The Daily GRRR! - Dec. 1, 2014 - Your “Ugh, Monday Morning” Edition

The Daily GRRR! HEADLINES for Dec. 1, 2014. 1. KW expresses solidarity with Ferguson at #BlackLivesMatter rally. 2. Deaths by police in Utah surpassed only by intimate partner violence. 3. Former al Qaida hostage faces FBI nightmare after returning home. 4. Israel jails 11-month-old baby, human rights groups call for release. 5. Aboriginal gov of Australia issues visas for non-indigenous residents. 6. Munduruku people occupy gov building in Brazil to protect their land. 7. Harper government destroys farmer control over seed with Bill C-18.
listen to the Daily GRRR!:  DailyGrrrDec1.mp3

Photo credit: Wellie Chihaluca

Welcome back to SoundFM! You are now listening to The Daily GRRR! live on the airwaves at 100.3fm, CKMS in Waterloo, Ontario, and on the web. This is Kathryn and I’ll be your host on this Monday morning show for December 1, 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 Dec. 1, 2014 
1. KW expresses solidarity with Ferguson at #BlackLivesMatter rally
2. Deaths by police in Utah surpassed only by intimate partner violence
3. Former al Qaida hostage faces FBI nightmare after returning home
4. Israel jails 11-month-old baby, human rights groups call for release
5. Aboriginal gov of Australia issues visas for non-indigenous residents
6. Munduruku people occupy gov building in Brazil to protect their land
7. Harper government destroys farmer control over seed with Bill C-18

1. KW expresses solidarity with Ferguson at #BlackLivesMatter rally

A crowd of local residents formed at Kitchener City Hall on Friday afternoon for a solidarity demonstration with the people of Ferguson, Missouri, and to condemn the U.S. grand jury decision not to indict the white cop who killed the 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black youth, this past August. There were several speakers from the local community, including retired teacher Edwin Laryea sharing an elder’s inspiring perspective on the issue, as well as members of Laurier’s Association of Black Students. From the UW campus, the Black Association for Student Expression (UW BASE) was also represented, as were Students For Palestinian Rights and WPIRG, but a great many non-student members of the community also participated in the demonstration. After speeches wrapped up at Kitchener City Hall, the growing crowd marched to the Waterloo Region Courthouse, where they staged a “die-in” by lying on the cold ground for a full four and a half minutes to symbolize the four and a half hours that Michael Brown’s body was left in the street after he was shot. The Kitchener protest was one of hundreds that happened throughout the past week, following the announcement of the grand jury decision last Monday night.

2. Deaths by police in Utah surpassed only by intimate partner violence

Over a five-year period, data show that fatal shootings by police officers in Utah ranked second only to homicides of intimate partners, outpacing all gang murders, drug killings, and child-abuse homicides. And so far in this year alone, deadly force by police has claimed more lives — 13 — than has violence between spouses and dating partners. These statistics are staggering but not altogether surprising, and the police are no longer successfully fooling people that their actions are in any way justifiable. Even Chris Gebhardt, a former police lieutenant, sergeant, and SWAT team officer, has admitted to the media that this problem is real and must be properly addressed, saying, "It definitely can’t be written off as citizen groups being upset with law enforcement.” He went on, “There is an absolute time when you need to go hands on, need to Taser them, need to resort to deadly force. But there are really less times than what’s going on. There’s an opportunity to de-escalate more of these situations. Officers instead are escalating these situations themselves."

Gebhardt linked the growing epidemic of death-by-police to the lack of de-escalation training provided, alongside the pathological emphasis (my words, not his) on using force against people in the line of duty. "When they receive , it’s one time, done and over with," Gebhardt said. "Baton training, OC spray, firearms are done on a quarterly, annual, or two-year basis. They should integrate that de-escalation training into it. When a situation deteriorates, the officer reverts to their training. …Departments really need to own, from the top down, de-escalation. They need to stress and emphasize de-escalation with the officers." Gebhardt also commented on the conflict of interest present in any investigations of shootings by police, which not only render the investigations biased and ineffectual but also quite reasonably increase community distrust of police and courts alike.

3. Former al Qaida hostage faces FBI nightmare after returning home

The only thing as bad as being tortured for months as a captive of jihadists in Syria was dealing with the U.S. government afterwards, according to one former American hostage. Matt Schrier, 36, a freelance photographer held by extremists for seven months in 2013 until he escaped, has told the media that the bureaucracy he endured upon his return home was a second kind of nightmare following the months of abuse he suffered while he was a hostage.

First of all, the FBI never told his father that he had been kidnapped. They waited six months into his capture to produce a wanted poster, and only after his mother prodded. The FBI also allowed jihadist forces to empty his bank account – $17,000 – with purchases on eBay, even as the government warned hostage families not to pay ransom so as not to run afoul of anti-terrorism laws. After his escape, the government made him reimburse the State Department $1,605 for his ticket home just weeks after he arrived in the United States. The psychiatrist assigned to help him readjust canceled five appointments in the first two months. And when he had no means to rent an apartment, FBI victims services recommended New York City homeless shelters.

There is no way to independently confirm Schrier’s version of events, and his emails make it clear that the relationship with his FBI handlers was, at best, acrimonious. But his telling of this experience is consistent with the the anger relatives of other hostages have expressed in interviews when speaking of their interactions with U.S. government officials.

“The next time the FBI calls me will be the first time,” said Schrier’s father, Jeffrey. “I thank God my son was able to escape, because if he was waiting for the government to spring him he would still be waiting in that hellhole.”

