Keystone XL Owner TransCanada Wins Bid For Underwater Gas Pipeline Across Gulf of Mexico

By Steve Horn / Desmog

TransCanada, owner of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline currently being contested in federal court and in front of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) legal panel, has won a $2.1 billion joint venture bid with Sempra Energy for a pipeline to shuttle gas obtained from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale basin across the Gulf of Mexico and into Mexico.

The 500-mile long Sur de Texas-Tuxpan pipeline, as reported on previously by DeSmog, is part of an extensive pipeline empire TransCanada is building from the U.S. to Mexico. The pipeline network is longer than the currently operating southern leg of the Keystone pipeline (now dubbed the Gulf Coast Pipeline).  Unlike Keystone XL, though, these piecemeal pipeline section bid wins have garnered little media attention or scrutiny beyond the business and financial press.

The Sur de Texas-Tuxpan proposed pipeline route avoids the drug cartel violence-laden border city of Matamoros by halting at Brownsville and then going underwater across the U.S.-Mexico border to Tuxpan.

After it navigates the 500-mile long journey, Sur de Texas-Tuxpan will flood Mexico’s energy grid with gas under a 25-year service contract. That energy grid, thanks to the efforts of the U.S. State Department under then-Secretary of State and current Democratic Party presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, has been privatized under constitutional amendments passed in 2013.

TransCanada and Sempra were the only bidders. TransCanada owns the joint venture with Sempra — coined the Infraestructura Marina del Golfo, Spanish for “marine infrastructure of the Gulf” — on a 60-percent basis.

“We are extremely pleased to further our growth plans in Mexico with one of the most important natural gas infrastructure projects for that country’s future,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and CEO, said in a press release announcing the bid win. “This new project brings our footprint of existing assets and projects in development in Mexico to more than US$5 billion, all underpinned by 25-year agreements with Mexico’s state power company.”

State Department Role, FERC and Presidential Permits for Sur de Texas-Tuxpan 

David Leiter, a campaign finance bundler for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and former chief-of-staff for then-U.S.Senator and current Secretary of State John Kerry, lobbied the White House and the U.S. State Department in 2013 and 2014 on behalf of Sempra Energy on gas exports-related issues.

Sempra has a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal on the northwest, Baja California coast of Mexico calledEnergía Costa Azul (“Blue Coast Energy”) LNGLeiter’s wife, Tamara Luzzatto, formerly served as chief-of-staff to then-U.S.Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Because the pipeline is set to carry natural gas, as opposed to oil, it does not need a U.S. State Department permit (though tacit and non-permitted unofficial approval could still prove important). Instead, it seemingly technically requires U.S.Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval, as well as a presidential permit.

It is unclear if Sur de Texas-Tuxpan will require a presidential permit, though, given the precedent set in the Wild Earth Nation, Et Al v. U.S. Department of State and Enbridge Energy case.

In that case, the Judge allowed Enbridge to break up its tar sands diluted bitumen (“dilbit”)-carrying Alberta Clipper (Line 67) pipeline into multiple pieces — helped along with off-the-books and therefore unofficial State Department authorization — avoiding the more onerous presidential and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permit review process altogether.

Due to the legal precedent set in another related case, Delaware Riverkeeper v. FERC, oil and gas industry law firm Baker Botts explicitly recommended against utilizing the “segmentation” approach in a January 2015 memo that came out before the Enbridge case ruling.

“Project proponents should be careful to avoid potential ‘segmentation’ of a project into smaller parts simply to try to avoid a more thorough NEPA review,” wrote Baker Botts attorney Carlos Romo. “Segmentation occurs when closely related and interdependent projects are not adequately considered together in the NEPA process.”

The presidential candidates Clinton and Donald Trump have yet to comment on this pipeline or the topic of U.S.-Mexico cross-border pipelines on the campaign trail. But Financial Times, in an April article, pointed out that even Trump — who has pledged he will build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico — has little to say and will likely do little to halt cross-border lines like Sur de Texas-Tuxpan.

“As long as the wall doesn’t go below ground,” Mark Florian, head of the infrastructure fund at First Reserve and a former Goldman Sachs executive, told FT. “I think we’ll be OK.”

Though still fairly early on in the process, Florian’s words have proven true so far.

 

UN report confirms corruption is biggest threat to ivory, as wildlife officials arrested across Africa and Asia

Featured image: Cameroonian “ecoguard” Mpaé Désiré, who in 2015 was accused of beating Baka and in 2016 was arrested for involvement in the illegal wildlife trade. © Facebook

A new UN report has confirmed that corrupt officials are at the heart of wildlife crime in many parts of the world, rather than terrorist groups or tribal peoples who hunt to feed their families.

The reports’ findings have coincided with a wave of arrests of wildlife officials across Africa and Asia, raising concerns of a global “epidemic” of poaching and corruption among armed wildlife guards who are supposed to be protecting endangered species.

Recent conservation corruption arrests include:

-A wildlife guard in Cameroon, Mpaé Désiré, and a local police chief who were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the illegal ivory trade on the ancestral land of the Baka “Pygmies” and other rainforest tribes. Mr Mpaé has been accused by Baka of beating up tribespeople and torching one of their forest camps after accusing them of poaching.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been funding wildlife guards in this part of Cameroon since at least 2000, despite reports of guards arresting, beating and torturing tribal hunters.

One Baka man told Survival in 2013: “Ecoguards used to open tins of sardines and leave them as bait to attract leopards, so they could hunt them for their skins.”

Another said: “The ecoguards don’t want anyone in the forest at all so that no one hears the gunshots as they poach.”

Elsewhere:

– Four park employees in India have been arrested for involvement in poaching endangered one-horned rhinos in the notorious Kaziranga reserve, where wildlife guards are encouraged to shoot on sight anyone they suspect of poaching. 62 people have been killed there in just nine years.

– A forest officer has been arrested near Kaziranga after police found a tiger skin and ivory in his house.

