ASIA/INDIA – Threats of Hindu extremists to Christian schools in view of Christmas

Days ago the “Hindu Jagran Manch” extremist group warned the Christian schools of the state of Uttar Pradesh not to celebrate Christmas, calling it an “act of proselytism”. “It is abominable that the hard-line Hindu outfit groups continue to issue repeated dictate, intimidations and threats to Christians and attacking them in different parts of India”, says Carmelite Father Johnson Digal, a teacher in a Catholic school in Uttar Pradesh state to Agenzia Fides. “Most of all the students are Hindus and Muslims here, but they are cooperative with us so far. Last year one Pastor was forced to tonsure his head and was paraded on a public road, thinking he was converting people without any solid evidence”, he says.


Agra – It is unacceptable that national Hindu right-wing groups keep on threatening Christians ahead of Christmas, say Church leaders in India. Days ago the “Hindu Jagran Manch” extremist group warned the Christian schools of the state of Uttar Pradesh not to celebrate Christmas, calling it an “act of proselytism”. “It is abominable that the hard-line Hindu outfit groups continue to issue repeated dictate, intimidations and threats to Christians and attacking them in different parts of India”, says Carmelite Father Johnson Digal, a teacher in a Catholic school in Uttar Pradesh state to Agenzia Fides. “Most of all the students are Hindus and Muslims here, but they are cooperative with us so far. Last year one Pastor was forced to tonsure his head and was paraded on a public road, thinking he was converting people without any solid evidence”, he says.
Christian schools in Uttar Pradesh – India’s most densely populated state, ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party – have been issued a warning by several Hindu nationalist organizations affiliated to the “Hindu Yuva Vahini”, led by the leader Yogi Adityanath : these suspect that Christmas celebrations in schools, attended by many Hindu students, can encourage conversions.
The threat comes just days after Bajrang Dal activists accused a group of Christians, who were singing carols, a centuries-old tradition in India, of “proselytizing”, and burned their cars in front of a police station in Satna district, in Madhya Pradesh.
Such episodes on Church leaders is not a new phenomena but the fact is the attackers enjoy patronage from different quarters, in a country of great democratic tradition like India, which guarantees religious freedom to its citizens. The Hindu Yuva Vahini, an organization created in 2002 by Adityanath, had lodged a complaint against the Pastor of a Protestant church earlier this year, accusing him of converting Hindus to Christianity. The Pastor was only guiding a Christian liturgy. Back in 2014, Adityanath had warned Christians not to celebrate Christmas outside Churches. “False propaganda of religious conversions, intimidating minority institutions in the name of religion under the patronage of ruling parties has become a great threat to the very constitutional right of citizens in India. Slowly but steadily India is moving towards pseudo-theocracy. It is a time that all the Indians woke up to realize this and defend India against these fascist forces”, comments to Fides Jesuit Fr. Savarimuthu M, a teacher at Xavier Institute for Tribal Education in Jharkhand state.

Nestlé crunched: Ouster from Gorge signals win for tribes, environment

Oxbow Springs in Cascade Locks. Nestlé has officially packed up and abandoned its effort to bottle the spring’s water, for now. (Photo courtesy of BARK)

After a nine-year battle with locals, Nestlé Waters North America has officially pulled up stakes and left the state of Oregon.

Following an Oct. 27 letter from Gov. Kate Brown to Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Kurt Melcher, Nestlé cleared out its Cascade Locks storefront and issued a terse statement thanking the city for its support.

“We are grateful to the residents, elected officials, neighborhood business owners and leaders who welcomed us to Cascade Locks, and who have supported our interest in bringing good paying jobs to the community,” the statement read. As of press time, Nestlé Waters North America did not respond to inquiries.

“They’ve closed their offices here, they’ve come in and said thank you for your support, and that’s it,” Cascade Locks city administrator Gordon Zimmerman said.

During the nine years of attempting to get into Cascade Locks, Nestlé began making similar attempts in two other Columbia River Gorge cities in Washington: Waitsburg and Goldendale. Both proposals were quickly put to rest after generating intense local opposition.

And the defeat of Nestlé isn’t the only thing environmental groups are celebrating.

