Time to Choose

Time to Choose

Directed by Charles Ferguson (2015)

Film Review

The appraisal of the renewables market is clearly out-of date in this 2015 film. Nevertheless  it contains excellent new material on mountaintop removal (for coal) and coal mining and pollution in China; the growing rollout of rooftop solar in the Third World (as of 2015, 70% of Bangladeshi residents still lacked access to electricity); and the disastrous replacement of Indonesia’s tropical forests with palm oil plantations.

As of 2015, 70% of the world’s carbon emission come from burning fossil fuels and 30% from destroying the world’s forests for agriculture.

The filmmakers link Brazil’s ongoing destruction of the Amazon to the country’s growing export of soy to Chinese pig farms. The country’s massive rainforest destruction has significantly reduced rain fall, leaving Sao Paulo’s 20 million residents to confront chronic water shortages. Illegally driven from their land to create soy plantations that only benefit a handful of billionaires, many subsistence farmers are left with no way to support themselves.

Illegal destruction of Indonesia’s tropical rainforests for palm oil production also displaces many of the country’s subsistence farmers, as well as leading to the near-extinction of orangutan populations. Palm oil is the main ingredient in many processed foods.

Owing to the clear cutting and burning of their rainforests, Indonesia currently has the third highest level of CO2 pollution after China and the US.

The main premise of this film is that we already have all the necessary technology to end rainforest destruction and replace fossil fuels with cheaper and cleaner renewable energy. For decades, the main obstacle to environmental reform has been billionaire oligarchs blocking forest conservation and the roll-out of renewable energy technology.

Filmmakers also emphasize the contribution industrial agriculture plays in increasing carbon emissions. This relates to the abandonment of traditional farming practices that capture carbon in the soil. At present real food (ie non-processed foods produced by traditional farming methods) is referred to as “specialty crops.”

Anyone with a public library card can view the film free on Kanopy. Type “Kanopy” and the name of your library into your search engine.

 

 

 

The Carbon Trading Racket

The Carbon Rush

Directed by Amy Miller (2012)

Film Review

This documentary is about the $300 billion carbon trading racket (aka the Emissions Trading Scheme) in which carbon polluters in industrialized countries buy permits to pollute from various corporate and and NGO scams that allegedly sequester carbon. Over 5,000 projects are registered with the UN carbon market initiated under the 1992 Kyoto Accord.

The filmmakers interview Third World residents and activists about the devastating effect of these schemes on their communities.

Brazil

Filmmakers visit several communities where multinational corporations have deprived subsistence farmers off their land to build giant eucalyptus plantations. The trees are harvested to make charcoal used to produce pig iron. Because the eucalyptus charcoal is ultimately burned (producing CO2), there is no net reduction in carbon emissions. Yet several dozen of these plantations scattered across the third world are authorized to sell carbon credits to First World polluters.

Delhi

One to two hundred thousand informal waste pickers essential to India’s recycling industry are losing their jobs to Refuse Driven Fuel (RDF) incinerators. The latter burn unsorted rubbish to produce electricity. Despite research showing that waste pickers are nine time more efficient than incinerators in reducing CO2 emissions, the multinationals running the incinerators are allowed to sell carbon credits for operating them. This despite fierce opposition by local residents due to the incinerators’ failure to filter toxic pollutants. There are several dozen RDFs selling carbon credits across the Third World.

Maharashta (India)

The Indian government has colluded with Tata Motors and various multinationals to force  subsistence farmers off their land to build a 1,000 turbine wind. The latter produces carbon credits to a Norwegian Mega Mall. Similar mega-turbine projects generate carbon credits across the global South.

Chiriqui (Panama)

The Panamanian government is collaborating with multinationals and the World Bank to illegally install 160 hydroelectric dams on indigenous land. Despite environmental devastation that has transformed thousands of hectares of land into desert, the corporations earn millions by selling carbon credits for building and operating the dams.

