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A Tale of Two Protests: Hong Kong and West Papua

Hong Kong is not the only place in the world currently undergoing protests met in turn by draconian use of force.

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(TMU Op-Ed) — Media coverage of the protests rocking Hong Kong have not been found wanting.

In a sense, the depiction of the protests and, in particular the crackdown which has been launched in response, has been almost apocalyptic, with the recent development being a warning from Beijing that the “end is coming.”

The underlying narrative is simple and easy to follow. The people of Hong Kong want democracy and the rule of law. Beijing wants to impose its will. Hong Kong: good; China: bad.

All that being said, the media is most likely well justified in exposing this story. Nothing in this article is intended to undermine the legitimate struggle of the people of Hong Kong particularly in light of the extradition issues which gave rise to the protests in the first place. Hell, even a top New Zealand Court found that China’s criminal justice system falls so damn short of expected international standards, that it prevented a murder suspect from being extradited there.

However, it would pay to remind ourselves that Hong Kong is not the only place in the world currently undergoing protests which are met in turn by the draconian use of force. Sometimes, the people doing the quashing in other parts of the world are longstanding allies of powerful western nations, and their actions are swept under the rug or framed in different terms.

One such place is West Papua. Since 1961, reports alleged that at least 500,000 West Papuans have been killed by the Indonesian military, which has long been backed by the United States and regional powerhouses like Australia. In May 2016, a fact-finding mission carried out by the Brisbane Archdiocese’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission warned that West Papua was experiencing a “slow-motion genocide.”

The reasoning behind the prolonging of this conflict, and the reason why it continues to get buried under the rubble of the mainstream media, is due to a combination of money and natural resources. West Papua holds one of the world’s largest gold mines (and third largest copper mine), but is unable to capitalize on its use. The mine is majority-owned by the American mining firm Freeport McMoRan, with reserves worth an estimated $100 billion, making the American-owned company Indonesia’s largest taxpayer.

According to many reputable outlets, just last week, the Indonesian military fired on peaceful demonstrators, killing at least six protestors. Police-backed armed militias stormed West Papuan student dormitories this week, killing at least one student. Indonesia has blacked out the internet across West Papua and Papua, deployed thousands of police and troops; and dozens of Papuans have been arrested.

“Everyone is forbidden from carrying out demonstrations and conveying opinions in public that could give rise to anarchist acts, damage, and burning of public facilities,” a six-point police order said, according to the Guardian.

West Papuans are fighting for their right to self-determination, decolonization and independence. These are ideals that western powers typically flaunt as justifications for getting one’s military involved in say, Venezuela, Iran or anywhere else in the world which is deemed a nuisance to the White House.

It should be clear therefore that the US and the media are not too interested in advancing the agenda of a grassroots struggle for freedom per se, only if the narrative fits the particular agenda of the powers-that-be. Unfortunately, West Papua just doesn’t quite tick the right boxes.

As the Free West Papua Campaign told me last year, “[i]t’s difficult to understand sometimes why West Papua is not in the international news.”

“Many other places in the world are on the international news, but not West Papua,” the campaign told me via email.

“In the history of the world over the last 50 years, West Papua is one of the big injustices with so many people killed, but still today many people have never heard about West Papua. The Indonesian government has always been able to hide what it has done in West Papua, but now, in the internet age, they can no longer hide. Gradually the world is finding out the truth about West Papua. We hope that international media can get to West Papua and help expose the truth.”

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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