On Election Day, Nov. 7, in Vancouver, underdog candidate Don Orange pulled off a landslide victory over his well-funded opponent, Kris Greene, winning a seat on the next Vancouver Port Commission. Winning the election will allow Orange to fulfill a campaign promise to cancel the Tesoro-Savage oil terminal – a project first proposed in 2013 that’s also languished from intense opposition and objections from treaty tribes. The opposing port candidate, Kris Greene, became the subject of public controversy after accepting large cash injections from the oil companies hoping to do business at the port.

Exactly one week after that election, Cowlitz County also denied two shoreline permits for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export terminal – effectively ending the last proposal for coal exports in the Pacific Northwest.

Six massive proposals for coal exports were spread across the region five years ago and would have collectively shipped 150 million tons of coal to Asia every year. To put that amount into perspective, total coal production in the U.S. was 728 million tons in 2016.

Not long before, Millennium had lost another permit after the Washington State Department of Ecology announced it would create unavoidable damage to air quality as well as tribal and cultural resources.

In a press release from the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Chairman William Iyall said: “We thank the Department of Ecology for protecting the people of Washington State. The Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export facility has posed a great threat to our people, our food resources including salmon, and to our communities.”

Iyall also called on Cowlitz County and local businesses “to come together with us to develop ethical, environmentally sensitive business opportunities that will create jobs and economic stability long after Millennium has moved on.”

As of press time, a spokesperson for Millennium at Gallatan Public Affairs did not respond to a request for comment.

Like the battle against coal, the entry of treaty tribes in the fight against Nestlé has also marked a decisive turning point, raising questions about whether government planners are respecting tribal neighbors and their economic priorities.

Despite the influence they’ve carried, many government officials have not publicly acknowledged the significance of treaty and water rights regarding Nestlé’s plans in the Gorge.

“It’s really exciting for me as a native individual in Warm Springs to see this water exchange being disrupted,” said Carina Miller, a tribal councilor at Warm Springs. “I do appreciate the governor intervening, but I don’t appreciate her not acknowledging our treaty rights, and our sovereignty in this whole ordeal.”

According to available records, tribal governments were only informed about the Nestlé proposal in 2015, after grassroots activists in Cascade Locks began to contact them. Since that time, at least three tribal governments submitted letters of opposition to the project – including the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, whose territory includes Cascade Locks.

In Goldendale, one public meeting with objections from the Yakama Nation was enough to scrap the project. As reported in the Goldendale Sentinel, one Yakama attorney, Keegan Bordeaux, testified:

“Fish cannot survive in the Columbia River without sufficient water quality, quantity and temperature, making every cold water source, including those around Goldendale, vital to the future health of the Columbia River fish. Any threat to these water resources is an attack on the health of our fisheries and the Yakama Nation’s treaty-reserved rights to participate in those fisheries.”

These facts were not lost on local officials.

“There’s no way that we would’ve ever gotten off first base had we not included the tribe from the get-go,” Goldendale city administrator Larry Bellamy said.

But in Cascade Locks, consultation was bungled so badly the two spokesmen for the town, the mayor and city administrator, have two different stories about what happened.

“The tribes have never said that they wanted, or didn’t want, the Nestlé proposal,” said Zimmerman, the city administrator.

A letter from JoDe Goudy, dated June 6, 2016, states otherwise. It reads: “The Yakama Nation calls on the Cascade Locks City Council to drop its harmful effort to bring Nestlé into the Columbia River Basin. Such efforts undermine our culture and threaten our treaty-reserved rights.”

“We tried to talk to the Yakamas,” Mayor Tom Cramblett said. “I’m a common sense guy. It was very common sense to me that this project was going to be a beneficial one to them. … I think I could have convinced JoDe Goudy.”

Cramblett began making his case to the Yakamas by sending a letter back to Chair Goudy, which read: “I’m sorry that Facebook and special interest groups can put out information that is not factual and misleading that could seriously harm the economic stability of our community.” The Yakama Nation did not approve his subsequent request for a meeting.

