Archive for June 12, 2009

Just another example for how the US Senate and the FDA are in the pockets of Big Business. It is no secret that US corporations bankroll the election campaigns of American politicians. Being therefore in bed with any other industry, it is no surprise that the Senate’s latest anti-tobacco bill is in fact a pro-tobacco bill. That the industry-controlled FDA is part of the package, might not be surprising either but it’s absolutely absurd. The following Natural News article presents the facts.

cigarettes

There’s no other word to describe it: The U.S. Senate’s tobacco control bill is pathetic. It bans candy cigarettes and fruit-flavored cigarettes, but doesn’t even require cigarette companies to disclose the ingredients they use until nearly a year-and-a-half later. The bill bans the use of the word “light” from cigarette packages, but even the tobacco companies admit this will make virtually no difference, as smokers have grown accustomed to buying cigarettes labeled with color codes that indicate a “light” designation.

And perhaps most importantly, this bill now puts the FDA in the position of approving the marketing and consumption of a product that directly promotes heart disease, strokes and cancer. The FDA, in other words, will now lend its stamp of approval to a product that openly kills people.

Tobacco as an FDA-approved drug?

If the FDA has any ethics whatsoever, it must ban tobacco products outright. For how can the Food and Drug Administration approve the marketing and selling of a deadly carcinogenic product when, at the same time, it bans cherry growers from describing the everyday health benefits of cherries?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for approving the marketing and distribution of both foods and drugs. Cigarettes are obviously not foods or dietary supplements, and since tobacco is inhaled for its pharmacological effects, that clearly puts cigarettes in the drugs category. So if this bill becomes law, it will force the FDA to declare tobacco to be a drug.

So if tobacco is a drug, then where are the safety tests required for drug approval? The FDA assaults fruit and herb companies on a daily basis, threatening them with being shut down for selling “unapproved drugs,” and yet now the FDA is about to be put in the position of approving an admittedly deadly product that has no health benefits whatsoever while contributing to serious degenerative disease!

Interestingly, this position is not at all unusual for the FDA. The agency has already granted approval to thousands of toxic chemicals that openly harm human health — pharmaceuticals. FDA-approved drugs, after all, kill over 100,000 Americans each year. If the FDA’s portfolio of drugs includes tobacco, that number will rise to well over half a million Americans killed each year by FDA-approved drugs!

Furthermore, it would make laughable any claim by the FDA that it is working to “protect the public.” As the agency approving the marketing, sale and consumption of a product that inarguably kills over 400,000 people a year, the FDA would cement its position as a peddler of poison.

The War on (some) Drugs

Placing tobacco under “approved” status at the FDA also raises a glaring contradiction in the U.S. government’s so-called “War on Drugs.” Tobacco is, without question, a psychoactive, highly-addictive drug that is consumed by people in an addictive and destructive way. Marijuana, by comparison, is less addictive, making it far less destructive to health overall. So why is tobacco about to become an FDA-approved drug while marijuana remains an herb whose very possession results in a consumer being branded a criminal and thrown in prison?

Putting tobacco in the FDA’s portfolio only serves to highlight the hilarious contradictions in U.S. drug policy, showing it to be solely about protecting corporate drug profits, not protecting people from dangerous drugs.

Wanna sell more drugs? Push more tobacco…

Has anyone realized the huge conflict of interest in turning over tobacco regulation to the FDA? The FDA’s biggest customers (corporations that pay the FDA money) earn their profits precisely from treating the very diseases caused by tobacco consumption. This creates an incentive for the FDA to promote more tobacco, thereby boosting the long-term revenue potential of its Big Pharma clients.

This obvious conflict of interest is one reason why the FDA cannot be trusted to regulate tobacco in a way that serves the public interest. Rather, tobacco regulation is likely to be used as a way to promote more tobacco use by declaring it to be “approved” by the FDA.

