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IRS gets help from DEA and NSA to collect data

By Robert Bridge | RT | August 8, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service reportedly received incriminating information on US citizens from the Drug Enforcement Agency, with the assistance of the National Security Agency, before concealing the paper trail from defendants.

Details of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) program that provides tips to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and then advises them to “recreate the investigative trail” were published in a manual used by IRS agents for two years, Reuters revealed.

The practice of concealing the source of information has attracted the scrutiny of legal experts and is now under review by the US Justice Department.

A brief entry in the Internal Revenue Manual instructed agents of the US tax agency to omit any reference to information provided by the DEA’s Special Operations Division, especially with regard to “affidavits, court proceedings or investigative files.”

The entry was published and posted online in 2005 and 2006, and removed in early 2007.  An IRS spokesman had no comment on the entry or on why it was removed from the manual, Reuters reported.

The IRS publication provides some further detail on the parallel construction concept.

“Special Operations Division has the ability to collect, collate, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate information and intelligence derived from worldwide multi-agency sources, including classified projects,” the IRS manual says. “SOD converts extremely sensitive information into usable leads and tips which are then passed to the field offices for real-time enforcement activity against major international drug trafficking organizations.”

According to the document, IRS agents are directed to use the intelligence as a starting point for unearthing new, “independent” evidence: “Usable information regarding these leads must be developed from such independent sources as investigative files, subscriber and toll requests, physical surveillance, wire intercepts, and confidential source information. Information obtained from SOD in response to a search or query request cannot be used directly in any investigation (i.e. cannot be used in affidavits, court proceedings or maintained in investigative files).”

In addition to the IRS, the Special Operations Division cooperates with a number of government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The way the intelligence-gathering system worked is as follows: The Special Operations Division of the DEA channels secret data from overseas NSA intercepts, domestic wiretaps, informants and a large DEA database of telephone records to authorities nationwide to assist them with criminal investigations of US citizens, according to the Reuters report.

The DEA telephone database is different from the NSA database that was revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is now living in Russia under asylum.

The DEA, which works behind the scenes to investigate drug dealers, money launderers and other criminals, argues that the practice does not violate the law and has been in “near-daily use since the 1990s.” The agency said the reason it directs federal agents to recreate the investigation trail is to “protect sources and methods, not to withhold evidence.”

Judicial hurdles ahead

Legal experts, however, say that concealing potential evidence from defendants violates the US Constitution. According to documents and interviews obtained by Reuters, federal agents use a procedure called “parallel construction” to conceal the tracks of the investigative trail. For example, agents could say that an investigation was launched due to a traffic violation as opposed to an SOD tip.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers expressed concern with the parallel construction program.

“If they’re recreating a trail, that’s wrong and we’re going to have to do something about it,” Rogers, a former FBI agent, said on the Mike Huckabee Show radio program. “We’re working with the DEA and intelligence organizations to try to find out exactly what that story is.”

Spokespeople for the DEA and the Department of Justice declined to comment.

Sen. Rand Paul, a member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said he was troubled that DEA agents have been “trying to cover up a program that investigates Americans.”

“If the Constitution still has any sway, a government that is constantly overreaching on security while completely neglecting liberty is in grave violation of our founding doctrine,” Paul added

The NSA database contains data about every telephone call made inside of the United States. This information, according to a NSA official, as quoted by Reuters, “is not used for domestic criminal law enforcement.”

The DEA database, or DICE for short, consists largely of phone log and internet data gathered legally by the DEA through “subpoenas, arrests and search warrants nationwide.” DICE has on file “about 1 billion records,” which are stored for about one year before being destroyed, DEA officials said.

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on IRS gets help from DEA and NSA to collect data

Press TV switches to new YouTube page after ban

Press TV – August 8, 2013

Press TV has created a new YouTube page weeks after Google disabled the alternative channel’s access to its official YouTube page without giving explanation.

“Press TV viewers can now watch our videos at ,” said Press TV newsroom director, Hamid Reza Emadi, adding that tens of thousands of Press TV subscribers had been unable to watch the videos on the popular video sharing site since July 25.

YouTube’s parent company Google “disabled our official page’s account citing a violation of terms of services, but clarified neither the nature of the so-called violation nor did it mention the services in question,” Emadi added, stressing that Press TV will continue its efforts to get back on its official page on the popular video sharing site.

Last week, YouTube told Press TV that the channel’s account had become reactivated.

“The account appears to be active (now) and you should be able to access it,” wrote The YouTube Team in response to Press TV’s online queries. However, Press TV’s YouTube team was unable to access the channel’s official YouTube page, whose Google account remained “disabled”.

Meanwhile, an article on the official website of the Israeli-American Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has accused Press TV of bypassing the West’s sanctions by broadcasting live via Youtube and other internet and mobile platforms.

“ADL has contacted Youtube regarding concerns about Press TV,” reads the article, further noting that the station’s “broadcast on Youtube comes at the a time when the United States, the European Union and others in the international community are seeking to isolate Iran.”

“Press TV has yet to find out whether there’s a link between the ADL statement and the blocking of its official YouTube page,” Emadi said.

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Interview With the FARC-EP Peace Delegation

The Colombian Negotiations


FARC_guerrillas_during_the_Caguan_peace_talks_1998-2002Havana, Cuba.

Even in Havana they get up early. “We get up at 4:30 to wake up the roosters so that they can start singing,” grins Ricardo Tellez, better known as “Rodrigo Granda.”I have an appointment at 7am to interview three members of the Secretariat, the highest authority of the FARC. They are at the forefront of the dialogues between the insurgent organization with the delegation of the Colombian government in Havana. In a great hall of a house in “El Laguito” (1), where they live, “Ivan Marquez” and “Pablo Catatumbo” arrive, too. Granda lights a cigarette and drinks his second cup of coffee. Marquez has a big Cuban cigar in his hand, which he`ll start “after breakfast”. Catatumbo is sipping coffee and says to me: “If the three of us are going to say almost the same, why would you interview me?”

