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August 2015

Senate Confirms First Native American Ambassador

By David McCabe in The Huffington Post - The Senate confirmed Keith Harper as ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council Tuesday, making him the first Native American to ever become a U.S. ambassador. Harper is an attorney who was one of the lawyers behind a landmark class action lawsuit brought by Native Americans against the federal government. President Barack Obama first nominated him in June 2013. "I’m pleased that my colleagues have voted to appoint another historic first for Indian Country," said Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in a statement. "As a longtime advocate for the civil rights of Native Americans, Keith will be a great Ambassador for our country.” A member of the Cherokee Nation, Harper helped represent around 500,000 Native Americans who brought a class-action suit -- Cobell v. Salazar -- against the United States in the 1990s over alleged federal mismanagement of revenue from mines and oil wells owned by Native Americans.

Malaysia Bans Yellow To Prevent Protests Against Corruption

By Daily Kos - Xanthophobia: fear of the colour yellow. On Thursday, the Home Ministry of Malaysia decided to ban a primary color. Why? Because the people of Malaysia have gotten sick of the political corruption. Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Malaysia defied police orders on Saturday, massing in the capital in a display of anger at the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been accused of corruption involving hundreds of millions of dollars. The demonstration in central Kuala Lumpur, which had been planned for weeks, was declared illegal by the Malaysian police, and on Friday the government went as far as to pass a decree banning the yellow clothing worn by the protesters.

Month After Massive Spill Canadian Pipeline Suspended

By CBC News - Alberta's Energy Regulator (AER) says "deficiencies" in documentation and pipeline monitoring prompted the decision to suspend 95 pipelines operated by Nexen Energy at an oilsands site. The suspension comes a month after a pipeline owned by the companyspilled 5 million litres of water, sand and bitumen nearby. Pipeline operators in Alberta are required to keep records on how they monitor pipelines, according to Bob Curran, AER's director of public affairs. Curran said a letter from Nexen to the regulator indicated "deficiencies in the documentation of their monitoring systems" and "a lack of some monitoring activities" at the Long Lake oilsands facility, south of Fort McMurray. "What we need is documentation, at the very least, to assure us that these activities have taken place," he said.

Study: 13,000 Become Homeless Every Month In Los Angeles County

By Haya El Nasser in Al Jazeera - Chronic homelessness is such a daunting problem in Los Angeles County that even after 10,000 people were moved into housing in the last three years, about 13,000 people on public assistance slip into homelessness every month, a new study has revealed. The number of people who become chronically homeless overwhelms the dwindling supply of affordable housing, according to a report released today by the Economic Roundtable, a research organization based in Los Angeles. “Ending chronic homelessness will be feasible if fewer people become homeless,” said Daniel Flaming, author of the report. “This requires the combined resources of health, mental health, social service, education, justice system and housing agencies to restore a place in the community for homeless individuals.”

Soil Not Oil International Conference

By Soil Not Oil - Inspired by Dr. Vandana Shiva’s book, Soil Not Oil, the 2015 Soil Not Oil International Conference examines the crisis on food security while highlighting the role of oil-based agro-chemicals and fossil fuels in soil depletion and climate change. The conference will focus on practical carbon farming solutions including cover crops, planned grazing, compost application on range land, tree planting and other holistic land use practices. “We are pleased to host this important gathering in the San Francisco Bay Area, the heart of the organic food industry,” said Richmond-based John Roulac, founder and CEO of organic food leader Nutiva. “To secure a livable planet we need to both de-carbonize energy and re-carbonize our soils via regenerative agriculture.“

Connecticut Finds Homes For All Chronically Homeless Vets

By Bryce Covert in Nation of Change - On Thursday, the federal government announced that Connecticut is the first state in the country to end chronic homelessness among veterans. That means the state has found permanent housing for all veterans who have been homeless for at least one year or four times in the past three years, or has an immediate path to housing in place for them. A one-day survey in February found 18 veterans experiencing chronic homelessness in the state, just nine of whom were living without any shelter. Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) said that the state’s ongoing efforts have found permanent housing for a total of nearly 300 chronically homeless veterans. The governor credits state investments in affordable housing for the milestone, including at least $3 million in rental subsidies and obtaining an additional 129 housing vouchers from federal agencies.

Organizing, Not Activism: Dyett HS Hunger Strikers

By Bruce A. Dixon in Black Agenda Report - The years long struggle on the part of parents and students and community members around Dyett High school on Chicago's historic south side is a stellar example of long-term community building and organizing, which differs greatly from the mere activism some currently herald as “the movement.” Black Agenda Report's Bruce Dixon interviewed Jitu Brown, a member of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High Schoolon August 26, 2015, the tenth day of a hunger strike staged by parents and community residents resisting the closing and privatization of their neighborhood high school and the intransigence of Chicago's City Hall apparently determined to disperse and destroy their community and rebuild it for someone else.

Lebanon – What If It Fell?