It’s astounding that it took the U.S. Senate over fifteen years to pass a tobacco bill that turns out to be a pathetic attempt to reduce smoking and, in fact, might actually increase the perception of cigarettes being “safe” and “approved” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Light up, kids! It’s FDA approved!

Dear friends,

Peru’s government is clashing violently with indigenous groups protesting the rapid devastation of the Amazon rainforest by mining, oil and logging companies. The forest is a global treasure – let’s stand with the protesters and sign the petition to President Garcia to stop the violence and save the Amazon:

Sign the petition


The Peruvian government has pushed through legislation that could allow extractive and large-scale farming companies to rapidly destroy their Amazon rainforest.

Indigenous peoples have peacefully protested for two months demanding their lawful say in decrees that will contribute to the devastation of the Amazon’s ecology and peoples, and be disastrous for the global climate. But last weekend President Garcia responded: sending in special forces to suppress protests in violent clashes, and labelling the protesters as terrorists.

These indigenous groups are on the frontline of the struggle to protect our earth — Let’s stand with them and call on President Alan Garcia (who is widely known to be sensitive to his international reputation) to immediately stop the violence and open up dialogue. Click below to sign the urgent global petition and a prominent and well-respected Latin-American politician will deliver it to the government on our behalf.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/peru_stop_violence

More than 70 per cent of the Peruvian Amazon is now up for grabs. Giant oil and gas companies, like the Anglo-French Perenco and the North Americans ConocoPhillips and Talisman Energy, have already pledged multi-billionaire investments in the region. These extractive industries have a very poor record of bringing benefits to local people and preserving the environment in developing countries – which is why indigenous groups are asking for internationally-recognized rights to consultation on the new laws.

For decades the world and indigenous peoples have watched as extractive industries devastated the rainforest that is home to some and a vital treasure to us all (some climate scientists call the Amazon the “lungs of the planet” – breathing in the carbon emissions that cause global warming and producing oxygen).

The protests in Peru are the biggest yet and the most desperate, we can’t afford to let them fail. Sign the petition, and encourage your friends and family to join us, so we can help bring justice to the indigenous peoples of Peru and prevent further acts of violence from all parties.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/peru_stop_violence

In solidarity,

Luis, Paula, Alice, Ricken, Graziela, Ben, Brett, Iain, Pascal, Raj, Taren and the entire Avaaz team.

Sources:



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wallstreet

By Shamus Cooke
Global Research, June 7, 2009 – URL of this article

As if the bank bailouts weren’t proof enough that Wall Street owned Congress. History will likely show that these bailouts involved the largest transfer of wealth ever — from the working class to that small group of billionaires who own the corporations.

This fact is recognized by most people now and is such common knowledge that even the mainstream media feels comfortable discussing it…matter-of-factly.

These corporations have also exerted tremendous influence in other realms of politics, working towards destroying Obama’s campgain promises of health care, job creation, civil liberties, the Employee Free Choice Act, peace, etc.

In each case, the promised reform was gutted of its essence, and “compromise” versions of the bills are now being discussed: instead of universal health care, we will likely be universally mandated to purchase health insurance; instead of “job creation” we are told that the stimulus has “saved jobs” (contrary to the evidence); while troops are “drawing down” from Iraq, the war in Afghanistan/Pakistan is being escalated; instead of allowing workers to organize unions easier, a compromise version – Employee Free Choice Act, minus card check — seems more politically “pragmatic,” etc.

Even Obama’s smaller reforms face similar partial abortions in Congress. For example, Obama recently signed into legislation the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act. But, as The New York Times pointed out, the bill “was missing its centerpiece: a change in bankruptcy law he [Obama] once championed that would have given judges the power to lower the amount owed on a home loan.” ( Ailing, Banks Still Field Strong Lobby at Capitol, June 6, 2009)

Obama was not demanding that foreclosures cease, or that those who’ve recently lost their homes — because of the economic crisis — be allowed to return to them; he was merely advocating that those who can still afford mortgage payments be allowed to lower their balances.