– In the Pench tiger reserve in central India, a guard, named in reports as Vipin Varmiya, has been arrested for killing a tiger and her two cubs.

A tiger was allegedly killed by a park guard in Pench tiger reserve, India
A tiger was allegedly killed by a park guard in Pench tiger reserve, India © Survival International

A recent Brookings Institution Report confirmed that the big conservation organizations are failing to tackle the true poachers – criminals conspiring with corrupt officials. The link between corruption and wildlife crime has also been reported in Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Indonesia.

The involvement of armed guards in poaching, in countries where militarized conservation tactics are employed, raises questions over the advisability of using violence and intimidation to protect flora and fauna. In many parts of the world, armed conservation has led to violence against local tribal peoples, including in Cameroon, and in India where summary execution in the name of conservation is in danger of becoming more widespread.

In February 2016, Survival filed an OECD complaint against the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for its involvement in funding repressive and often violent conservation projects in southeast Cameroon, rather than tackling the real poachers. Persecuting the environment’s best allies in place of real action to tackle these systemic problems is harming conservation.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “Conservation’s response to poaching has been to accuse local tribespeople when they hunt to feed their families, to support the use of shoot-to-kill policies and to blame terrorists. None of it works; it’s harming conservation. The true poachers are the criminals, including ecoguards, who conspire with corrupt officials. As the big conservation organizations partner with industry and tourism, they’re harming the environment’s best allies, the tribal peoples who have been dependent on and managed their environments for millennia. Tribespeople should be at the forefront of the environmental movement, they know who the poachers actually are, they can protect their land from logging, they protect biodiversity, and are better at looking after their environment than anyone else.”

Notes: Latest reports indicate Mr Mpaé has been released from custody and is awaiting trial.

“Pygmy” is an umbrella term commonly used to refer to the hunter-gatherer peoples of the Congo Basin and elsewhere in Central Africa. The word is considered pejorative and avoided by some tribespeople, but used by others as a convenient and easily recognized way of describing themselves.

Slovenia: Defending the anti-capitalist, autonomous Rog Factory

By Rog Community

On Monday, 6th of June at 03:15 AM, the security company Valina stormed into the Rog Factory, which is formally owned by the Municipality of Ljubljana, Slovenia. The plan was to secure the place and turn it into a building ground, all according to the gentrification vision of the mayor of Ljubljana, Zoran Janković. Despite the violent and brutal approach of the security, the community of the Rog Factory won that war, managed to defend the place and around noon, the demoralized security forces had to leave the premises. Within the hour, barricades were erected around the area, heavily protecting the main entrance, as it is expected there will be another attempts of eviction in the coming days, possibly with the help of police forces.

After the decades of neglect of the old factory premises – by the state and then municipality – artists, activists, philosophers, as well as members of various collectives and groups have been active here for more than 10 years. Since the government structures care more about fulfilling the Neoliberal wet dreams and obeying the directives coming from Brussels, the Autonomous Centre Rog, within years, also took over some of the social functions which should be, by the Constitution, provided by the state. Rog stands and works where the state failed. All the activities and services in Rog are based on voluntary approach, and supported by donations.

The Rog Factory is a complex of five smaller buildings plus the main building and all of these constantly house various activities. People have invested their time in repairing the building, so now the whole area is filled with culture, music, sport, social, permacultural and other activities. Since we are in the middle of the exam period for the students, a study room with a library was also established recently. Everything is based on autonomy, solidarity and mutual help.

13346167_502553136604772_3706254730518214131_o

There were attempts to achieve a compromise, but the Municipality of Ljubljana constantly ignores the activities already taking place in the factory. Their goal is to stop these, since they oppose the capitalist ideas of gentrification of the centre of Ljubljana. The mayor wants a clean space, he wants tourists and established-art scene. In other words: he certainly wants to keep the economy going. Hence, his goal is eviction of the current users and demolition of all the buildings except the central one, which would, supposedly, be renewed. The City’s PR succeeded in portraying the community of Rog as outlaws to the general public, meaning the Mayor has some lay-support behind him, which presents a good example of horizontal hostility at work.

Right now, there is a constant, 24/7 presence of approximately one hundred people on the premises ― with a couple of hundred more on a constant stand-by ― willing to defend the cause. There are two dozen various daily activities in Rog, from exercise, language courses and radio station to music, theatre, art exhibitions and lectures. People, institutions and various collectives from Slovenia and abroad are sending their statements of support to the struggle of the Autonomous Rog Factory. Some of the well-established artists are preparing a big art exhibition within Rog premises. People are also travelling to Ljubljana to join the fight for Rog.

The community in Rog keeps emphasizing that the question of the Rog Factory is a political question. It certainly is. It is a prime example of the struggle for a better, anti-capitalist society, so it is very likely a growing precedent, opening a path to future struggles.

The happening in Rog can be followed through the very active Facebook page Ohranimo Tovarno Rog (Let’s protect the Rog Factory).

Editor’s note: At publication, we received word that the entrance of the Autonomous Centre was attacked by neo-Nazis on June 10.   A short description and call for support is posted here.  If you’re involved in the Rog Factory occupation please feel free to post comments below, or contact us at newsservice@deepgreenresistance.org.

Derrick Jensen: Democracy of Destruction

When the will of the people spells demise for the planet

By Derrick Jensen / Deep Green Resistance

The United States is not a democracy. It is more accurate to say we live in a plutocracy — a government of, by, and for the wealthy — or more accurate still, a kleptocracy — a government that has as its primary organizing principle theft, from the poor, from the land, from the future. Yet somehow we still often publicly speak and act as though we do live in a democracy.

But there exists a deeper problem than us not living in a democracy, an even deeper problem than our inability to acknowledge that we don’t live in a democracy, which is that there’s a very real way in which we do live in a democracy. And the implications of this are very bad news for the planet. The reason has to do not so much with how we are governed as with what we want, and what we do. If it’s true that, as someone said long ago, by their fruits ye shall know them, it quickly becomes clear that, to use my mother’s phrase, the majority of people in this country don’t give two hoots in a rain barrel about the health of the planet. Some examples should make this clear.

