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RCMP Accused of Creating ‘Crisis of Press Freedom’ in Wet’suwet’en Raids

RCMP Accused of Creating ‘Crisis of Press Freedom’ in Wet’suwet’en Raids

Limits on reporters’ access, threats of arrest bring criticism from media, journalism groups.

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RCMP officers forced media back into confined area far from people being arrested at Unist’ot’en Healing Centre, says The Tyee’s Amanda Follett Hosgood. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood.

The RCMP’s handling of the enforcement of an injunction in Wet’suwet’en territory has generated accusations that police unnecessarily interfered with reporters doing their jobs. 

“This is them trying to control the media and block information getting out to the public, and that’s why it’s a misuse of police power,” said Karyn Pugliese, president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

“Regardless of whether or not we get it perfect every time, we just can’t have a functioning democracy without media keeping an eye on the state and reporting back to the public on what they’re seeing so the public can make critical decisions about what kind of country they want to live in.”

An RCMP spokesperson says the police did what they needed to do to ensure safety as they enforced the injunction, and B.C. Premier John Horgan says anyone who feels their rights were infringed has recourse through law enforcement and the courts.

But Ethan Cox, an editor for Ricochet Media based in Montreal, said the police actions were an attack on journalists and the public’s right to know.

“This is a situation, a flash point, a very severe crisis of press freedom that’s happening in British Columbia,” he said. “This is a crisis, and we clearly have a police force that is not respecting the rights of the media and that’s a constitutional problem. That’s not some small potatoes issue.”

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Horgan’s Pipeline Push Betrays His Reconciliation Promise

Horgan’s Pipeline Push Betrays His Reconciliation Promise

First Nations expected a new era; instead the government has embraced colonialism and ignored UNDRIP law.

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‘Is this a scorecard of how many First Nations say yes compared to those who say no? Is that how we measure rights and title?’ Photo by Michael Toledano.

It’s the same old story Indigenous Peoples have heard for generations.

B.C. Premier John Horgan tells the public “the rule of law” demands the Coastal GasLink pipeline go ahead. Permits are in place, and the courts have approved construction.

The opposition of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs is not important to Horgan, as he points to 20 First Nations that have signed agreements to allow the pipeline and negotiated benefits. The five clans who have not agreed don’t seem to count.

Is this a scorecard of how many First Nations say yes compared to those who say no? Is that how we measure rights and title?

Are we not in a new era of reconciliation? A new decade? The decade of the enactment of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Act in this province?

What would I expect from the premier in this new era, in this particular situation when he needs credibility with First Nations if his commitment to UNDRIP is to be taken seriously?

I would expect the premier to look back on past decisions and ensure they were made in the spirit of UNDRIP — including approval of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. His party was making political promises to uphold UNDRIP long before the NDP were in government.

In the 2014 Supreme Court of Canada Tsilhqot’in decision, the justices stated clearly that provincial and federal governments need to be prepared to cancel already approved projects if First Nations establish title to the land and oppose them.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A news chronology of France in 2019: The year of Yellow Vest rebellion

A news chronology of France in 2019: The year of Yellow Vest rebellion

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.’

But before I list the (often unnoticed, misunderstood or covered-up) chronological facts of France’s incredible Yellow Vest year, allow me to briefly summarise it with a personal anecdote:

In mid-April I finally was able to get out of Paris for a few days in between Saturdays and I headed to the countryside, which I adore (in any nation). After a day of decompression something hit me: the metronomic sadism of certain, massive state violence every weekend was not at all a normal state of affairs… and yet Parisians were expending all their psychic energy to convince themselves that everything was indeed “normal”.

What was “everything” from January to mid-April? Every Saturday: Eight thousand cops on the streets of Paris, entire city areas shut down, guaranteed images of violence against unarmed protesters, indiscriminate tear gassings and police brutality, the world aghast at French-style democracy, the knowledge that no way was “President Jupiter” Emmanuel Macron going to make any concessions and that for many people (like me) every Saturday meant certainly risking limb and quite possibly life.

What I realised was that during the first third of the year Parisians did their typical best to be blasé; to act as if all this was quite nothing new whatsoever; to act like getting upset over it was quite poor taste; to act typically Parisian.

That, of course, was total nonsense – pure poseur.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iran Again Blocks Internet & Mobile Service Ahead Of Protesters’ Funerals

Iran Again Blocks Internet & Mobile Service Ahead Of Protesters’ Funerals 

Fearing the potential for renewed protests and violent clashes with police, Iran has again blocked internet and mobile access to broad section of the country on Wednesday.  

