Friday, March 30, 2012

Video: Truth, Trials and Tar Sands: The Beaver Lake Cree Nation Battle Big Oil to Save the Boreal

Video: Truth, Trials and Tar Sands

Chief Al Lameman of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation (previous Chief) and Jack Woodward, pre-eminent authority on Aboriginal law in Canada, speak to a full house on Salt Spring Island about the need to tackle the tar sands if we are going to really be effective in the fight against climate change.

After viewing a film by Alan Bibby entitled Liquid Truth, Chief Lameman describes with heartbreaking honesty how his people can no longer make a traditional way of life in their home territory: "Sometimes you lie awake at night and you think about think this is the end."
Led by Chief Al Lameman (previous Chief) this band is doing something few would dare to try, but many believe needs doing. They are taking a stand against the rapid, unmitigated expansion of the Alberta tar sands industries. They are suing the federal and Alberta governments for the health of the planet, to preserve the integrity of the boreal forest and the habitat that has sustained their people for generations, and to ensure the future happiness and freedom of their children and all our children in a world that has controlled greenhouse gas emissions.

This is really the only action in play at the moment that can do something concrete - because it's based on the band's constitutionally guaranteed right to hunt and trap on their ancestral lands in perpetuity. This gutsy little band of 900 is going for a Supreme Court declaration that the cumulative impact of the tar sands infringes on their treaty rights - and that would make the 17,000+ permits issued to big oil illegal - and worthless. Jack Woodward of Woodward & Company LLP explains how this lawsuit will work to stop the expansion of the tar sands industry.

In the 1870s, the people of the Beaver Lake area signed Treaty 6, giving up their traditional land in return for the promise that they could continue to live off the land as they had always done. According to Jack Woodward, the Canadian and Alberta governments are currently breaking this promise.

 In Jack's talk, he describes the imminent threat of the massive expansion of the tar sands, explaining that if the expansion continues, the tar sands developments (currently the size of Florida) will wreak destruction on the great boreal forest - the largest carbon sink in the world.

Currently, Alberta's tar sands are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada and the greatest obstacle to Canada meeting its global climate change responsibilities.

 Should the tiny Beaver Lake Cree community of 900 prove victorious, tar sands expansion projects would be forced to stop. Jack Woodward's point is that the only sure way to halt the ecologically disastrous expansion is legally, through dealing with Aboriginal treaty rights that are protected under the Canadian Constitution.

 "Only the Indigenous treaty peoples of Alberta have the legal power to curtail the reckless behaviour of the wealthiest, most powerful industries on the planet."

The law is clearly on the side of First Nations - the greatest barrier to justice for the Beaver Lake Cree is the high cost of the legal system. And as you might imagine Canada and Alberta do not want to lose this case, so they are putting up a serious fight. Up against the bottomless pockets of two levels of government are the 900 Woodland Cree whose traditional lands are directly in the path of the planned tar sands industrial expansion. RAVEN has intervened to attempt to bring some fairness to this situation. Click here to donate to RAVEN today

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Indigenous Day In Court: The Alberta Tar Sands Goes On Trial To Force Treaty Rights Being Upheld

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." - The Lorax

Videos released by World Wildlife Federation about Alberta Tar Sands impact

Video released by the World Wildlife Federation ~ Speech "Water for Nature, Water for People" by Sandra Postel

The tar sands of northern Alberta are poised to become the single largest carbon emitter in the world. Thanks to your donations, RAVEN was able to cover the costs of the legal team that made the argument at the January 2012 hearing against the Alberta Tar Oil Sands development project. Now the big work begins - because the good news is THIS IS going to trial.

The Canadian government released its 2012 budget, gutting the environmental review process and weakening environmental laws, but the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench has issued a precedent-making decision to allow a comprehensive constitutional challenge to the Alberta Tar Oil Sands developments.

Almost four years after the former chief Al Lameman filed the nation's Statement of Claim, Madame Justice B.A. Browne rejected Alberta and Canada's efforts to have the case dismissed. Previously the Alberta government claimed the Beaver Lake Cree's lawsuit was "unmanageable" and should be struck as an abuse of process. And Canada - ever the champion of the environment - contented it should not even be named as a defendant (despite the fact that part of the area subject to the lawsuit is the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range which Canada leases from Alberta).

Madame Justice Browne's historic ruling upholds the right of the Treaty First Nations of Alberta to challenge widespread industrial activity including tar oil sands exploration and extraction, based on the cumulative effects these activities may have on the constitutionally protected treaty rights.

In other words, the Beaver Lake Cree finally get their day (well, months) in court. There will be a trial.

The Beaver Lake Cree's current Chief Henry Gladue issued this comment: "The treaty is a sacred document for my people and we are very happy that the courts are prepared to back us up when the treaty rights are being abused."

