Honduran environmentalist murdered, why?


This video from the USA says about itself:

Successor to Honduran Activist Berta Cáceres: Her Death is Tied to “Capitalist Neoliberal Policies”

15 June 2016

Today is a global day of action calling for “Justice for Berta”—to remember the slain Honduran activist Berta Cáceres. In at least nine cities across the United States and 10 countries across the world, protesters are gathering today to call on the U.S. to stop funding the Honduran military, over accusations that state security forces have been involved in human rights violations, extrajudicial killings—and the murder of environmentalists like Berta Cáceres.

Before her death, Berta and her organization, COPINH, were long the targets of repression by elite Honduran security forces and paramilitary groups. Only hours before she was killed, Berta Cáceres accused the military, including the U.S.-funded special forces TIGRES unit, of working on behalf of international corporations. We speak with Tomás Gómez Membreño, who replaced Cáceres as leader of COPINH.

2015 was the worst year on record for killings of land and environmental defenders – people struggling to protect their land, forests and rivers: here.

Orlando G4S murderer ‘an alcoholic closet gay’


This video from the USA says about itself:

Orlando Nightclub Shooting Points Out HOMOPHOBIC Blood Donation Ban

13 June 2016

After the mass shooting in Orlando, many men were turned away from blood banks because of a ban on blood donations from gay men. John Iadarola, Ana Kasparian, Michael Shure and Jimmy Dore discuss on The Young Turks.

A report from the USA, 13 June 2016:

The FBI is looking into the possibility that Omar Mateen visited Pulse nightclub and tried to communicate with some of its patrons on a gay dating app before he gunned down 49 people at the club in Orlando, authorities told NBC News on Monday.

From the Orlando Sentinel in the USA, 13 June 2016:

FORT PIERCE — At least four regular customers at the Orlando gay nightclub where a gunman killed 49 people said Monday that they had seen Omar Mateen there before.

“Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent,” Ty Smith said.

Orlando gunman had used gay dating app and visited LGBT nightclub on other occasions, witnesses say: here.

From the New York Times in the USA, 13 June 2016:

The government investigation could take months, but an early examination of Mr. Mateen’s life reveals a hatred of gay people and a stew of contradictions. He was a man who could be charming, loved Afghan music and enjoyed dancing, but he was also violently abusive. Family members said he was not overly religious, but he was rigid and conservative in his view that his wife should remain mostly at home. The F.B.I. director said on Monday that Mr. Mateen had once claimed ties to both Al Qaeda and Hezbollah — two radical groups violently opposed to each other. …

… within six months he had found work with G4S, a large private security company that has won large government contracts for work both in the United States and abroad. …

She [Mateen’s ex-wife] said that Mr. Mateen might have been gay but chose to hide his true identity out of anger and shame. …

Ms. Yusufiy said that her ex-husband had told her that he frequented nightclubs before their marriage, but that he did not tell her they were gay clubs. …

Mr. Mateen’s father, Seddique Mir Mateen, was unequivocal on Monday that his son had committed an “act of terrorism.” But the elder Mr. Mateen and other family members said they were still puzzled why a young man who had never been particularly religious is now being tied to the Islamic State [ISIS]’s murderous ideology.

Orlando attack: Gunman’s ‘struggle with his true sexuality’ could have made him snap: here.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Orlando Muslim Community Reacts To The Pulse Tragedy… (w/Guest: Rasha Mubarak)

13 June 2016

Rasha Mubarak with CAIR Orlando joins guest host Richard Eskow to discuss the tragic events at the Pulse nightclub.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

The Orlando massacre and the 2016 US election

14 June 2016

As the staggering scale of Sunday’s massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida continues to sink in, it is impossible to ignore the fact that both major capitalist parties have lost no time in attempting to exploit this tragedy for the most reactionary purposes.

