All That Glitters Isn’t Gold

All That Glitters Isn’t Gold

All That Glitters Isn’t Gold – A Story of Exploitation and Resistance” is an hour-long documentary about the San Martin open-pit gold mine in the Siria Valley of Honduras, and the efforts of local indigenous communities to shut it down.

Operating since 1998, the San Martin Mine has been a disastrous burden for the local population. More than fifty percent suffer from skin disorders and numerous internal health issues due to the consumption and use of local water. A significant percentage of children suffer from chronic illness and have no means of diagnosis or treatment.

The mine, which is now owned by Vancouver-based Goldcorp, has had a similar effect on the local economy, which is traditionally based on agriculture and cattle. As a 2006 open letter states, many people simply can’t make ends meet anymore, leading them to immigrate to the United States, breaking apart their families and community life.

In response to all of this, what has essentially become a way of life — the communities have done everything in their power to shut down the mine. Unfortunately, they have been met with little more than cynicism, harassment, military violence assassinations, and perverse claims that the mine is a model of healthy development.

The San Martin is nearing closure today (almost all the gold is gone), which means it won’t be long before the community will see the end of this ten-year-long molestation, and begin returning to their own way of life. Nevertheless, the damage has been done. The communities may never be the same again.

  • Watch the Full Documentary here
  • Purchase a DVD for $20, or Organize a Screening, contact



What Indy Media Heroes Can Teach Us

What Indy Media Heroes Can Teach Us

by Jeff Cohen

Independent media outlets that contributed so mightily to the stunning election result are about to be tested as to their “independence.” With Democrats in control, will these outlets be guided by principle or just partisanship? Will they speak truth to power and expose corruption and injustice over the long haul – no matter who’s in charge?U.S. history offers role models. In this era when indy journalists reach mass audiences via blogs, viral video and podcasts, there is much to learn from the originators of dissident journalism. From the start of the Republic, bold entrepreneurs (often sole proprietors like many of today’s bloggers) stood up to censorship, jail and violence to sustain independent outlets that transformed our country.

Our Republic’s founding owes much to revolutionary pamphleteers like Tom Paine, who agitated against the King in Common Sense, a pamphlet that sold 150,000 copies when the colonial population was only 2.5 million people.

Study any cause that has improved our country since and you’ll find stubbornly independent journalists who challenged injustice in the face of ridicule and scorn from the mainstream media of their day. These journalistic heroes are chronicled in Rodger Streitmatter’s inspiring book, Voices of Revolution: The Dissident Press in America.

** Fifty years after the founding of our country, the development of factory production in Northeastern cities spawned the first labor weeklies – such as Philadelphia’s Mechanic’s Free Press and New York’s Working Man’s Advocate – that invoked the egalitarian spirit of 1776 to demand public schools, no child labor, a shorter (10-hour) workday and abolition of prison time as a penalty for debt. Mainstream dailies denounced such reforms as “fanatical” – but years later they became law.

** In 1831, a printer’s apprentice in Boston named WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON founded The Liberator, an incendiary abolitionist publication that defended slave revolts. “Our fathers spared nothing to free the country from British yoke,” Garrison declared, “and the freedom of the black slaves is as holy a cause as that of the Revolution.” He was jailed, assaulted and nearly lynched. The Georgia legislature offered a bounty to anyone who would kidnap Garrison and haul him to Georgia. The U.S. Postmaster General condoned vigilantes destroying the paper. Garrison reveled in (and reprinted) the denunciations he received from pro-slavery dailies, North and South. But nothing – including poverty – could stop The Liberator for 35 years, until slavery was abolished.

** In 1868, soon after Garrison’s paper ceased, feminists ELIZABETH CADY STANTON and SUSAN B. ANTHONY founded The Revolution to uphold the truth that “all men and women were created equal.” Not just a suffrage publication (“the ballot is not even half the loaf; it is only a crust, a crumb”), it campaigned against job discrimination, sexual harassment and domestic violence. With research documenting lower pay for female teachers nationwide, The Revolution championed equal pay for equal work, a now-popular concept (even if not fully embraced by Sen. John McCain). Like the ethical choices independents face today that undercut financial health, Stanton refused to run the then-ubiquitous ads for quack health elixirs. After the weekly ceased publishing after 30 months, Stanton commented: “I have the joy of knowing that I showed it to be possible to publish an out and out woman’s paper, and taught other women to enter in and reap where I have sown.”

