past year IEN staff has traveled and participated in conferences in Bali for the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC), to NYC for the United Nations Permanent Forum on
Flagstaff, AZ for the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance convening and many more. This year's
Protecting Mother Earth conference was support by many and was a great success
in building alliances and moving forward on many issues facing indigenous
communities in North, Central and South America.
Just this last month IEN was a major player in the America's
Social Forum in Guatemala
and the Bioneers Conference. (see articles below).
have had the privilege to work with IEN as the editor of this newsletter for
over a year, as well as, newly appointed web master. I know first hand the tremendous work IEN has
committed to in order to bring environmental justice to all indigenous
communities and groups striving to assist their People.
the communities of northern Alberta Canada fighting expansion of the tar sands
destruction (see article below and click here for more info) - to Alaskan youth in communities attempting to stop uranium, coal, gas and oil
extraction. All of these threaten not only these people but all who call earth their
The Tribal Campus Climate Challenge has brought hundreds of Native youth together to work on solutions to energy
production and conservation. And IEN's community building and outreach is
continuing to work with non-indigenous groups to accomplish our shared goals.
these efforts require funding to continue. Many of you reading this now have
contributed in many ways - and we sincerely thank you, however, your continued
support is needed. IEN receives no government funding. All operative money is
received from private foundations and donors like you. In this way, IEN is able
to work independently and without restrictions.
the last year we have seen our IEN Online News subscriber lists grow from a
little over a thousand to now almost three thousand! This was accomplished in
part by you, forwarding our newsletters on to your friends, family and
colleagues. Others have purchased items from our Café Press stores. This year
we are offering several ways in which to support the continued work. In this
newsletter we are asking for donations of artwork for a November/December
auction, fund drives in your community, and requests for environmentally conscious businesses to consider
partnering with us to offer our supporters a way to donate to our work by
purchasing selected items. (See articles below for more information.)
coming year brings with it new and more difficult battles against very powerful
corporations who are supported by some in governments for extraction and
manufacture of natural resources that will devastate environment and human
health. Please consider supporting IEN in any way you are able...by continuing to
forward our news on to others, participating in this year's auction, fund
drives in your communities or by other means.
Thank you and Best Regards,
IEN Online News Editor
Indigenous Environmental Network Silent Auction Fundraiser Items Requested
Dear IEN friends and supporters:
The Indigenous Environmental Network is planning our first ever online silent auction!
We are respectfully asking our friends and supporters to donate items for our upcoming silent auction fundraiser. This grassroots fundraiser will allow us to become less dependent on foundation dollars as well as provide the opportunity for a fun and creative way to let people know about IEN and the work we do with Indigenous communities around Environmental Justice!
With the holiday season right around the corner our silent auction will allow bidders to support IEN as well as get wonderful and unique gifts for loved ones.
Please consider a donation for our auction. If you would like to donate an item, please contact our office at 218-751-4967 and ask for Simone or send an email to email@example.com.
Thank you for your kind attention and support!
IEN at the Americas Social Forum - Listen to Radio Interview
Guatemala: Americas Social Forum Rejects Neoliberalism, Celebrates Resistance
Click Here Listen to an Interview with Tom Goldtooth & Jihan Geron
During the forum, Indigenous organizations solidified their plans to hold the Fourth Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities of Abya Yala (the Kuna name for the Americas) in Puno, Peru, the last week of May 2009. The meeting will begin with the second summit of Indigenous youth and the first summit of Indigenous women.
Indigenous peoples also discussed their participation in broader social forums, including the upcoming World Social Forum at the end of January 2009 in Belem, Brazil. Roberto Espinoza insisted that Indigenous peoples not only be a folkloric presence in these meetings, but be integrally involved with debates on substantive issues. There has been a problem of a lack of Indigenous representation on the International Council that organizes the broader World Social Forum. Debates swirled around several issues of why that might be the case. Roberto Espinoza acknowledged that CAOI has been invited to site on the council, but with other pressing and more local issues it is often difficult to commit the resources necessary to attend these meetings. This reflects a broader problem with the social forum process, that it is often only those with the time, resources, and visas necessary to travel who attend them. Unfortunately, this all too often excludes precisely those whom the forum should embrace.
Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) who sits on the National Planning Committee of the United States Social Forum, however, found these efforts to bring Indigenous and peasant peoples into the planning of the forum an encouraging move. It adds a strength to the forum, he noted. While there are problems, they should not be insurmountable.