By Andre Vltchek in Information Clearing House - 24 hours after the concert, a crowd clashed with the Lebanese security forces in the center of Beirut, near the government palace. Dozens were injured and on 24 August, it was reported that one person died in the hospital. The “You stink” movement first organized the protests. Thousands of people hit the streets in response to an ongoing garbage crisis, which, according to many, has made the already difficult life in Beirut almost unbearable. “You Stink”! For 18 years, the government was unable (or unwilling) to build a permanent garbage-recycling site. For 18 years, poor villagers near the “provisory” garbage dumping grounds were suffering, getting poisoned, dying from unusually high level of cancer and from respiratory diseases. Then, finally, they said “Halas! Enough.”

GMOs, Herbicides, And Public Health

By Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., and Charles Benbrook, Ph.D. - Two recent developments are dramatically changing the GMO landscape. First, there have been sharp increases in the amounts and numbers of chemical herbicides applied to GM crops, and still further increases — the largest in a generation — are scheduled to occur in the next few years. Second, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified glyphosate, the herbicide most widely used on GM crops, as a “probable human carcinogen”1 and classified a second herbicide, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), as a “possible human carcinogen.”2 The application of genetic engineering to agriculture builds on the ancient practice of selective breeding. But unlike traditional selective breeding, genetic engineering vastly expands the range of traits that can be moved into plants and enables breeders to import DNA from virtually anywhere in the biosphere.

Where Change Really Comes From

By Sam Smith - Another reason we find it hard to recognize or talk about real change is that we haven’t seen its positive form on any scale in some time. Thus, it is not surprising that many don’t seem to realize that while politicians can help to create change, they are rarely its source. Even the best politicians need a community of creative and conscientious pressure to discourage their response to those forces that have never succumbed to believing for themselves the advertising slogans they foist on others. Even the best president steps into the Oval Office surrounded, beleaguered and manipulated by the most skillful organizers in the country – those who organize the bankers, corporations, religious extremists, polluters and other assorted hustlers – while well intentioned but nave ordinary constituents of that president assume their work was finished when they left the voting booth.

In Chicago: Dyett Hunger Strike Day 14 – Supporting & Defending

By Michelle Gunderson in Living in Dialogue - Those who fully understand the impact of a neighborhood losing an open enrollment high school often ask what they can do. First of all, call Mayor Emanuel’s office (312 744-3300) in support of the Dyett coalition’s proposal for a Global Leadership and Green Technology school. Second, call the office of Alderman Will Burns (773 536-8103) and explain that even though this might seem like a local issue to him, the eyes and hearts of the nation are following this story. If you are in Chicago, please follow the Teachers for Social Justice website( for information about the hunger strike. Come to sit with the strikers outside their circle, listen to their stories, and support them with the power of your presence. And finally for those of you who follow a faith or spiritual tradition, Pastor Jones said to us today, “There is no such thing as praying for a person too often.”

Opt Out Movement: Tests Designed To Fail Most Students

By Diane Ravitch - It is important to remember a few key facts about the Opt Out Movement. Number one: It was created and is led by parents, not by teachers or unions. In New York, where 20% of the students refused the mandated tests, the leader of the state’s teachers’ union did not endorse opt out until a few days before the testing started. The organizations promoting the opt out were grassroots, unfunded, and parent-led. Number two: The opt out movement did not arise in opposition to the publication or implementation of the Common Core standards. It was only when parents received the results of the first round of Common Core testing that they got angry and got organized to fight the tests.

RCMP Planning Mass Arrest Of Indigenous Activists Under Bill C-51

By ThinkPol - The RCMP are preparing to carry out a mass arrest operation against the indigenous Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in northwestern BC under Harper government’s Bill C-51 labelling as terrorists First Nations activists exercising their Aboriginal Title and Rights to protect their lands from oil and gas development, according to a joint statement by the groups supporters. The Conservatives’ controversial anti-terror act criminalizes protests that may be seen as interfering with ‘the economic or financial stability of Canada’ and opponents of the bill had long feared that it would be used to stifle opposition to oil pipelines aggressively promoted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

200 People Participate In Peace Picnic Seeking Peace In Middle East

By DC IndyMedia - On the 30th of August, Code Pink stages a picnic for peace with Iran and the nuclear deal that Obama has signed but some in Congress are attempting to block. US Park Police and park rangers interfered, demanding that food be served only on the curb, that not even cushions be set on the stone chairs at the chess tables, and that a woman in a chair with health issues either leave or not use the chair, Also, a very interesting dialog resulted with an Iranian resistance group that showed up to protest executions in their country. Code Pink allowed them onstage to speak and agreed with them that capitol punishment is unacceptable anywhere. The situation at Code Pink's picnic was in stark contrast to what happeneed after the coup in Egypt where supporters and opponents of the coup both showed up in Lafayette Park at once and ended up duking it out on Penn Ave in front of the White House as horse cops tried to keep them apart.

Why Is Rev. Edward Pinkney In Prison?

By Jackie Miller of BANCO. Benton Harbor, MI - One answer comes to mind from my very first meeting with Pinkney in 2003. I drove from Lansing to Benton Harbor in southwest Michigan to witness a Berrien County Commissioners meeting soon after the Benton Harbor uprising. At that eye-opening introduction, white commissioners literally laughed at Black community members’ desperate appeals for justice for their young Black men, incarcerated or killed with impunity at a sickening rate. From this vignette straight out of the Jim Crow South, I left 90% white St. Joseph and crossed the bridge to Benton Harbor where well over 90% of the residents are Black and nearly half live in poverty according to census data.
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