** As The Revolution was ending, even more daring publications sprang up in the 1870s, advocating “free love,” sexual freedom and the right to divorce. Foreshadowing alternative papers of the 1960s and ‘70s, VICTORIA WOODHULL, editor of Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, described her “free love” philosophy in 1871: “I have an inalienable, constitutional and natural right to love whom I may, to love as long or short a period as I can, to change that love every day if I please. And with that right neither you nor any law you can frame have any right to interfere.” Not the kind of talk one hears from candidates for president – Woodhull ran in 1872. Her weekly once boasted a circulation of 20,000. Another sexual reform publication, The Word, was launched in 1872 by a rural Massachusetts couple, EZRA AND ANGELA HEYWOOD. It lasted 20 years, likening the husband/wife relationship to master/slave – and advocating for abortion choice and “unconditional repeal of the laws against adultery and fornication.”

These publications prompted a Religious Right backlash in the form of crusader Anthony Comstock and his Society for the Suppression of Vice, leading to federal and state anti-obscenity laws against mailing, distributing or receiving “lewd or lascivious” materials – the Comstock laws. Writers like Woodhull and Ezra Heywood did jail time.

** One of the real heroes of independent journalism in our country’s history was IDA B. WELLS, pamphleteer and founder of the anti-lynching movement in the 1890s. Born a slave, she edited the Memphis Free Press, distributed in several Southern states. To stop white newsstand proprietors from tricking illiterate blacks who asked for – but did not receive – the Free Press, she cleverly started printing it on pink paper. Wells moved to New York from Memphis after a mob destroyed her newspaper office. As an investigative journalist, she established in case after case the total innocence of victims of lynching – usually accused of rape. She advocated boycotts against racist white businesses (“the white man’s dollar is his god”), black migration from cities and towns where lynching was condoned, and ultimately self-defense against white vigilantes: “A Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home.” Wells was denounced by racist Southern and Northern dailies, including the New York Times, which called her a “slanderous and nasty-minded mulatress.” Her efforts led to state anti-lynching laws; she helped found the NAACP.

** Perhaps the biggest publication in the history of independent American journalism was the Appeal to Reason, a socialist weekly based in rural Kansas that reached a nationwide paid circulation of 750,000 in 1912 (equivalent to 2.4 million today).  Like computer geeks who came to blogging, J.A. WAYLAND came to publishing as a printer’s apprentice. Like website operators who prefer anonymity, Wayland used an alias so he could cover socialist and labor gatherings without fanfare. Like websites that use “citizen journalists” to extend their reach, the Appeal recruited thousands of volunteer correspondents (to complement its 100-person staff). Editor FRED WARREN also recruited well-known writers like Jack London and Helen Keller. Labor organizer Mary “Mother” Jones did investigative reporting on unsafe working conditions, novelist Upton Sinclair wrote the inside reports on Chicago’s meatpacking plants that would soon become a bestselling book, The Jungle, and socialist leader Eugene Debs threatened an insurrection if mine union leaders were convicted in a frame-up in Idaho.

A 1908 bill in Congress that would deny discounted second-class mail privileges to publications deemed “radical” was killed beneath a deluge of protests from Appeal readers in every state. But years of federal and postal harassment, a failed assassination attempt and personal smears in mainstream publications took their toll on Wayland, who ultimately committed suicide in a state of depression. His democratic socialist utopia never materialized; reforms like union rights, labor laws and social security did.

These stories are deftly told in Streitmatter’s Voices of Revolution – as are those of other indy media heroes:

** ROBERT S. ABBOTT built the largest black paper in the country in the early 1900s, the Chicago Defender, to a circulation of 230,000 – much of it circulated hand-to-hand in the Deep South. The Defender’s relentless coverage of violent outrages in the South, coupled with glowing accounts of opportunities for blacks in the North, was a key force in the “Great Migration” of African Americans to Chicago and northern cities. Today, independent media rely on viral Internet; Abbott cultivated thousands of black sleeping-car porters – he advocated for them in print, and they transported his paper by the bundles from Chicago to cities and towns throughout the South.

** MARGARET SANGER was a well-off woman whose Woman Rebel magazine (and later Birth Control Review) advocated for working women and their right to choose not to conceive. Her mother had 11 children, plus seven miscarriages. “A woman’s body belongs to herself alone,” wrote Sanger. “It does not belong to the United States of America.” She originated the phrase “birth control.” For advocating it in print, she was jailed and briefly exiled under the Comstock laws. She went on to launch Planned Parenthood.

One journalistic maverick not discussed in Streitmatter’s book is GEORGE SELDES, a longtime mainstream foreign correspondent who launched the first and largest media criticism newsletter in U.S. history, In Fact, in 1940. It reached a circulation of 170,000 by 1947, before federal harassment and anti-Communist hysteria caused its demise in 1950. In Fact exposed the fascist sympathies of U.S. media moguls like William Randolph Hearst; 70 years ago, Seldes exposed the ongoing cover-up of tobacco’s health dangers in media outlets awash in cigarette ads. “The most sacred cow of the press,” said Seldes, “is the press itself.”