The blood of the victims has barely dried. Many questions remain about the precise confluence of religious, right-wing, homophobic and other motives that drove the shooter, Omar Mateen, who died in a hail of police gunfire. But this stopped neither the Democratic nor the Republican presumptive presidential candidate from rushing to deliver back-to-back speeches Monday arguing for an escalation of war abroad and repression at home.

Democrat Hillary Clinton declared the slaughter of 49 innocent people at the gay nightclub in Orlando an example of “the barbarity that we face from radical jihadists.” Republican Donald Trump told his supporters that the massacre was the product of “importing radical Islamic terrorism into the West through a failed immigration system.”

What information has emerged about the man who carried out the massacre has little in common with the rhetoric and prescriptions offered by the two candidates.

First of all, he was a New York-born citizen of the US, not an immigrant. Coworkers, family members and others have described him as harboring pathological hatred not only for gays, but also for African-Americans, whom he regularly referred to using the “N”-word, saying they all should be killed. This kind of racism is the stock-in-trade not of ISIS or Al Qaeda, but rather of white supremacists within the US itself, the same elements who have been responsible for many homophobic attacks.

Associates have also described Mateen as mentally ill and emotionally unstable, characteristics that apply equally to virtually all those who have been involved in such atrocities. How could it be otherwise given the profoundly abnormal, antisocial and random character of these acts?

That in the midst of the mayhem he dialed 911 to declare his allegiance to ISIS is not taken seriously by even the FBI and police as an indication of actual contact with the Islamist militia. Moreover, late Monday reports surfaced that Mateen had himself regularly visited the Pulse night club, drinking heavily there, and had been active on the gay chat and dating app Jack’d.

The wider tragedy is that this type of atrocity happens in the US with terrible frequency. Mass shootings occur literally on more than a daily basis.

Given this reality, it is not possible to understand a tragedy like the Orlando massacre merely by examining the motives of the individual responsible. When a society produces a significant number of people suffering from traumatic mental problems who then go on to commit mass murder, this can only be an expression of something deeply diseased within the society itself.

Such incidents have grown in frequency in tandem with the endless wars the US has waged abroad since the first Gulf War of 1991, as well as the unprecedented growth of social inequality.

The bloodiest of these events was the April 1995 truck bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh, a deeply alienated Gulf War veteran who became involved with right-wing militia circles. That attack killed 168 people and wounded hundreds more.

Other massacres in the intervening years that stand out in terms of the death toll include:

Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, where two students killed 13 people and wounded 24.

Virginia Tech in 2007, where a student killed 32 people and wounded 17 others before taking his own life.

The American Civic Association in Binghamton, New York in 2009, where a 42-year-old Vietnamese immigrant killed 13 people and wounded four others before killing himself.

Fort Hood, Texas, also in 2009, where Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and wounded 30.

Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where in 2012 Adam Lanza killed 26 people—most of them young children—before killing himself.

The Washington Navy Yard in 2013, where a former Navy reservist killed 12 people before police shot him dead.

The June 2015 Charleston, South Carolina church massacre, in which a 21-year-old white gunman killed nine African-Americans at a prayer service, saying afterwards he had hoped to ignite a race war.

The Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, where, in December 2015, Syed Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, killed 14 people before losing their own lives in a shootout with police.

Smaller incidents in which three, four or five people are killed go largely unnoticed.

Neither the politicians nor the media care to examine the social roots of this endless round of mass slaughter.

The cynical and dishonest speeches given by Clinton and Trump Monday sought not to enlighten the public as to the real nature of this problem, but rather to pollute the political environment and lower the consciousness of the American people. In essence, despite mutual denunciations, there was little difference between them.

Both speeches were designed to exploit the tragedy suffered by the innocent individuals who lost their lives, along with their families and friends, in order to legitimize a preexisting reactionary agenda. Both candidates called for “ramping up” US military interventions and bombings in the Middle East, as if the war-ravaged people of the region are responsible for the attack on an Orlando nightclub. The transparent aim is to exploit the tragedy in Orlando in an attempt to erode the antiwar sentiments of the American people so as to further not only escalation in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, but also war threats against Russia and China.

