This week the newsletter appendix lists so many roses, it’s almost impossible to count them, mainly because the world seems to be turning. And also, because we’ve been benched a week with a bad case of flu-ish symptoms, the newsletter lists a full two-week accumulation of good news (see below).
But all the good news can be summed up in one statement: the people of the United States are in open rebellion. It’s a moment that has been much too long in coming, and aside from being very beautiful, it’s fraught with danger that thinking people need to recognize as a very serious one.
Today’s headliner reads: “Owner of 12.5 square kilometers with uranium deposits…resisted the temptation to make a fortune. Instead, he saved the land….”
Here’s the story:
Jeffrey Lee is the sole member of the aboriginal Djok clan to have survived the white man’s depredations in Australia. “My responsibility is on that land and I don’t own the land. The land owns me,” he says. The land he’s talking about is the 12.5 kilometer square Koongarra Project Area which got excluded from a national park when the park was established because Koongarra contains a major uranium deposit.
|Australian aborigine rock painting|
The excluded area, Kakadu, is located in a huge biodiverse part of Australia Northern Territory where rock sites date back more than 50,000 years. Because they realized that as sole surviving member of the clan, Lee held Koongarra’s fate in his hands, Areva, the French nuclear energy corporation, gobbled up licenses to the deposits of uranium, and pressured Lee for decades. Had he permitted Areva to extract the estimated 14,000 tons of uranium from the area, he might have become one of the world’s richest people. But he refused all offers because he claims that the rainbow serpent entered the ground there and that its being is so sacred, he can’t even go there or talk about them.
The story appeals to me all the more because while in recovery I re-read Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines, a travel-adventure which chronicles Chatwin’s trek in Australia to learn for himself what the songlines are all about. Also referred to as the Footprints of the Ancestors, and The Way of the Law by the aboriginal people who first inhabited the land, they refer to their world view that the first ancestors were the ones to create the world rock by rock, stream by stream, that is, literally to sing the land into being so that even today, when they come upon a certain feature in the landscape, they spontaneously burst into song! Here is Chatwin:
It was one thing to persuade a surveyor that a heap of boulders were the eggs of the Rainbow Snake, or a lump of reddish sandstone was the liver of a speared kangaroo. It was something else to convince him that a featureless stretch of gravel was the musical equivalent of Beethoven’s Opus 111.
By singing the world into existence…the Ancestors had been poets in the original sense of poesis, meaning ‘creation’. No Aboriginal could conceive that the created world was in any way imperfect. His religious life had a single aim: to keep the land the way it was and should be. The man who went ‘Walkabout’ was making a ritual journey. He trod on the footprints of his Ancestors. He sang the Ancestor’s stanzas without changing a word or note—and so re-created the Creation. [At this juncture his companion adds] 'sometimes I’ll be driving my “old men” through the desert, and we’ll come to a ridge of sandhills, and suddenly they’ll start singing [and I say to them] “What are you mob singing?” and they’ll say, “Singing up the country, boss. Makes the country come up quicker.”'
I see in this particular “rose” a huge win for the Standing Rock movement, the world-wide movement of indigenous people whose sense is that the land is sacred and who—if anyone can do it—will save the planet, and save us from ourselves.
Says Jeffrey Lee, “I am not interested in white people offering me this or that. It doesn’t mean a thing. I am not interested in money. I’ve got a job, I can buy tucker; I can go fishing and hunting. That’s all that matters to me….It’s my belief that if you disturb that land, bad things will happen.” And bad things did: Beginning in 2009, the existing Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu has had more than 150 leaks spills and license breeches.)
At last, at Lee’s urging, the World Heritage Committee declared Koongarra a protected site. Said Lee, “This is a great day for me, my country and my culture. My mind is at peace now that I know that there will be no mining at Koongarra and that Djok lands will be protected forever….Money comes and goes, but the land is always there. It always stays. If we look after it; it will look after us.”
That’s big IF.
Read Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety “Downwinders, indigenous peoples, and uranium miners seek justice.”
Sign Bernie Sanders’ petition: No appointment of a new Supreme Court until after the new Senate is sworn in next January.
Sami nation of indigenous people embraces Rights of Mother Earth
Ireland joins France, Germany and Bulgaria in banning fracking.
At Clichy-Batignolles, Paris creates a ground-breaking eco village filled with low-carbon usage buildings to be completed by 2020.
Plans are announced for Texas to get its largest battery coupled with its largest solar power plant.
Bangalore’s Kempegowda International Airport announces it will be powered with 100% renewable energy by 2020.
Two companies, Sea World and Royal Caribbean, ban single use plastics.
General Motors moves its fleet toward 100% electrics, with 29 new electric models by 2023.
The Democratic National Committee passed a resolution banning contributions from PACs tied to the fossil fuel industry.
In a move away from industry-funded cultural events, New Orleans held its first fossil-free Festival
Costco announces that it’s informing its suppliers to stop using bee-toxic pesticide on all fruits, vegetable and garden plants it carries.
Home Depot announces they will remove from their shelves paint strippers containing the deadly chemicals methylene chloride and n-methylpyrrolidone.
The City of Mumbai becomes the largest Indian city to ban single-use plastic straws, plastic bags, cups, or bottles.
Starting this July, all Seattle restaurants will ditch plastic straws.
Charlotte City Council passes clean energy solution unanimously.
Following her surprising win, Ocasio-Cortez becomes most ambitious climate Democrat.
Over 200 candidates in November’s general election pledge to reject oil, gas, and coal money.