This as several funerals will be held over the coming days for protesters killed last month amid a severe government crackdown, which also witness an unprecedented nationwide internet blockage which lasted for a week or more in some provinces. 

Citing Iranian state media, Bloomberg reports, “The mourning services are scheduled to begin on Thursday. The independent Shargh newspaper said five unidentified provinces will be subject to the blackout, while ILNA said internet users in those areas will have access to a limited number of state-approved Iran websites and applications.”

Protesters last month torched gas stations and banks, angry at a sudden massive gas price hike, which turned anti-government, via The Guardian. 

Government authorities are reportedly acting in response to relatives of some among the killed who have posted to social media calling for renewed protests to be held on Thursday in conjunction with ceremonies commemorating the victims (various estimates put those killed from the November protests ranging from 200 to over 300, with the US State Dept. claiming multiple times that number).

The US as well as various human rights organizations have accused Tehran authorities of quelling protests — initially sparked by a huge gas price hike when subsidies were slashed — with live ammunition and other brutal tactics. 

Thus it appears the government is making a move to prevent large-scale protests before they gain momentum. State-run ILNA said of the mobile and internet blockage: “According to this source, it is possible that more provinces will be affected by the shutdown of mobile international connectivity,” after it appeared to spread on Wednesday.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

When Climate Striking Stops ‘Sparking Joy.’ What Comes Next?

When Climate Striking Stops ‘Sparking Joy.’ What Comes Next?

Youth activists pause to plan a fresh wave of action.

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Julia Sampson: Striking ‘opened up a window for youth to act.’ Photo by Theresa Duerr-Farrell.

On a cold Friday in Winnipeg two weeks ago, ten people gathered in a circle outside city hall singing “Happy Birthday.” They were celebrating the one-year anniversary of the city’s first student climate strike. 

“We’re all a little burned out,” said Cam Beer, 17, one of the attendees. “We’ve been going at it for a while and some of these things are not sparking joy as they could.” 

The Winnipeg group strikes every Friday and meets every Monday to organize. I got to know many of its members when I helped plan the global climate strike on Sept. 27. In writing this piece I spoke with many more youth strikers in other cities. What I heard repeatedly is they are weary, frustrated with the lack of government response. They are pausing this Christmas to regroup and strategize. 

But they show no signs of stopping. In fact, it feels like they’re only getting warmed up. 

Cricket Guest, 20, an Anishinaabekwe Wiisaakodewikwe land defender and one of the lead coordinators of the Toronto climate strikes, can relate. She said these days she’s mostly angry. 

“The feeling of anger stems from a feeling of deep hurt. Myself and other student climate strikers feel deeply hurt people in power are not taking this issue as seriously as we are. If we are able to take the time out of our day, why is it not a priority for the adults who say they care about our future?”

Greta Thunberg expressed similar frustrations recently, when she told the United Nations, “Of course there is no victory, because the only thing we want to see is real action.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Protests Banned Across India After All Hell Breaks Loose

Protests Banned Across India After All Hell Breaks Loose

Tens of thousands of people in at least 15 cities across India Thursday defied a government ban on protests after violent demonstrations last week sent the country into chaos following the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), reported Bloomberg

CAA is a measure that the Modi government passed into law last Wednesday that allows amnesty to only non-Muslim illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. The result of the controversial new citizenship law considered by many to be discriminatory against Muslims led to violent protest late last week and through the weekend. 

Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, and Parsis from the three eligible countries can now receive citizenship if they have illegally entered India though Muslims from the same countries cannot. 

The protest ban is a police order that prohibits more than four people from assembling. Still, tens of thousands of people ignored the government’s call to stand down and have been demonstrating this week, especially in regions of Bangalore, Hyderabad, Patna, Chandigarh, and Delhi.


Hundreds of people have been arrested in parts of India as authorities impose internet blackouts in an effort to end mass protests against a controversial citizenship law that has rocked the country for the past week https://reut.rs/34xlZUg


Telecom companies and internet service providers in high protest regions shut down data service this week, likely on government orders, to squash coordination efforts of organizers who were responsible for assembling thousands of people into the streets via social media. 

While Thursday’s protests have been relatively calm – here’s what happened last weekend: 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Angry French Pensioners Cut Power To Central Bank, Hint At More To Come

Angry French Pensioners Cut Power To Central Bank, Hint At More To Come

France’s trade unions on Wednesday defended a series of illegal power cuts to 150,000 homes, thousands of companies and the Bank of France in an effort to force the Macron government to quash its wide-ranging pension reform, according to Reuters.

