‘U.S. Aims To Dominate Land, Resources And Labor Of African People’

US military training in Africe. Source Wikimedia

By Abayomi Azikiwe for Muslim Press – “United States foreign policy towards Africa has not fundamentally changed since World War II. Washington’s aim is to dominate the land, resources and labor of the African people,” Abayomi Azikiwe, the editor of the Pan-African News Wire, told Muslim Press in an interview. In what follows, the full transcript of the interview has been presented. Muslim Press: What has been the result of U.S. foreign policy in African countries? How has U.S. foreign policy in Africa changed since Donald Trump became president? Abayomi Azikiwe: United States foreign policy towards Africa has not fundamentally changed since World War II. Washington’s aim is to dominate the land, resources and labor of the African people. Successive administrations backed the colonial policies of Britain, France, Portugal and the former settler-colonial regimes of Rhodesia and South Africa. In Feb. 1966, the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson engineered a military and police coup against the First Republic of Ghana under President Kwame Nkrumah. Later in Oct. 1975, the administration of President Gerald Ford deployed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to support a military intervention into Angola by the former racist apartheid South African Defense Forces (SADF) to prevent the genuine independence of that former Portuguese colony.

NAFTA Renegotiation: What's At Stake For Food, Farmers And The Land?

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By Staff of IATP – The re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Mexico and Canada begins on August 16, and there is much at stake for farmers and rural communities in all three countries. Despite promised gains for farmers, NAFTA’s benefits over the last 23 years have gone primarily to multinational agribusiness firms. NAFTA is about much more than trade. It set rules on investment, farm exports, food safety, access to seeds, and markets. NAFTA, combined with the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the 1996 Farm Bill, led the charge to greater consolidation among agribusiness firms, the loss of many small and mid-sized farms and independent ranchers, the rapid growth of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and further corporate control of animal production through often unfair, restrictive contracts with producers. The Trump administration’s negotiating objectives reflect relatively small tweaks to NAFTA, while adopting deregulatory elements of the defeated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Family farm groups have called for the existing NAFTA to be scrapped and propose a fundamentally new agreement with a goal of improving the lives of family farmers and rural communities in all three countries.

Rajasthan Farmers Sit Neck-Deep to Protest Land Deal

Fate Of Seized Activist May Point To New Era Of State Violence In Argentina

Top photo | Demonstrators hold photos of missing activist Santiago Maldonado, during a protest at Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Human rights groups say Maldonado went missing a month ago, after Argentine border police captured him during an operation against Mapuche Indians who were blocking a highway in Argentina’s Patagonia. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)

By Roqayah Chamseddine for MInt Press News – The streets of Argentina are boiling over with demonstrations, as thousands of locals demand that the government produce an indigenous activist last seen one month ago when border police forced a group of the indigenous Mapuche off of indigenous land in Patagonia — land unjustly owned by the Italian clothing company Benetton. According to witnesses, 28-year-old Santiago Maldonado was forced into a van by government officials and disappeared, but so far the Argentinian government has denied any involvement. Argentinian demonstrators, including groups like Mothers of the Plaza De Mayo, are increasingly concerned for the wellbeing of Maldonado in light of the nation’s troubled history of state violence. The US-backed military dictatorship of General Jorge Rafael Videla, which plagued Argentina from 1976 until 1983, killed, kidnapped, and disappeared at least 30,000. Backed by Ronald Reagan, Videla and his security apparatus went on to torture and murder thousands more in a right-wing military hellscape. The case of Santiago Maldonado has revived memories of the Argentinian military junta, and suspicion among activists is growing that he has become President Mauricio Macri’s first disappeared victim—nearly 40 years after the end of General Videla’s rule.