“I think they’re delirious,” said Klairice Westley, of Wanapum Fishing People Against Nestlé, who held a fast to protest the City Council. “It’s pretty clear the (Warm Springs) tribe opposed it. I mean, we had tribal council members come to City Hall meetings and say no – the tribe opposes this. If he thinks, after reading that letter, he can go to JoDe Goudy and the Yakama Tribe and convince them otherwise, then they are really delusional.”

Westley said city officials like Cramblett have consistently dodged the issue of treaty rights at Oxbow Springs in a way that marginalizes Native people.

“1855 Treaty says that if you got something going on there that involves anything that they use for their sustainability, you need to make them aware of it,” Cramblett said. “So yeah. Hey, people screw up all the time. We didn’t do it on purpose.

“Once we found that we weren’t in compliance, according to them with the 1855 Treaty – because we were doing something that had to do with fish. Once we did that, we immediately got with them and did the best we could to keep them informed and keep them part of the whole thing. We understand that’s important.”

Despite this, Cramblett continued to strike a combative tone, calling opponents of Nestlé “outsiders,” calling out some by name, and saying he would have pushed the project to completion if not for the governor – over objections from Native Americans and their tribal governments.

“They want me to have a responsibility to them, and I’m fine with that, but I’ve got a responsibility to my citizens, too.”

“Anything that I see that I think is viable, I’m moving in that direction,” he said.

Of course, economic development does remain a real need in Cascade Locks, although not every official is fixated on Nestlé.

Paul Koch, general manager at the Port of Cascade Locks, says the important thing now is to move on and look for common ground with neighboring communities.

“The Port Commission’s job is to create jobs and get business to move here. And if you can’t get that 50-job one that’ll give the city 2 million bucks, then you go on to the next one. It doesn’t make sense if you have limited resources to hire a bunch of attorneys and fight something that is never gonna pay off.”

When he first joined the port in 2013, Koch said Cascade Locks quickly learned the hard way that going it alone was a losing strategy.

“The first month I was here the commission handed me a letter they had received in November of 2012 from the state that said ‘by the way, if you don’t fix the Bridge of the Gods by March or April (of 2013) we’re going to close it or severely weight-limit it. And then the next paragraph said ‘And by the way, we won’t be done with our analysis telling you what needs to be fixed until December.’

Within a matter of months, Koch said the bridge was back at full capacity – a feat that required serious help from surrounding communities, and collaboration from local, state and federal officials.

“But the result of that was that the community realized that being an island unto yourself and being mad and upset because the National Scenic Area was created and you didn’t want it, or being mad about this, gets you nowhere.”

Koch says the Port has been working for two years on a joint project with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs on an integrated hotel-resort that would focus on local recreational opportunities. And although the project incorporates gaming, it appears to have incorporated the criticisms that shot down its former casino project.

“This proposal has a much reduced size casino attached to the hotel. So it wouldn’t be as dramatic. And there’s also a commitment that a part of that would be the sailing areas, the fishing areas, the biking, trail hiking, the nature areas, all of that would be absorbed into that one concept,” Koch said.

“The ultimate plan is to have sailing beaches on either side of the peninsula that’s out there, and then some other development, and then it would all be recreation oriented. And that’s about an $800 million development if they do it,” he said.

Koch also says the Port is also looking for grant funding to remove rocks from the mouth of Herman Creek to allow more salmon to access its cold water – a project they’ve been working on for two years in collaboration with the Umatilla and Warm Springs tribes.

“We have no problem with the Indian tribes,” said Koch. Adding that “they’re kind of perplexed as we are” with the lack of funding for Herman Creek.

Since joining the port in 2013, Koch said only one employee he started with is still there, with 20 people on staff today.

“Our elected leaders have, well, since I’ve been here starting in 2013, they’ve been very realistic and they know … You better develop relationships and partnerships and work together, and we have that advantage of the National Scenic Area here, which is a natural region that we all should be working together on the same things.”

Deanna Busdieker, a city councilor in Cascade Locks, agrees that the city must find ways to attract better businesses – and try to do so in partnership with local tribes. Busdieker agreed to speak with Street Roots with the clarification that she speaks as an individual, and not as a representative for Cascade Locks City Council.

“Time basically stopped when the mill closed,” Busdieker said. “There are a lot of people who just want to be a company town again, to go back to the way things were … but it’s not really how it works now.”

