In this video that’s gone viral, Reverend Phil Snyder makes a presentation in Springfield, Missouri where the city council is debating whether or not to add LGBTQ folks to the equal rights laws in the city. Watch the whole video – there’s a twist at the end that you won’t want to miss.
There are a lot of things I could write about on this crisp winter morning; NOAA’s updated 2012 Arctic Report Card, for example (hint: it ain’t lookin’ good) or the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown Connecticut on Friday, or the (related) fact that American drones have killed nearly 200 innocent Pakistani children in the last few years. But I’m going to focus on a Canadian story that has been mainly overlooked in the mainstream media here at home – although Al Jazeera covered it last week, and some local media did a good job of reporting on it. On December 10, International Human Rights Day, the First Nations people of Canada took to the streets, to their MPs offices, and to Ottawa, to send a message to the government of Stephen Harper that they were “idle no more”. The federal government’s sweeping omnibus budget bill C-45 bill, passed last week with little discussion in the House of Commons, is an insult to all Canadians who value clean air, clean water, and a stable climate but it is particularly insulting to First Nations people. As Dustin Hollings wrote at CFNE.org, addressing non-aboriginal Canadians:
“…the Harper Government is out to do a few really nasty things to all of us right now. There are a bunch of bills on the table but the basic timeline is shaping up like this… 1) Remove Environmental water protections acts. 2) Strip Aboriginal First Nations of Treaty rights (the final assimilation). “
18 year-old Ocean Morin, who organized the Idle No More rally in LaRonge, Saskatchewan that brought out hundreds of people, put it this way:
“As a child our parents, grandparents, elders and our leaders all said our children are the future, but I have a strong belief that if this bill is passed, there will not be much of a future for future generations to come.”
The Idle No More Manifesto is available on their website. I’ve reposted it in full here because it deserves to be read and shared widely. The First Nations are standing up for a sustainable future for ALL of our children.
We contend that: The Treaties are nation to nation agreements between Canada and First Nations who are sovereign nations. The Treaties are agreements that cannot be altered or broken by one side of the two Nations. The spirit and intent of the Treaty agreements meant that First Nations peoples would share the land, but retain their inherent rights to lands and resources. Instead, First Nations have experienced a history of colonization which has resulted in outstanding land claims, lack of resources and unequal funding for services such as education and housing. We contend that: Canada has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world by using the land and resources. Canadian mining, logging, oil and fishing companies are the most powerful in the world due to land and resources. Some of the poorest First Nations communities (such as Attawapiskat) have mines or other developments on their land but do not get a share of the profit. The taking of resources has left many lands and waters poisoned – the animals and plants are dying in many areas in Canada. We cannot live without the land and water. We have laws older than this colonial government about how to live with the land.
We contend that: Currently, this government is trying to pass many laws so that reserve lands can also be bought and sold by big companies to get profit from resources. They are promising to share this time…Why would these promises be different from past promises? We will be left with nothing but poisoned water, land and air. This is an attempt to take away sovereignty and the inherent right to land and resources from First Nations peoples. We contend that: There are many examples of other countries moving towards sustainability, and we must demand sustainable development as well. We believe in healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities and have a vision and plan of how to build them. Please join us in creating this vision.
Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation is on her sixth day of a hunger strike to get Stephen Harper and the federal Conservatives and Queen Elizabeth to meet with First Nations leaders, include First Nations in decision, and to observe and honor treaty rights. Chief Spence has stated she is willing to die for her people and this cause.
We can all get involved in this awakening:
Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honors and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water. Colonization continues through attacks to Indigenous rights and damage to the land and water. We must repair these violations, live the spirit and intent of the treaty relationship, work towards justice in action, and protect Mother Earth.
Write letters to PM Harper, to your MP, to your local newspaper, talk to people, share this story on social media. Suggestions for supporting Chief Spence are listed above. You may not be able to do everything, but I know you can do something. If you want to attend the next IdleNoMore event, circle December 21st at noon (MST). Idle No More has put out a call to all singers and drummers from across Turtle Island (North America) to come together for a Global Synchronized Awakening. Everyone can join in (make sure you synchronize your time with noon MST); visit IdleNoMore.ca for details:
The heartbeat of the drum, the heartbeat of Mother Earth, is the heartbeat of the people.
Drums are the oldest living instruments on earth, and their vibration helps us tune into the natural frequency of the earth, connecting us to all that is through a shared heartbeat.
The drum combines animal and plant life to make an instrument that rings not only through the air, but across time. All the elements of Nature are used in the creation of the drum, representing the circle of life in all its aspects.
Our songs hold the stories of our past and the visions for our future.
Jamie Drummond co-founded the advocacy organization ONE (Bono is another co-founder), which is focused on ending extreme poverty and the AIDS epidemic. In this inspiring June 2012 TED Talk, Mr. Drummond discusses the UN Millennium Development Goals:
In 2000, the UN laid out 8 goals to make the world better by reducing poverty and disease — with a deadline of 2015. As that deadline approaches, Jamie Drummond of ONE.org runs down the surprising successes of the 8 Millennium Development Goals, and suggests a crowdsourced reboot for the next 15 years.
