News Round-Up: DGR excerpt, Direct Action Spokane, Brexit, and Join the Resistance

Decolonizing My Brown Body

By Terese Mailhot / Indian Country Today Media Network

My auntie says there’s a direct connection between violence against the earth and violence against Indigenous women. I think of my own brown body when she says this, and how it was damaged in childhood and adolescence. My memories feel stolen like the land, stripped like the languages, and entrapped like the bones of our ancestors in government storage.

I’ve spent the last year remembering abuse my father inflicted, and it’s been tough for my brothers, my sister, my babies, and my husband. I spent the morning asking my brother what he can remember, and piecing those fragments to my own. Still, there’s no clear image of the exact chaos my father created. One brother can remember the house turned upside down when he left, another can only remember it might be best to forget, and my loving sister can only say Dad was sadistic. I am unwilling to empathize with him, even though he was emasculated by the government as an Indian man, abused as a child, and institutionalized.

I used to think it was ethnocentric to say Natives didn’t experience abuse before colonialism. I’m on the fence about the topic, still, but I’m willing to make the conceit that sexuality wasn’t contextualized the way it is now as when my nation was thriving. Western construct, the bourgeoisie, and European culture invented the concepts of pedophilia and sexual abuse, so who’s to say that they didn’t also invent the acts. Whether Indigenous children or women experienced sexual violence before colonization is debatable, but I think the debate is sullied by Western thought and colonization, like so many things.

I feel like there’s a direct connection between the memories that feel stolen from me and the land Indigenous people grieve for. Within colonial log transcript, one will find that sexual violence pervaded Indigenous communities as a means to sublimate and de-humanize the people. How could the violence inflicted upon me be removed from this? It feels inherited. I’m not a soft-hearted woman who would say my father hurt women because someone hurt him, but I can say without question that I have been hurt by men because of the historical violence against Indigenous women. Just like the categorization of sexuality sprouted from Western thought, so did sexual violence as a means to colonize. Violence against Indigenous women is too common. The sexualization of Indigenous women is familiar to all North Americans. The “squaw,” and “savage,” imagery remains constant within our society. Colonization was successful in its ability to invite the degradation of our women. It’s practically promoted. One only has to observe the way Indigenous women go missing in Canada to see how prevalent the issue is.

I had panic attacks when I first started remembering. My bones felt immovable, and my eyes felt obscene in the light of day, and my body felt dirty. There’s a connection looming in my mind between the countless artifacts our government and museums have excavated from Indigenous lands and how much my memories feel locked away. The truth of my life, my memory, can’t be found within white institutions like hospitals. It can only be found beneath the iconography and stories of my culture. There’s a story that women where I’m from were given two items when they could speak: a club and a fishing weir. One item to protect, and another to provide. When the girl speaks with her items for the first time, she declares that she has a club and a weir, and asks the world which they want from her. Women where I’m from must protect themselves and provide for the community. After Indian boarding school, our communities stopped practicing the ceremony. Women were left clubless when the club was crucial. Through decolonization, the story has been excavated and a metaphorical club has been given to me.

I stand with my club, and carry the ability to nourish my children, my family, and my community. The connection for me is as irrefutable as my body, which can be broken, subject to discrimination, ignorance and judgment. The connection between my body and my land is one of the few things colonialism couldn’t take from me. As I journey towards reconciliation with my body, I feel like I am no longer invisible, and that I am taking up space within a continuum of historical erasure.

Terese Marie Mailhot is from Seabird Island Indian Band. Her work has been featured in The James Franco Review, The Offing, and Yellow Medicine Review. She’s a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts and she is a Discovery Fellowship recipient.

 

Investigating the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project

By Intercontinental Cry

Lake Turkana Wind Power is the largest private investment in Kenya’s history. Danish and international companies and investors have already sunk millions of euros into the project. But they now await a court decision that will determine whether the land on which the turbines will be built was illegally acquired.

Most communities in Lake Turkana approve of the wind power project, but there are claims from the Turkana, Samburu, Rendile and El Molo that the consortium behind the project failed to carry out consultations prior to acquiring land in 2007. The consortium, meanwhile, claims that 3 out of 4 tribes in the project are not Indigenous Peoples. The consortium also denies any wrongdoing, claiming that the plaintiffs in the ongoing court case do not represent the Turkana, Samburu, Rendile and El Molo.

The independent media and research center Danwatch recently visited Northern Kenya to get a closer look at the impacts of Kenya’s largest-ever private investment.

Read the entire Danwatch investigation here

Time is Short: Reasoning to Resistance

15 Realities of our Global Environmental Crisis

By Deep Green Resistance

  1. Industrial civilization is not, and can never be, sustainable.

Any social system based on the use of non-renewable resources is by definition unsustainable. Non-renewable means it will eventually run out. If you hyper-exploit your non-renewable surroundings, you will deplete them and die. Even for your renewable surroundings like trees, if you exploit them faster than they can regenerate, you will deplete them and die. This is precisely what civilization has been doing for its 10,000-year campaign – running through soil, rivers, and forests as well as metal, coal, and oil.