As a movement that emerged out of the global south, the United States has always played a relatively marginal role in the social forum process. Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ) has worked harder than any other organization to bridge that gap. Once again, they brought an energetic delegation of several dozen activists from the U.S. to the forum. Michael Leon Guerrero explains that GGJ was formed in 2002 as a vehicle to "build a different solidarity with social movements around the world where we can start to talk about, together develop joint strategies around how we deal with neoliberalism and the conditions that are facing our countries." As GGJ delegation member and scholar-activist Walda Katz-Fishman from Sociologists Without Borders says, the forum has become "an important space for bringing social movements together across sectors, across race, ethnicity, gender lines."
The forum helped connect broader issues to communities of struggle in the U.S. Maria Poblet, from Saint Peter's Housing Committee says that "as an organization that works with immigrant Latinos, we have come here to Guatemala to be face to face with the conditions that cause people to migrate." She was inspired by her experiences at the forum, and in particular the spirit of resistance in Guatemala in the face of extreme violence and repression. "Here we are in Guatemala that presents to us the challenge saying after 200,000 people disappeared from our country and were killed, we are organizing this forum and we are inviting you to participate," Poblet says.
Stephanie Guilloud, Program Director of Project South worked on the United States Social Forum that met last summer in Atlanta. She says, "we are also here to connect to the forum organizers and look at the design, the structures of the flow of the organizing process so that we can really get in line with global movements that created the social forum." The sense of belonging to a common struggle across the Americas motivated many delegates from the north. Jerome Scott from the League of Revolutionaries for a New America summed it up with the statement that "we're fighting a global enemy, and therefore we are going to have to have a global movement."
Tom Goldtooth is very concerned about what is happening in the United States. "We are witnessing the collapse of capitalism," he says. He came to Guatemala to join with other Indigenous peoples across that Americas in opposition to "a neoliberal system that is not working and continues to oppress our people." He encouraged participants at the forum not to forget Indigenous peoples who are often at the front lines of struggles against mineral extraction and other devastating impacts of capitalism. Rose Brewer of Afro-Eco echoed the importance of engaging these issues, particularly those concerning free trade. "These are issues that have sometimes have been addressed but it is very clear here that both south-to-south and south-to-north fights against the FTAA have been successful." Brewer further pointed to Venezuela's Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) as an encouraging development.
Read the Rest of the Article at UPSIDEDOWN WORLD
Eva & Ken Owners of the Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie
Partner with IEN for Environmental Justice
Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie offers their buyers the opportunity to donate a portion of the purchase price of a select list of coffees to IEN. Click to read their profile.
Their business model and philosophy is simple: “There is nothing palatable about coffee that arrives in my cup through the destruction of natural habitat, wildlife, or the eradication of Indigenous cultures, traditions or people.” ~ Eva, Owner
At The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie our goal is simple… to provide you with legendary coffees of exquisite taste that you can feel good about buying.
MyNewsletterBuilder is the company we use for our online news. For the past two cycles they have given us a generous discount on their service. They also offer this to other non-profit social and environmental concious organizations.
Will You Be Our Partner too?
As many of you know we are in the process of rebuilding the IEN website. Part of this reconstruction we are planning to feature these and other business partners who in some way support our continuing work.
At the present time we have over 3,000 subscribers to our newsletter and approximately 4,000 hits on our website weekly. As we add partners we will be featuring them in our newsletters, like the example link above.
If you are interested in becoming part of the greater environmental justice work - please contact Simone: at 218-751-4967 / firstname.lastname@example.org or Marty: 218-751-4967 / email@example.com.
YOUR HELP NEEDED to Stop 54,000 Miles of Destruction
IEN is working tirelessly to stop the expansion of the Canadian tar sands.
Expansion is now in the planning stages. If all the currently approved projects go forward, more than 54,000 square miles will be clear-cut and strip-mined, destroying an area the size of Florida and devastating our global climate in the process.
No one can afford to let that happen. This threatens not only the Indigenous communities but all people in North, Central and South America as it contributes to carbon emissions by depleting the systems that clean our air and water.
The development of the Canadian tar sands is the largest and most destructive industrial project on the planet. And we need your help! Donate now with your tax deductable gift to help us continue this critical campaign. Click here for more info.
To get oil from the tar sands, more land must be excavated than was moved for the Great Wall of China, the Suez Canal, the Great Pyramid of Cheops, and the ten largest dams in the world...combined.
In addition, the mining, refining and transportation of tar sands oil generates three times as much global warming pollution as is caused by conventional oil production.
