Archive for December, 2012

VIDEO: Leonard Peltier Speaks Out from Prison on Denial of Medical Care, Bid for Clemency

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Leonard Peltier, one of the nation’s most well-known and longest-incarcerated prisoners, speaks out from the U.S. Penitentiary at Coleman, Florida, where he is currently held. Peltier is the Native American activist and former member of the American Indian Movement who was convicted of aiding in the killing of two FBI agents during a shootout on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. Sentenced to prison in 1977, Peltier is now 68 years old. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman spoke with Peltier on Saturday when he called into a press conference organized by his supporters. [includes rush transcript]

After Doha: rejecting dystopia by default

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

By Ben Hayes and Nick Buxton

The world’s political leaders couldn’t say they hadn’t been warned. In the run up to the UN climate negotiations in early December in Qatar, it wasn’t just the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, global accounting firm PWC predicting dangerous levels of climate change. Even nature appeared to sound alarm bells with unseasonal hurricanes devastating New York and islands in the Caribbean and the Philippines. Faced with this chorus, you might have expected a response from the world’s governments. Instead the UN summit passed almost unnoticed by the international media and the result was another empty declaration, described by Friends of the Earth as a “sham of a deal” that “fails on every count.”
Confronted with one of the greatest challenges our planet and its peoples have faced, our political leaders have clearly failed us. In stark contrast to the radical coordinated action to bail out banks and prop-up the financial system, governments have instead chosen to step aside, giving a free hand to the markets and the fossil fuel giants, rather than daring a carefully planned conversion of our carbon-based economies.

Their choice is not one of inaction, as is often suggested, but one of actively ensuring dangerous climate change. For every coal plant built in China, oil field mined in the Arctic, or shale gas field fracked in the US locks in carbon into the atmosphere for up to 1000 years and means that even radical steps to decarbonise in future years may not be sufficient to prevent runaway global warming.

The President of the World Bank, Dr Jim Yong Kim said their report’s predicted rise in temperatures of 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit before the end of the century would create a world that was “very frightening.”

For the first time, the issue of how to pay for the ‘loss and damage’ that climate change is already causing for the poorest and most vulnerable people worldwide took centre stage at Doha. It is a tragic irony that discussions about stopping or preparing for global climate change (known as mitigation and adaptation in UN language) have now been upstaged by demands for reparations and growing concern, not least in the insurance industry, about who or what is going to pay for the damage inflicted by climate change.

These narratives are deeply distressing and dis-empowering. It is now much easier for people to imagine a dystopian future for their children than a world that has pulled together to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Far from prompting mass action, fear and insecurity is apparently prompting people to turn off and tune out in droves, or to seek solace in conspiracy theories.

Securing what for whom?

This apathy is being exploited by those who welcome – or at the very least are looking to profit from – the politics of insecurity and what the Pentagon has dubbed “the age of consequences.” Across the world and often behind closed doors, securocrats and military strategists are engaging in ‘foresight’ exercises that – unlike their political masters – take climate change for granted and develop options and strategies to adapt to the risks and opportunities it presents.

Only a month before the Doha climate negotiations, the US National Academy of Sciences released a report commissioned by the CIA that sought to “evaluate the evidence on possible connections between climate change and U.S. national security concerns.” The study concluded that it would be “prudent for security analysts to expect climate surprises in the coming decade, including unexpected and potentially disruptive single events as well as conjunctions of events occurring simultaneously or in sequence, and for them to become progressively more serious and more frequent thereafter, most likely at an accelerating rate”.

The military and the intelligence community’s willingness to take climate change seriously has been often uncritically welcomed by some in the environmental community; the agencies themselves say they are just doing their job. The question very few people are asking is: what are the consequences of framing climate change as a security issue rather than a justice or human rights one?

In a world already demeaned by concepts like ‘collateral damage’, participants in these new climate war games need not speak candidly about what they envisage, but the subtext to their discourse is always the same: how can states in the industrialised North – at a time of increasing potential scarcity and, it is assumed, unrest – secure themselves from the ‘threat’ of climate refugees, resource wars and failed states, while maintaining control of key strategic resources and supply chains. In the words of the proposed EU Climate Change and International Security strategy, for example, climate change is “best viewed as a threat multiplier” which carries “political and security risks that directly affect European interests”.

Profiting from fear

The industries that thrive off the ugly realpolitics of international security are also preparing for climate change. In 2011, a defence industry conference suggested that the energy and environmental market was worth at least eight times their own trillion-dollar-a-year trade. “Far from being excluded from this opportunity, the aerospace, defence and security sector is gearing up to address what looks set to become its most significant adjacent market since the strong emergence of the civil/homeland security business almost a decade ago,” it suggested.