Clinton spoke of acting to “harden our own defenses” within the US itself, by which she means an intensification of attacks on democratic rights and the utilization of police-state methods.

For his part, Trump delivered a fascistic rant in which he repeated his proposal for a ban on Muslims entering the country and his rabid anti-immigrant chauvinism, demagogically linking immigrants not only to terrorism but also to falling wages and decaying infrastructure. He charged that Muslims as a whole in the US “know what’s going on” in relation to planned attacks and would have to either “cooperate” or face “big consequences.”

Both candidates cynically posed as the best friend of the gay community in a transparent bid to corral a new constituency behind their reactionary proposals.

It was Clinton, however, who delivered the most telling—and chilling—line, invoking the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and declaring in conclusion that it was “time to get back to the spirit of those days, spirit of 9/12.”

It was in the “spirit of 9/12” that Washington launched, based on lies, the illegal war of aggression against Iraq. It was in this same “spirit” that it passed the Patriot Act, opened the prison camp at Guantanamo, set up a network of “black site” torture centers around the world, and arrogated to the president the right to indefinitely detain anyone, including US citizens, without charges or trials. Clinton supported all of these measures and now wants to cash in on the 49 deaths in Orlando to retroactively justify her own political crimes that led to the killing, wounding and displacement of millions.

To the extent that Clinton asserts as fact a direct link between the Orlando gunman and ISIS “genocide” in the Middle East—a claim that is highly questionable—it is necessary to point out her own role in the emergence of ISIS out of the social devastation and fomenting of sectarian conflict at the hands of American imperialism, with her active and enthusiastic support, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

American workers and youth must take the bipartisan reaction to the terrible events in Orlando as a serious warning of what is being prepared, no matter which party wins the November election.

Refugee Olympic athletes speak


This video says about itself:

Meet the Olympics’ first #TeamRefugees

7 June 2016

For the first time in history, a team of refugees who have fled their homes in search of safety will be competing at the Olympics. The 10 athletes on #TeamRefugees were recently chosen and will compete in the summer games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

From the United Nations Refugee Agency:

These 10 refugees will compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio

For the first time, a team of refugee athletes will compete under the Olympic flag.

By: UNHCR

3 June 2016

Since the modern Olympics began in 1896, over 200 national teams have vied for glory at the Summer and Winter Games. Now, for the first time, a team of refugees will compete as well.

The International Olympic Committee today announced the selection of 10 refugees who will compete this August in Rio de Janeiro, forming the first-ever Refugee Olympic Athletes team. They include two Syrian swimmers, two judokas from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a marathoner from Ethiopia and five middle-distance runners from South Sudan.

“Their participation in the Olympics is a tribute to the courage and perseverance of all refugees in overcoming adversity and building a better future for themselves and their families,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “UNHCR stands with them and with all refugees.”

The initiative comes at a time when more people than ever – 59.5 million at last count – are being forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and persecution. The squad representing them in Rio hopes to give the world a glimpse of their resilience and untapped talent.

Meet #TeamRefugees:

Rami Anis, 25, Syria, 100-metre butterfly

Rami Anis started formal swimming training as a 14-year-old growing up in Aleppo. He credits his Uncle Majad, who swam competitively in Syria, with instilling a passion for competing in the water. “Swimming is my life,” Rami says. “The swimming pool is my home.”

As bombings and kidnappings in Aleppo grew more frequent, his family put him on a flight to Istanbul to live with an older brother who was studying Turkish. “The bag I took had two jackets, two t-shirts, two trousers – it was a small bag,” Rami recalls. “I thought I would be in Turkey for a couple of months and then return to my country.”

“The swimming pool is my home.”

As months turned to years, he used the time to hone his swimming technique at the prestigious Galatasaray Sports Club. Yet without Turkish nationality, he was unable to swim in competitions. “It’s like someone who is studying, studying, studying and he can’t take the exam.”