We cannot stand by and allow this reckless destruction -- all in the name of America's crippling oil addiction -- to continue!
Working together, we can stop the massive expansion of the tar sands.
Thank you for all your support to continue this vital effort. We can't do it without you.
For more information contact:
INDIGENOUS ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK -
CANADIAN INDIGENOUS TAR SANDS CAMPAIGN
2-94 Charlotte ST.
Ottawa Ontario K1N 8K2
Ph: (613) 789-5653
contact the IEN Main Office at Ph: (218) 751-4967
How About a Fund Drive Event in Your Community?
Did you ever consider a fundraising event in your community to help continue the work for environmental and economic justice?
We have informational materials and items for raising money and we can also discuss having IEN speakers come to your area. If you would consider this path to help us with next year's events and actions you can call Simone or Marty at: (218) 751-4967 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com.
And thank you for your continued support!
Image Credit: Shadi Rahimi
2008 Bioneers Conference Hosts First Indigenous Tent
By Shadi Rahimi, Today correspondent
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. – After 19 years of hosting a “green” festival, the 2008 Bioneers Conference hosted its first-ever “indigenous tent” this year.
Bioneers founders Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons referred to indigenous peoples as “the world’s original bioneers” in the program and said they were “deeply honored” to collaborate with the Indigenous Environmental Network and Cultural Conservancy to host the tent.
“We’ve got to fight for a new environmental paradigm,” said IEN Director Tom Goldtooth during a panel on climate change. “The machine continues. They’re ‘green-washing’ ourselves.”
Organic foods, herbal remedies and natural fibers were the norm Oct. 17 – 19, and the tent was the one space where Native people could be found networking and speaking to the mostly white Bioneers crowd about environmental struggles in Indian country.
“We’re here to invite you to join us,” said Radley Davis, Pit River, during a panel on sacred sites. “We’re all facing the same issues. We need to address them as one.”
Conference attendees, took in the shade beneath three traditional tule huts at the tent and speakers shared California basket making, tule hut and bird dance and song demonstrations, and insight on environmental issues.
During a youth panel, five speakers shared thoughts about cultural conservation “As a Tool for Social Justice,” including the preservation of languages in Canada, northern California and South Dakota, and the legacy of boarding schools on their families and their knowledge.
“The steps we are taking now are not only about contemporary times, but solutions to the trauma in the past,” said panel facilitator Dallas Goldtooth.
Attendees filled the tent during a panel on sacred sites. Manny Pino, Acoma Pueblo, spoke about how Native people must fight in the courts for the same religious rights granted to all others because “indigenous peoples are always an afterthought.”
Pino spoke about the pain of being forced to share spiritual practices in courtrooms “just to defend our case.” But that’s necessary when arguing cases like the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, Ariz., a sacred mountain where a ski resort uses recycled wastewater to create fake snow, he said.
In response to protests, the Bureau of Land Management has been asking how to best oversee a sacred site, said Navajo Kelvin Long of the nonprofit E.C.H.O.E.S.
“We tell them you can’t ‘manage’ a sacred site. We can’t wait until science catches up to us; you have to listen to the people of this land.”
Pino spoke about how Native struggles to protect sacred sites become interpreted as “obstacles to economic progress,” citing the Zuni in western New Mexico and their battle to preserve the salt water from SRP’s 18,000-acre coal mine that for 50 years sucked 85 gallons of water a minute from the river. After a “long, tedious effort” by Zuni spiritual leaders, the river was spared in 2003 upon being placed in national trust, he said. But SRP has moved on to waterways in Wyoming.
Matthew Leivas Sr., Chemehuevi from southern California, spoke of the desecration of sacred springs and sites in his region. Shrapnel from World War II still litter the desert, and now off-road vehicles raze the landscape. Tailings from uranium mining in the Colorado Plateau in the late 19th century continue to contaminate Lake Mead, the Colorado River and other waterways, he said.
With gaming money from its casino, his tribe has begun buying back some of the land it lost upon contact with European settlers. And through a project called the Salt Song Trail, they and 12 other Southern Paiute bands from California, Arizona and Nevada are reviving traditional songs and honoring those who never came home from the Sherman Indian School, a boarding school in Riverside.
Davis spoke about how the 9th Circuit court had ruled in favor of protecting the Medicine Lake highlands from a proposed geothermal plant. But “we knew we could not celebrate too soon,” he said. This past summer, the BLM and Calpine Corp. began pushing again for drilling.