And that's not all.

The Court recognized this is a fractious issue. So, it also said it may have to assume an ongoing supervisory role in order to ensure that the parties actually sit down and talk. "It would be premature to rule out the possibility of a court's continued supervision to ensure that the duty to consult is honoured and treaty rights respected." And Madame Justice Browne went on, more pointedly, to say that "listening" and then "doing what one pleases" does not amount to consultation; it must be more than that.

This case is the first time the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench has approved large scale litigation seeking to curtail industrial activity based on treaty rights. And it introduces the concept of court-supervised relations between the parties pending a resolution of the trial.

We at RAVEN have reason to celebrate and be hopeful. Thanks to the generous donations of our supporters we were able to cover the costs of the legal team that made the argument at the hearing for this in January 2012. Now the big work begins - because the good news is this IS going to trial.

RAVEN is a registered charity in both Canada and the USA, please donate now.

Susan Smitten, Executive Director
RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values & Environmental Needs)
2nd floor, 844 Courtney Street
Victoria, BC
Canada, V8W 1C4
t. +1 250.383.2331
c. +1 250.208.3331
f. +1 250.380.6560
Skype. susan.raventrust
Please visit RAVEN's FACEBOOK page and "like us"
Twitter @RAVENtrust

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." - The Lorax

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Indigenous Support Needed: To Preserve The Unique Environment and Culture of Mongolia’s Reindeer Herders

Kautokeino (Norway) / Nairobi – Mongolia’s reindeer herders and their forest homeland are facing unprecedented challenges from unregulated mining, logging, water pollution, climate change and some tourism practices, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 

The study outlines a number of strategies, including increasing reindeer herd sizes and closer monitoring of land use change, that can support both the herders’ ancient culture and the sustainable development of their homeland: the taiga.

Also known as the boreal forests, the taiga is the world’s largest biome, forming an almost continuous cover of coniferous forests in subarctic North America and Eurasia.

The UNEP report Changing Taiga: Challenges for Mongolia’s Reindeer Herders, is based on field investigations and numerous interviews with members of Mongolia’s rural Dukha community – of which only 200 or so members remain.

The report is the result of a direct request to UNEP from Mongolia’s Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism to assess the situation of the country’s reindeer herders and explore ways to guarantee their future livelihoods, as well as the sustainable management of the taiga ecosystem.

Of particular concern to the herders, finds the UNEP study, is the growth in unregulated, small-scale artisanal mining, which results in deforestation, forest fires, chemical contamination and poisoning of water sources. Reindeer herders have already abandoned some pastures in the western sections of their range because of damage caused by mining for gold, as well as green and white jade.

Published by: Silja Somby

“The taiga – the Dukha homeland - is a hotspot for biodiversity and is rich in natural resources, but it is also one of the regions of Mongolia which could suffer the greatest impacts of climate change over the coming decades,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director.

In short, the challenges facing the herders spotlighted in this report are a microcosm of those facing communities large and small across the world – namely how to transition to a sustainable future that generates jobs and livelihoods without pushing past the limits of sustainability”, added Mr. Steiner.

According to the study, the transformation of Mongolia to a market economy in the 1990s resulted in eight million livestock being added to Mongolia’s pastures, significantly affecting traditional herding practices and the dynamics with the environment.

Erratic weather patterns are also taking their toll. Seven out of the ten most disastrous droughts and extreme winter events (known locally as ‘dzuds’) recorded since 1940 have occurred since 2000, resulting in widespread livestock deaths. For the full story see link below.

Full Story: Galdu ~ Resource Center for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

New report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Changing Taiga: Challenges for Mongolia’s Reindeer Herders

Friday, March 23, 2012

Video: "We Love You" ~ "Speak Your Peace" "Peace Creates More Peace" ~ Ron Edry's "Create a Peace Poster featuring Your Self opportunity

Watch Video Story by Ronny Edry, "I am an artist, father, teacher, Graphic Designer, and Israeli citizen. I posted a poster on Facebook. The message was simple. "Iranians. We love you. We will never bomb your country." Within 24 hours, thousands of people shared the poster on Facebook, and I started receiving messages from Iran. The next day, we were featured on TV and newspapers, proving that the message was traveling. Please help us prevent this war by spreading this message and making your own posters. Thanks to all of you for your support and love. May we prevent war!"