Busdieker was the single person on Cascade Locks City Council who continually opposed the Nestlé plan. Busdieker says that the economic outlook in Cascade Locks is already improving, but that change has not yet led to new political leaders. She points to local businesses like the native-owned Brigham Fish Market and the Renewal Workshop as indications of what the town can do.

“With Nestlé out … we can maybe start looking at more appropriate businesses. I would like maybe hemp production going here, and maybe we can get the Natives involved here. They’re working on growing it on the reservation, so that could be a partnership. But you’ve gotta have a mayor and council that’s willing to look at these things.”

Busdieker says the way her city has handled communication with tribes has been a major disappointment for her, and that political change is necessary to make it better.

“I did make a lot of enemies. Retribution is a real thing in Cascade Locks. I used to be the paid tourism administrator. I was a contractor. Within two weeks of just asking questions about Nestlé that council didn’t want to answer, I got pulled from the governor’s conference on tourism. Then my contract went back out for bid. Which is why I’m practically homeless now.

“I’ve lived in the Gorge for 21 years … everywhere from The Dalles to Cascade Locks, and on both sides of the river. The ecology side of my interdisciplinary degree was almost entirely focused on the Columbia River watershed. … We’ve just got to do everything we can to protect those cold pools. After 2015 when we had that horrible drought and all the fish kills on the Columbia … you know those cold pools are so essential to the fish being able to migrate.”

On Nov. 28, Washington state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council finally denied the Tesoro-Savage oil terminal in Vancouver – affirming the majority brought by Don Orange to the port of Vancouver, and ending a four-year battle. In a press release, the Cowlitz tribal chairman asked the governor to accept his agency’s decision and acknowledge his tribe’s concerns about air and water quality.

Across the region, such conflicts over development – and clashing visions of development – have plagued infrastructure projects that promised fast cash to poor towns while bringing them into conflict with their own people and with treaty tribes, eating up time and money on all sides.

With years of hindsight, it may be a good time to ask: How many of these conflicts would have happened if local governments had prioritized tribal relations, and simply planned better projects?

This article was originally published at Street Roots. It has been re-published at IC with permission.
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World’s Top Banana Could Go Extinct

This illustrates the chief problem of industrialized agriculture – it can be trashed by fungus, virus or bacteria developed by nature to rebalance the natural system in reaction to over-population of a single species.

The most common variety of banana, the seedless Cavendish, is under threat from a fungus known as Fusarium wilt. Research projects are under way around the globe to find a replacement.
Contributed Author: 
Wall Street Journal

Matt Damon, stop #damonsplaining. You don’t understand sexual harassment | Hannah Jane Parkinson


If you’re from a group that has never been oppressed for reasons of identity you don’t know what it feels like. The actor should know when to shut up

Oh, Matt Damon. Where did it all go wrong? Well, almost everywhere.

Damon is currently the focus of a mixture of derision, anger and disbelief after he made, in the space of three days, multiple boneheaded comments on sexual harassment. At some point between these tone-deaf interventions his Good Will Hunting co-star (and a former girlfriend), Minnie Driver, helpfully pointed out where he was going wrong. And yet, instead of taking a seat to reflect on her critique, Damon came splashing back into a lake of ignorance like a dog which repeatedly forgets it is not good at swimming.

Continue reading…

‘A shocking and wanton act’: Israel accused over death of wheelchair user


UN official says there is no evidence man posed a threat when he was shot in the head by security forces at protest

A senior UN official has said Israel’s killing of a Palestinian wheelchair user protesting against Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “incomprehensible”, as Israel said the man had not been targeted.

A statement issued by Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh was shot in the head by Israeli security forces close to the Gaza border fence on Friday.

Continue reading…

Coup From The Top?

All the dangerous rhetoric by the babbling Right is getting dangerous.  The hatchet job that Trump, some mindless Congresspeople and the Right wing news is doing on the very foundation of this republic is just screaming pathetic.

Seven months ago there was an article on the Alternet site about the chances of Trump trying a coup……

American democracy is in crisis. The election of Donald Trump feels like a state of emergency made normal.