“We do not consider geothermal ‘green energy’ because the impact on our area would be irreparable. It would be damaged forever.”
The push against harmful development and the revival of lands was a major theme among speakers, and Native audience members brought up new concerns.
An Oneida woman almost cried as she spoke about biofuels: “To have our corn burned for the purpose of gas in cars goes against the belief of my people. Corn is sacred and corn is food.”
At a panel on “The Sacredness of Water,” Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk-Franco declared that now “coal miners have turned to blue gold.”
She puffed smoke from a pipe onto a California water basket woven by Kathy Wallace, which was passed to each panelist to “speak over the water.” Tia Oros Peters, a Zuni who works for the Seventh Generation Fund, spoke about how villages once thrived along the Zuni River.
Today, the region is joked as being only “dust and dogs,” a result of dams built by Mormon missionaries “hungry for souls,” she said. The river was strangled. Her husband’s people, the Yurok, now face similar threats from seven dams on the Klamath River.
Courtesy: Getty Images
IEN and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance at Americas Social Forum
Michael Leon Guerrero and Cindy Wiesner
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
The 3rd Americas Social Forum (ASF3) convened October 7-12, 2008 in Guatemala City was an important and exciting benchmark for the global social forum process. It was grounded by its grassroots nature with strong participation of peasants, women, and indigenous peoples, and by the dialogues and debates of alternatives to neoliberal capitalism based on actual experience. We would like to share what we see as some of the key characteristics of ASF3 that marked the event as an important advance for the overall World Social Forum (WSF) process.
The central role of indigenous peoples and women – thousands of the indigenous people were rrepresented from throughout Guatemala and the region. Many of them integrated into the National Coordination of Indigenous Peoples and Campesinos (CONIC), Waqib Kej, the Committee of the Peasant Union (CUC) and broader alliances such as the Confederation of Latin American Peasant Organizations (CLOC) and Via Campesina. The Central Plenary: Failures of Capitalism: Our Struggle for Land Reform and the Integration of Peoples to the ALBA was represented by all indigenous panelists, Daniel Pascual from CNOC, Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, Moira MillÃ¡n, Frente Mapuche y Campesino de Argentina and Mirallay Painemal, Mapuche de Chile, CLOC, Via Campesina. Indigenous communities throughout Guatemala are under attack by multinational corporations and the government for mineral resources, water and transportation infrastructure. This was a common theme throughout the Americas reflected in the workshops and debates.
Local, regional and international women's organizations had a strong and visible presence at the forum – groups like the Sector de Mujeres from Guuatemala, Mesoamericanas en Resistencia, Las Dignas from El Salvador,, Health Network of Women in Latin American and the Caribbean (RSMLAC) with representation from Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, and the World March of Women, which has been one of the central movement networks in the social forum process. The dialogues reflected the political advancement of feminist theory beyond the right to one's body or the right to choose. Slogans, banners, literature, and workshops, consistently integrated theme that the fight for sovereignty is a fight for one's body and one's territory/land and that feminist struggles include the fight against capitalism, racism, patriarchy and homophobia.
Feminists also generated one of the major debates within the forum as strong declarations were made denouncing the Sandinista government in Nicaragua for its ban on abortion rights. This was a concession of the Sandinista government to establish a coalition with the Catholic Church that could hold power in the country. Some local organizers and Sandinista supporters criticized the denunciation, asserting that the debate should not have been brought before the ASF.
The sharpening of common struggles – at the beginning off the decade, neoliberalism was symbolized by global financial institutions like the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the G-8 and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Largely due to the success of the global justice movement, these initiatives have either been defeated or stalled. The FTAA was declared dead and buried by Hugo Chavez and other Latin American Presidents in November, 2005 in Mar de Plata, WTO negotiations have met strong popular resistance and is currently in limbo, the IMF and WB have lost much of their financing and political influence.
In the absence of these common targets, however, the social movements have found it increasingly difficult to define common points of reference. Many of the movements reverted to local and national struggles against new bilateral trade agreements, national elections and other local fights. The overall themes defined by ASF3 helped to reveal and sharpen common trends, primary among these were:
- The militarization of the Americas. With the expansion of U.S. military bases, the revival of the U.S. Navy's 4th Fleet, and an increase in covert operations by the U.S. against Venezuela and Bolivia, the fledgling Leftist governments face a renewed assault by U.S. imperial aggression.
- Bilateral trade agreements – Both the U.S. and Europe have begun to engage in negotiationns for trade agreements with individual nations like Peru and Colombia, and regions such as Central America and the Andes.
