The Daily GRRR! - Nov. 4, 2014 - “Too Bad It’s Only Tuesday” Edition

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Welcome back to SoundFM! You are now listening to The Daily GRRR! live on the airwaves at 100.3fm, CKMS in Waterloo, Ontario, and SoundFM.ca on the web. This is Kathryn and I’ll be your host on this Tuesday morning show for November 4, 2014.

As always, we are broadcasting from the heart of the Haldimand Tract, the occupied Grand River Territory of the Six Nations, which we continue to recognize as Haudenosaunee land.

The Daily GRRR! is a project of the Grand River Media Collective and is supported by the Community Radio Fund of Canada and CKMS.

We will begin today with headlines:
The Daily GRRR!
HEADLINES for Nov. 4, 2014
1. Kinder Morgan slaps B.C. residents with multi-million dollar lawsuit
2. Oil-and-gas lobbyist gives “play dirty” advice in secretly taped talk
3. Alberta wetland contaminated with over 190,000 litres of toxic water
4. Bay Area activists declare victory after Israeli carrier cancels all ships
5. Apple’s CEO comes out...while 29 states could fire him for being gay
6. Eight men jailed after a video of Egypt’s first gay wedding goes viral
7. Tsilqot’in chiefs hanged in 1864 formally exonerated by BC premier
8. Onigaming First Nation declares state of emergency after fourth suicide
9. T.O. police launch investigation into Jian Ghomeshi’s career of abuse

1. Kinder Morgan slaps B.C. residents with multi-million dollar lawsuit

As reported by The Vancouver Observer, the Texas-based oil giant Kinder Morgan has hit several Burnaby residents and two Simon Fraser University professors with a multi-million dollar lawsuit after they chased off the company’s crews last Wednesday before they could begin their pipeline test work on Burnaby Mountain. The company is required to do such survey work before the National Energy Board will rule on Kinder Morgan’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which is still in its proposal stage. In the court papers, the company states several citizens have obstructed and interfered with its field studies to assess the feasibility of an underground tunnel that would have to be blasted through Burnaby Mountain for the last leg of the pipeline, which would run from Edmonton to Burnaby.

Protesters were stunned to be hit by a Kinder Morgan lawsuit seeking damages for being prevented from carrying out survey work, even after the company won an injunction order from that National Energy Board last week that allows them to go ahead with their testing and, astoundingly, supersedes the city of Burnaby itself by preventing the municipal government from stopping Kinder Morgan on the grounds that they have been violating city bylaws.

It's unclear at this time what amount of damages is being sought, but some media have pegged it at about $5.5 million. The five defendants need $40,000 just to deal with the injunction and they don’t yet know how much it will cost to fight the actual lawsuit in court. But the group is fighting back with lawyers and a crowdfunding campaign to help pay their legal fees, and the GoFundMe campaign (which we’ve linked to on our podcast page) has already raised $33,850 in the two days since it was launched. In the first update that has been posted to the page, the organizers clarified what the money will be used for and thanked donors for their contributions:

“Clarification of the funding goal: $40,000 is the estimated legal cost for the hearing that will happen this week. The hearing only covers the injunction. Once this is behind us, we will continue to need legal support as we prepare our defence for the civil suit. We don't yet have any idea what those costs will be. Once we have an estimate for this, we will reset the goal. Thank you all so very much for your generous support.”

2. Oil-and-gas lobbyist gives “play dirty” advice in secretly taped talk

As reported by The New York Times, in a made speech to energy industry executives, political consultant Richard Berman told his audience that they must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed, and anger in their fight against the environmental groups. Moreover, he counselled, major corporations secretly financing such a campaign should not worry about offending the general public because “you can either win ugly or lose pretty.” This blunt advice came as Berman endeavoured to solicit up to $3 million from oil and gas industry executives to finance an horrendous advertising and public relations campaign called “Big Green Radicals” which, as the name suggests, does nothing but strive to smear and discredit environmentalists and their cause. In another telling quote from his speech, Berman proudly proclaimed that “I get up every morning and I try to figure out how to screw with the labor unions — that’s my offense. ...I am just trying to figure out how I am going to reduce their brand.”

Such a speech can be expected to go over well with a crowd of industry bigwigs who plan to pillage the earth for profit. But what Mr. Berman did not know — and what could now complicate his task of marginalizing environmental groups that want to impose limits on fracking — is that one of the energy industry executives recorded his remarks and was offended by them. Incredibly, it was “[the idea] that you have to play dirty to win” that didn’t go over well with the executive, who provided a copy of the recording and the meeting agenda to The New York Times under the condition that his identity not be revealed. “It just left a bad taste in my mouth.” Could this perhaps bode well for a fairer struggle between activists and industry profiteers? Not likely, given the financial disparity alone between the two sides, but it may help to sway the fence-sitters who still think the oil and gas industries are telling them the truth about the alleged “safety” of fossil fuels. Or anything else, for that matter.

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/31/us/politics/pr-executives-western-ener...

