In the ground and off the page: why we’re banning ads from fossil fuels extractors | Membership | The Guardian

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In a bid to reduce our carbon footprint, confront greenwashing and increase our focus on the climate crisis, the Guardian this week announced it will no longer run ads from fossil fuel extractors alongside any of its content in print or online. The move will come into immediate effect, and follows the announcement in October last year that we intend to reduce our net emissions to zero by 2030.

Once upon a time, a newspaper was a rather straightforward business. You generated enough material of interest to attract a significant number of readers. You then ‘sold’ those readers to advertisers happy to pay to get their ideas, products or brands in front of consumers with cash to spend.

Of course, digital disruption over the past 20 years has upended that model, but advertising remains an important part of the media business ecosystem. At the Guardian, it is still responsible for about two-fifths of our income.

But what happens when the readers don’t like the adverts? What do you do when the message that advertisers want to spread jars awkwardly with the work your journalists are doing?

What if your journalists are some of the best in the world at revealing and investigating the deepening climate catastrophe and the disaster that is fossil fuel growth, while some of your advertisers are the very people digging the stuff out of the ground?

This contradiction has bothered us – and some of you – for some time. We came up with a rather bold answer this week: turn away the money and double down on the journalism.

“It’s something we thought about for a long time,” says Anna Bateson, the interim chief executive officer of Guardian Media Group, the Guardian’s parent company. “We always felt it was in line with our editorial values but were cautious for commercial reasons.”

She said it was the logical next step after the Guardian committed last year to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and was certified as a B Corp – a company that puts purpose before profit. But she added that the move had to be weighed carefully, given the fact that the Guardian only recently returned to breakeven after years in the red.

“You have to be careful you are not making cavalier decisions,” she said. “ We are still having to fight for our financial future. But because of the support we get from our readers, it is less of a risk.”

On the advertising side of our business, Adam Foley said there were no complaints at all that potential customers were suddenly off-limits, adding that staff felt that “being part of a company that shares their values” was the biggest motivation for his teams.

“A statement like this reaffirms to all of us that we’re contributing to a business that really lives those values – to the extent where it is prepared to sacrifice profit for purpose.”

The response from the wider world has been a pleasant surprise. Hundreds of you have written in, pledging your support, and in some cases, one-off contributions to start making up the shortfall. (EDS: See below – I’m going to append the best responses below. In print you can use as the panel)

The environmental movement was instantly appreciative, with activists quickly urging our peers to follow suit. “The Guardian will no longer accept advertising from oil and gas companies,” Greta Thunberg tweeted. “A good start, who will take this further?” Greenpeace called it “a huge moment in the battle against oil and gas for all of us.”

Some readers have been calling for the Guardian to go the whole hog and forsake advertising from any company with a substantial carbon footprint. Bateson said that was not realistic, adding that such a move would result in less money for journalism. She said the fossil fuel extractors were specifically targeted because of their efforts to skew the climate change debate through their lobbying effort.

“We are committed to advertising,” she said. “It will continue to be part of our future. We want advertisers who want to be appear alongside our high quality journalism.”

And how will we know if this has worked?
“We will listen to our readers, we will listen to our advertisers. The response so far has been gratifying. If we continue to hear positive noises from our readers and supporters, then it will have been a success.”




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Responses from our supporters

That is such a brilliant decision and it will be tough, but it is the correct one and I am very proud of The Guardian. Barbara Syer

Following the Guardian’s decision to ban ads from fossil fuel companies I’m making a monthly contribution to support its fearless journalism: reader support is essential for independent scrutiny of the powerful in business, finance and politics. Titus Alexander, Hertfordshire, England

I live at present in Canada, home to the Alberta Tar Sands: another name for ecological devastation resulting from fossil fuel extraction. I fully support The Guardian’s action in ceasing to be a vehicle for advertising by fossil fuel extractive companies, and I’m proud to be a supporter. My monthly donation is small, but when I can I will make it much greater. Rosemary Delnavine, Canada

Congratulations. At this time it may be a bold step, indeed, within this industry, but true leaders have to take bold steps for the betterment of the quality of life, and more importantly for the life of future generations. I applaud this decision, and will spread the word. Raphael Sulkovitz, Boston MA

What a bravery! This is what the life on earth needs, thank you. Karri Kuikka, Finland (EDS: please leave her wonderful Finglish intact!)

Keep it up. Here in Canada, we’re still trying to have it both ways — sell the product internationally but discourage buying domestically. As I recall, it was the same with tobacco. Eventually, it took a change in public opinion to solve the problem. As a news source, your efforts are part of this solution. Robert Shotton, Ottawa

I applaud your decision to”walk the talk.” I will therefore continue to contribute to The Guardian. Bob Wagenseil

Bravo yr decision to eschew $ from the FFI. Please do continue to hold to the fire(s) the feet of the deniers and the willfully ignorant. Sydney Alonso, Vermont, US

I am very happy to hear that good news. It’s quite courageous on your part, and I’m happy to support you! Have a great year ahead, you’ll have my continuous support! Julien Psomas

I completely support your plan to refuse ads from fossils, despite the
financial hit to the Guardian. I have made a donation to help out. David Thompson

A very commendable decision, very much in keeping with the Guardian’s position as leader of green issues to leave a better planet for following generations. Richard Vernon, Oxford

Yay! I’m so proud of the Guardian! We can no longer support or fund in any manner the fossil fuel industry if we have any chance of survival as a civilization on this planet. You’ve taken a courageous and moral step that will hopefully embolden others to join you. Good on you! Best, Carol Ross, Missouri, US

Good decision. I’ll support you as much as I can, which unfortunately is not much as I live on age pension only. Keep up the good work, we need it desperately! Ursula Brandt, South Australia

I am absolutely delighted by this decision. So many people pledge to do something about Climate Change, but few actually are willing to get uncomfortable and DO it. I am very proud of you as my favourite source of Information and this only makes a case for me to donate next time to you again. Christiane Gross

It was great reading what The Guardian is doing re the climate. As a Guardian on-line reader from The Netherlands I’m going to contribute monthly now instead of ‘now and again’. The amount will be relatively small as I do not have a great income. I really hope more of your supporters will do so, because it is really great what you are doing.
With kind regards, Aleida Oostendorp, Netherlands

I congratulate you and your team on taking this step regarding fossil fuel companies. The Guardian’s stance on the environment and its excellent coverage of related stories and events is the major reason for my support. Well done, and good luck in the future. Deirdre Moore

Love your new policy about accepting money from fossil fuels. Will contribute more to help make up for the shortfall. Todd Misk

I live on a fixed income with a strict budget so my continuing support of your excellent news organisation represents my commitment to the fight to address climate change. Every step counts. Barbara Hirsch, Texas, US

Only when we speak truth to power can change take place. thank yo for your courageous and expensive decision. Nancy Shepherd, Vermont, US

Love your journalism, especially your investigative work and the climate change topic. And with the bold statement about not receiving any more sponsorship from the fossil extracting companies? Well, the already great newspapers became even more impressive now. Keep up the good work. Miroslav Řezníček, Czech Republic

Thank you for taking the bold step of refusing advertising from fossil fuel extractive companies. I think it is the right thing to do & hope many more companies do the same. We must all work together if we want to save our planet. It is one of the most important issues of our times. Ginger Comstock, New York, US

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McConnell blasted for letting trial run past SOTU; even Chris Wallace calls Dems ‘petty’ and ‘spiteful’ for it

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Because of pressure mostly from Senate Democrats but also from some of his colleagues, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed late Friday to postpone President Donald Trump’s acquittal vote until next Wednesday.

