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Photographs of the protest on February 22nd, 2017.

By Blaise Scemama @blaisescemama
Eric Licas @vari8shun contributed to the reporting and photography of this story.

Check all the photographs of the protest here.

Parts of Hollywood Blvd have been shut down near the Hollywood and Highland Center in anticipation of the academy awards this Sunday. At the same time, protesters against the DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) did some blocking of their own by marching hand in hand through the intersection of Hollywood and Highland on Wednesday, February 22.

Below is an original video of the protest:

Lead by the American Indian Movement of Southern California (AIM SoCal), this demonstration, as well as others held throughout Los Angeles earlier this week, was organized in response to the forced evictions of the resistance camps that occurring right now at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota.

Lydia Ponce, one of the AIM SoCal organizers, repeatedly reminded the crowd gathered in Hollywood that although the evictions have started, they will remain active in solidarity with those being evicted at Standing Rock.

“We’re continuing our prayers here to make sure it reaches their minds and their hearts and their spirits, to let them know that they’re not alone, even at this distance,” Ponce said.

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The march concluded in front of the CNN building on Sunset Blvd around 9 p.m. The general sentiment amongst the speakers was that of disappointment in the mainstream media for under-representing the controversy surrounding Standing Rock.

George Funmaker of the Dakota and Hochunk tribe, who has been one of the most active voices at previous rallies, explained the significance of ending the march in front of the CNN building.

“We gathered at CNN, strategically to end there because we want them to start covering these issues that they don’t cover very often,” Funmaker stated.

On February 8, in response to the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers (USACE) decision to greenlight the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, Funmaker and AIM SoCal held an emergency protest in front of the USACE’s office in Downtown Los Angeles.

Despite the news that drilling for the pipeline had begun, protesters of the project continued to demonstrate until 8 p.m. that night, marching through Wilshire Blvd., stopping traffic with drum circles and Native American prayer songs.

However spirited the protesters may have been the day the easement was announced, on Monday, February 13, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denied a request for an injunction that would have temporarily halted construction, according to an article in the Associated Press.

Attorneys representing the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes have claimed that the project threatened the water supply of 17 million people and the integrity of Sioux cultural sites. In response to the easement, they argued that the very presence of the pipeline would taint the region’s supply of pure water, which is essential to the practice of the Sioux religion.

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In the same Associated Press article, lawyers for the company behind the project, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), called the recently added religious freedom component of the Tribes’ case a delay tactic. They maintain that the pipeline’s construction and operation would not impinge on the rights or traditions of the Sioux people living in the area.

Boasberg ruled that, so long as oil wasn’t yet flowing through the pipeline, it did not prevent the exercise of regional traditions or religions. However, he said that he would take a closer look at both sides of the argument at a hearing scheduled for Monday, February 27.

A 2016 USACE study determined that the project would not have a significant impact on the environment, and its proponents say it will bring much needed jobs to the area.

Lead activist, Ponce said she was skeptical of the USACE’s findings and that she believed a leak or malfunction of the pipeline would be inevitable. She and other supporters of the Sioux in Dakota, cite the project as a violation of tribal sovereignty.

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Other speakers at the Hollywood rally like Katharine Guerrero, who considers herself a native ally, and is indigenous due to her Mexican background, was very outspoken about the possible environmental repercussions of a pipeline such as the one being constructed at Standing Rock.

“There is already a spill, it already happened…there’s already oil going into the missouri river,” said Guerrero. “Those cattle ranchers out there, are pretty scared because their cattle rely on that water… Those ranchers will soon find themselves on the side of the natives, that have been saying for over a year, that this pipeline is going to be bad for the environment.”

Guerrero was also skeptical of the claim that the pipeline will create jobs or benefit the U.S. economy.

“That oil is not staying here, there’s not going to be permanent jobs created with the pipeline (…) they’re painting a pretty picture of something that is really nasty,” Guerrero explained.

While this rally did not attract nearly the same amount of celebrities and public figures as the women’s march did back in January, there were some celebrity sightings in the crowd, like actress Mary Mcdonnell, who is well known for her role in Dances with Wolves, and Rosanna Arquette, who spoke briefly before the march began.

It will be interesting to see how vocal the Hollywood community will be about the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy this Sunday, during the 2017 Academy Awards.

Check all the photographs of the protest here.

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Initiative follows President Enrique Peña Nieto much-criticised meeting with Republican

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President Enrique Peña Nieto and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speak during a joint conference in Mexico City.

So you want to play hardball, Mr Trump? Mexico is to consider revoking a series of treaties – including the 1848 agreement that transferred half its territory to the United States – if the Republican candidate wins the presidency and rips up the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to a Bill to be presented to Congress.
The initiative, to be proposed on Tuesday by Armando Ríos Piter, a left-wing senator, follows last week’s much-criticised meeting between Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and US presidential contender Donald Trump, which inflamed public opinion and sparked a cabinet rift.
Mr Peña Nieto has faced a fierce backlash at home over what many saw as his red carpet treatment of Mr Trump, who has branded Mexicans rapists and wants to build a border wall that he insists Mexico will pay for.
“This is the first step towards establishing a public policy about how Mexico should react in the face of a threat,” Mr Ríos Piter told the Financial Times.
“This [Bill] is simply to protect a successful 22-year-old relationship [Nafta] that has helped both nations,” he said. “We want to defend that from a position that seeks to destroy it. We have to put it in black and white.”
The initiative would make it illegal for Mexico to use official cash to fund the building of a border wall. If Mr Trump attempted to seize the $24 billion (€21.5 billion) in annual remittances from the US to Mexico to pay for it, the Bill would empower Mexico to retaliate in kind by impounding the same sum, probably through a tax on remittances heading in the other direction.
Furthermore, if Mr Trump made good on threats to scrap the 1994 Nafta free-trade deal – credited with creating one in three jobs in Mexico – it would call for a review all 75 bilateral treaties between the two countries to establish if they were in the national interests.

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The entrance to the huge Cananea copper mine near the U.S. border.

 

By David Bacon

 

In the afternoon of August 6, 2014, the water in the Bacanuchi River turned yellow. At Tahuichopa, where the Bacanuchi flows into the larger Sonora River, Martha Agupira was one of the first to see it.

“We had no warning,” she remembers. “We just saw the river change color-yellow, with a really terrible smell, like copper or chemicals. All the fish died. A bull drinking in the river died right away. Other animals died, too.”

Tahuichopa is a small Mexican town of about 200 people, situated where the foothills of La Elenita mountain begin to flatten out into the high plain of the Sonora Desert, about 60 miles south of the Arizona border. The town’s cornfields line the banks of both rivers. “So people had to go through the river to get to them. The people were contaminated too,” she says. 

From Tahuichopa, the Sonora River flows southwest through wide green valleys separated by narrow canyons. The yellow water arrived next at Banamichi, then Baviacora, and then Ures. 

Two days after Martha Agupira saw the fish die, Luz Apodaca was visiting San Felipe de Jesus, the next town downstream.  Like many valley residents, she liked going along the riverbank to collect watercress. “I went into the water,” she laments. “That day, the river was dark brown, like chocolate. But I didn’t pay much attention because we’re used to going in and bathing there.”


Martha Agupira, activist and community leader in Tahuichopa

 

In fact, the river is a big tourist attraction, or it was. Families on weekends would drive up from Hermosillo, Sonora’s capital city of 700,000, which lies farther, between two big reservoirs. Visitors would fill the restaurants in the river towns, or picnic on the sandbars. 

But the river began to smell like ammonia, Apodaca says, and by evening her face began to swell. “Over the next two days, my skin began to break out, and ever since I’ve had sores on my face and arms and legs. My fingernails all fell off. For many days I couldn’t sleep because of the pain in my face, and my knees and bones and nerves all hurt.”

What the two women experienced, along with the other 20,000 inhabitants of the Sonora and Bacanuchi River valleys, was one of the worst toxic spills in the history of mining in Mexico. In her report on the incident, Dr. Reina Castro, a professor at the University of Sonora, said, “A failure in the exit pipe from a holding pond at the mine led to the spill of approximately 40,000 cubic meters of leached material, including acidified copper sulfate.” On August 9, the Mexican agency overseeing water quality, CONAGUA, found elevated levels of heavy metals in the water, including aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, copper, chromium, iron, manganese, nickel, and mercury.

The contamination did more than harm the health of river residents. It undermined the economic survival of their communities, and damaged the ecology of the valleys in ways that could be permanent. 

But the spill also created a political movement of townspeople in response, in alliance with miners involved in one of the longest strikes in Mexico’s history. That alliance is bringing to light the impact that corporate giants on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border have on the people of this binational region.


Antonio Navarette Vasco, an officer of the miners union in Cananea, spent months organizing the communities affected by the toxic spill, helping to form the Frente Rio Sonora.

 

   
The headwaters of both rivers rise in La Elenita, where the Cananea copper mine, one of the world’s largest, has been slowly pulverizing the mountain for more than a century. By the time of the spill, the mine’s workers had been on strike for nearly seven years, since July 2007. Since 2010, the mine has been operated by strikebreakers hired by the mine’s owner, Grupo Mexico, a global mining corporation. Some workers are hired directly by the subsidiary that runs Cananea’s mine operations, Buenavista del Cobre. Others work for contractors. 