Some of these investments may prove welcome and important, but the climate security discourse is also helping fuel the investment boom in high-tech border-control systems, crowd-control technologies, next generation offensive weapons systems (like drones) and less-lethal weapons. It should be inconceivable that democratic states are equipping themselves in this way for a climate-changed world , but every year a few more applications are piloted, and a few more hit the market. Looking at the consolidation of militarised borders across the world over the past decade, you wouldn’t want to be a climate refugee in 2012, never mind 2050.

It is not just the coercive industries that are positioning themselves to profit from fears about the future. The commodities upon which life depends are being woven into new security narratives based on fears about scarcity, overpopulation and inequality. Increasing importance is attached to ‘food security’, ‘energy security’, ‘water security’ and so on, with little analysis of exactly what is being secured for whom, and at whose expense? But when perceived food insecurity in South Korea and Saudi Arabia is fuelling land grabs and exploitation in Africa, and rising food prices are causing widespread social unrest, alarm bells should be ringing.

The climate security discourse takes these outcomes for granted. It is predicated on winners and losers – the secure and the damned – and based on a vision of ‘security’ so warped by the ‘war on terror’ that it essentially envisages disposable people in place of the international solidarity so obviously required to face the future in a just and collaborative way.

The two-pronged struggle against climate change

To confront this ever creeping securitisation of our future, we must of course continue to fight to end our fossil fuel addiction as urgently as possible, joining movements like those fighting tar sands developments in North America and forming broad civic alliances that pressure towns, states and governments to transition their economies to a low-carbon footing. We can not stop climate change – it is already happening – but we can still prevent the worst effects.

However, we must also be prepared to reclaim the climate adaptation agenda from one based on acquisition through dispossession and the self-interested security agendas of the powerful to one based on universal human rights and the dignity of all people. We simply cannot afford to leave our future in the hands of the securocrats and corporations when difficult decisions have to be taken.

The recent experience of Hurricane Sandy, where the Occupy movement put the federal government to shame in their response to the crisis, shows the power of popular movements to respond positively to local disasters.

Yet local responses by themselves will not be enough. We need broader international strategies that check corporate and military power while globalising the tools for resilience. This means putting forward progressive solutions around food, water, energy and coping with extreme weather that provide viable alternatives to the market-based and security-obsessed approaches favoured by our governments.

Perhaps most importantly, we need to start packaging these ideas in positive visions for the future that will empower people to reject dystopia and reclaim a liveable just future for all.

The Time has Come to Reform the International Climate Change Negotiation Model

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

By Ashton for South African Civil Society Information Service

With the conclusion of COP 18 in Doha, another set of climate change negotiations have come and gone with little real progress toward solving the urgent consequences of increased levels of atmospheric CO2. We clearly need to transform our approach to the problem.

UN security officers at UNFCCC Durban protest Photo © Rebecca SommerA year ago Durban was under virtual siege by government delegations from around the world, at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP 17 meeting. The conference centre was enclosed in a tight police and UN cordon, effectively separating state representatives and negotiators from the citizenry they were meant to represent.

This year the circus moved to Doha, where real public protest is curtailed by a repressive regime. Yes, the first legal protest in the history of Doha was held but it was a strictly curtailed affair. There should have been angry and ugly protest about the record loss of Arctic sea ice this year, of permafrost melt, of the evident acceleration of the impacts of climate change beyond earlier predictions. Instead the Emir of Doha accommodated tame protestors in five star hotels, with a coffee call to protest at 7am. And of course a list of what was permitted.

The reason that climate change negotiators remain so rigorously segregated from the public is because of increasing public anger and frustration at the real failure to ambitiously pursue solutions to this urgent problem. Negotiations remain captive to the interests of fossil fuelled capital, fixated on maintaining the economic status quo.

The science that we are well past the point of no return on the road to climate hell has been diplomatically deflected for two decades now. The failure of Copenhagen was reprised in Durban, which itself was misrepresented as a success in order to fool the uninformed. Now the Doha distraction too has passed, with no real solutions on the table.

It was decided that compromise responses remain postponed, in order that those profiting from emissions can continue business as usual. Expedient dissimulation has replaced substance. If the people really understood what the hell is going on they wouldn’t only be protesting, there would be open revolt. As wicked as the challenge may be, solutions must be found.

Hosting COP 18 in Doha was saturated in a quagmire of irony. Not only is Qatar an oppressive fiefdom, it is the world’s biggest per capita emitter of CO2, double that of Kuwait, the next highest. COP 18 will, despite pathetic cosmetic attempts to temper the impacts, be the most carbon intensive climate conference to date. All available water comes from energy intensive desalination; locals use an average of 400 litres per day, in a desert with less than 80mm of annual rainfall. All food is imported and eaten in climate controlled conditions. Qatar may be the harbinger of our future dystopia.

Yet the faux reality of Doha also underlines the insanity of the impasse that has relegated the urgency of the climate crisis to the fringes of political expediency. While rogue banks are swiftly bailed out, ailing global ecosystem crises are ignored.

