Pesticides and homicide in Brazil

Brazil pesticides (Davi Pinheiro:Reuters) Apr 6 2015

We should take a moment to honor the thousands of environmental activists, farmers, peasant leaders, journalists, indigenous peoples across this planet who have been murdered opposing land grabs & hazardous practices by multinational corporations for agribusiness, deforestation, extractive industries, gigantic feedlots, hydroelectric dams. They died from mass murder, bacteriological warfare, assassinations & assaults of all kinds by state militia or mercenary armies hired by the multinational enterprises. Thousands of others have been beaten, jailed, dispossessed, & driven into urban slums, homelessness, or forced to immigrate to other countries.

All the biggest multinational companies in the world operate in Brazil making it the world’s top exporter of sugar, orange juice, coffee, beef, poultry, soybeans & a leading exporter of corn, cocoa, cotton, tobacco, timber, & ethanol. Supermarkets are filled with Brazilian agricultural products which health-conscious consumers would be wise to boycott because Brazil attracts investment in agribusiness by playing fast & loose with pesticide protections. Four major pesticide manufacturers dump their herbicides, insecticides, & fungicides in Brazil after being banned in their own countries for health or environmental reasons.

One of the herbicides widely used in Brazil is paraquat, banned in the European Union & branded highly poisonous by the Centers for Disease Control because chronic exposure can cause lung & other respiratory damage, kidney & heart failure, skin disorders. A 2011 US National Institutes of Health study showed a link between paraquat use & Parkinson’s disease in farm workers.

An evaluation of 14 pesticides used in Brazil but banned elsewhere is now in its seventh year, stalled by lawsuits from manufacturers & opposition by politicians. It’s certainly not irrelevant that agribusiness interests were the second-largest source of campaign contributions to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff & likely to a raft of other politicians. This would also explain why Brazil appears nearly every year in the list of murdered environmentalists since the 1980s.

This photo is Maria Lucinda Xavier & her daughter Marcia. Maria Lucinda’s husband, Jose Maria Filho, was a family farmer & anti-pesticide activist in Limoeiro do Norte, Brazil who was gunned down & shot 25 times on April 21st, 2010 while driving home on his motorbike.

Filho complained to local authorities about skin rashes & sick livestock & accused large landowners of excessive pesticide use. Not unlike the use of the herbicide & defoliant Agent Orange in the Vietnam War, crop dusters would inundate the landscape with toxic chemicals, including schools with children in attendance.
His environmental activism led to a scientific study proving the presence of 22 different pesticides in irrigation canals & household water. He also appeared at town council meetings & persuaded them to pass a ban on cropdusting over the opposition of big landowners. When they continued cropdusting despite the ban, Filho ignored their threats to gather photographic evidence of their violations. “He had a big mouth,” according to a local cattle rancher & former politician. A month after his murder the cropdusting ban was revoked.

After a two-year investigation, police charged a landowner with ordering the hit. He & three others were indicted but a state court–five years after his murder–is still weighing whether the case will go to trial. What are the odds his family will see justice against agribusiness? Slim to zilch.

Our condolences to Maria Lucinda Xavier & our deepest respect for the work her husband & thousands of other activists have done to make this planet habitable & our food supply free of contamination.

(Photo by Davi Pinheiro/Reuters)

The aftermath of Islamic State counterrevolution in Kobanî, Syria

Kobane (Yasin Akgul:AFP:Getty) Apr 6 2015

This young Syrian Kurdish boy is playing on a destroyed tank overlooking Kobanî, a town in northern Syria within sight of the Turkish border. From September 2014 to January this year the city was under siege by the Islamic State as part of its campaign to establish an Islamic caliphate across parts of Syria & Iraq.

During the siege, an estimated 200,000 residents from the region who are majority Kurdish fled for refuge to Turkey which would not allow them to enter with vehicles or livestock. The regime also played politics with Kurdish militia defending Kobanî by refusing for several weeks to allow arms & fighters to cross through Turkey into Syria.

After months of siege, Kurdish forces, including hundreds of women fighters, routed the counterrevolutionary thugs of the Islamic State who were armed with mortars, tanks, Humvees, AK-47s, rocket & grenade launchers, anti-tank weapons, howitzers for launching explosives, anti-aircraft guns & missiles, infrared homing surface to air missiles, & machine guns. The US dropped eight airstrikes on the city & would like to take credit for the rout.

This photo is the aftermath of the siege, leaving Kobanî unrecognizable. The way to defeat the Islamic State is not with US bombers but popular uprisings against their barbaric violence–though the question remains: who the hell is supplying the Islamic State with that heavy arsenal worth millions?

