UK Panel To Rule On FOIA Requests In Assange Case

Abayomi Azikiwe

By Staff of Courage Found – Seven years since the issue of an European Arrest Warrant against Julian Assange, and five since Ecuador granted him political asylum, a freedom of information case in the UK is shedding light on what was happening behind the scenes during that period. Assange has spent more than five years isolated in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, in what a UN Advisory Group ruled was arbitrary detention that contravened international law. Ecuador recognised the political persecution of Assange and granted him the status of political refugee, judging his life to be at grave risk. Despite the UN group’s determination, British police maintain their threat to arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy. Following years of debate over where Assange should be interviewed, Swedish prosecutors finally questioned the detained publisher in the Ecuadorian Embassy at the end of 2016, after which Sweden ultimately dropped its investigation. Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, who has worked on WikiLeaks releases as a media partner since 2009, has made a series of FOI requests in the different countries involved in the Assange case. In 2015 she managed to get 44 pages released on from Sweden’s prosecutorial authority.

European Parliament Resoundingly Votes To End Glyphosate Use

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By Staff of Greenpeace – From 16 December 2022, all remaining uses should be ruled out. This is an important shift in the Parliament’s position. While today’s vote is for a ban, in 2016 the Parliament had voted for a seven year licence coupled with restrictions on the uses of glyphosate. Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace EU food policy director said: “The Parliament clearly says that glyphosate has got to go. Although the phase out periods are longer than technically needed, the Parliament’s proposal is a breath of fresh air. More than one million Europeans and now the Parliament are calling for ban on this dangerous chemical. It’s time for the Commission and national governments to hear this message.”

Why Native American Women Are Going After Europe’s Banks To Divest From Big Oil

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By Shannan Stoll for The Nation – Last December, calls to defund the Dakota Access pipeline and “Stand with Standing Rock” led individuals to divest millions of dollars from banks extending credit to that project. As cities and tribes got involved, that amount increased to now more than $4 billion. Seattle was the first, then more cities followed, and the movement to defund Big Oil is still growing. In May, Indigenous leaders launched a new campaign, the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, targeting four proposed tar sands pipelines. The strategy is to stop banks’ financial commitment before ground is broken. One of these projects – TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline – was terminated earlier this month. Now, the movement that began at Standing Rock has gone global, since much of the DAPL funding came from overseas banks. Some European banks such as BNP Paribas have taken steps to stop funding fossil fuel projects that trample Native peoples’ rights. Others such as Norway’s DNB and ING have done some divesting. Last week, a delegation of Indigenous women returned from a trip to Europe where they met with leaders of financial institutions in Norway, Switzerland, and Germany, the “home bases for several of the world’s largest financial and insurance institutions supporting dangerous extraction developments,” according to the delegation’s news release.

Portuguese Children To Sue European Govs Over Climate Change

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By Staff of The Herald – Seven children are to sue European governments in a landmark lawsuit over the impact that climate change is having on their lives. The Portuguese youngsters, some from the Leiria region which has been devastated by wildfires twice this year, are seeking a ruling to force 47 countries to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions. And they want the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to order nations to keep remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground. One of the children spearheading the unprecedented case is 18-year-old Claudia from the Leiria district, who said older generations have a responsibility to stop releasing dangerous pollution. “What worries me the most about climate change is the rise in temperatures, which has contributed to the number of fires taking place in our country,” she said. Claudia said she is taking the case “for the children and for the future generations who are not responsible for the current state of the environment”. Three days of national mourning are being held in Portugal after scores of people died as deadly forest fires twice hit the country this year. Outbreaks in June claimed 64 lives and another 41 are believed to have been killed in the last week after winds associated with Storm Ophelia fanned flames sparked in drought-like conditions.