Click here to see the Self-Peace-Posters created through Ronny's campaign to stop war by creating more peace. Speak your peace.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Art Universe Legend Jean "Moebius" Giraud Passes From This World ... onto what is next

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I worked with an inspiring artist named Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud. An internationally renowned comics artist, and film designer, he had a visionary vision of the planet Earth. Born in Paris died in Paris, I want to honour his transition from this world to where ever is next. Jean Giraud is known widely as Moebius. Please go to his personal website for stunning insights into his artistic legacy, who shifted world universal views. In 1963, the Moebius pseudonym was chosen specifically as his 'artist's signature name" for his fantasy and science fiction work including the L’Incal, The Airtight Garage, and Arzach series as well as storyboards for films such as 'Les Maîtres du Temps' (in English released as 'Time Masters'). Moebius has since become the name by which he is best known internationally, as he has contributed production design for films such as 'Blade Runner', 'Heavy Metal', 'Tron', 'Alien', 'Willow', 'The Abyss', 'Little Nemo' 'The Fifth Element' etc...

IMDB (International Movie Data Base) page

Wikipedia biography
Cover art for the album "Nez Cassé" showing Giraud's use of oil paint in addition to the more common line drawings. Giraud changed the artistic style of the series dramatically several times.

Many artists from around the world have cited Giraud (Moebius) as having a major influence on their work.
The following quote's credits are cited here.

Hayao Miyazaki, manga author, Japanese anime filmmaker and long time friend of Giraud (named his daughter Nausicaä after the character in Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind). Hayao Miyazaki describes how he first discovered and was introduced to Giraud's work:
"Through Arzach, which dates from 1975, I believe. I only read it in 1980, and it was a big shock. Not only for me. All manga authors were shaken by this work. Even today, I think it has an awesome sense of space. I directed 'Nausicaa' under Moebius's influence."

William Gibson, pioneering cyberpunk author, said of Giraud's work in 'The Long Tomorrow':
"So it's entirely fair to say, and I've said it before, that the way Neuromancer-the-novel "looks" was influenced in large part by some of the artwork I saw in Heavy Metal. I assume that this must also be true of John Carpenter's Escape from New York, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and all other artefacts of the style sometimes dubbed 'cyberpunk'. Those French guys, they got their end in early."

Frederico Fellini, Italian filmmaker, said:
"I consider him more important than Doré. He’s a unique talent endowed with an extraordinary visionary imagination that’s constantly renewed and never vulgar. Moebius disturbs and consoles. He has the ability to transport us into unknown worlds where we encounter unsettling characters. My admiration for him is total. I consider him a great artist, as great as Picasso and Matisse."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Earth Organization, Bagdad Zoo Rescuer and Elephant Whisperer Lawrence Anthony Dies, and Elephants Gather At His Home To Mourn

"Elephants Come To Say Goodbye" photo by Thula Thula Game Reserve

Lawrence Anthony (the author of The Elephant Whisperer) passed away and herds of elephants came to his house to mourn his passing. For 12 hours the huge beasts slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of the man they loved – to say good-bye. It has been said for a long time that elephants grieve their dead. What more proof do you need? Extraordinary proof of animal sensitivity and awareness that only a few humans can perceive. Story link: "Elephants say goodbye to the whisperer" 

Dubbed ‘the elephant whisperer’ for his unique ability to calm traumatized elephants and herds, Anthony became a legend when it came to light that he had rescued animals from the Baghdad Zoo during the Iraqi invasion.

There are two elephant herds at Thula Thula. According to his son Dylan, both herds arrived at the house after Anthony’s death.

“They had not visited the house for a year-and-a-half and it must have taken them about 12 hours to make the journey,” said Dylan. 

 "The first herd arrived on Sunday and the second herd, a day later. They all hung around for about two days before making their way back into the bush,” said Dylan.

Known internationally for his compassionate intervention at the Baghdad Zoo during the coalition invasion of Iraq, and his subsequent books Babylon’s Ark and The Elephant Whisperer, his life was a true reflection of an extraordinary man who lived by the mantra that nothing is insurmountable. As founder of “The Earth Organization”, his initiatives will continue to make a massive impact in the world of conservation. Anthony is an award winning conservationist, explorer, adventurer, author and founder of The Earth Organization. His new book 'The Last Rhinos' will be released at the end of March 2012.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Indigenous Protest: Oglala Lakota Nationals Prevent Oil Pipeline Deliveries Destined for Canadian Tar Sands Being Transported Across the Pine Ridge Reservation’s Treaty Territory

Photo Credit: Native Impact, Kyle SD

Full Protest Story: Story Excerpt ~ Oglala Lakota Nationals  prevent oil pipeline materials, destined for Canadian Tar Sands and/or Keystone XL infrastructure locales (or some unknown destination) from being transported across the Pine Ridge Reservation’s Treaty territory. Information travelled to Debra and Alex White Plume (Owe Aku, Inc. “Bring Back the Way) and Olowan Martinez that semi-trucks loaded with enormous oil pipeline components were set to cross Oglala territory sometime during the afternoon on March 5th, 2012. We did not know where the equipment was going, but we knew that these trucks were too huge, too heavy, and too dangerous to pass our roads. We thought the equipment may be going to the Tar Sands oil mine, or other oil mines in Canada,” Debra White Plume explained. A call went out via digital media and other sources for all able bodied and willing participants to mobilize and report to Wanblee, South Dakota, for an impromptu gathering of scores of activists ready to block the road with their bodies to prevent semi-trucks and pipeline components from crossing Oglala Territory.