Blacksburg. VA mother locks down to halt Mountain Valley pipeline.
Lawsuit claiming Monsanto hid cancer danger of weedkiller for decades receives a boost by Judge, allowing evidence that Monsanto suppressed evidence of the risks of its weed killing products.
The country of Belize saves the world’s second largest reef.
After six days of protest, Portland ICE blockade is a city of more than 80 tents.
Amid growing outrage over immigration policy, more than a dozen ICE agents call to dissolve agency.
San Diego Judge Dana Sabraw orders the U.S. to reunite families and stop border separation.
Nelson Santos, dialysis-dependent father of three and scheduled for a kidney transplant, receives a 6-month stay of deportation.
Saying “I don’t want to participate in this process, I don’t want the city to participate in this process,” Houston Mayor refuses to allow his city to allow a warehouse used to house Katina victims to receive up to 240 children separated from their parents.
Airlines American, United, Southwest, and Pioneer announce they will not participate in the immigration policies separating migrant children from their parents.
Shocked and angry, Concord, CA residents reject plans for a detention camp.
Rebuffed by border agents, after an hour of waiting to cross from Ciudad Juarez across the International Bridge, El Paso’s Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House, escorts asylum seekers into the U.S.
|Ruben Garcia escouring a family of asylum seekers into U.S.|
Dozens of parents with their babies occupy ICE field directors Office.
ICE temporarily shutters Portland OR facility because of Occupy protest.
More than 100 Microsoft workers pressure bosses to cancel ICE contract.
In Texas, the City of Austin City Council passes two resolutions curtailing he invasive power of “law” enforcement over the lives of blacks and immigrant city residents.
As hundreds of children separated from the families arrived from Texas, massive demonstrations carrying sings saying “Los Queremos” kicked off both outside and inside New York’s La Guardia Airport.
Eight state governors, two of them Republican, recall national guard from the border.
AG Sessions’ church takes action against him.
Wikileaks publishes database of ICE employees.
Border officials suspend handing over migrant families to prosecutors.
Leaving the Trump wall unfunded, the House rejects immigration bill after GOP fails to reach an agreement.
E-verify is voted out in the House’s latest immigration bill.
Brazilian asylum seeker, Lidia Souza was reunited with her son Diogo following judge’s order.
Indigenous movement & pipelines
Following four years of organizing by activists, the City of Berkeley denied the SB fast track application that would have desecrated the Berkeley Shellmound.
Native American tribes stand to benefit from the Supreme Court’s decision to punt in favor of the lower court’s standing decision respecting native fishing rights.
Court orders Mountain Valley Pipeline to cease construction.
MOVE’s Debbie Africa freed after 40 years of incarceration on the 40th anniversary of the brutal police attack and fire bombing of MOVE’s headquarters said, “Nobody from the MOVE movement has been released from prison and ever committed a crime…We are a peaceful people.
Supreme Court clears way for Sonoma County, CA deputy to be tried for shooting of boy with pellet gun.
San Francisco Supervisors block funding for the police department to purchase Tasers.
Pennsylvania cop charged with homicide for shooting unarmed teen in back.
Officer in Antwon Rose shooting charged with homicide.
Human rights & privacy
Over 200 organizations demand the freedom of Khalida Jarrar jailed by Israel without charge or trial.
Imprisoned Korean union leader, Lee Young-joo is released
Barrister retained by Burma Task Force files with the ICC on behalf of Rohingya victims of Burmese genocide.
On the eve of the Korea summit, U. S. Conference of Mayors urges Trump to work with North and south Korea for a formal resolution of the Korean War.
Pentagon of the multi-trillion disappearance suspends military drills with South Korea.
Malaysia withdraws troops from Sajdi-led military coalition.
Supreme Court rules that a warrant is necessary for obtaining phone location data.
California passes a sweeping on-line privacy law giving customers the right to know what information companies collect about them, and with whom they are sharing it.
With their cries of ‘If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace,” Democratic Socialist activists drive DHS/ICE secretary Nielsen out of Mexican Restaurant.
Protesters blast audio of crying migrant toddlers at home of separation chief Nielsen.
“Say it loud, sat it clear: immigrants are welcome here,” chanted over a dozen activists outside the luxury home of Stephan Miller in Washington, D.C.
Sara Huckabee Sanders gets booted out of a Red Hen restaurant by owner Wilkiinson who says, “This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”
Healthcare & Labor
Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker signs $15 minimum wage.
The vote in Congress to slash Medicare fails.
CA ballot provisions C and G prevailed supporting universal childcare, and guaranteeing educators a living wage.
Compassion wins: Oklahoma legalizes medical marijuana.
Senate passes bipartisan farm bill strengthening SNAP food assistance.
Jimmy Carter helps hometown get a sorely needed healthcare clinic.
Citing ‘deprivation’ they would cause, federal judge blocks Kentucky’s Trump-backed medicaid work requirements.
Democratic National Committee votes to roll back power of superdelegates.
Socialist candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wins a stunning upset against a solidly entrenched incumbent.
Max Rose wins his election in a landslide.
Demanding Medicare for all, climate action and living wages, Ben Jealous wins Democratic primary for Maryland Governor.
Dana Balter wins House primary in upstate New York.
Jared Polis winds primary for governor of Colorado on a platform including single-payer.
Over 200 candidates in November’s general election pledge to reject oil, gas, and coal money.
Three scientists win their primaries: Chris Hansen, CO, Faith Winter, CO, and Julie Palakovich Carr, MD.