Brazil’s Temer threatens constitutional indigenous land rights

August 3rd, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

by Sue Branford and Maurício Torres on 1 August 2017

– President Temer, influenced by the rural lobby in congress whose
votes he needs to not be tried by the Supreme Court on corruption charges, has okayed new criteria meant to delegitimize indigenous land boundary claims, legal experts say.

– One rule rejects any indigenous demarcation of land where Indians were not physically present on a traditional territory in 1988, which would disqualify many legitimate claims.

– Another allows government to undertake “strategic” public works, such as dams and roads, without indigenous consent, violating the International Labor Organization’s 169 Convention, signed by Brazil.

– The administration also introduced a bill likely to be passed by congress that reclassifies 349,000 hectares (1,347 square miles) of Jamanxim National Forest in the Amazon, gutting protections, allowing economic activities — logging, ranching, farming and mining — and legitimizing land grabs there.

Hundreds of thousands of Indians live on indigenous lands in Brazil, but much of that land has never been officially demarcated due to decades of government delay. Now, President Temer’s political maneuvering threatens to shut down the demarcation process in favor of land thieves, ranchers, soy growers, mining concerns, and construction companies with much to profit from Amazon dam and road government contracts.

A storm of protest greeted the 19 July announcement that Brazilian President Michel Temer has approved a recommendation made by the Attorney General’s office (AGU), that federal government bodies should adopt new criteria for setting the boundaries of indigenous land.

Respected lawyer Dalmo de Abreu Dallari, who headed the University of São Paulo’s legal faculty for many years, said that the recommendation was a “legal farce,” with the objective of “extorting from the indigenous communities their right to the land they have traditionally occupied.”

But the bancada ruralista rural caucus in Congress is triumphant. Federal deputy Luiz Carlos Heinze, a leading member of the caucus, celebrated the AGU recommendation, saying in a video circulated on social media that it will lead to a reassessment of more than 700 cases, resulting ultimately in the dismissal of 90 percent of ongoing indigenous territory land claims.

The Civil Office of the Presidency has already returned to the justice ministry 19 indigenous territories, covering 792,370 hectares (3,059 square miles), which were close to completion, saying that the recognition of these reserves is to be reviewed. With the process for recognizing many of the other new territories at an early stage, it is impossible to calculate precisely how much land is involved.

However, if created, the new reserves would undoubtedly add millions of hectares to the 177 million hectares (683,400 square miles), 13.8 percent of the Brazilian territory, that is in indigenous hands. By far the largest share — 98 percent of all indigenous territory — is located in the Amazon, where the reserves prove an effective bulwark against deforestation. The long process of recognizing indigenous ownership is not complete in all these territories, so some of these lands could become vulnerable to reclassification.

The “Marco temporal” debate

The most controversial aspect of the AGU’s recommendation is the introduction of the so-called “marco temporal” an arbitrary cut-off date for land claims.

Under the new measure, Indian groups will only have the legal right to claim traditionally held territory that they were physically occupying as of 5 October 1988, the day the most recent federal Constitution was approved — a date, historians point out, by which many Indian groups had already been forced from their lands.

The concept of “marco temporal” was first adopted by the Supreme Federal Court (STF), when it settled a long, contentious dispute over boundaries for the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous reserve in Roraima in 2009.

The Dilma Rousseff government, with its strong anti-indigenous bent, was keen to make this cut-off point vinculante, a norm to be universally followed for establishing other indigenous territories in the future, and the AGU issued Portaria 303/2012, an order to that effect. However, STF minister Ricardo Lewandowski, in a 2013 ruling, made it clear that the 19 conditions for such settlements — including the “marco temporal” — could not legally be applied to the demarcation of all indigenous lands. This decision, combined with strong indigenous pressure, led to Portaria 303’s eventual revocation.

The rural elite, however, never accepted the high court’s finding. It wanted the criteria, especially that referring to the “marco temporal,” along with another that forbids the enlargement of indigenous territory already marked out, to become vinculante, the norm and extended to all future cases.

