has experienced in their efforts to resist violations of land and human rights.

“They need to pay for all the damage caused to my family and our communities. What Hudbay has done is deplorable. Even now they hide behind walls, refusing to accept the damages caused in Guatemala. I call upon everyone, and even more so, my Indigenous peoples, who are here [gathered in Toronto] right now, to remember who we are, where we come from and where we are going. I know this is not only the case in Guatemala, and I am not working, I am not fighting, only for Guatemala. This struggle is for the whole world, to defend the earth.”

On the day of her court appearance, in solidarity with Angelica and the other claimants, local Idle No More organizers led a round dance outside the courtroom. Members of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network hung up t-shirts and sweaters on a clothesline as a way of “airing Hudbay’s dirty laundry”. Each piece of clothing had been painted by someone in Canada with messages about Hudbay’s activities, including a shirt painted by Angelica the night before. Photographs of this clothesline have since appeared in numerous media stories about the court case and the status of Hudbay’s corporate reputation.


A few of the pieces created to express solidarity with the plaintiffs and to air Hudbay’s dirty laundry. Photo by Leahjane Robinson.

Although the progress of the Choc vs. Hudbay case through the Canadian courts is a legal victory for the claimants and the lawyers representing them, back in the communities surrounding the Fenix mine repressive threats have intensified. Communities and families have been deliberately divided by offers of money and by campaigns of misinformation spread by mine officials and the government.

As disturbing as it is that these claimants are experiencing threats, it comes as little surprise to those of us who have worked on mining resistance. Unfortunately, Canadian mining companies regularly act illegally and with impunity in repressing resistance. This is especially easy to do in Guatemala, a country with one of the highest rates of impunity in the world. It is also a country where human rights activists and those organizing around the defense of land are routinely targets of violent attacks and murders.


Angelica Choc holds up the shirt she created for the laundry line. Photo by Monica Gutierrez.

Angelica knows that it will take the voices and commitment of many Canadians to make a change in the actions of Canadian-owned companies operating in her country. Surprisingly few Canadians realize that the majority of mines around the world are owned by companies based here, or the magnitude of the impact these mines are having.

To many Mayan peoples in Guatemala, the abuses carried out by Canadian companies on their land, across Central America, and globally are understood to be simply one part of a long and violent history of colonization, which they have been fighting against for hundreds of years.

Increasingly, settlers (non-Native people) in Canada are realizing what Indigenous peoples have been saying for a long time – these aren’t accidents, or the story of a few bad apples. If we’re going to change the way these companies act, we’ll need to challenge complex systems with a multitude of players that serve to concentrate power and resources in the hands of a few, often at the expense of Indigenous peoples.

And we need to acknowledge that, knowingly or not, we are all complicit in these harms, whether through the investments of our pension plans, the actions of our elected officials, the jewelry or electronics we buy, or by our tacit acceptance of systematic racism, colonialism and other oppressive, violent forces. It will be a long struggle to reverse these patterns.

The last time Angelica was in Toronto, she and I ate an early breakfast of pupusas in my kitchen before she left for the airport. We didn’t speak about much, but there was a weight to our conversation. We both knew just how dangerous it had been for her to come to Canada, and the risks she faced as she headed back to her community. We both knew that there is a very real threat of more evictions now that the mine has new owners. There was little I could say except to feebly send her off with a hug and a “please take care”.

Rachel and Joanne are spending February and March visiting with mining-impacted communities in Guatemala. For more info on mining in Guatemala, and for writing from their trip, see Under-Mining Guate. Visit the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network for updates on related issues, campaigns and actions. You can also read more about Canadian mining injustices abroad in A\J‘s Resource Wars issue.

CSEC Headquarters’ $1.2-Billion Price Tag Has Activists Outraged

CSEC Headquarters’ $1.2-Billion Price Tag Has Activists Outraged.

CSEC

When the Harper government tables its latest budget Tuesday afternoon, it will include continued funding for a massive, opulent new headquarters for Canada’s electronic spy agency, CSEC.

The $1.2-billion building on Ottawa’s east side — dubbed the “spy palace” by critics and believed to be the most expensive government building ever constructed in Canada — has become a rallying point for activists protesting in the wake of allegations that CSEC has been spying on Canadians, in contravention of its mandate and possibly Canadian law.