It is the first time a journalist has the opportunity to talk to these three guerrilla leaders together.

Hernando Calvo Ospina: Commanders, you have been talking for seven months, negotiating with the government’s commission in this peace process. Are you still optimistic?

Ivan Marquez: The optimism of the FARC is determined by our willpower to find a political solution to this confrontation, which has lasted for almost fifty years. Because they haven´t been able to defeat us militarily, nor have we, we must seek an alternative. In addition, the circumstances, today’s realities, both in Colombia and on the continent, indicate that it is time to find a pacific solution. Wars are not eternal. And that´s why we make any necessary effort to come to an understanding with the government.

HCO: How does it feel to be so close to your enemy?

IM: In spite of sitting at the same table two groups with very different views, almost antagonistic, we have to tolerate and understand each other. At a negotiating table one should respect the other party, and I think that respect should be mutual. There are moments of algid, strong discussions, but soon things turn back to normal because we know that we must come to an understanding.

HCO: Negotiations in war move between two opponents. It seems to me that you put more emotion on it.

IM: You’re right. The government has always had a tendency to seek the subjugation of the guerrillas as a synonym for peace, not peace through structural changes. The oligarchy wants peace for free. We are making great efforts for them to understand that you need to generate an atmosphere for peace, and that it can be achieved through institutional and political transformations. We are sure that the most important thing for Colombia is to ensure real democracy, where the sovereign people can determine strategic policies, where the opinion of the people is taken into account without being stigmatized and murdered.

HCO: Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that at various times President Juan Manuel Santos has wanted to pull back.

Rodrigo Granda: I don´t think he wants to withdraw, but he does seem afraid. It’s as if he were afraid of former President Alvaro Uribe, of the cattle-breeders, of narco-paramilitary power and the obscure sector within the Armed Forces. Santos recoils despite having the support of a significant sector of industrialists, bankers and churches. For example, according to reports we have, Sarmiento Angulo (2), one of the most powerful men in Colombia, supports the dialogue process. Surveys say that 87% of Colombians also want peace. The correlation of forces in favor of peace is indisputable. Uribe aside, nobody speaks about war anymore. But it seems that Santos does not want to face those sectors led by Uribe, he wants to fight us militarily, and assumes intransigent positions that do not allow a correct development of the dialogues. We know that Uribe has prepared 13,000 paramilitaries, known unofficially as the “anti-land restitution army.” Is it that the Armed Forces and Santos don´t know about that? Of course they do! Is that what Santos is afraid of? Or is he taking it as part of a possible move against us?

HCO: Clearly Uribe tries to torpedo the negotiations. Do you think he wants to return to presidency?

RG: And he wants that to protect himself, because he’s afraid of being sent to Miami for drug trafficking, or to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity. It would be favorable for him if the negotiations failed, so that he can appear before the country as the solution. Although he wasn´t able to resolve the “problem” of the guerrillas during the eight years he was in office. Pablo Catatumbo: Anyway, Santos and Uribe have the same idea about the ​​negotiations: a peace process by submission. They are blind, deaf and quite wrong, but think they’re smart. And that is where we must continue with wisdom to prove that they are wrong, and that like this, the war will continue.

HCO: In statements you´ve made and documents I’ve read, you are asking for reforms in state institutions and the modernization of the State itself, which may be contradictory for a Marxist-Leninist communist guerrilla.

IM: At the table we are not proposing radical changes to the political or economic structures of the state. Over there, we don´t mention socialism or communism. We try to create conditions to reach an understanding with the government. A place where two different views can meet. We know that some leftist organizations, not only in Colombia, say that we became a reformist guerrilla.

We have made minimum proposals, for example the hundred proposals about the agrarian system, which as you´ve already said, are nothing more than a modernization of the Colombian countryside, but fact is that we are still living in feudalism there. Imagine that even this way, the government puts obstacles.

HCO: What has ever signed between the parties?

RG: We have signed some things, but they are not final signatures because nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. There are points on which we haven´t agreed yet, and we let them out to discuss them later on. Otherwise there won´t be any progress.

HCO: Dialogues in Havana, and strong military confrontations in Colombia …

RG: The government doesn’t want a ceasefire, so both parties have to dialogue under fire. We are having heavy confrontations every day, to an average of three per day. We have done large-scale military actions, which they hide to the nation. Now, both parties have decided that what happens in Colombia is not going to affect the Table.

We have made some gestures of peace, as was the unilateral truce for Christmas, although we had to defend ourselves against the attacks of the army. And what has been hidden is also in that same time span multinationals could increase their profits, they did not have our pressure. That’s why one of the major reasons for ending the guerrillas is that the transnationals can steal whatever they want without any problem.

HCO: So far, what has been the main government’s intransigence in negotiations?

IM: Without any doubt, the determination not to touch the property of the big land-owners, most of which has been obtained through violent dispossession. They`re afraid of that. Their representatives, when they talk to us, have said that that could “unleash the demons of paramilitarism.” They are afraid of cattle-breeders and landowners, to touch one third of the 30 million acres they own, although not even the cows occupy them.

But land reform without touching the big property isn’t reform. There must be set limits for land property. The government has not even thought about putting taxes as a punishment for unproductive land tenure. When we proposed taxing these big properties, the government responded that there is no reliable census; that nobody knows where they are or what their extension is. They suggest that first there should be a census, which can take up to 7 or 10 years. What they don’t say is that during this time the landowners can lease or sell the land to multinationals, which is their strategy.

HCO: If the Colombian government decided to negotiate with the FARC, it was because Washington agreed. You know that that is not an exaggeration of mine. What is the current political attitude?