Let’s start with tigers. Not real tigers, not flesh-and-blood tigers, not tigers who are being driven extinct in the wild. But rather the Louisiana State University Tigers football team, currently ranked number one in the country. Last January, when LSU played Alabama for the college football championship, more than 78,000 people attended. The median ticket price was $1,565, and some seats were reported to have gone for as much as $10,000. The region was so excited about this football game that a number of schools closed in celebration. And of course the television audience was well over 24 million people. It was the second most watched program in cable television history.

All of which leads me to conclude that more people in this country care about the Tigers football team than living, breathing tigers. Obviously, you could make the same argument about the Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and on and on.

676e92c7617499472d8833b978d6c732
Siberian tigers

Now don’t get me wrong: I like sports. But ultimately what we’re talking about here is a game. Do you think we could have gotten schools to close or 70,000 people to gather to help clean up Louisiana’s beaches from the Gulf oil spill (and do it week after week, as they do for LSU football games, for New Orleans Saints football games — as they do almost daily in every city across the country for football, baseball, basketball, and on and on)? Or hell, do you think we could get schools to close or more than 70,000 people to gather week after week to try to do something about that same region’s Cancer Alley?

Another example: For one brief night a couple of years ago the northern California county where I live — Del Norte — became a vibrant and shining example of participatory democracy in action. But it wasn’t saving the redwoods or the die-off of amphibians or dam removal that got people to turn out en masse. It was a particularly controversial domesticated plant. You probably know that through popular vote the state of California legalized cannabis for medicinal use, and now the number of allowable plants is determined county by county. So when the Del Norte County supervisors were considering dropping that number from ninety-nine to six, people flooded the public input meeting and prevented it from happening. This is how participatory democracy is supposed to work: public “representatives” are supposed to carry out the will of The People, and those who try to do otherwise get voted out of office.

The point here is not whether marijuana should be legal, any more than it is whether Alabama beats LSU. The point is that I wish people cared as much about salmon as they do about marijuana, or football. But they don’t. If people collectively had to make a choice between living rivers and electricity from dams (and recreation on reservoirs, and the value of some people’s vacation homes), we can guess what they’d choose. In fact, we know what they already chose. The answer is evident in the 2 million dams in this country; in the 60,000 dams over thirteen feet tall; in the 70,000 dams over six and a half feet tall; and in collapsing mollusk populations, collapsing fish populations, and dying rivers and flood plains. If people collectively had to choose between iPods and mountain gorillas, we know which they would (and do) choose. If they collectively had to choose between laptops in their laps and human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we know that answer too.

You could say I’m comparing apples and oranges, but I’m really just talking about people’s priorities in action. By their fruits ye shall know them.

But it gets worse, because most people won’t acknowledge even to themselves that they’re making these choices. Any choices made long enough over time (on personal and especially social scales) stop feeling like choices and start feeling like economic imperatives or political inevitabilities or just the way things are. Too many people argue — or rather don’t argue but just blithely assume — that we don’t have to choose between living rivers and dams, that we don’t have to choose between a living planet and the industrial economy. But I’m not talking about wishful thinking here. I’m talking about reality, where, as Bill McKibben so frequently and eloquently points out, you can’t argue with physics. Millions of dams and hundreds of thousands of ruined rivers and streams later, we should all know this. Just as we should know that burning carbon-based substances releases carbon into the air; and just as we should know that items that require mined materials — iPods, laptops, windmills, solar photovoltaic cells, electrical grids, and on and on — require mines, which means they destroy landbases.

The notion that we needn’t choose, that we can have the “comforts or elegancies,” as one antebellum proslavery philosopher put it, of this way of life without the consequences of it, that we can have the goodies of empire (for us) without the horrors of empire (for the victims), that we can have an industrial economy without killing the planet is completely counterfactual. This notion can only be put forward by those who are either beneficiaries of, or identify with the beneficiaries of, these choices, which is to say those who do not primarily care for or identify with victims of these choices. This notion can only be put forward by those who have made themselves — consciously or not — oblivious to the suffering and indeed the actual existence of these victims. Which brings us back to how we really do live in a democracy. This failure of imagination — this failure to care — is one of the things that keep our incredibly destructive brand of democracy functioning. Without question, most people in this culture prefer their “comforts or elegancies” to a living planet, and so theft and rape and pillage are allowed to rule the day.

Upton Sinclair famously said that it’s hard to make a man understand something when his job depends on him not understanding it. I’d say here that it’s hard to make people care about something they receive tangible benefits from not caring about. This destructive democracy we share is a democracy where most people vote — through their actions and inactions, through their enacted passions, through what they care and don’t care about — with and for entitlements. Which is why, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we should go ahead and call it a kleptocracy. It is a democracy of, by, and for those who benefit from the wholescale destruction of the planet.

Derrick Jensen is the author of more than twenty books on the dominant culture and the environmental crisis. His latest book is The Myth of Human Supremacy.

Originally published in the May/June 2012 issue of Orion. Published online for the first time here.

Direct Action Journal: The Wound of Perpetual Guilt

By Will Falk / Deep Green Resistance

If fear is the mind killer, guilt is the heart killer. Experiencing guilt creates a wound. The wound is healed when the behavior producing the guilt is rectified. The scar that forms over the wound serves as a reminder to guide future behavior.

Living in a state of perpetual guilt, however, prevents the wound from ever healing. The wound festers. The guilt swells until it becomes an infection of empathy. The infected person devotes all her energy to coping with the constant pain of guilt. She spends all her time hunched over the wound, seeking to alleviate the pain. Focused on the wound like this, she cannot look beyond herself. A cycle develops. The guilt grows and becomes ever more painful. The pain strangles the infected’s capacity for empathy. Eventually, the infected loses her ability to act from a genuine concern for others and only acts to avoid the pain of more guilt.