In a press statement issued September 1, 2014, three weeks after the spill, Grupo Mexico blamed a contractor for causing it. “We recognize that, among other factors, a relevant cause was a construction defect in the seal of a pipe in the Tinajas 1 system … [which had been] contracted to a specialized company in the region, TECOVIFESA.” Grupo Mexico announced it was sending workers to clean up the river, and later agreed with the Mexican government to set up a fund, or fidecomiso, to compensate residents for damage from the spill.

Hiring contractors to replace the mine’s skilled workforce, however, has been going on for many years, according to the miners’ union, Section 65 of the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers. The Cananea mine contains 13 ponds holding millions of gallons of liquid left over from leaching metal from the rock. The work of maintaining them was originally performed by members of the union, before the company contracted it out. The use of contractors is one of the principle reasons for the strike. 

Grupo Mexico today owns mines in Mexico, Peru, and the United States. In the first quarter of 2016, the corporation earned profits of $406 million, on revenue of $1.9 billion. Even with the recent decline in China’s vast appetite for metal and raw materials, the company is still one of the most profitable in mining. 


Sergio Tolano, general secretary of Section 65 of the miners union in Cananea.

 

The company was originally the Mexican division of ASARCO, the American Smelting and Refining Company, started by the Guggenheim family in 1899. Until 1965, ASARCO owned many mines in Mexico. Under nationalist development policies, however, ASARCO sold its Mexican subsidiary to Mexican investors, among them Jorge Larrea Ortega, Mexico’s “King of Copper.” Today, his son German Larrea Mota controls Grupo Mexico.

The Cananea mine, Mexico’s largest, originally belonged to a U.S. owner, Colonel William C. Greene. In 1906, miners rebelled against the “Mexican Wage”-an arrangement paying white miners from the United States. higher wages than Mexicans. In the violent insurrection that followed, the Arizona Rangers crossed the border into Mexico and put down the strike. The battle is considered the first conflict of the Mexican Revolution.

Cananea afterward belonged to the Anaconda Copper Company until the Mexican government took it over in 1971. During the last years it owned the mine, Anaconda ended the old method of shaft mining, and began open-pit operations. That decision had an enormous impact on the area’s ecology. 

In an open-pit mine, huge chunks of rock are blown out of the mountain, loaded onto giant trucks, and taken to a crusher. There, the ore is ground down into fine particles, and laid out on huge “benches.” The crushed rock is then sprayed with acid that leaches out the metal, which is collected below in ponds. Big electrodes pull the metal from the solution, and the leftover liquid is channeled into those 13 ponds. The 2014 spill originated in one of them. 

Today, benches of tailings tower over miners’ homes in Cananea. Part of the old town now lies buried beneath them. On a hot windy day, dust from pulverized rock blows into doorways, and miners’ families breathe the minerals the wind carries. On Cananea’s outskirts, the giant ponds line the southbound highway, parallel to the Sonora River.


One of the retaining ponds at the mine in Cananea, photo by Garrett Brown

 

In the late 1980s, the administration of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari first declared the Cananea mine bankrupt, and then sold it to the Larrea family’s Grupo Mexico for $475 million in 1990. That’s the equivalent of the last three months of Grupo Mexico’s current profits.

Salinas also sold the neighboring Nacozari mine, almost as big as Cananea, to the Larreas in 1988. In 1997, Grupo Mexico partnered with Pennsylvania-based Union Pacific to buy Mexico’s main north-south railroad for $527 million, and ended all passenger service. Two years later, Grupo Mexico bought ASARCO itself, its former parent, for $1.18 billion, gaining ownership of mines and smelters in the United States. 

Today, the corporation’s board of directors has interlocking ties with many Mexican banks and media companies, and with U.S. corporations as well. Director Claudio X. González Laporte, for instance, is board chair of Kimberley Clark de Mexico, the Mexican subsidiary of the U.S. paper giant. González Laporte is a past director of General Electric, Kellogg, Home Depot, and the Mexican media giant Televisa, and was special adviser to the Mexican president.

By the late 1990s, Grupo Mexico had a history of labor conflicts, as it reduced payroll to increase profits. In 1997, railroad workers mounted strikes over plans to reduce their workforce of 13,000 by more than half. They lost. In 1998, Cananea miners struck over company demands to trim its directly employed labor force by 1,000 jobs, while hiring non-union workers at lower wages through contractors. Threatened with military occupation of the mine, miners ended their strike, but more than 800 were not rehired.

The miners were fighting a rearguard battle to keep the wages and conditions they’d won over decades. In the 1950s and 1960s, Mexican miners had better protective laws than miners in the United States, controlling exposure to the silica dust produced by crushing ore. They made good wages and lived in homes built with government loans.


The Sonora River, above Tahuichopa

 

After the miners lost the 1998 strike, however, Grupo Mexico disconnected exhaust ventilation pipes on the roof of its main ore concentrator building. Dust in work areas reached knee-high levels. Grupo Mexico also closed the Hospital Ronquillo, which had provided health care to miners’ families. For 80 years, the mine had been responsible for providing water service to the town. After the strike, Grupo Mexico said the town had to fend for itself. 

When Grupo Mexico announced it was terminating 135 workers who maintained the tailings ponds, miner Rene Enriquez Leon warned that a spill could reach the headwaters of the Sonora River and the farming region downstream. “It would be an ecological disaster,” he predicted. 

In 2006, an explosion in Grupo Mexico’s Pasta de Conchos coal mine in Nueva Rosita, Coahuila, trapped 65 miners underground. After six days, the company and government authorities called off rescue attempts. The head of the union, Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, accused those responsible of “industrial homicide.” In response, the government charged him with fraud.

Gomez fled Mexico and was given sanctuary in Canada, where he’s lived with the assistance of the United Steelworkers (the union for U.S. copper miners). After years of appeals, Mexican courts threw out the charges against him. Nevertheless, Gomez continues to stay in Canada, since the government won’t guarantee his safety and freedom if he returns.
   

Antonio Navarette, who began working in Cananea in 1985, says that by the mid-2000s the lack of safety was producing “a psychosis of fear. Once you went in, you didn’t know if you’d come back out again.” The machinery wasn’t given preventative maintenance, he charges, including collectors for evacuating dust. Accidents grew more frequent; workers lost hands and fingers. The accelerating problems, he believes, “made it clear that the company was pushing us to go on strike. But we decided things couldn’t continue, because otherwise we were going to die there.”


Domingo Molina Ruiz, a rancher in Tahuichopa

 

For the first three years of the strike, Mexican labor law kept the company from legally operating the facility. Then the government declared the strike illegal, and in 2010, federal soldiers and police occupied the town and reopened the Cananea mine. Despite that, Seccion 65 continues to organize strike activity. The union also continued to monitor safety issues. In 2009, the miners’ strike committee warned Eduardo Bours, governor of Sonora, that “a spill that could have very serious consequences, since on April 14 the company withdrew its emergency personnel and with them the union workforce responsible for maintaining the tailings dam, which could put the population below the dam in danger.” The committee got no answer.

Five years later, the predicted spill finally occurred. At one in the morning, Navarette, a leader of the striking union, saw an appeal for help on Facebook from a doctor in Bacanuchi, the first town on the Bacanuchi River below the mine. “We went there right away,” he remembers. “The townspeople, even the children, were all crying. No one knew what could be done. Even Gila monster lizards and coyotes were fleeing from the danger.”

The strikers became the primary source of information for the affected towns, he says. “We always worried conditions in the mine could affect the communities. We began to help them organize, because we needed to join forces to get the company to listen.” That was the beginning of the Frente Rio Sonora-the Sonora River Front. 

Today, the Front is headed by Marco Antonio Garcia, a farmer and former union miner from Baviacora. Garcia, whose deeply lined face shows the impact of a life working in the high desert, farms 75 acres-more than most local farmers, who cultivate just a few. When the farmers had to throw away their crops because of the contamination, he lost $33,000. 

It wasn’t just personal loss that pushed him into action. “If we don’t win, we’re lost,” he says, “and the most important thing people on the Rio Sonora will lose is their dignity.


Antonio Garcia Martinez, the president of the Frente Rio Sonora, is a rancher near Baviacora

 

“The Frente was organized at the urging of Seccion 65 in Cananea,” he continues. “They began visiting all the towns along the river. They had their problem with the scrapping of their union contract, and we had our problem with the river. At first, some people said the miners spent all their time fighting. But in reality, they’re involved in a big struggle. And so are we, if we want to have a future for the people of the Rio Sonora. The contamination of the river is going to last a lifetime.”

Protests first broke out in Ures, a month after the spill. “We started marching and blocking the highway,” recalls Lupita Poom, who now heads the Frente there. “These were all peaceful demonstrations, and hundreds of people took part. That’s when we began to meet the leaders from other towns on the river.” And as Navarette and other miners from Seccion 65 helped local groups get started, a bigger plan took shape. “We decided to do another planton [an organized encampment, like Occupy Wall Street], but this one directed at the mine,” Poom says. 