Baltimore’s Push To Solve Its Affordable Housing Crisis With Community Land Trusts

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters      4.8k     1.0k      Alana Semuels Aug 9, 2015   Half a century after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty, the number of Americans living in slums is rising at an extraordinary pace.  The number of people living in high-poverty areas—defined as census tracts where 40 percent or more of families have income levels below the federal poverty threshold—nearly doubled between 2000 and 2013, to 13.8 million from 7.2 million, according to a new analysis of census data by Paul Jargowsky, a public-policy professor at Rutgers University-Camden and a fellow at The Century Foundation. That’s the highest number of Americans living in high-poverty neighborhoods ever recorded.  The development is worrying, especially since the number of people living in high-poverty areas fell 25 percent, to 7.2 million from 9.6 million, between 1990 and 2000. Back then, concentrated poverty was declining in part because the economy was booming. The Earned Income Tax Credit boosted the take-home pay for many poor families. (Studies have shown the EITC also creates a feeling of social inclusion and citizenship among low-income earners.) The unemployment rate fell as low as 3.8 percent, and the first minimum wage increases in a decade made it easier for families to get by. Programs to disassemble housing projects in big cities such as Chicago and Detroit eradicated some of the most concentrated poverty in the country, Jargowsky told me.  As newly middle-class minorities moved to inner suburbs, though, the mostly white residents of those suburbs moved further away, buying up the McMansions that were being built at a rapid pace. This acceleration of white flight was especially problematic in Rust Belt towns that didn’t experience the economic boom of the mid-2000s. They were watching manufacturing and jobs move overseas. Population Living in High-Poverty Neighborhoods (in millions) Source: 1990 and 2000 Census, 2005-2009 and 2009-2013 ACS/The Century Foundation  Cities such as Detroit saw continued white flight as wealthier residents moved to Oakland County and beyond, further and further away from the city’s core. They brought their tax dollars with them, leaving the city with little tax base, a struggling economy, and no resources to spend on services. More From The Next Economy      The Racial Gaps in America's Recovery     $500 Million Is a Small Price to Pay for Women's Health     A Long Road Home  Low-income residents who wanted to follow the wealthy to the suburbs would have had a difficult time. Many wealthy suburbs passed zoning ordinances that prohibited the construction of affordable-housing units or the construction of apartment buildings in general. Some mandated that houses all be detached, or are a minimum size, which essentially makes them too expensive for low-income families.  “It’s no longer legal to say, ‘We don’t want African-Americans to live here,’ but you can say, ‘I’m going to make sure no one who makes less than two times the median income lives here,’” Jargowsky told me.  (Though some affordable-housing developers try to build in the suburbs, many more, especially those in the “poverty-housing industry,” advocate for building more developments in high-poverty areas to stimulate economic growth. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which has a goal of investing in distressed neighborhoods, for example, has spent $14.7 billion building affordable housing units since 1980.)  Some of the cities where poverty is the most concentrated are in the Midwest and Northeast, where tens of thousands of people have headed to suburbs, and the region itself is shrinking in population. In Syracuse, New York, for example, 65 percent of the black population lived in high-poverty areas in 2013, up from 43 percent of the black population in 2000, Jargowsky found. In Detroit, 58 percent of the black population lived in areas of concentrated poverty in 2013, up from 17 percent in 2000. And in Milwaukee, 43 percent of the Latino population lived in areas of concentrated poverty in 2013, up from 5 percent in 2000.  The number of high-poverty census tracts is also growing in many of these cities. In Detroit, the number of such tracts tripled to 184, from 51 between 2000 and 2013, as concentrated poverty spread to inner suburbs. In Syracuse, the number of high-poverty census tracts grew to 30 from 12.  Federal dollars have sometimes been used in ways that increase the concentration of poverty. Most affordable housing is built with low-income housing tax credits, which are distributed by the states. States assign the tax credits through a process in which they weigh a number of different factors including the location of proposed developments. Many states have favored projects in low-income areas, a practice that was the recent subject of a Supreme Court case known as Inclusive Communities. The Inclusive Communities Project argued, in the case, that the way Texas allocated tax credits was discriminatory, since 93 percent of tax credit units in Dallas are located in census tracts that are more than 50 percent minority, and are predominantly poor. The Supreme Court agreed in June, allowing groups to bring lawsuits about such segregation.  Finally, Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as Section 8, are meant to give poor families better options about where they live, but are instead confining the poor to the few neighborhoods where landlords will accept the voucher.  All of these developments have increased the racial concentration of poverty, especially in mid-sized American cities.  “These policies build a durable architecture of segregation that ensures that racial segregation and the concentration of poverty is entrenched for years to come,” Jargowsky writes. Highest Black Concentration of Poverty Sources: 2000 Census, 2005-2009 and 2009-2013 ACS/The Century Foundation  Some recent developments, including the Supreme Court decision and a new HUD rule that requires regions to think more carefully about segregation, are positive signs. But Jargowsky says deeper policy prescriptions are needed to reduce these depressing trends in concentrated poverty. First, he says, federal and state governments must ensure that new suburban developments aren’t built more quickly than the metropolitan region is growing, so that such developments don’t create a population vacuum in cities and inner suburbs. Second, every city and town must ensure that new housing construction reflects the income distribution of the metropolitan area, he said, so that more housing is available to people of all incomes in different parts of town.  “If we are serious about breaking down spatial inequality,” Jargowsky writes, “We have to overcome our political gridlock and chart a new course toward a more geographically inclusive society.”  That’s important for the future of our cities, but also for our nation, Jargowsky said. His research shows that poor children are more likely to live in high-poverty areas than are poor adults—28 percent of poor black children live in high-poverty areas, for example, compared to 24 percent of poor black adults. Overall, 16.5 percent of poor children live in high-poverty areas, compared to 13.8 percent of poor adults.  A child who grows up in a high-poverty area is likely to be poor when he grows up. Research out this year from Harvard shows that children who moved from poor areas to more affluent areas had higher incomes and better educational achievements than those who stayed in poor areas. Without dramatic changes, today’s children who live in high-poverty areas are going to grow up to be poor, too.      Jump to Comments   About the Author      Alana Semuels is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was previously a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.         Twitter   by Taboola Sponsored Links AROUND THE WEB 8 Signs You May Have AfibWebMD 19 Common Habits That Will Destroy TeethWedMD 8 Bags Every Man Should Own Macy's Top 20 Worst Snacks to Avoid at All CostsWorld Lifestyle Most Popular      The Coddling of the American Mind         Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt      Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.     Continue Reading     When Success Leads to Failure         Jessica Lahey      I’ve known the mother sitting in front of me at this parent-teacher conference for years, and we have been through a lot together. I have taught three of her children, and I like to think we’ve even become friends during our time together. She’s a conscientious mother who obviously loves her children with all of her heart. I’ve always been honest with her about their strengths and weaknesses, and I think she trusts me to tell her the truth. But when she hits me with the concern that’s been bothering her for a while, all I can do is nod, and stall for time.      “Marianna’s grades are fine; I’m not worried about that, but she just doesn’t seem to love learning anymore.”     Continue Reading     A Matter of Black Lives         Jeffrey Goldberg      In late april of 1994, a 9-year-old African American boy from the broken-down Central City neighborhood of New Orleans wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton, asking him to bring about an end to the violence that was devastating his city.      “Dear Mr. Clinton,” James Darby began. “I want you to stop the killing in the city. People is dead and I think that somebody might kill me. So would you please stop the people from deading. I’m asking you nicely to stop it. I know you can do it. Do it. I now you could.” He signed the letter, “Your friend, James.”      Ten days later, on May 8, Mother’s Day, Darby was visiting A. L. Davis Park with several members of his family. The park, named after Abraham Lincoln Davis, the first African American to sit on the New Orleans city council, is a compact rectangle of basketball courts and grass patches situated directly across the street from a public-housing complex.     Continue Reading     With Donald Trump's Rise, Fox News Reaps What It Sows         Conor Friedersdorf      Fox News’ coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign has resembled the treatment that the real estate tycoon and reality TV star receives in “the mainstream media.” It is unlike the network’s coverage of unqualified populist favorites from past election cycles, like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain. And populists are taking notice.      Last week’s debate is a fine illustration.      Immediately after the candidates left the stage in Cleveland, Ohio, Fox News moderator and anchor Megyn Kelly threw the network’s coverage over to pollster Frank Luntz, who stood in a room with a small group of voters gathered to offer their impressions. “Megyn, we’re about to make some news tonight,” he said as he turned to the panel. His meaning quickly became apparent: Under questioning, most of the assembled voters revealed that they felt unfavorably about Trump’s performance.     Continue Reading     That’s Not Funny!         Caitlin Flanagan      Three comics sat around a café table in the chilly atrium of the Minneapolis Convention Center, talking about how to create the cleanest possible set. “Don’t do what’s in your gut,” Zoltan Kaszas said. “Better safe than sorry,” Chinedu Unaka offered. Feraz Ozel mused about the first time he’d ever done stand-up: three minutes on giving his girlfriend herpes and banging his grandma. That was out.      This was not a case of professionals approaching a technical problem as an intellectual exercise. Money was riding on the answer. They had come to Minneapolis in the middle of a brutal winter for the annual convention of the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA), to sell themselves and their comedy on the college circuit. Representatives of more than 350 colleges had come as well, to book comics, musicians, sword swallowers, unicyclists, magicians, hypnotists, slam poets, and every kind of boat act, inspirational speaker, and one-trick pony you could imagine for the next academic year.     Continue Reading     Why Iran’s Anti-Semitism Matters         Jeffrey Goldberg      A few days ago, I spoke with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about the politics of the Iran deal (you can find the full interview here), and at one point in our conversation I put to Kerry what I thought was—to be honest—something of a gimme question: “Do you believe that Iranian leaders sincerely seek the elimination of the Jewish state?”      Kerry responded provocatively—provocatively, that is, if you understand Iranian leaders, and in particular the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the way I understand them: as people theologically committed to the destruction of Israel. Quotes such as this one from Khamenei help lead me to this conclusion: “This barbaric, wolflike, and infanticidal regime of Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.” The supreme leader does not specialize in nuance. (Here is a long list of statements made by Iranian leaders concerning their desire to bring about an end to Jewish sovereignty in any part of the ancestral Jewish homeland.)     