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The fight for water rights in Kenya

June 20, 2015 12:57 pm CDT

Analysis of an environmental struggle in Kenya by Chris Williams. Go to the original for the accompanying photo essay by Maria Davis. --PG

Damming the future
Source: Truthout
The struggle to protect Kenya's Ewaso Ngiro river

Wednesday, 17 June 2015 00:00
By Chris Williams, Truthout | News Analysis

"Had the local district officer not had a swimming pool filled with clean water, maybe there would have been more for us to drink."

White highway markings gleam from the hot black tarmac, as if newly painted. The almost completely deserted A2 road, immaculate in its pristine underuse, snakes its way from Nairobi on the way to Ethiopia. Five hours north of Nairobi, the road, a powerful symbol of the modernizing imperative of the Kenyan state, passes through the small, but now rapidly growing, town of Archer's Post.

In a chilling throwback to Britain's hideous colonial occupation of Kenya and brutal counterinsurgency war, Archer's Post still hosts a British military training base, notorious for leaving unexploded munitions that kill and maim local nomadic herders and their children, as well as for frequent sexual assault, rape and violence against local women. Archer's Post was in part chosen for British Army training because of the dry scrub, intense heat and, according to Lt. Col. Andy Hadfield, commanding officer from the 1st Battalion Mercian Regiment, because of the challenging terrain. Hadfield noted that the Samburu National Reserve, which surrounds Archer's Post, is similar to the terrain and heat of another postcolonial outpost - Afghanistan: "There are a lot of thorn bushes out there - hostile animals and insects. And, for the soldiers coming here, operating within that environment really makes them better, more robust, and develops their natural fortitude."

Despite the river flowing through the center of town, the dry and dusty terrain surrounding Archer's Post, so useful for British Army maneuvers, is symptomatic of a problem the Kenyan government has long known about: water shortage and the lack of infrastructural development. Decades ago, in a more hopeful and politically self-conscious era, it published a prescient and forward-thinking paper on issues facing the newly independent country, which included the need to address water scarcity and degradation. Sessional Paper No. 10 "African Socialism and its Application to Planning in Kenya" (1965) states:


Damming the Future: The Struggle to Protect Kenya's Ewaso Ngiro River

Wednesday, 17 June 2015 00:00
By Chris Williams, Truthout | News Analysis


The Making of the Migration Crisis

By Harsha Walia
Source: teleSUR English
June 20, 2015

Leading up to World Refugee Day on Saturday, the United Nations unveiled a devastating and damning report on the scale of global displacement. The U.N.’s Refugee Agency data reveals a total of 59.5 million people are displaced around the world. With one in every 122 people being internally displaced or seeking asylum in a new country, this is the highest level of displaced people ever recorded. It is also the largest leap recorded within a single year, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres calls it “a staggering acceleration” that will only worsen.This 56-page report illuminates the context for Angela Davis’ remarks in Germany last month, when she declared that the “refugee movement is the movement of the 21st century.” Patterns of displacement and migration reveal the unequal relations between rich and poor, between North and South, between whiteness and its racialized others.

Roots of the Migration Crisis

While militarization and persecution are typically understood as primary forces of migration, forces of economic violence, climate change and gendered violence are all also causing displacement. The forced privatization and neoliberalization of subsistence farming has resulted in the loss of rural land for millions, particularly women peasants, across Asia, Africa, and South and Central America.Though the U.N. report does not tackle displacements due to corporate interests and free trade deals, a recent study by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Huffington Post found that over the last decade, World Bank-funded projects physically or economically displaced 3.4 million people, forcing them from their homes, taking their land or damaging their livelihoods.

According to statistics by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, by the year 2020 there will be 50 million climate refugees. A day after the U.N. report on displacement, Pope Francis released his encyclical on climate change in which he articulates the connection between the climate, capitalist, and migration crises. He writes:

“Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry … There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world.”


The Refugee Crisis in Context

Neoliberalism’s Refuse

by Matt Reichel / June 19th, 2015

A report issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) this week provided a jarring statistical glimpse at the unprecedented crisis facing 59.5 million people who are currently displaced. With ongoing wars and sectarian conflicts raging in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, South Sudan and Somalia, and record numbers moving in search of economic betterment, an additional 8.1 million people were uprooted in 2014. If all of the world’s refugees were to form one independent country, it would be the 24th largest, just behind Italy and ahead of South Africa. This country would contain .8% of the global population, which means that if it were instead composed of the world’s richest people, it would possess nearly half of the planet’s wealth.