The dominant culture produces this state of perpetual guilt for its members. One of the truly demonic characteristics of the dominant culture is that to survive we are forced to participate in the system that is destroying the planet. As long as this culture endures, our hands are soaked in blood.

It started long ago when some humans traded the long-term stability of true sustainability for myopic comfort. Agriculture developed. Grasslands and forests were destroyed for domesticated crops. Rivers were bled to death for the requisite water. And, climate change began.

dried up river

With a more reliable food source than hunter-gatherers, agricultural humans’ population exploded. Cities developed and civilization began. Eventually, cities stripped their land bases of the necessities of life and they were forced to denude ever larger regions of natural life to support their populations. This process is thousands of years old and countless communities have fallen prey to the destruction.

Civilization rages on and most of us live on lands where the human population long ago overshot the land’s ability to produce the requisite calories and nutrition to sustain us. Wildlife populations are collapsing. More water is being poisoned every day. We are losing topsoil at an insane pace.

To make things even worse, the dominant culture enforces a system of land ownership that transformed the natural world into mere resources that could be bought and sold. Those with the most power (read: money) may exclude the rest of us from accessing what we need to live. Even in places where there is still enough animal life, clean water, and topsoil to support humans in a sustainable manner, chances are someone “owns” that land. In other words, if we took to hunting “their” animals, drinking “their” water, foraging on “their” property, they will appeal to a governmental system to provide armed men to remove us.

So, we must follow their rules to get what we need. We must participate in this murderous system just to survive. In order to eat, we must have money to purchase the food from someone who owns the land where the food was produced or from someone who owns the store who imported the food from far away. In order to sleep, we must have money to pay someone rent for the privilege of using their shelter. In order to make this money, we must offer our labor to those who control the money.

When we sacrifice our time and our money to those in power their power becomes stronger. Their stranglehold on life gets tighter. The destruction of the world intensifies.

Many people, recognizing this, experience overwhelming guilt. They live with that open, festering wound. The wound destroys their empathy and they stop looking beyond themselves. All they want is to be free of the pain. All they want is peace of mind. And, in this quest for peace of mind, they work only for personal purity. They engage in merely personal solutions to global problems.

As they spend their time recycling, signing internet petitions, and carpooling to work, they huddle over their inflamed conscience, whispering to themselves, “At least, I am not destroying the planet.”

I understand their pain. I know what it feels like to want nothing more than to soothe the wound. I have experienced the willingness to do absolutely anything to silence the constant chatter of guilt. I internalized the guilt this culture forces on us so completely I sought to destroy the guilt by destroying myself. Twice.

***

The dominant culture has a vested interest in neutralizing people through guilt. If it can convince enough people that the evil is their fault and paralyze those people in a lifetime of emotional sorrow, then far less physical force is needed to subdue the masses.

Spirituality has proven a very effective means of instilling this guilt.

When I search through my earliest memories to the roots of my consciousness, I find the life-sized crucifix hanging behind the altar at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Newburgh, Indiana where I was baptized and attended Mass every Sunday in the beginning years of my life. Even the softening effect time has on memory cannot cloud the vivid clarity of the horror I see displayed there.

An emaciated man hangs by nails driven through his hands and feet into rough-hewn boards. A crown of thorns has been placed around his head, piercing his taut skin. Blood and sweat drip down his face. His eyes roll upwards as he looks for help from the sky. None comes.

The weight of his body on the nails in his hands tears the skin and bones in his palms. The same weight on the nails in his feet have curled his toes grotesquely against the wood. The man is suffocating. With each breath, he is forced to pull himself up against the nails in his hands and push against the nails in his feet. This makes the tearing worse. He pauses between each breath, each push and pull, caught between the desire to live, to take one more breath, and the reality of the pain accompanying each effort for each breath.

As if this struggle was not excruciating enough, I can see the black and blue swelling in the man’s thighs where his femurs have been broken to make it even more difficult to push up for oxygen. Then, I see a puncture wound in the man’s abdomen, under his ribcage. Someone has stuck a lance through his lungs and into his heart to ensure the man has finally died.

I feel deeply sorry for this man. My grandmother holds me in her lap beneath this scene as I ponder the intensity of the pain this poor man has felt. My grandmother looks from my eyes to the crucifix and a strange mix of sorrow and fear is reflected in her gaze.

“Who is that, Granny?” I ask.

“That’s Jesus Christ, our Savior,” she says.

The name and these words mean nothing to me. I am still only concerned with his pain. I cannot imagine why something this terrible would ever happen to someone. My only experience with the kinds of wounds I see on this Jesus are from needles in the syringes in shots doctors have given me.

I hate shots. I hate the way the needle first breaks through skin with a violent prick. I hate the sensation produced by the needle cutting through the grains of my muscle tissue. I shudder as I imagine the feeling of a whole lance pushing through my abdominal wall, grating against the bones forming my ribcage, and finally bursting into my heart.

“Why did they do that to him?” I ask in a whisper.

“He died for our sins,” my grandmother says. ‘Sins’ is another word I’ve never heard before.

“Oh. What are ‘sins’?”

“Sins are when you do something bad,” she explains. “Every time you do something bad, they drive another nail into him.”

This idea drives through me as surely as the nails. My mind recoils. “I don’t want them to hurt him anymore.”

“I know you don’t,” my grandmother comforts me. “Be a good boy, and they won’t have any reason to hurt him.” With this, the first poisons of overwhelming guilt trickled through my heart.

***

I attended Catholic elementary schools and a Catholic college. Whenever I forgot that life in this world is a life of suffering, I was referred back to a crucifix. I was taught that emotional pain is the cross humans must bear: the heavier the better. The completeness of my guilt was cemented when I was taught that all humans enter the world stained by original sin. Our mere existence was accompanied by guilt.

