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Features

Peruvians fight same company that takes Coromandel gold

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Yesterday a state of emergency was extended for yet another month following the deaths of four people during protests against the multi-billion dollar Conga gold project in Cajamarca, located in northern Peru. The company responsible for the massive Conga gold project is Newmont Mining Company, the same company responsible for the Martha, Trio and Favona mines at Waihi.

Syria: America’s new war, and maybe NZ’s too

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Just two weeks ago, the International Committee for the Red Cross defined the situation in Syria as a ‘civil war’. This was widely reported in the media as a turning point in the situation there, but the name belies the international power politics at play within the country and the high stakes being sought. The people of Syria are right now being massacred and killed in vast numbers in a sick political game being waged by the United States and its allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It all seems a tragedy far away from quiet life in New Zealand, but there is a very real possibility of much greater US troop involvement in Syria. Consequently, there is a much greater likelihood of New Zealand Special Air Service (SAS) and even NZ Naval frigate deployments in support of a full-blown US war on Syria.

Major raids in US Pacific Northwest target anarchists and occupy movement

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On Wednesday last week, the FBI and US Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) carried out major raids in Portland Oregon, Olympia, Washington and Seattle, Washington targeting anarchists and people involved in the Occupy movement.

Fracking Tour calls for council audit

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This weekend's Dirty As Regional Fracking Tour of Taranaki brought together around 60 people from across Taranaki, the Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Dannevirke and Wellington. There was also media from local papers, tv, radio and independent film makers.

The day began and ended with tears for many people as locals Michael Self, Sarah Roberts and others recounted their experiences with the oil and gas industry and the regional council.

Celebrating this weekend: the achievements of the National Government

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This weekend, National Party members are gathering in Auckland for their annual conference. They will be celebrating their success as they go into the second year of their second term, and plotting for another electoral victory come November-ish 2014.

With this in mind, it is worth looking over the stunning achievements of Key’s National Government.

#ANFS - J14 - Day of Action against asset sales

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Tomorrow - 14 July - will see an unprecedented coordination of protests, theatrical performances and hui against asset sales in 16 different towns and cities across New Zealand. In Auckland, we will meet at Britomart at 2pm for music (King Kapisi) and conversation, march up Queen St to the Town Hall for a hui, and hold a meeting at the Pioneer Women’s Hall following the action. Other actions will be happening on this day in Wellington, Dunedin, Christchurch, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Nelson, Palmerston North, Tauranga, Timaru, Hokianga, Takaka, Whanganui, Whangarei, Raglan and Napier.

"All Aotearoa/NZ has accomplished since they started selling off publicly owned assets in the 1980s is to substantially increase the now massive gap between rich and poor. This process has been greatly aggravated by trade liberalisation that has virtually shut down manufacturing in this country and by tax cuts that benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor. We need to organise in our workplaces and our communities to make sure that social justice is not just a vague hope, but that it becomes a reality. Aotearoa is not for sale!" said an organiser of the New Plymouth protest.

Links: Aotearoa Is Not For Sale | Interview (MP3) | Water wars: the New Zealand Maori Council at the Waitangi Tribunal | Details of protests below

Water wars: the New Zealand Maori Council at the Waitangi Tribunal

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Updates: Crown cooks books to sell assets (12 July) | You can't sell what you don't own (11 July)

Today was the second day of an urgent hearing of the Waitangi Tribunal. The Tribunal was convened to hear the claims of the NZ Maori Council (NZMC)  representing iwi and hapu around the country regarding breaches of Treaty of Waitangi rights to water by the impending sale of state assets (3 power companies and Solid Energy). There are also third party claimants who will give evidence in the hearing who are not represented by the NZMC.

These critically important claims have the possibility of delaying or stopping the planned sale of state assets. The claimants are asking the Tribunal to issue an interim recommendation to the government to delay the sale of Mighty River Power, the first company slated for sale. Use of water by electricity companies using hydropower is not just a peripheral issue to their main business; rather, water is their main asset. It is the resource that turns the turbines.

The Tribunal is tasked with determining the government's ability to provide redress for well-founded Treaty claims to water. Specifically, it is tasked with determining 1. do Maori have rights to water? 2. If so, what are the extent of those rights? 3. If the government is limiting or extinguishing that right, what redress will be provided?

IPCA Investigates Police Action at Blockade the Budget Protest

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A complaint laid by the Blockade the Budget group regarding police action on the 1st of June is being investigated by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA). In the aftermath of the protest, the Blockade the Budget group were informed of numerous instances of police brutality and outrage at the unwarranted suppression of peaceful assembly on university grounds. After collecting evidence from a number of participants at the protest, the Blockade the Budget group laid an official complaint with the Authority. The complaint addressed the excessive use of force by the police during the protest, including the use of kettling, and the right to freedom of speech, assembly and movement. There were also concerns expressed about police officers with no identification at the protest.

The Authority has decided to investigate the complaint directly, using its powers under s 17(1)(a) of the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act 1988, which reflects the importance of these issues.

Blockade the Budget will be continuing their protests against cuts to education across all sectors at 1pm on the 21st of July at Britomart.

Links: Blockade the Budget (Facebook) | Statement of intent

Battery hen operation blockaded

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The country’s largest battery hen operation at Waikouaiti north of Dunedin was blockaded by animal rights activists on 7 metre high tripods. The Coalition to End Factory Farming began their audacious road blockade early this morning on the company’s only vehicle access road to protest hen cruelty and halt production. Three people were arrested by police using a cherry picker.

Coalition to End Factory Farming spokesperson, Deirdre Sims, says she and fellow activists are currently suspended from the top of steel towering tripods on the road and chained to a gate, forming a blockade. “By design, any attempt to remove the tripods, will put our lives at risk,” she says.

“Today’s action has effectively shut down Mainland Poultry and halted the distribution of cruelly produced eggs to their suppliers,” says Coalition spokesperson, Carl Scott, who spent one month inside a cage outside Mainland Poultry last year. [ MORE ]

Update: The three protesters arrested have since been released without charge.

Links: Photos | Open Rescue | SAFE media release

Winter of dissent - Aotearoa is not for sale

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The growing movement against the sale of state assets has a busy month ahead with a national day of action on 14 July and the National Party conference in Auckland on 21/22 July. The government plans to sell up to 49% of Genesis Power Limited, Meridian Energy Ltd, Mighty River Power Ltd, Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd and Air New Zealand Ltd. Share prices will start at $1000 so that New Zealanders can, according to Key, buy the assets. But as pointed out by Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson, most Kiwis don't have a spare $1000. "Most New Zealanders I talk to about the asset sales are worried about paying their power bill not buying a power company."

Only on Friday, John Key was confronted by a noisy group of protesters in Whanganui angry about the government's agenda.

The Mixed Ownership Model Bill has passed its second reading in parliament last week yet every opinion poll makes it obvious that a clear majority of the population is opposed to selling the assets.

Links: Referendum | Aotearoa is not for sale | Auckland 14 July | Napier 30 June | Upcoming events