What’s more, these two hypothetical countries would represent opposite sides of the same coin. It is no accident that the concentration of global wealth is accelerating alongside the numbers of the dispossessed. It is the very predictable result of a US-led system of economic and military hegemony that values the mobility of labor and capital, but not of people, and that reflexively destabilizes any regime it views as being inadequately obsequious. Meanwhile, the market fundamentalism it espouses effectively turns farms into agribusinesses and cities into slums. It displaces as a matter of course. This is the part that the UNHCR report missed: the refugee is neoliberalism’s refuse.

Unmanaged capitalism produces unmanageable waste, human included. The reserve army of labor has long been filled, and so the remaining population is superfluous. Meanwhile, the scope of neoliberalism is practically global. There is no longer a hinterland, nor much space for an alternative such as subsistence agriculture. Precarious, low-wage labor is the international norm, even increasingly so in the industrial north, where social-democratic protections are under steady assault. Nonetheless, conditions remain superior enough in these countries to attract millions of migrants each year, though the centrifugal force that propels people out of their home countries continues to operate in their adopted lands, driving them to the margins. Quite often they will find themselves veritably stateless: lacking any foundation to return to, and having no visible path forward. They become trapped in a state of “liminal drift,” as Michel Agier calls it. They are permanently transitory, forever seeking a resolution that stubbornly remains out of reach.

Neoliberalism has transformed the secure into the precarious and the subaltern into refuse. It has created previously unknown flows of information and capital, while holding the displaced in captivity. Indeed, the ever-rising American prison population must be seen as a connected phenomenon. Far from enshrining freedom, market fundamentalism converts flesh into monetary quantity. It also provokes fear, because we are able to witness the hardships endured by the underclass, thus reminding us of our own expendability. Zygmunt Bauman notes: “Rather than remaining a misery confined to a relatively small part of the population, as it used to be perceived, assignment to ‘waste’ becomes everybody’s potential prospect – one of the two poles between which everybody’s present and future social standing oscillates.” As long as one of us is deemed rubbish, the rest of us have a vested interest in identifying and addressing the underlying cause. The refugee crisis riddle will not be solved until we repel the forces that created it.


Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/06/the-refugee-crisis-in-context/#more-58843

The Dominican Republic’s 'Ethnic Purging' Through the Mass Deportation of Haitian Families

The decision to possibly send half a million legally stateless people to Haiti has been met with condemnation.

By Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez / Democracy Now!

June 17, 2015

The Dominican Republic’s decision to denationalize hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent has sparked international outcry. In an interview with Democracy Now!, Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat spoke about the significance of the government’s campaign—she is among several writers who condemned the decision in a letter to The New York Times.

Below is an interview with Danticat, followed by a transcript:


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The Dominican Republic is set to begin what some are calling "ethnic purging," placing the fate of hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent into limbo. Half a million legally stateless people could be sent to Haiti this week, including those who have never stepped foot in Haiti and don’t speak the language. In 2013, a Dominican constitutional court ruling stripped the citizenship of children born to Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic as far back as 1929, retroactively leaving tens of thousands without citizenship. This is Dominican migration minister Ruben Darío Paulino.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The Dominican Republic’s decision to denationalize hundreds of thousands of people has sparked an international outcry. Haitian President Michel Martelly has denounced it as "civil genocide." The United Nations protested the ruling, and the U.S. State Department voiced measured disapproval. Meanwhile, Dominican-American writers Junot Díaz and Julia Alvarez, Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat and American writer Mark Kurlansky have united to express their shared condemnation of the decision. They wrote in The New York Times, quote, "One of the important lessons of the Holocaust is that the first step to genocide is to strip a people of their right to citizenship."

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/immigration/dominican-republics-ethnic-purging-through-mass-deportation-haitian-families

10-Year-Old Rape Victim Denied Abortion: The Horrific Realities of Abortion Bans

Restrictive anti-abortion laws in states like Texas are forcing women into dangerous situations.

By Nathalie Baptiste / The American Prospect June 18, 2015

In Paraguay, a 10-year-old rape victim is denied an abortion—even though her stepfather is her attacker. In El Salvador suicide is the cause of death for 57 percent of pregnant females between the ages 10 to 19. In Nicaragua, doctors are anxious about even treating a miscarriage. All of these instances are the result of draconian abortion laws that have outlawed critical reproductive care in nations throughout Latin America. If stories like these seem remote to American readers, it’s because they’ve been largely eliminated through widespread access to basic abortion services beginning in the 1970s. But with the Republican Party now chipping away at our right to make our own reproductive health choices, realities like these could become commonplace in the United States once again.