- Environmental justice and sovereignty – Communities throughout the Americas are under atttack for exploitation of energy, minerals, water and other resources. This is intensifying health and environmental impacts as well as global warming.
- Control over resources – militarization of the Americaas accompanies the overall strategies of the U.S. and Europe to lock down control over vital natural resources. Trade agreements are accompanied by energy and security agreements like the Security and Prosperity Partnership, the Marida accords, and the Plan Puebla PanamÃ¡. These pacts include massive infrastructure projects to move water, energy and minerals north, while the trade agreements move products south to the markets opened by the trade agreements.
As Hector de la Cueva of the Mexican Network Against Free Trade (RMALC) recently commented: the face of neoliberalism is now militarism."
- Criminalization of social movements - "in addition to the mobilization of armed forces, internal security laws are being adopted by Latin American governments modeled after the U.S. Patriot Act and Homeland Security. Political resistance to neoliberal strategies are being violently repressed. Several movement organizers at the ASF3 noted that interrogations and monitoring of organizations, as well as political assassinations are increasing. An assassination attempt was made on one of the coordinators of ASF3 3 weeks before the forum convened.
Another World in Practice
Debate about concrete alternatives to neoliberalism and global capitalism
The central purpose of the social forum process is to define alternatives to neoliberal capitalism. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and throughout the globe, for a moment the social movements were all that stood in the way of the march of neoliberalism. Mass mobilizations were key in challenging the neoliberal juggernaut at the turn of the century, but it was clear that resistance had to be matched by a process to define alternatives to capitalism and the failed models of Soviet socialism. The World Social Forum (WSF) heralded that Another World is Possible and established a political broad and strategically diverse open space to define this other world. Yet discussions and debates tended to be theoretical exercises, lofty and ambiguous declarations, or strategic responses to struggles.
The latter half of the decade saw the emergence of electoral victories for the Left in a number of countries, particularly in Latin America: Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Lula in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Christine and Nestor Kirchner in Argentina, Tabar Vazquez in Uruguay, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, Michelle Bachelet in Chile, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Castro in Cuba. Although these Presidents represent a broad political spectrum from the center-left to revolutionary ideology, they are generally aligned in challenging the neoliberal agenda that imposes privatization of public resources, domination of the market in determining social and political relationships, deregulation of laws that protect the public and the environment, and reduction of the government's role to supporting corporate power.
The presence of most of the governments was strongly felt, although not officially (keeping in accordance with social forum principles). Two factors made their presence even more significant: 1) the backdrop of the ongoing collapse of the US financial sector, and 2) discussion about these Left experiments based on concrete experience and practice, not just on theory and ideology.
Alberto Acosta, President of the National Constituent Assembly of Ecuador, arrived with the new Ecuadorian constitution fresh in hand. The Constitution is founded in the concept of buen vivir or quality of life guaranteeing basic rights of all Ecuadorians to basic services such as health, education, water and electricity. They also establish the concept of universal citizenship - meaning that all those who live within the borders of Ecuador, although not citizens, enjoy the same benefits of citizens.
Acosta said in a panel on the new socialist governments: There will not be one recipe, we must all respond to our unique situations. He also spoke of the need to establish a dynamic relationship between the market, the government and society. Acosta's vision concedes that the market is important to the economy, but that it must be in service to society, not the other way around. Similarly, all power cannot be centralized within the government. We must humanize the government and civilize the market.
Evo Morales was scheduled to speak at the forum, but is currently confronting the challenge of the wealthy white oligarchs in the Media Luna region of Bolivia, who are fighting to maintain control of land, oil and gas. Morales has nationalized these resources in order to redistribute revenues to the entire population of Bolivia. In a statement to the ASF3, Morales also defined principles of quality of life as the agenda for Bolivia, challenging capitalism and imperialist exploitation of the Americas.
Defining socialism for the 21st century, named by Hugo Chavez at the 2nd ASF in 2006, has become the new challenge for the emerging governments as well as the social movements. In a workshop packed with organizers and activists throughout the Americas, social movement representatives from Chile, Cuba, Brazil, and the U.S. spoke about the new opportunities presented by the Bolivarian Alternatives to the Americas (ALBA), a model of economic integration established as an alternative to the free trade agreements being imposed by the U.S. and Europe. The ALBA has now been signed by 8 countries (Honduras signed as the workshop was happening), which agree to share resources in a cooperative way. The ALBA is primarily anchored by Venezuela and Cuba who exchange oil and technical assistance for doctors and teachers respectively. The ALBA also makes room for participation of social movements through a special advisory committee, which is unheard of in other trade regimes.