Instead of providing finance to deal with the increasing risks of climate change, fossil fuels remain perversely subsidised. For example the UNFCCC requested “fast start” climate mitigation pledges of $100 billion per year by 2020. Less than 20% of this has been pledged, less still committed; only 11% is ‘new’ finance. Yet developed nations provide direct annual subsidies of over $58 billion to the fossil fuel industry – the very source of the problem, while the promises made in Copenhagen, Durban and Doha remain vague and non-binding.

Clearly, the entire existing structure of the global environmental governance regime is profoundly biased against any real commitment or agreement to deal with climate change. One central reason is because the long term planning and commitment required is incompatible with short-term national and regional political cycles.

Furthermore, political cycles are far more susceptible to commercial than public influence. Cosy corporate-media collusion further deceives and confuses the public. The entire “debate” around climate change is founded on false premises; it is a misplaced attempt to provide “balance” where none is required. This cornerstone of reporting is cunningly manipulated by corporate led climate denialists to serve their narrow ends.

More sinister is how vested interests cynically undermine public opinion while lobbying political interests. Exxon, the world’s largest oil company was warned by the Royal Society of London to stop funding climate change misinformation campaigns. The richest men in the world, the Koch brothers, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying, funding and undermining democratic institutions to weaken emission regulations. They and others are linked to dozens of front groups around the world subverting scientific consensus on climate change.

The consequence is that despite several useful interventions such as China’s pledge to take “due responsibility” for its emissions, and some agreement on peripheral issues, little real movement was made at COP 18 on the big question of managing CO2 emissions and the consequences.

As the Venezuelan lead delegate, Claudia Salerno – famous for slashing her hand during the Copenhagen debacle to demonstrate how developing nations bled – stated, rich countries “may as well make their own convention without the developing countries”. Given that the UNFCCC circus has rolled on for 20 years now with no real progress, she may well have a point. Fact is that fossil fuel barons like the Saud’s, Koch’s and others remain far more influential than the global citizenry.

Yet even in the USA, the capital of climate change denialism (although there remain plenty of other whack job denialists around the world; misinformed, stupid, conservative, bloody minded, or all of the above) the majority of people believe climate change is a real threat and that action must be taken, even if it does have costs. This is a bit late, given that 2012 is set to be the hottest year in US history.

The reality is that we have all had enough of being strung along by the rule of kleptocratic oligarchs, governing the world through the diktats of a rapacious corporate-political nexus. This cabal is no less than a criminal conspiracy and should be treated as such. As Bill McKibben says, it is time to hit dirty energy where it hurts. And more.

But Doha is where treaties go to die – the World Trade Organisation met its Waterloo there in 2001 and has never recovered, sputtering from failure to collapse. The UNFCCC fared little better. There was scant urgency to reshape global responses to the increasingly urgent threats of climate change. Why?

For a start, the environment receives far less attention than the economy. When financial crises arise, the problem is dealt with, post haste. Climate change is at least as serious as global economic meltdown, yet is not taken as seriously because of its deferred and more nebulous impacts.

From an economic perspective, most of the opposition to climate change solutions emanates from a cabal of fossilised thinkers who remain convinced the costs of action are too high. The reality is that the cost of inaction is far, far higher.

Even a compromise, along the lines that Richard Heydarian and Walden Bello suggest – where the largest emitters like China and the US arrive at an emissions accord structured along the lines of the SALT treaty – would be preferable to the dismal Doha decisions. However, bilateral agreements may prove counterproductive by their exclusionary nature.

If we do not treat the threat to our climate and the consequent impacts on the global environment – ocean acidity, sea level, atmospheric temperature, Arctic ice cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, increased extreme weather events, decline in biodiversity and so on – with the same urgency as we deal with economic perturbations, then we are certainly condemning future generations to a profoundly gloomy future.

Climate change may well be a super wicked problem. Nevertheless we have some potent tools to address the challenges. Inaction no longer remains an option. In the light of the failure and prevarication (yet again dressed up as success) at COP 18 there is an urgent need to revitalise the call to arms, to implement far more focussed collective action than is presently the case. The nations of the world must arrive at final, ambitious and binding agreements which address the problem.

To start with, the UNFCCC should meet continuously in order to break the impasse. International attendance, not just that of the secretariat, must be compulsory and continue until the problem is fully and permanently addressed. This is the only logical way forward. Anything less is a collective capitulation to the gradual death of our planet, accelerating us toward the culmination of the Anthropocene.

REDD at COP18, Doha: At a crossroads or stuck in neoliberalism’s dead end?

Friday, December 14th, 2012

By REDD expert Chris Lang for REDD MONITOR

REDD negotiations came to a grinding halt at the end of the first week of COP18 in Doha when Brazil and Norway disagreed over the verification of emission reductions from forests.

