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Opponents of Kiev Protests Gather at Barricade » The Epoch Times

Opponents of Kiev Protests Gather at Barricade » The Epoch Times.

KIEV, Ukraine— Thousands of people angered by months of anti-government protests in the Ukrainian capital are gathering at one of the protesters’ barricades in a tense confrontation with demonstrators who have set up an extensive tent camp on the other side.

The crowd of about 2,000 came to the barricade at midday Saturday. They blocked traffic on the capital’s main avenue and placed tires in the roadway.

Igor Polishchuk, one of the men placing the tires, said the crowd intended to show its peaceful opposition to the protests that have pushed the country into a political crisis and complained that police had done little against the protesters, who also occupy Kiev’s city hall.

Protesters from the anti-government side stood atop a three-meter (10-foot) barricade of snow and refuse near the city hall.

Thousands of Anti-Putin Protesters March in Moscow » The Epoch Times

Thousands of Anti-Putin Protesters March in Moscow » The Epoch Times.

Opposition demonstrators carry posters of imprisoned protesters during a protest rally in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. Several thousand Russian opposition supporters gathered for a protest on Sunday, venting anger against the Kremlin and demanding the release of political prisoners. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Opposition demonstrators carry posters of imprisoned protesters during a protest rally in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. Several thousand Russian opposition supporters gathered for a protest on Sunday, venting anger against the Kremlin and demanding the release of political prisoners. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MOSCOW— Several thousand protesters have marched through central Moscow to call for the release of 20 people who were arrested after clashes between police and demonstrators in May 2012.

Some of them face up to 10 years in prison if convicted for the protest, held on Bolotnaya Square on the eve of President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration to a third term as Russia’s president.

The protesters marched Sunday with a banner stretching across the street reading: “Freedom to the Bolotnaya heroes, the hostages of Putin.” Others held portraits of the jailed protesters.

Of the 28 people who were rounded up in the case, eight were recently freed on amnesty. Several defendants are under house arrest, but most of the others have been in jail for more than a year and a half.

Today’s Peasant Movement – Sophisticated, Threatened, and Our Best Hope for Survival  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards

Today’s Peasant Movement – Sophisticated, Threatened, and Our Best Hope for Survival  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards.

(Image: La Via Campesina)The term peasant often conjures up images of medieval serfs out of touch with the ways of the world around them. Such thinking is out of date. Today, peasants proudly and powerfully put forward effective strategies to feed the planet and limit the damages wrought by industrial agriculture. What’s more, they understand the connections between complex trade and economic systems, champion the rights of women, and even stand up for the rights of gay men and lesbians.

These are not your great ancestors’ peasants.

“A peasant is a scientist. The amount and quality of knowledge we have been developing and practicing for centuries is highly useful and appropriate,” said Maxwell Munetsi, a farmer from Zimbabwe and a member of the Via Campesina.

“Unlike agribusiness, peasants do not treat food as a commodity for speculation profiting out of hunger. They do not patent nature for profit, keeping it out of the hands of the common man and woman. They share their knowledge and seeds, so everyone can have food to eat.”

The Via Campesina is perhaps the largest social movement in the world, consisting of more than 250 million farmers and small producers from over 70 nations. At the top of the Via’s agenda is supporting peasant agriculture, which in today’s era of globalization also means seeking agrarian reform, challenging neoliberalism and corporate-friendly trade agreements, and working to stop climate disruption.

“Peasant organizations today – from Haiti to Brazil to Mali to Indonesia – are tremendously sophisticated in their political analysis, not just their impressive knowledge of seeds, natural pesticides and fertilizers and sustainable agricultural practices,” says Nikhil Aziz, Executive Director of Grassroots International.

“In fact,” Aziz continues, “the methods used by peasant farmers out-produce the far more destructive and costly practices of industrial agriculture. They can grow more food, at less cost, and actually help cool the planet. Meanwhile the massive plantations planted with seeds from Monsanto and other agrochemical giants and flooded with toxics produce less food, create more greenhouse gases and literally are making the farmers, consumers and planet sick.”