3. Alberta wetland contaminated with over 190,000 litres of toxic water

According to an official report released late last month, the Harvest Operations Corporations divulged that a so-called “pipeline incident” occurred on agricultural grazing land just east of Galahad, Alberta. Although this sounds vague, the specifics are that a pipeline in the area spilled at least 190,000 litres of toxic “produced” water that was also mixed with crude oil. Unsurprisingly, the spill has impacted a nearby wetland, though the extent of the contamination is not yet known.

4. Bay Area activists declare victory after Israeli carrier cancels all ships

As reported by Electronic Intifada, on October 28, San Francisco Bay Area activists organizing to block the unloading of Israeli shipping vessels declared their most significant victory yet: Israel’s Zim Integrated Shipping Services appears to have cancelled all future shipments to the Oakland Port. This past summer, at the peak of Israel’s brutal bombardment of Gaza, the Bay Area’s Arab Resource and Organizing Center mobilized the community in response to the military assault. Deciding to focus on a tangible, highly-visible and big-money target, the group set its sights on Israel’s Zim lines, determined to block the company every time it tried to dock a ship at the busy Port of Oakland.

But they didn’t know it would take only three months to send Israel’s largest shipping company packing — possibly for good — in what looks like an effort to avoid the tireless activists who have consistently out-maneuvered the cargo ships. Over the summer, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center spearheaded the original Block the Boat coalition. The movement quickly caught on in major shipping cities along the West Coast, and last week, Los Angeles activists delayed the unloading of a Zim shipping vessel for two days. In the words of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center’s Executive Director, “The recent victory of the Block the Boat coalition lays the groundwork for a revived BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement in the Bay Area that centralizes Arab leadership, is clearly anti-Zionist, and focused on cross-movement building.”

5. Apple’s CEO comes out...while 29 states could fire him for being gay

At the end of October, Apple’s top dog Tim Cook came out as gay in an essay published online by Bloomberg Businessweek. As noted by The Huffington Post, the fact that this is still such big news (and the source a subject of so much speculation until today) shows why, in this day and age, it is still important for members of the LGBTQ community to stand up and be visible. Given that Tim Cook is the CEO of one of the most powerful companies in the world, having someone of his stature publicly declare his sexual orientation is still a rare occurrence in the business world -- so much so that The New York Times recently ran a widely shared article with the querying title, "Where Are the Gay Executives?" Among other things, the article pointed out that it is still more common than not for LGBT workers to remain closeted at work, and that they also struggle to find mentors, both factors that can have a significant impact on career advancement.

Tim Cook's declaration and his recent work addressing issues of inclusion send a message that discrimination and a lack of diversity will not be tolerated. Coming from the head of Apple, this is no small thing, given that there is no federal law is the U.S. to protect LGBTQ workers against discrimination based on their sexual orientation. And while some states and cities have passed their own protections, there are still 29 states where you can actually be fired for being gay, leaving more than half of all total workers vulnerable to employment discrimination. While Apple's home state of California has some of the most robust anti-discrimination laws in the country, and the company itself is an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights, there is much more work to be done by LGBTQ activists and advocates across the U.S.

6. Eight men jailed after a video of Egypt’s first gay wedding goes viral

As reported by The Independent and The Huffington Post, this past Saturday an Egyptian court convicted eight men for "inciting debauchery" after they appeared in an online video purportedly showing the country's first gay marriage ceremony, for which they were each sentenced to three years in prison. The Internet video shows two men exchanging rings and embracing among cheering friends. The eight were detained in September when a statement from the office of Egypt's chief prosecutor said the video clip was "shameful to God" and "offensive to public morals."

The New York-based organization Human Rights Watch said in September that Egyptian authorities have repeatedly arrested and tortured men suspected of consensual gay conduct. They condemned Saturday's convictions as part of a widening campaign of intolerance in Egyptian government and society. In a statement issued following the wedding video convictions, the Human Rights Watch director for LGBT rights decried the ruling, stating that "Egypt's government, evidently not satisfied jailing opposition members, students, and human rights activists, has found the time to prosecute (gays as well)” and calling these convictions "the latest signal that the new government will prosecute anyone to try to bolster its (public) support." Egypt is a conservative majority Muslim country with a sizable minority of Christians, and while this does not, of course, mean that all members of this religion are opposed people having to same-sex relationships, homosexuality is still apparently quite taboo for both communities within the country. Only in recent years have fiction and movies included gay characters, and while consensual same-sex relations are not explicitly prohibited, other laws have been used to imprison gay men in recent years, including "debauchery" or "shameless public acts" and same-sex marriage has previously been unheard of in Egypt. Incidents like this only serve to highlight, once again, how far this world still has to go before the non-heterosexual among us will truly be safe from persecution.

7. Tsilqot’in chiefs hanged in 1864 (HAVE BEEN) formally exonerated by BC premier

As reported by CBC News, First Nations' leaders say the October 24th apology made by BC Premier Christy Clark for the hangings of six chiefs 150 years ago is as important as a recent Supreme Court of Canada victory. In 1864, five chiefs were called to what they thought were peace talks to end the Chilcotin War; instead, they were hanged, with sixth chief hanged as well after trying to offer reparations. Late last month, Clark stood in the Legislature in Victoria while Tsilhqot'in leaders sat behind her, listening to words that they say have made a step towards justice for the past -- specifically, as Clark said in her speech, that "we confirm without reservation that these six Tsilhqot'in chiefs are fully exonerated for any crime or wrongdoing.”