The decision provoked frustration in some, though for different reasons.

Here is the McConnell-Schumer Senate deal which extends impeachment to next Wednesday. Story first reported by @OANN pic.twitter.com/b2pKhBma2i

— Jack Posobiec🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) February 1, 2020

Chris Wallace, one of Fox News’ most vocal Democrats, responded by blasting the Democrats for being so “petty” and “spiteful.” The remarks came after fellow FNC contributor Dana Perino opined about the Democrats’ motivation for pushing for a delay.

“I think one of the things that the Democrats want, and I don’t know why they think this would be helpful, is to be able to have the headline say, ‘An impeached president gives State of the Union,’” she said.

The president’s SOTU address is scheduled for Tuesday, a day before Trump is to be formally acquitted.

“I think it is so petty on the part of the Democrats and spiteful,” Wallace promptly chimed in. “End this. Land the plane!”


(Source: Fox News)

Others aimed their criticism at McConnell instead, including Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs and frequent FBN guest Ed Rollins, the co-chairman of the Donald Trump Great America PAC.

“Why in the world would the majority leader agree to run this thing through the state of the union address?” Dobbs asked in exasperation late Friday.

“He won, and the bottom line is that he should have shut it down tonight. And who cares if it’s in the middle fo the night? The whole thing is in the middle of the night,” Rollins replied.

“So what’s the profit in him doing this?” Dobbs pressed.

“There’s not,” Rollins replied. “There’s a danger to it because you have another whole weekend of the co-conspirators — The New York Times — leaking more Bolton stories and raising more hell. He’ll be on all the talk shows.”

Listen:


(Source: Fox Business Network)

Shortly before the Senate began the process of voting on whether or not to allow witnesses to testify in the president’s trial, the Times dropped yet another Bolton “bombshell.”

This one alleged that the “president asked his national security adviser last spring in front of other senior advisers to pave the way for a meeting between Rudolph Giuliani and Ukraine’s new leader.”

Within an hour of the “bombshell” dropping, the Democrat impeachment managers began making closing arguments that reportedly contained quotes from that very story.

“[T]he House managers begin their closing arguments, and guess what? They’ve got charts, they got graphs, they got quotes from the New York Times leak!” conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh noted at the time.

“It’s the playbook, and it is now so obvious, it’s become a joke. Every senator in that room knows exactly what’s going on here. We’re listening to closing arguments that are a coordinated, last-gasp, hail Mary for witnesses or what have you, that the New York Times found somebody to leak ’em something else from the manuscript of Bolton’s book.”

Dovetailing back to Dobbs, he shared his concerns on Twitter, as did other notable conservatives.

Look:

Why in the world would Senate Majority Leader McConnell allow this Radical Dem assault on @realDonaldTrump and the nation to run through the State of the Union and go on Wednesday when he could wrap it up tonight or at least tomorrow? #MAGA #AmericaFirst #Dobbs

— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) January 31, 2020

Get the vote done Tuesday.

Exonerate the President BEFORE the State of the Union Address Tuesday so America can officially and symbolically turn the page from this duplicitous impeachment.

Tuesday night needs to be @realdonaldtrump‘s. https://t.co/koYyhxOQOv

— JD Rucker (@JDRucker) February 1, 2020

Why is McConnell pushing this now to Wednesday?

— Jeremy Frankel (@FrankelJeremy) January 31, 2020

Someone needs to ask all those ‘muh Cocaine Mitch’ people why McConnell is cutting deals with Schumer to extend the impeachment trial. Weird!

— Jack Posobiec🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) January 31, 2020

Reports have emerged suggesting that “Cocaine Mitch” may have delayed the acquittal vote for his own personal benefit.

“A joint fundraising committee allied with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is hosting a fundraiser in the Miami area over Super Bowl weekend,” The Hill has confirmed.

“McConnell for Majority Leader, a joint fundraising committee, has scheduled a fundraiser at 4 p.m. Saturday at a ‘South Beach Miami Location Provided Upon RSVP,’ according to an invite obtained by The Hill.”

While it’s not clear whether the majority leader will attend the event, some have speculated that his scheduled presence at the event would certainly explain his inexplicable decision to delay the president’s acquittal vote.

So is this why McConnell didn’t force a vote tonight or tomorrow? Cause that would be bad https://t.co/n19AMOVDYg

— jim manley (@jamespmanley) February 1, 2020

To be fair, however, the president himself reportedly signed off on the delay.

“Before agreeing to the delay, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) phoned Trump to get the president’s approval, according to a source familiar with the conversation. Trump then signed off on the decision,” Politico reported.

It’s not clear what the strategy here is, though knowing the president, there is indeed most likely some sort of strategy at play.

Senior Staff Writer

V. Saxena is a staff writer for BizPac Review with a decade of experience as a professional writer, and a lifetime of experience as an avid news junkie. He holds a degree in computer technology from Purdue University.

Latest posts by Vivek Saxena (see all)

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Man Sentenced To 16 Years in Prison for Burning LGBT/Gay Flag In Church

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Martinez said he removed the flag because he didn’t believe the church should support the LGBTQ community since it is a house of worship.

Adolfo Martinez was Sentenced To 16 Years in Prison for Burning LGBT/Gay Flag In Church
Adolfo Martinez was Sentenced To 16 Years in Prison for Burning LGBT/Gay Flag In Church

A man has been sentenced to about 16 years after burning an LGBTQ flag hanging from a church in Iowa.

Adolfo Martinez, 30, was found guilty of stealing an LGBT banner that was being flown at Ames United Church of Christ. He then went to the Dangerous Curves Gentlemen’s Club and set the flag on fire outside the club.

Martinez said he removed the flag because he didn’t believe the church should support the LGBTQ community since it is a house of worship, the police report read.

On Wednesday, Martinez was sentenced to prison on convictions of committing a hate crime, third-degree arson in violation of individual rights and reckless use of fire as a habitual offender.

Adolfo Martinez did not fight the charges, saying he committed the act “intentionally”

Pastor Eileen Gebbie of the Ames United Church of Christ posted a statement on the church Facebook page saying the church did not press charges against Martinez.

LGBTQ Flag At Ames United Church of Christ
LGBTQ Flag At Ames United Church of Christ

Martinez told police that he lit the banner on fire with lighter fluid and a lighter, according to the Des-Moines Register.

The hate crime charges were added because Martinez is suspected of criminal mischief against someone’s property because of “what it represents as far as sexual orientation,” Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said.

He is the first person in the county to be convicted of a hate crime, she added.

