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The Road Not Built: Redefining Progress At Home and Abroad

Local opposition to a proposed road in Trinidad brings new understanding of “progress,” and what it means to be rooted.

Most Americans love roads: Ours is a country of roads with a network of highways that rivals any other. So too does the U.S. government love roads. When the Obama administration passed its epic $787 billion stimulus plan just weeks after taking office, where did much of the money go? Into fixing and upgrading our highways.

When U.S. aid agencies look to poorer nations, they too love to fund the building of roads that can deliver crops to markets and ports and bring “progress” to remote areas. After all, who could be against a road?

In our stay in Trinidad and Tobago, the two-island nation off the coast of Venezuela, we discover that more people than we expected are opposed to a particular road. Their reasons turn the prevailing view of progress on its head and add to our understanding of “rooted” communities.

As we prepare to travel to Trinidad, we notice something strange on maps of the island: The coastal road that goes almost entirely around Trinidad stops for a 17-mile stretch in the center of the northern coast. Our research reveals that government promises and plans to complete the road go back to 1962 when the country gained independence. Some five decades later, still no road.

Not only does the couple not want a road, they want the entire mountain region to be declared a protected area to be stewarded by the people who live around it and in it.

This intrigues us. So we travel to three towns that surround the no-road area in part to see what life is like at the end of the road and to find out the “what,” “why” and “how” of the unfinished project.

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Gold or Water: The Fight Goes on in El Salvador

At this moment, unbeknownst to most of the world, the government of El Salvador is in the midst of a decision that could make it the first country in the world to ban gold mining. Corporate eyes are trained on this tiny nation, hoping it will decide that mining revenues are too lucrative to forgo. So too should those of us who believe that people and their ecosystems come first be doing our part to make sure that corporate interests do not determine what should be a democratic decision among Salvadorans.

Earlier this year, we traveled to El Salvador for The Nation to learn more about how the first progressive government (led by the FMLN party) in El Salvador in decades was deliberating over its choices. As part of its 2009 election promises, the government of Mauricio Funes had announced it would grant no new mining permits during its five-year term and that it was considering a permanent ban. Once elected, the Funes government initiated a major “strategic environmental review” to help set longer-term national policy on mining.

So, we found ourselves at the Ministry of the Economy, which along with the Environment Ministry, is leading the review. (Can you imagine the U.S. Treasury Department and EPA joining forces to do a collaborative review of U.S. policy?) With us was the man overseeing the review process from the economy ministry: engineer Carlos Duarte. Duarte explained that the goal was to do a “scientific” analysis, with the help of a Spanish consulting firm.

We pushed further, trying to understand how a technical analysis could capture the two sides of such a high-stakes issue. On one hand, El Salvador is a country of deep poverty, with people desperately in need of jobs. How could it not be tempted by visions of earnings from gold exports, especially now that gold’s price had skyrocketed from under $300 an ounce a decade ago to over $1,500 an ounce at the time of our meeting with Duarte? This view is perhaps best epitomized by former Salvadoran finance minister and mining company economic adviser Manuel Hinds, who said that “renouncing gold mining would be unjustifiable and globally unprecedented.”

On the other hand, there is the environmental cost. Here we quoted to Duarte from Maria Silvia Guillen, the head of the Salvadoran human rights group FESPAD: “El Salvador is a small beach with a big river that runs through it. If the river dies, the entire country dies.”MORE
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Aug 2009 Pacific Rim Silent in Wake of Violence Against Anti-mining Protesters in Cabañas, El Salvador

A wave of violence targeted at anti-mining protesters has ripped through Cabañas in north-eastern El Salvador, and Pacific Rim Mining Corporation, the mid-size Canadian company which has lost millions in its effort to exploit the area's ample gold deposits has remained curiously silent on the attacks.

Last month, Marcelo Rivera, a prominent anti-mining activist, community leader and FMLN member was forcibly disappeared by unknown assailants. Though many organizations immediately denounced his disappearance, police failed to act quickly enough to alter his fate. Rivera's disfigured body was found dumped in a well two weeks after he was last seen alive.MORE


El Salvador: The Mysterious Death of Marcelo Rivera

"What occurred is that we were interviewing organizations such as Medicina Legal, a lawyer from Tutela Legal and local economists, and in our conversations what they each said 'what is happening right now is the disappearance of Marcelo Rivera,'" said Moffett.

The details around Rivera's case, his "disappearance" and torture, corresponds with the way death squads worked during that country's civil war.

"Its concerning that history may be repeating itself in El Salvador," said Moffett.

This led Moffett to make a short film on the murder, which he titled The Mysterious Death of Marcelo Rivera.

El Salvador's attorney general's office, along with local police, suggested Rivera was drinking with local gang members and was killed by them as a result of a fight that ensued. Rivera's family and friends were quick to point out that he didn't drink. The attorney general's story was largely rejected, not just by those close to Rivera, but by the rest of the country as well. In addition, the local police first reported that Rivera's death was due to two blows to the head, which a later autopsy revealed was untrue.MORE



Another Anti-mining Activist Shot in Cabañas El Salvador, Hitman Tied to Pacific Rim is Detained

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Dec 2009 El Salvador: Ramiro Rivera Shot to Death in Cabañas

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Dec 2009 El Salvador - Hitmen Assassinate Prominent Woman Activist in Cabañas; Pro-Mining Violence Continues

Read more... )

The 2011 Goldman Prize for South America goes to Franciso Pineda.


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Protests halt gold mining in El Salvador


Canada's Pacific Rim mining company owns all the land around El Dorado in El Salvador - one of the most coveted gold mines in Central America.

But the company has been unable to dig in because of resistance from local environmentalists who say that cyanide used in gold mining will contaminate their rivers.

The mine is currently shut down because of protests.

And the recent murders and death threats against activists in the region have put the spotlight on the gold mining project there.