  1. Industrial civilization is causing a global collapse of life.

Due to industrial civilization’s insatiable appetite for growth, we have exceeded the planet’s carrying capacity. Once the carrying capacity of an area is surpassed, the ecological community is severely damages, and the longer the overshoot lasts, the worse the damage, until the population eventually collapses. This collapse is happening now. Every 24 hours up to 200 species become extinct. 90% of the large fish in the oceans are gone. 98% of native forests, 99% of wetlands, and 99% of native grasslands have been wiped out in the US.

bossen-wereldwijd-steeds-verder-gefragmenteerd-

  1. Industrial civilization is based on and requires ongoing systematic violence to operate.

This way of life is based on the perceived right of the powerful to take whatever resources they want. All land on which industrial civilization is now based on land that was taken by force from its original inhabitants, and shaped using processes – industrial forestry, mining, smelting – that violently shape the world to industrial ends. Traditional communities do not often voluntarily give up or sell resources on which their communities and homes are based and do not willingly allow their landbases to be damaged so that other resources – gold, oil, and so on – can be extracted. It follows that those who want the resources will do what they can to acquire these resources by any means necessary. Resource extraction cannot be accomplished without force and exploitation.

  1. In order for the world as we know it to exist on a day-to-day basis, a vast and growing degree of destruction and death must occur.

Industrialization is a process of taking entire communities of living beings and turning them into commodities and dead zones. Trace every industrial artifact back to its source­ and you find the same devastation: mining, clear-cuts, dams, agriculture, and now tar sands, mountaintop removal, and wind farms. These atrocities, and others like them, happen all around us, every day, just to keep things running normally. There is no kinder, greener version of industrial civilization that will do the trick of leaving us a living planet.

  1. This way of being is not natural.

Humans and their immediate evolutionary predecessors lived sustainably for at least a million years. It is not “human nature” to destroy one’s habitat. The “centralization of political power, the separation of classes, the lifetime division of labor, the mechanization of production, the magnification of military power, the economic exploitation of the weak, and the universal introduction of slavery and forced labor for both industrial and military purposes”[1] are only chief features of civilization, and are constant throughout its history.

  1. Industrial civilization is only possible with cheap energy.

The only reason industrial processes such as large-scale agriculture and mining even function is because of cheap oil; without that, industrial processes go back to depending on slavery and serfdom, as in most of the history of civilization.

  1. Peak oil, and hence the era of cheap oil, has passed.

Peak oil is the point at which oil production hits its maximum rate. Peak oil has passed and extraction will decline from this point onwards. This rapid decline in the availability of global energy will result in increasing economic disruption and upset. The increasing cost and decreasing supply of energy will undermine manufacturing and transportation and cause global economic turmoil. Individuals, companies, and even states will go bankrupt. International trade will nosedive because of a global depression. The poor will be unable to cope with the increasing cost of basic goods, and eventually the financial limits will result in large-scale energy-intensive manufacturing becoming impossible – resulting in, among other things – the collapse of agricultural infrastructure, and the associated transportation and distribution network.

At this point in time, there are no good short-term outcomes for global human society. The collapse of industrial civilization is inevitable, with or without our input, it’s just a matter of time. The problem is that every day the gears of this destructive system continue grinding is another day it wages war on the natural world. With up to 200 species and more than 80,000 acres of rainforest being wiped out daily as just some of the atrocities occurring systematically to keep our lifestyles afloat, the sooner this collapse is induced the better.

  1. “Green technologies” and “renewable energy” are not sustainable and will not save the planet.

Solar panels and wind turbines aren’t made out of nothing.  These “green” technologies are made out of metals, plastics, and chemicals. These products have been mined out of the ground, transported vast distances, processed and manufactured in big factories, and require regular maintenance. Each of these stages causes widespread environmental destruction, and each of these stages is only possible with the mass use of cheap energy from fossil fuels. Neither fossil fuels nor mined minerals will ever be sustainable; by definition, they will run out. Even recycled materials must undergo extremely energy-intensive production processes before they can be reused.[2]

1280px-Havvindparken_Sheringham_Shoal

  1. Personal consumption habits will not save the planet.

Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption for organized political resistance. Personal consumption habits — changing light bulbs, going vegan, shorter showers, recycling, taking public transport — have nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet. Besides, 90% of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. Three quarters of energy is consumed and 95% of waste is produced by commercial, industrial, corporate, agricultural and military industries. By blaming the individual, we are accepting capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers, reducing our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming.

  1. There will not be a mass voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living.

The current material systems of power make any chance of significant social or political reform impossible. Those in power get too many benefits from destroying the planet to allow systematic changes which would reduce their privilege. Keeping this system running is worth more to them than the human and non-human lives destroyed by the extraction, processing, and utilization of natural resources.

  1. We are afraid.

The primary reason we don’t resist is because we are afraid. We know if we act decisively to protect the places and creatures we love or if we act decisively to stop corporate exploitation of the poor, that those in power will come down on us with the full power of the state. We can talk all we want about how we live in a democracy, and we can talk all we want about the consent of the governed. But what it really comes down to is that if you effectively oppose the will of those in power, they will try to kill you. We need to make that explicit so we can face the situation we’re in: those in power are killing the planet and they are exploiting the poor, and we are not stopping them because we are afraid. This is how authoritarian regimes and abusers work: they make their victims and bystanders afraid to act.