Guilt was an indication that I had harmed my relationship with God and I must never harm my relationship with God. Whenever I felt guilt, I was told I must repair my relationship with God or risk an eternity of suffering in Hell when I died. I was told I must never offend God. I must never do anything wrong and the only way I would know I was on the right path was to keep my conscience clean.

I left my Catholic faith in my early twenties, but the damage had been done. I had been convinced that I was fundamentally flawed. I killed the Catholic God of my youth, but countless other gods filled the void haunting me as they pointed out my failures. The wound was permanently opened and every action has the potential to scratch it.

Though I deserted the original source of my guilt – Catholicism – I still witnessed trauma daily. Trauma is another effective means to cause guilt. More than 40% of people diagnosed with PTSD, for example, report guilt associated with the traumatic events they’ve experienced. When survivors of trauma blame themselves for the trauma, they often paralyze their ability to act.

Even if the trauma is not happening directly to some of us, we are all surrounded by scenes of the destruction of the natural world. This indirect trauma has been named complex post-traumatic stress disorder by Harvard doctor, Judith Herman. Her research reveals that the guilt accompanying PTSD often accompanies complex PTSD, too.

The dominant culture has created a vicious, genius cycle. Trauma leads to guilt and guilts freezes the traumatized in inaction clearing the way for those in power to create more trauma.

***

My guilt has gotten so bad it solidifies as a recurring image in my mind. Guilt drags me into a bare, unfinished room. The floor is raw particle board. Splinters pierce any skin that touches the floor. No walls have been built to cover the studs holding the room’s roof up. Pink, fiberglass insulation – the kind that produces a scratching sensation just from seeing it – pokes out from the gaps between the studs.

There are two versions of me in the room. The first me is crumpled in the far corner of the room, shaking and weeping. Standing over this version of me is an angry me with a baseball bat. The me-with-the-bat is screaming accusations and questions. He knows my deepest shames.

“How could you ask your parents for money, again?” the question echoes off the walls.

The me-on-the-floor dares not answer, knows that no words will suffice. No rational explanation will alleviate the guilt. The me-on-the-floor rubs himself into the floors and scratches into the insulation. “If I can just show him how much I am suffering,” I tell myself, “the me-with-the bat will be satisfied.”

But, it doesn’t work. I’ve seen the image so many times, I can read the Louisville Slugger logo on the meat of the bat as it slams across my ribs.

“You don’t make any money,” the me-with-the-bat says with derision as he swings the bat over his head.

The me-on-the-floor is resigned to wait out the beating. His only move is to roll feebly from the blow as it clacks across his spine this time.

The me-with-the-bat only continues with my litany of shame.

“The world is burning, and what are you doing?” The bat strikes.

“Do you know how you hurt everyone when you tried to kill yourself?” Wood to bone.

“Depression? Why do you keep using that as an excuse?” Thud.

I hope that soon the bat will find my skull and grant me unconsciousness.

When my mind is consumed with this image, how can I practice empathy? When I am dodging the questions and fleeing the blows of that Louisville Slugger baseball bat, how do I find energy to love? Obviously, I cannot. The bat I hit myself with in my mind pacifies my resistance as surely as any police baton in the real world could. This is, of course, the point.

***

It has become clear to me that the me-with-the-bat must be destroyed. The baseball bat must be knocked from his hands forever. I must rise from the floor of that unfinished room and burn it to the ground.

The dominant culture that is murdering the planet and neutralizing those with hearts still alive enough to feel the guilt associated with participating in planetary murder must similarly be destroyed. The longer we wait, the deeper the guilt will cycle, the more pain we will feel, and the longer we will be divorced from love.

In my personal life, I am taking action to destroy the control guilt has over my life. I am seeing a therapist who is helping me practice resistance when guilt seeks to drag me into the unfinished room where it will beat me with my shame. I am taking medication that helps me cut cycles of guilt short before they consume me.

On the cultural level, I’ve been presented an opportunity to stand alongside those serious about stopping the destruction. I will attend Extraction Resistance: A 3-Day Training in Direct Action to learn how to apply more than personal solutions to global problems.

***

The modern environmental movement is said to have started close to 60 years ago. In that time, the situation has only gotten worse. A primary reason the movement is failing is too many environmentalists are relying on personal solutions to stop global problems. We are not going to save the planet by using more efficient light bulbs. We are not going to save the planet by carpooling to work. We are not going to save the planet by eating a strictly vegan diet. Hell, we are not going to save the planet by eating strictly anything.

We’ve tried to reduce, reuse, and recycle our way to a sustainable future for 6 decades and the destruction of that future has only intensified. We need more than personal lifestyle changes. We need more than personally responsible consumption habits. We need organized, militant, direct action.

One of the reasons the environmental movement is failing is the dominant culture holds many of us in cycles of guilt. Blinded by guilt, many of us have become consumed by our own pain. Our world shrinks to the realm of our individual actions. We desire the false peace of mind that we’ve convinced ourselves comes when we can claim we are not personally involved in the destruction. We act only to feel better.

When we are stuck in our own minds, we tend to think that the problem is solved when we can put our minds at ease. But, the problem is not simply mental. The dominant culture is physically destroying the planet. When we rise above our guilt and look beyond ourselves, we will recognize that those countless others who give us life do not need our guilt, they do not need us to maintain our personal purity, they do not need our peace of mind. They need us to stop the destruction of the planet.

When we stop the destruction of the planet, we will recover our empathy. We will act from love instead of the fear of pain. And, the wound of guilt will be free to heal.

India: the last Afro-Asians are being forced into civilization

By Alexandre Dereims / Organic the Jarawas 

Images copyright by Claire Beilvert

The Jarawa are hunters-gatherers. They have been living on the Indian Andaman Islands for thousands and thousands of years. According to recent studies, they are believed to have taken part in the very first human migrations from Africa to the rest of the world, some 70,000 years ago. And they first encountered Indian citizens only a decade ago. Since then, their situation has severely deteriorated. Women have been abducted and raped by Indians. The Jarawa have lodged several complaints to the Andaman authorities, to no avail.