Monsanto Banned From Lobbying European Parliament

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By Whitney Webb for Mint Press News – Monsanto, accustomed to lobbying its way to favorable treatment by governments the world over, pushed the EU Parliament too far. Banning lobbyists is a rare move, but one the EU turned to after Monsanto decided to play hardball and no-show a key regulatory hearing. Agrochemical giant Monsanto’s fight to renew the chemical license for its most popular herbicide, glyphosate (aka “Roundup”), was dealt a major blow this past Thursday when the European Parliament officially banned lobbyists representing the interests of the corporation. The move came after the controversial corporation and its lobbyists refused to attend a parliamentary hearing regarding allegations that Monsanto had sought to unduly influence studies examining glyphosate’s safety. As a result of the ban, Monsanto officials and those on the company’s payroll will be unable to meet with members of the EU Parliament (MEPs), attend parliamentary committee meetings, or use digital resources available in Brussels or Strasbourg. During fiscal year 2016, Monsanto spent between €300,000 to €400,000 (c. $354,000 to $471,000) on lobbying efforts at the EU Parliament. Given parliament’s looming decision regarding the renewal of glyphosate’s license, it is likely that such spending has been greater over the past year.

In Europe, Hate Speech Laws Are Often Used To Suppress And Punish Left-Wing Viewpoints

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By Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept – TERRORIST ATTACKS, and the emotions they spawn, almost always prompt calls for fundamental legal rights to be curtailed in the name of preventing future attacks. The formula by now is routine: The victims of the horrific violence are held up as proof that there must be restrictions on advocating whatever ideology motivated the killer to act. In 2006, after a series of attacks carried out by Muslims, Republican Newt Gingrich called for “a serious debate about the First Amendment” so that “those who would fight outside the rules of law, those who would use weapons of mass destruction, and those who would target civilians are, in fact, subject to a totally different set of rules.” Of Islamic radicals, the former U.S. speaker of the House argued that they do not believe in the Constitution or free speech, and the U.S. should thus “use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the Internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us to stop them from recruiting people.” In an essay defending his remarks, Gingrich argued that “free speech should not be an acceptable cover for people who are planning to kill other people who have inalienable rights of their own,” adding that “the fact is not all speech is permitted under the Constitution.”

America Declares Economic War Against Europe

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By Eric Zuesse for Global Research – Russia is the largest energy-supplier to the world’s largest energy-market, which is the European Union (EU). The biggest proportion of that trade is in Europe’s main source of energy, which is gas, which is pipelined into Europe from Russia. So: those pipelines are vitally important not only to Russia’s economy but to Europe’s. President Trump had gotten Congress to agree to limit the application of this provision only to “The President, in coordination with allies of the United States, may impose five or more of the sanctions described in section 235 with respect to a person if the President determines that the person knowingly, on or after the date of the enactment of this Act, makes an investment described in subsection (b) or sells, leases, or provides to the Russian Federation, for the construction of Russian energy export pipelines, goods, services, technology, information, or support.” But the new law still does include “SEC. 232. SANCTIONS WITH RESPECT TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF PIPELINES IN THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION.” That Section punishes “Goods, services, technology, information, or support described in this subsection are goods, services, technology, information, or support that could directly and significantly facilitate the maintenance or expansion of the construction, modernization, or repair of energy export pipelines by the Russian Federation.”

European Cities Are Reclaiming Public Services From The Private Sector

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By Alexis Chemblette for VIce – In the ’80s a neoliberal tide swept across the West with the idea that welfares states had become too expensive and that privatizing public goods was better for stimulating the economy. During this era of fiscal conservatism, Western governments basically confined themselves supervisory roles over the economy, reduced to watchdogs enforcing norms and standards. But research has shown that as the government progressively pulls out of public life, many people lose access or experience the deterioration of services that improve their quality of life such as affordable housing, education, public transportation and health care. Now, cities across Europe are increasingly deciding to reclaim public services, spearheading a growing movement for “remunicipalization,” meaning the return of public services from private to public. According to Sakoto Kishimoto Lead Researcher at the Transnational Institute (TNI) people are over the idea of privatization. “They’re telling their citizens that they have to divest and squeeze budgets, but the feedback we’re getting is that local populations found public services more efficient and less costly,” Kishimoto said in a TNI report. Here are a few examples of local initiatives that have put the power back into the hands of people.

