Friday, January 31, 2014

At What Cost Development?

Neil Young recently wrapped up his 4 city Honour the Treaties tour to raise money to fight the poisonous tar sands expansion affecting First Nations communities in Alberta, Canada.  The tour raised half a million dollars in legal funds.  

In the video below, Real News catches up with elected Chipewyan First Nations Chief Allan Adam on health issues faced by residents living near tar sands projects, treaty rights, adverse environmental affects, and his response to the oil company position that tar sands expansion is good for Canada. 

At what cost development? asks Chief Adam.  Among the myriad legal and environmental issues surrounding non-sustainable development, the chief describes studies showing 51 different types of cancer afflicting First Nations residents living by the Fort Chipewyan tar sands, 39 of which are considered rare or unusual cancers. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Not Health Care For All Plan

A new Harvard University and CUNY study estimates 7,000 to 17,000 deaths per year in states that are opting out of the Medicaid expansion.  21 states are opting out under the Affordable Care Act provisions.  Nearly 8 million people in those states will not be able to access health care as a result.  Dr. Steffie Woolhandler with Physicians For A National Health Plan discusses the study in the video below.  She notes that another 24 million people will not be covered in states that are participating in the Medicaid expansion.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

War Zone 
Via Tree Hugger 
Photographer: Peter Essick
"Before and after?: a forest in northern Alberta staked out by tar sands prospectors and the Suncor Millennium tar sands site, Alberta in the March 2009 issue of National Geographic" - "National Geographic Slams Tar Sands - Canadian Politicians Pissed"

Mainstream Canadian press catches up to Neil Young in Winnipeg during his Honour the Treaties tour raising legal funds to fight the poisonous tar sands expansion in Alberta, Canada.  Following recent statements by Mr. Young comparing the area to a war zone,  oil representatives moved in on the activist rock legend, environmental scientists and spokespersons, and First Nations leaders, bristling at Mr. Young's analogy, while claiming that Canadians needed oil and asserting that relations with First Nations communities were positive.  Activists have reported high cancer rates in indigenous communities targeted by oil development and similar findings have emerged in the U.S.

As blogged earlier, the Canadian federal government had given Shell Oil the go-ahead on the destructive Jackpine Mines tar sands project despite the Canadian environment minister's findings that expansion was likely to cause significant adverse environmental impacts.  

The Athabascan Chipweyan First Nations have stated that tar sands expansion also violates federal laws and treaties, a position supported by Greenpeace Canada who have also concurred with Canadian environmental minister's findings.

Below, the Winnipeg press statement by Neil Young prior to the second concert for his Honour the Treaties tour, along with statements by Athabascan Chipweyan Chief Allan Adam, zoologist David Suzuki, and University of Alberta freshwater scientist David Schindler. 

Mr. Young, who visited the Alberta areas in question, describing at the tour's Toronto stop, how guests choked on the air from 25 miles away, reasserted his prior war zone comparison, stating, "It's gone.  Reclamation is a myth."  

"It's not going to be a good thing for our grandchildren," he said, "If this continues."


Monday, January 13, 2014

Willy Jack

Willy Jack, from the 1491s.  Starring Bobby Wilson, Migizi Pensoneau, and Candace Curr, and directed by Sterlin Harjo.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Norwegian singer-songwriter-guitarist Tommy Tokyo in Alberta, a protest song about the Alberta tar sands.  Video via Greenpeace Norway.


Alberta (lyrics)

Sifting for our fortune in the soil of the land
It´s the "peak-oil" era, and the tar-sand
indians and buffaloes are soon without a land
Suits are in denial and the moneys piling up
supply your good neighbor and you´ll rocket to the top
there´s no water left in the fresh water cup
Oh...won´t you see what´s proved and true
is the money that good to you
that you´re wiling to subdue
the nation
the nation
People lining up like exclamation marks
trying to save their homes, the plains and the parks
hiding in the scrapers are the money sharks
What am I to do I´m just a tiny man
who feels like speaking up to the rulers of the land
Alberta don´t deal in tar-sand
Alberta don´t deal in tar-sand
Ah...won´t you see what´s proved and true
is the money that good to you
that you´re wiling to subdue
the nation
the nation
the nation
"peak oil"

- Tommy Tokyo

Honour the Treaties

Canadian rock legend Neil Young blasts the Harper government and the Alberta tar sands prior to a concert he gave at Massey Hall with proceeds benefiting the Athabasca Chipeyan First Nation Legal Fund.  Not shown in this video seated to the right and standing to the left of Mr. Young are Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Canadian scientist David Suzuki.

The Massey Hall concert is part of an inspiring Neil Young and Diana Krall Honour the Treaties tour, legal funds to fight against the environmentally destructive Jackpine Mine tar sands oil project poisoning First Nations communities.

The Canadian federal government gave Shell Canada the go ahead even though the environment minister found that the expansion is "likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects."

The Athabascan Chipewyan First Nations has also said that the expansion violates federal laws and treaties, the government still bulldozing ahead and leaving them with little option other than legal action.

Greenpeace Canada has issued a statement accusing the Harper government of putting the short term interests of oil ahead of environmental protection and First Nations treaty rights.

Below, via The #IdleNoMore Daily, video of the Toronto Idle No More Round Dance prior to the Massey Hall performance.  The tour will include three other performances in Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Basic Income: A Cultural Impulse

Growing wealth disparity in Switzerland has led to a referendum on an unconditional basic income, which could serve to narrow the gap 
Continuing coverage of the basic income movement, an article in today's European CEO on the Swiss initiative and discussing some sides of the argument. 
If the motion were to pass then a basic income would serve as a system of social security. Swiss nationals would receive a staple monthly income on top of any salary they are earning and irrespective of their current employment status. At the rate of CHF2,500, a basic income system would drain a third of Switzerland’s overall GDP, strip the clout of national government and afford even more power to the people on how they wish their money to be spent.
Vast swathes of cash are funnelled towards alleviation of poverty in Europe, yet the sad fact is it remains a constant blight on communities and economies throughout the region. Proponents of basic income draw attention to the costs of welfare administration. They believe cutting out the middlemen could, in large part, produce enough money to introduce a basic income and prevent the population from falling into desperate circumstances.
“It would simplify all current social security systems – making them far cheaper to administer, easier to understand, less prone to error, bureaucratic capriciousness and fraud,” says Barb Jacobson of the European Initiative for Basic Income.
In the video below, an interview with one of the major activists behind the Swiss initiative on a guaranteed basic income, Enno Schmidt, cofounder of the Basic Income Initiative.  The Swiss measure was introduced by BII grassroots activists who collected the 100,000 signatures needed for the referendum. 


Enno Schmidt is an artist and author of the 2008 film Basic Income: A Cultural Impulse.  See the full film below with English subtitles via youtube.  (If you don't see subtitles, click on the "cc" in the lower right tool set of the youtube screen.)

For more information about the movement for unconditional basic income, also visit the Basic Income Earth Network here (BIEN), with listings for the twenty national affiliated basic income networks here, and The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network here

More, too, at The Post Scarcity Daily.

*Photo credit/via EuropeanCEO, "Members of Generation Basic Income pose with eight million coins of Swiss five-cent. The coins were dumped in front of the Swiss house of Parliament when the activists submitted over 130,000 signatures to organize a nationwide referendum guaranteeing all Swiss nationals a basic income of CHF 2,500 a month."