Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter

January 29, 2015

Connexions - 40 years old and still going strong

The Connexions project was founded in 1975, when members of more than a dozen social justice organizations came together to set up a means of sharing information, experiences, reflections, publications, and ideas. In October 1975, a decision was made to produce a printed newsletter. That first issue, which went out to a few hundred people, has now morphed into a website used by thousands of people every day, but the original goals and visions carry on.

We'll be sharing more stories from our archives -- reflecting the histories of hundreds of grassroots groups and movements for change -- throughout the year.

One piece of information we'd like to share now is that today, like 40 years ago, we're entirely dependent on donations to carry on our work. If you'd like to donate, or consider a bequest, please visit our Donations page. If you'd like to contribute in other ways (skills, time, documents), visit /CxLibrary/Docs2/Contributors.htm for more information.

We also encourage you to share Other Voices with your friends, family, and collaborators. You can do so by sharing this link or visiting the Other Voices home page, where you'll find all the past issues as well.

Enjoy this issue of Other Voices? Want to share with friends and family? Then we encourage you to share this link. All issues of Other Voices are available on the Connexions website at /Media/CxNewsletter.htm

This Week on Connexions.org

Greece’s solidarity movement: ‘it’s a whole new model – and it’s working’

Few in Greece, even five years ago, would have imagined their recession - and austerity - ravaged country as it is now: 1.3 million people – 26% of the workforce – without a job (and most of them without benefits); wages down by 38% on 2009, pensions by 45%, GDP by a quarter; 18% of the country’s population unable to meet their food needs; 32% below the poverty line. And just under 3.1 million people, 33% of the population, without national health insurance. So, along with a dozen other medics including a GP, a brace of pharmacists, a paediatrician, a psychologist, an orthopaedic surgeon, a gynaecologist, a cardiologist and a dentist or two, Kesidou, an ear, nose and throat specialist, spends a day a week at this busy but cheerful clinic half an hour’s drive from central Athens, treating patients who otherwise would not get to see a doctor. Others in the group accept uninsured patients in their private surgeries.
Read More

Keywords: Solidarity - Austerity

With Power of Social Media Growing, Police Now Monitoring and Criminalizing Online Speech

Criminal cases for online political speech are now commonplace in the UK, notorious for its hostility to basic free speech and press rights. As The Independent‘s James Bloodworth reported last week, “around 20,000 people in Britain have been investigated in the past three years for comments made online.”

But the persecution is by no means viewpoint-neutral. It instead is overwhelmingly directed at the country’s Muslims for expressing political opinions critical of the state’s actions.

To put it mildly, not all online “hate speech” or advocacy of violence is treated equally. It is, for instance, extremely difficult to imagine that Facebook users who sanction violence by the UK in Iraq and Afghanistan, or who spew anti-Muslim animus, or who call for and celebrate the deaths of Gazans, would be similarly prosecuted. In both the UK and Europe generally, cases are occasionally brought for right-wing “hate speech” (the above warning from Scotland’s police was issued after a polemicist posted repellent jokes on Twitter about Ebola patients). But the proposed punishments for such advocacy are rarely more than symbolic: trivial fines and the like. The real punishment is meted out overwhelmingly against Muslim dissidents and critics of the West. Read More

Keywords: Censorship - Surveillance

Land concentration, land grabbing and people’s struggles in Europe

This report, involving 25 authors from 11 countries, reveals the hidden scandal of how a few big private business entities have gained control of ever - greater areas of European land. It exposes how these land elites have been actively supported by a huge injection of public funds – at a time when all other public funding is being subjected to massive cuts. While some of these processes – in particular ever - increasing land concentration – are not new, they have accelerated in recent decades in particular in Eastern Europe. They have also paved the way for a new sector of foreign and domestic actors to emerge on the European stage, many tied into increasingly global commodity chains, and all looking to profit from the increasingly speculative commodity of land. Read More

Keywords: Agricultural Industries - Land Acquisition

Burkina Faso: climate change, land grabs, and revolution

The revolution taking place in Burkina Faso is far more than an uprising of rebellious youth, writes Alexander Reid Ross. It's a genuine fight for national liberation - from neoliberalism, land grabs, corruption and foreign domination - that evokes the freedom struggle of an earlier generation.

