Massacre in Peru: A Trip Into the Amazon

Massacre in Peru: A trip into the Amazon brings answers and more questions
by Ben Powless
I arrived into Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport on Friday June 5th, after a personal trip to Cuzco and Machu Picchu. I had come to Peru for a 5-day Indigenous summit in the southern Peruvian Andes and decided to take a few days off at the end to see these world-renowned sights, thinking I may not have the chance again.
The Devil's Curve, June 5th - Photo: Thomas Quirynen
At the summit, we had been informed there of the situation on the ground in the Amazon. Alberto Pizango, president of the organization AIDESEP, the Inter-ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon, which represents 400,000 Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon, had even come to the summit to speak. So on Friday, waiting for my plane back to Canada, I was alarmed to hear of the crisis unfolding in the Amazon, but felt remorseful that I would be leaving now, in the moment of crisis. That is, until the security guard came looking for me to inform me that my flight had been cancelled. Suddenly, I was free. They let me book another return ticket to Ottawa, so I had them give me a week more in Peru.

The next day, I headed into the offices of AIDESEP, urged on by a friend from the Ecuadorian Amazon who said they could use help. Immediately I was put to work in the communications office, helping translate, taking photos and audio of the press conference that morning, and looking into international press and assistence. When I finally had the chance to meet with the acting director, Pizango having already gone into hiding after a warrant was issued for his arrest, he offered me the opportunity of a lifetime. I was to head into the Amazon itself with a delegation from AIDESEP, one of their lawyers, and some press. They needed a delegation from their central offices in Lima to talk with the people, take pictures and collect information, and I jumped at the opportunity.

That's how a week later I ended up in Jaen, an hour outside the town of Bagua, where the tragic events of June 5th were centered. On Monday, June 8th I returned to the office, which was in turmoil, and it took hours before anyone had enough free time to chat. I posted an article I had written online, and worked to get it distributed far and wide, being one of the few English language articles at the time to go in-depth about the events here. I had another meeting with some AIDESEP leaders, and they told me that the next day I was to head to the Amazon area to assist. It was settled.
[London's Independent has published photographs of the protest attack and aftermath from Survival International, here.]
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Israel and Obama’s Iran Puzzle

Ahmadinejad Re-elected: Israel and Obama’s Iran Puzzle
by Ramzy Baroud
The election victory of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is likely to complicate US President Barack Obama’s new approach to his country’s conflict with Iran. The reason behind the foreseen obstacle is neither the US nor Iran’s refusal to engage in future dialogue but rather Israel’s insistence on a hard-line approach to the problem.

Iran’s presidential elections on June 12 were positioned to represent another fight between Middle Eastern ‘moderates’ vs. ‘extremists’. That depiction, which conveniently divided the Middle East – according to the prevailing US foreign policy discourse - to pro-American and anti-American camps was hardly as clear in the Iranian case as it was in Palestine and most recently in Lebanon.

Ahmadinejad’s main rival, Mir Hussein Moussavi served as Iran’s Prime Minister for 8-years (between 1981-1989) during one of Iran’s most challenging times, its war with Iraq. He was hardly seen as a ‘moderate’ then. More, Moussavi was equally adamant in his country’s right to produce atomic energy for peaceful means. As far as US interests in the region are concerned, both Ahmadinejad and Moussavi are interested in dialogue with the US, and are unlikely to alter their country’s attitudes towards the occupation of Iraq, their support of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Palestine.
Neither is ready, willing or, frankly, capable of removing Iran from the regional power play at work in the Middle East, considering that Iranian policies are shaped by other internal forces beside the president of the country.
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Afghanistan's Dead Casual Civilians

Rethink Afghanistan IV
The footage you are about to see is poignant, heart-wrenching, and often a direct result of U.S. foreign policy. In order to help the refugees whose lives have been shattered by U.S. foreign policy and military attacks, please provide aid through the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. For more on Afghan civilian casualties, watch Director Robert Greenwald on MSNBC's The Ed Show. 
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Branding Protest Terrorism (in America)

Pentagon Rebrands Protest as "Low-Level Terrorism"
by Tom Burghardt
You have to hand it to Pentagon securocrats and their corporate cronies, they never miss an opportunity to demonize, vilify or otherwise slander domestic political dissent as "terrorism."