Martha Agupira says that when the miners came to Tahuichopa to invite people to the protest, “the municipal president told us that soldiers would come, and we’d be thrown in jail. But by then we had nothing, so why not go?”

On March 18 of last year, buses and cars caravanned up the river. Bypassing federal and state police guarding the mine gates, the buses instead unloaded hundreds of farmers and striking miners at the plant outside of town that pumps water to the mine. For several months, their planton cut the supply of fresh water to the mine, leading to a substantial reduction in its operation.

“We stayed there for a long time,” Poom recalls. Her husband remained in Ures to take care of their children, while she and other women formed the backbone of the occupation. Poom even got a big tattoo on her back with the symbol of the striking union surrounded by a banner with the Frente’s name.


Lupita Poom, leader of the Frente Rio Sonora in Ures, and an activist who stayed at the planton in Cananea for months

 

“The miners brought us three meals a day and materials for making our tents, so that we could have some shelter,” she says. “We weren’t afraid. To me, fear means sitting with my arms folded doing nothing. At the planton, we were raising our voices, making people listen to us.”

When a group of U.S. health professionals and environmental and labor activists visited the river towns in April 2016, they found that the impact of the spill was still present. The group said they handed out a thousand health surveys, and got 500 replies. Cadelba Lomeli-Loibl, a nurse from Oakland, California, said at a press conference in Hermosillo that “we found children between four and ten years old who have painful rashes that haven’t healed in over a year, and older people with liver and kidney problems.”

According to Lomeli-Loibl and her coworkers, Olivia deBree and Garrett Brown, 76 percent of those surveyed had skin problems and 78 percent had problems with their eyes. Many had headaches and joint pains, or said their hair was falling out. The group pointed to the need for a complete epidemiological study of the people of the river towns. Many residents they interviewed said that various people from the government and local universities had taken blood and water samples since the spill, but had not reported the results to them.

One interviewee in Baviacora told deBree that her 13-year-old grandson had gone into the water after the spill, when it was still yellow. Later, he developed a lesion on his face that began to be eaten up from the inside. Tests in Mexico City found lead and cadmium in his blood. He now has chronic sinusitis and a tumor in his face. “At that point in the interview, she just started crying,” deBree says.

Interviewed at the Cananea planton last year, Reyna Valenzuela of Ures explained, “Our kids had problems because, in the first place, we were all drinking the water, and then because we used it to bathe. Our water comes from the well and the wells are contaminated. As the doctors said, whether you drink or bathe in it, you’re exposed from your head to your feet.” Her 11-year-old son still has rashes on his legs, ears, neck, trunk, hands, feet, between his buttocks, and on his penis. “Doctors said it was because they were exposed to heavy metals.”


Jesus Maria Cordoba Piri, a rancher near Baviacora, shows the rashes on his leg that won’t go away

 

The river towns get their drinking water from wells, which were almost all close to the river. They too were contaminated. At first, trucks brought in bottled water, while new wells were drilled farther away.

In Baviacora, Jesus Cordoba, a local farmer, recalled, “After the spill they brought water in big barrels at first. But now we have to buy it. A container of 20 liters (5 gallons) costs 13 pesos. We use six of them in a week, just my wife and myself. I don’t believe the river will ever go back to what it was before. They say contamination goes down 5 meters [15 feet]. How will they clean up five meters down, on all that land?  “In negotiations after the spill, Grupo Mexico agreed to provide funding for a clinic in Ures. Some residents reported getting treatment there, but others said they did not trust it. 

Brooke Anderson, a climate justice advocate from Oakland who accompanied the nurses, says residents told her they’d lost half their annual income because they were not able to plant or irrigate their crops, or because of the loss of tourist income in the towns.

“The people who came here before to buy the garlic don’t come now, because they believe it’s contaminated,” Martha Agupira explains. “When we brought our beans to Hermosillo, no one wanted to buy them either. Families now go hungry because they have no income.”

Problems multiplied in the month after the spill, when Hurricane Odile hit western Mexico. “When the river rose, it flooded the cornfields,” Agupira recalls. “That brought the contamination into a much larger area on both sides of the river. The rains didn’t clean the river, the way Grupo Mexico claimed. It spread the contamination. If you dig down into the earth, you find the yellow stain from the chemicals. The fields are drying up, and are full of this yellow dirt.”


Domingo Molina Ruiz with water from the well he gives to his animals, but won’t drink himself because he fears it’s contaminated

 

As she sat in Tahuichopa’s health clinic-a room in the small community center, bare except for a table and a small cabinet with a few bottles of pills-she twisted the hair that frames her oval face and falls below her shoulders. “I used to have lots of hair,” she said sadly. “Now it’s falling out.”
   

Economic problems are leading to an exodus from the river towns. “People have left to try to find work elsewhere, so the majority of the people here now are seniors,” Agupira says. “My father stays here because he loves the land. But we’re struggling to make it.”

While some people from the river towns used to get jobs in the Cananea mine, both strikers and river residents now say that the company no longer hires local people because it believes they would be sympathetic to the strikers. Meanwhile, some strikers have gone to the United States to earn money to send home to their families. One striker, who asked to keep his name confidential when he was interviewed at the planton, said, “I’m blacklisted here, and on the other side, I’m just another illegal. It’s hard to keep your humanity, but I’m surviving, and there’s no other way.”

Cananea’s impact crosses the border in other ways too. The San Pedro River flows from Sonora into Arizona, where it meets the Gila River and eventually the Colorado. It is the last major free-flowing desert river in the United States and hosts migratory birds, jaguars, coatimundi, and other endangered species. 

The river is already stressed by pumps that supply water to Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca, Arizona, which take 6,100 acre-feet more water annually than is replenished by rainfall. But its main problem is that its water comes from the Las Nutrias and El Sauz Rivers, which start near Cananea. 


The Sonora River, above Baviacora

 

In 1979, a mine spill flowed into the San Pedro, killing fish and animals for 60 miles, according to a report by Arizona State University. Both the Sonora and the San Pedro Rivers are threatened by the expansion of tailing ponds at the mine, according to a report by Dick Kamp and Laurie Silvan of E-Tech International, who visited the mine after the 2014 spill. E-Tech International is a nonprofit organization that provides communities with technical support on the environmental impact of large development projects. “A new tailings dam and a large catchment area are being constructed,” their report said. “The existing tailings, coupled with older acidic discharges to ground and surface water, were suspected as sources of the contamination found downstream of the mine in the past.”
E-Tech International and other groups have urged more systematic monitoring of the Sonora and San Pedro Rivers for contaminants, but “the contract for fidecomiso funds prohibits technical studies that address long-term monitoring,” the pair reported. Nevertheless, since the spill, 27 sites have been monitored by the Sonora-based Research Center in Food and Development. But many river residents say the only person they’ve seen consistently collecting water samples has been Dr. Reina Castro. 

Water flow in both rivers is also affected by pumping from the mine. Grupo Mexico has 120 wells in the desert around Cananea. By contrast, the city itself only has 14. As production has increased, the mine’s consumption of water has increased with it. Castro estimates that “in the decade of the 2000s, the mine consumed 23 million cubic meters of water a year, or 729 liters [almost 200 gallons] per second, from the sources of the San Pedro and Sonora Rivers.” According to the Nature Conservancy, parts of the San Pedro no longer flow year-round.

“But the water belongs to the nation,” declares Antonio Garcia. “We all have a right to it.”

The Frente’s immediate demands include a complete clean-up of the Sonora River, extensive health monitoring and treatment for river residents, and compensation from Grupo Mexico for lost crops and income. While the corporation budgeted $110 million for the clean-up fund and compensation, residents charge that much of it went to large farmers and businesses, while workers and small businesses received little or nothing.

The union in Cananea wants to return its members to their jobs. But many strikers doubt the company is willing to operate the mine safely, even if they go back to work. At the beginning of May, two workers and a superviser died when their pickup was crushed by a huge dump truck in the mine. Another worker lost his life a few months earlier in an accident. One possible reason for increased accidents is that workers in the mine have been working 12-hour days since it was reopened in 2010, instead of the eight hours mandated in the old union contract.


Dr. Reina Castro, at a press conference in Hermosillo reporting the continued impact of the toxic spill.  Photo by Olivia deBree

 

On June 30, the Permanent Commission of the Mexican Congress accused Grupo Mexico of lengthening the workday to 12 hours, and passed a measure demanding that the company account for its failure to remediate the damage done to the Sonora River by the toxic spill, and for the fatal May accident at the mine.

Cecilia Soto Gonzalez, a deputy representing Sonora in the Congress, from the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution, told La Jornada newspaper, “The families of the victims and the inhabitants of Cananea are deeply angry because, as always, Grupo Mexico has washed its hands [of responsibility[ and the authorities don’t act impartially to determine the responsibility for the lack of safety and super-exploitation at Buenavista de Cobre [the Cananea mine[, where the workday has been increased from eight to 12 hours a day.” 

Together, the Mexican miners’ union and the Frente Rio Sonora have filed a complaint with Mexico’s Human Rights Commission over the spill and the strike. United Steelworkers has supported them. When the Cananea strike started in 2007, the USW representative Manny Armenta brought food and money to the miners, and the union later put political pressure on the Obama administration to intercede with the Mexican government.