Importantly, the AGU’s July recommendation also makes it possible to undertake “strategic” public works, such as hydroelectric dams and roads, without Indian consent. This seems to be a direct breach of the International Labor Organization’s 169 Convention, signed by Brazil, in which nations commit to full consultation with indigenous people whenever a public work will affect their land or way of life.

Outcry against demarcation rule changes
Protests against the AGU’s recommendation, particularly the 1988 cut-off date, have been vociferous, despite the huge amount of civil strife already unfolding in Brazil — with landless peasants occupying elite estates, including one owned by the family of agriculture minister Blairo Maggi, and with President Temer’s legitimacy threatened by serious corruption charges.

Journalist Rubens Valente, who has just published a book about Brazilian atrocities committed against Indians during the military dictatorship, called Temer’s July decision “a 50-year setback. It’s as if the International Labor Organization’s 169 Convention didn’t exist.”

Well-known forestry consultant Tasso Azevedo, former director of Brazil’s National Forest program under the Lula government, fumed: “Imagine a Polish law that said that the claimant — for example, a Jewish family persecuted during the Second World War — could only get their property back if they were living in the house when it was expropriated? It would be seen as absurd.” He went on: “The AGU recommendation shreds indigenous rights. You want a road? No need to ask. Just go ahead and do it.”

Others point to the tragic predicament of Guarani Indian groups in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. These indigenous people were forcibly evicted from their territories after the state government sold their land to farmers. For years they’ve struggled to regain their territories and many still squat at roadsides, barred by fences from moving back onto their land. But because they were evicted before 1988, the AGU recommendation would negate all claims.

Crizantho Alves Fialho Neto, from FUNAI, Brazil’s federal indigenous agency, says that the ruling ignores the legal standing of indigenous territory: “Indigenous possession of land is different from a landowner’s ownership of land. It is not possession as defined in civil law. It is possession as defined in the constitution.” In theory at least, this means that indigenous rights are “inviolable, exclusive and perpetual.”

Lawyer José Afonso da Silva, a specialist in constitutional law, also questions the validity of the 1988 cut-off date: “the beginning of the legal recognition of indigenous rights was in June 1611 with the Royal Charter (Carta Régia) promulgated by the Portuguese king Philip lll … All other constitutions continued along these lines. The 1988 Constitution just carried on this tradition.” Based on these legal precedents, he says, there is no reason to give that date a special status — unless, critics say, the government’s plan is to deprive indigenous people of their demarcation rights in order to legitimize land thefts that occurred before that date.

Many other legal experts have protested. Érika Yamada, an independent United Nations indigenous expert, says that the recommendation “exceeds all limits of administrative law, because the president is signing a recommendation that is an attempt to legislate, to alter the 1988 Constitution.” She argues that the new measure is unconstitutional and may well lead to challenges in the ILO, the Organization of American States and the United Nations.

Indigenous organizations have already called for a legal counteroffensive. The Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR) will be challenging in the courts the legality of actions that replicate the “unconstitutional” conditions established in the Raposa/Serra do Sol case.

These legal challenges may well succeed, but that will take time. Meanwhile, serious damage could be done to indigenous groups. Temer has already said that he expects FUNAI and other government bodies to start implementing the AGU guidance.

The risk of escalating violence
There is another concern: Valente believes that the new criteria could catalyse unrest in the countryside, which is already at record levels: “The Indians want to regain their old lands and they are increasingly well organized.… The AGU recommendation may well provoke violence, as it is telling these groups that the doors are closing for them to get what they want through the justice system or from the executive.” The recommendation could also embolden land grabbers eager to exploit indigenous demarcation disputes, experts say.

Azevedo has no doubt why the president approved the AGU recommendations: “Temer endorsed the ruling for the worst possible motive: to buy political support in Congress so that he won’t be tried for corruption by the Federal Supreme Court.”