Aug 2011Water or Gold: A Deadly Debate


We are inside a greenhouse, gazing at row after row of hydroponic tomatoes and green peppers, learning why people in this community in northern El Salvador are receiving death threats. We have been sent byThe Nation magazine to chronicle the struggle by people here to protect their river from the toxic chemicals of global mining firms intent on realizing massive profits from El Salvador’s rich veins of gold.


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The Olympics and the uprising

Only a few miles from Tottenham, the epicenter of the recent London riots, and between the east end of Hackney and the west end of Stratford--neighborhoods where rioting quickly spread to--sits London's Olympic Park, home to the main Olympic Stadium and Athletes' Village, as well as a multitude of other venues for next summer's 2012 Summer Olympics.

As the British government imposes austerity measures on its poor and working-class citizens, it has dumped billions of dollars into these venues and security for the 2012 Games. As the riots in London escalated, many in the media began to question what impact it would have on the Games--with the fear that tourists might stay away or more rioting might occur.

Bob Quellos spoke with anti-Olympic activists Debbie Shaw, of London's Counter Olympics Network, and Martin Slavin, of the GamesMonitor.org website, about the impact preparations for the Olympics have had on London's poor and working-class neighborhoods.


THE GOVERNMENT has spent billions on building the venues for the 2012 Olympics while people in surrounding neighborhoods are suffering the effects of austerity measures. Can you describe the dynamic in these neighborhoods?

Debbie: It's no coincidence that the riots kicked off in Tottenham following the murder of yet another Black man who just happened to get on the wrong side of the police. And it's also no coincidence that Monday's activities kicked off in Hackney, one of the five Olympics boroughs, with a long history of insurrection and large Black and homeless populations.

A Hackney resident interviewed by one of the news networks said, "This is an Olympic borough. There's a lot of money been spent here recently, but none of it is trickling down." There's a video on YouTube right now where a masked woman coming out of a shop is asked what she's doing, and she says, "Just getting my taxes back."

It's also no coincidence that the majority of the people involved are from the generation that are suffering most from the cuts to government spending. They're the same kids who got politicized last year when they marched to demand the reinstatement of the Education Maintenance Allowance, the money allocated to poor families to help teenagers study for university. MORE
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I.H.T. SPECIAL REPORT: SMART CITIES
An Urban Jungle for the 21st Century



SINGAPORE — The math is impressive. In the last 25 years, the population of Singapore has nearly doubled, to more than five million. Over the same period, its green cover — planted areas that appear green on satellite photos, from parks to rooftops — has increased from a little more than a third of the city-state’s area to nearly half.

But it is not enough. In Singapore’s next “green road map,” its 10-year development plan, the country aims to go from being “a garden city” to “a city in a garden.” “The difference might sound very small,” says Poon Hong Yuen, the chief executive of the country’s National Parks Board, “but it’s a bit like saying my house has a garden and my house is in the middle of a garden. What it means is having pervasive greenery, as well as biodiversity, including wildlife, all around you.”


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From the NYT
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Honduras Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women’s Constitutional Assembly

Proposals to radically re-formulate the constitution of Honduras need to incorporate the experiences and perspectives of indigenous and Afro-Honduran women, declared Berta Cáceres, a longtime feminist indigenous activist and an organizer of the Constitutional Assembly Self-Organized by Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women. The historic event, which is taking place July 10-14, 2011 in Copán Ruinas, will include indigenous and Afro women delegates from all over Honduras, said Cáceres, who is also coordinator of COPINH (Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations in Honduras).

Many of these women have been front and center in the popular resistance movement against the repression following the coup d’etat in their country in June, 2009, struggling against assaults on their lands, sovereignty, natural resources and cultures. Likewise, many have been specifically targeted as leaders in these struggles with aggressive and violent assaults and detentions by police and private security forces.

Along the northern coast of Honduras, there are 48 Garifuna communities “who are suffering an accelerated expulsion from our territories that we have inhabited for 214 years,” said Miriam Miranda of OFRANEH (National Fraternal Organization of Black Hondurans) in a public letter she released after being violently detained and assaulted by security forces in March, 2011 for her role as a leader in the resistance. Communal lands of the Garifuna have been subject to widespread privatization as part of massive development plans by the government and World Bank to create big tourist resorts and “model cities.” The Garifuna are matrilocal, meaning the land has been traditionally passed along matrilineal lines, so this massive assault on communal lands has hit women particularly hard (Vacanti Brondo, 2007).MORE



Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women: Autonomy and an End to Violence Against Us

Final Declaration of Constituent Assembly Self-Organized by Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women

From the rhythmic beat of powerful drums and ancient spiritual songs that echoed through the sacred ruins of the Mayan Chortí in Copan in western Honduras, the three-day event ended with hundreds of indigenous and Afro- Honduran women demanding autonomy and an end to the colonization of their lands, their bodies, their lives, and ways of doing politics.

The
Final Declaration of Copán Galel of the Self-Organized Constituent Assembly of Indigenous and Afro-Honduran women denounced the “violence, repression and domination of women operating through capitalism, patriarchy and racism,” said Berta Caceres, coordinator the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), in an interview with Escribana.

Caceres was also one of the organizers of the Assembly, which took place July 11 to 13, 2011 in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. The Assembly involved an intensive dialogue on the realities of life of the 300 participating women whose cultures, lands, natural resources and the country have been under siege that intensified since the military coup in June 2009.

Since then, the government, the powerful elites and transnational corporations have been using the “
Shock Doctrine” (Naomi Klein) to promote a rapid re-engineering of business, economic policies and all policies before people have opportunity to react. (Http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine).

For Honduras, this has meant immediate and aggressive plans for mass-tourism projects, mega-projects such as hydroelectric dams and the expansion of mining, agribusiness and forestry, all involving the confiscation of indigenous and Afro lands.
MORE





Israel Daphne Leef:How a woman in a tent became Israel's Top Story

Until recently nobody had heard of Daphni Leef. Now, everybody in Israel knows the 25-year-old's face and her cause. Just a few weeks ago, Leef was waiting tables. Now, her schedule has become such that she cannot help keeping people waiting. This interview was meant to take place at 11am but did not start until 5pm. Among things that might have distracted her was the small matter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu putting everything on hold to respond to her demands.

