Indigenous People Occupy Brazil’s Legislature, Protesting Bill’s Violation of Land Rights

Representatives of indigenous groups from the five regions of Brazil protest against Bill PEC 215. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)Representatives of indigenous groups from the five regions of Brazil protest against Bill PEC 215. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)
Representatives of indigenous groups from the five regions of Brazil protest against Bill PEC 215. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)Representatives of indigenous groups from the five regions of Brazil protest against Bill PEC 215. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)

Indigenous leaders from the five regions of Brazil traveled for days to an encampment convoked by the Coordinating Body of Brazil’s indigenous people (APIB), which took place from April 13 to 16 in the federal district in Brasilia. The district is both a geographical center and a center of power in Brazil, as it is where the three branches of government are headquartered.

For four days and three nights, more than 1,500 indigenous individuals filled one of the gardens in front of the National Congress with colors, music and rituals. Their principal objective was to put pressure on the three branches of government so that the proposed constitutional amendment No. 215 – better known as the PEC 215/2000 – is not passed. This amendment, among other things, would transfer the decision-making power of demarcation of indigenous territories to Brazil’s legislative branch. Currently, this type of legal-political decision is in the hands of the executive branch.

“Indigenous people are moving toward complete disappearance. This law will leave us in the hands of the multinational corporations.”

Continue reading Indigenous People Occupy Brazil’s Legislature, Protesting Bill’s Violation of Land Rights

Philadelphia prepares for mega event: hosting Pope Francis

A general view of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is seen from the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art looking towards City Hall in PhiladelphiaPHILADELPHIA (RNS) Advance preparations for the wildly popular Pope Francis, due in Philadelphia five months from now, might rival the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000.

Security stakes are high, both for the pontiff and the estimated 1.5 to 2 million fans from at least 150 countries, who will be sharing Mass with him on the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. But in addition, the pilgrims will need to be fed, housed, protected and understood in their native languages — not to mention shuttled into town from lodgings as far away as the Jersey shore — 60 miles to the east. Continue reading Philadelphia prepares for mega event: hosting Pope Francis

Viewpoint: Can Pope Francis mobilize a community of over a billion Catholics to take action on climate change?

The Blue Marble - taken during Apollo 17 lunar mission 1972.
The Blue Marble – taken during Apollo 17 lunar mission 1972.

Next week Pope Francis is hosting a conference at the Vatican that will directly address the threats faced by humanity from a hotter planet. Devastating extreme weather events such as flooding and droughts are becoming increasingly more intense and will cause much hardship going forward. The major food producing regions of the world are now under growing pressure from water shortages, increases in pest outbreaks and other symptoms of a hotter world.

Science diagnoses the state of our environment

The oceans are acidifying and forests are dying. Whereas it used to be humans cutting down forests, now the dying off of forests is becoming a self-reinforcing feedback loop. The oceans and forests that used to digest the atmospheric carbon (carbon “sinks”) and produce the oxygen we breathe, are now reversing and themselves becoming sources of carbon. Without carbon sinks, life for humans will become very difficult and eventually impossible. Continue reading Viewpoint: Can Pope Francis mobilize a community of over a billion Catholics to take action on climate change?

Pope appeals to the world to act to avoid more tragedies of migrants

Pope Francis during Angelus in St. Peter's Square - AFP
Pope Francis during Angelus in St. Peter’s Square – AFP

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has appealed to the international community to take swift and decisive action to avoid more tragedies of migrants seeking a better life.

His heartfelt cry to the world came following news of the sinking of yet another boat carrying migrants in the Mediterranean Sea in which it is feared 700 people may be dead. Continue reading Pope appeals to the world to act to avoid more tragedies of migrants

World’s mountain of electrical waste reaches new peak of 42m tonnes

The biggest per-capita tallies were in countries known for green awareness, such as Norway and Denmark, with Britain fifth and US ninth on the UN report’s list

A fridge dump in Manchester. Almost two-thirds of global e-waste was made up of discarded kitchen and laundry devices. Photograph: Phil Noble/PA
A fridge dump in Manchester. Almost two-thirds of global e-waste was made up of discarded kitchen and laundry devices. Photograph: Phil Noble/PA

A record amount of electrical and electronic waste was discarded around the world in 2014, with the biggest per-capita tallies in countries that pride themselves on environmental consciousness, a report said.