The American Civil Liberties Union reported June 10 that "Anti-terrorism training materials currently being used by the Department of Defense (DoD) teach its personnel that free expression in the form of public protests should be regarded as 'low level terrorism'."

According to the civil liberties' watchdog: "Among the multiple-choice questions included in its Level 1 Antiterrorism Awareness training course, the DoD asks the following: 'Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorist activity?' To answer correctly, the examinee must select 'protests'."

Yes, you read that correctly. The Pentagon has designed a training system that puts you in the crosshairs! And why not? Back in 2003 Mike Van Winkle, the spokesman for the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC) said of antiwar demonstrators brutally attacked by riot cops at the Port of Oakland during a protest against the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq,

"You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that (protest)," said Van Winkle, of the state Justice Department. "You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act." (Ian Hoffman, Sean Holstege and Josh Richman, ("Intelligence Agency Does Not Distinguish Between Terrorism and Peace Activism," Oakland Tribune, May 18, 2003)
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Breaking: World Leaders Sign Pact to Avert Climate Disaster

by Yes Men
Newspaper Ignites Hope, Announces "Civil Disobedience Database"
In a front-page ad in today's International Herald Tribune, the leaders of the European Union thank the European public for having engaged in months of civil disobedience leading up to the Copenhagen climate conference that will be held this December.
"It was only thanks to your massive pressure over the past six months that we could so dramatically shift our climate-change policies.... To those who were arrested, we thank you."
There was only one catch: the paper was fake.

Looking exactly like the real thing, but dated December 19th, 2009, a million copies of the fake paper were distributed worldwide by thousands of volunteers in order to show what could be achieved at the Copenhagen climate conference that is scheduled for Dec. 7-18, 2009. (At the moment, the conference is aiming for much more modest cuts, dismissed by leading climate scientists as too little, too late to stave off runaway processes that will lead to millions or even billions of casualties.)
The paper describes in detail a powerful (and entirely possible) new treaty to bring carbon levels down below 350 parts per million - the level climate scientists say we need to achieve to avoid climate catastrophe. One article describes how a website,, mobilized thousands of people to put their bodies on the line to confront climate change policies - ever since way back in June, 2009.
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Really? Not Really.

Really? Not Really.
by C. L. Cook
Call it Alice Through the Looking Glass, or the more familiar tale of the Emperor's New Clothes, but casting an eye about this mad world lately one can't fail notice the magnificent disconnect between what is presented and accepted as real, and the obvious.
Emerging from the years-long nightmare of George W. Bush, and remembering the desperate reality-denial the reign of Bill Clinton necessitated, what truly astounds now is the incredible cleaving onto of the Obama change myth; even as that fantasy pops like so many soap bubbles before our eyes.
Peace, progress, plurality: Pop. Pop. Pop.

Foremost is the greatest: Hope. Mantra of the Man, Obama makes believers of the jaded multitude. More than want of money is the craven desire for just a pin-hole in the dark, a needle's worth of light let in to penetrate the gathering gloom; a reminder of brighter days possible to come; if not for ourselves, then for God's sake, for the children. But failing to be provided even that, the Hope addicts imagine their own supply.
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Following George: Obama Shoots Down Anti-War Dems

Obama and Anti-War Democrats
by Norman Solomon | t r u t h o u t
Days ago, a warning shot from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue landed with a thud on Capitol Hill near some recent arrivals in the House. The political salvo was carefully aimed and expertly fired. But in the long run, it could boomerang.
As a close vote neared on a supplemental funding bill for more war in Iraq and Afghanistan, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that "the White House has threatened to pull support from Democratic freshmen who vote no." In effect, it was so important to President Obama to get the war funds that he was willing to paint a political target on the backs of some of the gutsiest new progressives in Congress.
But why would a president choose to single out fellow Democrats in their first Congressional term? Because, according to conventional wisdom, they're the most politically vulnerable and the easiest to intimidate. Well, a number of House Democrats in their first full terms were not intimidated. Despite the presidential threat, they stuck to principle. Donna Edwards of Maryland voted no on the war funding when it really counted. So did Alan Grayson of Florida, Eric Massa of New York, Chellie Pingree of Maine, Jared Polis of Colorado and Jackie Speier of California.