There were two tracks of negotiations on REDD in Doha: the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).

The following items were on the agenda in Doha – explained in more detail here:

SBSTA: Reference levels; MRV and forest monitoring systems; Safeguards information systems; and Drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.
LCA: Finance and REDD.

The dispute over verification took place in the SBSTA negotiations. The Final SBSTA Text (FCCC/SBSTA/2012/L.31) consists of “Draft conclusions proposed by the Chair” – no decisions were made in Doha. The discussions will continue at the next SBSTA meeting, that will take place in June 2013 in Bonn. However, no decision on the SBSTA agenda items will be taken until COP19 at the end of 2013.

Louis Verchot, of CIFOR, comments that, “Many countries don’t have technological capacities of Brazil or Indonesia and this is going to hold them up in being able to move forward to the REDD+ implementation phase in a few years time. Countries will have to come to a compromise on the scope of international verification. Perhaps the sticking point is deciding how independent the process needs to be and how much can be achieved through bilateral agreements.”

But a more serious problem, as Simone Lovera, of the Global Forest Coalition, points out, is that the issue of verification may be little more than a trojan horse for carbon markets.

The LCA negotiating track closed in Doha. The Final LCA Text (FCCC/AWGLCA/2012/L.4) did not make a decision on how REDD should be financed. Instead, the LCA decided, to undertake a work programme on results-based finance in 2013, including two in-session workshops, subject to the availability of supplementary resources, to progress the full implementation of the activities referred to in decision 1/CP.16, paragraph 70;

(Decision 1/CP.16, paragraph 70 is the Cancun LCA text on REDD, and is discussed here.)

After five years of negotiations, then, the LCA has decided to set up a “work programme” to discuss how REDD could be financed.

The co-chairs of the work programme (one from the global North, one from the global South) are to coordinate the work programme with the REDD discussions under SBSTA. The LCA invites Parties and observer organisations to submit their views (by 25 March 2013) on coordinating and implementing REDD, providing “adequate and predictable” finance and technical support, and the institutional arrangements required for REDD. The first “in-session workshop” will take place during the next SBSTA meeting, June 2013, in Bonn.

The work programme is to close at COP19 in Warsaw, Poland, unless the COP decides otherwise.

The work programme is to consider “ways to incentivize non-carbon benefits”. According to Ecosystem Marketplace this could include water filtration, biodiversity preservation, and the support of forest peoples. And according to the Ecosystems Climate Alliance it could include community benefits, ecosystem resilience, and governance improvements.

The LCA Text also requests that SBSTA considers “how non-market-based approaches, such as joint mitigation and adaptation” could support the implementation of REDD. This is a reference to Bolivia’s proposed alternative to REDD. Bolivia made several powerful statements opposing REDD as a carbon trading mechanism during the negotiations in Doha.

“REDD+ is at a crossroads,” says Bruce Cabarle, of WWF’s Forest and Climate Initiative, “[T]his marks the first time in the history of UNFCCC negotiations that the Parties were not able to issue any guidance whatsoever on how to make REDD+ work, despite having produced several pages of good draft text on the critical building blocks needed to define national forest monitoring systems, MRV and reference levels.”

But is REDD really at a crossroads? EDF’s Gus Silva-Chavez thought so back in 2009. The reality is that the negotiations are stuck in a dead end of neoliberal market-based false solutions to climate change. Perhaps the negotiators will turn around and follow Bolivia’s lead out of the dead end.

Jose Antonia Zamora Gutierrez, Bolivia’s Minister of Environment and Water, said in Doha: We denounce to the whole world the pressure from some countries for the approval of new carbon market mechanisms, although these have shown to be ineffective in the fight against climate change, and that only represent business opportunities. This is a climate change conference, not a conference for carbon business. We did not come here to do business with the death of Mother Earth betting on the power of markets as a solution. We are here to protect our Mother Earth, we came here to protect the future of humanity.

“Yesterday forests were turned into carbon markets businesses, and the same was done with the land, they tried to oceans and, worse, to agriculture. Agriculture is food security, employment, life, and culture. Agriculture is along with the land, mountains and forests, the house and the food of our indigenous and peasant communities.”

“We will not allow the replacement of the obligations of developed countries with carbon markets. The planet is not for sale, nor our life.

Guatemala: The Marketing and Censoring of Maya Spirituality on 21 December – the sacred day of Baktun

Friday, December 14th, 2012

By Rebecca Sommer, Earth Peoples

As you probably know, 21 December is the sacred day of Baktun for the Maya.

A baktun (properly b’ak’tun) is 20 katun cycles of the ancient Maya Long Count Calendar. The current (13th) baktun will end, or be completed, on on the Solstice (December 21, 2012 using the GMT correlation). This also marks the beginning of the 14th baktun, as such a term is usually used among Mayanists. (J. Eric S. Thompson stated that when a Long Count of is placed in the 9th baktun, the result is erroneous, such as placing the year 2009 in the 2nd millennium.)