Indeed, the rural caucus has made no secret of the role it played in Temer’s rise, and that it could play in his fall. In the already mentioned video, Luiz Carlos Heinze revealed that the AGU recommendation was agreed to in an April meeting between then Justice Minister Osmar Serraglio (a leading member of the rural caucus), Presidential Head of Staff Eliseu Padilha, and Federal Attorney General Grace Maria Fernandes Mendonça. The three made a pact, he claims, that represents “a great advance for all Brazilian [agribusiness] producers who have been feeling frustrated and anxious because of the pressure they have been receiving from FUNAI” to vacate lands they’ve claimed for years.

Experts see the AGU recommendation as just one bargaining chip being used by Temer, an experienced Congressional operator, to make sure he gains sufficient votes in the Lower House to prevent a two-thirds majority from voting that he should be tried by the Supreme Court for the corruption accusation made against him by the Attorney General. That crucial vote is scheduled for this Wednesday. The latest opinion polls show that 81 percent of Brazilians want Temer tried for corruption.

Temer’s environmental concessions
Environmental protection also appears to be an expendable pawn in Temer’s congressional game.

In recent weeks, the president allowed his environmental minister, José Sarney Filho, to introduce a bill to reclassify a large portion of Jamanxim National Forest in the Amazon allowing economic activities within it — including logging, ranching, farming and mining — a dismemberment for which the rural elite has long lobbied, and that would legitimize land grabs underway there for years.

Munduruku (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

The Munduruku have battled for years with the Brazilian government to get their lands formally demarcated, as have many other indigenous groups. Temer’s actions are likely to make that fight more contentious, with an escalation of violence, as the ruralistas are emboldened to oppose indigenous territory claims. Photo by Rebecca Sommer

Previously, Temer planned to achieve this goal via a provisional measure (MP 756), which he himself proposed, but which in the end, he was forced to veto in the face of intense national and international pressure.

Groups at home and abroad are now campaigning hard to stop the newest Jamanxim dismemberment bill, which would reclassify an even larger part of the forest than the original provisional measure­­ –– 349,000 hectares (1,347 square miles). But this time the counterattack may not be as effective, because bills of this kind only require congressional approval and are not subject to a presidential veto.

The runaway power of the rural caucus in congress and within the Temer administration, and the ruralistas growing confidence that they will not be held accountable, is now having serious consequences for the environment, Indians, quilombolas (those living in communities set up by runaway slaves), peasant farmers and other rural inhabitants.

According to Global Witness, more rural and environmental activists have been killed in Brazil than in any other country in the world over the past five years. Moreover, nine out of ten murders occurred in Legal Amazonia, with most in Rondônia and eastern Pará state. There were 47 total homicides in the Amazon in 2016, with 33 in the first five months of this year, putting 2017 on track to be the bloodiest year in recent Amazon history.

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Banner image by Agência Brasil and used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil License.

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VIDEO: “Forced Marriage” the first film created by an indigenous Fulbe Mbororo from Cameroon

July 3rd, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

“Forced marriage” is the first film written, self-funded and produced by an indigenous Fulbe Mbororo,  from Cameroon.
Mbororo pastoralists are using the Fulfulde language spoken in this film across Africa. (French subtitles) Almost the entire crew of actors are from the indigenous Mbororo people.

This is a ground-breaking development!

Click below to watch the film by Amina Adamu:

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150 Jahre Kanada – Kein Grund zum Feiern!