A global assessment spearheaded by the United Nations and including the World Bank and the United Nations Environment Program agree. Their 2008 report (the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, or IAASTD for short) concludes that small-scale agriculture produces more food at less cost to the farmer and the environment than does industrial agriculture.

The conclusion of the IAASTD Report comes as no surprise to Carlos Hernriquez. When a member of UNOSJO (the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca, a Grassroots International partner) first reached out to Carlos, he was unconvinced.

“UNOSJO told us we did not have to rely on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. I was hesitant, thinking that buying fertilizers was a faster way to get results,” Carlos said. “I was hesitant for two years, until 2004 when I was motivated to make the organic fertilizer. In 2005, for the first time, I used the organiic fertilizer [in a small plot of land].”

Seeing is believing – and soon Carlos switched completely to agroecological methods that included heirloom seeds, natural fertilizers and pesticides, and intercropping. All of those techniques rely on the farmers’ knowledge. To succeed, farmers need to learn new and sustainable methods, share their knowledge, adapt to changing climate conditions, and maneuver politically at a time when global policies favor massive corporate agriculture and chemical giants.

The change in Carlos’ life is profound. Now he and his family have healthy food to eat and to sell at local farmers’ markets, they can afford to send all their children to school, and he is eager to share his expertise with others.

Carlos and other peasant farmers are part of a movement for food sovereignty – the right of peoples and communities to control the seeds they plant and the food they grow and consume in an ecologically sustainable and culturally appropriate way. This is the central concept of peasant agriculture, and it offers the potential to boost our global food system and protect the planet from climate disruption.

“Not only do peasant farmers feed communities, they also cool the planet and protect Mother Nature,” explains Via Campesina a statement on International Peasant Day last year saying. “Unlike agribusiness, peasants do not treat food as a commodity for speculation profiting out of hunger. They do not patent nature for profit, keeping it out of the hands of the common man and woman. They share their knowledge and seeds, so everyone can have food to eat.”

Food is central to our culture and our civilization, which is precisely the analysis that the small producers – farmers, fishers and foresters – of the Via Campesina bring. As long as corporations control the food system in order to produce short-term profit, our collective lives are in danger. Systems of injustice that uphold the corporate food system include trade agreements, water privatization schemes, land grabs and gender inequality. These are the connections that peasants like Carlos see every day.

For instance, more than 60 percent of the world’s farmers are women, yet women cannot own land in many nations. To confront this institutional violence against women, as well as domestic violence, the Via launched the Global Campaign to End Violence Against Women in 2008. The movement conducted trainings at the grassroots and also required co-gender leadership at all levels, including the highest level.  Farmers are also calling for a dismantling of the World Trade Organization and its manipulation of food commodity structures.

The success of peasants means success for all of us, because they are leading the way in feeding the world, counteracting greenhouse gas emissions and other environmentally toxic poisons, conserving water and biodiversity and expanding social and economic justice. The peasant movement chant of “Globalize the struggle, globalize the hope” is a roadmap toward a sustainable, dignified future.

Common Dreams

Russia Threatens With Pulling Bailout As Ukraine Government Resigns | Zero Hedge

Russia Threatens With Pulling Bailout As Ukraine Government Resigns | Zero Hedge.

Mykola Azurov, the prime minister of Ukraine, (and his cabinet) has resigned. The move comes as the government faced losing a no confidence vote and being stripped off their power. It seems the opposition (pro-Europe) are gaining momentum once again as the Ukraine also repealed the controversial anti-protest laws that created more tension last week. The Russians are not amused and have warned that they may reconsider the $15 billion bailout offer if the current government is removed. The Ukrainian Hryvnia is continuing its collapse on this news and has dropped towards record lows (though bonds are rallying).

The opposition is clearly gaining momentum…

Mykola Azarov, the prime minister of Ukraine, submitted his resignation on Tuesday hours before he risked being stripped of his powers in a vote of no confidence in Parliament.His offer to quit was the latest sign of the building momentum of the opposition in the ongoing crisis.