However, the ALBA has not generated universal support. Indigenous communities are concerned about the agreement and what integration will mean. Despite the participation of Evo Morales and the Bolivian government in the ALBA process, many indigenous nations remain marginalized from it. In one of the large gatherings, an indigenous representative said, this little word (integration) usually means that we lose our land and resources.
Challenges Moving Forward
Two key challenges face the evolution of the socialist experiments and the social movements in the Americas. 1) The need to assure that indigenous leadership is central to the process. Socialism for the 21st century cannot be realized without a true incorporation of indigenous thought, practice and vision where such a large percentage of the Americas is indigenous. Ecuador is one country that is grappling with this as their Constitution envisions a plurinational state. 2) The need for the feminization of the movement and a central role for queer and transgender people. Overcoming patriarchal leadership models will be key to building true democratic practice and allow for vital diverse leadership to flourish. 3) The need for African descendant populations to also have central leadership in the process. This has yet to be effectively addressed. Hopefully the location of the next WSF in the Amazonian city of BelÃ©m, Brazil will mark a turning point in participation by African descendants, as the ASF3 was for indigenous peoples.
ASF3 made great strides on these fronts, but there is still much work to be done. Although diverse representation and leadership in the process was strong, there was still a noticeable disconnect between sectors. Women's movements primarily congregated around the Women's tent, indigenous peoples centered around the IGLU (University building) or the Campesin@s Tent, social movements activities converged in the S10 building as did the youth. There were few moments where all of these different forces came together. When it did happen, the debates were dynamic, and challenging. The Social Movements Assembly was a reflection of this, and captured the overall spirit, character and substance of the forum. The closing march and rally were also a call for the deepening diversity of the Left. An important example is a leaflet put out announcing the closing march by the National Guatemalan Campesin@ Alliance- CNOC. It was titled: A Call to March on October 12. Day of Resistance for Campesinos, Indigenous Peoples, Afro-Descendants, Lesbians, Unions and Popular Movements.
The Process of the Americas
Participation from the U.S. was also key in ASF3. The Grassroots Global Justice Alliance brought 40 representatives from 20 grassroots organizations. Southwest Workers Union and the Indigenous Environmental Network co-organized workshops on the Wall of Death on the U.S.-Mexico border, climate change and environmental justice, the National Domestic Workers Alliance laid the groundwork to internationalize their network and organized two workshops. GGJ also held a workshop giving an overview of grassroots struggles in the U.S. The delegation met with representatives from the Hemispheric Social Alliance, which was established to challenge free trade policies throughout the Americas, COMPA, and the World March of Women. GGJ will seek to deepen relationships and build working partnerships with these groups.
In addition, the U.S. Social Forum National Planning Committee sent representatives and organized a reception to honor the Guatemala Facilitation Committee and the Hemispheric Council (HC) – the two bodiies tasked with organizing the forum process. GGJ and Southwest Workers Union also had representation on the HC, participating in planning meetings over the course of the past year. GGJ had a staff person in Guatemala a week before the event to help coordinate with the local facilitation committee.
The US Social Forum and ASF3 mark the closing of the loop in U. S. participation in the Americas social movements, commented Joel Suarez of the Martin Luther King Center in La Havana, Cuba, Now we can truly talk about a process of the Americas.
In an op/ed piece for La Prensa Libre, Ileana Alamilla eloquently described the Americas Social Forum as a politically significant event in the struggle against tyranny. In her words, the forum was triumphant in liberating the words that for centuries of silence have been held hostage. In Guatamala, we all witnessed a glimpse of what another America looks like and most important what it is saying to the world.
Michael Leon Guerrero and Cindy Wiesner are Co-Coordinators of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ): www.ggjalliance.org. For more information about GGJ's delegation to the Americas Social Forum, visit http://ggjalliance.blogspot.com.
Posted By Grassroots Global Justice to GGJ America's Social Forum delegation at 10/31/2008 06:22:00 AM
A Last Push To Deregulate - White House to Ease Many Rules
By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 31, 2008
The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.
The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.
Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.
Once such rules take effect, they typically can be undone only through a laborious new regulatory proceeding, including lengthy periods of public comment, drafting and mandated reanalysis.