Both unions say they intend eventually to merge into one organization. The USW now negotiates with Grupo Mexico, since the company owns the ASARCO mines in the United States. But until now, the company has been unwilling to agree on a new contract, and threatens to close a smelter in Hayden, Arizona, which would cost 211 USW members their jobs.

Armenta and USW District 12 Director Bob LaVenture were both at the planton when it started last year. Together, the U.S. and Mexican unions filed a complaint with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, accusing Grupo Mexico and ASARCO of violating workers’ rights on both sides of the border. “Companies like Grupo Mexico, and other multinational conglomerates that attempt to silence workers, are precisely the reason why international solidarity among labor unions is so important,” said Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers.


Striking miners burn a banner with the photo of German Larrea, the owner of the Cananea mine, because they hold him responsible for the deaths of miners in the Pasta de Conchos coal mine and the pollution of the Rio Sonora

 

As far as Grupo Mexico is concerned, the clean-up of the Rio Sonora is over. On October 9, 2014, two months after the spill, it said it had put 1,200 people to work on it, and declared: “As a result of the work controlling the acidity and cleanup of the Sonora and Bacanuchi Rivers … the company has completed its surface cleanup work on 98.3% of the 250.4 kilometers it treated.”

And on July 8, the Mexico daily El Universal reported that the UVEAS clinic funded by the $110 million had closed. The Federal Commission for Protection Against Health Risks said that the clinic, after 1,160 medical consultations, had only identified 360 people as having had health impacts from the spill. One of them, Patricia Velarde Ortega, who suffers from complications including frequent nosebleeds, filed a complaint with Mexico’s Human Rights Commission after finding that the clinic’s phone had been disconnected, and that she was no longer able to get treatment.

Dr. Reina Castro called Grupo Mexico’s declaration irresponsible. “The spill of heavy metals into the Sonora River caused by Buenavista del Cobre is a problem that has not been resolved,” her report concluded. “We should not accept this position. … It’s necessary to apply existing environmental and labor laws with all their strength.”

 

Originally published on The Reality Check by David Bacon

David Bacon

David Bacon, award-winning photojournalist and author, has spent twenty years as a labor organizer and immigrant rights activist. He has been a reporter and documentary photographer for eighteen years, shooting for many national publications, and has exhibited his work internationally. He is the author of “The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration” (Beacon Press, Sept. 2013). He works as an associate editor at Pacific News Service and hosts a weekly radio show on labor, immigration, and the global economy on KPFA-FM.

"Oaxaca has become a target because Sección 22 proposed its own alternative education reform over six years ago, which concentrated on respecting indigenous culture and forging alliances between teachers, students, parents, and their communities.": David Bacon

09

By David Bacon

A striking teacher from Michoacán demonstrates in Mexico City in front of a line of police. Canadian and US teachers have organized the TriNational Coalition to Defend Public Education to support Mexican teachers' efforts to defeat proposals to introduce standardized testing and remove job protections, which have come from USAID and private foundations promoting corporate education reform. (David Bacon)

LATEST BULLETIN:  On Sunday, June 19, Federal armed forces in Oaxaca fired on teachers and supporters in the Mixteca town of Nochixtlan, and killed at least four people and wounded 30 more.

On Sunday night, June 12, as Ruben Nuñez, head of Oaxaca's teachers union, was leaving a meeting in Mexico City, his car was overtaken and stopped by several large king-cab pickup trucks. Heavily armed men in civilian clothes exited and pulled him, another teacher, and a taxi driver from their cab, and then drove them at high speed to the airport. Nuñez was immediately flown over a thousand miles north to Hermosillo, Sonora, and dumped into a high-security federal lockup.

Just hours earlier, unidentified armed agents did the same thing in Oaxaca itself, taking prisoner Francisco Villalobos, the union's second-highest officer, and flying him to the Hermosillo prison as well. Villalobos was charged with having stolen textbooks a year ago. Nuñez's charges are still unknown.

Both joined Aciel Sibaja, who's been sitting in the same penitentiary since April 14. Sibaja's crime? Accepting dues given voluntarily by teachers across Oaxaca. Sección 22, the state teachers union, has had to collect dues in cash since last July, when state authorities froze not only the union's bank accounts but even the personal ones of its officers. Sibaja was responsible for keeping track of the money teachers paid voluntarily, which the government called "funds from illicit sources."

The three are not the only leaders of Oaxaca's union in jail. Four others have been imprisoned since last October. "The leaders of Sección 22 are hostages of the federal government," says Luis Hernández Navarro, a former teacher and now opinion editor for the Mexico City daily La Jornada. "Their detention is simultaneously a warning of what can happen to other teachers who continue to reject the [federal government's] 'education reform,' and a payback to force the movement to demobilize."

The arrests are just one effort the Mexican government has made in recent months to stop protests. On May 19, Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño Mayer announced that he was firing 3,000 teachers from Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Michoacán for not having worked for three days.

All three states are strongholds of the independent teachers movement within the National Union of Education Workers-the National Coordination of Education Workers (the CNTE, or "Coordinadora"). CNTE teachers have been striking schools since earlier this spring to stop implementation of the government's education reform program. While strikes in Mexico are hotly contested, there is no precedent for firing teachers in such massive numbers just for striking.

The night of the firings, federal police attacked and removed the encampment that teachers had organized outside Mexico City's education secretariat. On June 11, the police in Oaxaca City moved to dismantle a similar encampment in front of the state's education office. When 500 heavily armed police advanced shooting tear gas, confrontations spilled into the surrounding streets, reminiscent of the way a similar strike in 2006 was attacked, and then mushroomed into an insurrection that lasted for months.

One controversial provision of the federal government's education reform requires teachers to take tests to evaluate their qualifications. Those not making good marks are subject to firing. This year, when the government tried to begin testing, teachers struck in protest.

In March, when Nuño tried to give awards to "distinguished and excellent teachers," one of them, Lucero Navarette, a primary-school teacher in Chihuahua, told him, "The results can depend on many factors and the personal circumstances each one of us live through...many don't get the result they deserve, because the job they actually do at school is very different from what comes out in the test." Journalist Hernández Navarro says educators have a tradition of egalitarianism and mutual support, and believe that "there are no first- or second- or third-class teachers. Only teachers."

On March 22 Nuño also announced a measure that would spell the end to Mexico's national system of teacher training schools, called the "normals." Instead of having to graduate from a normal, he said, anyone with a college degree in any subject could be hired to teach. Since the Mexican Revolution and before, the normals have been the vehicle for children from poor families in the countryside, and from the families of teachers themselves, to become trained educators. Returning to rural and working-class communities, teachers then often play an important role in developing movements for social justice. The normal schools themselves have historically been hotbeds of social protest and movements challenging the government.

Guerrero's normal school in Ayotzinapa was the target two years ago of an attack that led to the disappearance and possible murder of 43 students, which has since galvanized Mexico. Recently a commission of international experts criticized the Mexican government for refusing to cooperate in efforts to identify the fate of the students, and pointed to the possible involvement of officials at very high levels in their disappearance.

Firing teachers and disbanding the normals is a not-so-hidden goal of the federal education reform. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has called for abolishing the normal schools, and urged President Enrique Peña Nieto to fire teachers who get bad test results and exclude them from teaching. Similar measures have been advocated by a Washington think tank, the Partnership for Educational Revitalization in the Americas, a project of the Inter-American Dialogue with funding from USAID.

Both organizations work in cooperation with the corporate Mexican education reform lobby, Mexicanos Primero, headed Claudio González Guajardo, a member of one of the country's wealthiest families. González instructed Peña Nieto that "Mexicans elected you, not the [teachers] union," and told him to "end the power of the union over hiring, promotion, pay, and benefits for teachers."

Oaxaca has become a target because Sección 22 proposed its own alternative education reform over six years ago, which concentrated on respecting indigenous culture and forging alliances between teachers, students, parents, and their communities (for more on the alternative reform proposals and the corporate sector's attacks on teachers, see "US-Style School Reform Goes South"). After the insurrection of 2006, the union became the backbone of the left's effort to defeat the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and in 2010 Oaxacans for the first time elected a non-PRI governor, Gabino Cué. Owing his election to the teachers, Cué agreed to begin implementing their reform instead of the federal one.

In 2012, however, the PRI regained control of the federal government. Under its pressure, Cué reneged on his commitment to Oaxaca's teachers and announced that he would implement the federal reforms instead. Protests started immediately, and have escalated since then.

With the left in Oaxaca badly divided, the PRI regained control of the state government as well in voting on June 6. The arrests of the two top leaders of Sección 22 followed in less than a week.

Since the 1970s, when over 100 teachers were murdered during the years when the Coordinadora was organized, the CNTE has won control of the union in Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Michoacán, and it has a strong presence in several other states. Nationally, it has become an important base of the Mexican left. It is one of the most powerful opponents of the government's embrace of free-market and free-trade policies. Weakening the union and the role of teachers in politics is therefore an important political goal for González and Mexico's corporate elite, as well as the national political parties moving the country to the right.