IM: Recently, 62 U.S. congressmen, including two Republicans, led by Jim McGovern, signed a letter of support for the talks. This letter was sent to Secretary of State John Kerry. We welcomed this altruistic gesture. The White House and the State Department have also expressed their support. Of course, there are always different interests because the Colombian conflict produces money. The powerful arms industry doesn´t want to let loose of that business.

HCO: You are determined to stop the armed struggle. What should the government offer you for this to be achieved? And you, what would you become?

RG: President Santos, during the initial interchanges with us, said he wanted to open the floodgates to a real democracy in the country. That struck us because we have never said that the armed struggle is the only way to change the country. We got up in arms, and we still carry them, because violence has closed the doors to political participation. If the possibility of doing politics legally becomes real, without the constant threat of assassination, in equal conditions and with political reforms that could lead the country towards participatory democracy, we are there. Because there could be created a favorable correlation of forces for the revolutionary movement, which routs the necessary radical changes. We accept that challenge.

PC: You need to build a strong mass movement to impose changes, because the establishment doesn’t give away anything for free. That is a task for us, leftists and Democrats. It is important to create a power block of people who want a new Colombia. That is the challenge, and it´s not a small one.

But you see, as we talk about it at the conversation Table, the repression continues all around the country. The government hasn’t changed anything regarding the treatment of social protest: they are stigmatized, associated with the guerrillas to criminalize them and attack them with bullets. And if there is something we have very clear is that we are not willing to repeat the experience of the Patriotic Union, during which nearly 4000 members and leaders (3) were killed.

History, if it’s not manipulated, doesn´t lie: they have been the violent ones. When we remind the governmental team of these facts, they tell us that they are not here to talk about that. Why? What do they feel ashamed or afraid about? Without knowing the history of political violence in Colombia, how are we to know why we got to the current situation and how to resolve it?

IM: There are three items on the agenda to be discussed: guarantees to exercise political activity, political participation and bilateral and definitive ceasefire. The latter discusses the surrender of weapons and under what conditions. But let it be understood: that´s not handing over weapons. We cannot talk about these points until they are discussed in the table, and they will be the last ones on the agenda.

HCO: What will happen with the paramilitaries?

IM: They must definitively be eliminated; if not, there would be no certainty for an insurgent organization to incorporate into legal politics. That’s an insurmountable condition to reach a peace agreement. And it is the government who has to give the order to his generals to stop the state’s counterinsurgency strategy.

HCO: Are you determined to apologize for the suffering you have caused in this war?

PC: We have made mistakes, some serious, indeed. But whatever official propaganda says, aggression to the population has never been a strategy of the FARC. On the contrary, we have defended them against the army and its paramilitaries, mainly on the countryside.

I have no problem in saying to a woman or a family: “I feel sorry about the pain we have caused with the death of your loved one.” But this is much more complex. Are we going to apologize? Very well. Let´s also invite the economic associations that financed the war and paramilitaries; let´s invite all State institutions, because they guarantee repression and impunity; let´s invite the mass media, too, because they reproduced the stigmatization made by security agencies, which have led to the murders and massacres; the rightist political parties should also sit down and assume their great responsibilities; the former presidents of the republic who gave the orders. Not even the Catholic Church can deny its responsibility! And the governments of the United States, Israel, some European countries and others that have supported various criminal governments of Colombia cannot be left outside of this ceremony. All together, we can decide who the terrorists and murderers of the people are.

HCO: You point out, and rightly so, that the government, its armed forces and the mass media are responsible for psychological warfare and propaganda against the insurgency. But I think an important sector of the so-called intelligentsia have savaged the armed struggle they supported before.

PC: Most intellectuals in Colombia, and probably in the world, are suffering from cowardice, accommodations or both things. Almost all were put by the system in the matrix of lies, and are used to “theorize”, create and repeat falsehoods. Many of them spend time writing discourses against media manipulation, but when the system starts a campaign against someone or somebody, they start talking like parrots.

In Colombia, the system told them that the guerrillas are guilty of everything. Although many of them believed, or believe, they are from the left, they repeated in unison that we are responsible for violence, drug trafficking, kidnapping, poverty, rising gasoline and even the high price of the bananas. I assure you that if tomorrow the birds stop singing, these “intellectuals” repeat what the government and their media say: the guerrillas are to be blamed. They have fallen into such poverty regarding research and argumentation, that their analyses and theories don’t endure any discussion, at least with us. They think that if they discuss with us, we´ll kill them afterwards. They are not even capable of realizing that if that was true, in Colombia there would be very few “intellectuals” left right now. Their brain doesn’t have the capacity to see that those who safeguard their intellectual and political independence are those who are said by the government to be friends or accomplices of the subversion.

HCO: I must admit, and I´m about to end, that I’m not very optimistic about these dialogues. I believe that Colombia and Colombians deserve peace with social justice, but I know the Colombian State, I know the United States, who support that State and who ultimately decides. Hopefully the long night, imposed by State terrorism stops and finally dawns. I wish it with all my heart.

PC: Look, political conditions in Latin America have changed. Who could have imagined what happened in Venezuela and Bolivia with the arrival of Chávez and Evo? Who would have thought that other Latin American governments one day would demand respect for their sovereignty from the U.S.? There are unpredictable things, like the end of the Soviet Union for example.

In Colombia there is an accumulation of hunger, exclusion, injustice and repression. The time will come when people simply won´t take it anymore. There is an accumulation of ongoing processes that can make a leap any time. There is a boiling that could explode tomorrow.

Besides, Colombia is not an island. The neighboring countries are pressing the government because they are tired of the conflict that affects them. Venezuela received about 4 million displaced Colombians, Ecuador almost two million. We believe there are 13 to 15 million Colombians in neighboring countries, that is, the third part of the Colombian population. And these countries must provide housing, food and health. For how long? Apart from the budget they spend to protect their borders. Just because the Colombian government insists on not negotiating a conflict they will never win! We have asked the representatives of those nations to demand for peace, so that all our compatriots can return to their country.