  1. If we only fight within the system, we lose.

Things will not suddenly change by using the same approaches we’ve been using for the past 30 years. When nothing is working to stop or even slow the destruction’s acceleration, then it is time to change your strategy. Until now, most of our tactics and discourse (whether civil disobedience, writing letters and books, carrying signs, protecting small patches of forest, filing lawsuits, or conducting scientific research) remain firmly embedded in whatever actions are authorized by the overarching structures that permit the destruction in the first place.

Strip_coal_mining

  1. Dismantling industrial civilization is the only rational, permanent solution.

Our strategies until now have failed because neither our violent nor nonviolent responses are attempts to rid us of industrial civilization itself. By allowing the framing conditions to remain, we guarantee a continuation of the behaviors these framing conditions necessitate. If we do not put a halt to it, civilization will continue to immiserate the vast majority of humans and to degrade the planet until it (civilization, and probably the planet) collapses. The longer we wait for civilization to crash – or we ourselves bring it down – the messier will be the crash, and the worse things will be for those humans and nonhumans who live during it, and for those who come after.

  1. Militant resistance works.

Study of past social insurgencies and resistance movements shows that specific types of asymmetric warfare strategies are extremely effective.

  1. We must build a culture of resistance.

Some things, including a living planet, that are worth fighting for at any cost, when other means of stopping the abuses have been exhausted. One of the good things about industrial civilization being so ubiquitously destructive, is that no matter where you look – no matter what your gifts, no matter where your heart lies – there’s desperately important work to be done. Some of us need to file timber sales appeals and lawsuits. Some need to help family farmers or work on other sustainable agriculture issues. Some need to work on rape crisis hot lines, or at battered women’s shelters. Some need to work on fair trade, or on stopping international trade altogether. Some of us need to take down dams, oil pipelines, mining equipment, and electrical infrastructure.

We need to fight for what we love, fight harder than we have ever thought we could fight, because the bottom line is that any option in which industrial civilization remains, results in a dead planet.

 

Parts of this article were drawn from Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet, by Aric McBay, Lierre Keith, and Derrick Jensen. If you want to help fight back, we recommend reading the book, browsing our list of ideas for taking action on your own, or volunteering with or joining Deep Green Resistance.

[1] Lewis Mumford, Myth of the Machine, Volume 2,  Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970, page 186.

[2] Recycled materials also usually degrade over time, limiting their recycling potential.

Is The Ideology Of The Transgender Movement Open To Debate?

By Robert Jensen / Voice Male Magazine

A few weeks after I had published online a critique of the ideology of the trans movement, I was at lunch with a friend who has long been part of various movements for racial, economic, and gender justice and works as a diversity coordinator at a nearby university.

The meeting came on the heels of a local activist bookstore denouncing me in an email to its listserv, which had led to tense conversations with some comrades. At the end of lunch, my friend hesitantly brought up the controversy, and I got ready to hear her critique of my writing.

Instead, she leaned forward and said, “I don’t dare say this in public, but I agree with you.”

It was reassuring to know that someone whose work I respected shared my analysis. But it was disheartening to be reminded that a progressive/liberal orthodoxy on trans issues has left many people afraid to speak.

Most people involved in feminist movements know how bitter the trans debate has become, and those of us who identify with radical feminist principles are used to being labeled transphobic TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist), sometimes even accused of supporting a climate of violence against trans people. My goal here is not to assign responsibility for the breakdown of dialogue, but to point out one consequence of this state of affairs: Many people are afraid not only to disagree with the trans movement’s policy positions but even to ask questions about the underlying claims.

I have condensed into a question, a challenge, and a concern what I believe are the most important points in the trans debate.

The Question

If the claim of trans people is that they were born into one biological sex category, such as male, but are actually female, what does that mean? Is it a claim that reproduction based sex categories are an illusion? That one can have a female brain (whatever that means) in a body with male genitalia? That there is a non-material soul that can be of one sex but in the body of the other sex? I struggle to understand what the claim means, and to date I have read no coherent account and am aware of no coherent theory to explain it. (Note: The concerns of a people born intersex are distinct, raising issues different from the trans movement.)

The Challenge

If the claim of trans people is that they were socialized into one gender category, such as man/masculinity, but feel constrained by the category or feel more comfortable in the norms of the other category— that I can understand, partly as a result of my own negative experiences with the culture’s rigid, repressive, and reactionary gender norms. But those norms are the product of patriarchy, which means we need feminist critiques of patriarchy to escape the gender trap. While some in the trans movement identify as feminists, others embrace traditional gender norms, and in my estimation the movement as a whole does not embrace a feminist critique of institutionalized male dominance.

The Concern

As one pro-trans writer put it after reviewing the dramatic interventions into the body that happen in sex-reassignment surgery— which involves the destruction of healthy tissue—“It can seem and feel as if one is at war with one’s body.” Is this procedure, along with the use of hormones—including puberty-blockers in children— consistent with an ecological worldview that takes seriously the consequences of dramatic human interventions into organisms and ecosystems? With so little known about the etiology of trans, is the surgical/chemical approach warranted? I have developed these ideas in more detail in online essays (details below), which I hope people will read and consider, and I am working on a book that puts these issues in the context of a broader critique of patriarchy and the politics of rape/sexualized violence, prostitution/pornography, and trans.

