They came prepared for war: RCMP crackdown on peaceful Mik'maq protest →


Just two days after UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya’s Canadian tour concluded, hundreds of RCMP officers raided a peaceful Mik’maq protest camp at SWN Resources Canada’s proposed shale gas development site near Rexton, N.B. As revealed by a continuous stream of videos and photos on twitter and facebook, The RCMP, —enforcing an injunction that was obtained by SWN Resources Canada—came prepared for a war. In one photo that appeared early in the day, an RCMP Sniper is hiding in a ditch, possibly pointing his rifle at a woman.

In at least one instance, an RCMP officer attempted to incite a violent response from nearby protesters, saying “The Crown land belongs to the Govt, not the F*cking Natives.” Despite the heavy presence of children, women and elders, as the day rolled on, the RCMP indiscriminately shot tear gas, plastic bullets, and pepper spray at the protesters, leading to an unknown number of injuries. The RCMP also blocked medical personnel from entering the area to tend to the injured. At the time of this writing, the RCMP have arrested more than 40 people, including the Elsipogtog First Nation Chief, several journalists and all members of the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society. They are also enforcing a media blackout, preventing reporters from gaining access to the area and documenting possible human rights abuses.

Some protesters responded in kind. Earlier in the morning, “Molotov cocktails were thrown from the woods […] in defense of the land and peoples. The RCMP, some with long rifles, entered the woods. Shots were fired, and screaming was heard.” reports EF! Newswire. Later on, a total of Six RCMP vehicles were set ablaze.

The RCMP raid is widely being considered a preemptive action to prevent the October 18 day of action that was issued 5 days ago by the Mik’maq Warriors Society.

In the call to action, Suzane Patles, an Ilnu woman and member of the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society calls for physical support at the blockade, solidarity actions across Turtle Island on Oct. 18th and a flooding of Kanadian official representatives’ phone and mail lines in protest of the court injunction that the RCMP enforced today.

In response to today’s raid, at least two additional solidarity blockades have been organized, Six Nations closing Highway 6 and Tobique First Nations blocking off the Trans Canada highway.

Numerous solidarity actions are also being organized across Canada and the United States:

Winnipeg: 4pm today at Cdn Museum for Human Rights
New York:
Washington DC: details unavailable

Full event listing:

"For years we have been saying [violence against aboriginal women] is not a women’s issue, [and it] is not a native problem. This is a Canadian human-rights issue…This is racialized, sexualized violence. This is about hate crimes in this country, aboriginal women being targeted for extreme sexual violence because they are aboriginal women. And we need that changed."
- Jennifer Lord, Native Women’s Association of Canada [source]




Tahmina Kohistani, the only female athlete to represent Afghanistan competes in the Women’s 100m Sprint. Finishing 31st out of 32 athletes.


“Such a short distance, she thought. Just 100 more meters and it would all go away. The abuse: the men watching her train in Kabul, heckling her to go home, “to get behind the man;” the taxi driver who kicked her out of his cab when he found out she was training for the Olympics.”

“It is the journey. Being here is more important for me than a gold medal.”

Followers, if you read one thing today and only one thing today, READ Tahmina’s story. Had me in tears. It is one of inspiration, strength, power, change and courage.

The Paradox of Israeli Discrimination


In the last three weeks, two ostensibly contradictory rallies were held in Tel-Aviv.

First, on May 23rd, more than one thousand Israelis gathered, calling for the expulsion of African migrants from the country. Many African asylum seekers, primarily from South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, were beaten in the streets. Politician Miri Regev from Likud, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s political party, referred to them as “infiltrators” and “a cancer in our body.” Subsequently, the Israeli Knesset passed a law permitting authorities to detain migrants without charge for up to three years. In response, a Human Rights Watch official said that “Israeli officials are not only adding rhetorical fuel to the xenophobic fire, but they now have a new law that punishes refugees in violation of international law.”

Two weeks later, in the same city, tens of thousands marched in Tel-Aviv’s annual Gay Pride Parade. The event attracted LGBT tourists from around the world. Earlier in the year, Tel-Aviv was rated the world’s best destination for gay travelers. In a blog post for the Huffington Post, Sharon Segal of the Israel Project wrote that “Israel has become one of the most progressive countries in the world and is recognized as the most tolerant country in the Middle East in legislating equality for sexual minorities and ensuring their civil and personal rights.”

This obvious asymmetry of civil and human rights begs the question: how can Israel be so progressive in its relations with the LGBT community yet so discriminatory to its racial and ethnic minorities?