July 3rd, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

Arbeitskreis Indianer Nordamerikas Menschenrechtsarbeit für Indigene Nordamerikas

PRESSEMITTEILUNG

150 Jahre Kanada – Kein Grund zum Feiern!

Kanada feiert am 1. Juli seinen Nationalfeiertag und zugleich das 150-jährige Gründungsjubiläum des Staates. Doch die Ureinwohner, auf deren Kosten und Leben diese Feier geht, haben keinen Grund sich zu freuen. Sie werden bis heute diskriminiert, marginalisiert und ihrer Rechte beraubt.
Als Justin Trudeau 2015 das Amt des Premierministers übernahm, verkündete er, seine Regierung werde die Beziehungen zu den indigenen Völkern Kanadas auf eine neue Basis stellen – in Übereinstimmung mit den Prinzipien der UN-Deklaration der Rechte der Indigenen Völker, welche 2017 ihr zehnjähriges Bestehen feiert.
Trudeau hat sein Versprechen nicht eingelöst. Die indigenen Völker Kanadas leiden unter Armut, Arbeitslosigkeit, dem Trauma der Internatsschulen, Zwangsadoptionen, den tausendfachen Morden an indigenen Frauen und Selbstmorden von Jugendlichen – Auswirkungen des rassistischen und kolonialen Systems einer Gesetzgebung, des Indian Act,die ihnen die grundlegenden Rechte der auch von Kanada unterzeichneten UN-Deklaration
verweigert. Art. 3 der UN-Deklaration besagt: „Indigene Völker haben das Recht auf Selbstbestimmung. Aufgrund dieses Rechts bestimmen sie frei ihren politischen Status und verfolgen frei ihre ökonomische, soziale und kulturelle Entwicklung.“1,4 Millionen Indigene leben in Kanada, d.h. 3,8% der 36,5 Millionen kanadischen Bürger sind indigener Herkunft, doch ihnen sind nur 0,2% des Landes geblieben – immerhin des zweitgrößten Landes der Erde. Auf dieser Basis ist keine eigenständige wirtschaftliche Entwicklung möglich, die zudem durch die rücksichtslose Ausbeutung der Ressourcen –
Kahlschlag, Uranabbau, Teersandgewinnung etc. – durch Regierung und Konzerne verhindert wird. Die Ausbeutung und Zerstörung der Lebensgrundlagen, u.a. durch Pipelines samt einhergehenden Unfällen, aber auch durch die Verseuchung der Gewässer durch Rückstände aus Fischfarmen, Papiermühlen oder Bergbau, steht in eklatantem Widerspruch zur UNDeklaration, die den indigenen Völkern das Recht auf Mitsprache einräumt, auf einen „free, prior and informed consent (FPIC)“ hinsichtlich aller sie betreffenden Entwicklungen. Kanada missachtet sogar Entscheidungen des Obersten Kanadischen Gerichtshofs, der die
(Land-)Rechte der Indigenen wiederholt bestätigt hat. Kanadas Reichtum basiert auf der kolonialen Ausbeutung indigenen Landes und der
Missachtung von Versprechen und völkerrechtlichen Verträgen mit indigenen Völkern. Die Fassade einer weltoffenen und toleranten Gesellschaft bröckelt sofort, wenn es um die Rechte und die Lebensbedingungen der indigenen Völker geht. Kanada präsentiert sich gerne als der
bessere Teil Amerikas, doch bei genauer Betrachtung sind die Verhältnisse viel schlimmer als im Trump-Land: Die kanadischen Indigenen können nicht einmal darüber selbst bestimmen, ob sie als Indigene gelten. Dieser Status ist jedoch nicht nur zwecks ihrer Identität entscheidend, sondern umfasst auch spezielle Rechtsansprüche.
Die Regierung hat Versöhnung und eine neue Politik versprochen, doch eingelöst hat sie nichts davon. So hat Trudeau 2015 eine nationale Untersuchungskommission angekündigt, um die Ursachen der Morde an Tausenden indigenen Frauen zu erforschen, doch bislang erst
eine Anhörung im Mai 2017 abgehalten. Der wachsende Widerstand der indigenen Völker gegen Rassismus und Kolonialismus im 21.
Jahrhundert wurde im Mai 2017 von Amnesty International mit dem „Ambassador of Conscience Award“ ausgezeichnet – eine Anerkennung, die von der Weltgemeinschaft geteilt werden sollte.
150 Jahre nach Gründung des Landes muss Kanada endlich anfangen, den Verspechen Taten folgen zu lassen und genannte UN-Deklaration in allen Bereichen umsetzen.
Arbeitskreis Indianer Nordamerikas: www.arbeitskreis-indianer.at

