Nature's defenders

A note from the editor

Vanessa Baird

Challenging consumer culture – the indigenous way

The riots that rocked England this summer continue to produce a bumper harvest of opinion.

In large part, this reveals more about the motivations of the opiners than those of the rioters.

There was one feature of the disturbances that all can agree on – they resulted in an orgy of looting.

Some commentators have pointed out that this might have something to do with the dominant mantra of our times – consume, consume, consume – which turns so easily into loot, loot, loot. (Ask expense-fiddling members of parliament or bribe-taking police how easy.)

Many of the rioters were poor. That cannot be said of the multinational corporations rampaging across the world, looting the natural resources of others – albeit at the invitation of colluding governments.

If that seems a bit extreme, I invite you to read the main Analysis section of this issue, Nature’s defenders. We go to Peru to tell the story of how indigenous people are taking a stand against the pillage of their lands. In doing so, they are opposing corporations that are making eye-watering profits by stimulating and stuffing the maw of global consumerism, while trashing local livelihoods and global ecosystems.

Also in this issue, we get a close-up view of Syria’s protest movements and where they might lead, thanks to undercover journalist Daniel Wiggins (not his real name). Our Argument is about whether or not there should be a maximum wage. On the Arts pages we review an innovative thriller that enables you to take part in unravelling the mystery online. And we ask Faithless guitarist David Randall what really fires him up.

Vanessa Baird for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

Keynote article.

The sacred canyon of Pakitzapango. Local communities were not consulted about plans to build a 165-metre high dam here that would flood them out.

The sacred canyon of Pakitzapango. Local communities were not consulted about plans to build a 165-metre high dam here that would flood them out.

Ministry of Interior / Government of Peru

Peru's dam busters

Vanessa Baird discovers why the Asháninka people of the River Ene are taking a hard line against dam builders – and others.

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Voracious, rapacious and, ultimately, outwitted. The gigantic human-eating eagle that gave its name to Pakitzapango could be a lesson to all who have designs on this part of the world.

For years, according to local myth, the bird terrorized the Asháninka inhabitants of the River Ene in the Peruvian Amazon.

Finally, the people created an ingenious bait – a life-sized human figure, made of clay – and sent it in a boat towards the eagle’s hideout. When the eagle sank its claws into the fig...




Features.

Avatar for real

From Canada to Congo, from India to Australia, indigenous communities are fighting for their lives and livelihoods.

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We will remove Bashar

Undercover journalist Daniel Wiggins gives an inside view on Syria's protest movements.

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Dying for a soup

An estimated 73 million sharks are slaughtered every year for their fins, with 110 species now facing extinction, reports Claire C.

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‘Many of our people have worked in mines,’ says Mauro Cruz. ‘They know what happens...’

Peruvians rise up against the mines

The scale of indigenous-led protests against mining in southern Peru took most by surprise. Vanessa Baird on what led to such flare-ups.

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Opinion.

Packed in: at an overcrowded California prison, inmates are housed in the gym.

America: Life in Prison Nation

Around 2.3 million US citizens are behind bars - a number that dwarfs any other country, reports Mark Engler.

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Agenda.

Too little, too late? Children walk past an African Union Mission soldier from Uganda at a food distribution centre in Mogadishu.

Who is to blame for the Somali famine?

Is it the US government? Is it Al Shabab? Is it the UN? Sally Healy argues it is the result of a collective failure.

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Regulars.

Interview with David Randall

The Faithless guitarist tells Giedre Steikunaite why all music is political.

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The Gambia

A profile of Africa's smallest and most densely populated country.

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Letter from Cairo

Love can be tough amid the boredom and despair of a city slum, writes Maria Golia.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews.

A trusting gem of a film from Céline Sciamma.

Film review: Tomboy

Director Céline Sciamma doesn't shy away from harsh realities, yet Tomboy is still a trusting gem of a film.

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Like-minded souls in Salt of This Sea.

The silver screen behind the Spring

Feature films can tell us much about the cultural background to recent events in North Africa and the Middle East. Malcolm Lewis has been watching some of them.

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