Even this small crumb for homeowners was rejected by Wall Street, whose profits would have suffered.

The New York Times explains: “… the [bills] real threat was to their [the banks] profits. The proposal would have shifted negotiating power to the millions of troubled homeowners who could use the threat of bankruptcy to wrest lower monthly payments from lenders.”

This truth prompted an oddly blunt reply from Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse:

“This is one of the most extreme examples I have seen of a special interest wielding its power for the special interest of a few against the general benefit of millions of homeowners and thousands of communities now being devastated by foreclosure.”

The New York Times article also quieted those apologists for Obama who claim that he is an honest leader held back by an unreasonably conservative Democratic Congress:

“Throughout it all, the banks took advantage of the Obama administration’s seeming ambivalence. Despite its occasional populist rhetoric, the White House was conspicuously absent from weeks of pivotal negotiations this spring.”

And:

“While Mr. Obama reaffirmed his support for the proposal shortly after becoming president, administration officials barely participated in the negotiations, a factor that [corporate] lobbyists said significantly strengthened their hand.”

It must be noted that the corporation’s next big demand on the government will be to eliminate the tremendous U.S. debt, which they rightly view as a destabilizing factor for making profits. The problem lies in how they will propose to correct the problem: through the gutting of the U.S. social safety nets such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that benefit working families and the poor.

This government debt is the direct result of trillion dollar bank bailouts and wars of aggression that benefit only the rich. The working class, however, is being enlisted to pay for these polices.

The New York Times article ends with an important lesson:

“There was no counterweight to that [the banks] legislative muscle. Bankrupt homeowners do not have a political action committee or lobbyists.”

And while labor unions do have lobbyists, they cannot compete with the purchasing power of the banks. The fact that these two groups are both members of the same political party — vying for the ear of the same politicians — is utter lunacy. This tactic has yielded absolutely zero results for workers: every progressive promise of Obama’s has been butchered beyond recognition, or outright ignored.

This is because the Democratic Party is a party of big business, now more than ever. This fact is especially important in these times of economic crisis, where corporations are — because of shrinking profits — becoming louder in their condemnation of unions, while being emboldened by Obama’s horrendous anti-labor handling of the General Motors and Chrysler bankruptcies.

The political power of the corporations is dramatically exposing the rotten nature of America’s political and economic system — represented by the Republicans and Democrats — where the tremendous wealth of a small group allows them unprecedented power at the expense of millions of others. Without an independent political voice, the working class will continue to be “betrayed” by Democratic politicians whose pie in the sky campaign promises fail to yield even crumbs.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org).

Obama’s Cairo Speech

Reposted from Global Research
by Prof. Peter Dale Scott

oil war in iraqIn his remarkable speech at Cairo University on June 4, President Obama promised “a new beginning.” In the words of the Israeli commentator Uri Avnery, the speech offered “the map of a new world, a different world, whose values and laws he spelled out in simple and clear language —  a mixture of idealism and practical politics, vision and pragmatism.” 1

Much of what Obama had to say was new, and warmed the hearts of observers like myself, who had become increasingly concerned about the new president’s fidelity to the financial and military policies of the previous Bush-Cheney administration. But while Obama broke new ground on Israel-Palestine issues, he glossed over troubling issues pertaining to the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also glossed over one of the fundamental issues alienating the Muslim world:  America’s relentless efforts to preserve its threatened financial status by moves to dominate the region’s oil resources. Here his careful ambiguity was ominously reminiscent of the Bush era.

The speech reaffirmed a complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq by 2012, as the U.S. committed itself to do in a signed agreement last December. In addition Obama asserted that “we do
not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan… We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan.”

