World Bank Hands Inga 3 Dam Over to Private Sector

IR –  “International Rivers has learned that the World Bank has abruptly decided to develop the Inga 3 Dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a private investment through the International Finance Corporation, rather than as a public sector project. The Bank withdrew a US$73 million IDA grant for the project, which was scheduled for approval by its board of directors on February 11. The move will compound the problems of the World Bank’s biggest ever hydro-power project, and ensure the project will serve the interests of mining corporations rather than the DRC population.

According to internal sources, the IFC will support a private investment in the Inga 3 Dam by Chinese companies in a deal that was brokered by the administrator of USAID. International Rivers decries the World Bank’s decision for the following reasons:

  • The International Finance Corporation has a poor social and environmental track record. In recent months, the Corporation was admonished by its own ombudsperson for serious abuses in the Tata Mundra thermal power plant in India and the Dinant palm oil project in Honduras. The IFC does not have the safeguard policies or the expertise to ensure proper social and environmental impact assessments for this huge project. Handing the Inga 3 Dam over to the private sector will lead to further environmental shortcuts and compromises in the project.
  • The Inga 3 Dam would generate electricity for mining companies and the South Africa market, not for the more than 90% of the DRC population with no access to electricity. Expanding energy access for the Congolese population is a development priority, but is not of commercial interest to investors.  Handing the project over to a private investor will make it even less likely the country’s poor people would benefit from the project.
  • The IFC deal was arranged behind closed doors without any accountability to the DRC parliament, the World Bank’s board of directors, or civil society. It was reportedly brokered in a personal initiative by USAID administrator Rajiv Shah, just weeks after the US Congress instructed the US government to oppose supporting large hydropower projectssuch as Inga 3 through international financial institutions. Non-transparent deals such as the Inga 3 Dam are the best recipe for deepening corruption in the DRC. They will not strengthen the public accountability that is necessary for social and economic development.

Working with civil society partners in the DRC, International Rivers will continue to oppose destructive megaprojects such as the Inga 3 Dam, and will promote clean local energy solutions that are more effective at reducing poverty and protecting the environment.

Media contacts: Peter Bosshard, Policy Director, International Rivers, peter@internationalrivers.org@PeterBosshard

Learn More on International Rivers

Iraq: Security Forces Abusing Women in Detention

“The abuses of women we documented are in many ways at the heart of the current crisis in Iraq,” Stork said. “These abuses have caused a deep-seated anger and lack of trust between Iraq’s diverse communities and security forces, and all Iraqis are paying the price.” 

Truthloader- “A report released today reveals that Iraqi security forces have illegally detained thousands of women and subjected many of them to torture, ill-treatment and even sexual abuse in order to extract confessions from them. These confessions have then been used against them in court and resulted in the execution of at least one woman.

We spoke to Joe Stork from Human Rights Watch who explained that these women are being used as kind of “hostages” against male relatives wanted by the state, and that many of them face long-term stigma as a result of their ordeals.”

Read the report from Human Rights Watch Here

Human Rights Watch – The 105-page report, “‘No One Is Safe’: Abuses of Women in Iraq’s Criminal Justice System,”documents abuses of women in detention based on interviews with women and girls, Sunni and Shia, in prison; their families and lawyers; and medical service providers in the prisons at a time of escalating violence involving security forces and armed groups. Human Rights Watch also reviewed court documents and extensive information received in meetings with Iraqi authorities including Justice, Interior, Defense, and Human Rights ministry officials, and two deputy prime ministers.

“Iraqi security forces and officials act as if brutally abusing women will make the country safer,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “In fact, these women and their relatives have told us that as long as security forces abuse people with impunity, we can only expect security conditions to worsen.”

In January 2013, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki promised to reform the criminal justice system, beginning with releasing detained women who had judicial orders of release. A year later, the brutal tactics of security forces remain essentially the same and hundreds of women remain in detention illegally.” Full Article Here

Syrian Children Study While Bombs Fall Nearby

RT – “Russia’s foreign minister has urged the US to maintain contacts with all sides in the Syrian conflict, except for jihadist groups. Sergey Lavrov, speaking after talks in Moscow with Syria’s opposition leaders, also welcomed the rebels’ willingness to take part in the Geneva negotiations, set to resume next week. But while politicians push for a breakthrough – time is running out for people living in the warzone…”

Click to learn more. School Days: A lifeline for Syria’s young minds.