Like virtually every country in Africa, Burkina Faso has been assailed by North Atlantic military intervention over the past four decades, as well as an escalation of land grabs since 2008.More land has been grabbed in Africa over the past 15 years than in the rest of the world combined - more than 55 million hectares, according to Blessing Karumbidza of the Global Justice Ecology Project. Read More

Keywords: Burkina Faso - Land Seizures

Farming Under the Wall: Stories of Palestinian Farmers in the West Bank

Ahmed Abu Nidal is 65 years-old and he is a father of six. He welcomes us in the small garden outside his house, in the village of Al Walaje, just outside Bethlehem. His two-storey house of white stones is located directly on the path the Israeli authorities have chosen for the construction of the Wall. The work will be completed shortly and Al Walaje will be surrounded by a concrete barrier, eight meters high. The residents will have a personal military checkpoint: it will open at 5 in the morning and close at 5 in the evening.

Land confiscation began long time ago: “They haven’t even had the decency to tell me that they took my land – Abu Nidal says with an ironic smile, while he sips mint tea and lights a cigarette of Palestinian tobacco – They left some documents in the garden. The Wall is not finished yet, I can still walk on my land until they will build the checkpoint. But I can’t work on it. Beyond the barrier, there are my parents’ graves, the Israeli army built a tunnel that starts from my house and passes under the road. Just in this way I can visit my deceased loved ones”. Read More

Keywords: Land Seizures - Occupation of Palestine

What Is the Common Good?

Humans are social beings, and the kind of creature that a person becomes depends crucially on the social, cultural and institutional circumstances of his life. We are therefore led to inquire into the social arrangements that are conducive to people's rights and welfare, and to fulfilling their just aspirations - in brief, the common good. For perspective I'd like to invoke what seem to me virtual truisms. They relate to an interesting category of ethical principles: those that are not only universal, in that they are virtually always professed, but also doubly universal, in that at the same time they are almost universally rejected in practice. Read More

Keywords: Anarchism - Libertarian Socialism

Treasures From the Archives

The Occupation of Anicinabe Park 1974; Two Interviews

The following interviews with Lyle Ironstand and Louis Cameron have been reprinted from Paper Tomahawks: From Red Tape to Red Power by James Burke, published in 1976 by Queenston House Publishing. Ironstand, of the Ojibway nation, participated in the occupation of Anicinabe Park near Kenora, Ontario in 1974 (Ironstand was eventually tried and acquitted of weapons charges arising from the occupation). The interview was conducted in 1974 in Winnipeg by James Burke.Cameron, also of the Ojibway nation, participated in the 1974 Anicinabe occupation and the 1974 Native People's Caravan. Cameron is originally of the Whitedog reserve north of Kenora. The interview was conducted in 1974 in Kenora by James Burke. Read Full Interviews Here

Keywords:Aboriginal History - Land Rights

Viola Desmond

Viola Desmond built a career as a beautician and was a mentor to young Black women in Nova Scotia through her Desmond School of Beauty Culture. It is, however, the story of her courageous refusal to accept an act of racial discrimination that provided inspiration to a later generation of Blacks in Nova Scotia and in the rest of Canada. She refused to leave a whites-only area of the Roseland Theatre and was unjustly convicted of a minor tax violation used to enforce segregation. Desmond's case was one of the most publicized incidents of racial discrimination in Canadian history and helped start resistance to segregation in Nova Scotia. Read more