The pornography issue was where I first encountered the splits between radical feminism and liberal/postmodern feminisms; a radical critique of the sex industry, in which men buy or rent objectified female bodies for sexual pleasure, often got one labeled a SWERF (Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminist), as if a critique of institutionalized male dominance was nothing more than an attack on vulnerable women.

Is sex reassignment surgery consistent with an ecological worldview that takes seriously the consequences of dramatic human interventions into organisms and ecosystems?

 

But I continue to believe that a focus on systems of oppression is essential. Since my first exposure to radical feminism in the 1980s, I have been convinced that such feminist intellectual and political projects are crucial not only to the struggle for gender justice but for any kind of decent human future.

Is reasoned and principled argument, within and between movements and political perspectives, possible? In some settings, the answer these days appears to be “no.” For example, when I submitted a piece (see “Feminism Unheeded” below) to a website that had previously published my work, I warned the editors that it was a controversial subject. But they accepted the piece, made a few changes in editing, and posted it online. Within a couple of minutes— so fast that no one would have been able to read the whole article—a reader denounced me as transphobic, and the editors of the site, who had originally thought the piece raised important questions, took it down within a few hours (it was posted later on a different site).

Perhaps if these debates concerned purely personal matters, there would be no compelling reason for a public discussion. But the trans movement has proposed public policies—from opening sex/gender-specific bathrooms and locker rooms to anyone who identifies with that sex/gender, to public funding for surgery and hormone treat-ments—that require collective decisions. There’s no escape from the need for everyone to reach conclusions, however tentative, about the trans movement’s claims.

The trans movement is, of course, not monolithic, and varying people in it will identify politically in varying ways. But after two years of further conversations, reading, and study, I will reassert the conclusion I reached in the first article I wrote in 2014:

Transgenderism is a liberal, individualist, medicalized response to the problem of patriarchy’s rigid, repressive, and reactionary gender norms. Radical feminism is a radical, structural, politicized response. On the surface, transgenderism may seem to be a more revolutionary approach, but radical feminism offers a deeper critique of the domination/subordination dynamic at the heart of patriarchy and a more promising path to liberation.

One of the most common reactions I’ve had from people in progressive/liberal circles who agree with this statement but mute themselves in public conversations is that, in plain language, they just want to be nice—they fear that any question, challenge, or expression of concern will hurt the feelings of trans people. Sensitivity to others is appropriate, but should it trump attempts to understand an issue? Is it respectful of trans people to not speak about these matters?

A couple of months after the lunch described above, I had a conversation with a long-time comrade in feminist and progressive movements, who agreed with my analysis but said that she thought trans people had enough problems and that she didn’t want to seem mean-spirited in raising critical questions.

“So, your solidarity with that movement is based on the belief that the people in the trans community aren’t emotionally equipped to discuss the intellectual and political assertions they make?” I said. “Isn’t that kind of a strange basis for solidarity?”

She shrugged, not arguing the point, but sticking to her intention to avoid the question. I understand why, but those who make that choice should remember that avoiding questions does not provide answers.

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author most recently of Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully (Counterpoint/Soft Skull, 2015). Information about his books, article archives, and contact information can be found at http://robertwjensen. org/.

For more extensive analysis of the issues raised in this article, Jensen recommends the following:

“Some basic propositions about sex, gender, and patriarchy,” Dissident Voice, June 13, 2014.

“There are limits: Ecological and social implications of trans and climate change,” Dissident Voice, September 12, 2014.

“Feminism unheeded,” Nation of Change, January 8, 2015.

“A transgender problem for diversity politics,” Dallas Morning News, June 5, 2015.

Montrose 9 Assert the “Necessity Defense” at Trial in Cortlandt, NY

Nine community members arrested for blocking construction on Spectra Energy’s AIM pipeline expansion – known as the “Montrose 9″ – join the national debate over harms caused by fossil fuel infrastructure

By ResistAIM

Cortlandt, NY — The “Montrose 9” are nine community members arrested for disorderly conduct for allegedly blocking traffic near the access to a Spectra Energy construction yard used for the expansion of a high-pressure fracked-gas pipeline known as the AIM pipeline. Their trial has the potential to become a landmark case with national implications involving the “necessity defense.” Defense counsel Martin R. Stolar is a prominent social justice attorney who argues that the defendants’ actions were justified since they were undertaken to stop a greater harm and were carried out only after all other legal and regulatory options had been exhausted. Court adjourned until July 15th at 1pm, when the other seven defendants are expected to testify regarding their reasons for taking direct action against the project.

While the necessity defense has been used in other types of cases, it is unusual in environmental litigation. One case occurred in May 2013 in Massachusetts when a small lobster boat managed to blockade a barge containing 40,000 tons of coal near the Brayton Point Power Plant. The charges of obstruction were dismissed and the presiding judge stated that the actions were morally justified. In a recent Seattle case, the “Delta 5” were found guilty of trespass for blocking an oil train but not guilty of obstruction. Jurors in that case cited sympathy for the activists and feeling of gratitude for their personal sacrifice for the good of all.