More than 45 organizations, including OpenMedia, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Greenpeace and several unions, are launching a campaign Tuesday “to tell MPs to stop wasting billions on Canada’s expensive online spying apparatus,” according to a statement from OpenMedia.

It’s part of a multinational event, dubbed “The Day We Fight Back,” meant to launch a new, ongoing campaign to bring government surveillance under control.

In the U.S., the campaign will focus on revelations that the National Security Agency has been involved in mass, warrantless surveillance of Americans’ phone and internet activities.

In CSEC’s new headquarters, the Canadian activist groups see a potent symbol of the growth of the surveillance state in recent years.

We now have this dramatic, visual point of reference for CSEC — this grand piece of architecture rising in the east end — at a time when surveillance is becoming more and more of an issue,” Ian MacLeod, an Ottawa Citizen reporter who covers national security issues, explained to CBC Radio last fall.

Government estimates place the official cost of the new CSEC headquarters at $867 million, but according to a CBC investigation last fall, the building’s final cost will be closer to $1.2 billion. And when the $3-billion contract to operate the building for 20 years is added, the new HQ’s cost soars past $4 billion.

As the CBC noted, the building has more floor space than Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, and cost enough to build “several” large hospitals. It will house about 2,000 CSEC employees.

“Canadians are wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on a bloated spy bureaucracy that is monitoring our private lives,” OpenMedia.ca executive director Steve Anderson said in a statement.

“It’s time for common sense to prevail. We need to rein in CSEC and other security agencies before they get even more out of control. That’s why we’re calling on MPs to make a firm commitment to introduce pro-privacy legislation to protect the privacy of all residents of Canada.”

Documents from Edward Snowden’s trove of NSA data indicate that CSEC spied on Canadian travelers through WiFi hot spots at a major airport. The Harper government denies that the privacy of Canadians was invaded in the experiment, but privacy experts say the metadata collected by the CSEC would have exposed a great deal of private information about the targeted individuals.

The CSEC headquarters is being developed by Plenary Group Canada, an infrastructure company that specializes in government projects. The building is expected to be completed this year. Plenary Group boasts of the building’s innovative green technologies.

Walls of windows fill the facility with natural light and reduce the building’s electricity consumption and rainwater collection ponds reduce the facility’s consumption of water for irrigation,” the company’s fact sheet reads.

In an interview with CBC, former CSEC head John Adams admitted the building didn’t need to be an “architectural wonder.”

“But, you know, glass in this [CBC] building is the same price as glass in that [CSEC] building,” he said. “That building is just going to look an awful lot better than this building … That facility is going to be quite magnificent.”

Is it worth $1.2 billion to build a “magnificent” headquarters for Canada’s electronic spy agency? Let us know in the comments below.

Activist Post: Saudi Royalty Declares Peaceful Dissent Punishable by Indefinite Detention

Activist Post: Saudi Royalty Declares Peaceful Dissent Punishable by Indefinite Detention.

Cassius Methyl
Activist Post

Under new law, archetypal of any oppressive regime with a plan to keep the society under its thumb, Saudi royalty declared that peaceful opposition to whatever they do is ‘terrorism’, and can be punishable by locking the agitator of ‘public order’ in a cage indefinitely. The ‘counter terrorism bill’ declares that the Saudi government can use force on individuals who commit ‘actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity, disturb public order, or defame the reputation of the state or the king.’

With our modern understanding of history brought to us via the World Wide Web, not the history taught in public school, but the real history you must dig deep into for real facts, it is overwhelmingly obvious what this bill is about. It is the same archetype, the same playbook of past greedy, dull tyranny brought into the modern era.

King Abdullah was the face of approval for this law, as he signed it into law Sunday.

The bill defines terrorism as things that have nothing necessarily to do with violence, criminalizing- “any act carried out by an offender … intended to disturb the public order…to shake the security of society… stability of the state… expose its national unity to danger… suspend the basic law of governance or some of its articles,” as cited by Human Rights Watch (HRW). 