Chief Roger William said that the exoneration was an emotional end to what he calls "unfinished business” and explained that he believes their sacrifice is the reason that the Tsilhqot'in recently won their historic victory in the Supreme Court of Canada, which recognized the people’s title to over 1,700 square kilometres of land in central BC. Chief Joe Alphonse also underlined the importance of the moral victory of the provincial apology, saying, "We've gone through the Supreme Court of Canada We finally got recognition of title, but before we even get to that, there's some old business we had to take care of so to hear Christy Clark read that out, that's such a huge, huge day for our nation.”

8. Onigaming First Nation declares state of emergency after fourth suicide

As reported by CBC News, Treaty #3 Grand Chief Warren White has said the community is in crisis and has reached a breaking point. About 450 people live in Onigaming, located approximately 400 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, but four people have committed suicide in this year alone. While this may not seem like a noteworthy number in itself, compared to the overall Canadian suicide rate -- which is 15 for every 100,000 people, according to the World Health Organization -- the suicide rate in Onigaming is almost sixty times as high as it would be within the settler population of an average Canadian city.

In response to this crisis, a joint statement has been issued from the community and from Grand Council Treaty #3, asking for help from a variety of social service agencies and from all levels of government. The statement explains that, while the community wants to develop a long-term healing strategy, they are in dire need of more resources now to deal with the current crisis. It is for us to consider how this crisis can be traced back the violent and destructive colonization practices of European settlers, whose tormenting effects are still being felt and witnessed amongst the indigenous communities of today. It is also of paramount importance that those of us who recognize ourselves as settlers actually listen to the indigenous voices speaking out about these issues. To quote the statement, "Young people are taking their lives and this is unacceptable… As a nation our citizens are getting frustrated and concerned for our young people... The demographics of Treaty #3 communities [include] a high proportion of children and youth under the age of 25 years, with disproportionately high rates of post traumatic stress disorder, intergenerational trauma and poverty contributing to the addictions, violence and mental health issues affecting our communities."

9. T.O. police launch investigation into Jian Ghomeshi’s career of abuse

This past Friday, after nearly a week of social media accounts and news reports, a police investigation was formally opened into the ever-increasing allegations of abuse suffered at the hands of former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi. As many will already be well aware, Ghomeshi was fired from the CBC last Sunday and pre-emptively posted a sentimental statement to his Facebook page in an effort to spin the situation before the real story ultimately came to light. Since then, and over the course of the past week, more and more allegations of abuse by Ghomeshi have been brought to light in the media, and the Toronto police have finally stepped up to take action. They are now asking anyone with photos, videos and social media chats related to the investigation to contact the sex-crimes unit, according to the head of the unit, Insp. Joanna Beaven-Desjardins, who spoke to the public in a news conference on Saturday morning. The inspector said that as soon as the media reports came out, she assigned officers to review all coverage so they could be prepared when a formal investigation commenced. She also contacted media outlets to pass police and Victim Services contact information on to their sources, and she added that police try to make the process “as unobtrusive as possible”. While there are many valid reasons why survivors of sexual assault often choose not to speak out about their attacks to anyone, let alone report them to the police, it is nonetheless important that those with the legal power to take action in stopping abusers are indeed taking these allegations seriously -- at least until we have managed to create accountability systems of our own that can replace the problematic institution of policing.

But I want to end our coverage of this story, for now, with some wise reflections from Vancouver-based activist and author Harsha Walia, who has commented on the media coverage so far with a more intersectional perspective:

“still waiting on the feminist response to Gomeshi and rape culture and 'why women don't report' that goes beyond the generic feminist (read: white middle class) answer of fear/disbelief/stigma. that is of course true but a holistic and grounded response about why women don't report includes a very real threat of not just state underprotection but overt state violence - whether incarceration, deportation, child apprehension, homelessness - that Indigenous, migrant, racialized, poor, trans*, sex working women encounter if we/they report sexual violence. Furthermore, the state is actively complicit in creating the conditions that makes certain women more vulnerable to systemic sexual violence - like forcing migrant women to live with employers, continuing to dispossess Indigenous women from their landbase, criminalizing sex work etc If the horrific misogynist violence of Jian is exposing the epidemic of rape culture, then we have a responsibility to push the conversation to center the reality of those most vulnerable to sexual violence to avoid perpetuating the exclusions of all those feminist 'waves' before us.”

Midway Music: Battle Cry by Angel Haze feat. Sia

Article #1: “I didn’t believe the women accusing Jian Ghomeshi, and I’m ashamed” by Jia Junaid for The Toronto Star

Article #2: “Sexual assault in progressive spaces: Thinking about the Jian Ghomeshi allegations” by Mathieu Murphy-Perron for Rabble.ca

Closing Song: Birmingham (Live) by Amanda Marshall

Thanks for listening.

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