But Obama’s remarks did not address the statement on May 26, 2009, by Gen. George Casey, Army chief of staff, that, despite the agreement with Iraq, the United States would continue to have fighting forces in Iraq and Afghanistan beyond 2012. The reality, Casey said, is that ““we’re going to have 10 Army and Marine units deployed for a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.” 2

Nor is it clear that Obama’s promise to withdraw “troops” from Iraq would also cover private military contractors (PMCs) . Jeremy Scahill, author of a book on the notorious firm Blackwater, said on the Bill Moyers show that what we’re seeing in the Cairo speech “is sort of old wine in a new bottle. Obama is sending one message to the world,” he told Moyers, “but the reality on the ground, particularly when it comes to private military contractors, is that the status quo remains from the Bush era.” 3

Even more ominous is the president’s oblique reference to America’s controversial oil policies. It was significant that he apologized for the CIA’s ouster in 1953 of Iran’s democratically elected government – the first of America’s many operations against Islam on behalf of the oil companies. With respect to Iraq, he said he had made it clear to the Iraqi people that America pursues “no claim on their territory or resources.” His solitary reference to America’s hated oil policies was oblique and evasive: “While America in the past has focused on oil and gas when it comes to this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.”

In stating that the American presence in Iraq has nothing to do with oil, Obama is following in the footsteps of the Republicans before him, such as Donald Rumsfeld, who on November 14, 2002 told CBS News that the U.S. plans for Iraq had “nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil.” As it became increasingly clear in 2003 that America would invade Iraq, neither Bush’s State of the Union Message nor Colin Powell’s address to the United Nations Security Council mentioned, even once, the word “oil.”

But we now know that in March 2001 Cheney’s Energy Task Force developed a map of Iraq’s oil fields, with the southwest divided into nine “Exploration Blocks.” One month earlier a Bush National Security Council document had noted that Cheney’s Task force would consider “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.” 4

What Obama means by “no claim” on Iraq’s resources is ambiguous. For eight years the Bush-Cheney administration, in a number of ways, pushed for the Iraq Ministry of Oil to eliminate state control of oil and negotiate contracts giving Chevron and other multinationals access to Iraqi oilfields. 5 These negotiations have continued under Obama, and Bloomberg reported in April that the Iraqi government might give foreign companies 75 percent stakes in new oil developments. 6 Observers are concerned that oil companies, when their contracts are secured, may continue to employ PMCs like Erinys, which has employed 14,000 guards in the Iraqi oil fields. 7 Jeremy Scahill talked on Bill Moyers’ Journal of “a scenario where you have corporations with their own private armies….a devastating development.” 8

“No claim on resources” is ambiguous in another respect. At no point has America been an important market for Iraqi oil. But since World War Two Washington has fought, in two cases literally, to main U.S control over the disposition of Middle Eastern oil. A little background is necessary to explain the importance of this distinction.

(more…)

An interesting comparison between two orators: Obama and Hitler. That certainly is not to say that they should plainly be equated; Obama is not a dictator in the traditional sense nor is he driven by racial hatred or some demonic sense of self and grandeur. But: Obama and Hitler do share qualities. Apart from the gift of oratory, Obama presides over a most powerful army, which he uses to inflict heavy casualties on civilian populations in the name of what he believes is a superior form of civilisation. He talks peace but means war. He also collaborates with murderous, barbaric states like Israel or bloody dictatorships all over the world where it suits the American empire; supporting Israel in particular means supporting racism and genocide. He still is responsible for torture, which he outsources to countries with no mentionable human rights records (like Egypt). He holds on to weapons of mass destructions and develops new ones while playing the disarmament hero to have a right to prevent other states from getting their hands on them (not that I want them to). And the list could go on. So, I think Bill Blum has a point when comparing the two orators …

Jun 10, 2009 By Bill Blum
Bill Blum’s ZSpace Page / ZSpace

The praise heaped on President Obama for his speech to the Muslim world by writers on the left, both here and abroad, is disturbing. I’m referring to people who I think should know better, who’ve taken Politics 101 and can easily see the many hypocrisies in Obama’s talk, as well as the distortions, omissions, and contradictions, the true but irrelevant observations, the lies, the optimistic words without any matching action, the insensitivities to victims. Yet, these commentators are impressed, in many cases very impressed. In the world at large, this frame of mind borders on a cult.