In questioning the prosecution’s police witnesses, Mr. Stolar also suggested a more traditional reason to dismiss the charges. He established that the defendants were not, in fact, causing the traffic jam on Route 9A as was charged. Rather, the Spectra workers caused the tie up when they obstructed the roadway with their cars. Police testified that once they began directing the workers to move, the congestion began to clear up even before the arrests took place. When asked how he determined that the cars belonged to pipeline workers, one officer replied that “there were a lot of out of state license plates.”

13494887_1361158817234532_4882938590630017482_n

The greater harm to be prevented:
Defense witnesses, Cortlandt Councilman Seth Freach and two nuclear experts, testified to the dangers posed by the AIM pipeline. Councilman Freach discussed his own, and the Town Board’s, concerns about public health and safety and described letters that were sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other regulatory agencies expressing those concerns. Among the materials Cortlandt submitted to FERC was a report from an independent study that the Town had commissioned. Councilman Freach noted that, based on the Board’s thorough evaluation of the project, members had voted unanimously in opposition to the pipeline.

Paul Blanch, an engineer with over 50 years of nuclear experience, stated that there were “very significant unaccounted for risks” with the AIM pipeline and “an unacceptable probability” of a serious or catastrophic accident due to the pipeline’s close proximity to the Indian Point nuclear power plant. He also provided details of his efforts opposing the pipeline at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Physicist Paul Moskowitz described the radioactive materials, including lead 210 and polonium 210, that result from decay of the radon in fracked gas. He went on to discuss regulatory filings he’d submitted detailing his concerns about radioactive emissions from the AIM pipeline and their impacts on human health. He testified that FERC’s response to his concerns were “a total fabrication” that “ignored over 50 years of established science.” When asked about what process would be used to deal with these dangerous substances, he responded that since FERC denies the existence of those known radioactive materials in pipelines there is no process in place for dealing with them.

Two defendants explain their actions:
Only two of the Montrose 9 defendants were able to testify before court concluded for the day. Both told their own individual stories of why they had stepped up to protest in such a compelling way. Although members of the community have been working through regulatory channels, their efforts have been met with delays and legal maneuvers, leaving them no recourse but to pursue more direct actions.

Linda Snider testified that since all of the regulatory agencies had ignored the issues, she felt she needed to stop AIM construction herself. She stated, “I wanted to stop the Spectra trucks and stop them from putting in this pipeline. We’ve just got to stop this.”

Defendant Susan Rutman, a landscape photographer who lives next to the Hudson River, was the final witness for the day. She explained she had sought to stop the work through writing to officials. “My intention was to stop the pipeline, because I knew it would prevent a far greater harm.” she said.

Find out more information about the AIM Pipeline and ongoing resistance here:

Online: www.resistaim.wordpress.com
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/resistaim
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/ResistAIM

Indonesia: Tribe attacked in palm oil plantation

Featured Image: The Orang Rimba have lived in the forests of Sumatra for generations, but now they are under threat. © Survival International

By Survival International

Members of the nomadic Orang Rimba tribe in Indonesia have been attacked and their possessions burned as part of an eviction from a palm oil plantation on their ancestral land.

The Orang Rimba are a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe who have been dependent on and managed their forest home in Sumatra for generations. Although a national park was created to protect local wildlife and – unprecedented in Indonesia – the tribe, the Indonesian government has signed over most of their ancestral lands to palm oil, timber and other plantation companies.

As a result many Orang Rimba are forced to live in plantations, collecting palm oil seeds and hunting wild boar. For collecting the seeds, the tribe have been accused of theft by the company operating in the area, even though the oil palm is on Orang Rimba ancestral land and the tribe do not regard such foraging as theft.

One Orang Rimba man said: “That is our ancestral land. Our life and death are in that land. How can it be that we are forbidden? It’s forbidden for children to take the seeds which have fallen from the palm oil trees. How can it be forbidden? They planted palm oil trees all over our land.”

The palm oil company PT Bahana Karya Semestra (BKS), which is owned by Sinar Mas, has recently ordered the Orang Rimba to leave. Members of the tribe have reported that they were already preparing to go when they were attacked, beaten and stabbed by security staff from BKS.

Security staff then set fire to their shelters, vehicles and hundreds of loin cloths. According to custom, these are regarded as the tribespeople’s most precious possessions. They represent wealth and prestige and are used to pay fines in Orang Rimba customary law.

The Orang Rimba’s land and resources are being stolen, and they are being subjected to violence in the name of ‘’progress.’’ Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples rights, is calling for the Orang Rimba’s right to their ancestral lands to be recognized.

Right-wing militant charged for planting a bomb at BLM building

Featured image: Bill Keebler, from his Facebook page. A federal felony complaint reveals that the feds are continuing to investigate right-wing extremism on US public lands.