Continue Reading     Life's Stories         Julie Beck      In Paul Murray's novel Skippy Dies, there’s a point where the main character, Howard, has an existential crisis.“‘It’s just not how I expected my life would be,'" he says.      “‘What did you expect?’” a friend responds.      “Howard ponders this. ‘I suppose—this sounds stupid, but I suppose I thought there’d be more of a narrative arc.’”      But it's not stupid at all. Though perhaps the facts of someone’s life, presented end to end, wouldn't much resemble a narrative to the outside observer, the way people choose to tell the stories of their lives, to others and—crucially—to themselves, almost always does have a narrative arc. In telling the story of how you became who you are, and of who you're on your way to becoming, the story itself becomes a part of who you are.     Continue Reading     What the Iran-Deal Debate Is Like in Iran         Abbas Milani and Michael McFaul      The nuclear deal with Iran has sparked a vigorous debate not only in the United States, but in Iran as well. The discussion of the agreement among Iranians at times echoes the American discussion, but is also much deeper and wider. Reports in Iranian media, as well as our own correspondence and conversations with dozens of Iranians, both in the country and in exile, reveal a public dialogue that stretches beyond the details of the agreement to include the very future of Iran. And it seems that everyone from the supreme leader to the Iranian American executive in Silicon Valley, from the taxi driver in Isfahan to the dissident from Evin Prison, is engaged. The coalitions for and against the deal tend to correlate closely with those for and against internal political reform and normalized relations with the West.     Continue Reading     Could the Internet Age See Another David Foster Wallace?         Megan Garber      Here is an extremely incomplete list of things I would like to know David Foster Wallace’s thoughts on:      selfie sticks     man buns     farmers’ markets     the Starbucks S’mores Frappuccino®     The League     professional football     college football     trigger warnings     Ferguson     media coverage of Ferguson     Netflix     Breaking Bad     Uber     Mars One     Donald Trump     Facebook     the “personal brand”     Ashley Madison     Instagram     Snapchat     the film The End of the Tour      I would especially love to know his thoughts on that last one, since the movie, being pretty much a filmic love letter to the late author, could well fall into the category of Praise That Made David Foster Wallace Itchy and Squirmy. The conventional wisdom about Wallace—an idea put forth during the nascent days of his fame, and reiterated in a good portion of the approximately 512,246 essays and novels and Tumblr posts that came as that fame crystallized into something closer to canonization—is that Wallace, the person, was extremely ambivalent about Wallace, the persona. He wanted, on the one hand, to join the ranks of DeLillo and Pynchon and Updike (though the latter he famously denigrated as “just a penis with a thesaurus”). But the fame that accompanied literary achievement during the time he was doing all his achieving made him, he insisted, “want to become a recluse.” There’s being celebrated, and then there’s celebrity. Celebrity, in all its tentacular forms, was one of the things Wallace’s work most consistently mocked.     Continue Reading     How White Users Made Heroin a Public-Health Problem         Andrew Cohen      This piece was reported through The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal-justice system.      Heroin use and abuse in America has dramatically increased over the past decade.  Between 2006 and 2013, federal records reveal that the number of first-time heroin users doubled from 90,000 to 169,000. Some of those users, no doubt, already are gone. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced last month that the rate of deadly heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.      These troubling figures, and a spate of more recent stories and daunting statistics, have prompted officials across the country to implement bold new policies and practices designed to reduce the harm of heroin use. Although there has been some push to enhance criminal sanctions to combat the surge, much of the institutional reaction to the renewed popularity of the drug has sounded in the realm of medicine, not law.     Continue Reading     The Wanderlust of #Vanlife         Sam Price-Waldman      How an Instagram hashtag inspired a movement     Watch Video     The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today         Chris Heller      A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.     Watch Video     The Creator of The Wire Explains the War on Drugs' Effect on Police         Nadine Ajaka      David Simon on America's failed policies and the decline of law enforcement     Watch Video  Subscribe  Get 10 issues a year and save 65% off the cover price. 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By Kevon Paynter for Yes! Magazine – Men and women huddle inside the St. John’s United Methodist Church in central Baltimore. The air conditioning in the church is inefficient on a day when the outside temperature is over 100 degrees. Cold water bottles get distributed, along with paper towels to wipe off sweat. Many of these people are homeless or formerly homeless. Others are longtime residents struggling to afford their rent, and they are here to advocate for an affordable housing solution that could bring relief as well as fix Baltimore’s blight. They want Mayor Catherine Pugh to dedicate $40 million in the upcoming budget to fund community land trusts. Across the U.S., cities struggle with expanding income inequality and tight housing markets that drive up rent. These factors result in an extreme shortage of affordable housing. For every 100 low-income renters, there are 31 affordable units, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. Over the years, solutions have emerged. In Burlington, Vermont, and Boston, for example, community ownership of land through nonprofit community land trusts has had decades of success turning vacant lots into affordable housing.