The Menace of the Military Mind

Excerpts, Truthdig (Emphasis, mine) – “…For the next 20 years I would go on from war zone to war zone as a foreign correspondent immersed in military culture. Repetitive rote learning and an insistence on blind obedience—similar to the approach used to train a dog—work on the battlefield. The military exerts nearly total control over the lives of its members. Its long-established hierarchy ensures that those who embrace the approved modes of behavior rise and those who do not are belittled, insulted and hazed. Many of the marks of civilian life are stripped away. Personal modes of dress, hairstyle, speech and behavior are heavily regulated. Individuality is physically and then psychologically crushed. Aggressiveness is rewarded. Compassion is demeaned. Violence is the favorite form of communication. These qualities are an asset in war; they are a disaster in civil society. 

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Homer in “The Iliad” showed his understanding of war. His heroes are not pleasant men. They are vain, imperial, filled with rage and violent. And Homer’s central character in “The Odyssey,” Odysseus, in his journey home from war must learn to shed his “hero’s heart,” to strip from himself the military attributes that served him in war but threaten to doom him off the battlefield. The qualities that serve us in war defeat us in peace.

Most institutions have a propensity to promote mediocrities, those whose primary strengths are knowing where power lies, being subservient and obsequious to the centers of power and never letting morality get in the way of one’s career. The military is the worst in this respect. In the military, whether at the Paris Island boot camp or West Point, you are trained not to think but to obey. What amazes me about the military is how stupid and bovine its senior officers are. Those with brains and the willingness to use them seem to be pushed out long before they can rise to the senior-officer ranks. The many Army generals I met over the years not only lacked the most rudimentary creativity and independence of thought but nearly always saw the press, as well as an informed public, as impinging on their love of order, regimentation, unwavering obedience to authority and single-minded use of force to solve complex problems.

So when I heard James R. Clapper Jr., a retired Air Force lieutenant general and currently the federal government’s director of national intelligence, denounce Edward Snowden and his “accomplices”—meaning journalists such as Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras—before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week I was not surprised. Clapper charged, without offering any evidence, that the Snowden disclosures had caused “profound damage” and endangered American lives. And all who have aided Snowden are, it appears, guilty of treason in Clapper’s eyes…

…The U.S. military has won the ideological war. The nation sees human and social problems as military problems. To fight terrorists Americans have become terrorists. Peace is for the weak. War is for the strong. Hypermasculinity has triumphed over empathy. We Americans speak to the world exclusively in the language of force. And those who oversee our massive security and surveillance state seek to speak to us in the same demented language. All other viewpoints are to be shut out. “In the absence of contrasting views, the very highest form of propaganda warfare can be fought: the propaganda for a definition of reality within which only certain limited viewpoints are possible,” C. Wright Mills wrote. “What is being promulgated and reinforced is the military metaphysics—the cast of mind that defines international reality as basically military.”

This is why people like James Clapper and the bloated military and security and surveillance apparatus must not have unchecked power to conduct wholesale surveillance, to carry out extraordinary renditions and to imprison Americans indefinitely as terrorists. This is why the nation, as our political system remains mired in paralysis, must stop glorifying military values. In times of turmoil the military always seems to be a good alternative. It presents the facade of order. But order in the military, as the people of Egypt are now learning again, is akin to slavery. It is the order of a prison. And that is where Clapper and his fellow generals and intelligence chiefs would like to place any citizen who dares to question their unimpeded right to turn us all into mindless recruits. They have the power to make their demented dreams a reality. And it is our task to take this power from them.” Read The (Outstanding) Article In Full Here

 

Diary of a Disgraced Soldier

Through Diary of a Disgraced Soldier  Martin uses his creative energies to work through the nightmares he brought back from Iraq.

My Life as a ‘Disgraced Soldier’

You may not know who I am but you may have heard my voice on TV a few years ago. It was 2006 when a video spread around the world of British soldiers beating Iraqi youth in Al Amara, Iraq, during Operation Telic 3. A corporal in Her Majesty’s 1st Light Infantry Battalion, I was behind the camera, filming the 2004 incident.

 HuffPo- “Those two minutes of video ruined my life. I still have a tough time watching it today and can’t believe what I said. I was a different person. I’m not trying to excuse my comments — they were inappropriate and regrettable — but I want to explain them. During the riots on the streets of Al Amara, we soldiers didn’t have food. We didn’t have water. We were working non-stop. Going through these conditions brought out the worst in me. I wouldn’t wish that situation on anyone.