Even after the interview started, we were interrupted by well-wishers, delighted to see her in the flesh sitting outside a Tel Aviv café. A young man wanted a hug; a little old lady wanted to have her picture taken with Leef. And upon hearing her voice a blind woman halted her guide dog and chatted excitedly.

So what did Leef do to bring her such national attention? She got chucked out of her flat. And then wrote on Facebook. Just over a month ago she was told that she needed to leave her Tel Aviv apartment because the building was slated for redevelopment. She started looking for a new home, and was shocked to find how expensive rents had become.

"I called up a friend and said, 'I'm setting up a tent'," she recalls. "He said I should calm down." But she did not calm down - instead she opened a Facebook "event", inviting people to erect tents in central Tel Aviv to protest against high housing prices.MORE


Dude. They profiled the originator of a protest that has seen up to 300,000 people participate....in the lifestyle section. God. DAMN.


Tunisia Tunisian women fear the Algerian way

TUNIS, Aug 5, 2011 (IPS) - A women’s group begins campaigning near La Marsa beach in Tunis to convince more women to come up and register in the electoral lists, in time for the deadline now pushed back to Aug. 14. Most of the women watching the proceedings are veiled.

The veils present more a question than a suggestion at present. One survey among veiled women conduced by journalists here claims that four in five of these women will not vote for Ennahda, the Islamist party surging ahead in popularity ahead of elections for a constituent assembly due in October.

Veils in such numbers are an unusual sight in Tunisia where women visit the beach just as comfortably in a bikini as wearing a headscarf, and just as comfortable sipping wine as a soft drink, listening to rap or traditional music.

Looks may be deceptive, one way or another. "Look around," says Khadija, an activist with the Modernist Democratic Front - a coalition of local Tunisian democratic parties - on another beachfront near the fashionable La Goulette. "Can you see these people living under Islamic law? Tunisia is not Algeria. I am sure it will never happen here."

...


Women have had successes they want to hold on to: half the candidates in the electoral lists must now be women. A strong presence of women in the constituent assembly could be crucial to women’s rights.

Women also want to consolidate the position taken by the High Commission charged to verify that the goals of the revolution are respected - namely that religion and politics will be kept separate. Ennahda has opposed this move in the transitional period. It has also opposed the transitional government’s decision that parties cannot receive funds from outside.

On another front women are fighting the undemocratic influence of former president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in institutions such as the media. The media gives little space to women, even though they are politically active, and many will be candidates. MORE
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Israel Erupts in Protest, Tens of Thousands Chant 'Revolution'


Approximately 30,000 protesters marched in Tel Aviv last night, with social justice activists blocking central streets and chants of "Mubarak. Assad. Netanyahu" filling the air.

Tel Aviv police arrested 42 activists, which is an extremely rare number, "if not unprecedented," according to +972 Magazine, which has been closely following the circumstances surrounding the sudden rise of Israel's progressive left

The protests are part of a larger movement that began as opposition to rising housing prices, and indeed is still centered around that issue, but has spread to other social justice and progressive causes.

These protests are being described as "the greatest challenge PM Netanyahu faces on the home front," and show that the progressive left in Israel has awoken.

Change in Israel may be coming.

MORE



Facebook is driving Israel's protests

But the role of Facebook is not limited to news updates. The protesters on Rothschild Boulevard hold meetings where everyone can have a say. On Facebook, one status update can provoke a flood of responses and turn into a heated public debate.

Facebook is what radio was in the early days of the state, what television was when the Iron Curtain crumbled, what the newspapers were during the Spring of Nations. The protests over the price of gas, cottage cheese and, of course, housing, would not have accelerated as they did without Facebook.

It's even possible that without this platform, where people can call for a boycott and get infinitely more exposure for their views than they would by standing in the town square, these protests would have never taken place.

These are crazy times in the virtual world of Facebook. One strand of civil action meets another, 1,000 more people join a protest and a chain reaction that began with nothing in the morning can build up into a demonstration that is thousands strong by evening.

"What's happening tonight?" a friend asks. "Go to Facebook, all the details are there," I tell her. "I told you I'm against Facebook, I want to maintain my privacy," she says. But the wall of opposition is slowly but surely cracking; "perhaps today I will join," she finally says. MORE



Massive Housing Protests Shake Israel Government Into Action Demonstrators Reject Netanyahu's Plan as Inadequate


Tel Aviv — In a speech from his office July 26, Netanyahu announced that for the first time in Israeli history, the government will give contractors incentives to build housing for long-term private rental at low rates.

Netanyahu’s speech came as 350 tents lined Tel Aviv’s fashionable Rothschild Boulevard, filled with people demonstrating against high housing prices. More than 500 protest tents were pitched elsewhere in the country. A few hours before Netanyahu’s speech, Haaretz released a poll finding that 87% of Israelis supported the protests. Three days previously, about 30,000 Israelis marched for the cause in Tel Aviv. Netanyahu put other political business on hold and tried to quell the anger.

“In Israel protests by specific groups happen daily, but this has brought in many groups and become massive,” said Ben Gurion University historian of social economics Efraim Davidi. “It is the most important protest in a generation.”

Under Netanyahu’s proposal, the government will offer free state-owned land to contractors willing to compete to build homes for long-term rental at the lowest prices. Netanyahu’s program will also offer half-price land for sale where contractors compete to promise the lowest sale price. Young couples, graduates, and people finishing military or civilian national service will have priority when these homes reach the market. MORE


Free state owned land, eh? Wonder where this land came from? Either way...I watch this development with interest...
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'Blood diamond' regulation system broken

The recent approval of Zimbabwean diamonds mined from the $800bn Marange fields by the Kimberley Process (KP) chair, the DRC's Mathieu Yamba Lapfa Lambang, has prompted a global "human rights" outcry with KP members such as Canada, the EU, and the US claiming there was "no consensus".