Martinez faced a maximum of five years in prison for the hate crime and arson charge. He also faced a maximum of 13 months for the other charges, but because he is a habitual offender, he was eligible to be sentenced to a longer term.

Adolfo Martinez was Sentenced To 16 Years in Prison for Burning LGBT/Gay Flag In Church
Adolfo Martinez was Sentenced To 16 Years in Prison for Burning LGBT/Gay Flag In Church

“Basically, he was looking at three years but as soon as he opened his mouth and said ‘This is why I did it,’ he gave them the motivation of why it occurred and he turned it into a hate crime,” said Drake University Law Professor Bob Rigg.

Police Commander Jason Tuttle said the extra patrol was called because of social media posts protesting Martinez’ sentencing.

The post Man Sentenced To 16 Years in Prison for Burning LGBT/Gay Flag In Church appeared first on Believers Portal.

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Meet the Nigerian developer that runs free online digital skills training on Facebook and Slack

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Martha (not real name) had no choice but to stay with her sick mum in hospital, but this didn’t mean much until it was clear her stay would run into a year. For Martha, it meant placing her life on hold as she wouldn’t have time to do anything else.

However, this changed when she came across Tech Skills Hack (TSH), an open Facebook group where people get free training on diverse digital skills ranging from graphic design to data analysis to content creation.

Martha joined the group, attended training religiously, and soon discovered she could become a certified digital skills expert running her personal creative agency.

Iniobong Udoh, the brain behind TSH, would be overwhelmed by a sense of fulfillment hearing this testimonial because it is clearly fulfilling the startup’s mission.

“Tech Skills Hack is a platform dedicated to equipping Nigerians with the in-demand and futuristic digital skills to curb unemployment and help businesses scale free of charge,” she says.

Demystifying digital literacy

There is a belief that people in the tech space are a bunch of code-writing geeks. However, Udoh thinks it’s only a myth.

“The tech ecosystem is a large community that includes all digital skills, ranging from graphic design, data analysis, content creation, that has nothing to do with writing code.”

Her mission was clear; to bridge the gap that exists between employers of labour and applicants without basic skills. And she does this by compiling curated digital skills resources and sharing on the various training platforms used.

To her, “Digital skills literacy means possessing skills you need to live, learn, and work in a society where communication and access to information is [sic] increasing through digital technologies like the online platforms, social media, and mobile devices.”

If anything, Udoh’s experience as a Google Certified Android developer and a certified UX expert came in handy as she brought the startup to life in February 2019 — a year after she got the idea but was held back by funds to either rent a hub or acquire equipment for physical training.

“I had to use the available platform and it was Facebook for me. Aside from programming, we train undergraduates on basic or foundational skills like Excel, PowerPoint, Canva, Google Sheets, and social media usage.”

TSH’s offering is twofold: solving the challenge of affordable training and acquiring the basic equipment to practise – a laptop. The aim is to assist young people to acquire relevant digital skill sets via their smartphones at no fee at all. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an encouraging first outing for her.

“I felt bad when we sent out the ad inviting people to learn and the response wasn’t impressive as thought [sic], but 50 people responding to our ad was fair.”

To build trust, Udoh made the platform open for interested individuals to join instead of adding people randomly. With time, the platform would have a good number of open-minded, willing, consistent, and determined members.

Apart from Udoh who is the founder, TSH’s team includes Nzaki Ekere who doubles as the CTO and in-house developer who takes web development classes and Anthony Eyo as the digital marketer. Extra help for on-site training also comes from volunteers, some of who have gone through training on the platform.

A social enterprise

“Tech Skills Hack is a non-profit venture. We’ve been running this for 9 months and it’s been self-funded. It is not too capital intensive because I use a free platform (Facebook) and get free volunteers. I get to search top-notch courses from organisations like Google, Udemy, and Coursera for free, so we don’t pay for these courses, except with our time, because I need to go through every course before sharing them on our platform,” Udoh explains.

With no change of business model in view, Udoh affirms that TSH will retain its non-profit social enterprise status for the next two years, but it will need as much help as it can get.

“Our aim is to equip every Nigerian with a digital skill at no cost or low cost, and we would appreciate support from people to achieve that.”

In over 9 months of operation, the startup boasts of more than 1000 users on both Facebook and Slack. It has also assisted 30 budding Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) to design logos and business cards for free. Lately, it conducted two free offline trainings in two Nigeria cities, Lagos and Uyo, in partnership with a Ghanaian tech hub, iSpace; and Directorate of Microfinance and Enterprise Development, Akwa Ibom State, respectively.

At a point when incorporating offline training is needed because online classes do not fully capture the startup addressable market, the founder admits that TSH is greatly in need of funds.

“We would appreciate financial and hub support. We need founders to allow us to use their hubs and gadgets for our trainings. We’ll also love free publicity so that more people can hear about what we are doing and get to join.”

Undeterred by challenges

Apart from funding, Udoh names trust issues as another challenge some people have because the belief is that with free trainings, the quality of content is usually bad.

She said they may not be able to change this perception, but the reviews, testimonials, and feedback received from students, who have gone ahead to get their certifications and even begin their own creative agencies, are enough motivation for the TSH team.

“I’ve lost count of the reviews and tags we get once a student learns a skill. Not only the testimonials but students using the skills they’ve learnt to better their lives and also pass down this knowledge to others is also what we use to measure our success and this we’ve been able to achieve in a short span of our existence.”

With another physical training program in the offing, the team is presently working on integrating an eLearning site with better and friendly learning features to further expand coverage.

Want more stories like this? Subscribe to the Techpoint Africa Newsletter.

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DG wades into ‘NYSC, Anglican church property’ rift

Emma Elekwa, Onitsha

The face-off between the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) in Anambra state and the Anglican Diocese on property ownership has been resolved following intervention of the Director General of the scheme, Brig. Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim.

The State Coordinator, Kehinde Aremu disclosed this on Monday while fielding questions from newsmen at the swearing ceremony of the 2019 Batch ‘C’ stream 2 corps members at the Umuawulu/Mbaukwu permanent orientation camp.

The NYSC and the church had been at loggerhead over the ownership of property at the Progressive Secondary School, Umunya, owned by the church but served as a temporary camp until its relocation last October.

The scheme, ahead of its relocation, had requested for the release of the property, including 1,000 units of mattresses, 600 units of double bunk beds, assorted furniture items, 12 water tanks, kitchen utensils, large changeover switch, among other items.

But the church, through its supervisory priest, Rev. Canon Marcel Emeh, reportedly insisted the bishop must give directive before the property could be moved.

But the State coordinator, at the event Monday, said the lingering matter had been resolved following the meeting of the Director General with the Bishop of the Diocese during his visit to the state.

“You know our DG was here in camp on Sunday. He met with the church leadership and the matter was amicably resolved.

“As a peace loving man, our DG said we should leave the property for them. We’ve resolved to make do with what we have and buy more if need be.” he said.

Read Also; NYSC has mutual respect for all religions – DG NYSC

Aremu disclosed that a total of 1051 prospective corps members, including 482 males and 569 females were registered in the camp, adding that they had displayed uncommon sense of patriotism and discipline to authorities.