“It is understandable that a realist would despair. And if I was to retreat into self-absorption I would find a small plot of land where I would never have to hear another leaf blower, and find what comfort I could in my family, my books and the whispers and beauty of the natural world. But to give up is not morally permissible. It is to condemn, as Sitting Bull reminded us, the born and the unborn, as well as the flora and fauna, which Sitting Bull also considered sacred, to misery and death. We have no right to do that. We must stand and fight for life.”
Bill McKibbon addressed the crowd gathered in Washington Square this past Saturday as part of “Occupy Washington”. Here is the text of his speech, thanks to the crew over at It’s Getting Hot in Here:
Today in the New York Times there was a story that made it completely clear why we have to be here. They uncovered the fact that the company building that tar sands pipeline was allowed to choose another company to conduct the environmental impact statement, and the company that they chose was a company was a company that did lots and lots of work for them. So, in other words, the whole thing was rigged top to bottom and that’s why the environmental impact statement said that this pipeline would cause no trouble, unlike the scientists who said if we build this pipeline it’s “game over” for the climate. We can’t let this pipeline get built.
On November 6, one year before the election, we’re going to be in DC with a huge circle of people around the White House and they’re going to be carrying signs with quotations from Barack Obama from the 2008 campaign. He said, “It’s time to end the tyranny of oil.” He said, “I will have the most transparent government in history.” We have to go to DC to find out where they have locked that guy up. We have to free Obama, because there is some sort of stunt double there now. So on November 6, I hope we can move, just for a day, Occupy Wall Street down to the White House and get them in the fight against corporate power.
The reason that it’s so great that we’re occupying Wall Street is because Wall Street has been occupying the atmosphere. That’s why we can never do anything about global warming. Exxon gets in the way. Goldman Sachs gets in the way. The whole fossil fuel industry gets in the way. The sky does not belong to Exxon. They cannot keep using it as a sewer into which to dump their carbon. If they do, we’ve got no future and nobody else on this planet has a future.
I spend a lot of time in countries around the world organizing demonstrations and rallies in solidarity. In the last three years at 350.org, we’ve had 15,000 rallies in every country except North Korea. Everywhere around the world, poor people and black people and brown people and Asian people and young people are standing up. Most of those places, don’t produce that much carbon. They need us to act with them and for them, because the problem is 20 blocks south of here. That’s where the Empire lives and we’ve got to figure out how to tame it and make it work for this planet or not work at all.
Thank you guys very much.
The video is below. The reason the crowd keeps repeating what McKibben is saying is that the police have prohibited all forms of sound amplification, so the demonstrators have taken to using what they call the “human microphone”—speakers address the crowd in short phrases which are then repeated across the crowd as many times as is necessary for all in attendance to hear what’s being said. The pipeline he refers to, right at the beginning, is the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, currently in the final review phase by the State Department.
Blacklisted Canadian artist Franke James is becoming a mosquito in the ears of the Harper government.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about the Harper government’s interference in the European tour of Canadian environmental artist, writer, and educator Franke James. This interference lead to the withdrawal of private funding for the tour, and ultimately its cancellation by the sponsoring NGO. Franke’s response to this – after the initial disbelief and bewilderment – has been to come out fighting the heavy-handed and anti-democratic actions of the Canadian federal government. A petition has been started on CARE2 by writer Cathryn Wellner. It reads:
You just can’t keep a good woman down, at least not permanently. Canadian artist Franke James was invited to tour Europe to inspire youth with her approach to climate change art. (See Harper Government Trying to Silence Canadian Artist.) In a move reminiscent of the quote often attributed (probably incorrectly) to Queen Victoria, the Canadian government was not amused.
With pressure heavy on her Croatian sponsor and embassies backing away as if she were contagious, Franke ended up canceling the tour. Anyone with less backbone might have quietly tucked her tail between her legs and slunk back to the studio.
Franke is made of sterner stuff. She has the kind of integrity and grit that are needed to fend off threats to democracy. So she has teamed up with LoudSauce to take her environmental message to Ottawa. Her canvas will be billboards and bus shelters in the nation’s capital.
As a new member of “The Harper Blacklisted Club,” she joins other artists and scientists [see Harper’s Humiliating Muzzle on Scientists] whose work has incurred the Conservative government’s displeasure. Fortunately, now there is another way to let the government know they are not the only ones displeased. We can sign the petition below and donate whatever we can to fund the billboard and bus-shelter messages.
Let’s help Franke James be the mosquito buzzing in the government’s ears.
Now any good Canadian will understand the metaphor of a mosquito’s ability to bring low the mightiest among us with sheer annoying persistence (there’s a t-shirt out there that reads: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito” – not that the words bed and PM Harper should ever be in the same sentence!). So, to help Franke – and annoy the heck out of Harper and his cronies – here’s a few things you can do:
I am thommo and I am a human being. I write this open request for help to all other human beings on this beautiful planet we share. The world that I am currently living in appears to be broken. It’s not irreparable, but it is not far off. That’s why I need every one to help me.