Determined to prove himself, Rami rode an inflatable dinghy to the Greek island of Samos. Eventually he reached the Belgian town of Ghent, where he’s been training nine times a week with former Olympic swimmer Carine Verbauwen.

“With the energy I have, I am sure I can achieve the best results,” he says. “It will be a great feeling to be part of the Olympics.”…

Paulo Amotun Lokoro, 24, South Sudan, 1,500 metres

Just a few short years ago, Paulo Amotun Lokoro was a young herder guarding his family’s few cattle on the plains of what is now South Sudan. He says he “knew nothing” of the world except his own homeland, which had been at war for almost all his life. The effects of that conflict pushed him to flee to neighbouring Kenya, where he has developed new, grand ambitions: “I want to be world champion,” he says.

Living in a refugee camp, Paulo excelled in school sports, ultimately gaining a spot on the refugee squad now training near Nairobi under the guidance of Tegla Loroupe, the renowned Kenyan runner who holds several world records. “Before I came here I did not even have training shoes,” he says. “Now we have trained and trained, until we see ourselves at a good level, and now we know fully how to be athletes.”

“Before I came here, I did not even have training shoes.”

The effort paid off: Paulo is going to Rio. “I am so happy,” he says. “I know I am racing on behalf of refugees. I was one of those refugees there in the camp, and now I have reached somewhere special. I will meet so many people. My people will see me on the television, on Facebook.” Still, his aim is simple: “If I perform well, I will use that to help support my family, and my people.” …

Yusra Mardini, 18, Syria, 200-metre freestyle

As the flimsy vessel started taking on water, Yusra Mardini knew what to do. Stranded off the Turkish coast with about 20 other desperate passengers, the teenager from Damascus slipped into the water with her sister, Sarah, and began pushing the boat towards Greece.

“There were people who didn’t know how to swim,” says Yusra, who represented Syria at the FINA World Swimming Championships in 2012. “It would have been shameful if the people on our boat had drowned. I wasn’t going to sit there and complain that I would drown.”

Yusra lost her shoes during that perilous sea crossing – a small price to pay for making sure lives were not lost. After arriving on the Greek island of Lesvos, she travelled north with a group of asylum-seekers, occasionally turning to people-smugglers.

“I want to show everyone that, after the pain, after the storm, comes calm days.”

Not long after arriving in Germany in September 2015, she started training with a club in Berlin, Wasserfreunde Spandau 04. Now 18, she is preparing to compete in the women’s 200-metre freestyle event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, as part of the Refugee Olympic Athletes team.

“I want to represent all the refugees because I want to show everyone that, after the pain, after the storm, comes calm days,” she says. “I want to inspire them to do something good in their lives.”

Yiech Pur Biel, 21, South Sudan, 800 metres

Yiech Pur Biel knew early on that if he wanted to make it in life, he would have to do so on his own. Forced to flee the fighting in southern Sudan in 2005, he ended up on his own in a refugee camp in northern Kenya. He started playing football there, but grew frustrated at having to rely so much on his teammates. With running he felt greater control over his own destiny.

“Most of us face a lot of challenges,” says Yiech. “In the refugee camp, we have no facilities – even shoes we don’t have. There is no gym. Even the weather does not favour training because from morning up to the evening it is so hot and sunny.”

“I can show to my fellow refugees that they have a chance and a hope in life.”

Yet he stayed motivated. “I focused on my country, South Sudan, because we young people are the people who can change it,” he says. “And secondly, I focused on my parents. I need to change the life they are living.”

Competing in the 800 metres at Rio, Yiech says, could help him to become an ambassador for refugees everywhere. “I can show to my fellow refugees that they have a chance and a hope in life. Through education, but also in running, you can change the world.”