4. Israel jails 11-month-old baby, (AS) human rights groups call for release

11-month-old Balqis Ghawadra just became the youngest prisoner in the world, when Israeli authorities jailed her after visiting her father in an Israeli prison in occupied Beer Sheva. She was arrested alongside her sister and mother on November 26, 2014, as they arrived for a long awaited visit with the children’s father. The Ahrar Center for Prisoners Studies and Human Rights reports that Nihal Ghannam Ghawadra was headed to the prison on Wednesday, with her daughter Balqis, 11 months, and son Baraa’, age 2. As soon as she arrived, the three were separated and arrested under the pretext of sneaking a mobile phone to her husband. Local and international human rights agencies are now scrambling to support the family and push for their release.

Nihal’s husband, Mu’ammar Ghawadra, was one of many thousands of Palestinians released in 2011 under the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange between Israel and Palestinian resistance, only to be re-arrested without charge over the summer. He had already served 8 years of a life sentence. Worse still, a Unicef report published last October reported that during interrogation by Israeli Security Forces, Palestinian children had been “threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault, against themselves or a family member” in efforts to gain confessions for alleged offenses, most commonly for throwing stones. More than 720,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been through the system since Israel began occupying the Palestinian Territories in 1967, and the horror continues there every day.

5. Aboriginal gov of Australia issues visas for non-indigenous residents

The Secretary of the Aboriginal Provisional Government of Australia has released the following statement, directed towards non-indigenous residents and visitors to their land:

Before our lands were invaded in 1788, Aboriginal people had full control of our lands and lives. A new nation was set up on lands taken from us. That nation discriminates against us today.

We have never lost sight of our sovereign rights despite the Australian government using all its resources to deny us the chance to exercise these rights. We are still the real owners of this country.

By applying for an Aboriginal issued VISA you are acknowledging the Aboriginal assertion of continuing sovereignty. The VISA issued to you grants permission to enter the borders of Aboriginal Australia and/or remain here with our permission for the duration of the VISA. While the VISA we issue endorses your right to be inside the borders of the Aboriginal nation, you should be mindful that there are many Aboriginal peoples who assert their original rights over their own country within that external border, and we urge you to respect their rights when you enter each region.

As with Aboriginal passports, the Australian government steadfastly refuses to accept the authority of Aboriginal issued VISAs. Australian authorities do not accept any VISA authority other than their own for entry into or staying within Australia.

Your acceptance of this VISA is a moral stance for which we give our thanks, and which gives us strength in our struggle.

6. Munduruku people occupy gov building in Brazil to protect their land

A band of Munduruku Indians occupied a Brazilian government building on Friday, demanding that the government address the problem of loggers and gold miners encroaching on their traditional land. The tribe held the building’s staff hostage in a peaceful manner, but they also threatened “a conflict of unimaginable proportions” if the government did not take action and the invaders persisted -- which, they said, the government would be responsible for.

“We want Brasília to quickly demarcate our land,” said the chief Juarez Saw Munduruku, “because we look after this land much better than the Brazilian government bodies do.” Demarcation would legally prevent the construction of a hydroelectric plant that will flood three villages, because the constitution of Brazil prohibits the removal of indigenous tribes. Because demarcation has not been undertaken by the government, the Munduruku decided to demarcate their territory on their own. Four miles have already been opened in the forest. The occupation of the Funai building was precipitated by the discovery that more than 300 miners were exploring the boundaries of Munduruku territory–a location considered sacred to the tribe. The miners said that they would not leave until after the land was demarcated.

During Friday’s occupation, the tribe made statements that they would occupy the building and hold its staff hostage so long as there was no effective answer from Brasilia. However, after around seven hours without any indication that the government would give an answer, the tribe left to return to self-demarcation, clearly choosing to use their autonomous community power rather than rely on government bodies that had only let them down. The Munduruku expressed concern, however, that the action would generate a retaliation from the miners and loggers present along the borders of their territory, and in the words of a spokesperson for the women of the Munduruku, “If we get into a conflict with the invaders, the government will have to take responsibility.”

7. Harper government destroys farmer control over seed with Bill C-18

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is sounding the alarm with the passing of Bill C-18, the Agriculture Growth Act, an omnibus bill that was cleared last Monday in the House of Commons. According to Jan Slomp, the National Farmers Union President, “Farmers must now contend with UPOV ’91. UPOV ’91 is one of the most farmer-unfriendly mechanisms we have ever seen.”

As explained by Terry Boehm, Chair of the National Farmers Union’s Seed and Trade Committee, “UPOV ’91, enacted through Bill C-18, gives plant breeders exclusive rights over seed by allowing them complete control over the saving and reusing, conditioning, stocking, importing and exporting of seed. They also now control who may be authorized to do any of these activities. ...Farmers get a “privilege” which can be removed or diminished, (which would allow them) to save and reuse, condition and store seed for their own holdings. The most immediate problem is (that) farmers now have only a transient privilege while breeders have permanent exclusive rights. This is wrong, wrong, wrong,” Boehm declared. In lamenting the flaws of this new legislation, he said he fears that “farmers will end up in court over this error.”

As Union President Jan Slomp concluded, “Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz stated that the Harper government is being run like a business. It is certainly being run for big business and not the public interest. Bill C-18 is another blatant example of this mind-set.”

Midway Music: My Favourite Mutiny by The Coup feat. Black Thought & Talib Kweli

Feature: “Indict the System: Indigenous and Black Connected Resistance” by Leanne Simpson

Closing Song: A Tribe Called Red by Angel Haze