The Jarawa are also victims of human safaris, organised by local tour operators. These safaris are taking place along the Andaman Truck Road, which was built illegally and cuts through the Jarawa’s territory. Dozens of vehicles, escorted by Indian armed forces, take it every day to photograph the Jarawa. Yet, it is forbidden to enter their territory, subject to prison sentences.

Screenshot (182)

In 2013, Andaman MP Bishnu Pada Ray had even stated in the press that the Jarawa had expressed the desire to join the Indian community. But until now, no one has ever asked them if this was the case.

Alexandre Dereims, a French journalist, and Claire Beilvert, a French press photographer, succeeded in meeting them to ask them that question. They bypassed the ban on entering the reserve. They took every precaution to keep from transmitting diseases to them. The Jarawa allowed them to stay a few days with them to conduct interviews. For the very first time, members of this endangered people are speaking to the outside world.

They told them their story of their foreseeable disappearance, of forceful assimilation. Soon, the starving Jarawa will have no choice but to leave their territory and beg for food along the road. Journalists are sounding the alarm. New Delhi has recently decided to turn Port Blair, the capital city of the Andaman Islands, into the largest port on the Indian Ocean. The nationalist government led by Narendra Modi wants to enhance the tourism potential of these islands, which have become as popular as the Seychelles or the Maldives for the new Indian middle class. It is urgent to ponder about the survival of the most ancient people of Asia. The Indian government is already responsible for the disappearance of the Bo and the Onges, two others afro-asian people of the Andaman islands.

Journalists have launched an online petition to demand that the Indian government enforce the 2013 Supreme Court order to close the Andaman Truck Road. They also demand that the Jarawa’s territory be fully protected and that the AAJVS provide regular communication regarding the situation of the Jarawa people.

Link: http://bit.ly/savethejarawa

Website: http://www.organicthejarawa.com

May news round-up

Deep Green Resitance activity since our last news round-up:

Hoopa Valley Tribe: San Luis Settlement Agreement will “Condemn Tribe to Poverty”

By  / Intercontinental Cry

On May 24, the Hoopa Valley Tribe from Northern California filed its objection to two bills proposed in the House of Representatives to implement the controversial San Luis Settlement Agreement, saying the agreement would “forever condemn the Tribe to poverty.”

The Tribe filed its complaint prior to a hearing on the two bills, H.R. 4366 (Rep. David Valadao) and H.R. 5217 (Rep. Jim Costa, D-CA), held by the U.S. House of Representative Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans.

“Our Tribe is an indispensable party to this settlement,” said Chairman Ryan Jackson, in a press release. “We notified Congress and the Bush and Obama Administrations on numerous occasions over the past several years of our concerns. Though we have been mostly ignored, rest assured, this legislation will not advance in absence of protection of our interests.”

The invited witnesses were John Bezdek , Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior; Tom Birmingham, General Manager, Westlands Water District; Jerry Brown, General Manager, Contra Costa Water District; Steve Ellis, Vice-President, Taxpayers for Common Sense; and Dennis Falaschi, General Manager, Panoche Water District.

Notably, the Committee did not invite those most directly impacted by the deal. These include the leaders of the Hoopa Valley, Yurok, Karuk, Winnemem Wintu and other Tribes, commercial and recreational fishermen, family farmers and others whose livelihoods have been imperiled by decades of exports of Trinity, Sacramento and San Joaquin River water to corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

Jackson said the Settlement Agreement contains Central Valley Project (CVP) water supply assurances for 895,000 acre feet of water for the Westlands Water District that originate from the Trinity River, a watershed that the Tribe “has depended for its fishery, economy and culture since time immemorial.”

Michael Orcutt, Hoopa Tribal Fisheries Director, said, “It is a travesty that the pristine waters of the Trinity Alps that have nurtured our people have been diverted from their natural course, sent 400 miles from our homeland and converted into toxic industrial waste by agribusiness in the Central Valley.”

“What makes this worse is that the destruction of our water quality was aided and abetted by our Federal Trustee, the Department of the Interior,” said Self-Governance Coordinater Daniel Jordan.

Instead of ensuring that existing law is enforced for the Tribe’s benefit, the Tribe said the United States government has “focused its energy on escaping federal liability for the generations of mismanagement of the reclamation program.”

The Tribe said it has the first right of use of Trinity River water under the 1955 federal statute that authorized the Trinity River Division of the CVP, but the San Luis Unit settlement and legislation as proposed ignores this priority right held by the Tribe.

“The Secretary of the Interior and Attorney General are blatantly ignoring our rights and the Congressionally-mandated responsibility of the Bureau of Reclamation to furnish the water necessary for fish and wildlife and economic development in the Trinity River Basin,” stated Orcutt.

The Tribe’s testimony includes a proposal for settlement of the drainage issue that also provides for long overdue fair treatment of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. “If Congress approves our proposals, the Hupa people would finally get a long overdue measure of justice,” according to the Tribe.

“Our culture and economy have been devastated by the federal government’s mismanagement of the Central Valley Project and the San Luis Unit contractors’ ongoing assaults on our rights to Trinity River water,” said Jackson, “Now is the time to end the fighting and begin the long process of recovery.”

A coalition of fishing groups, conservation organizations, Delta farmers, Tribal leaders and environmental justice advocates is opposing the bills. Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, said U.S. taxpayers, and Californians in particular, should be “alarmed” that H.R. 4366 and H.R. 5217 (Rep. Jim Costa, D-CA) are moving forward.

“The settlement agreement reached in September 2015 between the Obama Administration and these large industrial agricultural, special-interest water districts, will result in a $300 million taxpayer giveaway without addressing or solving the extreme water pollution these irrigation districts discharge into the San Joaquin River, and ultimately, the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. It is exactly these types of taxpayer giveaways to corporations that have incensed voters in both parties this election year,” said Barrigan-Parrilla in a statement.