Earlier, the State governor, Willie Obiano assured his administration’s continued support to the NYSC including making life comfortable for the corps members and staff of the Scheme.

Obiano, represented by the head of Service, Harry Uduh, announced the donation of N10millon for augmentation of the camp feeding for the corps members.

He also expressed confidence that the conducive atmosphere provided in the new camp would offer the corps members the desired motivation to equip themselves for the execution of the 3-weeks exercise.

“You are the first batch to use this Ultra-modern permanent orientation camp. This makes your group a unique one. I charge you to use the facilities judiciously,” he added.

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How Rastafarian Bob Marley Met Jesus Christ Before His Death

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Reggae legend Bob Marley is perhaps the most famous Rastafarian in history. This unique religious movement, which originated in Jamaica in the 1930s, worships former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I as the messiah. Marley routinely spoke publicly about his Rasta faith. But what most people don’t know, and many try to cover up, is the fact that Bob Marley converted to Christianity in 1980 and was baptized as an Orthodox Christian by Abuna Yesehaq, the archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the Western Hemisphere, just seven months before his death, 11 May 1981.

Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq baptised Marley into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, giving him the name Berhane Selassie, on 4 November 1980, shortly before his death.

Decades after the death of legendary Jamaican musician Bob Marley, the intriguing story of his conversion from the Rasta faith to the Christian faith is circulating.

“What most people don’t know, and many try to cover up, is the fact that Bob Marley proclaimed the Jesus Christ is the Lord, and converted to Christianity in 1980,” proclaims an article that has appeared on a number of websites.

One version states, “In fact, on Nov 4, 1980 he was baptized and became a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. When he was buried under Orthodox rites on May 21, 1981, it was with his Bible and his Gibson guitar!”

Other versions of the story say Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie personally dispatched a bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to Jamaica who, after Selassie’s death, led Marley to embrace Christianity and repudiate Rastafarianism.

Rastafarianism is a uniquely Jamaican religion that has a number of offshoots, but traditionally teaches that Selassie is the Messiah. The term “Rastafarian” is taken from Selassie’s title before he was crowned emperor – Ras, which is Ethiopian for “Duke” – and his given name, Tafari.

According to the story, the devoutly Christian emperor became alarmed during the 1960s at the growth of Rastafarianism, whose followers smoke marijuana as holy communion and worship Selassie

as God’s holy Messiah, believing the emperor will lead them into righteousness and prosperity.

Appalled, Selassie dispatched Abuna Yesehaq, who was made the Ethiopian church’s Western Hemisphere archbishop, on a mission to Jamaica to proclaim that Selassie himself denied any claim to deity – a message that Yesehaq turned into his life’s work.

About a decade after Selassie’s death, according to the story, Yesehaq baptized Marley, who had taken Rastafarianism worldwide and popularized the group’s trademark dreadlocks – long matted hair.

“Bob Marley is infamous for being reggae music’s ambassador to the world,” reads one version of the report on the Lion of Zion website, which promotes Christian reggae music. “He was raised in the Christian church but strayed away as a youth. He dove into Rastafari and the worship of Haile Selassie and his career exploded as he toured around the nation preaching the beliefs of Rastafari.

“It is also a well known fact in Jamaica that Marley became born again seven months before he died of cancer. Regarding this conversion, I quote two sources.

“Archbishop Yesehaq, head of the Kingston chapter of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church inJamaica, was initially sent toJamaicaby His Majesty to establish the church and to dispel the worship of Selassie.

“Selassie felt that if he personally commissioned someone to start a church that worshipped Christ and not himself, the Rastafarians would follow the true Christ.

“It was these reasonings and many others that eventually brought Bob Marley to be baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox church by Yesehaq. This conversion is well documented in Jamaica and was strongly criticized by many Rastas.”

Writing for the website Christian Post Australia, Christine Thomasos cites a 1984 interview Archbishop Yesehaq reportedly gave to Jamaica Gleaner‘s Sunday newspaper. Yesehaq died in 2005.

“Bob was really a good brother, a child of God, regardless of how people looked at him,” Yesehaq reportedly told the Gleaner. “He had a desire to be baptized long ago, but there were people close to him who controlled him and who were aligned to a different aspect of Rastafari. But he came to church regularly.”

According to Thomasos, in the reported Gleaner interview – which is not archived on the newspaper’s website – Yesehaq addressed claims that Marley’s terminal cancer was the motivation behind his conversion:

“When he toured Los Angeles and New York and England, he preached the Orthodox faith, and many members in those cities came to the church because of Bob,” Yesehaq said. “Many people think he was baptized because he knew he was dying, but that is not so. He did it when there was no longer any pressure on him, and when he was baptized, he hugged his family and wept, they all wept together for about half an hour.”

Marley, the undisputed “King of Reggae Music,” writes Andre Huie on the website GospelCity, “was an extremely gifted musician that has given a voice not only to his native Jamaica but also to every Third World citizen on the face of this earth.

“His staunch Rastafarian beliefs could very well be credited with cementing the religion and ideologies of Rastafarianism in almost

every country that practices the faith. Marley was indeed a true Rastaman. So could someone please tell me, how in the world could I deduce or even dare ask the question if Bob Marley confessed Jesus Christ?
“Naturally speaking, such a question makes no sense. It’s like asking if granulated sugar is white and if black cows produce black milk. Jesus Christ and the ‘Messiah’ of Rastafarianism, Haile Selassie, are considered opposites in the Rastafarian faith. To confess Christ is the biggest blasphemy in Rastafarianism – like sacrificing the sacred cow.”

However, writes Huie, “it might be a pleasant discovery to some that Marley, just before he died, confessed Jesus Christ as Lord. In other words, he denied that Haile Selassie was God (as Rastas believe) and asserted Jesus as the true living God. If you ask me how I know this, let’s take a journey with a man who has, for years been close with the reggae maestro, who once shared similar beliefs with Bob. I introduce to you, Tommy Cowan.

“Tommy was probably closer to Bob Marley than most people who knew him were.

“’Bob Marley, of course, was gifted, very gifted person. You could probably say he never made a bad song and you know that gifts come from the Lord,’ says Tommy.

“I had the distinct privilege of rapping briefly with Tommy about Bob in an exclusive interview,” writes Huie. “Tommy is the manager and husband of famed Jamaican gospel singer, Carlene Davis. He converted to Christianity and has taken his music-wise entrepreneurship to help advance the current movement of gospel music in the region.

“As he lay back on his chair resting on the wall of his hotel room at Divi Little Bay, Tommy colorfully described the rarely spoken of experience of Bob Marley, about a year before he died.

“Bob Marley himself, before he died, he got baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Tommy says with much conviction.”

Judy Mowatt, a reggae and gospel singer who formerly sang backup for Marley in the group I Threes, recalled learning about Marley’s conversion to Christianity in an interview with Cross Rhythms radio. Mowatt spoke with her former bandmate and Marley’s wife, Rita, about the late musician calling out to Jesus Christ on his death bed.

