New York Attorney General Launches Groundbreaking Fraud Suit Against Exxon

In late October, New York State’s Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a massive fraud suit against fossil fuels giant Exxon. The suit alleges that Exxon engaged in a “longstanding fraudulent scheme to deceive investors by providing false and misleading assurances that it was effectively managing the economic risks posed by increasingly stringent policies and regulations it expected to be adopted to address climate change.”

The attorney general’s office also alleges that Exxon’s former chairman and CEO, and later United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, knew about direct misrepresentations for years.

For the Real News, I speak to attorney Todd Paglia, executive director of Stand Earth, about the New York Attorney-General’s prospects for success. My discussion with Todd can be seen and heard here:

https://therealnews.com/stories/new-york-attorney-general-launches-groundbreaking-fraud-suit-against-exxon.

Legal Battle over Falsely Labelled Wines From Israel’s Illegal Settlements Heats Up

In January 2017, Dr. David Kattenburg of Winnipeg, Canada filed a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) about two wines produced in Israel’s illegal settlements. Those wines are sold in Canada bearing labels which falsely proclaim them to be “Product of Israel”. As such, they plainly violate Canadian law, including section 5 of the Food and Drugs Act and section 7 of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.

Dr. Kattenburg, who is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, reminded the CFIA that the Canadian government itself declares Israel’s settlements to be on occupied Palestinian territory and therefore a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is beyond reasonable dispute that those settlements form no part of Israel. As stated on the website of Global Affairs Canada:

Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip). The Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the occupied territories and establishes Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, in particular with respect to the humane treatment of the inhabitants of the occupied territories. As referred to in UN Security Council Resolutions 446 and 465, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace…

Canada recognizes Israel’s right to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, including through the restriction of access to its territory, and by building a barrier on its own territory for security purposes. However, Canada opposes Israel’s construction of the barrier inside the West Bank and East Jerusalem which are occupied territories. This construction is contrary to international law under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Canada not only opposes Israel’s construction of a barrier extending into the occupied territories, but also expropriations and the demolition of houses and economic infrastructure carried out for this purpose.

After months of careful consideration by at least seven CFIA analysts, including five specialists and a senior compliance officer, CFIA staff properly concluded that the wines violated Canadian law and that Dr. Kattenburg’s complaint was well-founded.

The CFIA then instructed the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) to remove the wines from the shelves of LCBO vendors until a proper action plan for rectifying the false labels had been formulated and implemented.

On July 12, 2017 – before Dr. Kattenburg himself was apprised of the CFIA’s decision – the main pro-Israel lobby groups in Canada somehow learned of the CFIA’s ‘disturbing’ decision and intensely lobbied the Canadian government to reverse it. They relied on article 1.4.1b of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA), an obscure provision that has nothing to do with product labelling. Nonetheless, the Canadian government quickly capitulated to the lobby’s demands and pressured the CFIA’s president into reversing his staff’s carefully considered decision.

Less than 24 hours after the lobby attacked the CFIA’s decision, the CFIA announced that it had reversed itself on the basis of “further clarification” of article 1.4.1(b), which CFIA staff had already considered before rendering its initial decision that the labels on these settlement wines violated Canadian law.

Canada’s pro-Israel lobby was aided in its efforts to circumvent Canadian law by Liberal MP Michael Levitt, the Chair of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group. On the day of the CFIA’s self-reversal, Levitt issued a statement in which he boasted about his advocacy for Israel and professed to have been “shocked and deeply concerned” by the CFIA’s enforcement of Canadian law.

Shortly after the CFIA’s lightening-speed self-reversal, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and Michael Levitt celebrated their victory for injustice by travelling to the illegal Psagot settlement in the West Bank and visiting one of the wineries that is the subject of Dr. Kattenburg’s complaint.

In October 2017, I commenced a judicial review application in the Federal Court of Canada on Dr. Kattenburg’s behalf. Dr. Kattenburg is asking the court to declare unlawful the CFIA’s decision to allow these wines to be sold in Canada bearing false “Product of Israel” labels. Dr. Kattenburg’s application is scheduled to be heard in the Toronto courthouse of the Federal Court on May 21 and 22, 2019.

On November 2, 2018, I filed with the Federal Court a copy of Dr. Kattenburg’s Memorandum of Fact and Law in support of his application. A complete copy of the Memorandum can be viewed at the end of this post.

Dr. Kattenburg stands to gain nothing from his extraordinary efforts to ensure that the Canadian government enforces Canadian law. As stated in his Memorandum of Fact and Law, he has commenced this legal proceeding “to help ensure respect for Canada’s consumer protection and product labelling laws, to help ensure that he and other Canadian wine consumers be provided truthful and accurate information about the wine products that they purchase and consume, and to ensure both Canada’s and Israel’s respect for international human rights and humanitarian law.” Although I am acting for Dr. Kattenburg on a pro bono basis, this legal proceeding requires him to incur significant expenses. We encourage you to help Dr. Kattemnburg to shoulder these expenses by contributing to his gofundme campaign here.