Debra White Plume of Owe Aku, Inc. summed up the peoples’ sentiment when she said “It is always good to see that we’re still Indigenous. We will never stop caring for mother earth. When the call went out asking for help, the response was immediate. People from the community of Wanblee – [a major Traditional stronghold during the tension and violent filled 1970s between the federally backed goon squads and the American Indian Movement backed the Traditionals) poured out in numbers offering huge pots of soup, coffee, and other provisions for anyone willing to take a stand. The people will always help each other.”

Photo Credit: Native Impact, Kyle SD
Article Credit: Chase Iron Eyes is the Owner and Founding Writer at, a new authentic media project that offers fresh, incisive takes on relevant, hard hitting subjects impacting Indian country and the world. This article was originally published at 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

TED Video Agile Aerial Robots: 12D Robots Flying, Remember, Cooperate, Monitor and have Coordination created at GRASP (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception Lab)

TED Video Talk/Demo of GRASP - General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception Lab

"[Agile aerial] robots like this have many applications. You can send them inside buildings as first responders to look for intruders, maybe look for biochemical leaks … [or they] can be used for transporting cargo.” Vijay Kulmar.

Welcome to Autonomous Agile Aerial Robots (videos of  flying robots that can move like anything). Vijay Kumar, a professor at University of Pennsylvania, makes robots related to unmanned airplanes. But those are big and heavy and aren’t autonomous — they need humans to pilot them.

The robots he works with are tiny. He shows one built like a cross, with four rotors, each on an end of the cross pointed straight up. Independent control of the rotors, in all directions plus yaw, gives exquisite control.

The advantage of being small is tremendous: The smaller a robot, the quicker it can turn and maneuver. The result is amazing. He shows four videos of the robots doing flips, pirouettes, and rolls.

These robots are far more than novelties. They can be first responders in disasters. They can help with construction, or cooporate with other robots to move large objects. They can also do search and rescue — or mapping nuclear radiation levels after a nuclear accident.

Dynamics of the quadrotor is by mathematics in twelve-dimensional space (12D). But there is a mathematical trick to make it tractable — and it can be done in a fraction of a second, even with moving obstacles. The result is breathtaking — a flying robot dodging moving Hula hoops in a scene that, if it were in a movie we’d all assume it took months to plan and film, but it being done in real-time.

Kumar takes inspiration from nature in many ways. Tiny desert ants can move giant objects (say, a section of a fig) by grouping and moving the fig collectively. Kumar and his team have built programs for the quadrotor that mimic that behavior, and allows teams of them to build extraordinarily complex objects together.

But there’s one last application: a video of the autonomous robots that Kumar’s students Daniel Mellinger and Alex Kushleyev created playing music ~ The James Bond theme song.

The GRASP Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, flying quadrotor robots move together in eerie formation, tightening themselves into perfect battalions, even filling in the gap when one of their own drops out. You might have seen viral videos of the quads zipping around the netting-draped GRASP Lab (they juggle! they fly through a hula hoop!). Vijay Kumar headed this lab from 1998-2004; he's now the Deputy Dean for Education in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, where he continues his work in robotics, blending computer science and mechanical engineering to create the next generation of robotic wonders.

Friday, March 2, 2012

POOR Magazine: Indigenous Arts and Education Project ~ poor people led/indigenous people led, grassroots non-profit, arts organization dedicated to providing revolutionary media access, art, education and advocacy to silenced youth, adults and elders in poverty across the globe.

POOR Magazine the publication arts and education project was started in 1996 by an indigenous, landless mother and daughter, who struggled with extreme poverty, incarceration and criminalization in the USA.

POOR Magazine, the organization, is a poor people led/indigenous people led non-profit, grassroots, arts organization dedicated to providing revolutionary media access, arts, education and solutions from youth, adults and elders in poverty across Pachamama.

POOR Magazine is a poor people led/indigenous people led, grassroots non-profit, arts organization dedicated to providing revolutionary media access, art, education and advocacy to silenced youth, adults and elders in poverty across the globe.

All of POOR's programs are focused on providing non-colonizing, community-based and community-led media, art and education with the goals of creating access for silenced voices, preserving and degentrifying rooted communities of color and re-framing the debate on poverty, landlessness, indigenous resistance, disability and race locally and globally.