Aquan Valley (Honduras)

Following the 2009 coup,* the new right wing government allowed multinationals to clear cut old growth forest and displace subsistence farmers to build massive palm oil plantations for biofuel production. Despite clear evidence that replacing old growth forest and stable savanna with palm oil plantation increases, rather than decreases, CO2 emissions, a number of similar plantations throughout the the Third World are authorized to sell carbon credits.

The full film can be seen free at

https://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/the-carbon-rush-documentary/

North Carolina’s Chinese-Owned Industrial Pig Factories

Soyalism

Directed by Stefano Liberti and Enrico Parenti (2018)

Film Review

The title of this documentary is somewhat misleading: it actually concerns the industrial production of pork for the growing Chinese middle class. Under our present globalized system of industrial agriculture, pigs raised on factory farms (both in China and the US) are fed industrially produced corn and soybeans. Most of this (genetically engineered) soy comes from recently deforested areas of the Brazilian Amazon.

Given the current US trade war with China, I was astonished to learn that a Chinese company (having acquired Smithfields in 2013) is operating gigantic factory pig farms in North Carolina. Most are located in the state’s poor rural (and black) communities that struggle with the toxic aerosols from the (illegal) open pits adjacent to buildings warehousing tends of thousands of hogs.

In addition to visiting North Carolina hog factories and their distressed neighbors,* the filmmakers travel to Brazil to film the massive soybean plantations, as well as local small farmers whose livelihoods have been destroyed by industrial soy production. Together with local environmentalists and indigenous activists, these farmers are fighting the ongoing destruction of the Amazon rainforest by expanding soy plantations.

Predictably only a handful of farmers and international agrobusinesses are becoming fabulously wealthy, while more and more Brazilians struggle to feed themselves.

The filmmakers also visit Mozambique, where local grassroots organizers are successfully fighting the Pro-Savannah initiative. This is a (currently suspended) government initiative involving Japan, Brazil, and Mozambique. It seeks to drive local subsistence farmers off their land to create factory farms producing soy, cotton, and corn for export to China.

Most activists blame these trends on the continued drive, both in the industrial North and China, for cheap meat – irrespective of its quality. Sadly most Chinese consumers are totally unaware of the true cost of their cheap meat. Brazil’s GM soybeans are sprayed with massive amounts of Roundup and other carcinogenic pesticides. This results in serious potential health consequences for human beings who eat pigs that are fed on them.


*North Carolina has its own grassroots organization, the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network fighting their exposure to health-damaging pollution and industry harassment. See https://www.facingsouth.org/2017/02/step-toward-environmental-justice-north-carolinas-hog-country

 

Does the 9-11 Timeline Date Back to 1977?

Solving 9-11: The Original Articles: Volume II

By Christopher Bollyn

Book Review – Part II

Link to Part  I:  Making Sense of 9-11

Bollyn maintains the the first evidence of a right wing Likud plot to attack a major New York building with airliners dates back to 1977,  when they first came to power in Israel. He emphasizes the involvement of early Likud leaders in the terrorist Stern Gang and Irgun, whose bombings and assassinations were responsible for driving the British out of Palestine in 1947. All three entities are notorious for their false flag terrorism, starting with the bombing (by Jewish terrorists disguised as Arabs of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel in 1946.*

He also provides compelling evidence that in 1983  Israeli military intelligence, headed by Ehud Barak, played a principal role in initiating a project to arm and train anti-Western mujaheddin (including Osama bin Laden) in Pakistan – a project co-funded by the CIA and Saudi Arabia. In 1994, these Israeli trained forces would morph into al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Bollyn’s timeline:

1977 – Likud comes to power in Israeal.

1978 – Top level (involved in in smuggling nuclear triggers to Israel) Mossad spy Arnon Milchon produces the British film The Medusa Touch, in which a 747 crashes into New York’s Panam building.

1979 – Likud rolls out their War on Terror doctrine at the 1979 Jerusalem Conference – attended by Bush senior and other world leaders.