Meanwhile, other countries like China (the world's fastest growing diamond consumer market), and India (which cuts and polishes 11 of 12 stones) have all given the green light to Zimbabwe, removing any potential problems of surplus minerals from Marange, which has been described by Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti as "the biggest find of alluvial diamonds in the history of mankind".

With potential revenues pegged at $1-1.7bn annually, the support of neighbouring governments like South Africa, another major diamond producer, and "host" country to 3 million Zimbabwean political and economic "refugees", is not surprising. Nor is the potential KP rupture being shaped as a battle between politically "interfering" Western nations and cash-starved developing nations.

That Zimbabwe's diamonds are mined under the direct surveillance of the country's vicious military and controlled by brutal lifetime dictator Robert Mugabe is not in question. Since the discovery of Marange's diamonds in 2006, the military has largely supervised mining; mass looting by political, corporate and military elites has occurred, accompanied by violent displacement and human rights violations; companies based in secret jurisdictions such as Mauritius and Hong Kong have been granted "due diligence" approval; and there exists complete opacity over volumes extracted, exported and sold.

But to what extent does the vehement opposition stem from political objections to a nation controlled by the blatantly anti-Western Mugabe? More broadly, was the KP system - propagating that less than one per cent of global diamonds constitute "blood" minerals - built for the purposes of eliminating corporate and state-sanctioned exploitation, or normalising and sanitising it?MORE



At this point, personally, I really don't see any reason I should be wearing what are in reality simply pretty colored stones. The value of these things is entirely created, and the blood and exploitation that comes in the wake of that value is not worth a damn thing.
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UN Agency: Women Bow Out of Snarled Justice Systems

NEW YORK, (WOMENSENEWS)--This was the week when Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her daughter in the explosive case in Florida and the New York hotel housekeeper struggled to keep alive a case of sexual assault against former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss Khan. If anyone considers these signs of women finding high-powered access to the legal justice system, UN Women offered a rebuttal this week, finding that women all too often drop charges and bow out of legal recourse efforts.

In its July 6 report, "Progress of the World's Women in Pursuit of Justice," the new super women's agency at the United Nations--which consolidated existing agencies and launched in February under former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet--probes the limits of local, national and international law in serving women and offers 10 recommendations.

One area of concentration is the problem of long "legal chains" or cases that involve numerous steps, delays and mounting costs that lead women to drop such efforts as enforcing property rights or protecting themselves from domestic violence.

Authors found that women in developed and developing countries alike face this hurdle.
In Gauteng Province in South Africa, for instance, a lengthy, expensive legal process coincides with an extremely low conviction rate--4 percent--for reported rapes. That echoes a 2009 survey of four European countries, where conviction rates fall as low as 5 percent.


Another example came from this week's news run when the Associated Press reported July 7 that hundreds of Ugandan women protested the second postponement of two lawsuits brought by families of women who died giving birth, reflecting the judicial system's inability to intercede on behalf of maternal health.

To expedite women's law suits, UN Women's authors recommend "one stop shops" currently found in South Africa--known as Thuthuzela Care Centers--that have reduced trial completion time to seven months from a national average of two years and are being replicated in countries such as Chile and Ethiopia.MORE
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UN security council to consider climate change peacekeeping

A special meeting of the United Nations security council is due to consider whether to expand its mission to keep the peace in an era of climate change.

Small island states, which could disappear beneath rising seas, are pushing the security council to intervene to combat the threat to their existence.

There has been talk, meanwhile, of a new environmental peacekeeping force – green helmets – which could step into conflicts caused by shrinking resources.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, is expected to address the meeting on Wednesday.

But Germany, which called the meeting, has warned it is premature to expect the council to take the plunge into green peacemaking or even adopt climate change as one of its key areas of concern.

"It is too early to seriously think about council action on climate change. This is clearly not on the agenda," Germany's ambassador to the UN, Peter Wittig, wrote in the Huffington Post.

"A good first step would be to acknowledge the realities of climate change and its inherent implications to international peace and security," he wrote.

Bringing the security council up to speed on climate change could be a challenge, however.

The Pentagon and other military establishments have long recognised climate change as a "threat multiplier" with the potential to escalate existing conflicts, and create new disputes as food, water, and arable land become increasingly scarce.

Wittig seems to agree, noting that UN peacekeepers have long intervened in areas beyond traditional conflicts.

"Repainting blue helmets into green might be a strong signal - but would dealing with the consequences of climate change - say in precarious regions - be really very different from the tasks the blue helmets already perform today?" he wrote.MORE
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Monsanto in Haiti

Last week, thousands of farmers and supporters of Haitian peasant agriculture marched for hours under the hot Caribbean sun to call for more government support for locally grown seeds and agriculture.

The demonstration was organized by the Peasant Movement of Papay and other farmer associations, human rights and women’s groups, and the Haitian Platform for Alternative Development (PAPDA), the Haitian online agency AlterPresse reported from the march. The official theme of the peaceful demonstration was “Land Grabbing is Endangering Agricultural Sovereignty.”

Singing slogans like “Long Live Haitian Agriculture!” and “Long live local seeds!” the crowd – wearing straw hats and red T-shirts – wound its way on foot, donkeys, and bikes through this dusty provincial capital. The demonstration ended at a square named for farmer Charlemagne Péralte, who lead the “Caco” peasant revolt against the U.S. army occupation from 1916 until 1919, when U.S. Marines assassinated him.

One year ago, thousands of farmers covered the same march route to protest the import of a “gift” of seeds from Monsanto. The farmers burned some of the seeds, calling them a “death plan” for peasant agriculture.

Last spring, in violation of Haitian law, the Minister of Agriculture gave the agribusiness giant Monsanto permission to “donate” 505 tons of seeds to Haiti. The first shipment of 60 tons, reportedly of maize and vegetable seeds, arrived in May 2010. Some of the seeds were coated with a chemical (Thiram)[1] so toxic that the EPA forbids its sale to home gardeners in the U.S.. Monsanto announced its $4 million gift was “to support the reconstruction effort” in Haiti.
What has become of the seeds that Monsanto gave? And how real was the fear of Haitian farmer organizations that the donation was a Trojan horse?