Rose Nathike Lokonyen, 23, South Sudan, 800 metres

Until a year ago, Rose Nathike Lokonyen barely knew the talent she had. She had never competed, even as an amateur, after fleeing war in South Sudan when she was 10 years old. Then, during a school competition in the refugee camp in northern Kenya where she lives, a teacher suggested that she run a 10-kilometre race. “I had not been training. It was the first time for me to run, and I came number two,” she says, smiling. “I was very surprised!”

Rose has since moved to a training camp near the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where she is preparing to run the 800-metre event at the Olympics. “I will be very happy and I will just work hard and prove myself,” she says. She sees athletics not only as an avenue to earning prize money and endorsements, but also as a way to inspire others. “I will be representing my people there at Rio, and maybe if I succeed I can come back and conduct a race that can promote peace, and bring people together.”

“I will be representing my people there at Rio.”

She is still worried about injuries, however. “That is my main challenge,” she says. Until recently, she was not training with professional running shoes, and had no professional guidance. She still seems surprised that, in little over a year, she has risen to this point. “I can do running as sport or, now I see, even as a career.”

Yonas Kinde, 36, Ethiopia, marathon

On a hill overlooking the city of Luxembourg, Yonas Kinde glides around the running track with determination and grace.

“I get power, and more and more power,” the Ethiopian marathoner says afterwards, a wide smile breaking out over his slender face. “I normally train every day, but when I heard this news [about the refugee team] I trained two times per day, every day, targeting for these Olympic Games. It’s a big motivation.”

Yonas, who has lived in Luxembourg for five years now, rarely stops moving. He’s been taking French classes regularly, and driving a taxi to earn a living, all the while pushing himself to become a better runner. In Germany last October, he completed a marathon in the impressive time of 2 hours and 17 minutes.

“We can do everything in the refugee camp.”

But memories of fleeing his home remain uncomfortable territory. “It’s a difficult situation,” he says about life in Ethiopia. “It’s impossible for me to live there… It’s very dangerous for my life.”

For Yonas, the chance to run with the world’s best in Rio de Janeiro is much more than another race. “I think it will be the big message that refugees, young athletes, they can do their best,” he says. “Of course we have problems – we are refugees – but we can do everything in the refugee camp, so it will help refugee athletes.”

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, 21, South Sudan, 1,500 metres

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith has not seen or spoken to her parents since she was six years old and was forced to flee her home in southern Sudan. As war closed in on her village, “everything was destroyed,” she says. Anjelina has heard that they are still alive, although “last year the hunger was very tough.” Helping her parents is her main motivation as she steps up her training ahead of competing in the 1,500-metre event in Rio.

As war closed in on her village, “everything was destroyed.”

She knew she was good at athletics after winning school competitions at the refugee camp where she now lives in northern Kenya. But it was only when professional coaches came to select athletes for a special training camp that she realised just how fast she was. “It was a surprise,” she says.

Now she wants to run well in Rio de Janeiro, and then earn places at major international races with significant prize money. “If you have money, then your life can change and you will not remain the way you have been,” Anjelina says. The first thing she would do with a big win? “Build my father a better house.”

James Nyang Chiengjiek, 28, South Sudan, 800 metres

At age 13, James Nyang Chiengjiek fled his home in what was then southern Sudan to avoid being kidnapped by rebels who were forcibly recruiting child soldiers. As a refugee in neighbouring Kenya, he attended school in a highland town known for its runners and joined a group of older boys training for long-distance events. “That’s when I realised I could make it as a runner – and if God gives you a talent, you have to use it,” he says.

At first, he did not have proper running shoes. Sometimes he borrowed footwear from others, but he won no matter what he wore on his feet. “We all of us got a lot of injuries because of the wrong shoes we had,” he says. “Then we were sharing. If maybe you have two pairs of shoes, then you help the one that has none.”

“By running well, I am doing something good to help others.”