1979 – former head of Israeli intelligence predicts Arab terrorists will bomb the tallest building in New York.

1982 – World Zionist Organization publishes plan for “balkanizing” the Middle East by breaking up major Arab countries into smaller ethnic and religious conclaves.

1982 – Israel invades Lebanon and Reagan sends 1,800 Marines to Beirut as peacekeepers.

1983 – Ehud Barak begins arming and training anti-Western Arabs in Pakistan, which morph into al-Qaeda and the Taliban in 1994

1985 – Top level Israeli spy Arnon Milchan produces Brazil, a science fiction film about a society subject to frequent senseless acts of terror whose government wages a continual war against terrorists in some distant land.

1987 – Two Mossad agents awarded security contract for the World Trade Center. Contract immediately canceled when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey learn one of the applicants is using a false name.

1993 – World Trade Center hit by truck bomb explosion.

1993 – Mossad-linked Kroll Associates awarded security contract for the World Trade Center

2000 – Top Israeli spy Milchon and Rupert Murdoch co-produce The Lone Gunman TV series in which hijacked airliners are flown into the Twin Towers.

2000 – Zionist William Kristol (member of Emergency Committee for Israel) and Robert Kagan found Project for a New American Century, which calls for US occupation of Iraq.

July 2001 – World Trade Center privatized, with Larry Silverstein assuming 99-year lease on buildings 1-6. He already owned Building 7, which he built in 1980.


*In a false flag event a political power deliberately commits a terrorist act which they attempt to blame on an enemy. Other notorious Israeli false flag events include

1954 – Israeli agents disguised as Muslim Brotherhood members bomb US and UK libraries in Egypt.

1967 – Israeli jets and torpedo boats attempt to sink the USS Liberty and frame Egypt for the attack.

1973 – Israeli agents masquerading as Islamic Jihad drive a massive truck bomb into US Marine barracks in Lebanon, killing

1986 – Masquerading as Libyan government agents, Mossad operatives send a series of terrorist orders to numerous Libyan embassies, fooling President Ronald Reagan into dropping over sixty tons of bombs on Libya.

 

The Politics of Asbestos: Banned in EU, But Not China, Russia, Brazil or US

Deadly Asbestos

DW (2019)

Film Review

This documentary is about the international asbestos industry and its aggressive penetration of developing countries following the EU’s decision to ban it in 1998. The first study linking asbestos to lung cancer and mesothelioma was published in 1964. Asbestos also causes a chronic (eventually fatal) lung condition known as asbestosis. Sadly, as with smoking and lead poisoning, it took decades of sustained organizing to get western governments to acknowledge the fatal health consequences of asbestos exposure. The US enacted a “partial ban” on asbestos in 1989.*

Because mesothelioma can result from a brief single exposure to asbestos fibers, EPA rules regarding asbestos removal from old buildings are far more stringent. In fact, an entire industry has evolved around asbestos removal.**

The filmmakers focus primarily on the Belgian asbestos manufacturer Etex-Eternit (aka Everest) and its expansion into India in the 1990s. India has been a primary industry target of the industry, owing to its lax regulation of asbestos manufacture, use and disposal.

Asbestos sheets are sold widely in India for use as walls and roofs in makeshift shacks. Over 100,000 Indians develop asbestosis annually.

India has more than 50 asbestos manufacturing plants. Filmmakers visit an asbestos factory Everest built in 1995 and sold to an Indian family in 2002. In addition to filming a 600,000 square meter asbestos waste dump, they also visit a makeshift clinic treating thousands of local residents for asbestos-related problems. They also talk with Indian lawyers and activists who are bringing a lawsuit against Everest in Belgium.

The film concludes by looking at World Health Organization efforts to institute a global ban on asbestos. Brazil, China, and Russia, which still mine asbestos, continue to vociferously block the ban.

Last year, the Trump EPA approved new rules that soften regulations against asbestos use in the US.  In response, one Russian asbestos manufacturer now proudly displays features Trump’s image on all their products.