In examining this phenomenon, it’s helpful to examine the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. In its Declaration, Israel’s founders promoted a vision of a “Jewish and democratic” state. This conflict between Jewishness and universal equality has been embedded in the fabric of Israel’s political culture ever since.

This dichotomy is enormously ambitious. To create a state that must, by definition, give preference to one religious and ethnic majority (Jewish) while maintaining equal rights for its minority citizens (democratic) requires a delicate balancing act on par with a tightrope walker.

Lately, the Israeli state and, arguably, many of its citizens, have been performing this balancing act with the grace and subtlety of an elephant. Not only are members of the Prime Minister’s party referring to African migrants as “a cancer,” but a majority of the Israeli Jewish public feels the same way. A third of Israeli Jews condone anti-migrant violence. The priority of maintaining equal rights for ethnic and religious minorities has been subjugated to the professed urgency of protecting Israel’s Jewish character and majority.

It is the preeminence of Jewish Israel over Democratic Israel in the Declaration’s dichotomy that explains why Israel is the most gay-friendly countries in the Middle East even while it coterminously espouses quasi-fascist rhetoric towards African refugees. It explains how another Likud MK can say that “an enemy state of infiltrators was established in Israel, and its capital is south Tel-Aviv,” the same city that was overwhelmingly voted the gay capital of the world.

To date, Israel has succeed in creating a society with a free market and a free press, but failed to engender true equality for its racial and ethnic minorities. In another recent event, Neve Shalom~Wahat al-Salam, the binational Israeli-Palestinian village in which I lived for six months, was attacked by right-wing Jewish settlers, who spray painted slogans such as “Death to Arabs” and “Kahane was right” on homes, schools and cars.

Supporters and lovers of Israel the world over need to ask themselves some serious questions: why have Russian Jewish immigrants been welcomed into Israeli society much more than Ethiopian Jewish immigrants? Why is it OK for Israel to grant citizenship to any Jew who wishes to make aliyah while it continues to build settlements—against the opposition of the United States, European Union and United Nations— on occupied Palestinian land, disenfranchising 3.5 million people?

Why has discrimination in Tel-Aviv against the LGBT community been successfully eliminated, while racism against Palestinians, Ethiopians Jews and African migrants is mainstream and ubiquitous? Quite possibly, the Israeli LGBT community would not be accepted with the same openness if its members weren’t Jewish and white.

The extreme polarity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often prevents supporters of Israel from seeing the State’s shortcomings, and critics of Israel from seeing the State’s genuine accomplishments. It’s important to realize that the two events in Tel-Aviv—the ethnocentric and xenophobic treatment of African migrants and the open and progressive Gay Pride Parade—are equally prevalent threads of Israeli political culture.

The balanced vision of a “Jewish and democratic state” has yet to be realized; Jewish Israel is trumping Democratic Israel. The status quo in Israel today is closer to an ethnocracy, or in other words, “a democratic state just for Jews” and it’s time to correct this before Israel’s reputation as a liberal democracy is completely eroded.


I have met Davi on a couple of occasions, so I feel quite strongly about this - I’d appreciate it if you’d reblog the shit out of it. Also, if anyone of my followers knows how to give this a fancy blue news tag, I’d love you forever.

Yanomami spokesman warns UN of mining threat
© Survival International

Yanomami shaman and spokesman Davi Kopenawa warned the UN in Geneva this week of the dangers illegal gold mining is bringing to his people.

Davi stated that thousands of illegal miners are currently working in the Yanomami territory, destroying the rainforest, polluting rivers and putting the Indians’ lives at risk. The uncontacted Yanomami are particularly vulnerable.

The Yanomami are lobbying the Brazilian authorities to evict the miners. Despite the Indiansholding protests and attending meetings, the authorities have taken no action.

Davi also spoke out against a controversial bill which, if passed, would allow large-scale mining in indigenous territories. Interviewed in Switzerland, he warned that it ‘will not bring any benefit to the Indians’, rather would lead to ‘land devastation, river pollution, and even more diseases’.

2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Yanomami territory in Brazil, which was set up for the Indians’ exclusive use.

It is the Brazilian authorities’ responsibility to protect the land, and to evict the miners and prevent future invasions.

However, Davi said, ‘The majority of politicians want to exploit the land, so they don’t listen to the indigenous people’.

Davi traveled to Geneva for its International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights, where filmmaker Daniel Schweizer’s documentary on indigenous rights, ‘Indiens en Sursis’, was screened.

His visit was supported by various NGOs, including the World Organization Against Torture, Hutukara Yanomami Association, Instituto Socioambiental, doCip and Survival International. 


This Is All Kinds Of Wrong of the Day: Calls for the reform of Morocco’s penal code were sparked over the weekend as news spread of a teenage girl who had committed suicide after being compelled to marry her rapist.