The End Of Globalisation

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By Stuart Jeanne Bramhall for Dissident Voice – In From Global to Local: The Making of Things and the End of Globalisation, Finbarr Livesey challenges the common neoliberal claim that globalization is the be-all and end-all of global prosperity. Livesey’s premise, which he supports with an impressive array of data, is that globalization peaked shortly after 2008 and the world economy is in a period of deglobalization. World trade is slowly declining as a percentage of GDP, and many companies who moved factories to the third world are improving their bottom line by reshoring them to the US and Europe. Livesey contends that, to a large extent, last year’s vote for Britain to leave the EU and for a US president who promised to withdraw from the TPP and bring back American jobs, merely reflect an economic trend that began nearly a decade ago. The present deglobalization was triggered by the 2008 financial crash that sucked trillions of dollars out of the global economy. However, Livesey identifies a number of other factors that influence this trend – chief among them the volatility of oil prices and shipping costs (containers must be booked months in advance) and the growing cost of labor in China and neighboring countries.

Battle To Oppose Water Privatization Returns Greece To Frontlines Of E.U. Crisis

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By Maria Paradia for Occupy – In late September 2016, the Syriza administration laid the groundwork to begin Greece’s water privatization, achieving a majority of 152 parliamentary votes and enacting series of new measures to transfer the state-run water companies of Athens (EYDAP) and Thessaloniki (EYATH) into a privatization superfund. The duration of the government’s participation in the superfund was set at 99 years, with lenders promising the Greek government a bailout of barely 2.8 billion euros – far lower than the projected 50 billion euros estimated earlier in the year. While Greece was forced to privatize its water sources, however, other countries like Germany were undergoing the opposite: a phase of de-privatization. In Berlin, after 12 years of poor management and exorbitant price hikes, the local government several years ago reclaimed its water resources. This turn of events caused a series of similar de-privatization initiatives across the country, revealing that the projected economic outcomes via privatization weren’t viable in the long term. In fact, the re-established state-run services were proven to be far more efficient, better organized and capable of providing higher-quality services than their privatized counterparts.

U.S. Citizens Take Action Against U.S. Nuclear Bombs In Europe

by Bonnie Urfer

By Ralph Hutchison for The Nuclear Resister – A delegation of eleven U.S. citizens joined with activists from China, Russia, Germany, Mexico, The Netherlands, Belgium and Britain at a peace encampment at the German airbase in Büchel, Germany, where U.S. B61 bombs are deployed. On Sunday, July 16, following the celebration of a Christian liturgy, Dutch and U.S. citizens removed the fence blocking the main entrance to the airbase and proceeded on site, the Dutch delegation carrying bread for a “Bread Not Bombs” action and the U.S. delegation carrying the text of the Nuclear Ban Treaty passed on July 7 at the United Nations in New York City. More than thirty activists entered the site without incident, passing through the security gate that was accidentally left unlocked and unstaffed. The Dutch delegation placed loaves of bread on the wings of jet fighters; the U.S. delegation lowered the U.S. flag from the flagpole, requested a meeting with the base commander, and read the text of the U.N. Treaty to soldiers at the base. After forty-five minutes, guards ran to seal the gates and police were summoned. Eventually, all activists were expelled from the facility without being charged. On Monday, July 17, activists woke to find themselves prisoners in the peace camp as those attempting to approach the base with banners were rebuffed by police. More than a dozen police vans ringed the roundabout at the gate.

Building Red-Green Alternatives: Can Commons Challenge Neoliberalism From Below?