Of course, the security of the society ruled by the state is defined by the people oppressing, taxing, and imprisoning the citizens of the land that the royal Saudis claim ownership of. The stability of the state is directly at the expense of the citizens.

Civil disobedience is explicitly forbidden in this bill, which punishes those who inhibit “governmental authority to carry out or prevent it [the government] from carrying out an action, or to threaten to carry out acts that lead to the named purposes or incite [these acts]”.

This bill also functions as a declaration of war of sorts against the citizens of Saudi Arabia, similar perhaps to the US’ NDAA and other similar moves taken by Britain, Canada, Ukraine, and Thailand to name just a few. In Saudi Arabia, it gives the ruling class the ability to do intense Internet surveillance, phone tracking, and even the ability to ‘lawfully’ raid homes of suspected ‘terrorists’, often people voicing a peaceful opinion that doesn’t sit well with the ruling class of Saudi Arabia.

After the ‘security forces’ lock a dissident in a cage, they can be detained for up to six months with a seemingly flexible possibility of extending the asylum for another 6 months at the will of the ruling class.

The world is watching as governments unify against us with similar anti-dissent laws. People want the simple right to self-ownership, and every day the unity between citizens grows globally. Perhaps this is the Saudi ruling class’ reaction to the global paradigm shift.

Source:
http://rt.com/news/saudi-arabia-counterterrorism-law-556/

Recently by Cassius Methyl:

Cassius Methyl is an activist for the natural right of people to self ownership, a writer for Activist Post, and an experimental musician.

Activist Post: Mississippi Is Tenth State To Consider Legislation To Ban Cooperation With NSA

Activist Post: Mississippi Is Tenth State To Consider Legislation To Ban Cooperation With NSA.

With the introduction of the Fourth Amendment Protection Act this week, Mississippi became the tenth state in the country to consider legislation to make life difficult for the NSA’s ongoing mass surveillance programs.

Senate Bill 2438 (SB2438), introduced by Sen. Chris McDaniel, would make it the official policy of Mississippi to “refuse material support, participation or assistance to any federal agency which claims the power, or with any federal law, rule, regulation or order which purports to authorize the collection of electronic data or metadata of any person(s) pursuant to any action not based on a warrant that particularly describes the person(s), place(s) and thing(s) to be searched or seized.”

In Mississippi, this would primarily address the use of data and metadata in court and criminal proceedings, thwarting one practical effect of what the NSA does with all the data it collects.

Reuters report last year revealed that the NSA shares data with state and local law enforcement through a formerly-secret outfit called the Special Operation Division (SOD). Retuers noted that a vast majority of this information is for use in non-terror criminal investigations, side-stepping warrant requirements under the state constitution and the 4th Amendment. The federal government also shares data mined by its agencies, including the NSA, through “fusion centers.”

The Mississippi Fourth Amendment Protection Act would ban the state from continuing practice.

The legislation would also address the status of Mississippi State University as an NSA “Center for Academic Excellence.” (CAE) Currently, the spy agency has agreements with 166 schools across the U.S. These CAE’s act as critical research facilities which help the NSA expand their capabilities. They also serve as fertile recruiting grounds for future NSA analysts.

Finally, SB2438 would ban the state from entering into any agreements to provide water or electricity to a physical location within the state. And while there is no current facility in Mississippi, OffNow coalition representative Shane Trejo said he would like to see things stay that way.

“This legislation makes sure that the NSA doesn’t get any bright ideas while bills in places like Tennessee and Utah will consider turning off the power or water to their spy centers,” he said. “NSA advocates tell us that those bills won’t work because the NSA would just set up shop in another state. Well that’s not going to happen if the other states, like Mississippi, preemptively tell the NSA ‘You’re not welcome here!’”

Similar bills have already been introduced in other states without NSA facilities, including Arizona, California, Indiana, and Oklahoma. Washington State and Tennessee lawmakers are also considering Fourth Amendment Protection Acts, and NSA does have a physical NSA presence in those states.

Inside sources say that a bill will also be introduced soon in Utah, where the massive new “data center” has recently started coming on line. That bill would propose turning the water off to the facility, effectively crippling NSA’s ability to cool their supercomputers, which are reported to need up to 1.7 million gallons of water every single day to operate.