“When Bob was on his dying bed, his wife Rita called me on the phone and said to me that Bob was in such excruciating pain and he stretched out his hand and said, ‘Jesus take me.’ I was wondering to myself, ‘Why is it that Bob said Jesus and not Selassie,’” Mowatt questioned. “Then I met a friend of mine and he said his sister, who is a Christian, was a nurse at the hospital where Bob was before he passed on, and she led him to the Lord Jesus Christ. So when Rita saw him saying ‘Jesus take me,’ he had already received the Lord Jesus Christ in his life,” according to Christian Today.

Bob died from cancer in 1981 at the age of 36. Yesehaq conducted the rites for the musician’s funeral.

According to the London Guardian newspaper:

“The day of the funeral began with an hour-long service for family and close friends at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity on Maxfield Avenue, presided over by His Eminence Abuna Yesehaq, the church’s archbishop in the western hemisphere, who had baptized Marley in New York the previous November, just after his last triumphal concerts at Madison Square Garden. Bob’s baptismal name was Berhane Selassie – ‘Light of the Trinity.’

“At the end of the short service the coffin was transported to the National Arena, where the 6,000-strong congregation was assembling under the eyes of cameras and reporters from around the world.”

“Regrettably Bob was not able to leave us any post-conversion recordings,” notes the Lion of Zion website, “but he did give us some great music and a powerful spiritual legacy with his last-minute transformation.

“And he is probably singing a true redemption song in Heaven right now.”

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‘I can last more than 40 seconds’ – Nollywood actor, Mandinga woos Tonto Dikeh

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Fast-rising Nollywood actor Perikles Mandinga was born in Guinea-Bissau and has been in the entertainment industry for many years. He attended college in Lisbon, Portugal before moving to the USA.

He started as a fashion model, and has featured on runways, magazines, billboards and television. Mandinga won “Rip the Runway”, a P Diddy produced reality show aired on BET Network.

He has extensive film and theatre credits both within the US and internationally. His theatre credits include Tower of Babel, Insanity and Properly Plucked. He has also featured in popular Nollywood movies including Omoge, Adaora, Kiss and Tell including some others.

In an interview, Madinga revealed his plans to gain strong network in the Nollywood industry and make a name for himself. He also talked about his crazy fantasy and how he would like to date one of Nigeria’s most controversial actress, Tonto Dikeh.

Who is Perikles Mandinga?

I am a simple person who lived in two different countries (Portugal & USA) from an early age. I like to travel, and I still play sports. I like meeting new people.

What actually informed your decision to go full-time into acting? And how far do you think you can go?

From an early age, I knew acting was something that I love to do but coming from a traditional African family, I knew it was going to be a hard task because my dad wouldn’t accept the idea. He was very hard on me and my siblings. After finishing my studies in Lisbon, I had the opportunity to come to the USA to model. I knew that acting was going to be my full-time devotion, not modelling because it was my life’s purpose.

What are those unique skills you are bringing to play that may possibly stand you out or better still that may give you recognition among all the big stars we have in industry?

Starting out in a poor African country moving to a European capital and then in NYC I have seen things that maybe the other big stars have not experienced.

What kind of roles do you prefer?

I like to play characters that can be genuinely kind, nice guys or bad guy roles- those make me work harder at their motivation. I like characters that have flaws that can be exploited. Because I have a good sense of humour, I can build characters that have two sides to their personality.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? What are your personal goals?

In 5 years from now I see myself doing amazing work with actors that inspired me to get into this business.

Which are the films you have acted in?

Kiss and Tell, Omoge, Adaora, Yes I Do. All of these are Nollywood produced.

By all standards, what comparison can you do between Hollywood and Nollywood- which is more relevant to Africans?

Well from my perspective, I see Hollywood as something that has been there for so long, and now there’s a new kid on the block- Nollywood. It is fresh, with new ideas and it’s growing so fast that nothing will be standing in its way. It has a natural and large market eager for new films that it can relate to.

In your opinion, what do you think should be done in terms of sourcing for fund and maintaining world-class movie productions?

In time, as Nollywood grows, it will be able to finance its growth, similar in history to Hollywood. An important thing is to ensure that new, young and upcoming individuals shouldn’t be shut out from participating.

These days, what have you been up to or which project(s) have you been embarking on?

So many things are happening all at the same time, so my hands are full with projects from movies, theatre and other ventures. It is very exciting.

You are quite handsome, you probably would be getting admiration and glances from the female folks. How well do you relate with them?

Thank you for the compliment. I have a big sister who always kept me in line. She and mom taught me to respect everyone. As a result, I have been fortunate to have many female friends who I trust and have deep friendships with.

Currently in the movie industry, who is your female crush?

That should be Tonto Dikeh. I like her so much and she has a very unique personality. Crazy though but I wouldn’t mind going into a serious relationship with her. After all, I can last more than 40 seconds.

What has fame robbed you of and what doors has it opened for you?

You think I have fame? So far nothing has changed me and likely never will. I am no different than anyone else. I am the same person who gets up each morning to see what the day will offer.

Describe a typical day?

My typical day contains jogging, working out or yoga meditation. I have theatre work with my coach and go on many auditions. I like going for walks and playing sports. Nothing makes me happier than reading books. I especially like autobiographies lately.

Name one luxury product you wouldn’t mind breaking the bank for?

I can’t break the bank for what I want because it doesn’t exist yet. I would do everything to help my sister from dying from cancer.

Where is home at the moment?

Home is the place where you’re loved and feel comfortable. Right now I live between Lagos, Lisbon and NYC.

Who is your role model and why?

My Dad is my role model and he will always be. He was a doctor and taught me about ethics, morals and love and helping others.

Aside acting, what other things do you have passion for?

I have a strong love of our African continent. I believe in helping my brothers to achieve their full potential. Sometimes I think that is my calling. I am curious about different aspects of business around the world.

Any message for your fans out there?

Thank you!! Please keep us going by seeing our movies. You inspire us to keep going with new movies, new stories. We started from almost nothing and your attendance at our films answered our prayers. Thank you

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Losing Someone Close To You – 5 Things You Can Learn From It | Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self ImprovementPick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement

Something the average person does not go through

Death isn’t something most people in life encounter, meaning many don’t have a near-death experience or have someone close to them die.

Put it this way, the average person in life wakes up in the morning, and reads up on tragic news of the world in the papers.

And then they move on with life.

That is a very fortunate life.

Now, I hope to relay some messages and lessons over from my own experience, something which I think many can learn from.

1) When death comes close to you, everything else in life seems so minor

That’s the truth.

This is an extension towards, “Seeing the bigger picture”.

Work, money, career or dealing with people all suddenly become so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

It’s good to see the bigger picture in life. Sure, we’ve our responsibilities and usual routines in life, but ask yourself, is that all to it in life? Is it making you happy?

When my dad passed away, I didn’t see a point in making myself feel so stressed in my studies or caring about what others think of me. I didn’t see why I should be weighed down by the world, when I can sit on top to live the life I want.