When Hernández Navarro calls the leaders of Sección 22 hostages, it's no exaggeration. On June 11, President Peña Nieto announced that he would only talk with the teachers if they agreed to two conditions. "The Government of the Republic repeats that it is open to dialogue only when they comply with two conditions: returning to work in the schools of Chiapas, Guerrero, Michoacán, and Oaxaca, and accepting the Education Reform."

Taking union leaders hostage, firing thousands, and closing one of Mexico's most progressive institutions are serious violations of human and labor rights, and of the rule of law itself. The support the corporate-friendly Mexican reforms get from US political institutions makes it incumbent on those institutions to speak out against these violations as well. It is time to stop that support. Instead, teachers in the United States, who are resisting similar reforms, should stand in solidarity and help free their Mexican colleagues, which would give them some breathing room as they continue their fight.

Romualdo Juan Gutierrez Cortez teaches his class in Tecomaxtlajuaca, in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca.  Gutierrez is the binational coordinator of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB), and a longtime activist in the CNTE.


  
A group of preschool teachers from Huatulco -- Lulu, Lizbeth, Rocio, Roosevelt and Adany -- in the planton organized by Oaxaca's teachers union, Section 22 of the national teachers union and the CNTE, in the zocalo, the main square of Oaxaca.  The planton was organized to protest efforts to eliminate union's proposal for education reform.  Teachers rotated every week, and these teachers come from Oaxaca's coastal towns.  



Jose Eduardo Sanchez and another older teacher from Michoacan drive the truck with the sound system in a march by teachers in Mexico City.  Teachers arrived in the capital from all over the country to demonstrate against the government's proposed education reforms. 



Teachers from the Miahuatlan district of Oaxaca march to protest the government's education reform program.  Their sign says, "Not one step back!"


Mexico's Education Ministry is surrounded by an encampment of teachers who have arrived in the capital from all over the country to demonstrate against the government's proposed education reforms.  The banner is from Oaxaca's Seccion 22.



Teachers, other trade union activists and other popular organizations set up tombstones in front of their planton, in Mexico City's Zocalo, to remember the deaths of social activists and workers, on the day Mexican President Felipe Calderon gave his annual speech about the state of the country.  The protest was called the Day of the Indignant, was organized by unions including the Mexican Electrical Workers (SME).



Teachers who have arrived in the capital from all over the country march through downtown Mexico City to the Zocalo, to demonstrate against the government's proposed education reforms.  The sign carried by this teacher from the CNTE says, "Calderon, understand your country.  Don't sell it out!"



Teachers from Oaxaca march with independent trade unions in protest to Mexico City's main square, the Zocalo, on the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.  The marchers carry a banner saying No to the Federal government's education reform, and Yes to the PTEO, the teachers' union education reform in Oaxaca.



Teachers from Oaxaca and other states set up a tent encampment (planton) to protest the education reforms passed by the Mexican government and the ruling Party of the Institutionalized Revolution.  Some protesting teachers lived for months in the planton in the Plaza de la Republica, next to the Monument to the  Revolution, before they were driven away by the police.  One sign shows that some of the teachers come from the Mixteca region of Oaxaca.



Teachers march with independent trade unions to protest corporate education reform, to Mexico City's main square, the Zocalo, on the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. 



In San Francisco labor and community activists march in support of the parents of
43 students of the Ayotzinapa teachers training school in Guerrero, Mexico, who were kidnapped and possibly murdered.

 

Originally published on The Reality Check by David Bacon

David Bacon

David Bacon, award-winning photojournalist and author, has spent twenty years as a labor organizer and immigrant rights activist. He has been a reporter and documentary photographer for eighteen years, shooting for many national publications, and has exhibited his work internationally. He is the author of "The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration" (Beacon Press, Sept. 2013). He works as an associate editor at Pacific News Service and hosts a weekly radio show on labor, immigration, and the global economy on KPFA-FM.

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The poll was conducted from June 7-10 and included 455 respondents. It has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 5.3 percentage points.

berniesanders

According to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, 44 percent of Democrats want Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to make an independent run for the White House.

That bears repeating, that’s 44 percent of Democrats, not 44 percent of Sanders supporters.

That number closely corresponds to the 43 percent of voters who have chosen Sanders over rival Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary to date.

The poll also found that more than three-quarters of Democrats say Sanders should have a “major role” in shaping the Party’s positions and that nearly two thirds say Clinton should choose Sanders as her vice-presidential running mate.

Sanders and his supporters can now rest assured that their voice in deed has been heard throughout much of the Democratic Party and that they are influencing its base, for whatever that might be worth.

However, the poll also suggests that many Democrats still seek Party unity, with nearly two thirds saying that Sanders should endorse Clinton. Sometimes you get uncomfortable overlap with polling questions. The slight overlap in this case could suggest that roughly 10 percent of Dems would be content if Sanders either ran as an independent or endorsed Clinton, rather than both.

The poll was conducted from June 7-10 and included 455 respondents. It has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 5.3 percentage points.

A previous Reuters poll also found that Sanders was the most popular candidate for the role of Commander in Chief among all likely voters (identified Democrats, Republicans, and independents), earning 38 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 31 percent and Republican Donald Trump’s 26 percent.

These new poll numbers must be troubling for the Clinton campaign as Sanders has repeatedly vowed to stay in the race through the convention and is meeting this evening with several close advisors to discuss “the future” of his campaign.

While Sanders has maintained that he will ultimately support whoever the Democratic nominee may be, the spectre of a possible independent run by the Vermont senator must still haunt Clinton, especially when considering how much better he does among crucial independent voters than she does.

Sanders beats Clinton by a staggering 31 points among independent voters nationally, and he also has a track record of courting substantial numbers of independents and Republicans both in Vermont and nationally. You combine that with the fact that nearly half of Democrats want him to run as an independent, and you could have one of the most viable independent runs in recent history. He could pull a majority of blue states, swing states, and even some red states — he did very well in several deep red states outside of the Bible Belt during the primary.

Trump and Clinton both also have huge likability deficits when compared to Sanders. In a three-way race, both Clinton and Trump will have a tough time against Sanders.

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wildcard

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is under federal investigation and so there might be an indictment against her. If that happens then Bernie Sanders could get his opening, Young Turks host Cenk Uygur tells ‘Politicking with Larry King’.
Hillary Clinton has made history in becoming the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. But Bernie Sanders vows to fight on for what he calls “an American Revolution.” What do his words “fight on” mean exactly, and what's next for his campaign and his supporters?

We will find out with Cenk Uygur, host of the online news and commentary show The Young Turks, founder and CEO of the TYT network, and vocal Bernie Sanders supporter and defender.

Larry King: You have to be brought down by the size of the California defeat…Where are you now?

Cenk Uygur: First of all, Hillary Clinton was likely to win the pledge delegates comfortably even if Bernie Sanders had won California. So, it's not like we didn't know going into the night that it wasn't going to be a great night no matter what. I am surprised at the size of the California win for Hillary Clinton. I don't know how much it had to do with the Associated Press and the rest of the press saying: “Don't show up to vote. This race is already over.”

LK: Well, they didn't say “don't show up.”

CU: I mean, by declaring “the race over” that is in effect what you're saying. In fact, they had record registration, more people signing up to vote, but then it was actually 28 percent lower turnout than in 2008. That's because every press outlet said: “This race is already over.” You know, that if the press declares the race over, then less people are going to show up to vote.

LK: But Bernie [Sanders] said on Tuesday: “The struggle continues. We're going to fight hard to win the primary in Washington, D.C. We take our fight for social, economic, racial and environmental justice to Philadelphia… “What is taking the fight mean?

CU: I'll give you my interpretation, because I don't speak for Bernie Sanders. She has won a lot more pledged delegates. If all things being equal, she's got more super delegates, more pledged delegates; the race is over, she's won. Right? Now, there is one wild card because things are not normal. She is under federal investigation and so there might be an indictment. I have no idea what the chances of that indictment are. People think: “By bringing it up, you're rooting for it.” No, the FBI isn't listening to the Young Turks and thinking: “I wonder if we should act based on what they say.” I'm just telling you that there's some chance that that happens. And if it does, well then that would be a giant wild card. Because the very last election is a super delegate election; they have not voted yet, they vote on July 25. If there's an indictment between here and there, then they would get to say: “Okay, of course.”

LK: Why doesn't Bernie, at least, if that happens…Why doesn't he make peace now? Bring the party together because the last thing he wants is a Trump presidency.

CU: That's certainly true and we don't know what he means by carrying on the campaign. My suggestion was to suspend the campaign with reserving the right to re-enter if there's an indictment. It's ironic that he doesn't like talking about the indictment; he thinks that's too much of an attack against Hillary Clinton. On the other hand, the most important part of this, and to the point of your first question, it means we are going to fight for progressive ideas no matter what. Whether we win the delegate count, whether we win the primary or not, whether we win the election or not…No matter what happens, this political revolution continues.