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Uranium Tailings Spill Commemoration on Navajo Nation, Saturday, July 15

July 3rd, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 28, 2017

Contact: Edith Hood, Red Water Pond Road Community Association
505.905.8051 home, 505.713-4085 cell
Susan Gordon, Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, coordinator
505.577.8438 sgordon@swuraniumimpacts.org contact for photos or graphics

Red Water Pond Road Community: 38 Years Since North East Church Rock
Uranium Tailings Spill That Was Never Investigated Nor Cleaned Up

Uranium Tailings Spill Commemoration, Saturday, July 15, 7 am to 3 pm, 12 miles North of Red Rock State Park on State Highway 566 near Churchrock, NM

The Red Water Pond Road Community on Navajo Nation will be hosting their 38th annual commemoration of the 1979 Uranium Tailings Spill that is the largest uranium tailings spill in the United States.

On July 16, 1979, an earthen dam that held liquid uranium waste broke, releasing 1,000 tons of solid radioactive mill waste and more than 90 million gallons of acidic and radioactive liquids into the Rio Puerco. The contaminants flowed downstream through Gallup, NM and across nine Navajo chapters. Several days after the spill, United Nuclear Corporation sent a handful of people out with shovels and buckets in an attempt to remediate the mess. To this day there has been no reclamation, no study to see how far the contamination went and its impacts on local water systems and people’s health. United Nuclear Corporation has not been held accountable for the spill.

The commemoration is part of the first Cross-Border Anti-Nuclear Action, commemorating the uranium spill and the explosion of the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site in NM.
https://swuraniumimpacts.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/17.06.27-Press-Release-Cross-Border.pdf

“Let us come together again and share these issues and concerns, collaborate and strategize, to push clean up of these contaminated environments among our Diné people, to restore, preserve and protect our Mother Earth,” said Edith Hood, Red Water Pond Road Community resident. “It is time for our state and tribal governments to stand up and help these impacted communities on Dinetah. There has been enough talk. It is time to take action on behalf of the people.”

The North East Church Rock community are concerned about the uranium contamination legacy that has poisoned Mother Earth, including our sacred waters, land, and livestock. This gathering will provide a venue to discuss and educate everyone about the impacts of uranium mining and milling and about the ongoing work to remove uranium contaminated soil from the surrounding areas to protect our families and environment.

There will be a 7 am walk to the spill site to offer healing prayers. Following the walk people will gather under shade for food, speeches, community education, and a silent auction.

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Video: Mexico’s indigenous minority converting to Islam

May 2nd, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

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Religious Change and Indigenous Peoples – The Making of Religious Identities (Book)

April 2nd, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

About the book by Helena Onnudottir, Adam Posssamai and Bryan Turner:

Exploring religious and spiritual changes which have been taking place among Indigenous populations in Australia and New Zealand, this book focuses on important changes in religious affiliation in census data over the last 15 years. Drawing on both local social and political debates, while contextualising the discussion in wider global debates about changing religious identities, especially the growth of Islam, the authors present a critical analysis of the persistent images and discourses on Aboriginal religions and spirituality. This book takes a comparative approach to other Indigenous and minority groups to explore contemporary changes in religious affiliation which have raised questions about resistance to modernity, challenges to the nation state and/or rejection of Christianity or Islam. Helena Onnudottir, Adam Posssamai and Bryan Turner offer a critical analysis to on-going public, political and sociological debates about religious conversion (especially to Islam) and changing religious affiliations (including an increase in the number of people who claim ‘no religion’) among Indigenous populations. This book also offers a major contribution to the growing debate about conversion to Islam among Australian Aborigines, Maoris and Pacific peoples.