"They want these rules to continue to have an impact long after they leave office," said Matthew Madia, a regulatory expert at OMB Watch, a nonprofit group critical of what it calls the Bush administration's penchant for deregulating in areas where industry wants more freedom. He called the coming deluge "a last-minute assault on the public . . . happening on multiple fronts."
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said: "This administration has taken extraordinary measures to avoid rushing regulations at the end of the term. And yes, we'd prefer our regulations stand for a very long time -- they're well reasoned and are being considered with the best interests of the nation in mind."
As many as 90 new regulations are in the works, and at least nine of them are considered "economically significant" because they impose costs or promote societal benefits that exceed $100 million annually. They include new rules governing employees who take family- and medical-related leaves, new standards for preventing or containing oil spills, and a simplified process for settling real estate transactions.
While it remains unclear how much the administration will be able to accomplish in the coming weeks, the last-minute rush appears to involve fewer regulations than Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton, approved at the end of his tenure.
In some cases, Bush's regulations reflect new interpretations of language in federal laws. In other cases, such as several new counterterrorism initiatives, they reflect new executive branch decisions in areas where Congress -- now out of session and focused on the elections -- left the president considerable discretion....
Seeking to avoid falling victim to such partisan tactics, White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten in May imposed a Nov. 1 government-wide deadline to finish major new regulations, "except in extraordinary circumstances."
That gives officials just a few more weeks to meet an effective Nov. 20 deadline for the publication of economically significant rules, which take legal effect only after a 60-day congressional comment period. Less important rules take effect after a 30-day period, creating a second deadline of Dec. 20....
A rule put forward by the National Marine Fisheries Service and now under final review by the OMB would lift a requirement that environmental impact statements be prepared for certain fisheries-management decisions and would give review authority to regional councils dominated by commercial and recreational fishing interests.
An Alaska commercial fishing source, granted anonymity so he could speak candidly about private conversations, said that senior administration officials promised to "get the rule done by the end of this month" and that the outcome would be a big improvement.
Lee Crockett of the Pew Charitable Trusts' Environment Group said the administration has received 194,000 public comments on the rule and protests from 80 members of Congress as well as 160 conservation groups. "This thing is fatally flawed" as well as "wildly unpopular," Crockett said.
Two other rules nearing completion would ease limits on pollution from power plants, a major energy industry goal for the past eight years that is strenuously opposed by Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups.
One rule, being pursued over some opposition within the Environmental Protection Agency, would allow current emissions at a power plant to match the highest levels produced by that plant, overturning a rule that more strictly limits such emission increases. According to the EPA's estimate, it would allow millions of tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, worsening global warming.
A related regulation would ease limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants near national parks.
A third rule would allow increased emissions from oil refineries, chemical factories and other industrial plants with complex manufacturing operations.
These rules "will force Americans to choke on dirtier air for years to come, unless Congress or the new administration reverses these eleventh-hour abuses," said lawyer John Walke of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Some of this article was omitted for length.... Click here to read the entire article.
|CLIMATE CHANGE & INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
Tebtebba New Publication Release
Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education
About the Book:
This publications aims to enhance indigenous peoples' knowledge on climate change so that we will be better equipped to participate more effectively in shaping relevant policies and actions taken to address this issue. It also aims to enlighten non-indigenous peoples on our own experiences and perspectives on climate change.
Editors: Raymond de Chavez & Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
Writers: Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Eleonor Baldo-Soriano, Helen Magata, Christine Golocan, Maribeth V. Bugtong, Raymond de Chavez, Leah Enkiwe-Abayao and Joji Cariño
The severity of the impacts of climate change and mitigation processes on indigenous peoples and the complex negotiating processes around climate change compels us to have a basic understanding of climate change and the policies and actions being taken to address it. We, indigenous peoples, have long observed and adapted to the climatic changes in our communities for tens of thousands of years. Because of our sustainable lifestyles and our struggles against deforestation and against oil and gas extraction, we have significantly contributed in keeping gigatonnes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the ground and in the trees. However, the extent and magnitude of present-day climate change seriously challenges our capacities to cope and adapt. Many of the environmental challenges we face, be these climate change, pollution, environmental degradation, etc., are caused not by our own actions but mainly by the dominant societies who are incessantly pursuing a development path of unsustainable production and consumption. Climate change is the biggest proof that this dominant development model is unsustainable and therefore needs to be changed. International cooperation and solidarity to support our adaptation initiatives and to strengthen our contributions to climate change mitigation is crucial.