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bravobernie

What's about to come upon us is going to make many regret not taking advantage of an opportunity named Bernie Sanders

By Rubén Luengas
Translation: Jorge Iniestra Urrutia

(Leer versión en Español)

Like a comet in the sky, Bernie Sanders is a bright phenomenon in the American political spectrum. Millions of people understood his call for a "political revolution" in the form of a "democratic socialism" that has nothing to do with the misinterpretations of these concepts made by it's detractors. In a very particular and enthusiastic way, young people followed the 74 year old senator, fed by the hope of real change despite facing the evident erosion of true democratic values, of the culture itself, and of the civic dimension of individuals that has traditionally served as an antidote towards apathy.

Thanks to Bernie Sanders' candidacy, which always sustained inequality as the great moral, economic and political topic of the present, we have witnessed how it was possible to break the simulation of the democratic debate during the primary elections which come to an end next Tuesday with Washington D.C.'s primary election.

It is impossible, within this context, to talk of democracy and what it should mean, without the existence of a society that is well informed by a media that is steadfast in exposing the true face of power. What we have mostly seen is a media deploying an intense effort of manipulation and adulteration of the so called public opinion. Nobody doubts the massive proliferation of the flow of information that exists today, with it's facade of apparent ideological plurality, this doesn't mean that they truly favor diverse visions or that they promote, for society, a true communication. This last word's etymological meaning being, "to make common".

Senator Sanders' campaign has been a thorn on the side of many because besides being a campaign for the presidential nomination, it has also been a campaign of counter-information that exposes and exhibits a false democracy that is administered by the elite in power for their personal gain, in it's place looking "to make common" a true and genuine democracy. That is why recently in Santa Monica, California, Bernie Sanders refused to concede defeat to former secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in the name of so called "unity" of the Democratic Party in order to form a united front against Donald Trump for the upcoming general election in November.

Sanders has externalized over and over again his commitment to do what ever it takes to prevent someone as dangerous as Donald Trump to make it to the White House, yet looking to guarantee that the Democratic Party's platform distances itself from policies that have overwhelmingly benefited those at the top while at the same time crushing the so called "American Dream" for millions of American's. In other words, Sanders is not an "old stubborn man" that craves power and the spotlight that comes with staying in the race. It's more about being an American that is conscious of the wrong path that his country has been dragged on by it's leaders, not to mention, their addiction to war. One of them being Hillary Clinton herself, who has demonstrated this through her actions, whether during her time as senator when voting in favor of the Iraq war or as the leading figure in foreign policy under Barack Obama's administration, pushing for the destitution of former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, without assuming any responsibility to the world, along with her boss, Barack Obama, of the tragic consequences.

It is worth to remember in this case what WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, said in February of 2016, considering that the aspiring democrat was in favor, in his own words, of a "stupid and endless war".

"A vote today for Hillary Clinton is a vote for endless, stupid war,” Assange wrote via the @wikileaks Twitter account. He added that he has “years of experience in dealing with Hillary Clinton and has read thousands of her cables. Hillary lacks judgment and will push the United States into endless wars which spread terrorism.”

Assange also highlighted Clinton's “poor policy decisions,” which he said have “directly contributed” to the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

 
The war in Libya is "Clinton's Iraq", who was secretary of state of the United States of America from 2009 to 2013.

A long, very long time will pass before someone comes along with such unusual honesty and runs for the presidency of the United States by telling it's people truth's like this one:

"We must be honest. The history of the US towards Latin America has been about a powerful nation with the world's strongest army saying: We do not like this government, we will overthrow them."

"The US cannot continue intervening in Latin America and overthrow governments or trying to destabilise them for economic reasons."

 

I have already expressed this before in some of my columns, not only those who are convinced of the great value behind Bernie Sanders' campaign should be grateful to him, but also his detractors, whether they be democrats or republicans, because just as the lucid mind and great American intellectual, Noam Chomsky, has said, the Democratic Party today occupies the ideological space that once belonged to republicans, while these, the republicans, have moved to an irrational right, leaving themselves outside of the spectrum and turning into a party of "candidates for one of the most dangerous organizations for humanity".

The results of these crucial U.S. primary elections, because of the grave danger of the world we are living in, shouldn't be seen by it's citizens as if they were just a mere numeric and statistical result of who won and who lost, as if it were the final score in a Super Bowl, where everyone just goes back home happy or sad. What Senator Sanders is looking to avoid with his admirable tenacity is that we assist, once more, to the "democratic" burial of democracy, and instead, do what should be the job and the mission of a media that is committed to the people, which is to identify, expose and denounce those who have hijacked true democracy. That's why Sanders keeps fighting while so many of us are lamenting that millions of American's did not have the lucidity to realize that, like the comets in the sky, a long time will go by before we see someone in the political horizon who is as committed to democracy as Bernie Sanders. Many of those who voted against him, did so against their own interests. Maybe with time and with what's about to come upon us, will make them realize the rare opportunity that they let slip by. But by then, it will be too late.

It is journalism's moral obligation to denounce the closed circles of power that, from the shadows, mark the lives of millions of people, yet, during the primaries, many of those who "inform" acted as spokespersons or as part of these closed circles of power, constantly recreating themselves in the juicy media circus offered by protagonists such as Donald Trump, instead of a profound analysis that this delicate situation in our national and worldwide panorama, demands. With his message, Sanders "miraculously" was able to put up a great battle when he launched his candidacy on April of 2015: "How is it possible for the richest 1% to posses almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%?", asked the senator from Vermont.

Without someone like Bernie Sanders in the general election in November, who could represent the real interests of more than the 90% of the population within a similar panorama described crudely by the extraordinary comedian, George Carlin, with such demolishing words:

"But there’s a reason. There’s a reason. There’s a reason for this, there’s a reason education SUCKS, and it’s the same reason it will never, ever, EVER be fixed.

It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it, be happy with what you’ve got.

Because the owners, the owners of this country don't want that. I'm talking about the real owners now, the BIG owners! The Wealthy… the REAL owners! The big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions.

Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice! You have OWNERS! They OWN YOU. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, lobbying, to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I'll tell you what they don’t want:

They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That's against their interests.

That's right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago. They don’t want that!

You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shitty jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this fucking place! It's a big club, and you ain’t in it! You, and I, are not in the big club.

By the way, it's the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table has tilted folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care! Good honest hard-working people; white collar, blue collar it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people of modest means, continue to elect these rich cock suckers who don’t give a fuck about you….they don’t give a fuck about you… they don’t give a FUCK about you.

They don’t care about you at all… at all… AT ALL. And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. Thats what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick thats being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth.

It's called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it."

 
Rubén Luengas/Entre Noticias

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Israel

Israeli soldiers aim towards Palestinian youths during clashes in the West Bank town of Hebron on Oct. 4, 2015. (AFP/Hazem Bader, File)

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian activists on Wednesday released video footage purportedly filmed by Israeli soldiers at clashes in Ramallah during which they can apparently be heard congratulating one another on shooting Palestinians.

Palestinian protesters said they found the footage on a camera that was dropped by an Israeli soldier during clashes near Ramallah.

Palestinian activists later published the footage on Facebook, saying that it "refuted" the Israeli army's claim that Israeli forces only opened fire on Palestinians posing an imminent threat.

The footage includes several snippets of conversation between two people said to be Israeli soldiers, one a sniper and the other his commanding officer, as they discuss opening fire on Palestinian protesters.

In one early scene, the officer congratulates the sniper for shooting a Palestinian "in his butt." In other scenes, he repeatedly says: "Wow, very cool," after the sniper shoot and hits protesters.
"Come on, you are allowed to shoot," the officer urges the sniper, after which the sniper fires a shot and says: "I got him! I got him!"

In a later scene, the officer asks: "Did you hit him?" to which the sniper replies: "Of course I did, bro."
A final scene shows the men climbing into an Israeli military jeep, appearing to show the interior of the vehicle.
The authenticity of the video footage could not initially be confirmed. An Israeli army spokesperson said she was looking into the reports.

Both local and international rights groups have repeatedly criticized the Israeli army for its excessive use of force and for killing and wounding Palestinians who did not pose an imminent threat.

Thousands of Palestinian protesters have been wounded by Israeli forces since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October.

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Sin título

Damascus, SANA- President Bashar al-Assad said..Whoever fights terrorism somewhere, will protect the rest of the world.

President al-Assad added in an interview with the French Magazine Valeurs Actuelles Thursday that you cannot fight terrorism while you follow or pursue the wrong policies that support terrorism directly or indirectly.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: I want to have your comment on this: when our President Mr. Hollande, said that President Assad couldn’t be the solution because he was part of the problem. Does this represent a general view for you, and how you see this? What’s your reaction?

President Assad: First, the first part of my reaction is: was Hollande assigned by the Syrian population to speak on their behalf? That is the first question. Would you as a French citizen accept a similar comment from any other politician in this world, to say that President Hollande shouldn’t be the French President? Isn’t it a humiliation to the French people? We look at it the same way. It’s a humiliation to the Syrian people when he says such a thing. Doesn’t it mean that he doesn’t recognize them?

Second, for France as a country that’s always proud of its traditions and the principles of the French Revolution and maybe democracy and human rights, the first principle of that democracy is that peoples have the right to decide who leads them. So, it’s a shame on him, for somebody who represents the French population, to do and say something which is against the principles of the French republic and the French people. Second, it’s a shame on him to try to humiliate a population with a civilized, long, deep history for thousands of years like the Syrian people. So, that’s my reaction, and I think it will not affect the facts in Syria, because the facts will not be affected by certain statements.