Bills that address just the data-sharing portion of the Mississippi bill have been introduced in Kansas, Missouri and New Hampshire.

SB2438 has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee, where it will need to be passed by a majority vote before being considered by the full senate.

Track the status of similar legislation around the country here.

Source:
Tenth Amendment Center 

The OffNow coalition is group of grassroots organizations and individuals spanning the political spectrum committed to stopping unconstitutional NSA spying through state and local activism 

Are you opposed to fracking? Then you might just be a terrorist | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com

Are you opposed to fracking? Then you might just be a terrorist | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com.

From North America to Europe, the ‘national security’ apparatus is being bought off by Big Oil to rout peaceful activism
Climate and anti-fracking activists blocade site

Are the hundreds of peaceful protesters who blockaded the Cuadrilla oil drilling site outside Balcombe, West Sussex, dangerous “extremists”? Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Over the last year, a mass of shocking evidence has emerged on the close ties between Western government spy agencies and giant energycompanies, and their mutual interests in criminalising anti-fracking activists.

Activists tarred with the same brush

In late 2013, official documents obtained under freedom of information showed that Canada‘s domestic spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), had ramped up its surveillance of activists opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline project on ‘national security’ grounds. The CSIS also routinely passed information about such groups to the project’s corporate architect, Calgary-based energy company, Enbridge.

The Northern Gateway is an $8 billion project to transport oil from the Alberta tar sands to the British Columbia coast, where it can be shipped to global markets. According to the documents a Canadian federal agency, the National Energy Board, worked with CSIS and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to coordinate with Enbridge, TransCanada, and other energy corporations in gathering intelligence on anti-fracking activists – despite senior police privately admitting they “could not detect a direct or specific criminal threat.”

Now it has emerged that former cabinet minister Chuck Strahl – the man appointed by Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper to head up the CSIS’ civilian oversight panel, the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) – has been lobbying for Enbridge since 2011.

But that’s not all. According to CBC News, only one member of Strahl’s spy watchdog committee “has no ties to either the current government or the oil industry.” For instance, SIRC member Denis Losier sits on the board of directors of Enbridge-subsidiary, Enbridge NB, while Yves Fortier, is a former board member of TransCanada, the company behind the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Counter-insurgency in the homeland

Investigative journalist Steve Horn reports that TransCanada has also worked closely with American law-enforcement and intelligence agencies in attempting to criminalise US citizens opposed to the pipeline. Files obtained under freedom of information last summer showed that in training documents for the FBI and US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), TransCanada suggested that non-violent Keystone XL protestors could be deterred using criminal and anti-terror statutes:

“… the language in some of the documents is so vague that it could also ensnare journalists, researchers and academics, as well.”

According to the Earth Island Journal, official documents show that TransCanada “has established close ties with state and federal law enforcement agencies along the proposed pipeline route.” But TransCanada is only one example of “the revolving door between state law enforcement agencies and the private sector, especially in areas where fracking and pipeline construction have become big business.”

This has had a tangible impact. In March last year, US law enforcement officials had infiltrated and spied on environmentalists attending a tar sands resistance camp in Oklahoma, leading to the successful pre-emptive disruption of their protest action.

Just last December, other activists in Oklahoma faced terror charges for draping an anti-fracking banner in the lobby of the offices housing US oil and gas company, Devon Energy. The two protestors were charged with carrying out a “terrorism hoax” for using gold glitter on their banner, some of which happened to scatter to the floor of the building – depicted by a police spokesman as a potentially “dangerous or toxic” substance in the form of a “black powder,” causing a panic.

But Suzanne Goldenberg reports a different account:

“After a few uneventful minutes, [the activists] Stephenson and Warner took down the banner and left the building – apologising to the janitor who came hurrying over with a broom. A few people, clutching coffee cups, wandered around in the lobby below, according to Stephenson. But she did not detect much of a response to the banner. There wasn’t even that much mess, she said. The pair had used just four small tubes of glitter on their two banners.”

The criminalisation of peaceful activism under the rubric of ‘anti-terrorism’ is an escalating trend linked directly to corporate co-optationof the national security apparatus. In one egregious example, thousands of pages of government records confirm how local US police departments, the FBI and the DHS monitored Occupy activists nationwide as part of public-private intelligence sharing with banks and corporations.