By Tay Wiles / High Country News

On the night of June 21, members of the Patriots Defense Force militia allegedly planted a bomb at a Bureau of Land Management cabin in Mount Trumbull, in northwest Arizona, with the intention of blowing the building apart. A Utah man, William Keebler, who leads the group, apparently orchestrated the failed attack in response to what he views as federal government overreach and the mismanagement of natural resources.

Undercover FBI agents first infiltrated the Stockton, Utah-based militia group several months ago. Agents apparently thwarted the attack by providing a faulty bomb, which failed to explode. FBI agents arrested Keebler on Wednesday in Nephi, Utah.

Read more at High Country News

 

3.2 Million Animals Killed by US Wildlife Services agency in 2015

Featured image: 533 river otters were killed by Wildlife Services in 2015. The federal agency killed a half million more coyotes, bears, wolves, foxes, and other animals than the previous year.

By Center for Biological Diversity

The highly secretive arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture known as Wildlife Services killed more than 3.2 million animals during fiscal year 2015, according to new data released by the agency. The total number of wolves, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, beavers, foxes, eagles and other animals killed largely at the behest of the livestock industry and other agribusinesses represents a half-million-animal increase over the 2.7 million animals the agency killed in 2014.

Despite increasing calls for reform a century after the federal wildlife-killing program began in 1915, the latest kill report indicates that the program’s reckless slaughter continues, including 385 gray wolves, 68,905 coyotes (plus an unknown number of pups in 492 destroyed dens), 480 black bears, 284 mountain lions, 731 bobcats, 492 river otters (all but 83 killed “unintentionally”), 3,437 foxes, two bald eagles and 21,559 beavers. The program also killed 20,777 prairie dogs outright, plus an unknown number killed in more than 59,000 burrows that were destroyed or fumigated.

“Despite mounting public outcry and calls from Congress to reform these barbaric, outdated tactics, Wildlife Services continues its slaughter of America’s wildlife with no public oversight,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “There’s simply no scientific basis for continuing to shoot, poison and strangle millions of animals every year — a cruel practice that not only fails to effectively manage targeted wildlife but poses an ongoing threat to other animals, including pets.”

Agency insiders have revealed that the agency kills many more animals than it reports.

The data show that the Department of Agriculture boosted its killing program despite a growing public outcry and calls for reform by scientists, elected officials and nongovernmental organizations.

“The Department of Agriculture should get out of the wildlife-slaughter business,” said Robinson. “Wolves, bears and other carnivores help keep the natural balance of their ecosystems. Our government kills off the predators, such as coyotes, and then kills off their prey — like prairie dogs — in an absurd, pointless cycle of violence.”

Background
USDA’s Wildlife Services program began in 1915 when Congress appropriated $125,000 to the Bureau of Biological Survey for “destroying wolves, coyotes, and other animals injurious to agriculture and animal husbandry” on national forests and other public lands.

By the 1920s scientists and fur trappers were robustly criticizing the Biological Survey’s massive poisoning of wildlife, and in response in 1928 the agency officially renounced “extermination” as its goal. Nevertheless it proceeded to exterminate wolves, grizzly bears, black-footed ferrets and other animals from most of their remaining ranges in the years to follow. The agency was blocked from completely exterminating these species through the 1973 passage of the Endangered Species Act.

In 1997, after several name changes, the deceptive name “Wildlife Services” was inaugurated in place of “Biological Survey.”

The Swamp Cedars and the Nevada Water Grab

By Will Falk / Deep Green Resistance

The Swamp Cedars in Spring Valley, Nevada have grown long memories. They stand on the valley floor under the bright Great Basin stars where the skies are still unspoiled by the encroaching glow of electricity. Beneath the trees’ branches, the blue petals of wild irises flutter in the breeze. All of them – the trees, the flowers, the stars – sway to the soft melodies played by the valley’s bubbling springs.

Most of the Swamp Cedars’ memories are pleasant. Carried by glaciers to the valley floor sometime in the last two and a half million years, the Swamp Cedars remember when wooly mammoths plodded through the Great Basin. The wind through their leaves whispers of a time when the Swamp Cedars trembled under the shadow of great teraton birds who rode the skies with their 25-foot wingspans. When wild horses stop at the springs to share a drink with the Swamp Cedars, the trees tell stories of the fleet native horses and camels that once ran the open spaces of North America.

Dawn in Spring Valley still carries the hint of curiosity the Swamp Cedars felt on that morning so many thousands of years ago when they watched the first humans walk from the foothills to rest in the welcome shade the trees offered. They learned to expect the humans regularly as they gathered under the trees for sacred ceremonies. They listened as the humans called themselves “Newe” and the trees learned that the word meant, “people.”

The Newe returned often to the Swamp Cedars for their ceremonies and the trees took delight with the Newe as old friends embraced after several seasons apart, as young people became lovers, and as information was shared about the year’s pinyon pine nut harvest.

A few of the memories are extremely painful. The Swamp Cedars recall when a different kind of human first arrived in Spring Valley. These humans were pale of skin and rode what the trees recognized as horses though they were a different species of horse than the native horses that had long since been lost. At first, there were just a few of the pale humans, but the trickle turned into a flood. The Swamp Cedars wince as they relive their first experience of steel – the excruciating pain that came when the first ax drove deep into living Swamp Cedar wood.