In another concession to the opposition, the pro-government political party in Parliament, the Party of Regions, voted together with the opposition to repeal most of the laws in a package of rules limiting free speech and assembly the lawmakers had passed just a week earlier.

One elderly woman in a kerchief giddily told the Ukrainian channel 5 television after Mr. Azarov’s resignation, “Thank God you heard us!”

But the Russians are not happy (via WSJ):

Russia may reconsider its $15 billion bailout offer to Ukraine if the current government is removed, a senior official said Tuesday, hours after Ukraine’s prime minister offered his resignation in an effort to calm a growing protest movement. “There is no decision yet, but it is self-evident,” that further distributions of the loan would be reviewed if the government of Mykola Azarov was to be dissolved, the official said speaking on condition of anonymity.

However, this is far from over…

Opposition leaders have so far called the president’s concessions “too little too late,” and appear to be in no mood to compromise with him as protesters have seized government buildings in the west and center of the country.

Canada Natives Block Energy Projects: `We Own It All’ – Bloomberg

Canada Natives Block Energy Projects: `We Own It All’ – Bloomberg.

Back in the spring of 2012, while walking in the deep woods of northern Ontario, Sonny Gagnon stumbled across a collection of surveying equipment among the towering spruce trees. Gagnon is chief of the Aroland aboriginal tribe, a band of 450 people living in a village of ramshackle houses surrounded by swampy muskeg. He tracks everything that goes on in his community. And the surveying tools weren’t supposed to be there.

“I was ticked off,” he says, after learning that the equipment belonged to a subcontractor of Cleveland-based mining company Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (CLF)

It turned out Cliffs had plans to mine for chromite to the north of the Aroland reserve and to build a road through the territory to transport truckloads of the mineral to a railhead, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its March issue.

“They weren’t consulting us on what they were doing on the land,” Gagnon says. “I told them to leave and that we didn’t want them back.”

Gagnon and his native band then set up a roadblock to monitor traffic. Cliffs suspended plans for the mine in November, citing in a statement the “risks” associated with its ability to transport the ore for processing.

Cliffs officials didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.

Aboriginal Canadians from Quebec to British Columbia are asserting their rights. Energized by a 2004 Supreme Court decision that requires governments to “consult and accommodate” aboriginal groups before miners and oil and gas drillers encroach on their lands, the natives have blocked half a dozen major projects since the court ruling.

Harper’s Dilemma

That includes a proposed C$6.5 billion ($6 billion) oil pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific Oceanand a shale gas project in the eastern province of New Brunswick.

The natives’ activism complicates Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s grand plan to boost the Canadian economy with C$650 billion worth of natural resource projects over the next decade in a quest to make the nation an “energy superpower.” Among the government’s priorities are mining projects in the so-called Ring of Fire region of northern Ontario, stepped-up oil extraction from Alberta’s tar sands and natural gas exploration in British Columbia.

Native Canadians are demanding a say in how these projects proceed, and the 2004 court decision forces the government to give them one.

’Huge Issues’

“These are huge issues, which have enormous implications for the economy of the country,” says Bob Rae, a former Ontario premier who, until April 2013, led Canada’s federal Liberal Party. “They’re right at the center of Canada’s economic life.”

The natives have a powerful political ally in Rae, who has agreed to negotiate with mining companies and the provincial and federal governments on behalf of the nine chiefs of the Matawa First Nations, including Gagnon. The council holds sway over northern Ontario lands where major mineral discoveries were made as recently as 2008. Mining companies, including Cliffs and Toronto-based Noront Resources Ltd. (NOT), estimate the region contains C$50 billion worth of copper, zinc and chromite.

The aboriginals’ latest show of power came in New Brunswick in October and November, when demonstrators gathered in opposition to Houston-based Southwestern Energy Co. (SWN)’s plans to drill for natural gas on native lands. The protesters clashed violently with police, at one point throwing Molotov cocktails that incinerated six police vehicles.

The company says the disruption in its operations cost it $60,000 a day. It got a court injunction that stopped the protests and proceeded with exploratory drilling in December.

