Category Archives: Agriculture

US Jury Holds Chiquita Liable for Colombian Death Squad’s Murder of Banana Workers

“The verdict does not bring back the husbands and sons who were killed,” said one attorney, “but it sets the record straight and places accountability for funding terrorism where it belongs: at Chiquita’s doorstep.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 6-11-2024 by Common Dreams

Then-AUC commander Carlos Castaño is seen here with some of his paramilitary fighters. Photo: Carlos Castaño Gil/Facebook

In what case litigants are calling the first time an American jury has held a U.S. corporation legally liable for atrocities abroad, federal jurors in Florida on Monday found that Chiquita Brands International financed a Colombian paramilitary death squad that murdered, tortured, and terrorized workers in a bid to crush labor unrest in the 1990s and 2000s.

The federal jury in West Palm Beach, Florida found the banana giant responsible for funding the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) and awarded eight families whose members were murdered by the right-wing paramilitary group $38.3 million in damages.

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Is Shell’s exit from Nigeria a front to dodge legal responsibilities?

The oil giant is selling its Niger Delta subsidiary – but lending the new owners the money for the purchase

By Andy Rowell and James Marriot Published 6-6-2024 by openDemocracy

Damaged trees in the Niger Delta following the 2008 Bodo oil spill. Photo: Sosialistisk Ungdom (SU)/flickr/CC

Nigerian activists believe Shell’s apparent end to its 87-year operation in the country is an effort to avoid its legal responsibilities while holding onto the potentially profitable side of the business.

In January, the oil giant revealed it had “reached an agreement to sell its Nigerian onshore subsidiary” to Renaissance, a consortium of four Nigerian oil firms and one based in Switzerland.

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Scientists Blockade EU Commission Offices to Demand Degrowth

Amid elections in Europe, opponents of ongoing planetary destruction argue that the “science is clear: politicians’ obsession with infinite economic growth is leading us straight to disaster.”

By Edward Carver. Published 6-7-2024 by Common Dreams

Degrowth advocates from Scientist Rebellion and affiliated groups blocked the entryway to the European Commission office in Brussels on June 7, 2024. Using posters, they wrote a slogan, “The future is degrowth,” onto the building’s facade. (Photo: Growth Kills)

A group of about 20 scientists and allies on Friday blocked the doors to the European Commission office in Brussels to demand degrowth policies as European Union elections unfold in which no party has such an agenda and pro-environment candidates are expected to lose seats.

The degrowth advocates, who came from Scientist Rebellion and affiliated groups, called for the EU to stop using Gross Domestic Product as an index of prosperity and an end to “over-consumption and the advertising that drives it,” among other demands. Carrying placards with messages such as “Green growth is a myth,” they prevented employees of the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, from getting to work Friday morning, they said in an emailed statement.

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Biden Restores, Expands Bedrock Environmental Law Gutted by Trump

“Today’s rule restores strong environmental review of federal actions and will go a long way towards having a meaningful process to assess the health and safety impacts of an array of projects,” said one campaigner.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 4-30-2024 by Common Dreams

Moms Speak Up to Defend the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Photo: Moms Clean Air Force/flickr/CC

In a clear demonstration of how U.S. President Joe Biden’s priorities differ from those of his GOP predecessor, the Democrat on Tuesday finalized a two-part push to revive and strengthen a landmark environmental law eviscerated by the Trump administration in 2020.

While in office, former Republican President Donald Trump—who has pledged to “drill, baby, drill” if he wins back the White House—attacked the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which ensures communities can weigh in on projects that are built nearby or otherwise impact them.

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‘Important Step’: EPA Finalizes Rule to Clean Up Forever Chemical Contamination

While praising the move, campaigners also said that the agency “must require polluters to pay to clean up the entire class of thousands of toxic PFAS chemicals, and it must ban nonessential uses.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 4-19-2024 by Common Dreams

Used at military bases ad civilian airports, PFAS in firefighting foam has contaminate drinking water across the country. Photo: Department of Defense/Public domain

Environmental and public health advocates on Friday welcomed the Biden administration’s latest step to tackle “forever chemicals,” a new Superfund rule that “will help ensure that polluters pay to clean up their contamination” across the country.