Haiti Grassroots Watch explored the impacts in a three-month investigation, “Seeding Reconstruction or Destruction?” and “Monsanto in Haiti.” Excerpts from the report follow.MORE

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THAILAND Rural Folk Pave Way for First Female PM’s Landmark Win

BAAN FANG, Thailand, Jul 4, 2011 (IPS) - Across villages, towns, and cities in northeast Thailand, a mood of political empowerment is bursting to the surface, with people gathering in groups since Sunday evening to celebrate political history. After all, they helped put Yingluck Shinawatra on the road to becoming the country’s first female prime minister.

Under a starlit sky on Jul. 3, election night, a group of villagers sat on mats outside a house in this village on the outskirts of this plateau’s main city, Khon Kaen, basking in the victory of a candidate who "has given a lot of attention to the grassroots people," as one of them, Paitoon Pohnang, described it.

As they listened to news reports that Yingluck’s opposition Phue Thai (For Thais) party was gaining seats, the group broke into whoops and applause, drowning out the chorus of crickets chirping from the darkened trees on the edge of the garden.

"I believe that a woman can be a prime minister in Thailand," said an excited Sukunthai Buthawong, a 61-year-old rice farmer. "We have to try something new, not only voting for men to lead the country. I voted feeling this way. I want change. I want to make history."

It was a sentiment echoed by the nearly 30 people gathered around her, men and women who were also part of the same community of rice farmers. "Women are good with details and work carefully," added another farmer who was wearing a red shirt, the colour worn by Phue Thai supporters.

Celebrations were more vivid on Monday in the downtown market selling fresh produce in Khon Kaen, 24 km from Baan Fang. Women wearing red shirts, some wearing red bows on their heads, were dancing to the blare of local music in their stalls of vegetables and meats. "I am happy and crazy. It feels better than winning a lottery," yelled a vegetable vendor who only gave her first name, Ratree.

"Rural people got involved with politics more than before," said a calmer Phrapapai Pongpan, a fish vendor. "They were pushed out of home to go and vote after seeing the injustice in the last few years."

And the final tally from the 20 provinces in the northeast, a large vote bank of over 15 million voters of the registered 47.3 million across the country, confirmed this. Phue Thai secured a thumping 104 seats out of the 126 contested in this rural heartland.MORE


Pheu Thai gears toward amnesty: Moves are already afoot to bring back Thaksin Thaksin is her older brother who was a PM 2001-2006, but who was deposed in a military coup on corruption charges.

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Army in neutral: 'accepts' election result

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Priorities for a Yingluck govt Bangkok Post Editorial

Yingluck Must Keep Promises Opinion

I hope she and her party do not fuck up the trust that the poor have put in her.
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INDIA 'Seed-Mothers' Confront Climate Insecurity

BHUBANESWAR, India, Jul 1, 2011 (IPS) - In eastern Orissa state’s tribal hinterlands about 200 ‘seed-mothers’ are on mission mode - identifying, collecting and conserving traditional seed varieties and motivating farming families to use them.

The seed-mothers (bihana-maa in the local dialect) from the Koya and Kondh tribal communities have reached 1,500 families in the Malkangiri and Kandhamal districts and are still counting. These women are formidable storehouses of knowledge on indigenous seeds and biodiversity conservation.

Collecting, multiplying and distributing through exchange local varieties of paddy, millet, legume, vegetables and leafy green seeds, the seed-mothers already have a solid base of 80 converted villages.

As they spread their message through the hinterland, targeting another 140 villages, the women also promote zero dependence on chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

Considering that Malkangiri is Orissa’s least developed district, with literacy at a low 50 percent and isolated by rivers, forests, undulating topography and poor connectivity, the achievement of the seed-mothers is admirable.

The struggles of Malkangiri farmers with climate change is visible in the Gudumpadar village where seed-mothers are passionately reviving agricultural heritage and convincing the community to stay with local seeds and bio-fertilisers and pesticides.

"This is the best way to cope with erratic rainfall, ensure the children are fed and avoid the clutches of moneylenders," says 65-year-old seed-mother Kanamma Madkami of Kanjeli village, who has multiplied 29 varieties of local millet and paddy seeds. MORE
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Yesterday:General Strike! Greek people reject Austerity

The impending fire sale of historic treasures of the people of Greece to pay the billionaires bar bill at Club Euro has infuriated a broad cross section of the Greek people. People from as far away as the outer isles of Greece are converging at Syntagma square in front of the Greek Parliament to protest tomorrow and Wednesday.


The Greek government's plans to surrender the Palace of Corfu (Image: tourist's photo in public domain) to German bankers has infuriated the well to do as well as the working class.

Spiros Avramiotis. a local olive oil producer is furious at the idea of losing one of Corfu’s prime locations and angrily stated. “We have to stand up and send a message to the politicians in Athens that Corfu is not for sale, not one inch of it. Full stop.” He added, “Greece may be on the verge of bankruptcy, but surely it’s not a good idea to sell off the family silver,” a belief that is held by a great number of citizens in Greece. Behind Spiros Avramiotis stands hoardes of islanders who are preparing to join mainland workers in protests against the government in their bid to raise €50 billion from the auctioning of state assets. The Palace is one of several state-owned properties said to be up for sale. Other locations are beaches, casinos, airports and marinas around Greece.
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Greek general strike and austerity debate - Tuesday 28 June

Here's a summary of events today:

• Tens of thousands of Greeks have taken to the streets to voice their opposition to a new wave of austerity measures which will be subject to a vote in parliament on Wednesday and Thursday. A two-day strike called by unions began today. Transport, schools and other services as well as many private businesses were shut as a result of the strike called by ADEDY, the union representing half a million civil servants and GSEE, which represents 2 million private sector workers. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled or rescheduled and protesters have blockaded the port of Piraeus.