Dozens Of Land Owners Sue Over Eminent Domain For FERC Pipelines

A sign held at an anti-Enbridge protest in Vancouver. (Photo: travis blanston/flickr/cc)

By Duncan Adams for The Roanoke Times – Dozens of landowners potentially affected by the Mountain Valley Pipeline or the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and other foes of the controversial projects have filed a federal lawsuit that challenges eminent domain provisions of the Natural Gas Act. The suit contends that these provisions, as implemented by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, violate Fifth Amendment constitutional protections by allowing private, for-profit pipeline companies to wield eminent domain to acquire easements across private properties without evidence that the projects are needed or will serve the public good. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, contends that FERC’s approval of the pipelines “is virtually certain and imminent” and it asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to intervene. The plaintiffs and their attorney, Carolyn Elefant, a former FERC lawyer, implore the court to stop FERC from issuing the certificates of public convenience and necessity — which the pipeline companies need to begin construction or to exercise eminent domain — until the lawsuit can be litigated. Defendants include the two pipeline companies, each a limited liability company incorporated in Delaware, as well as FERC and its three commissioners.

Guatemala’s Indigenous Campesinos Occupy Capital To Protest Land Conflicts

A woman sits with her child next the barrier separating the protesters in their encampment from the Presidential Palace. All photos by Jeff Abbott.

By Jeff Abbott for Towards Freedom – On August 8, one hundred Q’eqchi Maya families from the Department of Alta Verapaz arrived to the historic center of Guatemala City, the nation’s capital, to establish a permanent presence in an encampment near the Presidential Palace. They have announced that they will remain there until the administration fulfills the agreement between the campesino communities and the government established in April 2015 to end agrarian conflicts within the department. “We are here in front of the National Palace because of the failure of the state to comply with the accords that came after many dialogues with state officials on the land conflicts in Alta Verapaz,” said Carlos Choc, a member of a Q’eqchi community within the Municipality of Coban, Alta Verapaz, and a representative from the Comité Campesino de Altiplano(CCDA), the organization that coordinated the occupation. “To this date, we do not have a response that is the benefit of the Q’eqchi communities,” Choc told Toward Freedom. “Because of this, our Q’eqchi communities have risen up to demand that [President Jimmy Morales] comply and give us a favorable response. We do not want any more dialogues on the conflict over land.” Black plastic tarps hang from ropes tied to the Guatemalan National Palace, creating a series of makeshift tents that have become the home for these families.