‘Begin by Listening’

Confrontations such as the one in New Brunswick are proof that the Canadian federal government has mishandled its mandate to consult with the First Nations over such projects, says Paul Martin, an aboriginal rights advocate who led Canada as prime minister from December 2003 to February 2006.

“If you want to have a relationship, begin by listening,” Martin says. “And the federal government seems incapable of doing so.”

Prime Minister Harper has pledged to “reset the relationship” between government and Canada’s indigenous people. “Certainly, in the past, lack of trust on both sides has held us back,” he said in 2012.

Canada is facing more challenges to resource-extraction projects from aboriginals than any other nation in the world, according to an October report by Fredericksburg, Virginia–based First Peoples Worldwide, which provides grants and services to native tribes. The activists are divided into two groups. The so-called traditionalists want to shut out development and preserve native lands for hunting and fishing. “Progressives” want to share in the enormous wealth being produced by the country’s resource companies.

Idle No More

Often both points of view are represented in the same native band, creating conflict. Both can be found in a national movement called Idle No More, which has staged protests around the world — including in Stockholm and London — demanding jobs, education and economic development for Canada’s indigenous communities.

Idle No More made headlines in January 2013, when it staged protests that blocked train traffic between Montreal and Toronto.

Canada is home to 1.4 million natives, who make up 4.3 percent of the population, compared with the U.S.’s 2 percent, according to the most-current census data. More than half of Canada’s First Nations peoples, as they are known, live and work in cities; the rest are scattered across six time zones on more than 600 reserves.

Income Disparity

Unemployment is as high as 90 percent in native communities such as Aroland, and the median per capita income was C$14,000 in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available. The per capita income of all Canadians today is C$40,650, according to Statistics Canada.

Canadian resource companies say they’re eager to accommodate the First Nations — so long as they don’t make unreasonable demands. In August, Calgary-based Athabasca Oil (ATH) Corp. won approval from Alberta’s energy regulator to start up an oil sands project in northeastern Alberta over the protests of the Fort McKay First Nation, whose traditional hunting grounds are adjacent to the proposed site.

The Fort McKay group wants a 20-kilometer (12-mile) buffer around the bitumen drilling operation. Athabasca rejected the idea, but on Dec. 17, Sveinung Svarte, its chief executive officer, said, “It is our view that a mutually acceptable solution is achievable.”

Angry Impasse

Athabasca’s shares sank 38 percent in 2013 amid uncertainty about the project, which could produce 250,000 barrels of oil a day at full capacity.

On the Pacific coast, Calgary-based pipeline builder Enbridge Inc. (ENB) has reached an angry impasse with the natives. The company wants to lay a 1,178-kilometer line called Northern Gateway to connect Alberta’s oil sands with the Pacific port of Kitimat, where the oil would be loaded onto tankers and shipped to petroleum-thirsty Asian markets. The pipeline would traverse British Columbia’s mountains and salmon streams.

The pipeline is opposed by native groups along much of its proposed route because they say oil spills and leaks would destroy their hunting and fishing grounds. The Yinka Dene Alliance, a group of six tribes whose lands span the pipeline’s proposed route to the sea, have banned any Northern Gateway contractors from setting foot on their lands.

Pipeline Politics

The Coastal First Nations, an alliance of nine aboriginal groups on the British Columbia seashore, is equally determined to block Enbridge’s pipeline, and joined dozens of First Nations that voiced their opposition to the pipeline during 2012 regulatory hearings by Canada’s National Energy Board.

The board gave the project a green light in a December ruling, placing 209 conditions on the pipeline, many of them designed to protect the environment — and, by implication, native lands. Enbridge says it will spend an extra C$500 million to boost the thickness of its pipes, will install dual leak detection systems and will post permanent staff at remote pumping stations to minimize the risk of a spill.

“I’ve been in a number of locations in B.C. trying to talk to people about the project, but, more importantly, listening to what they are saying,” Enbridge CEO Al Monaco says. “I don’t say a heck of a lot. I basically listen to what the concerns are.”