* History of EPA asbestos regulation

  • 1989 Partial Ban on the manufacture, import, processing, and distribution of some asbestos-containing products. EPA also banned new uses of asbestos which prevent new asbestos products from entering the marketplace after August 25, 1989. These uses remain banned. The April 2019 final rule does not provide a way for these uses to return to the marketplace.
  • April 2019 Final Rule to ensure that asbestos products that are no longer on the market cannot return to commerce without the Agency evaluating them and putting in place any necessary restrictions or prohibiting use. The uses covered under this rule were not already prohibited under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and could have returned to the market at any time.
  • Risk evaluation of asbestos under TSCA. EPA is reviewing a handful of very limited, still ongoing uses of asbestos. The evaluation of the risks associated with ongoing uses of asbestos is required under TSCA section 6. If EPA finds unreasonable risk, the Agency will take prompt action to address those risks.

** See https://www.epa.gov/asbestos

 

 

 

Amazon Rainforest Protectors: Putting Their Lives on the Line

Brazil’s President vs the Amazon

SBS Dateline (2019)

Film Review

This Australian documentary is about the indigenous Mundruku tribe and their efforta to stop illegal deforestation in the Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Altogether the Amazon is home to 300 indigenous tribes. All are threatened by multinational mining, agricultural and logging interests. This film also looks at the big threat to their way of life posed by the election of right wing populist Jair Bolsonaro as president.

The fillmmakers begin by interviewing the mayor of nearly Intaituba, a strong Bolsonaro supporter facing fines and corruption charges for illegally clearing forest to set up a cattle ranch. The mayor lobbies for international gold mining interests in addition to international and domestic agribusiness.

Under Brazil’s former government, indigenous tribes could file claims to have their ancestral lands demarcated for protection from logging schemes. Bolsonaro who has transferred oversight of indigenous rights to the department of agriculture, has suspended the right of Brazil’s first peoples to make further claims.

In response, Mundruku women from adjoining villages have installed their own signs demarcating their land.They are also organizing a resistance movement to confront illegal loggers. They do so despite numerous threats they have received from logging interests in the past.

They’re not the first Amazon protectors to put their lives on the line. Hundreds of rainforest activists have been murdered (with impunity) in the decades-long battle to save the rainforest known as the lungs of the world.

How Climate Change Drives Refugees

Fleeing Climate Change: The Real Environmental Catastrophe

DW (2019)

Film Review

Population scientists estimate the climate crisis will force 1/5 to 1/4  of the global population (2-3 billion) to migrate by the year 2050. Already the climate emergency has caused the displacement of more than 20 million people.

The filmmakers examine three parts of the world that are already impacted by climate change: Indonesia, Cameroons and Siberia.

An estimated 300 million Indonesians will be displaced by sea level rise. The coastal farmers of Dadap have already started moving inland due to flooding of their homes and fields. Some have emigrated to Saudi Arabia to work in construction. One-third of the city of Jakarta is below sea level, and in 2013 nearly half the city was under water.

The farmers and herders of Cameroons are being displaced by drought and increasing desertification. Many live in refugee camps and depend on international food aid.

In Siberia, 25 million Russians face displacement because the permafrost supporting  their roads, bridges, homes, public buildings and pipelines were is melting. Once thawing occurs, the wet soil erodes quickly causing these structures to collapse. The melting Siberian permafrost also substantially increases global warming because it releases large amounts of methane to the atmosphere.

The filmmakers point out that millions of refugees from these areas will be joined by millions more fleeing droughts in Brazil, hurricanes in the Caribbean and the total submersion of most of the Pacific islands.

 

Brazilian App Records Police Homicides and Brutality

A Bigger Brother – Rebel Geeks

Al Jazeera (2015)

Film Review

This documentary if about Coletivo Papo Reto, a Brazilian copwatch group that developed an Open Source phone app to make videos of police killings and brutality of sufficient quality to be used in court. Courts in many countries disallow smartphone video evidence because it’s hard to document exactly when and where it’s been recorded and that it hasn’t been altered.