Anti-fracking activists in particular have come under increased FBI surveillance in recent years under an expanded definition of ‘eco-terrorism‘, although the FBI concedes that eco-terrorism is on the decline. This is consistent with US defence planning documents over the last decade which increasingly highlight the danger of domestic “insurgencies” due to the potential collapse of public order under various environmental, energy or economic crises.

Manufacturing “consensus”

In the UK, Scotland Yard’s National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (which started life as the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit and later became the National Domestic Extremism Unit), has had a long record of equating the spectre of “domestic extremism” with “single-issue protests, such as animal rights, anti-war, anti-globalisation and anti-GM crops.” Apart from animal rights, these movements have been “overwhelmingly peaceful” points out George Monbiot.

This has not prevented the police unit from monitoring almost 9,000 Britons deemed to hold “radical political views,” ranging from “anti-capitalists” to “anti-war demonstrators.” Increasingly though, according to a Guardian investigation, the unit “is known to have focused its resources on spying on environmental campaigners, particularly those engaged in direct action and civil disobedience to protest against climate change.”

Most recently, British police have gone so far as to conduct surveillance of Cambridge University students involved in social campaigns like anti-fracking, education, anti-fascism, and opposition to austerity, despite a lack of reason to suspect criminal activity.

This is no accident. Yesterday, senior Tory and ex-Cabinet minister Lord Deben, chairman of the UK government-sponsored Committee on Climate Change, characterised anyone suggesting that fracking is “devastatingly damaging” as a far-left “extremist,” holding “nonsensical” views associated with “Trotskyite” dogma. In contrast, he described “moderate” environmentalists as situated safely in the legitimate spectrum of a “broad range of consensus” across “all political parties.”

In other words, if you are disillusioned with the existing party political system and its approach to environmental issues, you are an extremist.

Deben’s comments demonstrate the regressive mindset behind the British government’s private collaboration with shale gas industry executives to “manage the British public’s hostility to fracking,” as revealed in official emails analysed by Damien Carrington.

The emails exposed the alarming extent to which government is “acting as an arm of the gas industry,” compounding earlier revelations that Department of Energy and Climate Change employees involved in drafting UK energy policy have been seconded from UK gas corporations.

Public opinion is the enemy

The latest polling data shows that some 47% of Britons “would not be happy for a gas well site using fracking to open within 10 miles of their home,” with just 14% saying they would be happy. By implication, the government views nearly half of the British public as potential extremists merely for being sceptical of shale gas.

This illustrates precisely why the trend-line of mass surveillance exemplified in the Snowden disclosures has escalated across the Western world. From North America to Europe, the twin spectres of “terrorism” and “extremism” are being disingenuously deployed by an ever more centralised nexus of corporate, state and intelligence power, to suppress widening public opposition to that very process of unaccountable centralisation.

But then, what’s new? Back in 1975, the Trilateral Commission – a network of some 300 American, European and Japanese elites drawn from business, banking, government, academia and media founded by Chase Manhattan Bank chairman David Rockerfeller – published an influential study called The Crisis of Democracy.

The report concluded that the problems of governance “stem from an excess of democracy” which makes government “less powerful and more active” due to being “overloaded with participants and demands.” This democratic excess at the time consisted of:

“… a marked upswing in other forms of citizen participation, in the form of marches, demonstrations, protest movements, and ’cause’ organizations… [including] markedly higher levels of self-consciousness on the part of blacks, Indians, Chicanos, white ethnic groups, students, and women… [and] a general challenge to existing systems of authority, public and private… People no longer felt the same compulsion to obey those whom they had previously considered superior to themselves in age, rank, status, expertise, character, or talents.”

The solution, therefore, is “to restore the prestige and authority of central government institutions,” including “hegemonic power” in the world. This requires the government to somehow “reinforce tendencies towards political passivity” and to instill “a greater degree of moderation in democracy.” This is because:

“… the effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires some measure of apathy and noninvolvement on the part of some individuals and groups… In itself, this marginality on the part of some groups is inherently undemocratic, but it has also been one of the factors which has enabled democracy to function effectively.”