It turns out, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, and members of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) have accepted to come to Guatemala on 21 December, at the invitation of Alvaro Pop, the Guatemalan member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).

The agenda of the UN expert group dealing with questions regarding the human rights of indigenous peoples is not very clear, but there are rumors that they may be going to the ancient Maya city of Tik’al, in which case they would be participating in “celebrations” being organized by the Guatemala Government.

But here is the Problem: Baktun celebrations on the sacred day of the Maya people are going to be an orchestrated, controlled “show” by the Government of Guatemala – to please tourists and handpicked VIP guests.

Tikal, sacred site Maya people

Tikal, sacred site Maya people

Tik’al, like all other remaining ancient Maya sites are ceremonial grounds of the Maya!

Access to their sites, and the free expression and the unhindered exercise of their important rituals according to the teachings of their ancestors are essential to the Maya.

Because of governmentally imposed “celebrations”, access to this and other ceremonial grounds will be restricted on such an important day to Maya spiritual leaders and their followers (analogous to restricting St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican to the Pope, priests and Christians on Christmas, to hold non-christian “celebrations”).

When does this ever end, that indigenous peoples are always the one that are marginalized, their ceremonies are marketed and controlled by others, and their freedom of expression and religion is hindered?

One should add perhaps, as a bit of background, that the current President is a former military that participated in the horrendous civil war in Guatemala, which resulted in the genocide committed against indigenous peoples, at that time, he trained the most brutal battalion of Army intelligence, and during his presidency there have been grave human rights abuses against indigenous peoples, including the death of eight indigenous protesters a few months ago, so to have him organize Baktun celebrations is doubly insulting to the Maya peoples.

But the scared sites of the Maya people continue to be held in a firm grip by governmental authorities, as the main tourist attraction it generates a significant portion of GDP for the country.

Well-respected Mayan Spiritual Leaders want the World to know and ask the international press to denounce the implicit racism in their celebrations.

UN Special Rapportuer and Wasted Time: The Akha of Hooh Yoh and Pah Nmm Akha vs. the Queen of Thailand

Friday, December 14th, 2012

By Matthew McDaniel, the Akha Heritage Foundation

I have worked with the Akha people of SE Asia for more than 20 years as a volunteer advocate for human rights.

In 2003 the Akha people of Hooh Yoh Akha village cluster asked me to help defend their land from a take over by the Queen of Thailand’s Royal Project. The Royal Project was staking out a claim to 8,000 rai of land, pretty much all of the farming land of 1500 Akha and Lahu villagers. Informed consent was no part of the picture. Project managers brought in army personnel, dogs and began building structures on the land they staked out. The Akha would have nothing left at all and would be reduced to working for what ever wages the project paid for a limited number of people from the village. Their decades of investment in the land would be lost.

As a result of taking on this case I was expelled from Thailand after living with the Akha people for 13 years. It took me a year and a half to get my wife, who is Akha, and our children out of the country. The Akha paid a very high price for this case. I and my family paid a very high price for this case. It is impossible for anyone in Thailand to make a direct accusation against the royalty.

But two weeks after leaving Thailand for good, I presented the Akha case at the UN in New York. This was the first time anyone had spoken the name of the Akha people at the UN. Over time I was able to build the case of the Akha and present it to Special Rapporteur Rudolfo Stavenhagen. He was willing to assist the Akha case.

We made extensive progress at the UN with Special Rapporteur Stavenhagen. We were able to get the Thai government’s attention with a high level “Letter of Allegation” filed against them over land the Queen of Thailand took from two large village groups, driving them into poverty and desperation.

The Thai Government was shocked and would have to respond. And they did. Full on denials of what had obviously occurred.

Stavenhagen’s help was tremendous. But he left, and the case fell directly to SR Anaya. This man has refused to make any accurate responses to our inquiries or replies to the Thai rebuttal. He is an absolute disaster, incompetence at the highest level, total disrespect for the very hard and dangerous work of other people to expose violations and protect the rights of indigenous people. This case was handed to him on a silver platter. Instead of engaging the Thai government with our formal “point by point” reply to their denials, he totally ignored the case and would not discuss it with us at all.

Further, he never informed us that he had gotten a response from the Thai government. We had to discover this on our own. When we sent our itemized reply to all of his offices, office staff denied they received them. We sent them several times, only to be told that such discussions and actions were totally confidential so there was no need for Anaya to discuss the case with the very people who had filed the case. Somehow, just now coming to the UN he has much more information on the Akha case than we did.

Many Akha put their names and lives on the line in the battle for this village land. SR Anaya let them completely down. He accepted the Thai denials no questions asked. This was his reward to the courageous Akha who stood up for their rights.

