Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category

Grand Canal Project

December 22, 2014
Grand Canal protest

Grand Canal protest

The Grand Canal Project as it is known, is a mega-project, a canal that will cut a 178 mile long swath across Nicaragua. It will destroy almost a million acres of rainforest and wetland, heavily dredge and potentially salinate Lake Cocibolca – the largest source of freshwater in Central America – and remove hundreds of indigenous communities in its path, including the village of Bangkukuk.

It is seen as an environmental and human rights disaster.

Lake Nicaragua is the largest reservoir of drinking water in Central America, not to mention an important source of both irrigation water and eco-tourism revenue for one of the poorest nations in the region.

The canal, which will also include a rail line, an oil pipeline and deep water shipping terminals at either end.

An article in Nature by Axel Meyer, professor of zoology and evolutionary biology at the University of Konstanz, Germany, and Jorge A. Huete-Pérez, director of the Centre for Molecular Biology at the Universidad Cenroamericana, Managua, Nicaragua, and the president of the Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences, highlighted the lack of any independent environmental assessment reports of the proposed canal, and no requirement to make the assessments undertaken by the HKND Group available to the Nicaraguan public.

This canal could create an environmental disaster in Nicaragua and beyond. The excavation of hundreds of kilometres from coast to coast, traversing Lake Nicaragua, the largest drinking-water reservoir in the region, will destroy around 400,000 hectares of rain forests and wetlands. The accompanying development could imperil surrounding ecosystems. Some 240 kilometres north of the most likely route of the canal lies the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve — 2 million hectares of tropical forest that is the last refuge of many disappearing species. Less than 115 kilometres to the south is the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve, with more than 318,000 hectares of tropical dry forest. Worse still, the probable canal route cuts through the northern sector of the Cerro Silva Natural Reserve.

Such are concerns over land rights that it has united ranchers previously loyal to the right-wing Contras and small-holder indigenous farmers who have, until now, supported the left-wing president and former Sandinista revolutionary Daniel Ortega, and they are threatening to take up arms against the government, potentially reigniting the conflicts that led to civil war in the 1980s.

The Chinese Hong Kong based company Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Commission (HKND), will have a lease for fifty years, with the right to extend for a further fifty years. Effectively the Nicaragua has been ceded to a foreign corporate entity. It has been pushed through without any consultation.

HKND Group is a private company led by billionaire lawyer Wang Jing, there have long been rumours that the project is being directly supported by the Chinese government as a means to gain geopolitical influence in Central America.

Voting like mindless sheep along party lines and with only a perfunctory nod at due democratic process, Sandinista lawmakers on last year unilaterally passed into law a presidentially mandated canal concession (Law 840) that gives unknown Chinese firm HKND-Group a 50-year contract to “design, develop, engineer, finance, construct, possess, operate, maintain and administer” the Great Nicaragua Canal megaproject. The upstart canal company, which is based in Hong Kong but registered in Grand Cayman Island, would own the project for the first 50 years and become a minority partner for the second 50 years.

The concession law, which was written in English and opposed by every opposition party in Nicaragua, was rushed into the books in less than a week, without any public debate or consultation from indigenous groups whose lands will be expropriated, in violation of the Atlantic Coast Autonomy Law. The one Sandinista lawmaker who abstained (she may have nodded off before the vote) was fired from her elected office the following week, which came as a surprise to those who thought they were living in a democracy.

Opposition groups argue the concession violates 40 articles of the constitution related to national sovereignty, independence, the environment, and indigenous rights. Critics claim it also violates 10 international treaties and agreements and 15 instruments of the Central American Integration System. More than 30 constitutional challenges were filed against the canal law, but Sandinista judges summarily dismissed them all in one day without consideration.

The Sandinista government is reportedly planning to expropriate up to 7,000 homes to make way for the 172-mile canal, but it’s still anyone’s guess who’s on the hit list. The canal law says that the government can expropriate any land deemed necessary for the Chinese canal, which will cut a 13-mile wide swath through the middle of the country, affecting 12 municipalities, 6 of which will be cut in half to make way for shipping commerce, golf resorts, free-trade zones, “Coast Relaxing Resort,” and other crap that Nicaragua didn’t know it needed.

Some 282 rural settlements totalling more than 24,100 homes will be directly affected by the canal, according to an independent report by the Centro Humboldt.

