Still Dreaming of Racial Justice in St Louis’ Black Neighborhoods

Black Lives: Struggle, Still Dreaming of Racial Justice in St Louis’ Black Neighborhoods

RT (2018)

Film Review

This RT documentary provides a brief glimpse into the lives of Ferguson residents since the murder of Michael Brown in 2015. It highlights the extreme poverty, homelessness, absence of services or jobs (in contrast to white St Louis) and the staggering number of abandoned homes. Reportedly St Louis has the highest proportion of abandoned homes of any US city.

The documentary also highlights a half dozen activists who are organizing to improve conditions in the African American community. Some have begun arming themselves in self-defense. In addition to harassment and arbitrary shootings by St Louis cops, a growing number of African American men (activists especially) are being targeted by the KKK and other white supremacist groups. Few of these homicides are investigated or prosecuted by police, resulting in a mounting number of unsolved murders.

 

 

 

 

 

Colonization: Deciding It’s OK to Steal Someone Else’s Land (and/or Body)

In the following presentation, Native American activist Ward Churchill offers ones of the most fascinating explorations of colonization I have ever encountered.

He maintains that indigenous people have an inherent right both to self-determination and to fulfill their duty to manage land and habitat to guarantee the survival of their descendants for seven generations into the future.

With colonization, colonists dispossess a native population of their land for some alternative use.

He explains the concept of “settler colonialism” – giving the Nazi occupation of Europe as the prime example (along with the Israeli colonization of Palestine, the European colonization of North and South America and the English colonization of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand).

He also introduces the concept of “false colonization,” which occurs when settlers continue to deprive native peoples of  their land and rights despite breaking away from the mother country.

He blames the plight of African Americans on “black colonies,” which he defines as “internal colonial constructions.”

Churchill believes Europeans themselves have been colonized, which he traces back to Charlemagne (737-814 AD), when early European tribal groups (“barbarians”) were dispossessed of their land and right of self-governance in the formation of nation states.

Moving Past Cute Orangatans: The Cost of Rainforest Destruction in Human Lives

 

Spoils of Destruction. Indonesian villagers fighting palm oil giants to reclaim their rainforest

RT (2018)

Film Review

Spoils of Destruction is about the Indonesian resistance movement to reclaim rainforest illegally confiscated for palm oil plantations. In Indonesia alone, ten million hectares of tropical rainforest have been to destroyed to plant palm oil trees. In the process, tens of thousands of peasants have been driven off their land, as well as having their water and remaining land poisoned by pesticides.

I find it both ironic and predictable that the western non-profit industrial complex chooses to campaign solely about orangutans endangered by multinational palm oil companies, to the exclusion of the large human population that has been sacrificed.

Palm oil is a common processed food additive linked with diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Here in New Zealand, farmers import large quantities of palm kernel as supplementary feed for “grass-fed” dairy cows and beef.

The benefits the Indonesian government promised when the land confiscations began 20 years ago have never eventuated. At present only 30 percent of the population makes a living working for palm oil companies – the other 70% struggle to survive as subsistence farmers.

In the village of Semunjung Jaya, pesticide runoff has poisoned the river peasants formerly used for drinking water and a source of fish. Gone, too, are the wild boar villagers relied on for protein. Heavy pesticide use has also poisoned the soil on adjacent tracks of farmland – making it impossible to grow rice, vegetables or corn.

Villagers fighting to get their land back receive support and training from national groups fighting the illegal “occupation” of Indonesia by multinational corporations. With their support, residents of Semunjung Jaya are suing the Indonesian government and palm oil companies over illegal land confiscation. The government has responded by discontinuing the meager subsidy it was paying farmers who lost their land.

Indigenous Australians Fight Nuclear Waste Dump

Protecting Country

Ngikalikarra Media (2017)

Film Review

Protecting Country is about a collection of indigenous Australian tribes who are fighting government efforts to site a uranium mine and an international nuclear waste dump on their treaty lands.

Thousands of Maralinga people have already suffered horribly due to British nuclear tests on their land in the 1950s.

The nuclear waste dump is illegal under international law. As a signatory to the UN International Treaty on Indigenous Rights, Australia is prohibited from depositing toxic waste on indigenous land without their permission.

Racial Repression and Police Terrorism in New Zealand

An Innocent Warrior

Al Jazeera (2017)

Film Review

In 2007, after spying on them over an extended period, New Zealand police arrested charismatic Maori leader Tame Iti and his supporters in so-called “anti-terrorist” raids. The saga began when a police SWAT teams launched an assault on the families in Iti’s small rural community and established a massive blockade preventing all movement in and out of the region.

Iti and three other people (the “Urewera Four”) were accused of running a terrorist training camp and of being members of a criminal group. After the high court threw out the “terrorist” charges as being unlawful, the group were ultimately convicted of unlawful possession of firearms.

Filmed over seven years, the documentary follows Iti as he fights to clear his name. In a surprising turn, the government apologizes to his Ngai Tuhoe tribe for historical oppression – and the police apologize to Iti and his family.

The video can’t be embedded but can be viewed free at An Innocent Warrior

Italy: The Mafia and the Migrants

Italy: The Mafia and the Migrants

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

This documentary concerns Mafia ties to Italy’s privately run immigrant reception centers. In the last four years Italy has admitted 600,000 migrants, who have crossed the Mediterranean by boat from Turkey and North Africa. The European Union pays the Italian government to operate emergency reception centers to provide migrant accommodation, food, clothes, medical services, “processing” (ie assistance in applying for refugee status), language training, employment referral and other integration services.

The Italian government, which pays these centers $35 per day per migrant, makes little effort to monitor them. Many are unsafe and unsanitary and so overcrowded that residents are forced to sleep in kitchens and showers. Likewise many reception center managers have little or no management or social service experience. Even more ominous, many are openly contracting with Mafia-run businesses.

In the eyes of the Italian Mafia, “migrants are worth more than drugs.” Although it’s illegal for any company convicted of Mafia affiliations to receive government contracts, generous kickbacks ensure local officials (and clergy) look the other way. In one reception center, a mob-run catering company routinely charges for 500 more meals than it serves.

A state prosecutor investigating the catering company estimates the mob has already made more than $1 billion of the refugee industry.

Hidden History: The Potato Famine and the Rise of Irish Nationalism

The Story of Ireland Part 4 (1801-1900)

BBC

Film Review

In 1801, the British Parliament passed the Act of Union of Great Britain and Ireland, official incorporation Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Highlights of this period include the Potato Famine (1841-1846) led one million Irish tenant farmers to die of starvation and disease and 1.5 million to emigrate to England and the US.

The Fenian Brotherhood, a revolutionary organization which began in Ireland in the 1860s, gave rise to a sister Fenian Brotherhood in the US. The latter raised major sums of money they sent back to Ireland to save poor tenant farmers from eviction.

In 1881, British Prime Minister William Gladstone passed a number of laws sought by Irish reformers, including legal protection for Irish tenant farmers against eviction and rent increases and the right to purchase their own land. He also repealed the Penal Laws that required Catholics (the majority of the Irish population) and Ulster Calvinists to pay taxes supporting the Anglican Church and preventing them from voting or standing for office.

He also supported Irish nationalist MP Charles Parnell’s bill establishing Home Rule for Ireland (Gladstone needed the votes of Parnell’s MPs to remain in office). It was defeated by 30 votes.

In 1899 when the Boer Republics revolted against British rule, numerous Irish nationalists (including Arthur Griffith – the eventual founder of Sinn Fein*) traveled to South Africa to  support the Boers in the war against the British.


*Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party formed in 1905 in support of Irish independence and unification.

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