Keywords: Anti-Discrimination - Racial Discrimination

All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im Westen nichts Neues, lit. In the West Nothing New) is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I. The book describes the German soldiers' extreme physical and mental stress during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front.The novel was first published in January 29,1929. The book and its sequel, The Road Back, were among the books banned and burned in Nazi Germany. It sold 2.5 million copies in 22 languages in its first eighteen months in print. Read More

Keywords: First World War - Soldiers

Topic of the Week: Land Seizures

With the growing uncertainty resulting from climate change, many corporations and governments have enacted policies that allow for them to forcefully acquire land that are rich in resources.This often times come at the expense of local populations and farmers who are often time too poor to combat these land seizures. The problem is only expected to get worse as drought and other environmental disasters resulting from climate change, are becoming more common.

See Land Seizures in the Connexions subject index for information on this topic, as well as about organizing to bring about change.

Group of the Week: International Land Coalition

The International Land Coalition is an alliance of civil society and intergovernmental organisations working together to promote secure and equitable access to, and control over, land and natural resources for women and men as a key strategy to overcome poverty and food insecurity. The way that rights to land and natural resources are allocated and managed plays a central role in enabling or hindering economic development, food security, social justice and environmental sustainability.

Increasing commercial pressures on land are provoking fundamental and far-reaching changes in the relationships between people and land. The competition for land and natural resources has always been an uneven competition with the poorest losing most. But this competition is no longer simply due to increasing population, a shrinking resource base due to degradation, or the speculative efforts of local elites. Land is becoming a globalised commodity; local producers competing for the same resource with large international companies that produce food, fuel and fibre, sequester carbon, sell large ‘unspoilt’ landscapes to tourists, extract minerals, or seek to realise short and medium term gains for investor capital.

The portal collects, systematises and makes available information on commercial pressures on land, large-scale land acquisitions and their alternatives. It is meant to fuel awareness and evidence-based debate on this phenomenon, and promote the ability of all stakeholders to identify and promote informed and equitable solutions.

Keywords: Land Takeovers - Land Use & Rural Environment

Website of the Week: farmlandgrab.org

Farmlandgrab.org publishes mainly news reports about the global rush to buy up or lease farmlands abroad as a strategy to secure basic food supplies or simply for profit. Its purpose is to serve as a resource for those monitoring or researching the issue, particularly social activists, non-government organisations and journalists. Farmlandgrab.org, is updated daily, with all posts entered according to their original publication date.They’re listed in the Connexion Directory here.

Keywords: Agricultural Industries - Land Acquisition

Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper's Assault on Your Right to Know

Ottawa has become a place where the nation’s business is done in secret, and access to information--the lifeblood of democracy in Canada--is under attack.

It’s being lost to an army of lobbyists and public-relations flacks who help set the political agenda and decide what you get to know. It’s losing its struggle against a prime minister and a government that continue to delegitimize the media’s role in the political system. The public’s right to know has been undermined by a government that effectively killed Statistics Canada, fired hundreds of scientists and statisticians, gutted Library and Archives Canada and turned freedom of information rules into a joke. Facts, it would seem, are no longer important.

In Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper's Assault on Your Right to Know, Mark Bourrie exposes how trends have conspired to simultaneously silence the Canadian media and elect an anti-intellectual government determined to conduct business in private. Drawing evidence from multiple cases and examples, Bourrie demonstrates how budget cuts have been used to suppress the collection of facts that embarrass the government’s position or undermine its ideologically based decision-making. Perhaps most importantly, Bourrie gives advice on how to take back your right to be informed and to be heard.