If you open up your eyes a bit, seeing the bigger picture in this world can actually bring you far. The grasp of society and expectations on you would wither, allowing you to go forward for a better life.

2) Care for yourself, more than anything in this world

I used to be a lot angrier before my father’s death.

Because I kept doing the right things in life. I never argued back against friends who insulted me. I walked away from fights and I always held back my opinions.

But all the right things in the world just made sure that I’d be going home angry.

Upon my father’s death, I realized it’s very okay to care for yourself, more than anything else in this world.

I was always angry last time because I felt so repressed. I had so much I wanted to say or do, but yet I held back.

When my dad passed away, it made me wonder why I tried to keep doing the right thing only to suffer a tragic loss. It felt like everything was thrown back in my face.

So care for yourself more, and watch out for your own well-being. That’s not to say that you should become a self-centered person, but do a check on what’s important for you. Dive deep into your innermost feelings, rather than always having to appease the world.

3) Life is really short

It is.

It is a universal truth, but not many can realize that. I think most people realize that only after they retire and start getting old.

Life is also very unpredictable. You never know what it can throw to you.

That being said, what do you want to do with life?

All too often people are too caught up with the world to realize that our life, is not the world.

The world is big, but our lives are short.

I say, start living. You don’t need to go through what I did to realize life is short. Start living, before it’s too late.

4) Make a positive change for yourself, and those around you.

I had several friends who were there for me right after my dad’s death. I was extremely touched as they willingly helped me as they went through the exact same thing before.

I was very comforted to know that I wasn’t alone in this world.

Now, I want to pay it forward and help others.

That’s not to say I think “everything happens for a reason”. It’s also easy for me to advocate kindness and giving others a helping hand.

I just think positivity and kindness exist in their own right, simply to be. It is as clear as that.

And that is an important message because all too often love today, is based on conditions, a form of exchange which both parties must benefit one way or another.

I felt at my lowest when my dad was taken, and it made realized, whatever that I was feeling then, many others in this world are too.

So pay it forward, and help others. It would go a long way, for both you and others.

5) Love your parents

Because they’re pretty much the only two people in this planet who can offer you unconditional love.

And this picture pretty much says it all.

Just for PickTheBrain readers

I’ve put together an email course for people who’ve trouble blocking the noise out. You know, when you’re constantly thinking about what others think.

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OML 25 OCCUPATION: ‘Some of us gave birth to babies here!’ – Vanguard News

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…N-Deltans set new standard for prosecuting resource control

By Egufe Yafugborhi

For two years, resolute host communities to Oil Mining Lease (OML) 25 in Akuku Toru Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers State  sacked on duty personnel, shut down operations and occupied key assets.acquisition

Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director (GMD), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), lead stakeholder in the OML 25 Joint Venture (JV) with Shell Petroleum Development Company as Operator, lamented  that the shutdown resulted in consequential “loss of 25, 000 to 35, 000 barrels of oil per day (bpd);  in monetary terms, that is about $1.7billion.”

The  fulcrum of the assets occupation by Belema, Offoin-Ama and Ngeje host communities was that, for four decades, such humongous accrued income as Kyari declared lost to the JV partners in two-year of shutdown failed to provide schools, hospitals, potable water, capacity building or meaningful employment for the host communities.

Mrs. Ogbumate Opumabo, among the womenfolk who occupied the flow station, narrated: “Since good things don’t come easy, as living conditions in our community got more pathetic, we subjected ourselves to suffering, even set up church where we fasted and prayed to God everyday at the occupied facility. Some of us gave birth to babies here where we also had our pots, plates, mats, everything needed to aid our occupation. Our experience there is unexplainable, but God answered us in the end”

October 10, as the teeming community protesters eventually pulled out of OML 25 for its formal reopening, following, the  win-win resolution of the conflict among stakeholders, the original demand to evict Shell was not met as set, but the protesters won even a bigger prize, an awakening of a new narrative for prosecuting the struggle for gainful resource control in the Niger Delta.

Checkered  history of long suffering

According to the communities, their hardship was rather aggravated by avoidable oil pollutions that degraded their land and aquatic environment, jeopardising their livelihood which depends on fishing on the rivers and cropping on the soils. Their clear demand was, “Shell must go”, relinquish OML 25 to preferred competitor, Belemaoil Producing Limited (BPL), to farm the assets.

Publicity Secretary, Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Anabs Sara-Igbe, who hails from the OML 25 host communities, said, “We have been agitating for long. The flow station was shut down as far back as 2004. Government intervened and we let them re-open it. 2008, it was again shut, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed, and we let them resume. In 2014, same thing happened, so in 2017, the communities said we have had enough.

“There was no time Shell provided us water. Infrastructure in our communities were poor. Government under military regime gave us water, but it was laden of iron, not healthy for consumption. Fetch it today, the following day the whole water will be coloured. So, we have not been using the water. In recent times, state government has not done anything for us.”

At the latest reopening of the assets, Sen Ita Enang, Presidential Adviser, Niger Delta, representing President Muhammadu Buhari, attested to the health dangers at ‘Opusuya”, the age-long pond water that sustains Belema people in the absence of functional modern taps from government and Shell, which was laden with crude oil when Enang scooped it with bare hands.

At the co-host communities of Offoin-Ama and Ngeye, the story of squalor, deprivations and neglect was pretty much same. At Offoin-Ama, the only educational institution present, a piteous makeshift basic school, made of wooden structure was said to be from communal effort. The European Union and Rivers State Government had erected in the village square, a water project five years back, but Amayanabo of Offoin-Ama, HRH King Sibia Sukubo Aaron, Kilima Diaba Offo XIII said, “It was never completed.”

King Sibia, in unison with his Belema counterpart, King Boudilion Ekine, Oko XXVIII, Amayanabo of Kula, alleged that SPDC had  always reneged on its agreements with the community.

However, the reality of pervasive emptiness and squalor in the community supported the perception of his Highness, Ibinabo Daniel Kiliya, Regent of Ngeje Community when he said, “Shell in 40 years never thought of tangible projects in the community.”

Belemaoil, Jack-Rick Jr as game changers

Before now, oil communities in the Niger Delta, even in the days of  the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, have hardly been taken serious by government and industry regulators in agitations for control of their oil and gas endowment chiefly because they prosecuted such struggles in the absence of adequate home capacity (technical or financial) to farm those oil fields on their own. The common approach was to call for eviction of one operating IOC whenever relationship are strained in the hope of patronizing another to take over.

The coming, into the oil and gas space, of Belemaoil changed that narrative. Founded by Jack-Rick Tein Jr, a son of the soil, who has felt the hardship among his Belema folks, Belemaoil wasted no time in building confidence among the host communities the moment it acquired 40% participating interest in neighboring OML-55 from Chevron Nigeria Limited in the Joint Venture (JV) with the NNPC.

Within a year of taking over OML 55 five years ago, the host communities in Kula claimed Belemaoil surpassed 40 years of both International Oil Companies (IOCs) Chevron and Shell interventions in their respective assets host communities through infrastructural transformation and human capital development among the people.