When he goes to Rio, James aims to inspire others. “By running well, I am doing something good to help others – especially refugees,” he says. “Maybe among them are athletes with talent, but who did not yet get any opportunities. We are refugees like that, and some of us have been given this opportunity to go to Rio. We have to look back and see where our brothers and sisters are, so if one of them also has talent, we can bring them to train with us and also make their lives better.”

Alex Court contributed reporting from Belgium and Luxembourg, Luiz Godinho and Diogo Felix from Brazil, Josie Le Blond from Germany and Mike Pflanz from Kenya.

Trump condemned at Muhammad Ali’s funeral


This video from the USA says about itself:

Rabbi Michael Lerner Rips Donald Trump At Muhammad Ali Funeral; FULL Speech

10 June 2016

Rabbi Michael Lerner, the editor of Tikkun Magazine, is next to speak. The two were indicted alongside one another years ago for their non-violent actions against the Vietnam War. “We stand in solidarity with the Islamic community around the world,” he says in opening. A standing ovation for Michael Lerner, whose impassioned remarks spanned took aim at everything from drone warfare to income inequality to mass incarceration.

By Paige Lavender, Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post in the USA:

Speaker At Muhammad Ali’s Funeral Gets Political, Condemns Trump

The most political athlete ever gets the most political funeral possible.

06/10/2016 04:54 pm ET

Rabbi Michael Lerner, a political activist and the editor of Tikkun Magazine, didn’t hesitate to get political while speaking at the funeral of sports legend Muhammad Ali, who died at age 74 on June 3.

Lerner condemned Trump in his remarks, criticizing the business mogul’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

“We will not tolerate politicians or anyone else putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for a few people,” Lerner said.

Lerner said he formed a relationship with Ali in the 1960s, when both were indicted by the federal government for “our various stands against the war in Vietnam.”

“There was something about Muhammad Ali that was different,” Lerner said. “At the key moment when he had that recognition [as a boxer], he used it to stand up to an immoral war and say, ‘No, I won’t go.’”

Lerner also spoke about income inequalitydrone warfare, torture, mass incarceration and money in politics during his remarks.

‘Saudi Arabian blackmail of United Nations on child killing in Yemen’


This video says about itself:

UN blacklists Saudi-led coalition for ‘killing & maiming’ children in Yemen

3 June 2016

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon slammed the Saudi-led coalition for ‘killing and maiming’ children in Yemen, adding it to an annual blacklist of countries and armed groups that have violated children’s rights in conflict.

Read more here.

That was a few days ago. And now…

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Saudi Arabia blackmailed UN chief about blacklist”

Today, 05:35

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has been blackmailed by allies of Saudi Arabia, diplomats have told Reuters. Ban is said to have been pressured to remove the international coalition led by Saudi Arabia from the list of violators of children’s rights.

The United Nations put the coalition last week on a blacklist, because the countries are said to have killed children in airstrikes in Yemen. The measure was reversed yesterday. This led to much criticism from human rights organizations; who spoke, inter alia, of “political manipulation”.

The UN said that the coalition was removed from the list because there was still an investigation about violations in Yemen. But concerned diplomats told Reuters that Ban Ki-moon has been put under pressure by ministers of Arab countries. “There was blackmail,” said a source who wishes to remain anonymous.

Saudi Arabia is said to have threatened to stop financial support to UN projects and to withdraw aid to the Palestinian territories. …

According to a UN report, the coalition, supported by the United States, is responsible for more than five hundred children killed in Yemen. The countries are said to regularly bomb schools and hospitals.

The UN will not say whether the coalition led by Saudi Arabia will again be put on the list as the investigation of the violations is completed. “We will look at the results and then decide whether we will adjust the list again,” said a spokesperson.

“It appears that political power and diplomatic clout have been allowed to trump the UN’s duty to expose those responsible for the killing and maiming of more than 1,000 of Yemen’s children.”- Sajjad Mohammad Sajid, Oxfam Director in Yemen, Jun 7, 2016. See here.