Dr. Kattenburg’s Memorandum of Fact and Law, filed with the Federal Court of Canada on November 2, 2018:

Applicant’s Memorandum of Law – FINAL

 

 

 

Arms Races Increase Atomic Arsenals, Raising the Risk of Nuclear Winter

For the Real News, I speak to Professor Alan Robock, a climate scientist who specializes in the climactic effects of nuclear weapons.

As Professor Robock explains, nuclear blasts produce massive fires, and the smoke from those fires blocks sunlight and can thereby precipitate a “nuclear winter” that would have catastrophic effects on agriculture and cause mass starvation.

Professor Robock’s view is that even a limited nuclear war has a high potential to precipitate a nuclear winter, yet his interactions with the Pentagon lead him to believe that Pentagon planners are utterly ignorant of the potential for a nuclear conflict to precipitate mass starvation.

As he states, “I have no evidence that anybody in the Pentagon knows anything about nuclear winter. I’ve never seen them state that this is a concern of theirs. I went to a meeting last year and talked to some military people, and they said, ‘Look, we understand the effects of blast from nuclear weapons, we understand the effects of radio activity, but we don’t understand the effect of fires, and so in our current planning, we just ignore them.’”

My discussion with Professor Robock can be seen and heard here:

https://therealnews.com/stories/arms-races-increase-atomic-arsenals-raising-the-risk-of-nuclear-winter

European Parliament Bans Single-Use Plastics in Historic Vote

For the Real News, I speak to Dr. Jonathan Latham about the European Parliament’s historic decision to adopt a broad ban on single-use plastics.

As Dr. Latham explains in our interview, the crisis of plastics pollutions in the oceans has become so severe that 95% of table salt contains plastic:

https://therealnews.com/stories/european-parliament-bans-single-use-plastics-in-historic-vote. 

McGill University Should Withdraw Its Honorary Doctorate To Hillel Neuer

Following his recent appearance on the far-right Rebel Media, during which he vilified Justin Trudeau’s government for showing a modicum of compassion to Palestinian refugees, Hillel Neuer of UN Watch has launched a mendacious attack on me and Professor Michael Lynk.

Professor Lynk is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). He has meticulously documented Israel’s severe human rights abuses in the OPT, and has therefore drawn the ire of the relentlessly pro-Israel UN Watch.

Apparently, Neuer’s prodigious ego remains bruised after this past summer’s convocation at McGill University. For reasons that no one in the Palestinian solidarity movement can fathom, McGill University decided earlier this year to confer an honorary doctorate on this shameless apologist for Israeli apartheid. In protest, I and two other Palestinian solidarity activists, Yves Engler and Paul Tetrault, disrupted Neuer’s acceptance speech during McGill’s convocation:

 

Now, Neuer and UN Watch, the pro-Israel propaganda organ that Neuer leads, are calling for Professor Lynk to denounce me after Professor Lynk and I shared a stage at a recent Symposium on Israel/Palestinein Winnipeg.

Continue Reading ›

Canada’s Eldorado Gold Demands 850 Million Euros From The Greek State

On my recent trip to Greece, I travelled to the Halkidiki region of northern Greece to see the Skouries open pit gold mine of Canadian miner Eldorado Gold. Standing at the edge of the mine, I spoke to Maria Kadoglou of Mining Watch Greece about fierce, local opposition to the mine and attempts by Eldorado to extract 850 million euros from the Greek State after the company was forced to suspend mining operations.

My report from the Skouries mine can be seen and heard here:

https://therealnews.com/stories/canadian-miner-eldorado-gold-demands-850-million-euros-from-greek-state.

The is the second of two field reports that I have done on the Skouries mine. In the first report, I covered the commencement of a trial in Thessaloniki, Greece against 21 local environmental defenders who are accused of committing criminal offences at the Skouries mine. That report can be seen here: https://therealnews.com/stories/greek-state-prosecutes-21-environmental-defenders-for-opposition-to-eldorado-gold-mine.

Resistance to the Skouries mine was featured in the Avi Lewis / Naomi Klein documentary, This Changes Everything.

 

 

Greek State Prosecutes 21 Environmental Defenders For Their Opposition To Eldorado Gold’s Skouries Mine

Eldorado Gold’s Skouries mine, situated in a pristine forest in the Halkidiki region of Greece, is, in many ways, a case study in how Canadian extractive corporations enrich their executives and shareholders by ruthlessly externalizing and imposing the costs of their profit-taking activities on local populations.

Earlier this month, I visited the courthouse in Thessaloniki, Greece to attend the first day of a trial in which 21 local activists who oppose this mine are being charged with a range of serious offences, including operating a criminal organization.

While at the Thessaloniki courthouse, I interviewed defence lawyer Vasilis Tzimourtos, who is acting for 9 of the 21 accused activists.

Mr. Tzimourtos argued that, not only is the state’s case against his clients devoid of evidence, but his clients are ordinary citizens who are being persecuted by the Greek authorities for having protected their families and their fellow citizens from the environmental depredations of this mine.

My report on the Skouries criminal trial and my interview of Mr. Tzimourtos can be seen and listened to here:

https://therealnews.com/stories/greek-state-prosecutes-21-environmental-defenders-for-opposition-to-eldorado-gold-mine