In such cases one must look beyond the intellect and examine the emotional appeal. We all know the world is in big trouble — Three Great Problems: universal, incessant violence; financial crisis provoking economic suffering; environmental degradation. In all three areas the United States bears more culpability than any other single country. Who better to satisfy humankind’s craving for relief than a new American president who, it appears, understands the problems; admits, to one degree or another, his country’s responsibility for them; and “eloquently” expresses his desire and determination to change US policies and embolden the rest of the world to follow his inspiring example. Is it any wonder that it’s 1964, the Beatles have just arrived in New York, and everyone is a teenage girl?

I could go through the talk Obama gave in Cairo and point out line by line the hypocrisies, the mere platitudes, the plain nonsense, and the rest. (“I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States.” — No mention of it being outsourced, probably to the very country he was speaking in, amongst others. … “No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons.” — But this is precisely what the United States is trying to do concerning Iran and North Korea.) But since others have been pointing out these lies very well I’d like to try something else in dealing with the problem — the problem of well-educated people, as well as the not so well-educated, being so moved by a career politician saying “all the right things” to give food for hope to billions starving for it, and swallowing it all as if they had been born yesterday. I’d like to take them back to another charismatic figure, Adolf Hitler, speaking to the German people two years and four months after becoming Chancellor, addressing a Germany still reeling with humiliation from its being The Defeated Nation in the World War, with huge losses of its young men, still being punished by the world for its militarism, suffering mass unemployment and other effects of the great depression. Here are excerpts from the speech of May 21, 1935. Imagine how it fed the hungry German people.

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Smile On The Face Of The Tiger

Jun 11, 2009 By John Pilger
John Pilger’s ZSpace PageZSpace


At 7.30 in the morning on 3 June, a seven-month-old baby died in the intensive care unit of the European Gaza Hospital in the Gaza Strip. His name was Zein Ad-Din Mohammed Zu’rob, and he was suffering from a lung infection which was treatable.

Denied basic equipment, the doctors in Gaza could do nothing. For weeks, the child’s parents had sought a permit from the Israelis to allow them to take him to a hospital in Jerusalem, where he would have been saved. Like many desperately sick people who apply for these permits, the parents were told they had never applied. Even if they had arrived at the Erez Crossing with an Israeli document in their hands, the odds are that they would have been turned back for refusing the demands of officials to spy or collaborate in some way. “Is it an irresponsible overstatement,” asked Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and emeritus professor of international law at Princeton University, who is Jewish, “to associate the treatment of Palestinians with [the] criminalised Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not.”

Falk was describing Israel’s massacre in December and January of hundreds of helpless civilians in Gaza, many of them children. Reporters called this a “war”. Since then, normality has returned to Gaza. Most children are malnourished and sick, and almost all exhibit the symptoms of psychiatric disturbance, such as horrific nightmares, depression and incontinence. There is a long list of items that Israel bans from Gaza. This includes equipment to clean up the toxic detritus of Israel’s US munitions, which is the suspected cause of rising cancer rates. Toys and playground equipment, such as slides and swings, are also banned. I saw the ruins of a fun fair, riddled with bullet holes, which Israeli “settlers” had used as a sniping target.

The day after Baby Zu’rob died in Gaza, President Barack Obama made his “historic” speech in Cairo, “reaching out to the Muslim world”, reported the BBC. “Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” said Obama, “does not serve Israel’s security.” That was all. The killing of 1,300 people in what is now a concentration camp merited 17 words, cast as concern for the “security” of the killers. This was understandable. During the January massacre, Seymour Hersh reported that “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel” for use in Gaza.