We are optimistic. Revolutionaries must be optimistic, even in the worst situations. And we believe that peace will come to Colombia because we deserve it. The other possibility is total war. That´s why I say the moment has come, but that doesn’t mean it´s easy. This peace process is too complex, but we believe it is possible. We insist on striving for peace, so we will not fold our arms.

I do have hope, although I think the authorities and the Colombian oligarchy lack greatness and humility to start solving this conflict.

Hernando Calvo Ospina is a Colombian journalist. He can be reached through his website.


1. “El Laguito” is a residential complex in Havana. Their houses are separated by trees and gardens. In the center is a small lake. Since November 2012, the delegations of the FARC and the Colombian government are located in this peaceful scenery.

2. According to the magazine Forbes (edition 2012). Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo listed as the first billionaire in Colombia, and would rank 64 in the world.

3. The Patriotic Union was born in 1985, as a result of the talks between the government of Belisario Betancur and the FARC. According to the Colombian justice, there was a “political genocide” against the Patriotic Union.



August 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on An Interview With the FARC-EP Peace Delegation

Costa Rica announces plans to close its zoos and release animals from captivity

By Stephen Messenger | treehugger | August 2, 2013
monkey looking up photo

CC BY 2.0 Frontierofficial

What the tropical nation of Costa Rica lacks in size, it more than makes up for in a wealth of biodiversity. Despite occupying just 0.03% of the planet’s surface, the region’s lush forests are home to an incredible 500 thousand unique organisms — representing over 4% of all the known species on Earth. For the hundreds of animals held captive in the country’s zoos, however, that hotbed of life had been replaced by the cold bars of a cage.

But now, in a remarkable push to restore natural order for all its animal inhabitants, the Costa Rican government has announced plans to close its zoos, freeing creatures from their long captivity.

“We are getting rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with biodiversity in botanical parks in a natural way,” said Environment Minister René Castro. “We don’t want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them.”

The closures will take effect in March 2014, when the government’s contract with the organization that operates its two zoos is set to expire — a move that Castro says reflects “a change of environmental conscience among Costa Ricans.” The facilities which now house captive animals, Simon Bolivar Zoo and the Santa Ana Conservation Center, will be then transformed into urban parks or gardens where wildlife can visit and live freely if they so choose.

kansasphoto/CC BY 2.0

As for the many birds, mammals, reptiles and insects on display today, the government is working to find them more appropriate homes. It is believed that many of these animals will be able to be relocated within the nation’s vast forest preserves, with those deemed unsuited for release being sent to live out their days under the care of wildlife sanctuaries and rescue centers.

Costa Rica’s move to shutter its zoos comes on the heels of other recent legislation aimed at protecting animals from a life in captivity. Earlier this year, India became the largest nation to ban the exploitation of dolphins, joining the ranks of Costa Rica, Hungary, and Chile. In the United States, the keeping of captive chimpanzees will soon be strictly limited as they are likely candidates for protection from the Endangered Species Act.

Wikipedia/CC BY 2.0

Still, despite the efforts of some animal-right groups which see zoo life as inherently inhumane, zoo closures in other parts of the world still seem a long way off. Quietly though, a paradigm shift may already be underway as popular thinking begins to consider a kinship and our shared fate with the natural world around us and not merely a dominion over it.

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | | Comments Off on Costa Rica announces plans to close its zoos and release animals from captivity

The Murder of Tomas Garcia by the Honduran Military

School of the Americas Watch

tomassonrisaTomas Garcia was a father of seven who would have turned 50 this December. He was a husband, father, brother, and community leader, serving as an auxiliar and on his community’s Indigenous Council. On Monday, July 15, his life was brutally taken away by the Honduran military when a soldier shot and killed him at close range in broad daylight in front of 200-300 people.He did not have a gun, he did not hurt anyone. His crime? Opposing the construction of a hydroelectric dam being constructed in his Indigenous Lenca community’s territory against their will, in violation of ILO Convention 169 and the Honduran government’s promises to consult Indigenous communities about projects in their territory.Why Tomas?He was one of the first to arrive, leading the delegation that had come to deliver a message to the companies constructing the dam at their installations in Rio Blanco. A soldier fired at him not once, not twice, at least three times from only 6 or so feet away, according to eyewitnesses.

Tomas had gone to the day’s activities with his 17-year old son who was also shot several times, receiving serious injuries in his back, chest, and arm and requiring hospitalization. Two others were also injured by the army’s bullets. According to eyewitnesses, a soldier who had been firing into the air lowered his M-16 and fired multiple shots directly at Tomas. Tomas had recently arrived at the company’s installations as one of those who was at the front of the delegation; the whole group had not even had time to arrive and many were still walking down the hill that leads to the offices. As one woman from the community explained, “We didn’t even have a conversation with them, they didn’t say anything to us. They didn’t even wait for us to say why we there, they didn’t wait for us to say what we had to say. We saw Tomas fall, he fell from shots, including to his head.”

The murder of Tomas Garcia by the Honduran armed forces is only the latest escalation in a systemic campaign of repression against the Rio Blanco Indigenous Lenca people to try to force them into accepting a hydroelectric dam being illegally constructed in their territory. Since April 1, the communities in the area, organized in the Indigenous Lenca organization COPINH, have been blocking the access road to the dam site. The access road, like the dam, is in their ancestral territory, surrounded by their fields of corn, beans, bananas, yucca, and lush forests that they have carefully stewarded for hundreds of years. At first, the Honduran National Police evicted them multiple times – despite them being on their own land. After each eviction, they simply returned to the site.Personnel of the companies building the dam — DESA and SINOHYDRO – threatened COPINH leaders. Community members started receiving death threats from employees of the company who live in the area. Armed men appeared at the site of the roadblock and lurked around at night.

