Following the close of the 11th Round oil auction on November 28th, 2013, plain-clothes officers in Quito, Ecuador summarily closed the offices of Fundación Pachamama, a nonprofit that for 16 years has worked in defense of the rights of Amazonian indigenous peoples and the rights of nature. The dissolution, which the government blamed on their “interference in public policy,” was a retaliatory act that sought to repress Fundación Pachamama’s legitimate right to disagree with the government’s policies, such as the decision to turn over Amazonian indigenous people’s land to oil companies.
After attacking some of their closest allies, the Ecuadorian government is now attempting to take down Ecuador’s indigenous leaders who are committed to defending their territory from any oil development plans by companies including PetroAmazonas, Andes Petroleum, ENAP, Belorusneft and Repsol. The Secretary of Hydrocarbons has filed a formal complaint against eight indigenous leaders who have dedicated their lives to defending the Amazon, including Franco Viteri (President of GONOAE), the presidents of the Achuar & Zapara nationalities, the president and vice president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and pioneering female leaders Patricia Gualinga from Sarayaku and Gloria Ushigua of the Zapara.
The complaint, which has led to a preliminary investigation by the Attorney General, accuses the leaders of “the crime of [making] threat[s]” during protests against the oil auction on November 28, and accuses them specifically of (1) Obstructing entry to buildings, (2) not having a permit to protest, (3) impeding the opening of the envelopes from the oil auction, and (4) injuries. Most disturbingly, it asks that they be imprisoned. MORE
The nation’s tobacco companies and the federal government have reached an agreement on publishing corrective statements that say the companies lied about the dangers of smoking and requires them to disclose smoking’s health effects, including the death on average of 1,200 people a day.
The agreement filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., follows a 2012 ruling ordering the industry to pay for corrective statements in various advertisements. The judge in the case ordered the parties to meet to discuss how to implement the statements, including whether they would be put in inserts with cigarette packs and on websites, TV and newspaper ads.
The court must still approve the agreement and the parties are discussing whether retailers will be required to post large displays with the industry’s admissions.
The corrective statements are part of a case the government brought in 1999 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled in that case in 2006 that the nation’s largest cigarette makers concealed the dangers of smoking for decades. The companies involved in the case include Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Inc., owner of the biggest U.S. tobacco company, Philip Morris USA; No. 2 cigarette maker, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., owned by Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Reynolds American Inc.; and No. 3 cigarette maker Lorillard Inc.
Under the agreement with the Justice Department, each of the companies must publish full-page ads in the Sunday editions of 35 newspapers and on the newspapers’ websites, as well as air prime-time TV spots on CBS, ABC or NBC five times per week for a year. The companies also must publish the statements on their websites and affix them to a certain number of cigarette packs three times per year for two years.
Each corrective ad is to be prefaced by a statement that a federal court has concluded that the defendant tobacco companies “deliberately deceived the American public.” Among the required statements are that smoking kills more people than murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes and alcohol combined, and that “secondhand smoke kills over 38,000 Americans a year.”
Tobacco companies had urged Kessler to reject the government’s proposed corrective statements; the companies called them “forced public confessions.” They also said the statements were designed to “shame and humiliate” them. They had argued for statements that include the health effects and addictive qualities of smoking.
A federal appeals court later rejected efforts by the tobacco companies to overrule Kessler’s ruling requiring corrective statements.
Representatives for Altria, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard each declined to comment.
Several public health groups, including the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association, intervened in the case. In a statement Friday, the groups said the corrective statements are “necessary reminders that tobacco’s devastating toll over the past 50-plus years is no accident. It stems directly from the tobacco industry’s deceptive and even illegal practices.”
The corrective statements include five categories: adverse health effects of smoking; addictiveness of smoking and nicotine; lack of significant health benefit from smoking cigarettes marked as “low tar,” ”light,” etc.; manipulation of cigarette design and composition to ensure optimum nicotine delivery; and adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.
Among the statements within those categories:
“Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day.”
“Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Altria intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive.”
“When you smoke, the nicotine actually changes the brain — that’s why quitting is so hard.”
“All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease, heart attacks, and premature disease, heart attacks, and premature death — lights, low tar, ultra lights, and naturals. There is no safe cigarette.”
“Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and coronary heart disease in adults who do not smoke.”
“Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, severe asthma, and reduced lung function.”
“There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.” SOURCE
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