Question 2: If you had a message, one message, for Mr. Hollande and Mr. Fabius, especially after what happened yesterday in Paris? Is it “please cut your relations urgently with Qatar and Saudi Arabia?”

My message to Hollande and Fabius.. be serious when you talk about fighting terrorists

President Assad: First of all, this message has many aspects. The first part of this message is a question: are they independent to send them a message they can implement? Actually, the French policy these days is not independent of the American one. This is first. So, sending a message will lead nowhere. In spite of that, if I have a hope that there will be some political change in France, the first one is go back to the real, independent, friendly politics of France toward the Middle East and toward Syria. Second, be away from the American, how to say, methodology, of double standards. So, if you want to support the Syrian people – allegedly – regarding democracy and freedom, it’s better to support the Saudi people first.

If you have a problem about democracy with the Syrian state, how could you have good relations and friendship with the worst states in the world, the most underdeveloped states in the world which are the Saudi and Qatari states? So, this contradiction doesn’t give credibility.

Third, it’s natural for any official to work for the sake and interest of his people. The question that I ask in any message is: did the French policy during the past five years bring any good to the French people? What is the benefit? I’m sure the answer is no, and the proof of that answer is what I said a few years ago, that messing with the fault line in Syria is messing with an earthquake that will reverberate in the rest of the world, first of all in Europe because we are the backyard of Europe, geographically and geopolitically, so that time they said “are you threatening?” I didn’t, and Charlie Hebdo happened at the beginning of this year, and I said after that incident that this is only the tip of the iceberg, and what happened yesterday is another proof. So, they need to change their policy toward the interests of their people, and this is where we’re going to have the same interests with the French population, mainly fighting terrorism. So, the final message is: be serious when you talk about fighting terrorists. That’s my message.

Question 3: French experts say that terrorists are certainly being trained in the Middle East, and we have a lack of information. What would be necessary to have that kind of cooperation between Paris and Damascus?

President Assad: You need first of all seriousness. If the French government is not serious about fighting terrorism, we wouldn’t waste our time cooperating with a country, or a government, let’s say, with an institution that is supporting terrorism. First of all, you need to change your policy, to have one standard regarding this and not multiple standards, and to have that country be part of an alliance with countries that only fight terrorism, not countries that support terrorism and are fighting terrorism. This is a contradiction. So, these are the first basics of having any cooperation. We would like to have this kind of cooperation, not only with France, but with any country, but this cooperation needs an atmosphere. It needs certain criteria, and needs certain conditions.

Question 4: And in the future, if the government changes, would it be possible?

My job is about what is best for the Syrians

President Assad: In politics you don’t have friendship and emotions, you have interests. That’s my role as a politician, and that’s their role as politicians in your country. It’s not whether they like Assad or don’t like him, it’s not whether I like Hollande or not. It’s not about that. My job is about what is best for the Syrians, and what is best for the French, that’s our job. So, in the future we don’t have a problem. The problem is the policies, not the emotions.

Question 5: You just met President Putin. I mean, I don’t want to ask you what he said to you, but I want to ask you; when somebody said that Putin is the last guy who defends the West, would you say that? That Putin is the last head of state who defends the Christian-Western civilization?

President Assad: So he defends Western Europe?

Question 6: Exactly.

Whoever fights terrorism somewhere, will protect the rest of the world

President Assad: When you talk about terrorism, it’s one arena; it’s not the Syrian, Libyan, Yemeni and French arenas. It’s one arena. So, the incentive behind the Russian coalition that they announced a few months ago before they sent their military to Syria, is that if we don’t fight terrorism in Syria, or maybe in other parts of the world, it will be hitting everywhere including Russia, so that’s correct. When you fight terrorism in Syria, you’re defending Russia and defending Europe and defending other continents. That’s correct. This has been our view for decades now, since we have been fighting against the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood in the 1970s and 1990s. We had that impression, we always asked for an international coalition for fighting terrorism because terrorism doesn’t recognize political borders, doesn’t care about procedures. No matter what procedure you took in France after Charlie Hebdo, what happened yesterday proves that theory. So, that’s correct and that’s very precise; whoever fights terrorism, not only Putin, whoever fights terrorism somewhere, will protect the rest of the world.

Question 7: There is a conference in Vienna about Syria, and also tomorrow in Ankara with the G20, and at several times different presidents have said “the solution is Bashar Assad has to leave Syria.” Are you ready, personally, to leave power if it could be the best solution to protect Syria?

The constitution will bring the president and the constitution will make him leave

President Assad: This is a two-part question. The first part, is there anything I have to do in response to any foreign request? My answer is no. I will not do it, no matter what that request is; small, big, important, not important, because they have nothing to do with the Syrian decision. The only thing they did so far is to support terrorists in different ways, by [providing an] umbrella and by direct support. They could only create problems; they are not part of the solution. Those countries, whoever supports terrorists, are not part of the solution in Syria. So, whatever they say, we don’t respond because we don’t care about them, to be frank.

Second, for me, as a Syrian, I have to respond to any Syrian will. Of course, when I talk about Syrian will, there must be a kind of consensus, the majority of the Syrians, and the only way to know what the Syrians want is through the ballot box. This is second. Third, for any president, to come and go, in any state that respects itself, respects its civilization and respects its people, is through a political process that reflects the constitution. The constitution will bring the president and the constitution will make him leave, through the parliament, through elections, through referendum, and so on. This is the only way for the president to come and go.

Question 8: What are all these talks about that the only solution not only for Syria; Iraq and Lebanon: partition? We hear much, you know, this is what you talk about, secular and sectarian. But there is a lot of talk everywhere, you know that better than us, about Syria with the coast, and Iraq too, and Lebanon. What is you feeling about that?

Any Syrian will tell you that we are supporting the unity of Syria.

President Assad: The impression that they try to give in the Western media is that the problem in this region is a civil war between different components, religions, and ethnicities that don’t want to live with each other. So, why don’t they divide their country? This is where they can stay. Actually, the problem is not like this, because now, under the government’s control in Syria, you can see that all these components live with each other a normal life, a natural life. So, if you want to make division, you have to create clear lines between the components, whether between sects, or between ethnicities. In that case, if you’re going to have that situation, if the region reaches that situation, I will tell you that the situation is going to be small states fighting with each other, never-ending wars for maybe centuries. Any situation like this means constant wars. For the rest of the world it means more sources of exporting instability and terrorism around the world. That’s the situation. So, this is a very dangerous way of thinking. We don’t have the incubator now, the social incubator for such partition. Actually, if you ask any Syrian now, whether they are with the government or against the government, they will tell you that we are supporting the unity of Syria.

Question 9: You spoke about the constitution. In several months, you will have elections inside Syria. Are you ready to have international observers for these elections?

President Assad: Yes, but we said international observation doesn’t mean UN organizations that have no credibility, to be frank, because they are under the control of the Americans and the West in general. So, when you talk about international observation or participation or cooperation, it means certain countries around the world that were not biased during the crisis, that didn’t support the terrorists, didn’t try to politicize their position toward what’s happening in Syria. Those are the countries that can participate in such coordination or observation, but we don’t have a problem with the principle.

Question 10: We talked about Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but we didn’t talk about Turkey, and they let go in Europe hundreds of thousands of refugees, and it seems that they let go in Syria jihadists. So, what is the role of Turkey?

Turkey is playing the worst part of our crisis

President Assad: The most dangerous role, in the whole situation, because Turkey offered all kinds of support to those terrorists, and all the spectrums of the terrorists. Some countries support al-Nusra Front, which is Al Qaeda, some other countries support ISIS, while Turkey supports both, and other groups at the same time. They support them with, how to say, human resources, they recruit. They support them with money, logistics, armaments, surveillance, information, and even the maneuvers of their military through their borders during the fights in Syria. Even the money that’s being collected from the rest of the world passes through Turkey, and the oil that ISIS sells is through Turkey, so Turkey is playing the worst part of our crisis.

Second, that’s related directly to Erdogan himself and Davutoglu, because they both reflect the real ideology that they carry in their hearts, which is the Muslim Brotherhood ideology.

Question 11: You think he is Muslim Brotherhood?

President Assad: Not necessarily to be organized, but the mentality, a hundred percent. He cares a lot about politicized Islam which is the opportunistic part of Islam which is not Islam actually. That’s how we look at it, because you shouldn’t politicize religion. So, it’s related directly to him, to his will to see the Muslim Brotherhood governing in the rest of the Arab world so that he can control them as a sultan, but actually more as an imam, not a sultan. That is what Turkey is playing.

Question 12: You know we are in a situation right now, yesterday night and before, Charlie Hebdo, and before and before. You said that, but I want your confirmation; you think that France cannot fight terrorism if it stays with its links with Qatar and Saudi Arabia?

You cannot fight terrorism while you follow or pursue the wrong policies that support terrorism directly or indirectly

President Assad: Yes. In addition, you cannot fight if you don’t have relations with the power that’s fighting ISIS or terrorism on the ground. You cannot fight terrorism while you follow or pursue the wrong policies that, at the end, in the end result, support terrorism directly or indirectly. If you don’t have all these things, no, you cannot, and we don’t think that they can, so far.

