Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter
January 30, 2016

This issue: Conflict of Interest, Militarism and Climate Change

This issue of Other Voices shines a light on the murky world of conflict of interest, the hidden reality that often underlies appearances of neutrality, objectivity, and due process.

Can journalism thrive if the media are owned by profit-driven corporations like Postmedia? Nick Fillmore says the accelerating decline of the low-quality, right-wing Postmedia newspapers is nothing to shed tears over, but the lack of credible media in Canada is a problem that we should be worrying about.

Another article illuminates a topic that is taboo in coverage of climate change: the enormous carbon emissions of the military – especially the U.S. military, the biggest institutional consumer of petroleum products in the world. We also look at the lawsuit launched by TransCanada against the U.S. government, claiming massive ‘damages’ because it has been denied an opportunity to profit from environmental destruction. If any further proof is needed that the negotiated-but-not-ratified TPP trade deal is a horrible idea, TransCanada has provided it.

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Topic of the Week

Conflict of Interest

Conflicts of interest are inherent in capitalism, a system founded on the premise that the state and society should be subordinated to economic self-interest and the accumulation of private wealth. Scientists who are supposed to be studying the effects of GMOs are funded by agribusiness corporations. Doctors who receive money from pharmaceutical companies write articles promoting the drugs produced by those companies. Decisions about pipelines are made by regulators who have spent years working in the oil industry, and who will be heading back to jobs in the industry after their stint ‘regulating’ it. Politicians receive campaign funds from corporate lobbyists. Explore conflict of interest here.

This Week on Connexions.org

Missing from the Paris Agreement: the Pentagon's monstrous carbon boot print

How much of the mainstream media coverage given to COP21 climate conference and the Paris Agreement mentioned the exemption given to the US's massive military and security machine? None, writes Joyce Nelson. Not only are these emissions entirely outside the UNFCCC process, but a 'cone of silence' somehow prevents them from even forming part of the climate change discourse. Yet the fact is that the military is not just the world's biggest institutional consumer of petroleum products, but the greatest source of global warming and climate change. Read more

Keywords: Greenhouse Gas Emissions - U.S. Military

A Drone Protestor Heads to Jail

Fifty-nine-year-old Mary Anne Grady Flores will serve six months in prison for photographing a protest near an airfield in upstate New York where drone pilots are trained and from where missions are carried out. The law used to convict her was originally written to protect women from men who are stalking or harassing them. The court ruled that Grady Flores was guilty of harassing or endangering the commander of the military base (whom she has never met) by stepping on a road near the base. Read more

Keywords: Law & Order - Protest

Don't weep for censoring, right-wing Postmedia newspapers

While local communities still rely on the shrivelled remains of the once proud broadsheet newspapers, our cities deserve much better. In addition to the problem of the cuts, corporate-owned media in Canada censor or ignore important news. Officialdom commands their full attention, while unions, the climate crisis, and family issues are pretty much ignored. Because of their systematic censorship and support for damaging neo-liberal policies, we should not weep over the decline of Postmedia newspapers. But communities and all levels of government need to wake up and get involved in re-establishing credible media. Read more

Keywords: Media Ownership/Concentration of - Newspapers

We're not having it! $15bn KXL lawsuit shows what's wrong with 'trade deals'

Last November, the duly elected government of the United States of America rejected the Keystone XL oil pipeline - in response to an outcry by citizens across the country and protests by the communities along the pipeline's route. Now, TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, is suing for $15 billion in sunk costs and lost future profits. As crazy as this sounds, it's because corporations can use trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to sue governments for introducing rules that protect citizens' health rights or the environment. Read more

Keywords: International Trade Agreements - Corporate Power

Israel spraying toxins over Palestinian crops in Gaza

Israeli aircraft have been spraying herbicides onto Palestinian farmlands along the eastern border of the Gaza Strip, eradicating or damaging crops and farmland, and putting Palestinian farmers at grave risk. Read more

Keywords: Gaza StripPesticide Toxicity

Website of the Week

Freedom Documentaries

Freedocumentaries.org streams full-length documentary films free of charge, with no registration needed. They say: "We created Freedocumentaries.org because we wanted to find an easy way to bring thought-provoking, educational, and entertaining documentaries to anyone with a high-speed internet connection. We believe that the mainstream media increasingly practices self-censorship, and that it ignores many opinions and historical events." Visit them here

Keywords: Documentaries - Film Collections

Book of the Week

Adventures in Marxism

By Marshall Berman

Marshall Berman explores and rejoices in the emancipatory potential of Marxism. "Wouldn't it have been absurd for Marx to finish his great work: How can Capital end while capital lives on? To stop simply and abruptly, rather than create an ending, preserves far more of the truth that Capital has to tell: circling, spiraling, plunging one way and another, turning in upon himself, seeking endlessly for new axes to turn on, Marx kept his thought and his work open-ended, and hence as resilient and long-lived, as the capitalist system itself. This is why we are still only beginning to explore the depths of Marx's though: why he speaks to us in a voice fresher than ever today; and why he will be dancing up Broadway when we are all dead." Read more