Draconian laws aren’t likely to lead to a reduction in the abortion rate but they do force women to take drastic measures to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization, every year 21.6 million women worldwide have an unsafe abortion. 18.5 million of these unsafe abortions are in developing countries. Complications from unsafe abortions kill 47,000 women each year; these women make up nearly 13 percent of all maternal deaths.

Abortion is illegal (or only permitted to save the mother’s life) in 66 countries, or approximately a quarter of the world’s population. Due to social, political, and religious regions many of the countries with strict abortion laws are in the Latin America and Caribbean region. In El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti abortion is prohibited—under all circumstances.

In El Salvador a 1998 law went into affect that made abortion illegal with no exceptions—including rape, life of the mother or incest. Women who are found guilty of having an abortion face two to eight years in prison. Punishment is widespread as well. Anyone found guilty of assisting in the abortion also faces two to eight years in prisons. Doctors and nurses who assist and perform abortions face six to 12 years behind bars.

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/gender/10-year-old-rape-victim-denied-abortion-horrific-realities-abortion-bans

Monsanto Supplied US And Israel With Chemical Weapons According To Declassified Documents

June 19, 2015 by John Vibes

Recently declassified documents reveal that Monsanto has provided both the Israeli and US militaries with white phosphorus as early as 2009. White phosphorus is a chemical weapon, which burns through nearly any surface and creates large clouds of toxic smoke.

Exposure to this chemical can be potentially fatal or debilitating, but sadly it is not recognized legally as a chemical weapon, and thus is perfectly legal for Western governments to use against the inhabitants of poor developing countries.

Documents released in 2012 by the US Federal Business Opportunities, and recently published by the website Current Events Inquiry, shows that Monsanto provided the Israeli military with 180,000 pounds of white phosphorous which was used on Palestinians in Gaza in 2008 and 2009.

According to the document:

“Over the past 20 years, the majority of the manufacturing of WP moved to China and India because of lower costs and the lack of EPA regulations in those countries. In the 1990s, there were [REDACTED] manufacturers capable of manufacturing WP in the United States; [REDACTED] Because of EPA regulations and foreign price competition, [REDACTED] closed their operations. With only one known producer of WP in the NTIB (Monsanto), the Government’s support of this domestic capability is critically important as it reduces the risk to the war fighter in times of national emergency as well as avoiding a potentially dangerous dependency upon a foreign source.”


Climate Change Is a Crisis We Can Only Solve Together

Published on
Friday, June 19, 2015
by The Nation

by Naomi Klein

Part of the team from Greenpeace that tracked Shell's drilling rigs as they recently crossed the Pacific Ocean on their way to Arctic waters off the coast of Alaska. From left: Johno Smith, Zoe Buckley Lennox, Aliyah Field, Andreas Widlund, and Miriam Friedrich. (Photo: Vincenzo Floramo/Greenpeace)

This speech was delivered on June 6, 2015, in Bar Harbor, Maine, as the College of the Atlantic commencement address. It appeared at The Nation on June 17.

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/06/19/climate-change-crisis-we-can-only-solve-together

The Crisis: Regeneration or Degeneration?

Published on
Thursday, June 18, 2015
by Common Dreams

by Ronnie Cummins

"It's time to move beyond 'too little, too late' mitigation and sustainability strategies," writes Cummins. "It's time to inspire and mobilize a mighty global army of Regenerators, before it's too late." (Image: Regeneration International)

"If governments won’t solve the climate, hunger, health, and democracy crises, then the people will." —Dr. Vandana Shiva, speaking at the founding meeting of Regeneration International, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica, June 8, 2015

When literally billions of people, the 99 percent, are hungry or struggling to survive with justice and dignity; when the majority of the global body politic are threatened and assaulted by a toxic environment and food system; when hundreds of millions are overwhelmed with chronic health problems; battered by floods, droughts, and weather extremes; when endless wars and land grabs for water, land and strategic resources spiral out of control; When indentured politicians, corporations and the mass media conspire to stamp out the last vestiges of democracy in order to force a “Business-as-Usual” paradigm down our throats, it’s time for a change, Big Change.

It’s time to move beyond degenerate ethics, farming land use, energy policies, politics and economics. It’s time to move beyond “too little, too late” mitigation and sustainability strategies.

It’s time to inspire and mobilize a mighty global army of Regenerators, before it’s too late.

A Movement is launched

In the first week of June, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and our global allies organized the founding meeting of Regeneration International, a global alliance designed to supercharge the global grassroots, the network of networks trying to feed the world and reverse climate change through regenerative organic food and farming.