Not ever having heard of the Akha before, he is so competent that he has in fact done nothing with the case and even at an indigenous meeting in Chiangmai, Thailand, informs no one, says nothing, communicates with no one and still has his job.

The guy is a joke, an impostor, a loser, hardly a defender of indigenous causes before nation state governments.

Mohawk John Kane: Most censored issue in 2012 was the truth about UN Rapporteur James Anaya

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

First in a series of the most censored issues of 2012

By Brenda Norrell, Censored News

TUCSON, Ariz. — What was most censored in Indian country in 2012? John Kane, Mohawk, radio host of Let’s Talk Native Pride, said the UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples James Anaya was the most censored issue in 2012.
Kane said, “I think the story around James Anaya was the most mischaracterized and one of the most censored stories.
“Who he is, who he met with in his ‘whirlwind tour’ and his findings were pathetic. The primary observation about the overall condition of Native people was that we needed access to sacred sites?
“Poverty, suicides, domestic violence, violence against women, drop out rates, drug and alcohol issues, continued assimilation, puppet tribal governments, real land claims (not just the right to pray on a site) and he comes up with a recommendation for access and control of certain sacred sites.
“I have news for Mr. Anaya, it’s all sacred. TO READ ENTIRE ARTICLE click here

On Not Attending the UN Climate Conference in Doha

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

On Not Attending the UN Climate Conference in Doha

For the first time since 2004, Global Justice Ecology Project did not sent any representatives to the annual UN Climate Conference (COP).  There were numerous reasons for this decision, one of which was a letter sent to us by Ms. Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) “suspending” three Global Justice Ecology Project activists from participating in Doha.  The list includes Lindsey Gillies, Keith Brunner and me–Global Justice Ecology Project’s “Head of Delegation.” We were officially banned from participating in any of the UNFCCC negotiating sessions in 2012 as well as any future sessions unless we sign a document agreeing to their terms to abide by their special “code of conduct” for observers.  Right.

Our crime?  Direct action.   Unpermitted, disobedient direct action in both Cancun and Durban designed to highlight the mounting repression against non-corporate observers.  (We also worked for over a year to help organize the amazing Reclaim Power action and Peoples’ Assembly at COP 15 in Copenhagen, which exposed the ineffectiveness of the UNFCCC and called for people to take their power back–though the letter did not mention that).

Over the years we have watched the UNFCCC become more and more like the World Trade Organization that we and many anti-corporate globalization organizations rose up against in the latter 1990s and early 2000s.

Like the WTO, the UNFCCC (which we call the World Carbon Trade Organization) now erects giant heavily guarded barriers to hide behind.  Why would an organization whose mission is ostensibly to save the planet from annihilation feel then need to hide from the people?   Perhaps because, in these talks, a handful of powerful players have rigged the game.  They block any forward process in stopping catastrophic climate change while creating new and diabolical schemes for making money off of false solutions.  I believe it is for this reason that this year’s climate negotiations are in Doha, Qatar–one of the most repressive countries on the planet.  The same place where the WTO went to lick its wounds after its famed shut-down by 50,000+ pissed-off people in Seattle in 1999.

Even back in 2004 at COP 10 in Buenos Aires, we noted the “trade show’ atmosphere and watched the mounting repression against so-called “observers” and increased access by corporations and their profit-motives.  The use of neoliberal economic markets as the fundamental strategy to address climate change is now enshrined in the negotiations, even though it is this same economic globlization that has allowed the power elite to amass unimaginable wealth by monopolizing the rich resources of the earth–privatizing what was once held in common–transforming it into capital and destroying the planet’s life-support systems.

We have documented the UN climate circus in annual articles published every February in Z Magazine.  After using other groups’ accreditations to access the talks, in 2010 Global Justice Ecology Project applied for and received organizational accreditation as an official UNFCCC observer group.  We did this in order to have an accredited organization through which we could take unpermitted action, with the goal of exposing the UN’s true nature–without risking the accredited status of our allies.

The climate COP 16 in Cancun in 2010 followed on the heels of the “Reclaim Power” march out in Copenhagen in 2009.  In response, Cancun was particularly repressive, with a zero-tolerance policy for anything not pre-approved.  A Global Justice Ecology Project press conference, which we had turned over to La Via Campesina for their “Day of 1,000 Cancuns,” turned into a march out by youth participants; then a spontaneous press conference on the building stairs where it was joined by Pablo Solon–then-UN Ambassador of the Plurinational state of Bolivia.  UN security reacted by debadging many particpants–including a GJEP observer who was merely live streaming the event; several youth present (whether they were involved or not) as well as a number of people who had spoken to the press on the building steps.