What the report doesn’t say is that the canal will cut right through the middle of “contra country;” and these anti-Sandinista hardliners says they aren’t willing to surrender their property without a fight. Though the concessioners are offering to pay a small amount for the expropriated land, the campesinos says their land is not for sale. As they say in Nicaragua, sometimes it’s better to have a good fight than a bad deal.

Retired general and revolutionary hero Hugo Torres, known as “Comandante Uno” from the Sandinistas’ guerrilla assault on the National Palace in 1978, says the army that he helped to turn into a professional fighting force is now playing a “sad role” by protecting a Chinese businessman.

The concession law exempts the Chinese company from complying with any of Nicaragua’s environmental laws, exposing the country to possible “irreversible destruction of fragile ecosystems.”

The canal passes through a seismic zone, will be prone to flooding and there may not be enough water in the country to fill the canal.

Environmental study. what environmental study? None has been carried out.

As documented by Naomi Klein in This Changes Everything, we see indigenous people at the battle lines with global corporations, with corrupt politician lining their pockets.

No amount of money, can compensate for lost land, polluted waters.

Sandinistas did not liberate their country to hand it to the Chinese and to line the pockets of a corrupt political elite.

Daniel Ortega is a corrupt bastard who has sold out his people, his country for dirty Chinese money.

Daniel Ortega forgets the people have long experience of waging guerilla warfare against foreign occupiers and those on their payroll.

Save the Children honour Tony Blair for his ‘humanitarian work’

November 20, 2014

This is sickening, (alleged) war criminal and profiteer Tony Blair honoured by Save the Children.

They not only gave him this award, but it was at a glitzy stomach churning charity event.

I am lost for words, offensive, disgusting, appalling, sickening ….

This is a man who hobnobs with some of the world’s worst dictators and corrupt politicians, sleaze does not begin to describe Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi and Hosni Mubarak count as his cronies.

His latest has been to advise brutal ruler of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev how to sanitize human rights abuses and killing of unarmed protesters, for a retainer of £7 million a year.

The revolving door, the political-media-charity establishment. Chief executive of Save the Children (UK) is Justin Forsyth, who was an adviser to both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He was appointed in 2010 on a salary of £160,000.

Save the Children done themselves a huge amount of damage with this glitzy charity bash.

I will be telling a local Save the Children charity shop exactly what I think of them, and I urge others to do the same.

Paulo Coelho and his wife Christina help support an orphanage in Rio to support the kids from the favelas. I do not see them being honoured by Save the Children. Nor the many unsung heroes who work in the field, nor the volunteers who man their charity shops.

Save the Children has lost all credibility with this award.

In Revolution, Russell Brand tells of going to a glitzy Hollywood charity bash, and being told it was mandatory for the success of his career.

The latest Band Aid circus regurgitation, a line up of a bunch of tax dodgers. Adele refused to take part. That it was reelased on tacky X Factor, says it all.

A group of African musicians have recorded Africa Stop Ebola to raise money. Was you aware of that?

If you really want to help, make a donation to MSF.

In This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein documents the abuses by Big Business green groups, including oil drilling on a nature reserve.

This is why I do not support Big Business charities and green groups.

If we want real change, assuming you are not happy with money being transferred from the poor the the rich, the trashing of the planet, then effect real change.

Julie Gower reading an extract from Revolution

November 10, 2014

Singer-songwriter Julie Gower reading an extract from Revolution.

Russell Brand has come under sustained and vicious attack by trolls and the media-political establishment for writing Revolution, which is a strong indication he must have something worthwhile to say.

Even Julie Gower was not exempt. She too came under sustained attack, simply for reading an extract.

Syrian atrocities

November 2, 2014
Syrian boy sleeping between his parents

Syrian boy sleeping between his parents

In Syria, no fake blood, no silly costumes, just everyday reality.

And you think you have had a hard day.

This is what democracy looks like

October 23, 2014
this is what democracy looks like

this is what democracy looks like

this is what democracy look like

this is what democracy look like

At the weekend activists occupied Parliament Square to show solidarity with the activists in Hong Kong.

They were met by brutal attacks by the police. They managed to hold their ground, but have now been dispersed leaving one man clinging to a statue of Winston Churchill.

Man and statue are now surrounded by fencing and a phalanx of police.

Anyone who tries to pass the man food or water is arrested or threatened with arrest.

Do the police have nothing better to do?

Occupy Democracy

October 20, 2014
Occupy Democracy

Occupy Democracy

For a couple of weeks or more, pro-democracy activists have taken to the streets of Hong Kong demanding open and fair elections. They have faced down police brutality and attacks by thugs orchestrated by the imposed illegitimate chief executive (Hong Kong a business not a democracy).