• A minority of protesters were involved in running battles with the police. Many of them wore crash helmets or bandanas over their faces. They brandished wooden staves, hurled missiles including bricks and molotov cocktails and started fires. Two communications trucks were set on fire and shops were vandalised. The troublemakers, believed to consist mainly of anarchists, also threw smoke grenades and firecrackers. Police fired rounds of teargas leaving the air in central Athens acrid. Police said 18 people were detained, with formal arrest charges laid against five of them, and that four policemen were injured and transferred to a military hospital. There were reports of dozens of people being treated for the effects of teargas in Syntagma Square, which has been the focal point of the protests.MORE



Showdown in Greece: Interview with Panos Petrou



THE MEDIA analysis of the crisis in Greece claims the same thing that we hear in this country--that working people have been living beyond their means, and now they have to sacrifice. Is this really the source of the crisis?

THIS CLAIM is a total inversion of reality. During the recent past, the economy was booming, and gross domestic product was growing. But working people, the ones who created this wealth, have been living in a state of constant austerity since 1985--with governments implementing one austerity plan after another, while capitalists keep the whole pie for themselves.

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xposted:

The Chilling Beauty of Brazil's Green Desert

A catastrófica monocultura de eucalipto pelas empresas privadas nas cabeceiras dos rios e riachos, além de envenenar o solo, expulsou a fauna e flora do local, secou as nascentes e o lençol freático. O deserto verde do eucalipto tornou-se uma calamidade socioambiental. A região já foi auto-suficiente em alimentos essenciais, cultivados pela agricultura familiar, integrados com a natureza. A situação mudou radicalmente, exibindo riachos completamente secos, sem olhos d’água, rios cada vez mais baixos e assoreados, praticamente toda a alimentação proveniente de distribuidores em Belo Horizonte, pastos abandonados. Enquanto isso, as transnacionais de eucalipto e celulose engordavam os lucros.


The disastrous concept behind growing company-owned eucalyptus monocultures in river and stream sources not only poisoned the soil, but also destroyed local flora and fauna and dried up streams and the water table. Consequently, the eucalyptus green desert became a social and environmental calamity. The region already produced essential foods in a sustainable manner, as food was grown using integrated farming, but the situation changed radically. The streams completely dried up, there were no freshwater springs, water levels gradually decreased, silt levels increased, farms were abandoned and practically all food came from distributors in Belo Horizante. Meanwhile, the eucalyptus and cellulose transnational corporations were making huge profits.

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Move threatens homes of Israel's Bedouins




2010 Uprooting the Bedouins of Israel


Despite the fact that it was the seventh demolition since last July, this time the destruction of the Bedouin village Al-Arakib in the Israeli Negev was different. The difference is not because the homeless residents have to deal this time with the harsh desert winter; nor in the fact that the bulldozers began razing the homes just minutes before the forty children left for school, thus engraving another violent scene in their memory. Rather, the demolition was different because this time Christian evangelists from the United States and England were involved

I know this for a fact because right next to the demolished homes, the Jewish National Fund put up a big sign that reads: “GOD-TVFOREST, A Generous donation by God-TV made 1,000,000 tree saplings available to be planted in the land of Israel and also provided for the creation of water projects throughout the Negev.” GOD-TV justifies this contribution by citing the book of Isaiah: “I will turn the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into springs.”

The Jewish National Fund’s objective, however, is not altruistic, but rather to plant a pine or eucalyptus forest on the desert land so that the Bedouins cannot return to their ancestral homes. The practice of planting forests in an attempt to Judaize more territory is by no means new. Right after Israel’s establishment in 1948, the JNF planted millions of trees to cover up the remains of Palestinian villages that had been destroyed during or after the war. The objective was to help ensure that the 750,000 Palestinian residents who either fled or were expelled during the war would never return to their villages and to suppress the fact that they had been the rightful owners of the land before the State of Israel was created. Scores of Palestinian villages disappeared from the landscape in this way, and the grounds were converted into picnic parks, thus helping engender a national amnesia regarding the Palestinian Nakba.



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June 17, 2011 Israel plans to forcibly transfer 40,000 Bedouin citizens

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March 03, 2011 Bedouin reject compensation offer, accusing Israel of land grab

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ETA, if you have to read just one article, read this. It gives context: What's next in Humala's Peru?

HUMALA INHERITS a country that is extremely polarized. The vast majority of the population struggles just to survive, sometimes literally. Accoring to Peruvian sociologist Jorge Lora Cam, only 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product comes from wages, and the informal sector has mushroomed. This year, the poverty rate "went down" to 36 percent.

In Lima, over 1 million people lived without running water as of 2008. In the city of Ayacucho, 25 percent of the population faces the same lack.

The signing of bilateral free trade agreements, not only with the U.S. but also with China, has lead to increased sweatshop exploitation in the cities and to an exponential rise in multinational and foreign investment in metal and fuel mining, which in turn displaces peasant and indigenous communities and pollutes the ecosystem, whose land the government now claims the right to sell off.

Those fighting the conglomerates have been at the forefront of struggle in recent years. As the elections took place, the border between Peru and Bolivia was being blocked by indigenous people taking on mining companies. In Cocachacra, Arequipa and the area around these two southern towns, protesters against the Tía María mining project have been shot and killed, but have refused to accept a truce until after the elections take place.