Worst of all, the Swamp Cedars witnessed the Newe screaming as the blue-clad humans on horses rode them down, the puffs of white smoke that turned into a haze, and the sharp cracks of rifle fire. The Swamp Cedars still recoil from the taste of blood in the soil when the bubbling springs turned red.

***

Dr. Ronald Lanner, one of the foremost experts on Great Basin trees explains the Swamp Cedars’ uniqueness: “…within the borders of Nevada, Rocky Mountain juniper is found in 39 mountain ranges but in only one valley – Spring Valley.” The Swamp Cedars carry an aura of magic. In fact, they are not cedars at all. They are actually Rocky Mountain junipers (juniperus scopulorum) and Rocky Mountain junipers always grow on dry, rocky mountain slopes or in somewhat shaded canyons. Always – except for the Swamp Cedars. Mysteriously, the Swamp Cedars grow in valley bottom woodlands that are flooded part of the year.

The Swamp Cedars of Spring Valley are likely on their way to evolving into a distinct species. Lanner describes, “…it is very likely the swamp cedars comprise a distinct ecotype of Rocky Mountain juniper. An ecotype is a genetically differentiated population that has evolved in adaptation to a distinctively different environment than characterizes that of the main population of its species.”

The Swamp Cedars are sacred to the Shoshone (Newe in their own language) peoples. According to Shoshone elder Delaine Spilsbury, Nevada’s Native peoples were hunter-gatherers who roamed the region in small familial groups while they searched for food. The Swamp Cedars were centrally located in the Shoshone’s traditional territories and offered ample shade during the hot Great Basin summers.  Beneath the trees are a series of springs. Water from the springs encouraged plants and animals to proliferate. The Shoshone found many game birds and animals, medicinal plants, and fish in the nearby streams and ponds. Not far away from the Swamp Cedars, pinyon pine forests grew bounties of pine nuts. With these conditions, the Swamp Cedars became the favorite gathering place for the Shoshone and a sacred ceremonial site.

The Swamp Cedars are a massacre site. Three times over. Spilsbury explains that two of the massacres are of official military record while the last massacre happened at the hands of vigilantes with no military record.

The first two massacres happened in the 1860s. In the first massacre, most of the Shoshone escaped when American cavalry horses became mired in the mud created by the valley’s springs. The second massacre was much worse and Spilsbury says the written reports “state that men’s penises were cut off and shoved into their mouths and tree branches were shoved into women’s vaginas.”

The third massacre happened in 1897. This massacre is only remembered because two little girls hid in a ditch and were not discovered by the white vigilantes who murdered everyone else. The two little girls walked south to the Swallow Ranch. One of the two survivors was named Mamie by the Swallow family. Later, she married one of the Swallows’ hired hands – a Paiute man from Shivits, Utah named Joe Joseph. Spilsbury is the granddaughter of Mamie and Joe Joseph and, therefore, a direct descendant of a survivor of the last Swamp Cedar massacre.

The massacres cursed the Swamp Cedars with a bloody historical significance, but the massacres also endowed the trees with a deep, spiritual significance. According to Spilsbury, “Newe believe that because of their violent deaths, the spirits of the victims remain in the Sacred Trees.”

***

The Swamp Cedars are under attack. Close to 300 miles south of Spring Valley, the City of Las Vegas sprang up in the desert. Las Vegas’ population continues to grow in an arid landscape and the city is running out of water. Instead of restricting development, Sin City encourages residents and businesses to move to the city promising them access to the water they’ll need.

southernNevadaWaterAuthority-300x200

In 1991, the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) was created through a cooperative agreement among seven water and wastewater agencies in Southern Nevada including Big Bend Water District, City of Boulder City, City of Henderson, City of Las Vegas, City of North Las Vegas, Clark County Water Reclamation District, and the Las Vegas Valley Water District.

From the SNWA website: “SNWA officials are charged with managing the region’s water resources and providing for Las Vegas Valley residents’ and businesses’ present and future water needs.”  To do this, SNWA has proposed a “Groundwater Development Project.”

The bulk of this plan hinges on a large pipeline from Las Vegas to rural eastern Nevada. The main pipeline is estimated to include 263 miles of buried water pipelines while an estimated 96 to 254 miles of collector pipelines will feed water to the main pipeline. The entire pipeline will pump 27 billion gallons of water from the desert annually. Between 71 and 88 wells will have to be dug in fragile ecosystems while somewhere between 96 and 254 miles of overhead distribution power lines will be built in a region famous for wildfires. The water will be taken primarily from 4 desert valleys – Spring, Cave, Dry Lake, and Delamar Valleys.

In other words, SNWA’s Groundwater Development Plan would destroy much of the Great Basin, would destroy Spring Valley and would destroy the Swamp Cedars.

According to Dr. David Charlet, in his study “Effects of Interbasin Water Transport on Ecosystems of Spring Valley, White Pine County, Nevada,” “Ecosystems of Spring Valley, like most valleys in Nevada, are stressed. Overgrazing, particularly during the late 1800s, water diversion, and groundwater pumping have weakened the plant communities.”

This means human activities are already undermining life in the area.

