Stop the NATO War Games on Russia’s Doorstep. The Petition the British Government Tried to Ban

Nato military exercises are due to take place in Ukraine in July. UK troops will be deployed as part of Nato’s Rapid Trident manoeuvres. This is a dangerous move that will inevitably escalate an already tense situation.

On the 7 May Stop the War, along with CND and a number of politicians and celebrities, submitted a petition to the government’s e-petition web site in order to initiate a debate in parliament and bring a stop to this dangerous escalation. Three weeks passed and the government refused to publish the petition, even when the Leader of the House of Commons’ office intervened on our behalf. Today we went to the press, contacting all the major news outlets. As soon as journalists began phoning the Ministry of Defence, the government backed down and published the petition.

Sign the petition the government tried to ban. Let’s collect 100,000 signatures and stop this dangerous escalation of war.

No to Nato military exercises in Ukraine

Sign the e-petition

We note with great concern that UK and US troops are scheduled to participate in joint military exercises in Ukraine in July as part of NATO’s Rapid Trident manoeuvres. Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Its participation in military exercises by a nuclear-armed alliance with a first-strike policy can only further destabilise the country.

We call on the British government to urge the US and other NATO governments to cancel the Rapid Trident exercise, and to give a plain and public undertaking that Britain will not participate.

Initial signatories:

Lindsey German, convenor of Stop the War Coalition
Kate Hudson, general secretary of CND
Caroline Lucas MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
John Rees, Stop the War Coalition
Baroness Jenny Tonge
Ken Loach, film and TV director
Mark Rylance, actor
Miriam Margolyes OBE actor
Michael Rosen, author and broadcaster
Salma Yaqoob, former leader of the Respect Party
Andrew Murray, chief of staff for Unite union

Sign the e-petition

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A campaign success story – Deutsche Bank divests from Bumitama after pressure

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Deutsche Bank has told Friends of the Earth Europe and Rettet den Regenwald (Save the Rainforest) that it sold its shares in the Indonesian palm oil supplier Bumitama, an important supplier to palm oil giant Wilmar, following months of campaigning by the two groups. Despite numerous promises to clean up its act, Bumitama continues to produce illegal palm oil.

Bumitama supplies palm oil to one of the largest global traders in palm oil, Wilmar International, and received financial support from well-known European banks including HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Rabobank. Deutsche Bank’s announcement was made during their AGM on Thursday May 22nd, after the German NGO Rettet den Regenwald presented 87,900 signatures from German citizens calling on Deutsche Bank to divest from Bumitama.

Rettet den Regenwald spokesperson Mathias Rittgerott, who presented the signatures to Anshu Jain  and Juergen Fitschen  – the CEOs of Deutsche Bank – commented: “It is high time that a financial institution like Deutsche Bank listens to the voices of both its customers and German citizens. We do not support palm oil production, and we do not want Deutsche Bank to give any support to destructive palm oil companies.”

Friends of the Earth Europe and Walhi-Friends of the Earth Indonesia have led campaigns against Deutsche Bank’s investments since October 2013.

Anton P. Widjaya, director of Walhi-Friends of the Earth West Kalimantan said: “Deutsche Bank’s divestment from Bumitama is a good start towards cleaning up the mess of Bumitama and this step must be followed by other banks and investors who wish to invest responsibly.”

Friends of the Earth Europe presented participants at the Deutsche Bank shareholder meeting in Frankfurt with numerous cases of land-grabbing by Wilmar in Africa and Indonesia, including cases by Bumitama.
Mr. Fitschen responded that Deutsche Bank is in dialogue with Wilmar but is not ready to divest from palm oil companies in general because there is as of yet no alternative to palm oil.

Anne van Schaik, sustainability campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “Deutsche Bank has taken a positive first step. Now it must continue along this path by divesting from Wilmar, who despite promises to improve its behaviour, have not solved its problems in the countries where they operate. The palm oil sector has so many cases of land grabbing, deforestation and environmental degradation that there is no excuse for responsible financiers to invest in it.”

American and European financiers hold €371 million worth of shares in Wilmar, and have €1.1 billion in loans outstanding to Wilmar. In the Netherlands, ING holds more than €26 million in shares; the British bank HSBC holds €298 million in loans, while BNP Paribas and Dutch Rabobank hold €189 million and €111 million respectively. Deutsche Bank holds €4 million in shares and €12 million in outstanding loans.

Leaked Memo Reveals TTIP Would Export Fracked Gas Restriction-Free From U.S. to EU

 

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Tanker. Photo credit: FrackCheckWV
Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Tanker. Photo credit: FrackCheckWV

Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of Food & Water Watch

This week, negotiators from the U.S. and the EU began their fifth round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement, also known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Because the negotiations are all happening behind closed doors, the public is left largely in the dark about the content of the discussions. So what, exactly, do we know?

Officially, not much. But this week, an EU negotiation position “on raw materials and energy” was leaked to The Huffington Post. The text is nothing short of a wish list of demands from Big Oil and Gas, which will lock in any of their investments in fossil fuels in general, and shale gas and fracking in particular.

Article C of the document provides that no restrictions should apply to the “exports of energy goods” between the transatlantic trade partners. Any request, for example, for an export license to ship natural gas from the U.S. to the EU would be approved “automatically,” no questions asked—even if this would lead to environmental damage from widespread use of fracking, increased gas prices for U.S. consumers, increased import dependency, and so on. It would lock in our mutual dependence on unsustainable fossil fuels at the expense of our climate. While it would lock in more business and better quarterly profits for Big Oil and Gas, it is hard to see how this serves the public interest.

The EU’s ideas for free trade in energy with the U.S. would also be a frontal assault on the possibility for governments to impose a “public service obligation,” requiring utility companies to deliver natural gas at certain prices to consumers, for example. Any such public service obligation should be “clearly defined and of limited duration” and also not be “more burdensome than necessary.” With such vague wording, lawyers will have a field day to attack any price regulation in the energy sector.

This leak shows that civil society groups on both sides of the Atlantic have been right all along to be suspicious about what is being negotiated behind closed doors. The expression “No news is good news” clearly does not apply to the transatlantic free trade deal. The more we learn about the ongoing negotiations, the less we like it.

Original article from Eco Watch available here