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The Word “Science” Has Disappeared From The EPA’s Mission Statement

March 11th, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is under a communications blackout, has its long-time archenemy as its new chief, is having its funding dramatically cut, is having all its major climate change mitigation provisions and water protection rules rolled back, and may be entirely abolished by the end of 2018. Times are bad, to summarize.

The newly minted powers-that-be are also having a fiddle with the EPA’s website, something which is being tracked by the non-profit group, the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI). Although plenty of references to climate change have been slipping away as of late, the most recent change is particularly egregious.

The EPA’s Office of Science and Technology (OST) once had a mission statement that began thusly: “OST is responsible for developing sound, science-based standards, criteria, health advisories, test methods and guidelines…” It talks about using “scientific and technological foundations” to achieve things like clean water and pristine aquatic environments.

Now, the mission statement notes that it works on “economically and technologically achievable performance standards to address water pollution.” The word “science” has been completely removed from the site – despite the fact that, lest we forget, this if the Office of Science and Technology.

This is ludicrous, that much is obvious. Worryingly, this goes in line with what Scott Pruitt and his anti-environmental cronies were saying at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland. One lawyer who handled the transition between the Obama EPA team and the Trump one even said that the EPA should not conduct science at all.

This situation is so bizarre that there aren’t enough superlatives or analogies to adequately convey its malevolence effectively. Taking the “science” out of the Office of Science and Technology is like taking the “space” out of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It’s like removing the spaghetti from bolognese, the coffee out of an espresso, or the alcohol out of a bar.

It’s like taking cats off the Internet – what is the point of it without them?

You can’t base environmental protection on anything that’s not scientific. Are they going to use the entrails of a chicken to guide them? Will they search their feelings and use the Force? Flip a coin? Consult a Magic 8-Ball?

Science, it seems, is just massively inconvenient for those that like to do whatever they want with no care for the consequences of it. With few exceptions, the GOP of 2017 is the party to beat when it comes to science denial.

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EPA’s Environmental Justice Head Resigned After 24 Years. He Wants to Explain Why.

March 10th, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

“To move backward didn’t make any sense.”

By REBECCA LEBER for Mother Jones

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office on Environmental Justice submitted his resignation on Tuesday. First reported by InsideClimate News, the resignation of Mustafa Ali comes as the Trump administration considers layoffs and budget cuts at the EPA that, if enacted, would eliminate the environmental justice budget and cut funding to grants for pollution cleanup.

Ali, a founder of the program in 1992 who has worked there since, told Mother Jones he resigned because he was concerned the administration’s proposals to roll back its environmental justice work would disproportionately affect vulnerable communities. “That is something that I could not be a part of,” Ali says.

“Each new administration has an opportunity to share what their priorities and values are,” he says, adding that he has “not heard of anything that was being proposed that was beneficial to the communities we serve. To me, that was a signal that communities with environmental justice concern may not get the attention they deserve.”

The office, created during the George H.W. Bush administration, defines its mission as reducing the disproportionate impacts environmental problems have on minority, low-income, and indigenous people by integrating these concerns into all the EPA’s decision-making. Since its founding, the office has distributed $24 million in grants to 1,400 communities.

In his resignation letter, Ali attempted to make the case for the Office of Environmental Justice by appealing to Pruitt’s interest in economic growth. He described what happened in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which received a $20,000 grant from the EPA to address the community’s abandoned dump sites that were leaching toxic chemicals. The mostly low-income, African American residents of the region experienced high rates of cancer and respiratory disease. Local black leaders leveraged that grant into $270 million from investors and the government to revitalize the city, “creating jobs and improving their environments through collaborative partnerships,” Ali wrote. “When I hear we are considering making cuts to grant programs like the EJ small grants or Collaborative Problem Solving programs, which have assisted over 1400 communities, I wonder if our new leadership has had the opportunity to converse with those who need our help the most.”