The natives aren’t persuaded. Art Sterritt, executive director of Coastal First Nations, stands aboard a 20-meter (70-foot) boat plying the waters near Prince Rupert and points across the Hecate Strait at a string of buoys marking the spots where the seabed was seeded with juvenile scallops in 2012.

Shellfish Economy

The fragile shellfish beds are part of an effort to rebuild a traditional aboriginal economy based on aquaculture.

“The real foundation of who we are is shellfish,” Sterritt says, as a pod of whales surfaces within view of the boat. He adds that he doesn’t want to take a chance that an oil spill will destroy the pristine bay.

“We are still hopeful that they will see the merit of stopping this project,” says Arnold Clifton, chief councilor of the Gitga’at First Nation. “The recommendation is by no means the final say. All options are on the table.”

Prime Minister Harper, who also faces opposition to the pipeline from non-native British Columbians, has until June to decide the project’s fate.

Their recent victories in holding up projects have emboldened the aboriginals.

‘We Own It All’

“We have the authority to enter into any agreement that we want to,” says Gary Allen, chief of the Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, which is negotiating logging rights on its land in northern Ontario with Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products (RFP) Inc. and other companies. “Whether with the mining sector, whether it’s in forestry, whether it’s water — we own it all,” he says.

In reality, what the natives own or control is a matter of dispute — and has been since Canada was founded. Although the 2004 Supreme Court decision forced the government to negotiate with First Nations when a company encroaches on land they occupy, the court did not give aboriginals veto power over government-backed resource projects.

Canada has signed 11 major treaties with natives since 1867, when the country gained independence from Great Britain. The treaties guarantee that the natives can practice their traditional way of life without giving them ownership of any land, says Thomas Isaac, a partner and head of aboriginal law at Toronto-based law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. The Supreme Court decision clarified Ottawa’s responsibilities, Isaac says.

Fair Treatment

“Government is the centerpiece of the wheel,” he says. “The courts are going back and relying on ancient principles around fairness and equity. This is about government treating its subjects fairly.”

In the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario, the federal government is serving as an intermediary to make sure the new mines include training and jobs for the aboriginals and do no permanent harm to the environment.

“We want to do this right. It has to be inclusive,” says Greg Rickford, the federal minister responsible for the development. “First Nations communities can and will bring important understanding to the environmental assessment processes.”

Former Prime Minister Martin says “Canada’s indigenous peoples are not anti-development. What they want is for it to be done in a sustainable way. That means doing it in full consultation with the people who live near these projects.”

165 Claims

Native claims are mostly addressed in the courts and other government forums. Since 2011, aboriginals have filed 165 complaints against the federal government with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, claiming they receive insufficient funding for education and child welfare. In disputes over resource projects, the mining and drilling companies are caught in the middle.

“The expectations placed on companies in this area over the past 10 years have evolved incredibly quickly,” says Robert Walker, vice president at Vancouver-based NEI Investments, which oversees C$5.5 billion in assets. “First Nations’ power is growing.”

Aroland’s Sonny Gagnon intends to take full advantage of that fact. Conditions in Aroland are typical of rural native communities. Houses stand unfinished or in a state of decay. Clutches of mothers stroll up and down the dirt roads pushing baby carriages. The only business is a corner store selling gasoline and canned food. The biggest of the few employers is the tribal government, which provides paychecks to about 30 people. Most of the rest live on government welfare of about C$400 a month.

‘A Day at a Time’

“Every day is a challenge,” says Robinson Meshake, in charge of social work on the reserve. “We take each day one at a time.”

Gagnon says alleviating his community’s deep poverty is his only goal. Even as he blocks construction of Cliffs’ proposed road through his settlement, he says he has no objection to the mining project.

“I’m pro-development,” he says.

Cliffs would use the road to transport ore from a mine 340 kilometers to the north to a railhead in Aroland. As many as 100 ore-laden trucks a day would pass through the community.

“I want those jobs for my people,” Gagnon says. “I want them to be making $400 a day.”