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By Inger V. Johansen and Gitte Pedersen for Transform! – Following on from our fruitful experience at the 2016 conference, when the issue of Commons was discussed as an integral part of the economic and ecological alternatives we are seeking to develop, we made Commons the focus of this year’s conference. We decided to address the subject from different perspectives, including how to use Commons in transforming society and the limitations involved in doing so. This was an extremely successful conference. We even managed to incorporate Commons into our general debate on alternatives, linking it to the all-important red and green strategic perspectives of our conferences. Nevertheless, we have concluded that, here in Denmark, it is still difficult to raise the debate on Commons at conferences. In this country, Commons is almost exclusively discussed in a few closed political and academic circles. The number of participants at this conference was fewer than on previous occasions, with a decrease in young people in particular. We believe that this reflects the problem. We simply need more time and discussion before we are able to focus specifically on the issue of Commons once again. In the future, we will therefore choose to integrate Commons into the overall themes of the conferences and debate. We strongly feel that we need more debate on privatization and remunicipalization, which is a big issue in Denmark.

Complete Reversal And Betrayal From Major EU Party

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By Ruth Coustick-Deal for Open Media – The European People’s Party (EPP) — the largest party in the EU — has announced they are officially backing the Link Tax. It’s an insulting blow to public voices, informed decision-making, and democracy. Despite major concerns from leading EPP figures and thousands of grassroots citizens, the EPP party has decided to go all in for the broad, sweeping “ancillary copyright on steroids” version of the Link Tax, that was proposed by German Commissioner Gunther Oettinger. It’s a shocking u-turn in a tiny space of time. Let’s just take a moment to understand this story: A: Tens of thousands of people email their MEPs, repeatedly: yet none of the larger parties come out against the unpopular Link Tax B: A new MEP is appointed lead for copyright : a few days later the EPP make an official announcement of the party line that parrots the language of the lobbyists. In fact, the EPP has not even announced a unique position: on Article 11 (the Link Tax), their stance is basically a full endorsement of what the Commission originally proposed. This shows they just haven’t been listening to what European citizens have been telling them about how the Link Tax will censor the Internet and restrict our access to information.

G20 Violence Prompts Calls For New Curbs On Anti-Capitalist Militants

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By Kate Connolly for The Guardian – Allies of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, have called for new curbs on leftwing extremists, including a Europe-wide register, after her decision to hold the G20 world leaders’ summit in Hamburg ended in violent clashes and injuries to nearly 500 police officers. The cost of the damage has not yet been established but is expected to run into millions of euros. Merkel, who faces a parliamentary election on 24 September, has said that Hamburg residents who suffered damage will be properly compensated. Olaf Scholz, the mayor of Hamburg, meanwhile faced calls for his resignation over accusations he had mismanaged the summit. Hundreds of anti-capitalist militants descended on the city torching cars, looting shops and throwing molotov cocktails. The violence dominated German media coverage of the event, which also featured the first meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. The German justice minister, Heiko Maas, of Merkel’s SPD coalition partners, said the federal government would put more money into preventing leftwing extremism as he pledged that no German city would ever have to host a world leaders’ summit again. He told the tabloid Bild that the G20 had shown the reality of experts’ assessments that “Germany has reached a historic high point in terms of politically-motivated violence”.

‘We’ve Made History’: Ireland Joins France, Germany And Bulgaria In Banning Fracking​

Hildegarde Naughton, TD for Galway West

By Lorraine Chow for Eco Watch – McLoughlin also issued a statement that mentioned the impact of fracking in the U.S.: This law will mean communities in the West and North West of Ireland will be safeguarded from the negative effects of hydraulic fracking. Counties such as Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Clare will no longer face negative effects like those seen in cities and towns in the United States, where many areas have now decided to implement similar bans to the one before us. If fracking was allowed to take place in Ireland and Northern Ireland it would pose significant threats to the air, water and the health and safety of individuals and communities here. Fracking must be seen as a serious public health and environmental concern for Ireland. Environmental group Friends of the Earth Ireland celebrated the bill’s passage. “A day to celebrate. A day for #ClimatePride. The Irish parliament has passed a law to #BanFracking.