* *

Today’s independent journalists have much to learn from their ancestors – including I.F. Stone’s Weekly and Ramparts magazine (circulation 250,000) that criticized the Vietnam War as Democratic presidents expanded it. And from the underground press of the 1960s – and gay and women’s media that emerged in the 1970s. A few lessons:

Don’t shy away from “lost causes”: In the face of public rebuke, financial loss and government repression far worse than what’s suffered by indy U.S. journalists today, the founding fathers and mothers of dissident journalism were fearless as they fought for longshot causes. Even when jailed or silenced or driven to despair, these journalistic trailblazers paved the way. “The only fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose,” explained I.F. Stone. “Because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins.… Go right ahead and fight, knowing you’re going to lose. You mustn’t feel like a martyr. You’ve got to enjoy it.”

Take advantage of mainstream silence: With their tenacious focus on slavery and lynching, William Lloyd Garrison and Ida B. Wells took aim at moral outrages that most mainstream journalism treated with quietude or platitudes. It’s no accident that a socialist weekly and not the New York Times assigned Upton Sinclair to expose working conditions in meat-packing, leading to The Jungle bestseller. Nor is it an accident today that Jeremy Scahill’s independent reporting on U.S. mercenaries in Iraq became the Blackwater bestseller – while corporate media slept. As Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! urges: “Go to where the silence is and say something.”

Take advantage of crisis: From the labor weeklies of the 1830s to the anti-establishment media of the late 1960s, independent outlets have boomed in eras of social upheaval and system failure of the type we’re experiencing now. Crisis brings audience; larger and emergent communities become reachable. When Team Bush promoted the Iraq invasion through obvious lies and distortions, the corporate media system faced a journalistic crisis . . . and failed – turning large numbers of independent-minded citizens into mainstream media exiles hungering for alternatives.

Take advantage of new technologies: Independent media have historically blossomed with new technologies and formats. The advent of offset printing and FM radio, for example, were key to 1960s counter-culture media. But nothing compares to today’s communications revolution, with new technologies slashing the costs of production and the Internet transforming media distribution – giving independents and startups a real chance to compete and thrive.

Defend press freedom and media reform: Major steps forward for dissident media have often brought reactions from status quo forces – sometimes violent suppression, sometimes more subtle responses like threats to their mailing rights. Last year, small magazines faced a big postal rate hike, a plan devised by the Time Warner conglomerate. Bonafide bloggers have often been denied press access. To flourish, independent media need enhanced public, community and minority broadcasting; non-profit and public access to cable and satellite TV; and Net Neutrality, preventing Internet providers like Comcast and Time Warner from privileging certain websites while discriminating against others.

Activate your base: Without distribution help from train porters, the Chicago Defender could not have reached its Southern Black Belt readership. Without an army of volunteer correspondents, the Appeal to Reason could not have had its nationwide clout. Today, blogger Josh Marshall relies on the involvement and research of his Talking Points Memo readership in exposing scandals like U.S. Attorneygate that brought down an Attorney General. The video distribution success of Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films/Brave New Foundation relies on partnering with Netroots groups and activists. More than ever in our Internet era, the success of independent media depends on active communities – “the people formerly known as the audience.”

Stay stubbornly independent: This is the ultimate lesson. The waves of social progress that have reformed our country would not have happened had independent journalists gone silent or soft because of an election result or a change of parties in power.

Jeff Cohen is the founding director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. He founded the media watch group FAIR in 1986.


Coal plants jeopardized over climate

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

WASHINGTON – The fate of scores of new coal-burning power plants is now in limbo over whether to regulate heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
The uncertainty resulted when an Environmental Protection Agency appeals panel on Thursday rejected a federal permit for a Utah plant, leaving the issue for the Obama administration to resolve.
The panel said the EPA’s Denver office failed to adequately support its decision to issue a permit for the Bonanza plant without requiring controls on carbon dioxide, the leading pollutant linked to global warming.
The matter was sent back to that office, which must better explain why it failed to order limits on carbon dioxide. This is “an issue of national scope that has implications far beyond this individual permitting process,” the panel said.

Thousands to Protest Citi and Bank of America’s Coal Investments

Thousands to Protest Citi and Bank of America’s Coal Investments

National Coal Day of Action to include demonstrations in more than 50 cities

SAN FRANCISCO – November 14 – Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has recruited thousands of activists in more than 50 cities across the U.S. to protest Citi and Bank of America’s coal investments in a mass demonstration against coal and coal finance that will take place Nov. 14-15.

RAN and the thousands of citizens who plan to participate in the Day of Action are demanding that the top financiers of the coal industry, Citi and Bank of America, lead the transition to a 21st-century clean energy economy that will put people to work and avert catastrophic climate change.

“The science is clear: a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants, and phase-out of existing coal plants, is essential if we want to preserve creation, the life on our planet, for young people and future generations,” said Dr. James Hansen, the nation’s leading climate scientist, in promoting the Day of Action.