Journalists: Thank you very much, Mr. President, for this interview.

President Assad: Thank you for coming.

0

"Citizens will be forced to give up control of their destiny and will be stripped of the ability to protect themselves from corporate predators, safeguard the ecosystem and find redress and justice in our now anemic and often dysfunctional democratic institutions"

TPP

TPP t's worse than any of us feared.

By Chris Hedges / Truthdig

The release Thursday of the 5,544-page text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—a trade and investment agreement involving 12 countries comprising nearly 40 percent of global output—confirms what even its most apocalyptic critics feared.

“The TPP, along with the WTO [World Trade Organization] and NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], is the most brazen corporate power grab in American history,” Ralph Nader told me when I reached him by phone in Washington, D.C. “It allows corporations to bypass our three branches of government to impose enforceable sanctions by secret tribunals. These tribunals can declare our labor, consumer and environmental protections [to be] unlawful, non-tariff barriers subject to fines for noncompliance. The TPP establishes a transnational, autocratic system of enforceable governance in defiance of our domestic laws.”

The TPP is part of a triad of trade agreements that includes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). TiSA, by calling for the privatization of all public services, is a mortal threat to the viability of the U.S. Postal Service, public education and other government-run enterprises and utilities; together these operations make up 80 percent of the U.S. economy. The TTIP and TiSA are still in the negotiation phase. They will follow on the heels of the TPP and are likely to go before Congress in 2017.

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These three agreements solidify the creeping corporate coup d’état along with the final evisceration of national sovereignty. Citizens will be forced to give up control of their destiny and will be stripped of the ability to protect themselves from corporate predators, safeguard the ecosystem and find redress and justice in our now anemic and often dysfunctional democratic institutions. The agreements—filled with jargon, convoluted technical, trade and financial terms, legalese, fine print and obtuse phrasing—can be summed up in two words: corporate enslavement.

The TPP removes legislative authority from Congress and the White House on a range of issues. Judicial power is often surrendered to three-person trade tribunals in which only corporations are permitted to sue. Workers, environmental and advocacy groups and labor unions are blocked from seeking redress in the proposed tribunals. The rights of corporations become sacrosanct. The rights of citizens are abolished.

The Sierra Club issued a statement after the release of the TPP text saying that the “deal is rife with polluter giveaways that would undermine decades of environmental progress, threaten our climate, and fail to adequately protect wildlife because big polluters helped write the deal.”

If there is no sustained popular uprising to prevent the passage of the TPP in Congress this spring we will be shackled by corporate power. Wages will decline. Working conditions will deteriorate. Unemployment will rise. Our few remaining rights will be revoked. The assault on the ecosystem will be accelerated. Banks and global speculation will be beyond oversight or control. Food safety standards and regulations will be jettisoned. Public services ranging from Medicare and Medicaid to the post office and public education will be abolished or dramatically slashed and taken over by for-profit corporations. Prices for basic commodities, including pharmaceuticals, will skyrocket. Social assistance programs will be drastically scaled back or terminated. And countries that have public health care systems, such as Canada and Australia, that are in the agreement will probably see their public health systems collapse under corporate assault. Corporations will be empowered to hold a wide variety of patents, including over plants and animals, turning basic necessities and the natural world into marketable products. And, just to make sure corporations extract every pound of flesh, any public law interpreted by corporations as impeding projected profit, even a law designed to protect the environment or consumers, will be subject to challenge in an entity called the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) section. The ISDS, bolstered and expanded under the TPP, will see corporations paid massive sums in compensation from offending governments for impeding their “right” to further swell their bank accounts. Corporate profit effectively will replace the common good.

Given the bankruptcy of our political class—including amoral politicians such as Hillary Clinton, who is denouncing the TPP during the presidential campaign but whose unwavering service to corporate capitalism assures her fealty to her corporate backers—the trade agreement has a good chance of becoming law. And because the Obama administration won fast-track authority, a tactic designed by the Nixon administration to subvert democratic debate, President Obama will be able to sign the agreement before it goes to Congress.

The TPP, because of fast track, bypasses the normal legislative process of public discussion and consideration by congressional committees. The House and the Senate, which have to vote on the TPP bill within 90 days of when it is sent to Congress, are prohibited by the fast-track provision from adding floor amendments or holding more than 20 hours of floor debate. Congress cannot raise concerns about the effects of the TPP on the environment. It can only vote yes or no. It is powerless to modify or change one word.

There will be a mass mobilization Nov. 14 through 18 in Washington to begin the push to block the TPP. Rising up to stop the TPP is a far, far better investment of our time and energy than engaging in the empty political theater that passes for a presidential campaign.

“The TPP creates a web of corporate laws that will dominate the global economy,” attorney Kevin Zeese of the group Popular Resistance, which has mounted a long fight against the trade agreement, told me from Baltimore by telephone. “It is a global corporate coup d’état. Corporations will become more powerful than countries. Corporations will force democratic systems to serve their interests. Civil courts around the world will be replaced with corporate courts or so-called trade tribunals. This is a massive expansion that builds on the worst of NAFTA rather than what Barack Obama promised, which was to get rid of the worst aspects of NAFTA.”

The agreement is the product of six years of work by global capitalists from banks, insurance companies, Goldman Sachs, Monsanto and other corporations.

“It was written by them [the corporations], it is for them and it will serve them,” Zeese said of the TPP. “It will hurt domestic businesses and small businesses. The buy-American provisions will disappear. Local communities will not be allowed to build buy-local campaigns. The thrust of the agreement is the privatization and commodification of everything. The agreement has built within it a deep antipathy to state-supported or state-owned enterprises. It gives away what is left of our democracy to the World Trade Organization.”

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The economist David Rosnick, in a report on the TPP by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), estimated that under the trade agreement only the top 10 percent of U.S. workers would see their wages increase. Rosnick wrote that the real wages of middle-income U.S. workers (from the 35th percentile to the 80th percentile) would decline under the TPP. NAFTA, contributing to a decline in manufacturing jobs (now only 9 percent of the economy), has forced workers into lower-paying service jobs and resulted in a decline in real wages of between 12 and 17 percent. The TPP would only accelerate this process, Rosnick concluded.

“This is a continuation of the global race to the bottom,” Dr. Margaret Flowers, also from Popular Resistance and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, said from Baltimore in a telephone conversation with me. “Corporations are free to move to countries that have the lowest labor standards. This drives down high labor standards here. It means a decimation of industries and unions. It means an accelerated race to the bottom, which we must rise up to stop.”

“In Malaysia one-third of tech workers are essentially slaves,” Zeese said. “In Vietnam the minimum wage is 35 cents an hour. Once these countries are part of the trade agreement U.S. workers are put in a very difficult position.”

Fifty-one percent of working Americans now make less than $30,000 a year, a new study by the Social Security Administration reported. Forty percent are making less than $20,000 a year. The federal government considers a family of four living on an income of less than $24,250 to be in poverty.

“Half of American workers earn essentially the poverty level,” Zeese said. “This agreement only accelerates this trend. I don’t see how American workers are going to cope.”

The assault on the American workforce by NAFTA—which was established under the Clinton administration in 1994 and which at the time promised creation of 200,000 net jobs a year in the United States—has been devastating. NAFTA has led to a $181 billion trade deficit with Mexico and Canada and the loss of at least 1 million U.S. jobs, according to a report by Public Citizen. The flooding of the Mexican market with cheap corn by U.S. agro-businesses drove down the price of Mexican corn and saw 1 million to 3 million poor Mexican farmers go bankrupt and lose their small farms. Many of them crossed the border into the United States in a desperate effort to find work.

“Obama has misled the public throughout this process,” Dr. Flowers said. “He claimed that environmental groups were supportive of the agreement because it provided environmental protections, and this has now been proven false. He told us that it would create 650,000 jobs, and this has now been proven false. He calls this a 21st century trade agreement, but it actually rolls back progress made in Bush-era trade agreements. The most recent model of a 21st century trade agreement is the Korean free trade agreement. That was supposed to create 140,000 U.S. jobs. But what we saw within a couple years was a loss of about 70,000 jobs and a larger trade deficit with Korea. This agreement [the TPP] is sold to us with the same deceits that were used to sell us NAFTA and other trade agreements.”

The agreement, in essence, becomes global law. Any agreements over carbon emissions by countries made through the United Nations are effectively rendered null and void by the TPP.

“Trade agreements are binding,” Flowers said. “They supersede any of the nonbinding agreements made by the United Nations Climate Change Conference that might come out of Paris.”

There is more than enough evidence from past trade agreements to indicate where the TPP—often called “NAFTA on steroids”—will lead. It is part of the inexorable march by corporations to wrest from us the ability to use government to defend the public and to build social and political organizations that promote the common good. Our corporate masters seek to turn the natural world and human beings into malleable commodities that will be used and exploited until exhaustion or collapse. Trade agreements are the tools being used to achieve this subjugation. The only response left is open, sustained and defiant popular revolt.

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, writes a regular column for Truthdig every Monday. Hedges' most recent book is "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."


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