I was a disgraced soldier in the public eye, thanks to the British tabloids and the British government, which used me as a scapegoat. But I was not a disgraceful soldier. I loved the army and would have done anything for my country, having served honorably for about 12 years. Shortly after the military cleared me of any wrongdoing in 2007, I left the military. I had served two tours in Northern Ireland and a tour in Sierra Leone; I had seen enough of war.

And especially that war, I felt like I had been put in an unacceptable situation in Iraq. I shouldn’t have been in Iraq. No foreign troops (British, American, etc.) should have been in that country. I didn’t join the Army to fight against children but that’s what I did. It’s not something you often hear about in the media, but the enemy in Iraq uses women and children to fight for them. The youth in Al Amara were throwing grenades at us. It’s sickening and I felt shame and guilt for having to fight children.

After the scandal broke, I decided to leave the Army. I approached some filmmakers in my hometown in Cornwall to help document what I went through. They followed me for 18 months, from the time I got out of the military. During this time I kept video diaries to chart my thoughts and feelings, and through this process my emotional frustrations came across -I would be fine one minute and then red with anger the next. In November 2009, they released a 68-minute documentary titled Diary of a Disgraced Soldier. It was greatly received at the 2009 Cornwall Film Festival. Making the documentary has been a cathartic process that may well have saved my life…” Full Article

Full Documentary

END:CIV – What Would You Fight For?

Based in part on Endgame, the best-selling book by Derrick Jensen, END:CIV asks: “If your homeland was invaded by aliens who cut down the forests, poisoned the water and air, and contaminated the food supply, would you resist?”

“A fierce critique of systematic violence and industrial civilization, End:Civ is not intended for garden-variety environmentalists. If you are anywhere below, say, an 8 on that sliding scale of pissed off, then this film is going to scare you…which means you should watch it.”

-Eugene Weekly

1aquote-derrick-jensen“There are very sober people talking about the possible death of entire oceans. The end of fish. If that’s not worth fighting for, what is?” Activist and author Derrick Jensen asserts that industrial civilization is murdering the planet and it must be stopped. We need to decolonize our hearts and minds. As soon as our allegiance is to the real world and not industrial capitalism, things become more clear. His books include A Language Older Than Words, The Culture of Make Believe, What We Leave Behind and Endgame.”

END:CIV- “The causes underlying the collapse of civilizations are usually traced to overuse of resources. As we write this, the world is reeling from economic chaos, peak oil, climate change, environmental degradation, and political turmoil. Every day, the headlines re-hash stories of scandal and betrayal of the public trust. We don?t have to make outraged demands for the end of the current global system – it seems to be coming apart already. 

But acts of courage, compassion and altruism abound, even in the most damaged places. By documenting the resilience of the people hit hardest by war and repression, and the heroism of those coming forward to confront the crisis head-on, END:CIV illuminates a way out of this all-consuming madness and into a saner future.

Backed by Jensen’s narrative, the film calls on us to act as if we truly love this land. The film trips along at a brisk pace, using music, archival footage, motion graphics, animation, slapstick and satire to deconstruct the global economic system, even as it implodes around us. END:CIV illustrates first-person stories of sacrifice and heroism with intense, emotionally-charged images that match Jensen’s poetic and intuitive approach. Scenes shot in the back country provide interludes of breathtaking natural beauty alongside clearcut evidence of horrific but commonplace destruction.”

Human Population Growth & Wildlife Extinction

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©Rebecca McFarland 2010

January 24, 2014 – “There are more than 7 billion people on the planet, and we’re adding 227,000 more every day. The toll on wildlife is impossible to miss: Species are disappearing 1,000 to 10,000 times faster than the natural rate — the fastest rate since dinosaurs roamed the planet. We can reduce our own population and consumption to an ecologically sustainable level in ways that promote human rights; decrease poverty and overcrowding; raise our standard of living; and allow plants, animals and ecosystems to thrive…”

Voices of Nonviolence: Little Town of Bethlehem

Source – “Little Town of Bethlehem examines the struggle to promote equality through nonviolent engagement in the midst of incredible violence that has dehumanized all sides. Sami’s story begins as a young boy living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank; Yonatan’s starts on an Israeli military base; and Ahmad’s begins in a Palestinian refugee camp. 

Their three stories are interwoven through the major events of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, starting with the 1972 massacre at the Munich Olympics and following through the first Intifada, suicide bombings in Israel, the Oslo Accords, the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin, and the second Intifada. Sami, Yonatan, and Ahmad each describe the events from their unique perspective, interjecting personal reflections and explaining how these events led them to become involved in the nonviolence movement.