With the stakes in the tens of billions of dollars for Harper’s government and the resource companies he supports, Gagnon and other native Canadians have never been in a better position to right some of the historic wrongs they believe their people have suffered.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy van Loon in Calgary at jvanloon@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Serrill at mserrill@bloomberg.net

Ukrainian opposition calls for snap elections, talks with govt continue — RT News

Ukrainian opposition calls for snap elections, talks with govt continue — RT News.

Heavyweight boxing champion and UDAR (Punch) party leader Vitaly Klitschko (C), head of the All-Ukrainian Union Svoboda (Freedom) Party Oleg Tyagnibok (R) and Ukrainian opposition leader Arseny Yatsenyuk (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

Download video (31.04 MB)

Opposition leaders called for an early presidential election following a Saturday meeting with the government, where top administration posts were offered to protest leaders and a review of the constitution was promised.

Following the talks, the head of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party, Vitaly Klitschko, said that Yanukovich agreed to many demands. “But we do not step back and demand elections this year,” he told protesters.

“What is Yanukovich ready for? For release and amnesty of all those detained. To work on getting back to the constitution of 2004. Dismissal of government on certain conditions. [He] still does not agree to abolish dictatorial laws, but only to amend them,” Klitschko added.

“Our demands: get rid of those laws…have presidential elections this year. Negotiations are continuing and we must hold on. And we will not succumb to any provocations.

No deal @ua_yanukovych, we’re finishing what we started. The people decide our leaders, not you. #Євромайдан

— Arseniy Yatsenyuk (@Yatsenyuk_AP) January 25, 2014

The opposition is ready to head up the government and bring Ukraine into the EU, said Yatsenyuk.

“Our task – is a new Ukrainian government…Viktor Yanukovich…proposed for the opposition to head up the government. Are we afraid to carry responsibility? We are not afraid to take on responsibility for the country’s future. We accept that responsibility and we are ready to bring Ukraine into the EU, which calls for the release of Yulia Tymoshenko,” Yatsenyuk said.

Batkivschina leader Arseny Yatsenyuk continued:“Our country is put by those at power to the brink of falling apart …We demand that Yanukovich relieves the position of Ukraine’s president and we need a new constitution.”

Leader of the nationalist Svoboda opposition party, Oleg Tyagnibok, told the protesters that those in power are backing down and are changing their tune from two days ago. “To Maidan! To Maidan! Glory to Ukraine!”

Yatsenyuk: “draconian laws must be abolished in parliament on tuesday. this is our priority, and we will not back down”

— Alexey Yaroshevsky (@Yaro_RT) January 25, 2014

The government’s negotiations with the opposition have so far yielded no results, which could signal that the standoff between the two sides will continue for the next couple of days, RT’s Alexey Yaroshevsky explained.

Meanwhile rioters are storming the Ukrainian House international convention center, which reportedly has 150 riot police inside, RT’s Alexey Yaroshevsky reported.

During the Saturday meeting, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich offered top government posts to protest leaders and promised a review of the constitution, aimed at giving more power to parliament.

Yanukovich proposed the post of prime minister to Arseny Yatsenyuk, justice minister Elena Lukash said after the president’s meeting with opposition leaders.

The president offered the post of prime minister to Arseny Yatsenyuk. In the case of the latter’s consent to take the post, the president of Ukraine will decide on the resignation of the government,” Lukash said.

Vitaly Klitchko was offered the post of deputy prime minister for humanitarian affairs.

The president’s offer came as the government struggles to cope with protests and violence that continue to grip the entire country.

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

Kiev Burning: Molotov Cocktails, Rubber Bullets And Stun Grenades Exchanged – Live Webcast | Zero Hedge

Kiev Burning: Molotov Cocktails, Rubber Bullets And Stun Grenades Exchanged – Live Webcast | Zero Hedge.