The new app has been programmed to embed specific metadata into the pixels of the video. Most smartphones already capture specific metadata as such as GPS, local time and proximity to specific cellphone towers and WiFi networks.

Thanks to support from the Guardian Project, the new app has also been adopted by copwatch programs in Brooklyn and Ferguson.

According to Amnesty International, Brazilian police kill more than 400 unarmed civilians a year.


*The Guardian Project is a global collective of software developers, designers, advocates, activists and trainers who develop open-source mobile security software and operating system enhancements.

 

1965-75: The Decade that Nearly Dismantled Capitalism?

Global Revolt – Part 1 The Wave

DW (2018)

Film Review

This is a four-part documentary series, based on archival video footage, of a global uprising that took place between 1965-75. Although the uprising began with student protests opposing the Vietnam war, disgruntled workers and farmers joined in with students in France, Italy, Chile and Brazil and Japan. The main weakness of this series is the absence of a unifying thread. Although the historical film footage is superb, the scattershot approach and the misidentification of various Operation Gladio programs (as genuine leftist movements) makes it impossible for the viewer to draw any real conclusions.

Part 1 mainly focuses on the US anti-Vietnam War movement. However it also briefly examines the youth uprisings that occurred in the UK, Italy, Germany and Japan, as well as the first international conference of the Non-Aligned Movement* in Havana in 1963.

For me, the most interesting part of the film was the International War Crimes Tribunal Jean Paul Sartre and Bertrand Russell organized in 1967 to investigate US war crimes in Vietnam.


*Operation Gladio is the code name for a CIA/NATO backed paramilitary network that carried out thousands of false flag terrorist operations in Cold War Europe. The goal of these operations was to justify repressive government legislation against grassroots anti-capitalist organizers. It was exposed in a 1992 BBC documentary:

**The Non-Aligned Movement is an organization of sovereign countries that refuse to ally themselves with or against any of the major power blocs (US, Russia, China).

Hidden History: The Abolitionists who Led the European Colonization of Africa

Slavery Trade Routes – Part 3 Slavery’s New Frontiers

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

The final episode in the series begins with the revolution in Saint-Domingue (modern day Haiti) that would signal the beginning of the end for the slave trade. Led by Tousaint L’Ouverture, in 1791 the entire slave population of Saint Domingue (90% of residents) revolted again their plantation owners. It would be Napoleon’s first military defeat.

Although the British Navy succeeded in shutting down much of the slave trade in 1815, they couldn’t stem the flow of slaves to feed the prison-style industrial coffee plantations in Brazil. An additional 2 million Africans were deported to Brazil between 1815 and 1850. At present, Brazil has the second largest population of Africans in the world (with Nigeria at number one).

Although the trafficking of slaves to the US stopped in 1815, the American slave population continued to grow – in part due to the routine rape of female slaves by their white masters.

US Last Country to Abolish Slavery

In 1825, after achieving independence, all former Spanish colonies abolished slavery. French, English and Dutch colonies would gradually follow suit. The US formally abolished slavery in 1865 during the Civil War. In reality slavery continued in southern states with Jim Crow laws that denied Blacks the right to vote, freedom of movement and the right to self-defense. In addition, laws providing for the arrest of unemployed blacks for vagrancy resulted in a de facto involuntary servitude.

European Colonization of Africa

For me, the most interesting part of the film concerns the direct link between the abolition of slavery and the intensive European colonization of Africa. The military adventurers who conquered Africa were all “abolitionists.” Officially the purpose of their missions to Africa were to end the slave trade. In reality, they were deeply committed white supremacists who cut deals with Arab slave traders and local chieftains to put poor African peasants to work (involuntarily) on their African coffee, palm oil, rubber and cotton plantations.

The video can’t be embedded but can be seen free at the following link:

Slavery’s New Frontiers