Now what?
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Making Sense of Iran "Crisis"

Understanding the situation in Iran (a quiz)
by Mickey Z.
In order to take seriously the mainstream media/political talk about Iran (elections, nuclear ambitions, etc.), you have to first pretend which of the following:

A) The US didn’t overthrow Mossadegh in 1953

B) Israel doesn’t possess nuclear weapons

C) Iran doesn’t possess the world’s third largest oil reserves

D) The US actually wants to promote democracy at home and abroad

E) You forgot that the only nation to ever use nuclear weapons is America

F) All of the above

(Answer: F)

If you can partake in all that pretending, well...the current hoopla will make a whole lot of sense to you.   
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"Death to the Dictator!" An Old Script Writ New in Iran

Iran Faces Greater Risks Than It Knows
by Paul Craig Roberts
Stephen Kinzer’s book, All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, tells the story of the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected leader, Mohammed Mosaddeq, by the CIA and the British MI6 in 1953. The CIA bribed Iranian government officials, businessmen, and reporters, and paid Iranians to demonstrate in the streets.
America's Former Man in Iran, dictator Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi

The 1953 street demonstrations, together with the cold war claim that the US had to grab Iran before the Soviets did, served as the US government’s justification for overthrowing Iranian democracy. What the Iranian people wanted was not important.

Today the street demonstrations in Tehran show signs of orchestration. The protesters, primarily young people, especially young women opposed to the dress codes, carry signs written in English: “Where is My Vote?”
The signs are intended for the western media, not for the Iranian government.
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Preserving the Peace River Valley

On the CUSP in the Peace
by Andy Sinats
Tzeporah Berman made the argument that the Bute inlet or Toba Independent Power Producer (IPP) projects were not in wilderness and should proceed because the area was already "industrialized." Which is rather like recommending a rape victim should then just go work the streets because the reputation and sanctity of the person was already violated.

The same argument is being made for IPP's and the Site C on the Peace River. Mike Smyth of the Province even claims First Nations are hard done by if these projects don't get rolling.
"The vast majority of these critics have never visited the region itself. None have had the guts to look the In-SHUCK-ch people in the eyes and tell them why they should remain cut off from the world and forced to pollute their own environment to survive. The endorsement of First Nations -- and the jobs created in remote, recession-weary communities -- are just two of the benefits of the run-of-river hydro projects currently being built in B.C."
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Down and Out in the Swat

Down and Out in Shah Mansoor
by Kathy Kelly and Dan Pearson
In Pakistan’s Swabi district, a bumpy road leads to Shah Mansoor, a small village surrounded by farmland. Just outside the village, uniformly sized tents are set up in hundreds of rows.
The sun bores down on the Shah Mansoor camp which has become a temporary home to thousands of displaced Pakistanis from the Swat area. In the stifling heat, the camp’s residents sit idly, day after day, uncertain about their future. They speak with heated certainty, though, about their grievances

As soon as we stepped out of the car, men and children approached us. They had all arrived from Mingora, the main city of Swat, 15 days prior. One young man, a student, told us that bombing and shelling had increased in their area, but, due to a government imposed curfew, they weren’t allowed to leave their homes. Suddenly, the Pakistani Army warned them to leave within four hours or they would be killed. With the curfew lifted long enough for them to get out of Mingora, they joined a mass exodus of people and walked for three days before reaching this camp.

After being assigned to a section of the camp coordinated by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), they were provided with tents and plastic mats. So far, 554 tents are set up in this section, with an average of 6 – 10 people living in each tent.

Inside the tents we visited, families had few belongings. Some more fortunate families have a few cooking supplies and utensils. But for the most part, they now own little more than the clothing they wore when they fled from their homes. The neatness of the camp disguises the chaos that has afflicted its inhabitants.
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Without Irony: Obama and "Terrorist" Dissent

Criminalizing Dissent: Obama Pot Calls Iranian Kettle Black
by Dave Lindorff
President Barack Obama, referring to the violent attacks on protesters against the controversial election results in Iran’s just-completed presidential election, this week lectured Iran’s government, saying, “Peaceful dissent should never be subject to violence.”

Referring to the tens and hundreds of thousands of frustrated and angry Iranians who have taken to the streets accusing Iranian authorities of rigging the election in favor of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Obama said that “the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected."

But there is a certain hypocrisy going on here.

Just days ago, the ACLU of Northern California issued a press release announcing that it had filed a complaint over a Pentagon anti-terrorism training manual. That training manual, aimed at Pentagon personnel, describes domestic protests as “low-level terrorist activity.”
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