Trump has threatened violence against his political enemies. He has made clear he does not believe in the norms and traditions of American democracy — unless they serve his interests. Trump and his advisers consider a free press to be enemies of his regime. Trump repeatedly lies and has a profoundly estranged relationship with empirical reality. He uses obvious and naked racism, nativism and bigotry to mobilize his voters and to disparage entire groups of people such as Latinos and Muslims

I found the article interesting and included in a post that I was writing…..but the author did not foresee the whole picture…..the real story is so much more fascinating…….

Tensions between the White House and Robert Mueller’s investigative team appear to be on the rise, so much so that reporters asked President Trump on Sunday night whether he’s considering firing the special counsel. “No, I’m not,” he said, per CNN. But Trump added that his legal team is “very upset” with how Mueller obtained thousands of emails from the Trump transition team—the president’s lawyers think it was unlawful, but Mueller says it was all above-board. Either way, Trump says the emails will show nothing damning because there was “no collusion whatsoever” with Russia. Details and developments:

  • Cooperation wanes: The New York Times has a front-page look at the situation, observing that the “image of cooperation has begun to fracture” between Trump’s lawyers and Mueller as the inquiry digs ever deeper into Trump’s circle. The story notes that GOP Sen. John Cornyn over the weekend became the latest prominent Republican to suggest that Mueller’s team might be biased, thanks to now-public text messages.
  • Allegations of a ‘coup’: Fox News host Jesse Watters drew attention over the weekend by suggesting that those texts may be “proof the investigation was weaponized to destroy (Trump’s) presidency,” adding, “Now, if that’s true, we have a coup on our hands in America,” per Mediaite. Guest Kellyanne Conway, appearing with a chyron of “A Coup in America?” declared that “the fix was in against Donald Trump from the beginning.”
  • Charged language: The Washington Post looks at how Fox News hosts and guests have been leading the charge against Mueller with similar language. Another common theme is to compare his tactics to those of the KGB. The story also notes that GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida said on the House floor that “we are at risk of a coup d’etat in this country.”
  • It might be working: At Axios, Mike Allen suggests that the “rising conservative drumbeat” against Mueller is gaining more and more converts. As one source close to the White House puts it, “You’re starting to win over mainstream conservatives to the backlash over overreach.”
  • ‘Feedback loop’: An analysis at CNN by media writer Brian Stelter sees a “vicious circle” at play. “The TV hosts encourage Trump, then Trump supplies sound bites for their shows, and then the hosts are even more emboldened.”
  • Risky Mueller move? Mueller’s office has defended how it obtained the Trump transition emails from the General Services Administration, but Georgetown law professor Jonathan Turley argues in the Hill that it was “legally unprecedented and strategically reckless.” Turley warns that the move could come back to haunt Mueller in any later trial, if the investigation is found to have relied on contaminated evidence. (In the Times story cited earlier, legal experts disagree with the assertion that Mueller, who has wide leeway to obtain documents, did anything improper.)
  • Feeling confident: Trump is privately telling people that he expects to be exonerated relatively soon, reports CNN. The story, based on interviews with three dozen mostly anonymous sources, says Trump predicts he will have a letter from Mueller in a matter of weeks clearing him of any collusion. One person warned of a Trump “meltdown” if that doesn’t happen, which could lead to him firing Mueller.
  • Holder warning: Former Attorney General Eric Holder warned over the weekend that the president would be crossing an “ABSOLUTE RED LINE” by firing the special counsel. He called for mass protests if that happens, per the Hill.

Comparing the FBI to the KGB is ridiculous and insulting and Trump minions are playing a dangerous game……this all sounds like the groundwork being laid for martial law by Trump lackeys.

– Lebanese police violence at protest on Jerusalem

“I remember officers just stampeding people and just starting to beat people who were already on the floor, they were going after everyone,” said one witness. “They weren’t differentiating between people who were part of the protest and media.”

Witnesses and journalists also said that police told them they were not allowed to film or take photos. One journalist said that police fired a rubber bullet directly at him from less than five meters away, for which he was treated at a hospital. He said police hit journalists, knocked their cameras to the ground, and told them they were not allowed to photograph the protest. Another journalist said that a police officer hit her with a baton as she was trying to film. Demonstrators had gathered to protest the United States decision on December 6 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.