In my world, all the resources are used for the financial gain of big corporations and a greedy few that control them. They hold power over the governments in my world and none of them are interested in the needs of their people, in fact, many of them are actively trying to get rid of us. Also in my world, the people are very sick. Unfortunately all our scientists are trained by and have their research paid for by the big corporations. They no longer strive to make life better for us all, merely to make more money. They create cures and then invent the illness. They no longer look to prevent disease, they look to ‘treat’ it, prolonging the suffering and maximising the revenue stream. They tamper with the genetics of our crops ‘for the good of mankind’ as if mankind and nature didn’t have it pretty well sorted already! Soon all our food will be genetically modified and so will we. Our scientists keep quiet when harmful chemicals and drugs are added to our food and water because if they spoke out they would lose their funding. Our power needs are based on dangerous nuclear power and resource wasting fossil fuels. We have the technology in my world to produce all our power through renewable resources such as solar and geothermal. There is little money in free energy so the corporations block the scientists from finding ways to utilise it for the good of us all. I need your help to set the scientists in my world free so that they can do what they are supposed to.
Many of the people in my world are controlled by belief systems that they have been brainwashed into believing. Deep down in their hearts they know they are controlled, but they are unable to escape. They are bombarded day in and day out by rules and regulations that they must follow. Their religions indoctrinate them with one set of rules they must follow, the corporations indoctrinate them with another which often causes conflict. Television programmes are exactly that, programmes subconsciously altering our state of mind and entering new beliefs without our knowledge. Our music now indoctrinates our children with perverse messages designed to corrupt and entrap them in a sub human existence. The people have been divided and view each other by the colour of their skin, their wealth and social standing and the part of the planet they were born on. They are divided by the politics that is forced on them by the corrupt governments and corporations. They no longer see each as equal human beings, and I need your help to wake them up.
Fear is the emotion most people in my world feel every day. Fear of what they will ‘lose’ if they don’t keep up their mortgage payments or pay the loans and credit cards bills. Fear that they won’t earn enough money to pay for their children’s state controlled education. Fear that they will ‘lose’ their jobs if they don’t perform better and put the company before their own families. They are the lucky ones! People in my world also experience hunger, not knowing if they will eat from day to day. They fear that their children will die of preventable diseases, caught from contaminated dirty water. They fear that in times of drought there will be no help that reaches them from their brother human beings no matter how much we give to charity. Fear that they will be killed in a war against an imaginary enemy, that could ‘appear’ anywhere in the world. Fear that soldiers from another land that don’t speak the same language will see them as an enemy because they have been programmed to believe that they are. Fear that their whole families will be instantly destroyed by an unseen attacker as they sleep in their beds, whilst a teenage soldier thinks he is playing a video game as he pulls the trigger that kills them. There is also the fear of dying. The way the governments and corporations treat the human beings in my world, for many that will be the end of their working life. Fear is a very negative emotion when it used as a control mechanism and it stops the people in my world from making positive change. Can you help the people in my world dispel the fear?
In my world the people have been lead to believe that money is the most important thing in their lives. That without it we could not function. This is an illusion that has been created by the wealthy corporations and the governments they control. If the people in my world knew that it was all a massive deception to keep them operating as slaves for the benefit of their masters, they would break free and restore the world back to its natural balance of peace and harmony. They would very quickly learn that we can all work together for the benefit of all mankind without the need for money and the slavery it creates. They would soon learn that money is the barrier to progress, not the result of it and would so learn to cooperate to maintain society the way it should be. The money control mechanism is rooted so deeply into the subconscious that people in my world say they would not bother working if there was no money in it. But there is still hope! I need your help to make the people of my world understand that they are better than that. To understand that they can achieve amazing outcomes just by the power of thought.
As I mentioned previously, my world is currently ravaged by wars. In the last 60 years in my world roughly 20 million people have died as a result of war, however, very few politicians or ‘rulers’ have died in these wars. Only the poor that join up as a last resort die, not to mention the poor people that are invaded. Please help me to end the wars in my world. Violence is not the route to peace and love, it is the route to anger, hate and mistrust.
All I ask from you is that you imagine my world the way it should be. Imagine that it is peaceful, no wars at all. Imagine that it is balanced and only what is really needed is taken from nature as we learn to live in harmony with the world. Please imagine my world with no hunger. Imagine that no human being goes without the love that they need. Imagine that money does not exist and that the wealthy have no mechanism to divide and rule my world. Imagine that all human beings in my world work together to create paradise for all to enjoy. Please spend a few minutes a day imagining what I ask and my world will surely change for the better. You may even notice that there are things in your world that are not right and need changing. If you change what is wrong in your world, my world will also be changed for the better. There are nearly 7 billion people in my world and we are all equal. I believe that my world will change for the better, and I thank those of you that chose to help me change my world. All it takes is a little bit of empathy and compassion. Maybe that will be the reason that you pass my letter on to all the human beings that you know, so that they may decide whether or not to help me change my world and yours in the process.
From the suffragettes to the civil rights movement, history shows that all it takes is enough committed people – less than you might think – to truly make a difference. In this video, bestselling author Marianne Williamson dares us to become part of the 11% of people that can transform the world. Will you be one of them?