Then on May 17, soldiers from the First Battalion of Engineers, commanded by SOA graduate Col. Milton Amaya, were deployed to the area and have stayed there ever since. They essentially serve as security guards for the dam companies, even driving company machinery to attempt to get it past the roadblock, and live, eat, and sleep at DESA/SINOHYDRO’s installations. Soldiers have repeatedly intimidated those who oppose the dam: they have harassed them, told them they were criminals, came into their yards, held an M-16 up to one of them, threatened women and children, and fired shots when community leaders walked by.i

Having the police and military on their side only seems to have emboldened company employees to increase their threats and attacks on those who oppose the project. According to testimonies, employees of the company who live in the area attacked a man who had just come from the roadblock with machetes —cutting up his face and sending him to the hospital.They threw rocks at another, and threatened many in the community with death, including children. “I’m going to come to the Roble and you know how you’ll all end up. In pieces.” “I’m going to kill all of you.” ii Bullets passed above the site of the roadblock where people were sitting one Monday afternoon, people in ski masks appeared near the house of a family that is strongly against the dam, unknown figures lurked outside the house of the President of the Indigenous Council, and a known hit man arrived at the site of the roadblock.

In spite of all of this, the Indigenous Lenca people did not give up. Day after day, in the rain or in the heat, in spite of death threats and bullets that passed overhead, men, women, and children came to the roadblock to defend their land. After Tomas’ death, they continue to do so, now continuing forward in his honor, despite the intense accusations against them aimed at discrediting their struggle in the wake of Tomas’ murder.

To justify the death of Tomas Garica, DESA and the military launched a media campaign criminalizing COPINH and the Rio Blanco community. DESA issued a media release claiming that

“because of the violent intervention of the COPINH protestors, Mr. Tomas Garcia died and Mr. Alan Garcia Dominguez was injured. This morning, minor Cristian Anael Madrid Munoz also died, who is the grandson of one of the principal leaders of the zone and was doing agricultural work on his property when he was surprised by the protestors” and that “The actions which occurred today were deliberately premeditated by the principal leaders of COPINH.”

Reading DESA’s release and the corporate news accounts of what occurred, one would think that COPINH itself murdered Tomas Garcia instead of the Honduran military. Area residents who heard TV news accounts got the impression that COPINH was violent and threatening people, not that they were in fact the victims of threats and violence. DESA also accuses the protestors of a second death, which is said to have occurred in a separate location while community members were gathered around the body of Tomas Garcia at the company’s installations, in sight of the police and military. Community leaders report that the Police officer in charge even told them he was a witness that they were all still with him at DESA’s installations when gunshots were heard from up the hill, where Christian Madrid lives. But that doesn’t matter when DESA and Chinese owned SINOHYDRO – the world’s largest dam-building company — are losing money because the subsistence farmers of Rio Blanco refuse to let their river be privatized.

The attacks portraying the protestors as armed further contradict the reality one finds when one visits the zone. The dirt-poor Indigenous farmers of Rio Blanco have machetes and sticks, not guns.As one Indigenous Lenca woman and mother who is a leader in the struggle against the dam explained,

“We don’t have any guns. They do have guns because they are invading our land. They buy big guns to walk around threatening the lives of our compañeros, of all the members of Rio Blanco. They see us as an enemy and walk around with guns. Since they make money selling our land with that they can buy guns to take away the life of another person, another human life.We are all humans in this world… We have to respect each other’s faces. We are all the same.Regardless of how we look, we are children of God.”

The accusations of violence, murder, and possibly even terrorismiii against COPINH are a strategic escalation of the criminalization campaign aimed at destroying COPINH’s ability to resist the Agua Zarca Dam and numerous other projects planned for Indigenous Lenca territory. On May 24, soldiers from the First Battalion of Engineers detained Berta Caceres and Tomas Gomez of COPINH, claiming to have found a gun in their vehicle to try to criminalize them. It appears that soldiers themselves may have placed a gun in their vehicle to fabricate the charges. SOA graduate Milton Amaya, Commander of the First Battalion of Engineers, made accusations in the press. However, the soldiers couldn’t even keep their stories straight and the charges were provisionally dismissed on June 13th. Nevertheless, the state has appealed and is still trying to criminalize Berta. Now, COPINH and the Rio Blanco community have been criminalized and defamed in the press, in an effort to justify the murder of Tomas Garcia and potentially justify criminal charges against COPINH leaders or even more murders in the area. A similar tactic has been used in the Bajo Aguan, where SOA-graduate Col. Alfaro started a media campaign earlier this year accusing the campesinos (small farmers) of being armed and violent to justify the deaths in an area where over 100 small farmers have been murdered.

Why is the Honduran government so invested in breaking Indigenous Lenca resistance to the Agua Zarca Dam project in the remote western mountains of Honduras? The Agua Zarca Dam is not an isolated project but part of the overall scheme of privatization and looting of Honduras’ natural resources in the name of foreign investment. It is part of the “Honduras is open for business” scheme that was embarked upon following the 2009 military coup in Honduras to enrich the Honduran elite and multi-national corporations.Just months after the coup, the Honduran National Congress passed a General Water Law enabling the country’s water resources to be concession to third parties – enabling privatization of rivers.iv Then in 2010, the Congress approved a package of 41 hydroelectric dam projects throughout Honduras, including the Agua Zarca project and other dams in Indigenous territory.v They also passed a new mining law, which has yet to go into effect, and a law creating Special Development Regions, commonly known as model cities. And in July 2013, the Congress passed a law enabling the government to sell off “idle” resources, including natural resources, mining, energy, and more, in order to pay the internal

All these laws passed by the post-coup governments are part of the drive to privatize and sell off natural resources – from water, to minerals, to the land itself– for exploitation and profit by corporations, especially foreign corporations. As Honduran President Porfirio Lobo explained at the signing of an agreement with SINOHYDRO to build three other dams on one of Honduras’ longest rivers, “I’m determined to promote these types of projects and make Honduras more open to all foreign investors.” While enriching business executives and investors around the world, this robs Honduran communities, especially Indigenous and campesino communities who live off the land, of the land and resources they depend on to survive.