In Bethlehem, the city where it is said that God became man, Sami just wants to be seen as human. First learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a teen, he began lecturing about nonviolence in high school. Later, Sami traveled to India to learn more about Gandhi. As the result of his discoveries, he founded the organization Holy Land Trust to promote nonviolence in the Palestinian community.

“When you struggle together, you change the paradigm. There’s still struggle…but it’s not This Side or That Side. You are struggling together to find the solution. And in that, there is very real HOPE…”

Yonatan embraced his father’s legacy as a pilot in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and fulfilled his own dream of becoming an IDF helicopter pilot. However, his journey led him to the astonishing decision to join with 26 other IDF pilots who publicly refused to participate in missions that would lead to civilian casualties. Co-founding the organization Combatants for Peace, made up of former Israeli and Palestinian combatants, Yonatan struggles to reconcile his love for his country with his growing opposition to the Israeli occupation.

After studying in Spain, Ahmad returned to Bethlehem to become a nonviolence trainer. Despite the daily challenges of living in a refugee camp, Ahmad remains committed to his community and risks his life and livelihood in nonviolent actions to bring an end to oppression.

For their work, Sami and Ahmad have been labeled as “Israeli collaborators” by some within the Palestinian community, and are seen as a threat to security by the Israeli military. By refusing to participate in offensive military actions against Palestinian civilians, Yonatan has been branded a traitor by some Israelis and can no longer work in his homeland.

All three men have had their lives threatened by members of their own communities as a result of their work. Sami, Yonatan, and Ahmad continue to embrace their common humanity and equality for all, daring to have the hope that peace in the Holy Land can be achieved through nonviolent struggle…

“They did it by discovering common ground in the nonviolence movement…”

Discussions on nonviolence -

Syria’s Children On The Frontline

 Truthloader- “The Syrian civil war has changed lives on both sides of the conflict irreversibly but while we often hear the stories about violence involving opposition fighters, the Syrian Arab Army and various extremist groups, one side of the story remains untold – the lives of Syria’s children. Marcel Mettelsiefen, the journalist and filmmaker behind Children On The Frontline, spoke to us about the kids he filmed in opposition held areas of Aleppo and the drastic changes the war has forced on their lives…”

The documentary will be broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK on 22/01/2014 at 10PM GMT. After that it will be available on 4oD.

20 Years of NAFTA Show Why TPP Must Be Stopped

Excerpts, The Raw Story – ” The post-NAFTA era has been marked by growing inequality, declining job security and new leverage for corporations to attack government regulations enacted in the public interest.

But it wasn’t supposed to be that way. Back in 1986, when the leaders of the US, Canada and Mexico began talks on a regional trade deal that eight years later would culminate in the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), they sold the pact to the public as an economic win-win for all parties involved.

On signing the treaty in 1994, then-President Bill Clinton said, “NAFTA means jobs. American jobs, and good-paying American jobs. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t support this agreement.” He promised that NAFTA would result in “an export boom to Mexico,” and claimed that such trade deals “transcend ideology” because support for them “is so uniform that it unites people in both parties.”

Twenty years later, we can test how those claims panned out in the real world. And Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch did just that, releasing a comprehensive study of NAFTA’s impacts…

Shortly after NAFTA, we did a very detailed dig to find all the promises of US producers who made very specific claims before the treaty was signed that ‘if NAFTA passes, we will add X number of jobs.’ So we went and looked at the federal government’s Trade Adjustment Assistance database and we found that company after company — big US manufacturers like Chrysler, GE, Caterpillar — that promised to create specific numbers of US jobs instead were offshoring thousands and thousands of US jobs to Mexico, and then they were bringing the product back into the country and selling it. It was still their US brand name, but made with much lower wages in Mexico.

The trade data are very telling. The year before NAFTA, the United States had a small trade deficit with Canada — about $20 billion dollars — and a slight surplus of $2 billion dollars with Mexico. Now, 20 years later, we have almost a $200 billion dollar trade deficit with those countries. So the surplus with Mexico turned into a huge, huge deficit, as all those companies relocated there to produce goods with lower wages.

And this Trade Adjustment Assistance database is really fascinating. There are 845,000 specific US workers who are certified under just this one narrow program as having lost their jobs since NAFTA to trade with Mexico and Canada. And you’d be surprised at the kinds of companies you see. In the beginning it was a huge wipeout of the auto sector, textiles and apparel, and appliances. But now it’s computers, it’s clean manufacturing of computer chips, high-end electronics, aircraft – these are high-end, high-tech, well-trained, well-paid jobs. The so-called jobs of the future are all being offshored.