The power cuts, illegal under French law, deepened a sense of chaos in the second week of nationwide strikes that have crippled transport, shut schools and brought more than half a million people onto the street against President Emmanuel Macron’s reform.

Asked on French radio whether the power cuts weren’t a step too far, Philippe Martinez, the head of the hardline CGT union, said the cuts were necessary to force Macron to back down. 

“I understand these workers’ anger,” the mustachioed union leader said. “These are targeted cuts. You’ll understand that spitting on the public service can make some of us angry.”

Following a meeting with government officials, he hinted at further cuts, saying “we may amplify these kinds of methods”. –Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron slammed the pensioners “in the strongest of terms” during a cabinet meeting, according to a government spokeswoman – however his office acknowledged that they were open to “improvements” to their reform package ahead of another day of negotiations between the prime minister and union leaders.

Macron wants to turn the myriad of French pension systems into a single points-based one. That would force staff at state-owned firms such as railway SNCF or utility EDF, who enjoy more generous pension plans than private-sector workers, to work longer.

SNCF train drivers currently can retire at just over 50, for instance, against 62 for those in the private sector. That means taxpayers have to plug the SNCF pensions deficit to the tune of 3 billion euros every year.

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All Hell Breaks Loose In India As Violent Protests Spread After Citizenship Law

All Hell Breaks Loose In India As Violent Protests Spread After Citizenship Law

As central banks ramp up money printing to prevent the global economy from crashing, we’ve been documenting an alarming surge of social upheavals erupting across the world in 2019.

The latest unrest is spreading across India like wildfire after the Modi government passed a new law that grants citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from three Muslim-majority countries but doesn’t give Muslim migrants from those countries citizenship, reported Al Jazeera.

Called the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), the new measure was passed last week and grants citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, who have been persecuted for their faith.

Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, and Parsis from the three eligible countries will automatically be given citizenship if they have illegally entered the country.

So here’s where things get complicated. Rights groups and a Muslim political party have gone bonkers over the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi isn’t allowing Muslim migrants from the three country’s who have illegally entered India – a path towards citizenship. They say the bill violates India’s constitution that prohibits religious discrimination.

As a result of the bill, demonstrations have broken out across the country, including in New Delhi and various large cities in several states. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

2019 was a year of global unrest, spurred by anger at rising inequality – and 2020 is likely to be worse

2019 was a year of global unrest, spurred by anger at rising inequality – and 2020 is likely to be worse

2019 may well go down as the most disrupted year in global politics since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the subsequent implosion of the former Soviet Union.

However, the likelihood is that 2020 will be worse, and bloodier.

Conditions that spawned global unrest on every continent in 2019 are unlikely to recede. Rather, they are likely to worsen in the face of a slowing global economyand little sign of causes of disaffection being addressed.

Washington as disruptor

In a word, the world is in a mess, made more threatening by the retreat of the Trump administration from America’s traditional role as a stabilising force.

President Donald Trump has moved the US away from its traditional role of global stabilising force. AAP/EPA/Kevin Dietsch

If anything, Washington is a disruptor in its abandonment of international agreements. These include: the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership, previously the Trans Pacific Partnership, aimed at liberalising Asia-Pacific trade. The US has also withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that froze Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Washington’s defenestration of the JCPOA and its reimposition of tough sanctions on Iran has further destabilised the world’s most volatile region.

All this and more, including an unresolved trade conflict between the US and China, virtually guarantees 2020 will stretch the sinews of a fragile global order.

An evolving US-China technology war and risks of a technological decoupling add to the gloom.

The world is in worse shape than during the GFC

The Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08 was a period of intense uncertainty as a global financial system buckled. But, for the most part, that distress was confined to governments, boardrooms and the offices of international lending institutions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Western France Runs Out Of Gas As “Massive Strikes” Set To Paralyze Entire Nation

Western France Runs Out Of Gas As “Massive Strikes” Set To Paralyze Entire Nation

France is bracing for major transportation disruptions throughout the country starting Thursday, as trade unions launch a strike in response to changes President Emmanuel Macron wants to make to the country’s retirement system, while port blockades have resulted in widespread fuel shortages across the country. Much of the Paris Metro will be shut down, as will many national and international train lines, including certain Eurostar services. Flights will also be canceled, as air traffic controllers say they will join the protests through Saturday.

Hundreds of filling stations around western France have run out of gasoline and diesel as blockades of oil refineries enter their second week according to industry group UFIP. According to The Local, construction workers have been blockading refineries in Brittany since last week and a blockade at La Rochelle has resumed.