And so the Honduran military has been dispatched to destroy the resistance of the Rio Blanco Indigenous people just as they have been dispatched to the Bajo Aguan where organized campesinos struggle for land.While Tomas Garcia lived with his wife and seven children in a small house with a dirt floor, the US was sending millions and millions into military aid in Honduras.Some of this aid probably found its way to the unit that used one of its M-16s to murder Tomas and terrorize the Lenca people for standing up for their rights. It is no accident that the military is used to enforce the turning over of Honduras’ natural resources to corporations; this is part of the US neoliberal agenda. US aid includes training, whether at the School of the Americas or by the US military on Honduran soil.For instance, Second Lt. Gonzalez, who was in charge of the soldiers stationed in Rio Blanco, reported he was trained in Special Operations by US military instructors. David Castillo, the Director of DESA, the company building the dam, attended West Point Military Academy and previously served as the Assistant to the Director of Intelligence of the Honduran Armed Forces.vii The military’s effort to criminalize the Rio Blanco community goes up to the highest levels – General Rene Osorio Canales, the Commander of the Honduran Armed Forces who was trained at the School of the Americas, spoke out to publicly justify the military’s murder of Tomas Garcia.viii

“When we heard the shots, we were humiliated.Because we don’t have guns. We have only machetes and wood.They are always accusing us of being armed, saying that we are guerrillas, that we are violent. That’s a lie. What we want is for them to withdraw and leave our territory and our rivers free.As Indigenous people we don’t want this dam to be built in our home.”

“We don’t want the dam built on our land because it affects us a lot. We like to harvest corn and beans, but we no longer could plant our crops. We don’t want the dam and we don’t want them to come violate our rights.”

“We are not criminals.We are people who grow corn.”

“Before the company came here we lived in peace.”
-Rio Blanco community members

[i] Interviews with Rio Blanco community members, May, June, July 2013.

[ii] Testimonies from community members who oppose the dam about threats from company employees who live in the area, June and July 2013.







Click here to send an e-mail to US officials urging them to end all US aid to the Honduran military and especially ensure no aid goes to the First Battalion of Engineers, which continues to operate in Rio Blanco.

Photo of Tomas Garcia by Colectivo Ocote

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Murder of Tomas Garcia by the Honduran Military

Honduras: Expanding Palm Oil Empires In The Name Of ‘Green Energy’ And “Sustainable Development”

Written by Rights Action, Rainforest Rescue, Biofuelwatch, and Food First | August 6, 2013

From 6th-8th August, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is holding its 4th Latin American Conference on so-called sustainable palm oil in Honduras [1]. Environmental and social campaigners have been shocked to learn that one event sponsor is the palm oil company Dinant Corporation, owned and controlled by Miguel Facusse, the largest landowner in Honduras. They are calling on World Wildlife Fund WWF and three other organisations to withdraw from and denounce the conference being held in Honduras due to the Dinant’s sponsorship of the event and the serious human rights implications [2].

Mr. Facusse was a key supporter and beneficiary of the June 2009 military coup in Honduras [3], has been associated with narco-trafficking [4], and, along with other large oil palm growers, has been linked to the targeted killing of more than 88 members and supporters of peasant organisations since June 2009 in the Aguan Valley [5], one of the main palm oil producing regions in Honduras.

Annie Bird from Rights Action states: “By holding its conference in Honduras and by allowing Dinant Corporation to sponsor the event and hold a stall, the RSPO is turning a blind eye to systemic and severe human rights abuses, including forced evictions of entire communities and over 88 killings for which palm oil companies, especially Dinant, are responsible. The RSPO Conference serves to reinforce the impunity with which the large-scale palm producers operate.”

RSPO is overwhelmingly dominated by the interests of large corporations like Nestlé, Rabobank and Unilever—all linked to cases of “land grabbing” in Asia, Latin America and Africa.” [6]

According to Tanya Kerssen, Research Coordinator for Food First, “The case of Dinant is emblematic of how large, elite-controlled companies use palm oil to expand their control over land and other resources. The RSPO is merely window dressing for this continued corporate expansion, which—whether classed as ‘sustainable’ or not—necessarily means the replacement of forests, biodiversity and food production with a large-scale monoculture crop for biofuel and unhealthy edible oils.” [7]

Guadalupe Rodriguez from Rainforest Rescue adds: “WWF and the three other organisations involved in this RSPO conference must pull out of and denounce this process. They must not, however indirectly, associate themselves with palm oil businessmen involved in repressing, evicting and killing peasants in Honduras’s Aguan Valley.”

The European Commission considers all biofuels from RSPO-certified palm oil to be sustainable and thus eligible for government support [8]. This is despite growing evidence by a large number of organisations, which shows that the RSPO has not been enforcing its own standards on its member companies and cannot guarantee environmental or social sustainability of palm oil [9].

Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch states: “The RSPO Secretariat’s decision to hold a conference in Honduras and allow Dinant Corporation to contribute sponsorship and hold a stall further undermines any pretence that the RSPO’s aim is to make palm oil sustainable. Far from addressing any of the most serious impacts of palm oil production, the RSPO continues to serve as an instrument of greenwashing for the industry”.


[1] The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is a stakeholder forum which provides voluntary certification for palm oil. The great majority of RSPO members represent industry interests. (Conference website:

[2] See for an Open Letter to WWF, Solidaridad, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and Forest Ethics on this issue.

