In Ontario, a group of activists have dug in to halt the construction of Line 9, a pipeline that would transport toxic diluted bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands through communities and watersheds, as well as First Nations, which have not been consulted, nor consented to the pipeline crossing their land. Opposition to the pipeline has been steadily building since June. The facebook page for #SwampLine9 has the most current information, as well as this tumblr, updated often.
Vanessa Gray, Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines is quoted as saying ”The health of Aamjiwnaang is suffering from the effects from Canada’s Chemical Valley as a result of Environmental Racism. We need to act now in defence of the land we depend on before Enbridge permanently destroys our territories. This is a human rights issue that effects future generations of all peoples.” Facts from he facebook include:
Every First Nations band council that intervened in the NEB process said that they had not been consulted in accordance to the Canadian consultation.  Enbridge refuses to carry $1 billion in insurance to cover the costs of a possible spill, arguing that it is unnecessary. Meanwhile, clean up for Enbridge’s Kalamazoo disaster has cost over $1 billion in an area with a population of 7,000.  Richard Kuprewicz, a pipeline safety expert with over forty years of experience in the energy sector, says the probability of Line 9 rupturing is “over 90%.” 
Yesterday Trish Mills entered into a plea on the charge of mischief. She was charged for her part in stopping construction at an Enbridge oil station for 6 days. The court did not allow her to make her statement to the gallery, so it was posted on the #SwampLine9 tumblr here. It read:
Today I plead guilty to the charge of mischief.
It is a charge I received for interrupting operations at an Enbridge oil pumping station for a total of six days.
I accept responsibility for my actions, and all which that entails.
My understanding is that this is the type of personal accountability the court wishes to hear.
That said, it is this same moral strength which saw me charged in the first place.
I believe in honouring the land, water and all living things, and that they deserve our respect and protection.
I believe that the communities, treaties and teachings of first nations people deserve our reverence.
Enbridge’s line 9 is a risk to all of these things – both here in Ontario and in a broader context so I see my actions this past summer was nothing less than a harmony between my actions and my principles.
I believe in what I did then and I believe in it now, and I understand that that is not what the court wishes to hear.
But this action was one of necessity, borne of a failed and exclusionary regulatory process. Other means were tried, and failed, because today’s political climate encourages the exploitation of land, water and people.
I know that it would be easier –and safer – to stand here and lie. To show full remorse and voice regret as I’ve been told to do. But I can’t’ do that because, no matter what sentence is handed down today, I have to be able to live with my actions and their implications.
This isn’t to say I have no regrets at all; I have several.
I regret that this action may have put some people of Westover in a difficult situation.
I regret if an individual was hurt by my actions.
I especially regret that action like this must be taken at all, and that people are being criminalized for defending such fundamental things.
And so in making a decision about sentencing today, I wish to remind the court that despite a lack of remorse I have consideration fir others. I do positive things for people and my community through activism, education, advocacy and volunteer work.
I aim to work in animal rescue, and have deferred acceptance into a program.
There was also no person hurt by my actions – physically or financially. It is Enbridge policy to pay their workers in these situations.
Finally, I gained no extrinsic reward for my actions, however I did risk -and I stand here risking – plenty.
My journey these past months has been both interesting and challenging, though not impossible. I have learned much.
To my supporters here today –in case for some reason I can’t tell you later – take note.
There may not ever be any real victory in the courts, but there is always victory in doing what you feel is right.
Don’t give up.
No tarsands. No line 9.
On Thursday January 9th, 2014 Gary Wassaykeesic will be taking his charge from Swamp Line 9 to trial. Gary is a first nations activist initially charged with “break & enter” for asserting his indigenous sovereignty on native land.
John Sopinka Courthouse
45 Main St. East.
For further information on #SwampLine9:
NO PIPELINES. NO TARSANDS. NO LINE 9.
The family of a schizophrenic teenager had called the police in to help them control an incident only to have the event unfold as a tragic police killing. The boy, 18 year-old Keith Vidal was holding a small electronics screwdriver and acting erratic. Two officers who were initially on the scene had been able to calm the boy down, and get him to a ‘more rational’ state of mind, according to a family friend, when a third officer arrived at the family residence. The third officer gave the order for the boy to be tased and restrained, after he instructed the other officers to “stop negotiating” and the boy tried to flee into a bathroom. It was that same officer who shot him in the chest at close range saying “we don’t have time for this.” Had it not been for his father engaging the officer, he would have fired a second shot into the boy.