Many of our youth participants were thrown out and lost their accreditation badges during that action, though one (Keith) managed to get back inside for our big action on the final Friday.  In protest of the shutting out of the voices of peoples directly impacted by the climate crisis and the utter lack of progress in the negotiations, GJEP co-organized a takeover of the foyer leading to the UN conference rooms, which were strictly off-limits to observers except for a few who managed to obtain a secondary badge.  We were not the only group that organized or took part in the action, but we took responsibility for it to prevent the other groups from losing their accreditation.  The remainder of our GJEP delegation took part in the action, where about a dozen of us locked arms and refused to move, including our 70 year old Board member Hiroshi, and Keith, who had been thrown out after the earlier press conference.  Security used painful compliance holds on Keith and Hiroshi, who were at either end of the blockade line, in an attempt to make us leave.  We were eventually removed, debadged and evicted.

After receiving no word from the Secretariat about our action in Cancun, we registered a host of participants to attend the UN Climate Conference in Durban.  Here the repression against observers was even worse, and extended even to accredited media, who were accosted and assaulted by security merely for taking photos or video of observers being evicted.  Following a GJEP press conference, one of our invited speakers, dressed as a clown, was detained and evicted by UN security merely for giving an interview to the media.  Those of us who had been evicted in Cancun were eventually nabbed by UN Security and made to sign the Observer “code of conduct,” which supposedly meant we agreed to act within its stringent guidelines–which included abrogating our right to free speech and independent thought…

On the final day of the Durban negotiations, youth activists took over the foyer outside the plenary hall.  This action, orchestrated by Greenpeace and took on a life of its own as the youth activists, inspired by the Occupy movement, refused to leave at the appointed time and also took over the scripted ‘mic checks,’ radicalizing their messages far beyond those that were officially sanctioned.  GJEP had two youth participants in the occupation–Lindsey and Keith as well as myself.   Dedicated direct action advocates and anti-authoritarians, we organized a sit-in when UN security moved in to remove the unruly mass against its will.   When Keith and I refused to leave voluntarily, we were carried out.  Then, in March we got the letter from Ms. Figueres banning our future participation because we had used the classic and time-honored civil disobedience tactic of non-compliance.  A big ‘no no’ in the hallowed halls of the UNFCCC.

Then, this year, the UNFCCC went to one of the most repressive countries on the planet to hold their summit, ensuring that few groups could participate.

Global Justice Ecology Project did not go to Doha.  Not actually because we were banned–we made the decision not to go after our experience in Durban (and the other COPs) and as soon as we heard the next summit would be in Doha.  The repression we experienced in Durban was not only at the hands of the UN.  A severe rift had formed between the hard-core negotiator NGOs and the hard-core radicals.

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A proposta REDD+ Indígena da COICA + WWF: sem o consentimento das bases indígenas

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Traduzido por Paul Wolters

Os professionais conferencistas da COICA (fortemente financiada e cortejada por entidades pró-REDD como a Fundação Ford, o Banco Mundial, a Noruega, a WWF, CI, EDF e outros)  realizaram no dia 18 de maio de 2012 um evento sobre uma proposta REDD+ Indígena, em Bonn, Alemanha, no âmbito da reunião preparativa para a Conferência do Clima da ONU em Doha.

Foi Juan Carlos Jintiach, “Especialista de Cooperação Internacional” que compartilhava em nome da COICA a visão “de seu povo” para a Redução de Emissões por Desmatamento e Degradação (REDD +). Supostamente trataria de uma proposta REDD+ indígena que, inclusive, poderia ser implementada com ou sem o mercado de carbono.

Porém, quando Juan Carlos Jintiach e outros indivíduos indígenas e membros da COICA anunciaram essa proposta para o REDD+ Indígena durante as negociações sobre as Mudanças do Clima da ONU, em Doha, comunidades e grupos indígenas, nações e povos que vivem no próprio solo, não tinham voz, não tinham nenhuma informação, nenhum conhecimento, nenhuma consulta, e, portanto, nenhuma idéia sobre o que a COICA está dizendo em seu nome a nível internacional.

VIDEO(Aritana Yawalapiti sobre ISA e REDD)
VIDEO(Pirakuman Yawalapiti sobre carbono)
VIDEO(Pirakuman Yawalapiti sobre representantes Indigenas na ONU)

“O que foi apresentado agora pela COICA como REDD+ Indígena, é uma proposta muito aguardada pelos povos indígenas da Amazônia …” ressalta o site da ong WWF, que começou a “apoiar” COICA desde 2008, certamente tão logo a falsa solução da REDD para alterações climáticas tornou-se a mais nova moda dentro da ONU, bem como fora dela.

“Isso é uma importante contribuição para a construção do mecanismo REDD+, uma vez que (…) promove ainda mais a cooperação de todas as partes involvidas …”, continua o artigo do sítio da WWF.

Talvez seja bom para eles, mas é muito ruim para os povos e ruins para o clima.