[3] In June 2009, the democratically elected Honduran government of Manuel Zelaya was overthrown by a military coup.  Manuel Zelaya’s government had begun listening to and acting on the demands of peasant organisations for land reform, including in the Aguan Valley region.  The land reform process was ended by the military rulers after the coup.  Since then, Dinant Corporation and their armed security forces have been collaborating with military forces and police forces in repressing local communities who have been trying to reclaim land controlled by Dinant.  See for example: .

[4] Published Wikileaks Cables revealed that the US embassy in Honduras has had evidence linking Miguel Facusse to drug trafficking since at least 2004 and that several aeroplanes with drugs have landed on his private property.  See

[5] For a report by Rights Action about killings and other human rights abuses in the Aguan Valley, see .

[6] See, for example: “The bloody products of the house of Unilever” Rainforest Rescue, 2011.

[7] For more on the link between palm oil expansion and corporate control, see Kerssen, Tanya. Grabbing Power: The New Struggles for Land, Food and Democracy in Northern Honduras. Food First Books, 2013.

[8] See

[9] Previously, over 250 organisations condemned the RSPO for ‘greenwashing’ of palm oil: . More recently, the RSPO has been denounced for example by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth;

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Environmentalism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Honduras: Expanding Palm Oil Empires In The Name Of ‘Green Energy’ And “Sustainable Development”

Pump and pray: Tepco might have to pour water on Fukushima wreckage forever

By Christopher Busby | RT | August 7, 2013

Fukushima is a nightmare disaster area, and no one has the slightest idea what to do. The game is to prevent the crippled nuclear plant from turning into an “open-air super reactor spectacular” which would result in a hazardous, melted catastrophe.

On April 25, 2011 – one month after the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant and the anniversary of Chernobyl – I was interviewed by RT and asked to compare Chernobyl and Fukushima. The clip, which you can find on YouTube, was entitled, “Can’t seal Fukushima like Chernobyl – it all goes into the sea.” Since then, huge amounts of radioactivity have flowed from the wrecked reactors directly into the Pacific Ocean. Attempts to stop the flow of contaminated water from Fukushima into the sea were always unlikely to succeed. It is like trying to push water uphill. Now they all seem to have woken up to the issue and have begun to panic.

The problem is this: the fission process in a reactor creates huge amounts of heat. Of course, that is the whole point of the machine – the heat makes steam which runs turbines. Water is pumped through channels between the fuel rods and this cools them and heats the water. If there is no water, or the channels are blocked, the heat actually melts the fuel into a big blob which falls to the bottom of the steel vessel in which all this occurs – the pressure vessel – and then melts its way through the steel, into the ground, and down in the direction of China. Well, not China in this case, but actually Buenos Aires, Argentina (I figured out).

I have been keeping an eye on developments, and it is quite clear that the reactors are no longer containing the molten fuel – some proportion of which is now in the ground underneath them. Both this material and the remaining material in what was the containment are very hot and are fissioning. Tepco is quite aware – and so is everyone else in the know – that the only hope of preventing what could become an open-air super reactor spectacular is to cool the fuel, the lumps of fuel distributed throughout the system, mainly in the holed pressure vessels, and also in the spent fuel tanks and in the ground under the reactors. That all this is fissioning away merrily (though at a low level) is clear from the occasional reports of short half life nuclides like the radioXenons. The game is to prevent it all turning into the open air super reactor located somewhere under the ground.  To do this, they have to pump vast amounts of water into the reactors, the fuel pond and generally all over the area where they think the stuff is or might be. This means seawater since luckily they are near the sea. But they are also unluckily near the sea – since you cannot pump the sea onto the land without it wanting to flow back into the sea.

Now a good proportion of the radioactive elements, the radionuclides, are soluble in water. The Caesiums 137 and 134, Strontiums 89 and 90, Barium 140, Radium 226, Lead 210, Rutheniums and Rhodiums, Silvers and Mercuries, Carbons and Tritiums, Iodines and noble gases Kryptons and Xenons merrily dissolve in the hot seawater. There is also a likelihood that the normally insoluble Uraniums, Plutoniums and Neptuniums will dissolve in seawater to some extent, because of the chloride ions. And if they don’t, the micron and nano-particles of these materials will disperse in the water as colloidal suspensions. So a lot of this stuff gets into the sea. Of course, most of the fuss is being made by the Americans who are on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. How unfair that the USA should suffer from the Japanese affair, they think. And also feel a level of fear, underneath all this. As perhaps they should since it is their crappy reactors that blew up.

We hear that 400 tons of highly radioactive water is now escaping the barriers that Tepco erected and is reaching the sea. Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said on August 7 that “stabilizing Fukushima is our challenge.” Tepco said, “This is extremely serious — we are unable to control radioactive water seeping out of the Fukushima plant.” CNN quoted “industry experts” saying that “Tepco has failed to address the problem…[the experts] question Tepco’s ability to safely decommission the plant.

There are some things I want to say about all this. First is the inevitable discourse manipulation – something that we have seen in the media ever since this disaster occurred.  “Decommission the plant” suggests some calm and ordered scientific process akin to shutting down and defueling an old reactor which has reached the end of its design life. It sparks images of a wise nuclear engineer in a lab coat consulting a document, discussing some issue with a worker in brilliant white overalls with a Tepco logo, wearing a white hard-hat.  The reality is that this is a nightmare disaster area where no one has the slightest idea what to do and which has always been out of control.  All that they can do is continue to pump in the seawater to hope that the various lumps of molten fuel will not increase their rate of fissioning. And pray. The water will then pick up the radionuclides and flow downhill back to the sea. Of course, they can put up a barrier; surround the plant with a wall. But eventually the water will fill up the pond and flow over the wall. All that water will create a soggy marsh and destabilize the foundations of the reactor buildings which will then collapse and prevent further cooling. Then the Spectacular. All this is predictable enough.