Even if you didn’t lose a job, what we’ve found with this study, and, more importantly, what economists, including those who supported NAFTA originally, found is that shifting a million well-paying jobs out has an effect economy-wide on wage levels and on income inequality.” Full Article on The Raw Story

Related Content & Links

The Council of Canadians – “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is 12-nation (and counting) free trade and corporate rights deal that is being led by the United States but also includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Thailand, The Philippines and South Korea have also expressed interest in joining the talks, which would eclipse the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the ways democracy would be constrained in the interests of multinational corporations.

Of the 26 chapters currently being negotiated in the TPP, only two have to do with trade. The other 24 deal with issues as diverse as how a government regulates corporate activity, what Crown corporations can and cannot do, how long pharmaceutical patents or copyright terms should be, how the Internet is governed, the sharing of personal information across borders, banking and taxation rules, and when a company or investor should be compensated when environmental or public health policies interfere with profits.

The TPP is also considered a geopolitical weapon of the U.S. government, which is trying to isolate China in the Asia-Pacific region, and to block alternative, and more successful, forms of development than the “free trade” model has to offer. But the TPP is being resisted by people across all participating countries because of how it will lock-in a myopic type of corporate globalization that is the main cause of runaway climate change and which has done little to create good, sustainable jobs or reduce poverty worldwide. People working across borders fought and defeated the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Our goal is to make sure the TPP suffers the same fate.”

via MÉDECINS SANS FRONTIÈRES (MSF)

Trans-Pacific Partnership

The most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines.

While I was searching for more information on the TPP and work that is being done at our local Santa Teresa point of entry, I came across this interesting pdf from the White House…

U.S. – Mexico
21st Century Border Management

Realizing the Strategic
National Value of our Trade,
Tourism and Ports of Entry
with Mexico

“A renewed focus by the United States and Mexico on economic cooperation and efforts by Congress to facilitate legitimate trade and tourism with Mexico offer a number of opportunities. The proposed Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 proposes the addition of 3,500 additional Customs and Border Protection officers to staff the ports of entry to be funded by a newly created Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund. In addition, S. 178 and H.R. 1108, the Cross Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2013, aim to facilitate enhanced staffing but also infrastructure improvements at ports of entry via alternative financing mechanisms such as public-private partnerships. Legislation such as this is necessary in order for the United States to take full advantage of NAFTA’s potential as well as the next generation of trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which have the potential to significantly enhance North American competitiveness for decades to come.” Full Report Available Here

More information on the planning/development and work along the US-MX border can also be found here -

Hunger Games: UK Refuses EU Food Aid, Leaving 1000s In Dire Straits

Dec 21, 2013

“Britain has ditched the EU’s help to feed the poor, despite half a million citizens, including children, turning to charities this year to stave off hunger. The opposition’s criticized the government for gasping with pride and ignoring the problem…”

The Fifth Sacred Thing

The Fifth Sacred Thing by dreamnectar
dreamnectar.deviantart.com

I’ve read “The Fifth Sacred Thing” three times over…I love everything about the book. The strong heroes and heroins; the eerie possibility that this is our future…and that at the end of it all, there is HOPE. I have my fingers crossed that this will be one of those rare occasions when the movie doesn’t fall 10,000 miles short of the book.

“The Fifth Sacred Thing is an upcoming feature film based on the best selling novel by Starhawk, and is set in 2048, where an ecotopian San Francisco defends itself from invaders using nonviolence and magic.”

Your Time In Iraq Makes You A Threat To Society

Speaking from prison, Iraqi war veteran Andrew “Sarge” Chambers tells the story of how he got there. As the judge told him when he sentenced Chambers to 10 years at Marion Correctional: “Your time in Iraq makes you a threat to society.” Chambers reminds us of the sacrifices that linger with soldiers — and simply asks us to listen.

“Andrew “Sarge” Chambers proudly hails from Pickerington, Ohio. He served in the U.S. Army and has maintained the habit he acquired there of cursing just a bit too much. Throughout his service, Sarge was also able to maintain and hone his sense of honor and kindness, but the experience did slightly alter his sense of humor. While categorically not a morning person, when he is able to finally pry his eyes open, he always thinks to himself that he would rather be fishing. Most of his days are filled with coaching softball, Garth Brooks songs and thoughts of the family he hopes to be able to start soon. He is taking the stage to tell his story, parts of which can be seen in the documentary Operation Resurrection: The Warrior Returns. After TEDxMarionCorrectional he will work on his next unique thing.”

Operation Resurrection Trailer

S.O.S.

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