This image of devastation stands as an indictment of the role played by the Islamic State & the US–the two phalanxes of counterrevolution in the Middle East.

(Photo by Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty)

US women call for emancipation army to save us from fundamentalists & US government

Purvi Patel Apr 3 2015

US women are officially putting out a call to the armies of the world to form an alliance like US-NATO in Afghanistan & invade this country by land, sea, & air to save American women from right-wing & Christian fundamentalist persecution. US tribal warlords in the 50 states are competing with each other to see which one can do the most damage to women’s reproductive rights. The emancipation coalition should try to establish a beachhead in the state of Indiana (rhymes with ISIS) & proceed from there posthaste to Texas where the legislature is a hotbed of Al-Qaeda.

Indiana (rhymes with ISIS) has outdone itself by prosecuting, convicting, & sentencing 35-year-old Purvi Patel on March 30th to 41 years, 20 to be served in prison, for the crimes of feticide & neglect of a dependent. The verdict doesn’t even make sense: Patel is charged with murder of a fetus & with neglect of a newborn. Patel claims she had a miscarriage; prosecutors claim she attempted to self-induce an abortion. There are many family & social reasons women would not seek pregnancy counseling for physical or mental care & we regret the pregnancy was so stressful for Patel. But she had every right to terminate that pregnancy without the state of Indiana intervening with their misogynist laws.

There’s no need to legally parse Indiana’s feticide law making not just abortion but also miscarriage a felony. It needs to be defeated. There’s not much purpose to parsing the idiocies of the prosecution case & the verdict. It needs to be reversed. You don’t have to like abortion to oppose this verdict. You just have to believe women have a right to determine if & when they have a child.

The racist character of this case should not be ignored. In another Indiana case, a Chinese immigrant was arrested & charged with both feticide & murder for attempting suicide while pregnant. She spent a year in prison & another year under house arrest wearing an electronic monitor before massive public outrage got both charges dropped. A 2013 study on arrests of pregnant women in the US found that about 71 percent were low-income women & 59 percent were women of color.

Patel is the first woman in the US to be charged, convicted, & sentenced on a feticide charge but she won’t be the last if this verdict is not overturned. Please sign & share this petition demanding Indiana overturn the conviction of Purvi Patel:

(Photo is mug shot of Purvi Patel)

The ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar

Rohingya (Ruben Salgado Escudero) Apr 3 2015

Nearly one & a-half million Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have been subject for decades to violent state-sponsored persecution & discrimination conducted by the military. The persecution & ethnic cleansing which has been relentless includes denial of citizenship (though they have lived in the region for decades); religious persecution; forced labor; land confiscations; arbitrary taxation & various forms of extortion; forced eviction & house destruction; restrictions on travel for health & work; restrictions on marriage, education, & trade.

The Myanmar regime tries to portray the persecution of Rohingya as a conflict between Buddhists & Muslims which can explain some of the assaults on persons & property but not things like denial of citizenship & all the rest of state-sponsored oppression–along with incitement to personal violence.

The violence is so extreme & sustained going back decades that hundreds of thousands of Rohingya flee for asylum to Malaysia, & to squalid refugee camps in Thailand & Bangladesh. Bangladesh has long been trying to deport the thousands living in refugee camps, has subjected them to harrowing human rights violations, & refuses to accept new refugees, with border guards turning back boats of Rohingya refugees. There have been several reported incidents of Rohingya refugees to Thailand being towed by the military in dilapidated boats & abandoned on the open sea.

The violence has also displaced thousands within Myanmar, forcing them into squalid, run-down camps. An estimated 140,000 now live in the camps, including these little boys in a camp near Sittwe, in the state of Rakhine, where Rohingya are 80 to 98 percent of the population.

One thing that makes the violence of Buddhists against Muslims so deeply disturbing is that the first monk to protest British colonial rule in Myanmar & the monks who initiated opposition to the military dictatorship in Myanmar in 2007 originated in Sittwe.

(Photo is from album in Wall Street Journal by Ruben Salgado Escudero)

The Germanwing’s pilot could be a terrorist yet; they keep hoping

Media reports the Germanwing’s pilot was trawling the internet for ways to commit suicide & about the security workings on cockpit doors. They say these new details portray a deeply troubled man battling serious mental health problems.

They’re still combing through his belongings & his internet history so if they find a Quran or any Islamic web sites he visited they still have time to change that diagnosis to terrorist.