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Left candidate wins election in Peru


The victory of left-populist candidate Ollanta Humala in Peru's election is a "big fucking deal", as Vice President Joe Biden famously whispered to Obama on national TV in another context. With respect to US influence in the hemisphere, this knocks out one of only two allies that Washington could count on, leaving only the rightwing government of Chile. Left governments that are more independent of the United States than Europe is now run Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Peru. And Colombia under President Manuel Santos is now siding with these governments more than with the United States.
This means that regional political and economic integration will proceed more smoothly, although it is still a long-term project. On 5 July, for example, heads of state from the whole hemisphere will meet in Caracas, Venezuela, to proceed with the formation of Celac (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). This is a regional organisation that includes all countries except the United States and Canada, and which – no matter what anyone says for diplomatic purposes – is intended to displace the Organisation of American States. The new organisation is a response to the abuse of the OAS by the United States (which controls most of the bureaucracy) for anti-democratic purposes, most recently in the cases of Honduras and Haiti.
These institutional changes, including the vastly expanded role of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) are changing the norms and customs of diplomatic relations in the hemisphere. The Obama administration, which has continued the policies of "containment" and "rollback" of its predecessor, has been slow to accept the new reality. As a result, it does not have ambassadors in Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador.MORE





Hope in the Andes: What Ollanta Humala’s Victory Means for Peru

Fried pork rinds, fish, potatoes and eggs were sold by street vendors outside polling stations on election day in Lima, Peru. By nightfall, thousands of people gathered in a central plaza waving the white flags of Ollanta Humala’s political party.


Ollanta is an Incan name meaning “the warrior everyone looks to.” Indeed, all eyes were on the leftist president-elect as he greeted the crowd just before midnight with the words, “We won the elections!”


Humala, a former military officer who led a failed military uprising in 2000, lost the elections in 2006 to Alan Garcia. On the June 5th presidential elections this year, he narrowly defeated Kieko Fujimori, the daughter of ex-president Alberto Fujimori, who was jailed in 2007 for corruption and crimes against humanity. If elected, Kieko would have likely worked to release her father from jail, and carry on his administration’s capitalist and repressive policies.

This election puts Humala among a growing number of leftist presidents in Latin America and offers hope to the poorest sectors of Peruvian society.
The poverty rate in Peru is just over 31 percent; in the countryside, two in three people live under the poverty line. In Sunday’s elections, it was the impoverished rural areas that went for Humala over Kieko Fujimori.


"You cannot speak of Peru advancing if so many Peruvians live in poverty,” Humala said in his victory speech, explaining that he would work to make sure that the government functioned “above all for the poorest people in the country.”MORE



June 2 Peru's Presidential Election: A Battle Over Memory and Justice

When Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori arrived at a plaza in the city of Cajamarca for a recent campaign speech, she was met by a barrage of eggs thrown by activists who opposed her candidacy and called her a “murderer and thief.”

The activists were referring to the legacy of her father, Alberto Fujimori, who was Peru’s president from 1990-2000 and jailed in 2007 for a quarter century sentence after being found guilty of corruption and ‘crimes against humanity’.

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Ppl, the free market reforms that Fujimori did were not separate from the massacres and other fuckery he got up to. it was part and parcel of it, to make sure his opponents would stfu and stfd while he got on with capitalism. This thing is from The Economist and I'm linking for the info that it provides, but...jsyk k?



Victory for the Andean chameleon: Having reinvented himself as a moderate, Ollanta Humala has an extraordinary opportunity to marry economic growth with social progress

Read more... )

I mean to say there! Taxing mining companies!!! Allowing Amerindian nations to have veto power on mining on their own LANDS!!!! What IS this world coming to!!!
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Ethiopia: Meles Zenawi’s subterfuge on pastoralism
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi needs to seriously rethink his ideas around the ‘backwardness’ of pastoralism and the need for ‘modernity’, argues Abebech Belachew.


On 25 January 1998, an Ethiopian NGO working on pastoral development, Pastoralist Concern Association of Ethiopia (PCAE), organised a mass cultural gathering in a place called Filtu, Ogaden, for the pastoral communities in the surrounding area. At the end of the gathering, the pastoral elders resolved that 25 January should be observed every year as the pastoralist day. In 2000, when the Pastorlaist Forum Ethiopia (PFE), a national network of NGOs and of which PCAE is a member, was formed, the responsibility of organising the pastoralist day was passed over to the PFE. Thereafter, all the Ethiopian Pastoralist Days had been organised by PFE, until 2005 when the government of il duce (Meles) nationalised it and made it its own. On that year, the PFE was completely thrown out of the management and Meles started to appear for the first time. From then on, the Ethiopian Pastoralist Day became the occasion through which the regime uses as a propaganda tool to deceive pastoral communities. Let’s now turn to what Meles said in Jinka on 25 January. It should be noted that it is not just Meles Zenawi but a great many Ethiopians, and Africans at large for that matter, who do not understand pastoralism or who do not have the right perception on pastoralism. On the contrary, pastoralism is understood by many Ethiopians in the negative sense, as backward and barbaric. Hence, a brief introduction is required right from the outset.[3]

Pastoralism is, in the first place, a traditional way of life whose livelihood system is ingrained in the livestock production. In the same manner as small-scale farming is a traditional livelihood system to the peasantry, livestock production is also the livelihood system of pastoral communities. There are an estimated 50 million pastoralists spread throughout Africa from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, and to the San people of southern Africa (Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa). In some countries, pastoralists constitute a majority and some countries are predominantly pastoral by origin. Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia are 100 per cent pastoral by origin. Pastoralists constitute one huge section of the population in the continent.MORE
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Features: We export food to import food

Nebiyu Eyassu cuts through the supposed benefits of foreign agricultural investments - so-called land grabs - for a country like Ethiopia. Far from boosting employment and local food security, land grabs are likely to prop up a discredited government and increase hunger.

The price hike in global food has prompted certain countries to seek cheap and fertile farmland beyond their borders in order to guarantee food security for themselves. To achieve this goal such states are encouraging their domestic agro-businesses, tied to their national interests, to invest in countries like Ethiopia, Sudan, Madagascar, Tanzania and Argentina, to name a few. Capital invested in far-away farms will produce food cheaply, which will then be exported back to the country where the original capital came from. In this way, the volatility of the international food market can be avoided and national food security achieved.