Charlet makes horrifying predictions for the Swamp Cedars, writing, “The groundwater development proposed by the SNWA for the Spring Valley will doom the populations of swamp cedars. It is unlikely that they will live long past the first 20 yr [sic] of drawdown…” In fact, Charlet believes the Swamp Cedars will act as the canaries in the coal mine as he describes what he thinks will happen, “The swamp cedars will be the first plant species in the valley to become locally extinct, and I imagine that they would not be able to hang on for more than 50 yr. The next species to follow the swamp cedars will be the greasewood, followed shortly by big Great Basin sagebrush, and finally by rabbitbrush.”

Dr. Lanner agrees with Dr. Charlet in Lanner’s study “The Effect of Groundwater Pumping Proposed by the Southern Nevada Water Authority on the ‘Swamp Cedar’ of Spring Valley, Nevada.” He writes, “Despite the fact that the swamp cedars are not currently considered at risk of extinction by state or federal authorities, they are vulnerable to groundwater pumping leading to lowering of the water table and loss of surface flooding. The granting of pumping permits would make it logical, however, for such listing to be initiated.”

Even more terrifying than Charlet’s 20-year prediction, Lanner gives the Swamp Cedars 2 years. He explains, “Since the swamp cedars’ root systems are concentrated in the upper one foot of soil, and almost entirely in the upper two feet, drawdown of water from this part of the soil profile can be expected to be devastating to the trees. I would expect trees to die within no more than two years following the pumping of water from their root zone, even if there is ample rainfall to keep surface roots alive.”

***

What will the world lose if SNWA has its way?

Wild_Irises_SpringValley
Wild irises and Swamp Cedars, Spring Valley

There are the obvious answers. The world will lose the Swamp Cedars, Spring Valley’s ability to support life, and a place of cultural significance for a historically oppressed people. Las Vegas will swell and, as it gets bigger, will require ever more water to support itself. Eventually, the city will reach farther and farther to steal water destroying community after community until it cannot find enough. Then, it will collapse.  Many of those who have been forced to rely on the city’s infrastructure for the necessities of life will perish. These will be grievous wounds, of course. And they give us all the reason we need to know that SNWA must be stopped.

There are wounds that strike even deeper than these, though. They are wounds that scrape our spirits. They are aimed at our souls. They erase our collective memory and chill our courage to resist. Understanding the Swamp Cedars, listening to their stories, and sharing their memories helps us to regain our own memories. Regaining our memories will enable us to see more clearly.

What will we see when we see clearly?

Bellagio_Fountains_2005-300x225

We will see that this culture’s pattern of abuse is not inevitable. Las Vegas’ water shortage is the result of a complex of stories, institutions, and artifacts that both leads to and springs from the growth of cities. Cities are groups of people living in place in populations high enough to require the importation of the necessities of life like water. This is a way of life built on drawdown and can never be sustainable.

Contrast this to the hunter/gatherer culture practiced by the Shoshone – the people who will suffer the most from SNWA’s water grab. The Shoshone lived sustainably in places like Spring Valley for thousands of years without destroying the land. The dominant culture, on the other hand, has been in the area since the 1850s. And, already in this comparatively short time, the Great Basin is on the verge of collapse.

Central to Shoshone culture is the idea that the Swamp Cedars are sacred. As the Shoshone teach that the victims of the Swamp Cedars massacres remain in the trees, they ensure that the lessons of these massacres will never be forgotten so long as both the Shoshone and the Swamp Cedars survive.

It is in the Swamp Cedars’ sacredness that we find one of the prime motivations for the dominant culture’s destruction of the Swamp Cedars, for the destruction of indigenous peoples’ sacred places around the world, and ultimately for the annihilation of every last indigenous culture. In destroying the Swamp Cedars, in destroying sacred places, and in destroying indigenous cultures, the dominant culture destroys examples of true sustainability. The dominant culture wants to erase all memory that there are other, more beautiful ways to live.

For the vast majority of human history and in lands around the world, humans built cultures based on the notion that all living beings are sacred. Fish, birds, and animals were our kin. Mountains housed gods, rivers spoke the mysteries of existence, and spirits lived in the trees. When every living being is sacred, it is sacrilegious to destroy wantonly and the kind of total annihilation we face today is simply unthinkable.

When a small minority of human cultures banished the sacred to abstract sky gods or denied the possibility of the sacred in any form, they turned a living, speaking world into so much material to use. Surrounded, as this small minority was, by humans who still remembered the sacredness of all life, this small minority was incredibly insecure. To maintain the lies, they had to destroy the reminders. Natural community after natural community, species after species have fallen victim to this culture. The dominant culture operates as a serial killer. And, just like a serial killer, the dominant culture will destroy every last scrap of the evidence of its crimes if we let it.

The Swamp Cedars, by their sacredness to the Shoshone, by the memories they carry, by their very existence, betray the unspeakable evils committed by this culture. The dominant culture cannot afford for the Swamp Cedars to continue teaching the world about life. The Swamp Cedars must survive. We must stop the SNWA water grab and biocidal projects everywhere.

For more information about stopping the SNWA water grab, please see the Great Basin Water Network and Deep Green Resistance Southwest Coalition

Strategic activism