Oscar-nominated actor sent to jail

Oscar-nominated actor James Cromwell is reporting to jail at 4 p.m. today in upstate New York after he was sentenced to a week behind bars for taking part in a nonviolent protest against a natural gas-fired power plant. Cromwell says he’ll also launch a hunger strike. He was one of six activists arrested for blocking traffic at the sit-in outside the construction site of the 650-megawatt plant in Wawayanda, New York, in December of 2015. The activists say the plant would promote natural gas fracking in neighboring states and contribute to climate change.

— source democracynow.org

Student teachers at Yale on ‘indefinite’ hunger strike

Eight graduate student teachers at Yale University have been on hunger strike since last Tuesday in an effort to push a collective bargaining agreement with the university forward. The protesters, including four men and four women who are part of the new Local 33-Unite Here union, say that their fast is indefinite or until the school’s administration agrees to discuss an agreement with the eight departments that joined the union.

— source abcnews.go.com

Gandhi Peace Award for BDS Leader Omar Barghouti

As more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have entered their ninth day on a massive hunger strike inside Israeli jails, we are joined by the Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, who has come to the United States to receive the 2017 Gandhi Peace Award for his work as co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement. At the award ceremony, Barghouti dedicated the prize to Palestinians on hunger strike. He was almost prevented from attending after Israeli police arrested him, seizing his passport and forbidding him from leaving the country. An Israeli court eventually temporarily lifted the travel ban.

OMAR BARGHOUTI: As I humbly accept the Gandhi Peace Award for 2017, I dedicate it to the heroic Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike in Israel’s apartheid dungeons and to every Palestinian refugee yearning to return home to Palestine to reunite with the land and the homeland.

Omar Barghouti talking:

I’m not, actually. I’m neither a U.S. citizen nor an Israeli citizen. As a Palestinian, as a refugee, a son of refugees, I have permanent residence in Israel, and I’m a citizen of Jordan.

I cannot talk about the latest phase of Israel’s repression against me, because I’m under a gag order, so I’ll have to skip the details on that. But we have to put it in context. About a year ago, Israel established a so-called tarnishing unit, established by the minister of strategic affairs, which openly aimed at tarnishing the reputation of Palestinian, international, Israeli human rights defenders who are involved in the struggle for Palestinian rights through the BDS, of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, movement. So this latest phase of repression comes in that context and in the context of a McCarthyite war launched by Israel, for more than three years now, against the BDS movement worldwide.

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions National Committee, or the BNC, is the largest coalition in Palestinian society, and it’s leading the global BDS movement. So it sets the overall strategies, the objectives of the movement. But this is a decentralized movement, obviously. So the BNC represents Palestinian political parties, trade unions, women’s unions, refugee networks and so on and so forth.

It agrees on the three basic demands in the BDS call that came out in 2005: ending Israel’s occupation; ending the system of racial discrimination, which meets the United Nations’ definition of “apartheid”; and the right of Palestinian refugees to return. As such, it does not take any position on the political outcome—one state, two states. We stick to the human rights agenda, rather than the political outcome that the Palestinians might determine as part of exercising self-determination.

I think we saw that, especially after the 2004 decision by the International Court of Justice against Israel’s wall built in the Occupied Territories as illegal, that the world failed to move to bring Israel to account on just this one crime, let alone its denial of refugee rights, its apartheid system, its occupation. So, my colleagues and I thought that we cannot live forever just waiting for the “international community,” under U.S. hegemony, to act to bring Israel to account for its obligations under international law. We had to take the South African path, so to speak, to bring Israel to account by citizens around the world, institutions around the world, civil society, getting together and taking measures that would isolate Israel academically, culturally, economically, and eventually impose sanctions on it, as was done against South Africa. So I was moved with a lot of personal experiences of repression under Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid.

The hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners, most of whom are political prisoners, suffering from very inhumane conditions in what I call Israel’s apartheid dungeons, or prisons and detention centers, are asking for their basic rights under international law as prisoners. And they’re being denied those rights. They’re being punished twice, not just with very long prison terms, with the lack of due process, the lack of any semblance of justice in Israel’s apartheid prison system and court system. They’re also denied some basic rights, like visitation rights. Their parents, when they come to visit them, are being humiliated. Many prisoners are tortured and suffer from very inhumane conditions. So, torture is very prevalent in Israeli prisons, in the detention system, in particular including against hundreds of Palestinian children. So, prisoners are striking, going on this very difficult, very extreme form of resistance, in order to show the world that they are lacking those basic rights, and they demand those basic rights. They refuse to live in such conditions.

I think if we consider the Israeli government, that came into power in 2015 as the most racist in Israel’s history, dropping the mask that once covered Israel’s regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid, the Trump administration has also dropped the mask of the U.S. administration, which was always in bed with Israel’s system of occupation and apartheid, and now it’s in your face. So, the repression that we’re seeing increasingly in the United States and the repression and denial of rights we’re seeing by the Israeli government are coming together and showing ways to connect our struggles. So we’re facing very difficult times, facing an Israeli impunity on steroids, because of the Trump administration. And at the same time, Israel’s right-wing government is being used by the Trump administration as a model for ethnic profiling, for walls, like the wall with Mexico, and for various sorts of racial policies. Israel is now a model for the U.S. administration. And that’s dangerous for everyone.

we had sort of Israel’s McCarthyism reaching the Columbia University and Barnard College. At the very last minute, less than 24 hours before the event last night, the Columbia and Barnard administrations denied the students the right to open the event to the public. So it was restricted to the Columbia University community in a very strange move. And the reasons were even stranger. They cited an article in some far-right-wing rag saying that this is a controversial speaker, and it might cause a lot of controversy on campus, as if there’s any speaker who has anything to say is not controversial. So, clearly, the establishment, including the academic establishment in this country, are falling under pressure by the Israel lobby, that are really trying to sell their McCarthyism and their repression in various institutions to prevent Palestinian voices from speaking out and to prevent many Americans from joining the struggle for justice in Palestine, as well as connecting it to domestic struggles for racial rights, economic rights and other forms of justice.