Keywords: Marxism Overviews - Critical Thinking

Film of the Week


A film inspired by the life of Karen Silkwood. Silkwood was a nuclear whistleblower and a labour union activist who died in a suspicious car accident while investigating alleged wrongdoing at the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant where she worked. More info

Keywords: Nuclear Industry - Whistleblowers


From Dictatorship to Democracy

By Gene Sharp

A short, serious introduction to non-violent struggle, its applications, and strategic thinking. Using pragmatic arguments, Sharp presents non-violent struggle as a realistic alternative to war and other violence in acute conflicts. It also contains a glossary of important terms and recommendations for further reading. Read more

Keywords: Political Action - Strategies for Social Change

People's History

The Compelling Memoirs of Ali Abumghasib

Ali Abumghasib is a Palestinian Bedouin, from the nomadic tribes that lived in the Bir Al-Saba region in Palestine. In 1948, his family lost everything. His father became a squatter in the land of some Gaza feudalist, herding a few sheep in a pitiful attempt to survive. Ali, who was born in 1951, ran away from home just months after Israel occupied the Gaza Strip (and the rest of historic Palestine) in 1967. Ali Abumghasib may seem like a relic of a bygone era. But the fact is, Ali has remained committed to Fatah’s early revolutionary principles, where the fight was, in fact, for a homeland and not international handouts; for freedom, not false prestige; for national liberation, not useless titles. Read more

Keywords: Palestinians - Resistance

From the Archives

A Revolutionary Speech: Patrice Lumumba and the Birth of the Republic of Congo

Patrice Lumumba was the Congolese independence leader who in 1960 became the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Congo. Congo had been a Belgian colony for eighty years, subject to levels of violence and brutality that were extraordinary even by the depraved standards of European colonialism. Between five and eight million people are believed to have died under Belgium’s genocidal rule.

When Belgium was finally compelled to grant independence to its colony, it planned that things would remain much as they had been. Congo would have a nominally independent government, but Belgium would continue to be the power behind the scenes, controlling and exploiting Congo’s wealth.

On June 30, 1960, the day Congo became independent, Patrice Lumumba shocked the assembled Belgian elite with a speech which condemned the crimes of the colonial rulers and indicated that Congo would go its own way. The Belgians and their American allies were appalled. They moved quickly behind the scenes to get rid of Lumumba. In January 1961, he was overthrown in a coup orchestrated by the CIA together with the Belgians and the British, tortured, and murdered.

Read about Lumumba’s historic speech here

Keywords: Congo - Independence Movements

Connexions Calendar

February 2, 2016
You, Me and the SPP: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule

February 3, 2016
Book Discussion: Sharon and My Mother-in-Law

February 4, 2016
Nationwide Day of Action to Stop the TPP

February 6, 2016
International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

February 9, 2016
A Basic Income Guarantee For All: The Time Has Arrived

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

February 11, 1916
Emma Goldman arrested for lecturing on birth control

Emma Goldman is arrested for lecturing on birth control. Sentenced to a fine, she opts to spend two weeks in prison instead.

February 1, 1960
Murder of Patrice Lumumba

Four black students sit down at a Woolworth’s whites-only lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, claiming their right to be served, and refuse to leave. It is not the first sit-in in the American civil rights movement (there have been sit-ins in at least 16 cities since 1957) but this one lights a spark and gathers increasing support. The sit-ins continue, and in July Woolworth’s finally agrees to desegregate.

January 30, 1968
Beginning of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam

Beginning of the first phase of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. As Nazi forces prepare to ship more Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to extermination camps, Jewish resistance forces, organized in the Jewish Military Union and the Jewish Combat Organization launch an insurgency. Numbering between 400 and 1000 fighters, they build fighting posts, engage German forces in combat, and execute collaborators. The second phase of uprising begins on April 19, when German forces enter the Ghetto, and continues until early May, when the resistance is finally crushed.

February 5, 1981
Bathhouse raids

Toronto police raid four gay bathhouses: 288 men are charged as ‘found-ins’ and 20 as keepers of ‘common bawdyhouses’. The raids cause widespread outrage: the next day more than 3,000 people protest the police action. On February 20, more than 4,000 come out to protest.

February 11, 1990
Nelson Mandela leaves prison

Nelson Mandela is released from prison after 27 years of incarceration by South Africa’s apartheid regime. On the day of his release, he makes a speech to the nation in which he says: “Today the majority of South Africans, black and white, recognise that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace and security. The mass campaign of defiance and other actions of our organisation and people can only culminate in the establishment of democracy.

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This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.

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