Obama’s one criticism of Israel was that “the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements . . . It is time for these settlements to stop.” These fortresses on Palestinian land, manned by religious fanatics from America and elsewhere, have been outlawed by the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice. Pointedly, Obama made no mention of the settlements that already honeycomb the occupied territories and make an independent Palestinian state impossible, which is their purpose.

Obama demanded that the “cycle of suspicion and discord must end”. Every year, for more than a generation, the UN has called on Israel to end its illegal and violent occupation of post-1967 Palestine and has voted for “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”. Every year, those voting against these resolutions have been the governments of Israel and the United States and one or two of America’s Pacific dependencies; last year Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe joined them.

Such is the true “cycle” in the Middle East, which is rarely reported as the relentless rejection of the rule of law by Israel and the United States: a law in whose name the wrath of Washington came down on Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait, a law which, if upheld and honoured, would bring peace and security to both Palestine and Israel.

Instead, Obama spoke in Cairo as if his and previous White House administrations were neutral, almost divine brokers of peace, instead of rapacious backers and suppliers of the invader (along with Britain). This Orwellian illogic remains the standard for what western journalists call the “Israel-Palestine conflict”, which is almost never reported in terms of the law, of right and wrong, of justice and injustice – Darfur, yes, Zimbabwe, yes, but never Palestine. Orwell’s ghost again stirred when Obama denounced “violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan [who are] determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can”. America’s invasion and slaughter in these countries went unmentioned. It, too, is divine.

Naturally, unlike George W Bush, Obama did not say that “you’re either with us or against us”. He smiled the smile and uttered “many eloquent mood-music paragraphs and a smattering of quotations from the Holy Quran”, noted the American international lawyer John Whitbeck. Beyond this, Obama offered no change, no plan, only a “tired, morally bankrupt American mantra [which] essentially argues that only the rich, the strong, the oppressors and the enforcers of injustice (notably the Americans and Israelis) have the right to use violence, while the poor, the weak, the oppressed and the victims of oppression must . . . submit to their fate and accept whatever crumbs their betters may magnanimously deign suitable to let fall from their table”. And he offered not the slightest recognition that the world’s most numerous victims of terrorism are people of Muslim faith – a terrorism of western origin that dares not speak its name.

In his “reaching out” in Cairo, as in his “anti-nuclear” speech in Berlin, as in the “hope” he spun at his inauguration, this clever young politician is playing the part for which he was drafted and promoted. This is to present a benign, seductive, even celebrity face to American power, which can then proceed towards its strategic goal of dominance, regardless of the wishes of the rest of humanity and the rights and lives of our children.

www.johnpilger.com

Steampunk flash drive

Posted: June 12, 2009 in creativity
Tags: ,

steampunk flashdrive

Not that I own any steampunk gadgets or accessories, but I do like them for their mix of old world charm and modern technology. Here’s a good example that my mate Harry forwarded to me (thanks!): a steampunk memory stick. Like many steampunk items, it’s not mass-produced and this one has been sold already – for US$ 165. Pity.

The key is made out of purple heart & has approximately 26 Ruby’s which look great when the key catches the light, & when the Keys plugged into a USB, it glows green from underneath the gears giving the key a good sense of movement.

Via CrunchGear

bagua distress

Re-posted from Indigenous People’s Issues and Resources

  • Repression of Indigenous Protests Met with International Outcry, Solidarity Protests Held in 11 Cities Worldwide
  • Actress Q’orianka Kilcher To Visit Peru
  • US Urged to Take Position on the Necessity of Decrees for FTA

Lima, Peru (June 11, 2009) – Six days after National Police violently attacked indigenous people in Bagua, Peru protesting free trade decrees that threaten to open the Amazon to oil, mining, and logging operations the Peruvian Congress issued a 90-day suspension of legislative decrees 1090 and 1064 yesterday in order to restore dialogue. Indigenous peoples are seeking revocation not suspension of all 10 decrees, and it remains to be seen if the action will lead to a re-start of talks with Amazonian indigenous peoples.