Kill the Messengers is not just a collection of evidence bemoaning the current state of the Canadian media, it is a call to arms for informed citizens to become active participants in the democratic process. It is a book all Canadians are entitled to read--and now, they’ll get the chance. Read More

Keywords: Government Censorship - Destruction of Libraries and Archives

The Land Grabbers The New Fight over Who Owns the Earth

An unprecedented land grab is taking place around the world. Fearing future food shortages or eager to profit from them, the world's wealthiest and most acquisitive countries, corporations, and individuals have been buying and leasing vast tracts of land around the world. The scale is astounding: parcels the size of small countries are being gobbled up across the plains of Africa, the paddy fields of Southeast Asia, the jungles of South America, and the prairies of Eastern Europe. Veteran science writer Fred Pearce spent a year circling the globe to find out who was doing the buying, whose land was being taken over, and what the effect of these massive land deals seems to be.

The Land Grabbers is a first-of-its-kind exposé that reveals the scale and the human costs of the land grab, one of the most profound ethical, environmental, and economic issues facing the globalized world in the twenty-first century. The corporations, speculators, and governments scooping up land cheap in the developing world claim that industrial-scale farming will help local economies. But Pearce's research reveals a far more troubling reality. While some mega-farms are ethically run, all too often poor farmers and cattle herders are evicted from ancestral lands or cut off from water sources. The good jobs promised by foreign capitalists and home governments alike fail to materialize. Hungry nations are being forced to export their food to the wealthy, and corporate potentates run fiefdoms oblivious to the country beyond their fences.

Pearce's story is populated with larger-than-life characters, from financier George Soros and industry tycoon Richard Branson, to Gulf state sheikhs, Russian oligarchs, British barons, and Burmese generals. We discover why Goldman Sachs is buying up the Chinese poultry industry, what Lord Rothschild and a legendary 1970s asset-stripper are doing in the backwoods of Brazil, and what plans a Saudi oil billionaire has for Ethiopia. Along the way, Pearce introduces us to the people who actually live on, and live off of, the supposedly "empty" land that is being grabbed, from Cambodian peasants, victimized first by the Khmer Rouge and now by crony capitalism, to African pastoralists confined to ever-smaller tracts. Read More

Keywords: Land Rights - Corporate Crime

Film of the Week: No Land No Food No Life

No Land No Food No Life is a hard-hitting film which explores sustainable small scale agriculture and the urgent call for an end to corporate global land grabs. This feature length documentary gives voice to those directly affected by combining personal stories, and vérité footage of communities fighting to retain control of their land.

More Information

Keywords:Land Rights - Social Change

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Connexions Calendar

January 31, 2015
8th Niagara Social Justice Forum 2015
St. Catharines, Ontario

January 31, 2015
United in Peace & United in Compassion: Canadian Muslims for Peace Gatherings Toronto-London-Ottawa, Ontario

February 6, 2015
International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation ---------------------------Worldwide

February 10, 2015
To be or not to be a Jewish State? A question with implications for Canada --------------Toronto, Ontario

The Connexions Calendar is an online calendar that exists to advertise events that support social justice, democracy, human rights, ecology, and other causes. We invite you to use it to promote your events. Adding events to the Connexions Calendar is FREE. We’ll give you a username and password which you use to log on. Use the contact form to arrange for a username and password.

Read more →

Seeds of Fire

January 29, 1929

Publication of All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues), Erich Maria Remarque’s novel about the First World War. It sells 2.5 million copies in 25 languages in its first eighteen months in print. When the Nazis come to power all of Remarque’s books are banned and burned.

January 29, 1965

A left-wing radical group bombs three American warplanes being retrofitted at an Edmonton airport.

January 29, 1969

Protesting students occupy the computer centre at Sir George Williams University in Montreal. On February 11, after 14 days of occupation, students set fire to the building

January 29, 1998

Robert Sanderson, an off-duty police officer who works as a security guard at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, is killed when the clinic is bombed by anti-abortion terrorists.

Read more →

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Thanks to Tahmid Khan and Ulli Diemer for his work on this newsletter.


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Enjoy this issue of Other Voices? Want to share with friends and family? Then we encourage you to share this link. All issues of OtherVoices are available on the Connexions website at www.connexions.org/Media/CxNewsletter.htm