In Morocco, a rapist can “opt out” of a prison term by marrying his victim, so long as the victim and their family agree. Despite this clause, many say victims are often strong-armed into marriages they want no part of.

16-year-old Amina Filali’s father, Lahcen, blamed the marriage on pressure from the courts. “The prosecutor advised my daughter to marry,” he told the online news site “He said: ‘Go and make the marriage contract’.”

According to Amina’s mother, the girl complained on more than one occasion that her husband/rapist was beating her, but was advised to be patient. On Saturday, Amina could no longer take the abuse, and made the decision to end her own life by swallowing rat poison.

Moroccan woman, galvanized by Amina’s tragic death, have taken to the streets and launched petitions to demand that criminal law be changed to make it explicit that rapists cannot be allowed to marry their victims.

Moroccan law is known for being relatively female-friendly, compared with the rest of North Africa. Despite this, nearly two-third of all Moroccan women experience violence in their lifetimes, and many attorneys are ignorant of recent pro-women reforms, such as the raising of the marriage age from 15 to 18.

[latimes / blogpost / photo: aljazeera.]

Is There Child Slavery in Your Chocolate? →


In 2009, the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University published an “assessment of child labor in the cocoa supply chain.” The study found child labor to be widespread in the very regions of West Africa, particularly Ivory Coast, where Hershey sources its cocoa, and that forced or involuntary child labor was common in these areas.

via Huffington Post

What you can do:

Purchase chocolate products from companies who only use cocoa that has definitively not been produced with slave labor. These companies include

  • Clif Bar
  • Cloud Nine
  • Dagoba Organic Chocolate
  • Denman Island Chocolate
  • Divine Chocolate, Equal Exchange
  • Gardners Candies
  • Green and Black’s 
  • John & Kira’s
  • Kailua Candy Company 
  • Koppers Chocolate 
  • L.A. Burdick Chocolates
  • Montezuma’s Chocolates
  • NewLeaf Chocolates
  • Newman’s Own Organics
  • Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company
  • Rapunzel Pure Organics
  • Shaman Chocolates
  • Sweet Earth Chocolates
  • Taza Chocolate
  • The Endangered Species Chocolate Company
  • Theo Chocolate.

Goddammit Ghiradelli and Toblerone, you need to step the fuck up.  Because you are delicious, and I want to eat you, but now I’m morally obligated not to.  Newman’s Own is the only company on this list that I actually think tastes good.

Pragmatic Middle East: Four Lessons to Learn from Khader Adnan →


The case of Khader Adnan doesn’t seem to fit into the mainstream narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The popular conception of the conflict is that an Israeli state must restrict liberty in order to protect its security against violent Palestinian resistance. But Mr. Adnan’s…

Adnan ended his hunger strike on Tuesday, after a deal was reached that promises his release from detention in April.  This essay still has some very valid points about Palestinian non-violent resistance, the problems with administrative detention (and how America’s own policies keep it from criticizing cases in other countries), and the limits of social media.

Pragmatic Middle East: The Fallacy of Applying the 'Turkish Model' to Egypt, Arab Spring →


As the Arab Spring enters its second year, democratic transitions in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya are still evolving towards uncertain ends. One of the most ubiquitous hopes for these countries in metamorphosis, expressed especially in the case of Egypt, is that they develop the…

Seriously, everyone with even the slightest interest in international affairs, especially where it concerns the Middle East, should read this blog.

The Day After the Two-State Solution


There has mean much debate in Israeli and American media during the last year about whether or not the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinians conflict is dead. Most of these analyses miss the point that a two-state solution, even if were forged tomorrow and agreed upon by both sides, would prevent significant future challenges for both Israel and the nascent hypothetical Palestinian state it would be living alongside with.

If a political deal were to (miraculously) be struck, creating a Palestinian state, newspapers around the world would doubtless celebrate the end of the tumultuous Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But they would be wrong. Here’s the letter I would write to the Editor:

Dear Editor,

Today, will always be remembered—and for good reason. It has produced an iconic photograph, of the Israeli Prime Minister and Palestinian President shaking hands to mark their historic agreement which will finally establish a sovereign Palestinian state. However, your article referred to the accord as the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I would aver that this is the end of the territorial conflict between governments, but not the end of the psychological conflict between peoples.

Today’s events have not ended the conflict but have reframed it. Our political, civil, and religious leaders now have a new set of challenges to face. The physical separation barrier dividing Israelis from Palestinians has come down, but the real obstacles have always been the intangible ones within our hearts and minds.