Anthony Owens, a family friend describes the killing in this article on BoingBoing.Net,
“As Vidal’s father tried to step in and grab the screwdriver, the Southport Police Officer that had instructed the other officers to use their tasers moved between the father and the pile of people on the floor and said ‘We don’t have time for this’ and shot Vidal once in the chest as the other two officers held him on the floor. Vidal’s father then grabbed the officer as he was lining himself up for another shot.” 
“Owens insists that Vidal did not threaten anyone and has no history of violence: “[The officer] could have just as easily killed one of his own. If it weren’t for Keith’s father grabbing the officer, he would have shot him again. Keith was … about 5’3 to 5’5 and 90 to 100lbs. Keith was small for his age.” “
We all hope that Keith and his family see justice for this execution, and we extend sincere condolences to his family, friends and community.
FULL STORY HERE: http://boingboing.net/2014/01/06/ncsummaryexecution.html
The Guardian and other news sources are reporting that workers at a French Goodyear Tyre plant are holding who of their executive bosses hostage. After being described as “lazy and overpaid” by an American tycoon, Staff at the doomed Goodyear tyre factory in Amiens, northern France, have kidnapped production manager Michel Dheilly and Human Resources director Bernard Glesser.
The executives arrived to have a meeting with union representatives on Monday morning, but were met by 200 workers who barricaded them into a meeting room with a tractor tyre “for the foreseeable future.” The workers have allowed the executives to keep their phones and are giving them water, but have made it clear that they have no intention of leaving the building, and have vowed to bring mattresses and sleep on site until things are resolved.
The action today is in response to an American Headquarters decision to close the factory, costing over 1000 people to lose their full time employment. From the Daily Mail, outlining an exchange with the chairman of Titan International, who was written a letter asking him if he’d consider taking over the struggling plant:
Mr Taylor wrote in a letter: ‘I have visited the factory several times. The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. ’They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three hours and work for three. I told the French union workers this to their faces. They told me that’s the French way!’  He added: “You can keep your so called ‘workers’.”
Well, it looks like the “French way” also includes taking your executives hostage until you treat them fairly… like in 2009, the Chief Executive Officer and Human Resources Director of Sony France were held captive by workers demanding better severance packages. Or in 2008 when the English boss of a car-parts factory in eastern France was held for 48 hours in his office, and the altercation at an ice-cream factory where police stormed in to free a manager who had been held hostage by workers angry over job cuts. (At least 14 staff were injured trying to stop police releasing him.)  For a bunch of supposedly lazy people, they sure seem willing to fight for their jobs, and for fair treatment.
Interested in reading more about this? Check out articles written about it at:
The Guardian, The Daily Mail, and The Independent
For the story about previous French boss-nappings, check out this article on The Guardian Website from 2009.
BREAKING NEWS out of Colorado. News has broke on Green Is The New Red that an undercover animal rights activist working in a dairy facility has been charged with animal cruelty. Charges come after the release of footage showing three men beating newly born calves–some so young their umbilical cords were still attached.
The footage was released by Compassion Over Killing–a non-profit animal protection group. Shortly after the video’s release on Nov 13, 2013 police decided that in addition to charging the men in the video, that they would also charge the person who obtained the footage for not giving it to them in what they deem to be “a timely manner.” Activist Taylor Radig worked at Quanah Cattle Co. and footage of the abuse was release 2 months after they had terminated their employment. Police say this was too long to wait to release it, and feel doing so was acting with negligence and substantiates the charge Animal Cruelty.
Radig is also being investigated as having been a participant in the acts of abuse. This is an unprecedented charge for a whistleblower, and there is a belief that the charges may be politically motivated as a way to discourage activists who expose the cruelty within agribusiness. From Green Is The New Red:
Compassion Over Killing said in a statement that the prosecution is retaliatory: “The charge against our investigator is unsupported by the law and it reeks of political motivation fueled by an agribusiness industry that is once again lashing out in desperation to stop undercover investigators from exposing the truth.”
Further details can be found in the parent article here.
The investigation and video by Compassion Over Killing can be found here.
(Warning: Video at the link contains graphic footage of abuse.)
And the details about charges laid against the men in the video can be found in the news report here.
This past summer I was lucky enough to be contracted by FARM to film and produce a couple videos about their 10 billion lives campaign. This video is the five minute promo, showcasing what the traveling campaign is all about. This is a wonderful and effective campaign, and I respect their work a tremendous amount.
Learn more at 10billiontour.org