The National Day of Action – organized by RAN, Rising Tide North America, Greenpeace and others – will feature marches, flyering at local bank branches, creative street theater, and non-violent direct actions at bank offices. Cities where actions will take place include Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and St. Louis.

“Investments made today by the world’s leading financial institutions will shape our climate and economy for decades to come,” said Rebecca Tarbotton, director of RAN’s Global Finance Campaign. “Just as risky bank investments mortgaged the economic future of millions of American families, gambling on coal will mortgage our climate unless banks immediately start funding renewable energies rather than dirty fossil fuels.”

Coal is responsible for nearly 40 percent of America’s global warming emissions. Citi is the nation’s largest coal financier, providing financial support to 45 companies that have proposed new coal power plants. Currently, 110 coal plants are still slated for development in the United States.

Bank of America is involved with eight of the U.S’s top mountaintop removal coal-mining operators, which collectively produce more than 250 million tons of coal each year. Mountaintop removal flattens mountain ranges and transforms healthy mountain woodlands into toxic sludge that has clogged more than 700 miles of rivers and streams. The practice is a major threat to the existence of many Appalachian communities.

“Citi and Bank of America are the ATMs of the coal industry,” said Lauren Valle, an organizer of the New York actions. “I am participating in this Day of Action to tell Citi and Bank of America that their destructive investments are threatening our homes, our savings, and our climate. These banks must take responsibility for the social and environmental impacts of their financing.”

Four years ago, environmentalists in the U.S. raised concerns over plans to build 150 coal-fired power stations nationwide. Today, the growing national coal movement has defeated dozens of these plans and is actively opposing the rest. While Al Gore has called for young people to participate in civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal-fired power plants, urban and rural communities are demonstrating that it is a moral imperative to stop climate-killing coal plants in their tracks.

For more information, visit


American Indian man wins hearing to stay in settlement home

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

TAMA — After a decade of struggle a Rosebud Sioux man is getting a hearing to determine whether he’ll be allowed to stay at home with his Meskwaki wife and three daughters.

An order from the Meskwaki Tribal Council banning James Iron Shell, 49, from the Meskwaki Settlement has been temporarily set aside. The document, called an order for exclusion, would have forced Iron Shell from his wife’s house Wednesday.

“I’m glad that they’re doing it in this manner and not enforcing that law enforcement option at this time,” Iron Shell said.

Klamath Dam-Removal Agreement Signed

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — An agreement signed Thursday lays the groundwork for removing four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River to help one of the West Coast’s most beleaguered salmon runs and end a longstanding environmental dispute.

Tribes, farmers, fishermen and conservation groups started three years ago on the heavy lifting of overcoming their differences to find a solution they all could live with, resulting in their Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement signed last January, Rothert said. That agreement included resolutions of long-standing conflicts such as irrigation and river flows, while lacking the key ingredient of removing the dams.

Removal of the PacifiCorp dams is expected to begin by 2020. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said in a conference call that President George W. Bush had told officials “to find a collaborative solution” that doesn’t pit one interest group against another.

Read the rest of the story on Reznet

Shell Mound Kickoff Dinner with Winona LaDuke

Shell Mound Kickoff Dinner with Winona LaDuke

Shell Mound and Peace Walk kicks off with dinner with Winona LaDuke in Oakland

By Johnella LaRose

OAKLAND — On Friday, November 14, participants of the Sacred Sites/Shell mound Peace Walk will gather for a kickoff dinner to start their two-week, 250-mile walk around the San Francisco Bay. Traditional Native American leaders and the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhists will lead the walk. We will walk and pray with our ancestors in areas where shell mounds and sacred sites have been desecrated by development. The November 14 dinner will feature Winona LaDuke, Native American leader, activist, and director of Honor the Earth, prayers, Native American drumming and prayers. The walkers will gather at Sogorea-te’-Glen Cove in Vallejo at 8am on November 15 to start walking. Local native people have been fighting for years to protect this burial ground and sacred site from development. Walkers will then travel on to Pt Pinole, El Cerrito, Alameda, Oakland, Hayward, Fremont, San Jose, and up to San Francisco to end with an educational picket at the Huichiun Shell mound in Emeryville on November 28 where a shopping mall complex was built on top of a series of shell mounds and burial sites. Each day of walking begins with a prayer circle. Participants then walk with sacred staffs as they travel through the Bay Area past dozens of sacred sites, Ohlone village sites, and visit many of the hundreds of huge shell mounds that used to dominate the Bay area. The largest of the shell mounds were as tall as 3 storey buildings and 300 feet in diameter. We stop to honor our ancestors and pray at the destruction of these sites. Along the way we are fed and housed by various community groups, churches, and a Sikh temple. This year is the culmination of four years of Sacred Sites/Shell mound Peace Walks. Read article and schedule