“It is time for polluters to pay to clean up the toxic soup they’ve dumped into the environment,” declared Erik D. Olson, senior strategic director for health at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We all learned in kindergarten that if we make a mess, we should clean it up. The Biden administration’s Superfund rule is a big step in the right direction for holding polluters accountable for cleaning up decades of contamination.”

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Low-Paid Immigrant Farmworkers Most at Risk From Toxic Weedkiller US Refuses to Ban

Farmworkers “should not be subjected to additional health risks due to the negligent actions of pesticide manufacturers, farm owners, and state regulatory agencies,” said one analyst.

By Julia Conley. Published 3-29-2024 by Common Dreams

Photo: rawpixel/Public domain

Concerns about the safety of paraquat, a highly toxic herbicide, pushed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2021 to ban its use on golf courses—but the weedkiller is still permitted for agricultural use, and a new first-of-its-kind analysis shows how the EPA’s continued approval of the substance has put low-income Latino communities at disproportionate risk for health impacts.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found in a study released Wednesday that 5.3 million pounds of paraquat were sprayed over a five-year period in California, the only state with readily available figures on the herbicide.

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Steven Donziger, Lawyer Targeted by Chevron, Appeals to Biden for Pardon

“A pardon would bring a measure of justice to a prosecution that has been widely criticized as a violation of international law… and as a grave threat to free speech,” said 14 attorneys backing the climate justice lawyer’s request.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 3-20-2024 by Common Dreams

Steven Donziger at sentencing hearing in 2021 Photo: Marisam77/Wikimedia Commons/CC

After exhausting his options in the judicial system, American attorney Steven Donziger on Wednesday launched a campaign seeking a pardon from U.S. President Joe Biden for his misdemeanor conviction—the result of a process that experts worldwide have condemned as retaliatory for his climate justice work and an abuse of the nation’s judiciary.

“No matter where one stands on the political spectrum, we should all be able to agree that what happened to me in the United States should not happen to anybody in any country that adheres to the rule of law,” Donziger said in a statement announcing a letter to Biden signed by 14 prominent lawyers and a leader at the advocacy group Amazon Watch.

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Florida GOP Passes ‘Vicious’ Bill Banning Mandatory Water Breaks for Workers

“We will see fatalities, because of what Florida Republicans chose to do this week,” said one workers’ rights advocate.

By Julia Conley. Published 3-8-2024 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: VideoHive

Displaying “punitive cruelty” toward Florida residents who work outdoors, the Republican-controlled state House on Friday approved a bill that would ban local governments from requiring that workplaces provide water breaks and other cooling measures.

The state Senate passed the measure on Thursday, with Republicans pushing the bill through as Miami-Dade County was scheduled to vote on local water break protections. If signed into law by the Republican governor, the proposal will preempt the county’s vote.

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Civil War Risks Triggering ‘Epic, Biblical-Style Famine’ in Sudan

“Millions of lives and the peace and stability of an entire region are at stake,” warned the head of the World Food Program.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 3-6-2024 by Common Dreams

South Sudanese children at the Imvepi Refugee camp in Northern Uganda. Photo: UNMISS/flickr/CC

International humanitarian organizations warned Wednesday that Sudan’s civil war risks triggering severe famine unless the fighting stops.

Fighting between rival factions of Sudan’s military government broke out nearly 11 months ago and spread rapidly throughout the northeastern African nation of 46 million people. Around 15,000 people have been killed and nearly 6 million others displaced during the war, while an estimated 1.5 million Sudanese have fled the country as refugees.

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Scientists Won’t Classify Anthropocene as ‘Epoch’ Yet, But Say Human Impact Undeniable

The Anthropocene is classified as a geological “event” at this point—as are mass extinctions and rapid expansions of biodiversity.

By Julia Conley Published 3-5-2024 by Common Dreams

Pollution in New Delhi India. Photo: Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier/flickr/CC

The idea underpinning scientists’ push to recognize the current time period as a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene dates back more than 100 years, but on Tuesday, a committee of experts voted down the proposal to officially declare a new age defined by human beings’ impact on the Earth.

The panel, organized by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), was tasked with weighing whether the Holocene—the epoch that began at the close of the last ice age, more than 11,000 years ago—has ended, and if so, when precisely the Anthropocene began.

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