The objections filed by the Hoopa Valley Tribe on May 24 come just a week after the Tribe filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and NOAA Fisheries for violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to adequately protect salmon on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

“Failure by these federal agencies to reinitiate consultation on the flawed 2013 Klamath Project Biological Opinion (BiOp) will simply add to the millions of sick and dead juvenile salmon already lost due to the Klamath Irrigation Project. High infection prevalence of the deadly salmon parasite Ceratomyxa nova has been directly linked to the Project and its effect upon natural flows in the river,” according to a statement from the Tribe.

“The juvenile fish kills in 2014 and 2015, while not as noticeable to the naked eye as dead adults on the banks, are as devastating to Hupa people as the 2002 adult fish kill,” said Chairman Ryan Jackson.

Meanwhile, the Brown and Obama administrations are pushing a plan that threatens the San Francisco Bay-Delta and Klamath and Trinity rivers, the California Water Fix to build the Delta Tunnels. The plan would hasten the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River winter run Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and green sturgeon, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

Conservation groups sue USDA Wildlife Services over Idaho wolf kill

Featured image: School children in Montana pose with wolves that Wildlife Services killed with aerial gunning

By Predator Defense

Five conservation groups filed a lawsuit in federal court today challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services’ killing of gray wolves in Idaho.

The agency killed at least 72 wolves in Idaho last year, using methods including foothold traps, wire snares that strangle wolves, and aerial gunning from helicopters.

The agency has used aerial gunning in central Idaho’s “Lolo zone” for several years in a row — using planes or helicopters to run wolves to exhaustion before shooting them from the air, often leaving them wounded to die slow, painful deaths. The agency’s environmental analysis from 2011 is woefully outdated due to changing circumstances, including new recreational hunting and trapping that kills hundreds of wolves in Idaho each year, and significant changes in scientific understanding of wolves and ecosystem functions.

Wildlife Services does most of its wolf-killing at the behest of the livestock industry, following reports of livestock depredation. For example, five wolves were killed outside of Hailey, Idaho in July 2015 for allegedly attacking sheep. Documents indicate that Wildlife Services has even attempted to kill wolves in the newly-designated Boulder-White Clouds Wildernesses. But Wildlife Services does not consider whether livestock owners took common-sense precautionary measures to avoid conflicts with wolves such as lambing indoors.

“Wildlife Service’s wolf-killing program is senseless, cruel, and impoverishes our wild country,” said Travis Bruner of Western Watersheds Project. “Killing wolves for private livestock interests is wrong, especially on public lands, where wildlife deserves to come first. In addition, new science shows that it does not reduce conflicts long-term.”

“Wildlife Services has never even bothered to consider how much mortality a healthy wolf population can handle,” said Andrea Santarsiere of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Recent research indicates the state may be overestimating wolf populations — something Wildlife Services must consider before killing more wolves.”

“It is long past time that we base wildlife management decisions on the best available science, not on antiquated, disproven anti-wolf rhetoric,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director 2 for WildEarth Guardians. “Wildlife Services needs to come out of the shadows, update its analyses and adopt practices in keeping with modern science and values about the ethical treatment of animals.”

The agency also kills wolves for the purported benefit of elk herds, including in the Lolo zone.

“The campaign waged against the Lolo’s native wolves in the name of elk is reprehensible. Science shows that the elk decline there is due to long-term, natural-habitat changes, not impacts from wolves,” said Gary Macfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater. “It is particularly galling that Wildlife Services is targeting wolves that mostly live in Wildernesses or large roadless areas. These, especially, are places where wolves should be left alone.”

“Wildlife Services, formerly called Animal Damage Control, has been criticized for over fifty years by some of our nation’s leading predator biologists. It has a long, documented history of violating state and federal laws, and even its own directives,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense. “Idahoans and the American public deserve a guarantee that federal programs like Wildlife Services are using the most up-to-date scientific information available.”

The five conservation organizations are asking the court to order Wildlife Services to cease wolfkilling activities until it prepares an up-to-date environmental analysis of its wolf-killing program. The groups — Western Watersheds Project, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater, WildEarth Guardians and Predator Defense — are represented by Advocates for the West and Western Watersheds Project attorneys. Read the complaint here.

 

Conflict Soy: if you think soy is a healthy alternative to the meat and dairy industry, think again

Featured image: Combine harvesters crop soybeans during a demonstration for the press, in Campo Novo do Parecis, Brazil, on March 27, 2012.  By Phys.org.

By  / Intercontinental Cry

Soy has become quite fashionable as a “wonder food.” Praised for its nutritional values, soy has the highest protein content of any bean making it a favorite among vegans, animal defenders and even young hipsters who swear by their morning soy latte. For many, however, soy is an ethical and political choice. By switching to soy, we get to spare our bodies and the planet from the harmful effects of the meat and dairy industry, its extensive use of antibiotics and its heavy contribution to the ever-growing climate crisis.

The problem is, soy production is a veritable criminal enterprise. The impressive bean that so many of us love is grown by multinational corporations that poison soil and water with toxic agrochemicals. What’s more, the bean is a Monsanto genetically modified crop the full impacts of which are still unknown. Soy is also used extensively by livestock producers alongside genetically modified corn as a base for animal feed. On top of this toxic burden, the soy agribusiness industry expropriates Indigenous Peoples. Also it destroys forests. And, like the meat and dairy industry, it’s fueling the climate crisis.

Let’s take a closer look at these four interrelated reasons why we need to move away from soy, in its many forms.

1) THE EXPANSION OF SOY MONOCULTURE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MASSIVE DEFORESTATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Growing soy requires vast extensions of land. In fact, it requires so much land that  soy monoculture a leading factor in the destruction of the world’s biodiversity. Soy farms now cover more than one million square kilometers of the world – the total combined area of France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The soy agriculture industry is having an especially devastating impact in Amazonia but also in the Cerrado and the Chaco. Almost 4 million hectares of forests are destroyed every year, 2.6 million in Brazil alone, the world’s leading soy producer.