This Land Is Whose Land?

Illustration by
David Istvan.

By Matt Hern for ROAR Magazine – Understanding the forces deforming our cities today requires more than a class analysis of capitalist land speculation. We have to talk about race. There is really no way to think about cities today without talking about displacements, and over the past few generations, gentrification has emerged as a broadly familiar frame for understanding the explosive changes that are disfiguring cities across the planet.Gentrification has become so ubiquitous and commonplace that many of us are resigned to capital’s inevitable capture of the best parts of every city. We all see the gentrifications around us. We know what it smells like. We instinctually know which neighbourhoods are vulnerable. The neoliberal city is a vampiric city and we have all become inured to its feeding habits. But I am convinced that the dominant languages being invoked to theorize gentrification today fall short: they are necessary but not sufficient. Understanding urban displacements today requires a more nuanced engagement with racialized rationalities than is currently circulating in most gentrification literatures.

Guatemala’s Indigenous Campesinos Occupy Capitol Over Land Conflicts

A woman sits with her child next the barrier separating the protesters in their encampment from the Presidential Palace. All photos by Jeff Abbott.

By Jeff Abbott for Toward Freedom. On August 8, one hundred Q’eqchi Maya families from the Department of Alta Verapaz arrived to the historic center of Guatemala City, the nation’s capital, to establish a permanent presence in an encampment near the Presidential Palace. They have announced that they will remain there until the administration fulfills the agreement between the campesino communities and the government established in April 2015 to end agrarian conflicts within the department. “We are here in front of the National Palace because of the failure of the state to comply with the accords that came after many dialogues with state officials on the land conflicts in Alta Verapaz,” said Carlos Choc, a member of a Q’eqchi community within the Municipality of Coban, Alta Verapaz, and a representative from the Comité Campesino de Altiplano(CCDA), the organization that coordinated the occupation.

Descendants Of Freed Slaves Fight For Their Land In The Amazon

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By Nick Barrickman and Alex González for WSWS – Local residents inform the International Amazon Workers Voice that Amazon is attempting to seize 50 acres of land owned by elderly working class descendants of slaves in Northern Virginia, pave over the residents’ homes, and build power lines. The soil that Amazon plans to cover with asphalt contains the sweat of slaves and the blood of Civil War soldiers. The residents’ ancestors, who worked the land as slaves, took possession of these plots after being freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and liberated by the Union Army during the American Civil War. American capitalism has come full-circle: the government is stealing land from the descendants of slaves and giving it to one of the world’s most powerful corporations. A representative of a community group called the Alliance to Save Carver Road (ASCR) told the IAWV, “The homeowners have been there for generations. Many of the properties were purchased by freed slaves. After emancipation, the slaves that worked that area were allowed to purchase property. A number of the property owners are descendants of those freed slaves.” Last month, Amazon subsidiary VAData, working in collusion with local government agencies and utility company Dominion Virginia Power, announced plans to construct 230,000 volt power lines running through the semi-rural community of Carver Road just outside of Gainesville, in order to power nearby internet data centers.

African Peasants Highlight Interconnected Struggles At Via Campesina Global Conference

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By Boaventura Monjane for Toward Freedom – (Derio, Basque Country) Peasants across Africa are intensifying their struggles against land grabs and other harmful policies that promote industrial agriculture. At a recent international conference organized by the world’s largest peasants movement, Via Campesina, African peasants had opportunities to share their experiences of struggle and to learn. “It is amazing to see how linked our struggles are”. With a countenance showing enthusiasm and eagerness, Nicolette Cupido could not conceal her emotions. There are two main reasons for her excitement. It was the first time she attended a global conference of peasants’ movements starting July 16 in Derio, in the outskirts of Bilbao, Basque Country. Her movement, the Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign (FSC), South Africa, was among the new organizations accepted into membership of Via Campesina. A community organizer and a member of the FSC, Nicolette engages in food production at home and community gardens in Moorreesburg, a village in Western Cape, 120Km away from Cape Town. She grows a variety of vegetables, that is the way she contributes in building food sovereignty. “I plant tomato, unions, beetroot, cabbage and carrots. The struggle for food sovereignty has to be practical, too”, she said. Like Nicolette, about 20 other African peasants representing movements from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Niger, Mali, Senegal and Ghana attended the conference.