French media reported on Tuesday morning that 390 filling stations have no fuel at all, and another 389 have limited supplies. The areas affected include Brittany, the west of France, the south east coast area around Marseille and some parts of eastern France near the Swiss border.

For an interactive map of which filling stations are affected, click here

Source: thelocal.fr

Workers are staging blockages at depots in Brest, Lorient, Le Mans and Vern-sur-Seiche. Further south, in the region of La Rochelle, another blockade was cleared at 4.30pm on Friday, but resumed at midnight on Monday. The blockaders belong to the public construction group BTP, Bâtiments et Travaux Publics (“Buildings and Public Construction”). They are protesting a fuel tax hike planned for 2020, which they say will have a negative financial impact on their companies. Until now, the so-called gazole non routier (GNR), used mainly by construction workers and farmers, is subject to a tax benefit that is planned to be phased out in 2020.

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ATMs Spitting Back Bank Cards In Lebanon As “Dollars Have Virtually Disappeared”

ATMs Spitting Back Bank Cards In Lebanon As “Dollars Have Virtually Disappeared”

Though banks reopened this week in Lebanon, with the country’s financial institutions remaining front and center in massive anti-government protests amid accusations of corruption and wild mismanagement, withdrawal limits have now been made official by the country’s Banks Association — previously unofficially enforced. 

The formal controls now include limiting withdrawals to $1,000 per week, with transfers abroad only ambiguously defined necessary for “urgent matters”.

Yet the collective panic, driven by fears patrons won’t be able to retrieve their deposits from banks, has only compounded, as now The Washington Post reports “Dollars have virtually disappeared.”

Vandalized ATM machine in Lebanon’s northern port city of Tripoli this week, via Middle East Online.

“Over recent weeks, ATMs in Lebanon have been spitting back bank cards, refusing to provide dollars to those who ask for them, though people here have long used the American currency alongside the Lebanese pound,” the WaPo reported.

Protest-racked Lebanon over the past month has seen its banks opened for only half that time. Given that most of the country’s debt is held by local banks, and with the scene of police literally standing at teller windows having to enforce controls and restrain patrons from removing all of their own money, the vicious cycle continues hurtling the $86 billion indebted country toward economic collapse. 

First, the deteriorating security situation since Oct. 17 forced their prior closure for two weeks, with the country’s association of banks then fearing a run on deposits, and after a brief opening staff went on strike, citing personal safety at the hands of angry citizens demanding their cash from the “thieving” banks (literally in some cases involving clients with guns). 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

In Landslide Vote, US House Joins Senate In Defying China, Backing Hong Kong Protesters

In Landslide Vote, US House Joins Senate In Defying China, Backing Hong Kong Protesters

One day after the Senate unanimously passed a Bill backing Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, and spawning a wave of complaints and threats from China which warned it would retaliate, moments ago the U.S. House of Representatives followed in the footsteps of the Senate, and in a nearly unanimous vote cleared legislation supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong by requiring an annual review of whether the city is sufficiently autonomous from Beijing to justify its special trading status, defying objections from China.

The bill, S. 1838, which would require annual reviews of Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law and sanction officials deemed responsible for human rights abuses and undermining the city’s autonomy, passed the House 417-1 late on Wednesday afternoon setting up a confrontation with Beijing that could imperil a long-awaited trade deal between the world’s two largest economies.

The bill now goes to Trump as soon as Thursday to be vetoed or signed into law, according to a congressional aide.

While the White House declined to comment on whether Trump will sign the legislation, Trump’s position is now acutely precarious because Congress would easily be able to override any veto. If Trump signs the bill, he could torpedo the trade talks, while refusing to sign it would give his political opponents a chance to attack him for being weak on China, while at the same time facing an ongoing impeachment process.

“The Congress is sending an unmistakable message to the world that the United States stands in solidarity with freedom-loving people of Hong Kong and that we fully support their fight for freedom,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor. “This has been a very unifying issue for us.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Over 100 Protesters Killed In Iran Amid Largest Internet Shutdown In Nation’s History

Over 100 Protesters Killed In Iran Amid Largest Internet Shutdown In Nation’s History

Now five days into widespread protests in some one hundred Iranian cities after a dramatic gas price hike last Friday, Amnesty Internationalreports that at least 106 have been killed

However, “The organisation believes that the real death toll may be much higher, with some reports suggesting as many as 200 have been killed,” Amnesty said in a statement.

This as the government has cut off internet access across much of the country, resulting in few videos of clashes with police reaching the West, as in the early couple of days of the unrest. 