Compounding this rampant devastation, when forests are transformed into farmland, soil quality deteriorates, leading to increased pollution, increased flooding and increased sedimentation that can clog waterways. This can cause a significant decline in fish populations and other life. Agrochemical residues degrade soil even further, along with the local water table and natural processes such as pollination. Such loss of biodiversity is a key factor of climate change.

2) THE GLOBAL SOY INDUSTRY HAS INDIGENOUS BLOOD ON ITS HANDS

The expansion of soy is made possible through land grabbing and by provoking land conflicts. Indigenous Peoples are often the main victims of this expropriation and dispossession and are often forced into urban poverty as a result. Indigenous resistance, however, is brutally repressed.

In Brazil, the Kaiowá-Guarani peoples have denounced over three hundred assassinations. Indigenous peoples defending their land are being killed by private militias hired by large soy corporations like Raizen, Breyfuss, Bunge, Syngenta and the French-Swiss Louis Dreyfus Commodities. “The soy you consume is stained with Guarani Kaiowá blood,” said Valdelice Veron, the daughter of cacique killed by a soy producer in 2003.

One emblematic case was the brutal homicide of a young leader in the state of Mato Grosso in 2014. Marinalva Kaiowá was stabbed 35 times only two weeks after defending the demarcation of Guyraroká lands in a court ruling at the federal Supreme Court in Brasilia. Her killing is, unfortunately, no exception. It is emblematic of a larger massacre. The Kaiowá-Guarani have a homicide rate nearly 500 times higher than the Brazilian average, exceeding that of countries at war.

One in two assassinations of Indigenous peoples in Brazil is related to the expansion of soy. The state of Mato Grosso do Sul, the world’s largest producer of soy, concentrates nearly 55 % of indigenous homicides in Brazil. Historian Marcelo Zelic told a special parliamentary commission that the state accounted for 377 of the 687 recorded cases of Indigenous peoples killed between 2003 and 2014. In other words, the state at the heart of soy’s agribusiness has a rate of Indigenous homicides three times higher than all other Brazilian states together.

Soy expansion is also forcing Indigenous peoples into smaller territories. There are 24 Indigenous territories in Mato Grosso do Sul, but lands for non-Indigenous peoples is 4 inhabitants per sq kilometers, 96 per sq/km for Terena Indians, and 34 per sq/km for the Guarani-Kaiowá.

The expansion of soy on Indigenous territories is feeding a devastating death toll and governments are often accomplice. In Brazil, Congress pleased the soy sector with a new bill (PEC 215) facilitating the redefinition of previously demarcated Indigenous territories into farmland. The law, accused of being unconstitutional, was designed to pursue an even more aggressive expropriation of Indigenous lands in Amazonia.

3) SOY IS A BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY THAT CONCENTRATES LAND AND ACCENTUATES INEQUALITY

Make no mistake. Soy is a massive commercial enterprise that is controlled by a few major landowners and corporations that don’t have our best interests at heart. In Brazil, many farms average 1,000 ha and some reach 50,000 ha (for the soccer aficionados out there, that is about 70,000 soccer fields). In Argentina, the world’s third producer after the USA, soy has replaced small farming, provoking rural migration to the cities and the disappearance of small towns in the Chaco region.

There are no labor benefits either. Since land is concentrated into the hands of few, mechanization drastically reduces farm jobs. When there is labor, it is prone to abuse. For instance, Greenpeace has documented workers being duped into coming to ranches where their papers are taken away and they are forced to work in soy farms.

4) SOY IS PLAIN BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Most soybeans are genetically modified to tolerate agrochemical farming, which means they are not only nutritionally inferior but also contain toxic chemicals. While there is little scientific data available on the physiological impacts of GMOs on the human body, GMO soy production is dependent on the heavy use of chemicals that poison our bodies and the environment. A study in Brazil’s Mato Grosso, for example, tested 62 samples of breast milk and found traces of one or more toxic agrochemicals in each and every sample. Not surprisingly, a documentary investigating the impacts of growing soy in South America to feed factory farms in Europe is called Killing Fields.

Monsanto crops have poisoned Argentina. The country’s entire soy crop is genetically modified which has skyrocketed the need for agrochemicals. Today, Argentine farmers apply an estimated 4.3 pounds of agrochemical concentrate per acre, more than twice what farmers in the U.S. rely on. The arrival of Monsanto crops brought birth defects and high rates of cancer among the rural population. But it doesn’t end there.  Argentina  exports most of its soy to Europe. If you live in Europe, chances are your morning soy latte and that tasty slice of in-house tofu cheesecake you had at lunch is made with Monsanto crops farmed in Argentina.

It’s almost impossible to avoid GM soy these days. Since it was first introduced in 1996, GM soy now dominates the industry comprising some 90% of all soy production. Countries like Argentina and the United States rely almost entirely on GM soy. More than a few local organic soybean businesses have collapsed because their soybeans were allegedly accidentally contaminated with patented strains of GM soy. Some claim that just 0.1% of world production is certified organic soy.

Soy is everywhere and we often eat it without our knowledge or consent. The overwhelming majority of the global soy production (80%) goes to feed animals, especially chickens and pigs, which means we are eating it too. The same goes for dairy products, since soy is also used in cattle feed. Soy is also the second most consumed oil in the world (after palm oil). If you check the labels in your kitchen cupboards you’re bound to find it.

It’s laudable to boycott the global cattle industry for its many harms to the earth, but we cannot reject one contaminating industry to endorse another. That is, unless our goal is to perpetrate a fraud at the expense of Indigenous Peoples, ecosystems and our own bodies.

If that’s not the sort of thing you can stomach we have no choice but to go conflict free. It’s not easy; but, then, nothing good in life ever is.

Strategic activism