It will be a long night in Kiev:

  • KIEV CLASHES RESUME BETWEEN PROTESTERS, POLICE: CHANNEL 5 TV
  • KIEV PROTESTERS ATTACKED AFTER POLICE INJURED ACTIVIST: TV 5
  • UKRAINE PROTESTERS THROW MOLOTOV COCKTAILS, ROCKS AT POLICE
  • UKRAINE POLICE RESPOND WITH RUBBER BULLETS, STUN GRENADES
  • UKRAINE POLICE BLAME PROTESTERS FOR BREAKING TRUCE: STATEMENT

What Kiev looks like right now, via @PzFeed:

Live feed after the jump:

Kiev protesters expand street barricades – Europe – Al Jazeera English

Kiev protesters expand street barricades – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

Ukrainian protesters have erected more street barricades and occupied a government ministry building, fuelling tension after the failure of crisis talks with the president, Viktor Yanukovich.In response to opposition calls, about 1,000 demonstrators moved away from Kiev’s Independence Square in the early hours of Friday and began to erect new barricades closer to the presidential headquarters.

Masked protesters, some carrying riot police shields seized as trophies, stood guard as others piled up sandbags packed with frozen snow to form new ramparts across the road leading down into the square.

After leaving a second round of talks with Yanukovich empty handed late on Thursday, opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko voiced fears the impasse could now lead to further bloodshed.

After speaking first to protesters manning the barricades, Klitschko then went to Independence Square where he declared: “Hours of conversation were spent about nothing. There is no sense sitting at a negotiating table with someone who has already decided to deceive you.”

Klitschko had earlier brokered a truce in the violence between protesters and police, and the ceasefire appears to be holding so far.

A group of protesters took control of the main agricultural ministry building in the centre. “We need the place for our people to warm up,” a local protest leader was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

Meanwhile, protesters near Dynamo Kiev football stadium, the new flashpoint in the city, cranked up their action, setting tyres ablaze again and sending a pall of black smoke over the area.

There were no signs that protesters were heeding an appeal from general prosecutor Viktor Pshonka who said early on Friday that those so far arrested would be treated leniently by the courts if protest action was halted.

At least three protesters have been killed so far after clashes between protesters and riot police.

East-West tensions

Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in the capital after Yanukovich backed away from signing a free trade deal with the EU, which many people saw as the key to a European future, in favour of financial aid from Ukraine’s old Soviet master Russia.

But the movement has since widened into broader protests against perceived misrule and corruption in the Yanukovich leadership.

Protesters have been enraged too by sweeping anti-protest legislation that was rammed through parliament last week by Yanukovich loyalists in the assembly.

Earlier on Thursday, Yanukovich had suggested he might be prepared to make concessions to the opposition when he called for a special session of parliament next week to consider the opposition demands and find a way out of the crisis. But this did not impress opposition leaders.

Underlining the level of mistrust between the government and opposition, the prime minister Mykola Azarov on Thursday accused protesters of trying to stage a coup and dismissed the possibility of an early presidential election.

The Ukrainian Government is Now Mass Texting Protestors with Warning Messages | A Lightning War for Liberty

The Ukrainian Government is Now Mass Texting Protestors with Warning Messages | A Lightning War for Liberty.

Earlier today, I highlighted the ingenious use of mirrors by Ukrainian protestorsto utilize non-violent, creative tactics to make powerful political statements. With violence escalating in the past 24 hours, it appears the Ukrainian government is now breaking out technological Big Brother by sending mass text messages to protestors warning them that they are being watched.

Remember: Your Government Loves You.

From CNET:

Your government wants to protect you. Because your government cares. Because your government works for you.

Except, that is, when you don’t like your government. That’s when your government works against you.

Take the Ukraine, which several people are trying to do just at the moment.

It’s decided to show what open government is really about. So it’s openly texting its citizens to tell them when they’ve been spotted protesting against the government.

As The New York Times reports, the powers-that-be are being powered by phone technology that identifies any cell phone that happens to be adjacent to where protesters are clashing with the uniformed officers of the state. (Protesting, you see, has suddenly been made illegal.)

Text messages are reportedly being sent that say: “We can see you!!!”

Yes, I have inserted quite some paraphrasing here. The texts actually say: “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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