It should be noted that such an act of Congress on Thursday of last week could have avoided the bloodshed in Bagua if Garcia’s APRA party (American Popular Revolutionary Alliance) had not blocked congressional debate on the decrees.

Pressure is mounting on the Garcia Government from within Peru and worldwide to end attacks on indigenous peoples’ rights and use peaceful means of reaching agreement with indigenous peoples. Also yesterday, Garcia’s Cabinet Member, Minister of Woman resigned in protest over the government’s public discourse about the Bagua incident.

In a written statement, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned the violence that took place on June 5, called for a judicial inquiry into the violence, and reminded the Peruvian government of their obligation to respect human rights at all times and that no State of Emergency may legally suspend such rights. The Commission repeated an early warning against criminalizing protest: “Criminalizing legitimate social mobilization and social protest, whether through direct repression of the demonstrators or through an investigation and criminal prosecution, is incompatible with a democratic society in which persons have the right to express their opinion.”

Human Rights Watch sent a letter to Ms. Gladys Margot Echaíz Ramos, Attorney General of Peru, calling for “a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation that is capable of identifying and holding to account those responsible for the commission of crimes,” adding that they had received credible reports that police violently attacked the indigenous protests and thus fueled the conflict.

This week, Protesters have gathered before Peruvian embassies and consulates in such cities as Lima, Washington D.C., Quito, Houston, and Denver. Today, more demonstrations are planned in Bonn, Madrid, Brussels, Paris, Rome, and Turin in solidarity with the general strike and protests throughout Peru. Also tens of thousands of people across the world have sent letters to the Peruvian government demanding an end to the violence and full respect for the rights of full self-determination of indigenous peoples.

Hollywood personalities such as Q’orianka Kilcher, Benjamin Bratt—both of Peruvian descent, Bianca Jagger, and Daryl Hannah made statements denouncing the violence and calling for respect for indigenous peoples’s rights. Q’orianka Kilcher, who is of part Quechua Huachipaire indigenous descent from Peru, decried the Garcia Administration’s use of violence against indigenous protesters and their media campaign of demonizing indigenous peoples in an interview on Democracy Now!

“It’s horrible the way the Garcia regime is, in a sense, is trying to brainwashing Peruvians to think of its indigenous peoples as second-class citizens, as barbarians, as horrible people,” Kilcher said.

Kilcher is on her way to Peru and called on President Obama to get involved to help avoid further violence.

International human rights organizations are also calling on the Peruvian government to cancel arrest warrants for and guarantee respect for the rights of indigenous leaders who were hundreds of miles away from Bagua during the confrontation. No dialogue process will be possible if the representatives of the various indigenous peoples fear for their safety.

In this spirit Amazon Watch urges the Peruvian government to abide by its legal obligations to respect the rights of free speech and assembly and refrain from use of force indigenous mobilizations and protests in Tarapoto and Yurimaguas.

The climate is still extremely tense in the Bagua region. Numerous indigenous people and civilians are still reported missing. It is urgent for the government to demilitarize the region, enable health workers and rescue teams to search for the missing, establish an independent investigative commission, and repair damages.

The Inter-Ethnic Association for Development in the Peruvian Jungle, AIDESEP, announced it is sending a delegation from Lima to Bagua to investigate the number of people killed and missing telling the press in Lima, “People are speaking of more dead, even people whose bodies have been burned, but we don’t want to give numbers until a delegation is able to travel to Bagua and talk to authorities and the family members of those missing.”

Amazon Watch calls on the United States government to call on Peru to respect the indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination established in the Peruvian Constitution and The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Amazon Watch calls on the Peruvian government to fully repeal all decrees that would violate or undermine the self-determination of the indigenous peoples of Peru.

Amazon Watch is continually updating photographs, audio testimony, and video footage from Bagua on www.amazonwatch.org.

B Roll and hi-res photos available here: http://amazonwatch.org/peru-protests-highres-photos.php