The meeting took place in the spectacular rainforest area near the still-active Arenal Volcano on a tropical Biodynamic organic farm in Costa Rica, attended by scientists, activists, farmers, environmentalists and business leaders, representing non-profits, universities and corporations from 21 nations.

Sixty global leaders participated in an intensive three days of workshops, presentations and late-into-the-night conversations. We shared ideas, (organic) food, and the common belief that so far, our governments, healthcare systems and global non-profits are failing us when it comes to real solutions to climate change, hunger, health and economic security.

We shared a sense of urgency, and a spirit of hope.

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/06/18/crisis-regeneration-or-degeneration

'Austerity Kills': Tens of Thousands March in London Against Brutal Cuts

Published on
Saturday, June 20, 2015
by Common Dreams

Nation-wide rally demands an 'alternative to austerity and to policies that only benefit those at the top'

by Sarah Lazare, staff writer

From across the United Kingdom, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of London Saturday to demand an end to brutal—and deadly—austerity measures.

The mass march, still ongoing at the time of publication, comes just over a month after the Conservative (Tory) Party's election wins.

The independent anti-austerity forum, the People's Assembly, declared ahead of the march that protesters aim to send a "clear message to the Tory government; we demand an alternative to austerity and to policies that only benefit those at the top."

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/06/20/austerity-kills-tens-thousands-march-london-against-brutal-cuts

Top Comments

JonnyJames 6 hours ago
Austerity = Theft of public finances and infrastructure

Austerity is a euphemism used by the banksters

The Politicians are merely kleptocrats who work for the banksters. London is a cesspool of financial criminals and foreign oligarchs.

They want to privatize all public assets, asset-strip what is left. Maggie started the job, now it is time for the Grand Finale. Publicly-owned school sites and the NHS owns billions of pounds worth of real estate in London alone. This is a trillion pound prize the .01% are drooling for.

The only way to stop them is what is pictured above and more of it.

UK Readies for Massive Protest Against 'Austerity on Steroids'

Published on
Friday, June 19, 2015
by Common Dreams

Tens of thousands are expected to march against 'nasty, destructive cuts to the things ordinary people care about'

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer


A massive and growing anti-austerity movement will take to the streets of London on Saturday, June 20, with demonstrators demanding "an alternative to austerity and to policies that only benefit those at the top."

Tens of thousands are expected to march from the Bank of England to Parliament Square on Saturday, protesting the conservative government's "nasty, destructive cuts to the things ordinary people care about—the [National Health Service], the welfare state, education and public services."

Organized by The People's Assembly—a politically unaffiliated national campaign against austerity—the demonstration comes in the wake of UK elections in early May that saw the Conservative (Tory) Party seizing the majority of Parliamentary seats and Prime Minister David Cameron sweeping back to power.

"David Cameron and George Osborne can hardly contain their enthusiasm for the torrent of cuts and privatisations they are about to unleash," wrote the Guardian's Seumas Milne on Wednesday. "This is to be austerity on steroids."

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/06/19/uk-readies-massive-protest-against-austerity-steroids

Anti-austerity protest: Charlotte Church tells 250,000 that Government will sell off schools and hospitals


'You Have a Choice': Veterans Call On Drone Operators to Refuse Orders

Posted 19 June 2015 10:18 GMT

Joint statement signed by 45 US military veterans urges drone operators to follow their consciences and say 'no' to surveillance and assassination missions

bySarah Lazare, staff writer

Drone operators at Balad Camp Anaconda, Iraq, August 2007. (Photo: Air Force/public domain)

Dozens of U.S. military veterans released an open letter this week urging drone operators to "refuse to fly missions" or support them in any way—and letting them know that if they say "no" to surveillance and assassination orders, there is a whole community rooting for them.

"At least 6,000 peoples' lives have been unjustly taken by United States drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, the Philippines, Libya and Syria," states the letter, which was organized by the education and advocacy organization KnowDrones.com.

"Those involved in United States drone operations who refuse to participate in drone missions will be acting within accordance of Principle IV of the Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Judgment of the Tribunal, The United Nations 1950," states the letter. "So, yes, you do have a choice—and liability under the law. Choose the moral one. Choose the legal one."

Former drone operators, including Heather Linebaugh, have testified to the horrors inflicted by the remotely operated lethal weapons. This reality is confirmed by civilians and reporters, including the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which tracks the high number of civilian drone killings in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Afghanistan.

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/06/19/you-have-choice-veterans-call-drone-operators-refuse-orders
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