The two biggest impediments to Israeli-Palestinian peace have been insecurity and segregation. Israeli insecurity, founded on two thousand years of persecution, drove the occupation. Israelis felt threatened, despite having asymmetric power. Palestinian insecurity has prevented activists from seeking cooperative projects with open-minded Israelis for fear of normalizing the occupation.

Insecurity has begotten segregation, institutionalized and self-executed. The physical separation of people precipitated the segregation of narratives, histories, and identities. The ‘other’ became the enemy. When Israelis and Palestinians couldn’t meet each other, demonization and stereotyping flourished. Parallel narratives—one Israeli and one Palestinian—were perpetuated in each society’s newspapers, textbooks, and culture, never meeting in the middle.

True stability has not been achieved yet. Israelis and Palestinians must not seek recluse in their respective states. This will only exacerbate insecurity and segregation, resulting in real instability and a renewal of hostilities. Both sides must take care to meet one another and recognize one another’s side of the story before a new chapter of peace and security can begin in earnest.

Pragmatic Middle East: Bashar al-Assad's Speech and What's Next for the Syrian Revolution →


This morning, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave his third public speech since the revolution against his rule began 11 months ago. Unsurprisingly, the mustachioed dictator unleashed all of the most hackneyed themes from the Arab Tyrant’s Manual, emphasizing repeatedly over the course…

Anyone interested in the situation in Syria should read this rather scathing takedown of the speech Bashar al-Assad gave yesterday.  None of the news networks I usually follow (BBC, CNN, NPR) were as detailed as this, though they came to similar conclusions.

Woman denied partner visitation in hospital, despite laws →


A woman from Tennessee was denied the right to visit her partner in a local hospital because the two are not legally family or spouses, Out and About reports. 

Val Burke tried several times to visit her partner in Rolling Hills Hospital’s residential facility and was denied every time. She had been previously allowed in the room only if her partner’s mother was present. 

Recent federal laws allow patients at most hospitals - that is, those participating in Medicare and Medicaid - to determine their own visitation standards. This hospital does qualify under that policy, but Burke was denied visitation anyway. The hospital administration has not commented on why this happened. 

“I went to visit her at the appropriate visiting time and was turned away,” she says. “We have been living together for three years now, but that didn’t matter to them either. The rest of her family is out of town, so she didn’t have any one visit her.”

This. Is. Not. Acceptable. 
"Alfredo lives in a tool shed. A cramped shed made of tin. He has no running water, electricity, heating… nothing. The world of the farm worker holds this reality—work during the day is harsh and the end of the day is harsh. Alfredo, who did not want his last name included, works in the strawberry fields and although I haven’t seen him in action, I can tell just by looking at his hands, his eyes, and feeling his sense of ambition, that he works hard. But hard isn’t enough for an undocumented worker who struggles to speak Spanish and has no command of English. A migrant worker from San Martin, Oaxaca, Alfredo is one of the many indigenous workers who lives in this community in the outskirts of Salinas… In this area, it’s common for those with a ranch or empty lot to rent out their property to farm workers at a high rate. Mario lives in a horse ranch where there are no horses—the horse corrals are used for people. His home is what looks to be a horse corral boarded up as an excuse for a house. He lives there with his family paying $800 a month for the place. The room is packed with people and they share a bathroom in bad condition. When it rains, the water leaks, then the dirt turns to mud and mixes with excrement, making it difficult for people to walk through and for the children to play. But the options are scarce and he would not feel safe living away from the Mixteco community—a community that takes great pride in sticking together and not trusting those who are not part of it. The farm workers living here are stuck in a similar political limbo as those in the communities in the Eastern Coachella Valley where conditions are harsh to endure but easier to endure than the homeless situation they would find themselves in if the government intervened and shut the places down."

Migrant Farm Worker Housing As Shameful As Ever

If this were 1944, we’d call it an internment camp and pretend to be appalled. Instead this is 2011, and strawberries are yummy la la la I can’t hear you.

(via thetart)

Oh, oh oh oh, and this too: I don’t know *hoooooooow* you can eat meat! When there’s *VIOLENCE FREE* food available in all our stores!!!!

(via midwestmountainmama)

Pragmatic Middle East: Tunisia the Torchbearer: Elections and the Arab Spring →


On December 17th, 2010, a young Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire after his unlicensed street cart was confiscated, protesting the economic malaise and rampant corruption which left him destitute. The story has become legend, as his suicide as set a chain of events in motion which is…

This is a fantastic essay.  Anyone interested in international politics should read it.  Also, anyone who likes interesting, well-written analysis of events in the Middle East should follow the OP, as they’re posts are consistently of a caliber equal to (if not better than) articles coming out of magazines like The Economist.