To accomplish this goal, a key step is to convince developing nations to give up their fertile land to foreign investors. One of the baits designed for the purpose of persuasion is the promise of infrastructure and the sharing of information and technology in agricultural science. The other promise made to host nations is of capital gained from food exports, which can then be reinvested in the country. For underdeveloped countries, who face serious food insecurity, and who are often unable to feed their population, this may sound too good to pass by, particularly if host nation governments are too naive, or are otherwise unconcerned.

...

Although this issue of land-grabbing by foreign interests is new to Ethiopia, it is no stranger to other parts of the developing world. The history of foreign agro-business intrusion in some Latin American and Caribbean countries is enlightening to say the least. In northeastern Brazil, the region was extensively farmed by foreign agricultural interests for centuries. Unfortunately this region has nothing to show for it now. Today the region is the poorest part of the country with the least food security and one of the highest malnutrition rates in Latin America.
Contrary to the promises made by companies that farmed Brazil’s fertile soil, the outcome has been very grim. In his famous book ‘Open Veins of Latin America’, Eduardo Galliano, commenting on Brazil’s northeast, says, ‘Naturally fitted to produce food, it became a place of hunger. Where everything had bloomed exuberantly, the destructive and all dominating plantation left sterile rock, washed out soil, and eroded lands.’ Are Ethiopia’s own fertile lands headed for the same fate? What makes the current foreign agricultural adventure in Ethiopia any different?MORE


here's an old post of mine that gives more information on the phenomenon of land grabs Food sovereignty part 1: rich vs Poor
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LESOTHO


Has Lesotho bridged the gender gap?

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MOZAMBIQUE

MOZAMBIQUE Educator in the foothills of her political career

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BOTSWANA

BOTSWANA: Women in Politics – A House Divided… But Determined

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ECUADOR

ECUADOR Trees on Shaky Ground in Texaco’s Rainforest

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EL SALVADOR-HONDURAS

EL SALVADOR-HONDURAS Forgotten People of the Border Pact

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YEMEN

EWAMT:Yemeni Women in Protest

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Empowerment of Women Activists in Media Techniques -Yemen


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INDIA

Deaf seek level field on disability

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The Word on Women - Rehabilitation cuts no ice with India's sex workers\

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PANAMA

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A wild weekend of rebellion and repression
Three journalists among those arrested, with deportation proceedings against a La Prensa columnist:Martinelli sends in cops, lashes out at anti-mining protesters

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Preliminary report on human rights violations during the days of protest against mining reform in Panama, January to March 2011 PDF Format


Rival leaders assert claims in the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca

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US citizen remains a political prisoner in Panama:WikiLeaks highlights, worsens US-Panamanian relations



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WikiLeaks: Colombian company, subsidiary of Panamanian company, was doing Plan Colombia and US Defense Department subcontracting despite many reputed drug cartel ties

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FRANCE
 


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BRITAIN
 


No family in Britain will escape George Osbourne's cuts Read more... )Diary of a disability benefit claimant Read more... )



'The medical was an absolute joke'


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In December last year, the Cancun climate change conference took place. Its taken me this long to be able to write about it because I've been so pissed at the way so many stronger countries proceeded to be selfish shortsighted assholes and committed the entire planet to runaway climate change. Now that I can look at the issue without heading off into paroxyms of RAGE, here are the links:


THE BEGINNING:

April 2010 Native Peoples Reject Market Mechanisms

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OCt 15, 2010 Climate Talks Tank, Global South Sinks Further

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Lost in Cancun

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Don't Look to South Africa for Leadership

Read more... )Because sending us headfirst into more extreme weather leading famine and death will be SO helpful with poverty alleviation.

UGANDA:Carbon Finance May Not Benefit Forest Communities

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WikiLeaks: US Manipulated Climate Agreement

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DURING THE SUMMIT

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance Full Coverage

Alan Lissner's Cancun Photo and Video Montage

Groups Protest U.N. Climate Summit for Shutting out Civil Society

Cancún Betrayal: UNFCCC Unmasked as WTO of the Sky - IEN Statement on COP16 Outcome

GRASSROOTS CLIMATE JUSTICE IN CANCUN PART I

GRASSROOTS CLIMATE JUSTICE IN CANCUN PART II MORE articles at the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance Page



MIGRANT DIARIES BLOGPOSTS
CJ from the USA


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For Life, Environment & Justice


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Closing out COP 16, Closing out Migrant Diaries

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Dispatch From Cancun: Developing Paradise in the Suicide Capital If you have triggers, you might want to skip this one.

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Battle in Cancun:The Fight for Climate Justice in the Streets, Encampments and Halls of Power

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Protesters Say "No" to Climate Market in Cancun

The short-cuts that the United Nations system is offering companies to profit from strategies against global warming were the target of loud protests on the Day of Action for Climate Justice.

Two separate demonstrations, of thousands of people each, were held Tuesday as the climate change summit that ends Friday in the southeastern Mexican resort town of Cancún enters the final stretch.

One of the protesters’ slogans, "País petrolero, el pueblo sin dinero" (In this oil-producing country, people have no money), referring to Mexico, underscored the main cause of the heating up of the planet: the burning of fossil fuels, a question that has been practically sidelined in the talks at the 16th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16). MORE






UN's Tiniest Nation: "Help! We're Drowning"

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Q&A
"Create a Protocol Based on Non-Emissions"
Emilio Godoy interviews YOLANDA KAKABADSE, president of WWF *


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CLIMATE CHANGE
New Forest Agreement - REDD Hot Issue at Cancún


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THE AFTERMATH


La Via Campesina Statement on Cancun: The people hold thousands of solutions in their hands

Climate Capitalism Won at Cancun: Everyone else loses


Cancun Climate Breakthrough

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More thoughts on Cancun

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Cancun Calamity:The agreement reached at the Cancún climate talks was actually a step backwards, writes Nick Buxton

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Emissions punted to Durban, breakthroughs seen on Forests

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The Cancun Climate Pact Is Not a Victory for Climate Justice

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Three months later: AFRICA: Anxious Eyes on Green Climate Fund

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Twenty Years to Save Coral Reefs

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