Image source: AFP/Getty Images

A statement from the global outage monitor Oracle’s Internet Intelligence called it the largest blockage ever observed in Iran:

Protesters took to the streets shortly after the government announced an increase in fuel prices by as much as 300%. Social media images showed banks, petrol stations and government buildings set ablaze by rioters. Some protesters chanted “down with Khamenei,” according to videos, referring to the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The internet blackout started on Saturday evening and continued through Monday, according to internet watchdogs. Oracle’s Internet Intelligence called it the “largest internet shutdown ever observed in Iran.”

The United Nations is now urging Iran to lift the internet blockage and to show restraint after what the international body called the “clearly very serious” extent of casualties.

The UN high commissioner also acknowledged it is looking into reports of live ammunition being used on demonstrators, which activists say there’s ample video evidence for. 

The government-imposed internet block began on Saturday, leaving some 80 million citizens without online access. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Most Severe Internet Outage To Date Hits Iraq After Government Blocks Access

Most Severe Internet Outage To Date Hits Iraq After Government Blocks Access

Iraqi anti-government demonstrators fear a major new crackdown is coming after much of the nation’s internet access has been cut, especially in the restive south. This also as Baghdad authorities fear outside ‘foreign interference’ after President Trump referenced the mass protests on Twitter. 

A nearly nationwide blockage was first reported last night, and was briefly restored early Tuesday before being cut off again. “At the time of writing, national connectivity has fallen below 19% of normal levels sending tens of millions of users offline across Baghdad, also impacting Basra, Karbala and other population centers,” Reuters cited NetBlocks as stating late in the day Monday. “The new disruption is believed to be the most severe observed in Iraq to date,” the report added.

The large scale protests, raging for over a month, have resulted in violent clashes with police, and involved Iraq’s paramilitary units backed by Iran.

And NetBlocks monitoring group further observed into Tuesday  “Internet shut down again across most of Iraq following brief 3.5 hour restoration; real-time network data show national connectivity currently at 30% of ordinary levels” — related to the ongoing mass protests which have swept the country for over the past month. 

After accusations of Iran being involved in assisting and directing Baghdad security forces’ crackdown, which in many case has involved live ammo to disband crowds, resulting at this point in over 250 Iraqis killed and nearly 10,000 wounded, there’s growing fears that a Syria-style broader proxy war could emerge. 


⚠️

Alert: Internet shut down again across most of #Iraq following brief 3.5 hour restoration; real-time network data show national connectivity currently at 30% of ordinary levels; incident ongoing #iraq_protests #KeepItOn

https://netblocks.org/reports/iraq-shuts-down-internet-again-as-protests-intensify-Q8oOWz8n …

View image on Twitter

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PEPE ESCOBAR: The Age of Anger Exploding in Serial Geysers

PEPE ESCOBAR: The Age of Anger Exploding in Serial Geysers

The presidential election in Argentina pitted the people against neoliberalism and the people won. What happens next will have a tremendous impact all over Latin America and serve as a blueprint for assorted Global South struggles.

South America, Again, Leads Fight Against Neoliberalism

Alberto Fernandez supporters celebrating his presidential victory in Argentina. (Screen shot/YouTube)

The presidential election in Argentina was no less than a game-changer and a graphic lesson for the whole Global South. It pitted, in a nutshell, the people versus neoliberalism. The people won – with new President Alberto Fernandez and former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) as his VP. 

Neoliberalism was represented by Mauricio Macri: a marketing product, former millionaire playboy, president of football legends Boca Juniors, fanatic of New Age superstitions, and CEO obsessed with spending cuts, who was unanimously sold by Western mainstream media as the new paradigm of a post-modern, efficient politician.

Well, the paradigm will soon be evacuated, leaving behind a wasteland: $250 billion in foreign debt; less than $50 billion in reserves; inflation at 55 percent; the U.S. dollar at over 60 pesos (a family needs roughly $500 to spend in a month; 35.4 percent of Argentine homes can’t make it); and, incredible as it may seem in a self-sufficient nation, a food emergency.     

“The Head of Macri: How the First President of ‘No Politics’  Thinks, Lives and Leads.”

Macri, in fact the president of so-called Anti-Politics, No- Politics in Argentina, was a full IMF baby, enjoying total “support” (and gifted with a humongous $58 billion loan). New lines of credit, for the moment, are suspended.   Fernandez is going to have a really hard time trying to preserve sovereignty while negotiating with foreign creditors, or “vultures,” as masses of Argentines define them.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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