In  its  core business, Belemaoil also grew production from 7000bpd under Chevron to as much as 12000bpd, and  added to more than 70 MMscfd recoverable volume of gas, generating more revenue and sacrificing more funds to develop and carry the communities along in the process. The company through gainful engagement of community youths in facility surveillance has also eliminated rampant oil theft and vandalism on OML 55.

Today the company is reputed as the first upstream major to have began construction of its head office in its operating field while also constructing its own oil terminal, hitherto the exclusive preserve of the IOCs. So, beyond fraternal attachments, these attributes informed OML 25 host communities insistence on “Shell must go” for Belemaoil replicate the achievement in OML 55 in their communities.

A leader among the protesting youths, Iselema Ekini, said,

“We see how Belemaoil employed youths, built markets, clinics, in the places they operate, proving that an indigenous oil company would look after its host communities better. We therefore urged Shell not to seek renewal of OML-25 license, but allow Belemaoil to take over. All the IOCs have been doing is how to repatriate as much revenue to their home offices abroad while we suffer.

Win-win resolution of conflict

In the win win resolution of the OML 25 crisis, Shell, having renewed its ownership of the lease, wasn’t displaced, but Belemaoil with 7.7% stakes on that lease got the privilege of maintaining operations and earning the communities confidence to be the oil firm with right of first refusal to acquire Shell stakes at any point SPDC decides to divest her stakes.

Already Belemaoil has hit the ground running with the sustained commitment to make the difference, facilitating the groundbreaking for 1.5million liters potable water and 12Km treated water reticulation project for Oko-Ama and Belema by the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mele Kyari. Kyari, represented by Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investments Management Services (NAPIMS), Musa Lawan who also hoisted the Nigerian Flag and those of key stakeholders at the OML 25 platform to signal its reopening.

HRM King Boudilion Ekiye Okor, Amayanabo of Belema, said in the occasion, “Today, I am the happiest man. Belemail, owned by our son is now in charge of maintaining operations. Now we know who to hold if we are disappointed. If he (Jack-Rich) fails us, we go to his mother and father’s house to complain, but he has given us so much confidence that we know he can’t fail.

Chief E K Clark, Leader of PANDEF which prominently provided motivation for shutdown of the OML25 thanked key stakeholders for the peaceful resolution. Clark represented by PANDEF’s Vice Chairman, Godknows Igali, particularly recognised the role of federal government, host communities, BelemaOil, NNPC and the Petroleum Ministry under Timipre Sylva.

“When the GMD NNPC, Kyari came 28 of last month, he promised to grant all your wishes. I am happy you are already attesting to some being meant already. PANDEF is grateful we are all winners. We have, by this struggle of the past two years, redefined the struggle for resource control”, Clark told the communities.

I am sorry, Buhari empathises with host communities

President Mohammadu Buhari, represented by Sen Ita Enang, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, tendered apology on behalf of the nation to the host communities over their long suffering in the midst of plenty all these years.

Buhari said at the formal reopening of OML 25 that, “We’ve been to the communities. I felt touched that they are asking for for a school, hospitals in 2019 after 40 years of oil and gas being taken from their soils. I scooped the water from pond which you people drink. It is smeared with oil.

“On behalf of the nation, I apologise to you. We will change for the better for you, for us all as a nation. We will not only build schools, hospitals for you, we will provide complete communities for you. Working with state government, Niger Delta Development Commission, Amnesty, Ministry of Niger Delta Affair, we will ask to know what they are doing.

“We are coming here at a very good time. Just two days ago, the President presented the draft 2020 budget to National Assembly (NASS). Now that I have seen what you go through, we are going to take this message to the NASS, to redirect the budget to know what they are providing for you.”

At the OML25 Platform and Flow station where hundreds of community protesters, mainly women formally vacated the flow station and other key assets they have occupied and shutdown since August 2017, Sen Enang expressed Buhari’s gratitude for their peaceful disposition while it lasted.

He also cautioned, “The whole struggle has come to conclusion. We thank you for your peaceful disposition through the struggle. We can now vacate peacefully and allow work to continue, as the issues are being addressed. You are aware that some immediate demands have already been met.”

Lifting up the hand of Jackrich Jr, Enang also told the host communities, “Every community who has sons as Jackrick who care this much for his people should take care of him and pray for him to remain safe, healthy and blessed to continue to move your communities forwards.”

Founder of Belemaoil, Mr Jack-Rich Tein Jr, hardly involved in comments and speeches over the unfolded drama has maintained that, “If you engage the community and make the people an important element of your business, the communities and you will have mutual values and mutual gains.

“If the communities are happy, your business can thrive, but if the communities are not happy, you have lots of operational bottlenecks, sabotage and all that. The most important thing for us today is to see that the resolution, reconciliation has taken place.”

Already, stakeholders in Ogoni, Rivers are canvassing the Belemaoil CSR model to agitate for who takeovers OML 11 that had abandoned for years over the conflict conflict which claimed the lives and Ken Saro-Wiwa and co agitators under Movement For Survival of Ogoni People. Governor Wike, though, had already announced Rivers Government acquisition of Shell’s stakes on that lease.

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Revealed: how the FBI targeted environmental activists in domestic terror investigations

Protesters were characterized as a threat to national security in what one calls an attempt to criminalize their actions

Dakota Access pipeline

Helen Yost, a 62-year-old environmental educator, has been a committed activist for nearly a decade. She says she spends 60 to 80 hours a week as a community organizer for Wild Idaho Rising Tide; to save money, she lives in an RV. Shes been arrested twice for engaging in non-violent civil disobedience.

Yost may not fit the profile of a domestic terrorist, but in 2014 the FBI classified her as a potential threat to national security. According to hundreds of pages of FBI files obtained by the Guardian through a Freedom of Information Act (Foia) lawsuit, and interviews with activists, Yost and more than a dozen other people campaigning against fossil fuel extraction in North America have been identified indomestic terrorism-related investigations.

The investigations, which targeted individual activists and some environmental organizations, were opened in 2013-2014, at the height of opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline and the expansion of fossil fuel production in North America.

From
From an FBI communication on Helen Yost, dated 24 July 2014.

The new Foia documents reveal the bureaus motivation for investigating a broad cross-section of the environmental movement and its characterization of non-violent protesters as a potential threat to national security.

In 2010, the DoJs inspector general criticized the FBI for using non-violent civil disobedience as grounds to open domestic terrorism investigations. US citizens swept up in such investigations can be placed on terrorism watchlists and subjected to surveillance and restrictions on international travel. The designation can also lead local law enforcement to take a more confrontational approach when engaging with non-violent activists.

The FBIs 2013-2014 investigation of Keystone XL activists in Houston violated internal agency guidelines designed to prevent the bureau from infringing on constitutionally protected activities. The investigations opened in 2013-2014 were closed after the FBI concluded that the individuals and organizations had not engaged in criminal activity and did not a pose a threat to national security.

In 2015, the Obama administration rejected the Keystone XL pipeline project, which required state department approval because it would cross international borders, handing the environmental movement a major victory. More large-scale protests followed, including the standoff over the Dakota Access pipeline, which temporarily delayed the project.