Since 2014, Israel decided that its former policy, former strategy for fighting BDS, the propaganda or “Brand Israel” strategy, was failing, so they adopted a new strategy that is based on using their intelligence services to spy on BDS activists and try to tarnish our reputations; based on legal warfare, trying to pass anti-BDS legislation, as is happening in many state legislatures in this country, as well as in the U.S. Congress and in countries like France, Britain and so on. So they’ve gone from a propaganda war to a full-fledged legal and intelligence war on the movement.

What you mentioned is absolutely important. Recently, Israel passed an anti-BDS ban. It wouldn’t allow any supporter of BDS or even supporters of partial boycotts against Israel’s illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories from entering the country. They are establishing, indeed, a blacklist of Israelis who support any form of boycott against Israeli institutions to bring about justice and to bring about Palestinian rights. So this McCarthyism is no longer just a metaphor. It’s really, truly happening, as Israel descends into the abyss and as people in the mainstream, as Ehud Barak, for example, are warning that there are signs of fascism taking over in Israel.

I think I’m not alone among Palestinians who have very little hope that anything can come out of this. First, the Palestinian officials who are currently leading do not have a democratic mandate to lead. They do not have a democratic mandate to compromise on any Palestinian rights as they’re doing. So they’re not upholding Palestinian rights under international law. They’re not upholding the right of Palestinian refugees to return, the right to live without apartheid or occupation. They’re asking for a very small subset of Palestinian rights. And they’re heeding the dictates coming from the Israeli and U.S. administrations. So I have very little hope. This is a very weak leadership, without any democratic mandate. And we do not expect much coming out of it. We rely more on society, on civil society, popular resistance, and international solidarity with it.

Omar Barghouti
Palestinian human rights defender and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee.

— source democracynow.org

Thousands protest against Belgian nuclear reactors

Thousands of protesters are demanding that Belgium immediately shut down two nuclear reactors because of safety concerns. German news agency dpa reported that people from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands formed a human chain across the border triangle of the three countries on Sunday. Protesters are concerned over the safety of the pressure vessels at the Tihange 2 and Doel 3 reactors in Belgium. Germany, which plans to switch off all of its nuclear reactors by 2022, is sensitive to concerns about nuclear plants outside of the country. German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks urged Belgium last year to take the two reactors offline “until open safety questions are cleared up.” Berlin also has called on France to shut down its oldest plant, at Fessenheim on the German border.

— source apnewsarchive.com

98-Year-Old Activist Frances Crowe Arrested Blockading Pipeline

in western Massachusetts, 98-year-old activist Frances Crowe and seven others were arrested blockading construction of a Kinder Morgan gas pipeline in the Otis State Forest on Saturday. Activists helped push Crowe to the construction site in her wheelchair, where they then held a mock funeral for fossil fuels. Crowe is a longtime peace and antinuclear activist. This is her third arrest since she turned 90 years old.

— source democracynow.org

Mining and Resistance In Dinetah

Jul 7, 2016

A special episode-length documentary filmed on location in Dinétah; the name of the land of the Navajo people, spanning parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. 21 Billion tons of coal, the largest deposit in the US with an estimated value of 100 billion dollars, lay untouched in Dinétah until 1966. In that year, Peabody Coal Company leased the land in an agreement with a Hopi tribal council they helped form. In 1974, Congress passed the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act, commonly known as “the relocation law.” It divided about 2 million acres of land previously shared between Diné and Hopi tribes. Nearly overnight, the homes of tens of thousands of Diné and several hundred Hopi were now illegal.

Since then, an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 Diné people have been forcibly relocated. Today, only a small group of mostly elder Diné continue to live here, and those that remain are being pressured to leave. More than 40% of homes here lack running water. Peabody Energy’s two mines here have extracted over 400 million tons of coal and depleted 70 percent of an ancient desert aquifer. Peabody’s Kayenta coal mine fuels the Navajo Generating Station, which is owned by the US Department of the Interior and provides water and electricity to Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. What is the cost, paid in the lives of the Navajo people, of the water and power delivered to these cities? On the anniversary of the founding of the United States, we visit with Diné (Navajo) youth and elders coming together to fight for the survival of their culture, fighting against displacement caused by US government policy, as well as exploitation caused by mining and other polluting industries.

Haitians Protest Hillary Clinton Commencement Address

in New York City, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a commencement address Thursday to graduates of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Outside Clinton’s speech, members of the Haitian human rights group Komokoda held a protest, saying the Clinton Foundation stole money intended for Haiti’s reconstruction after the 2010 earthquake. The protesters also blasted Clinton’s record of public service.

Dahoud Andre: “Hillary Clinton, the Clinton family, the harm that they have done to our people in Haiti, in Africa, in Libya, in Honduras, right here in the United States, the 1996 crime bill, criminalizing, incarcerating—mass incarceration of our youth, that she called superpredators. We said, whatever Donald Trump can do, whatever harm he can do, it cannot be worse than what the Clintons have already done to our people.”

— source democracynow.org