Citizens Begin Reclaiming Coal Country After Decades Of Corporate Land Grabs

The Appalachian Citizen’s Law Center recently found it would cost more than $9.6 billion to reclaim the 6.2 million acres of lands and waters of abandoned and polluted mine sites.

Photo of West Virginia mountaintop by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images.

By Emma Eisenberg for Yes! Magazine – “Land is the most important thing to us, yet it’s not clear at all who owns it,” says Karen Rignall, assistant professor of community and leadership development at the University of Kentucky. “Without broad-scale knowledge of the patterns of land ownership this region cannot work together to move forward. But who owns it on paper is not always who owns it in actuality. That takes time and money to find out.” The coal industry of central Appalachia has been on the decline for more than 30 years, with West Virginia and Kentucky losing more than 38,000 coal jobs in that time. As coal companies pulled out, they took with them the dollars that small towns used to use to fund their schools and infrastructure, and left behind abandoned mines, polluted rivers and vast swaths of vacant land. All over Appalachia, communities and organizations are working around the clock to come up with a way to “justly transition” the Appalachian economy to whatever comes next. Rignall and postdoctoral researcher Lindsay Shade are collaborating with a growing group of citizens that think a part of the answer to a post-coal economy may lie with an old land ownership study—and have been inspired by it to do a new one.

Water And Oil, Death And Life In Louisiana

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By Nora Belblidia for Uneven Earth – Six months ago, a routine public hearing was scheduled in a nondescript gray government building in downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “Normally these hearings go over really quietly,” said Scott Eustis, the Wetlands Specialist for Gulf Restoration Network (GRN). “Usually it’s me, my associates, and like ten people.” Instead, over 400 people showed up to the Baton Rouge hearing, and stayed for nearly six hours. The debate centered on the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, a proposed route that would run 163 miles from Lake Charles to St. James, forming the “tail” of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), and effectively connecting oil fracked in North Dakota to Louisiana refineries. If built, Bayou Bridge would cross 11 parishes, 600 acres of wetlands, 700 bodies of water, and the state-designated Coastal Zone Boundary. Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) is behind both the Bayou Bridge project and the more infamous DAPL, but the parallels run deeper than a mutual stakeholder. Just like in DAPL, those who resist the project are drawing connections between past wrongdoings, conditions today, and a future climate. Residents cite safety concerns, environmental racism, pollution, and threats to the region’s wetlands and seafood industries as reasons to oppose its construction.

The High Price Of Desertification: 23 Hectares Of Land A Minute

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By Busani Bafana for IPS – BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Jun 15 2017 (IPS) – Urban farmer Margaret Gauti Mpofu would do anything to protect the productivity of her land. Healthy soil means she is assured of harvest and enough food and income to look after her family. Each morning, Mpofu, 54, treks to her 5,000-square-metre plot in Hyde Park, about 20 km west of the city of Bulawayo. With a 20-litre plastic bucket filled with cow manure in hand, Mpofu expertly scoops the compost and sprinkles a handful besides thriving leaf vegetables and onions planted in rows across the length of the field, which is irrigated with treated waste water. Mpofu’s act of feeding the land is minuscule in fighting the big problem of land degradation. But replicated by many farmers on a large scale, it can restore the productivity of arable land. “I should not be doing this,” Mpofu tells IPS pointing to furrows on her field left by floodwater running down the slope during irrigation. “The soil is losing fertility each time we irrigate because the water flows fast, taking valuable topsoil with it. I have to constantly add manure to improve fertility in the soil and this also improves my yields.”

Favela As A Community Land Trust: Solution To Eviction And Gentrification?

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By Staff of Rioonwatch – This is the second in a series of three articles summarizing reports on Brazilian housing law, organized by the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice at request of Catalytic Communities. The second report, summarized in part below, with additional information compiled by Catalytic Communities’ team, was produced by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer US LLP. To read the actual report, click here. Inextricably linked to Rio de Janeiro’s identity for more than a century, favelas today serve the essential function of providing affordable housing to nearly a quarter of the city’s residents. In recent years, however, many favelas have been subject to immense pressure in the form of both forced evictions and gentrification brought on by real estate speculation, that have affected the city as a whole.