Cerca de um mês atrás, Earth Peoples / Povos da Terra foi informado por representantes de estados europeus que a Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Bacia Amazônica (COICA) havia enviado a proposta de REDD + Indígena para os estados, com o objetivo de buscar parcerias – e, finalmente financiamento.

Ao mesmo tempo, durante os últimos meses, vários indivíduos de organizações indígenas nacionais que pertencem às regiões de floresta tropical na América do Sul e que são membros da COICA, responderam a Earth Peoples / Povos da Terra, que os povos não tinham tomado qualquer decisão ) sobre a proposta de REDD + Indígena, nem durante as reuniões da COICA, como a reunião em Manaus com todos os membros presentes, nem durante o Acampamento Terra Livre, o contro-evento paralelo à conferência Rio +20.

Ou seja, a proposta da Coica acerca do REDD+ Indígena carece de legitimidade.

NÃO ao REDD! pencil by Earth Peoples

NÃO ao REDD! pencil by Earth Peoples

COICA’s+WWF’s Indigenous REDD+ proposal – without knowledge of indigenous grassroots

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

By Earth Peoples

Juan Carlos Jintiach  at Rio+20 with indigenous youth dressed in US Department of Agriculture-The Nature Conservancy-USAID "Partner" T-shirts (PHOTO © REBECCA SOMMER)

Juan Carlos Jintiach at Rio+20 with indigenous youth dressed in US Department of Agriculture-The Nature Conservancy-USAID "Partner" T-shirts (PHOTO © REBECCA SOMMER)

COICA’s & Co’s professional UN conference hoppers (heavily funded and courted by pro-REDD Ford Foundation, the World Bank, Norway, WWF, Conservation International, UNAID, the Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund and others) held 18 May 2012 an Indigenous REDD+ event in Bonn, at the prep-meeting towards the UN Climate conference.

It was  Juan Carlos Jintiach, “International Cooperation Specialist” for COICA, that shared “his people’s” vision towards Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+).

In October 2012, an international delegation including indigenous leaders from Mexico, Brazil and Ecuador visited California, to oppose California’s proposed carbon offset scheme.

The “No REDD! Tour” has generated a sometimes heated debate.

Truth spoken by Mililani Trask (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Truth spoken by Mililani Trask at Earth Peoples REDD oneOone side event (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Earth Peoples sponsored a side event “REDD oneOone”, during the 8th Session of the PFII.
Mililani Trask was one of the outspoken truth-speakers. Her speech can be viewed in two video recordings, especially interesting in the second Video are her shared thoughts regarding a balancing test between rights and wrongs, the UNDRIP, UNDHR and “What happens to the rights of our Peoples?”
Video 1

When  Juan Carlos Jintiach and a dozen indigenous individuals and members of COICA announced 30 December 2012 the Indigenous REDD+ proposal at the UN Climate Change negotiations in Doha, that could be implemented with or without the carbon market, Indigenous groups, nations, peoples, that live on the ground had no say, no information, no knowledge, no consultation, and therefore no clue about what COICA is saying on their behalf at the international level.

“What has now been introduced as Indigenous REDD+ by COICA, is a long awaited proposal by indigenous peoples from the Amazon…” is stated at the WWF website, that started to “support” COICA since 2008, surely as soon as the false solution to climate change (REDD) became the newest fashion inside UN walls as well as outside.

“This is major contribution to the construction of the REDD+ mechanism, since it … promotes further cooperation of all parties…” continues WWF’s website article.

Maybe good for them – but bad for the people and bad for the climate.

“Our organization remains vigilant in its climate justice agenda seeking systems change not climate change. The continued UNFCCC attempts trying to establish assurances of a uncertain carbon market trading system is a false solution. The REDD+ implementation plans of the UNFCCC is a fundamentally flawed symptom of a deeper problem, not a step forward. It is a distraction that Mother Earth does not have time for. We should build on the many existing examples of successful forest conservation and restoration rather than investing billions of dollars in an untested, uncertain and questionable REDD+ scheme that is likely to undermine the environmental and social goals of the climate regime rather than support them.” Said Tom Goldtooth, director from the Indigenous Environmental Networrk in Doha.

“We only have One Mother Earth – let’s do what we can to stop global warming and halt this climate crisis.” Goldtooth added.

About a month ago, Earth Peoples was informed by European state representatives that the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) had sent the Indigenous REDD+ proposal to states, with the goal to seek partnerships –  and ultimately, funding.

Some individuals of national indigenous organizations that belong to the rainforest regions in South America that are members of COICA responded to Earth Peoples that there was no decision being made by the people, nor at COICA meetings such as in Manaus with all members on the table, nor at Rio+20 at the Indigenous tent (Free Land Camp) on such Indigenous REDD+ proposal.

NO REDD! Pencil (Earth Peoples)

NO REDD! Pencil (Earth Peoples)

What is REDD? An introduction to REDD