At the weekend, supporters mounted a rally in solidarity outside Parliament.

With full backing of the political establishment?

Er no, akin to scenes from Hong Kong, police were sent in to brutally break up the rally.

In the face of police brutality, Parliament Square has been held.

And as usual deathly silence from mainstream media.

In the UK we do not have democracy, we have a sham democracy.

We have party apparatchiks who are out of touch with the people, who have never done an honest day’s work in their lives, who are in the pockets of Big Business. The people are reduced to Election fodder, cast your vote every five years then keep quiet.

In Hong Kong, thousands of people are fighting courageously for the right to a real vote. They know that a system where candidates are decided by the state is no democracy.

In Scotland, 45% of people rejected Westminster rule. They know that a system that takes the power to make local decisions out of their hands is no democracy.

Democracy is not just about having a vote every four, now five years. It is about having the power to make your voice heard. It is about people taking the decisions, not corrupt politicians.

A government that answers to profit before people is no democracy.

In the UK today, record numbers of people are homeless, record numbers rely on food banks to feed their families, and record numbers face fuel poverty as energy prices rise eight times faster than wages.

At the same time, inequality is back on the rise, making us one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. The amount we ask businesses to contribute to our social services in tax is set to be the lowest of any of the G20 countries. Tax evasion and avoidance costs the UK £95 billion a year, enough to fund the NHS in England.

Nobody voted to be made homeless, hungry or unemployed. It is clear whose voices are being heard.

Austerity, Shock Doctrine, is not working.

We need to start a movement for real democracy. The voices of the majority have been ignored for too long. We need to give ourselves the tools to hold our politicians to account, and to end the corporate lobbying power that drowns our voices out.

Parliament Square is to be occupied 17-26t October 2014, to begin a fight for a real democracy. There, in the shadow of Nelson Mandela’s statue, we will transform the Square into a civic space where we can re-envision what our society could be like, with talks, workshops, community assemblies, music and theatre.

This is what real democracy was like in Athens. People met on a hillside overlooking the Acropolis. Anyone could speak. They stood on a large stone and addressed the assembled crowd. That large stone is still there. Not the sham democracy in Parliament.

The NHS is being privatised whilst the politicians claim it is safe in their hands.

TTIP is being forced through in secrecy. A trade agreement that is a front to hand more power to global corporations.

The planet fries whilst the politicians lie.

I am Malala

October 15, 2014

I am Malala, was one of the events at the Guildford Book Festival.

I would have attended, only the local Amnesty International group screwed up big time and booked a venue that was far too small. It was oversubscribed with a long waiting list, and that was before she was awarded the Nobel Prize.

Same night was Andrew Marr discussing his satire Head of State, and so Andrew Marr it was.

Malala, when she opened Birmingham library donated a book. The book she donated was The Alchemist, her favourite book and the book that has inspired her.

War correspondent Christina Lamb is co-author of I am Malala. The Zahir is based on Christina Lamb. She was one of the few journalists granted the privilege of interviewing Paulo Coelho on his latest book Adultery. She approached the interview with trepidation, wondering if once again a books based on her. Her fears were unfounded.

Guildford Book Festival 12-19 October 2014 at venues in and around Guildford.

Malala awarded Nobel Peace Prize

October 11, 2014
Malala Nobel Peace Prize

Malala Nobel Peace Prize

We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced. — Malala Yousafzai

I am proud that I am the first Pakistani and I am honoured that I am the first young woman or the first young person to be receiving this award. I’m thankful to my father for not clipping my wings and letting me fly. — Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

For once, a worthy recipient.

Cristina Lamb, co-author with Malala Yousafzai of I Am Malala, is appearing at the Guildford Book Festival. The event is oversubscribed, a long waiting list (which will now grow longer), a totally inadequate venue, and yet the organisers are ignoring all requests to relocate to another venue. They lack even the courtesy to respond. They seem more interested in tweeting drooling, sycophantic tweets promoting boring celebrities.

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong use Firechat

October 1, 2014
net-savvy Hong Kong activists

net-savvy Hong Kong activists

Occupy Central pro-democracy net-savvy activists in Hong Kong are using Firechat to create local area peer-to-peer networks using bluetooth. This keeps them off the internet.

Note: Firechat is not secure, it does not use encryption.

The Internet’s Own Boy

September 20, 2014

Documentary on internet pioneer and activist Aaron Swartz.


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