Ali spoke to Mother Jones from Flint, Michigan, where he was attending a two-day environmental justice summit in the city that famously confronted an environmental crisis when the community’s drinking water was found to be contaminated with lead. He says he will continue the work he has focused on for 25 years as the new senior vice president of the Hip Hop Caucus, a national nonprofit that organizes and recruits activists to promote social justice, including on climate change. “I want to make sure I am investing my time and talents in a place that is going to be supportive of that work,” he says.

Ali hopes his resignation will bring attention to the effects on low-income and marginalized communities of the new administration’s program cuts and loosened regulations.

During his confirmation hearings, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt told Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) that he is “familiar with the concept of environmental justice” and acknowledged that the “administrator plays an important role regarding environmental justice.”

“Under his leadership, he has the ability to move to the next level if he chooses to,” Ali says. Environmental justice leaders “have dedicated decades to trying to gain traction and make progress. We’ve done some of that, and to move backward didn’t make any sense to me.”

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Report: Growing Islamic Extremism In Latin America Poses ‘Major Security Threat’ To US

March 3rd, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

Daily Caller, by Peter Hassan, March 30, 2017:

Growing Islamic extremism in Latin America constitutes a “major security threat” to the United States, according to an analysis published this month by the National Center for Policy Analysis.

“The threat from Islamic extremists in Latin America remains an overlooked aspect of U.S. national security strategy,” NCPA senior fellow David Grantham argued.

Grantham noted that “Saudi Arabia has invested millions to construct mosques and cultural centers in South America and Central America that expand the reach of its rigid version of Islam, known as Wahhabism.”

“The international spread of Saudi dogma, which the State Department’s first special representative to Muslim communities worldwide, Farah Pandith, called ‘insidious,’ has laid the foundation for likeminded radicals to thrive in other areas of Latin America,” he explained.

Later in the brief, Grantham noted that the “threats to U.S. security in the Greater Caribbean region are even more alarming in Trinidad and Tobago. The small island nation off the coast of Venezuela, once the target of an overthrow by Islamic militants, has also become a breeding ground for ISIS — 70 of the 100 Latin Americans known to have joined ISIS originated from the small country.”

The ease of mobility Islamic extremists have in Latin America is also cause for concern.

“Islamic extremism thrives where there is illicit finance and relative ease of movement across national and international borders. The mobility of terrorists throughout Latin America poses a serious problem,” Grantham stated.

Perhaps the greatest Islamic extremist threat in Latin America, though, is the Islamic Republic of Iran, which Grantham said could potentially strike the US from Latin America as a retaliatory act.

“The Islamic Republic has the capability and infrastructure to strike the United States from Latin America, but experts disagree over whether it would take that risk,” Grantham writes. “Experts consistently discuss the likelihood of a preemptive or first strike attack on the United States, though, which creates too high a standard. Instead, the argument should focus on the prospect of retaliatory attack.”

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton also warned of Iranian sponsored terrorism through Latin American “proxies” during a 2013 off-the-record speech to Goldman Sachs employees that was made public by WikiLeaks.

“If we had a map up behind us you would be able to see Iranian sponsored terrorism directly delivered by Iranians themselves, mostly through the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the operatives, or through Islah or other proxies from to Latin American to Southeast Asia,” Clinton said.

“The growth of extremist activity in Latin America is a major security threat. The prospects of retaliation from Iran, in particular, should not discourage action against Iran where necessary but should heighten awareness regarding the high probability of revenge attacks,” Grantham concluded. “Iran’s influence in Latin America and extremists, in general, demand new national security strategies in the region. Such an approach could begin with U.S. support to allied governments that improves their intelligence capabilities, and with targeted financial interdiction strategies.”

The brief can be read in its entirety here

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Islam and Indigenous peoples of Panama

March 3rd, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

Islam and Indigenous peoples of Panama

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