Let us look at some numbers. Four hundred tons of seawater a day are flowing into the sea. That is 400 cubic meters. In one year, that is 146,000 cubic meters. That is a pond 10 meters deep and 120 meters square. This will have to go on forever, a new pond every year, unless they can get the radioactive material out. But here is the other problem. They can’t get close enough because the radiation levels are too high.  The water itself is lethally radioactive. Gamma radiation levels tens of meters from the water are enormously high. No one can approach without being fried.

‘Anyone living within 1km of the coast near Fukushima should get out’

But I want to make two other points. The first is that the Pacific Ocean is big enough for this level of release not to represent the global catastrophe that some are predicting.  Let’s get some scoping perspective on this. The volume of the North Pacific is 300 million cubic kilometers. The total inventory of the four Fukushima Daiichi reactors, including their spent fuel pools, is 732 tons of Uranium and Plutonium fuel which is largely insoluble in sea water. The inventory in terms of the medium half-life nuclides of radiological significance Cs-137, Cs-134 and Strontium-90, is 3 x 1018 becquerels (Bq) each. Adding these up gives about 1019 Bq. If we dissolve that entire amount into the Pacific, we get a mean concentration of 33 Bq per cubic meter – not great, but not lethal. Of course this is ridiculous since the catastrophe released less than 1017 Bq of these combined nuclides and even if all of this ends up in the sea (which it may do), the overall dilution will result in a concentration of 1 Bq per cubic meter. So the people in California can relax. In fact, the contamination of California and indeed the rest of the planet from the global weapons test fallout of 1959-1962 was far worse, and resulted in the cancer epidemic which began in 1980. The atmospheric megaton explosions drove the radioactivity into the stratosphere and the rain brought it back to earth to get into the milk, the food, the air, and our children’s bones. Kennedy and Kruschev called a halt in 1963, saving millions.

What we have here in Fukushima is more local, but still very deadly and certainly worse than Chernobyl since the populations are so large. And this brings me to my second point, and a warning to the Japanese people. The contamination of the sea results in adsorption of the radionuclides by the sand and silt on the coast and river estuaries. The east coast of Japan, the sediment and sand on the shores, will now be horribly radioactive. This material is re-suspended into the air through a process called sea-to-land transfer. The coastal air they inhale is laden with radioactive particles. I know about this since I was asked in 1998 by the Irish State to carry out a two-year study of the cancer effects of releases into the Irish Sea by the nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield. We looked at small area data leaked to us by the Welsh Cancer Registry covering the period of 1974-1989, when Sellafield was releasing significant amounts of radio-Caesium, radio-Strontium, and Plutonium. Results showed a remarkable and sharp 30 per cent increase in cancer rates in those living within 1km of the coast. The effect was very local and dropped away sharply at 2km. In trying to discover the cause, we came across measurements made by the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment. Using special cloth filters, they had measured Plutonium in the air by distance from the contaminated coast. The trend was the same as the cancer trend, increasing sharply in the 1km strip near the coast. We later examined cancer rates in a higher resolution questionnaire study in Carlingford, Ireland. This clearly showed the effect increasing inside the 1km radius in the same way. The results were never published in scientific literature but were presented to the UK CERRIE committee and eventually made it into a book which I wrote in 2007 entitled, “Wolves of Water.” Make no mistake, this is a deadly effect. By 2003, we had found 20-fold excess risk of leukemia and brain tumours in the population of children on the north Wales coast. The children were denied of course by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence Unit that supplanted the old Welsh Cancer Registry – which had been shut down immediately after the data was released to us. We did publish this in scientific literature.

Nevertheless, the sea-to-land effect is real. And anyone living within 1km of the coast to at least 200km north or south of Fukushima should get out. They should evacuate inland. It is not eating the fish and shellfish that gets you – it’s breathing.

And what about the future? The future is bleak. I see no way of resolving the catastrophe. They will either have to pour water on the wreckage forever, and thus continue to contaminate the local sea, or find some more drastic immediate solution. I was told that US experts had the idea at the beginning of bombing the reactors into the harbour. Not so stupid in my opinion. That at least may enable them to get sufficiently close to the pieces to pick them up, and should also solve the cooling problem. Apparently (my contact said) the French argued them out of it because of the negative effect on nuclear energy (and Uranium shares).

Professor Christopher Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risks for RT.

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power | , , , , , | Comments Off on Pump and pray: Tepco might have to pour water on Fukushima wreckage forever


By Damian Lataan | August 8, 2013

Last week the US and some of their allies shut up diplomatic shop in various places through North Africa and the Middle East due to a threat heard on the ‘al Qaeda’ grapevine that a big attack was being planned for the end Ramadan.

It seems now that the panic is over. The Guardian reports that the US on Wednesday carried out a number of drone strikes that apparently killed seven ‘al Qaeda’ operatives of the ‘al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’ (AQAP) franchise who had reportedly been planning to attack various towns and oil installations in south Yemen.

Meanwhile, US officials are using the entire experience to vindicate the existence of the NSA, recently brought into disrepute following the defection of ex-NSA operative turned whistleblower Edward Snowden to Russia, but, more importantly, the US is using the experience to justify the continued use of drones after international criticism following a large number of civilian deaths associate with their use.

The stories of ‘terrorist chatter about major attacks’ remain just stories. The subsequent publicity resulting from the shutdown of embassies throughout the region gave the stories the feel of imminent catastrophic terrorism – all of which is fed to the people of the world without an iota of any evidence to support the stories.

Do you feel safer now? Does the idea of drones roaming the skies over our planet killing America’s enemies at the whim of its President make you feel more secure? Are you happy to lose your right to privacy and judicial process in exchange for feeling safe from an Islamist in the Yemen who has been enraged by the deaths of family or friends by an errant drone missile?

If you do, then the latest propaganda exercise brought to you by the US government has worked. I you don’t feel safer and, indeed, feel more sceptical, then fear not; there will always be more threats to come to help convince you.

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , | 1 Comment