But those decisions have been reversed in recent years. Donald Trump has approved construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and his administration has also advocated for stiffer penalties against activists who engage in non-violent direct action targeting fossil fuel infrastructure. Meanwhile, in the wake of the Standing Rock protests, seven states have passed legislation making it a crime to trespass on property containing critical infrastructure.

In its July 2014 file on Yost, the FBI cited federal anti-terrorism legislation prohibiting attacks and other violence against railroad carriers as the primary justification for opening the investigation. Violation of the law can lead to up to 20 years in prison. Activists who engage in non-violent civil disobedience and are charged with minor offenses such as trespassing are typically released within 48 hours.

The FBI characterized Yost as being driven by a desire to stop fossil fuels which, in her political view, are destroying parts of the US, specifically Montana, Idaho and Washington. In addition, the FBI discussed the case with the US attorneys office in Idaho, local law enforcement, and BNSF Railway, which operates the main rail line delivering coal and oil to export terminals in the Pacific north-west.

FBI
From an FBI communication on Helen Yost, dated 24 July 2014.

According to the FBI file, the bureau opened the investigation based on information that Yost was organizing and planning on conducting illegal activities against railroad companies from Montana into Idaho and Washington.

Yost said Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) never organized direct action protests to disrupt oil train traffic passing in the region. The heavily redacted Yost investigation concludes that no potential criminal violations or priority threats to national security warranting further investigation were identified.

WIRT did participate in a series of community-led events and workshops in July and August 2014 opposing the transport of oil and coal by rail. Investigators may have conflated several community events to assume such fictitious allegations, Yost said in an email.

For several years, WIRT, founded in 2011, had been publicizing its actions on the organizations Facebook page. Much of its activity had focused on stopping the passage of huge trucks known as megaloads, which transport processing equipment to tar sands oil fields in Canada and weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds, along one of Idahos scenic byways.

The campaign involved posting public records on the megaload routes, tracking their progress, and at times blockading their movement.

Yost was also active in protesting against the shipment of coal and oil by rail to export terminals in Seattle. In the summer of 2014, WIRT, along with several other environmental organizations and native groups across the Pacific north-west, sponsored a series of rallies and workshops in the region.

Those protests were peaceful a handful of activists in Montana including the environmental writer Rick Bass were arrested for trespassing and in the end the FBI concluded that Yost did not pose a threat to national security. Several months later the investigation was closed.

However, in the file closing the case, it appears that Yost has been watchlisted, which is standard for named subjects of FBI domestic terrorism investigations, according to Mike German, a former FBI agent who is now a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice. Being watchlisted can lead to heightened scrutiny from law enforcement and delays or additional screenings when traveling. Yost said she had not traveled overseas since the FBI investigation.

Yost, who was contacted by an FBI agent when the case was still active, said she was not surprised by the agencys actions. Surveillance was a form of suppression, she said, and this was another attempt to criminalize the actions of normal people working to protect natural resources. But she remains undeterred.

Assume they know the color of your underwear every morning and get up and resist anyway, Yost said.

Herb Goodwin, a 70-year-old activist, has a similar philosophy. Were all under surveillance, Goodwin said. If they want to look at your stuff, theyre going to.

In 2013-2014 Goodwin frequently participated in actions organized by Yost and WIRT. He was also part of the Occupy Wall Street protests in Bellingham, Washington, in 2011 and was one of 12 individuals arrested that year for blockading a BNSF coal train passing through the city. They became known as the Bellingham 12.

Goodwin was one of at least a dozen environmental activists, many of them affiliated with the group Deep Green Resistance, contacted by FBI agents in autumn 2014. In early October that year, not long after Goodwin returned from a megaload resistance campaign in Idaho, an FBI agent and a police intelligence officer showed up at his residence.According to Goodwin, they wanted to ask him questions about the environmental group Deep Green Resistance. Goodwin refused to cooperate and referred the agents to his lawyer, who himself became a subject of interest to the FBI.

Founded in 2011 Deep Green Resistance (DGR), based on the principles laid out in the book of the same name, describes itself as a radical organization that uses direct action in the fight to save the planet. Though the group supports underground movements, its members abide by a code of conduct that includes a commitment to nonviolence and operating entirely above-ground. According to the groups website, We do not want to be involved in or aware of any underground organizing. In another FBI interview with a DGR member documented in the files, the activist even invited the agents to attend one of DGRs presentations.

FBI files show that the bureau initiated the two-year investigation into DGR to determine if the group or any of its members were planning to engage in the destruction of energy facilities or attacks against railroad companies, referring to the same federal statute cited in the Yost investigation.

But the FBI also took an interest in constitutionally protected activities, including DGR members participation in public meetings and lectures and the groups early organizing efforts.

Even though the FBI investigation found no evidence that DGR was planning to engage in violent activity, it often portrayed the group as an extremist organization. One individual contacted numerous times by the FBI was said to have been a suspected member of the Deep Green Resistances extremist wing and a participant in DGRs Midwest extremist planning process. DGR did have a strategic planning conference in Wisconsin in spring 2012 which they said was attended by about 30 people, but it was publicly advertised and focused on building the organization, fundraising and leadership training.

From
From an FBI communication on Deep Green Resistance, dated 28 November 2014.

The FBI also focused its attention on DGR organizing at Western Washington University, which hosted a lecture in 2011 by two of the groups members, Max Wilbert and Dillon Thomson. Information about the lecture, titled Environmentalism for the New Century, and about the professor who hosted it was included in the FBI files. Wilbert, who attended WWU, is also a member of DGRs board of directors.

As part of the investigation, the FBI met with the universitys police department to discuss possible Deep Green Resistance presence on the WWU campus. The FBI also said it would attempt to determine whether any of the professors in the environmental sciences department were involved in the DGR movement.

FBI
From an FBI communication on Deep Green Resistance, dated 21 November 2013.

The sweeping investigation into DGRs activities was formally closed in 2014 but Wilbert assumes that the group is still being closely watched. Wilbert, who is also a writer and photographer, frequently posts short polemical essays on his Facebook page or the Deep Green Resistance website.

Wilbert said that on 7 September 2018, nearly four years after the investigation was closed, he got a call from an FBI agent in Seattle informing him that the bureau had received an anonymous tip regarding something he had written online. The agent also left a card at Wilberts parents home.

Im pretty outspoken about being a revolutionary, somebody who believes in the necessity for revolutionary change, Wilbert said. Its not something I hide.

An FBI file documenting the online tip describes Wilbert as an environmental extremist involved in inciting violence in Seattle.

German, the former FBI agent, whose recent book, Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide, chronicles the troubling post-9/11 expansion of the FBIs domestic surveillance powers, said the agency had failed to heed the warnings laid out in a 2010 justice department IG investigation that criticized the FBIs targeting of certain domestic advocacy groups. According to German, the Yost files and the two-year DGR investigation show how ineffective these internal oversight mechanisms are to preventing abusive and wasteful investigations of non-violent protesters.

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