Today, such official sentiments live on in the form of covert psychological operations targeted against Western publics by the CIAPentagon andMI6, invariably designed to exaggerate threats to manipulate public opinion in favour of government policy.

As the global economy continues to suffocate itself, and as publics increasingly lose faith in prevailing institutions, the spectre of ‘terror’ is an increasingly convenient tool to attempt to restore authority by whipping populations into panic-induced subordination.

Evidently, however, what the nexus of corporate, state and intelligence power fears the most is simply an “excess of democracy”: the unpalatable prospect of citizens rising up and taking power back.

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save It among other books. Follow him on Twitter @nafeezahmed

Activist Post: Arizona Bill to Thwart NSA Spying Officially Introduced

Activist Post: Arizona Bill to Thwart NSA Spying Officially Introduced.

Arizona 4th Amendment Protection Act Introduced, Bans Help to NSA, Use of Warrantless Data in Court.

Activist Post

Arizona state Senator Kelli Ward made good on her commitment to introduce legislation that would withdraw all state support of the NSA and hang a big “Spies Not Welcome Here” sign on the front door of the Grand Canyon State this week.

After being the first legislator in the country to announce an intent to do so last fall, Ward along with nine sponsors introduced the Fourth Amendment Protection Act on Wednesday. SB1156 also garnered four co-sponsors, including senate President Andy Biggs.

Based on model legislation drafted by the OffNow Coalition, the Arizona Fourth Amendment Protection Act would ban the state from engaging in activities which help the NSA carry out their warrantless data-collection programs, or even make use of the information on a local level.

The Coalition is organized by the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, a civil liberties group advised by well known anti-establishment figures such as Daniel Ellsburg and Naomi Wolf.

The bill reads, in part, the state of Arizona will not “provide material support or assistance in any form to any federal agency that claims the power to collect, or comply with any federal law, rule, regulation or order that purports to authorize the collection of, electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action that is not based on a warrant that particularly describes the person, place and thing to be searched or seized.”

The legislation also bans the use of warrantless data in courts in the state. A Reuters report last year revealed that the NSA shares data with state and local law enforcement through a secret outfit called the Special Operation Division (SOD). The federal government also shares data mined by its agencies, including the NSA, through “fusion centers.”

TAC national communications director Mike Maharrey said this part of the bill would have the most impact. “SB1156 would make this information utterly useless in the state of Arizona,” he said.

Ward told US News that her goal was to protect the Constitution. “I believe the number one priority for national security is defending and protecting the Constitution,” she said. “Without that, the rest becomes irrelevant.”

While the NSA does not operate a physical facility in the state, the prohibition of material support sends an important message to the spy agency by pulling up the welcome mat.

“We know the NSA is aggressively expanding its physical locations, not just in Utah, but in Texas, Hawaii and other states too,” Maharrey said. “Since the NSA isn’t transparent about its plans, it’s essential to not only address where it is right now, but work to get the rest of the country to say, ‘You’re not welcome here either!’ Our plan is to box them in and do everything we can to stop them.”

The legislation also addresses relationships between the NSA and public universities. Currently, the spy agency has agreements with 166 schools across the U.S. Two Arizona state universities currently maintain partnerships with the NSA. The Arizona Fourth Amendment Protection Act would address the status of Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, Tucson, as NSA “Centers of Academic Excellence” and would prevent future agreements with other state schools.

Arizona joins Washington State, Oklahoma, Indiana, California and Tennessee in considering the Fourth Amendment Protection Act. Bills addressing one aspect of the OffNow campaign – data sharing – are pending in Kansas and Missouri. Sources close to the Coalition indicate lawmakers in several other states will introduce the act in the coming weeks.

Maharrey emphasized the importance of states standing together against unconstitutional spying.

“It’s important for Arizona to take a stand with California, Washington State, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Indiana, Kansas and Missouri. We need to take steps to protect the Fourth Amendment, even if the NSA refuses to,” he said. “And while one state might not make a difference, all of us together will.”

Source:
The Tenth Amendment Center

The OffNow coalition is group of grassroots organizations and individuals spanning the political spectrum committed to stopping unconstitutional NSA spying through state and local activism. #NullifyNSA

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