Unfortunately, we have been excluded from the negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol and even in the discussions and implementation of these at the national level. We believe that, given the opportunity, we can contribute substantially to the discussions and decisions made on climate change policies and actions not only at the national level but also at the global level. We also believe that the recently adopted United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be the overarching framework upon which climate actions and policies as these relate to indigenous peoples should be based.
It is in this light that Tebtebba prepared this "Guide on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change." The aim of this publication is to enhance our knowledge on climate change so that we will be better equipped to participate more effectively in shaping relevant policies and actions taken to address this issue. It also aims to enlighten non-indigenous peoples on our own experiences and perspectives on climate change. We are aware of the existence of recently written materials on indigenous peoples and climate change but most of these are not written by us and therefore lack the perspectives we have to offer. This publication is aimed to fill the dearth of such materials. It is designed as a guide that will provide the basic information which we deem indigenous peoples should have on their hands. Hopefully, it will allow all of us to appreciate more fully how climate change issues are related to our basic struggles for rights to lands, territories and resources, right to culture and to self-determination, including our right to development. The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) announced that the special theme for its 7th Session (April 21-May 2, 2008) is on "Climate change, bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods: the stewardship role of indigenous peoples and new challenges." There have been some climate change workshop-seminars and consultations organized by indigenous peoples and some support groups and UN bodies which have already taken place. So this publication draws on some recommendations which emerged from these processes. It will also use information from the documents prepared for the UNPFII sessions such as the overview paper made by the UNPFII Secretariat and the Report on the Impact of Climate Change Mitigation Measures on Indigenous Peoples and their Territories and Lands" [E/C.19/2008/10], as well as the Report of the 7th Session of the UNPFII [E/C.19/2008/13].
Executive Director, Tebtebba
Chairperson, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Click here for instruction on how to Download the book
How to order the book:
Price: US$10.00, excluding postage
FOR ORDERS, send an email to Marly M. Carino at firstname.lastname@example.org OR contact us at the following:
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|Two area uranium projects under review
By Brandon Bennett
Black Hills Pioneer
RAPID CITY - Federal and state officials are reviewing two regional uranium leach-mining projects.
Powertech Uranium Corp. has exploration permits for Fall River and Custer counties and plans to drill 30 more holes to establish the spot for its planned mining operation.
The firm wants to inject chemically treated water into the holes to dissolve the uranium, then pump out the solution and collect the uranium for processing.
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources is reviewing the proposed mining area since Powertech has started the process to get a large-scale mine permit.
The department says Powertech also has started the process to obtain a large-scale mine permit. The state is reviewing the proposed mining area to determine if it has characteristics that would require more regulation or perhaps exclude drilling.
It's the first step in the mine permitting.
After a two-day hearing in Chadron, Neb., federal officials continue to review whether to grant groups and individuals a formal standing in the license-renewal process for a Crow Butte Resources uranium mine near Crawford, Neb. There's no time frame set for a ruling.
Four Nuclear Regulatory Commission administrative judges heard testimony and toured parts of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation during the hearing.
The opponents include 13 individuals and organizations who say the plant damages the environment and threatens the health and water of area residents.
Company representatives say the so-called in situ leach-mining process is safe and does not cause contamination.
But several groups, including Native American tribes like the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Delegation of the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council and a Lakota cultural group, Bring Back The Way have joined forces with the Western Nebraska Resource Council to intervene in the
license renewal proceeding for Cameco, Inc., a company that conducts in situ leach mining at Crow Butte.
“We are concerned about the releases of contaminants into our drinking water. These contaminants are going to remain in our water system,
coming out of our kitchen sinks for decades. We are concerned, not just for ourselves but for our children and our children's children,” said Debra White Plume, one of the plaintiffs from Pine Ridge.
The petitioners also claim the mine's claimed economic benefits to the community are overstated.
“Besides the environmental and public health costs, on a purely economic level this mine uses up more value in water than the value of the uranium being mined. Uranium hype comes from market speculation,” said David Frankel, an attorney for the petitioners. “There is already a 70-year uranium supply and also a lot of speculation about increased demand for newer nuclear power plants that cost $11 billion each and
may never get built. On the most basic level it doesn't make sense to expand this foreign-owned mine. Rather it should be put into local ownership and full time water restoration activities,” he added.
In situ leach mining involves injecting a solution of water and baking soda into a formation of uranium, which dissolves the ore. It is then pumped to the surface where the uranium is recovered. The water is then treated and then returned to the aquifer. It is here that opponents say the problem arises, as the water will drift into fissures in the aquifers and then contaminate drinking water supplies.