Last year, 41.8m tonnes of so-called e-waste – mostly fridges, washing machines and other domestic appliances at the end of their life – was dumped, the UN report said. Continue reading World’s mountain of electrical waste reaches new peak of 42m tonnes

‘Stop TTIP’: Global Day of Action Draws Tens of Thousands

Common Dreams

Thousands march against the planned free trade agreement TTIP between the European Union and the USA in Stuttgart, Germany on April 18, 2015. Negotiations on TTIP are due to resume in New York on Monday April 20, 2015. (EFE/EPA/Michael Latz)
Thousands march against the planned free trade agreement TTIP between the European Union and the USA in Stuttgart, Germany on April 18, 2015. Negotiations on TTIP are due to resume in New York on Monday April 20, 2015. (EFE/EPA/Michael Latz)

‘Rising anti-American sentiment linked to revelations of U.S. spying and fears of digital domination by firms like Google’

Demonstrators marched around the globe Saturday to protest the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a ‘free trade’ agreement currently being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and the United States.

Opponents fear that TTIP will erode food, labor and environmental standards particularly with regard to the EU’s strict regulations on food additives, genetically modified crops and the use of pesticides. “There is a very big risk: TTIP will restrict our democratic rights. In the future, large corporations will have an even greater influence on the legislative process,” said Thilo Bode of Foodwatch. Continue reading ‘Stop TTIP’: Global Day of Action Draws Tens of Thousands

Mediterranean migrants: Hundreds feared dead after boat capsizes

Rescuers have so far found few bodies or survivors
Rescuers have so far found few bodies or survivors

 Europe

Hundreds of people are feared to have drowned after a boat carrying up to 700 migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian coastguard says.

The vessel, thought to be just 20m (70ft) long, capsized at midnight local time in Libyan waters south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

So far only 28 people have been rescued and 24 bodies retrieved.

Italy’s PM said it was a European tragedy and called for an extraordinary EU summit on the migrants issue.

Matteo Renzi said he could not verify the number of deaths, but that it would be a “dramatic amount”. Continue reading Mediterranean migrants: Hundreds feared dead after boat capsizes

The Catholic Church is Anti-Xenophobia

The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference has observed with sadness the outburst of xenophobic violence in Durban which the Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier has already condemned.

Our charter, the bible, is very clear “When a foreigner lives with you in your land, don’t take advantage of him. Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember that you were once foreigners in Egypt. I am God, your God”. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

We understand the anger that the people may be feeling towards the foreigners for various legitimate reasons. However, we are a nation of peace; we are a rainbow nation. We conquered apartheid with very little use of violence and a settlement was reached peacefully. The same principle of Ubuntu needs to be applied in order to calm the recent spates of violence and unrest. Continue reading The Catholic Church is Anti-Xenophobia

The only way to end terrorism is to address its causes and uphold the law

Refugees at the Dadaab camp in northern Kenya. AFP FILE PHOTO
Refugees at the Dadaab camp in northern Kenya. AFP FILE PHOTO

News reports state that work on building the 700-kilometre wall between Kenya and Somalia has started. There has been no public procurement, as required, so we don’t know its cost.

Now remember that suspect procurements have landed many people on the famous anti-corruption list. Will it now be updated to include the public officers who have authorized these works, which started with the digging of ditches in Kiunga, Lamu? Continue reading The only way to end terrorism is to address its causes and uphold the law

Investigation Tears Veil Off World Bank’s “Promise” to Eradicate Poverty

Nearly 50 percent of the estimated 3.4 million people who were physically or economically displaced by World Bank-funded projects in the last decade were from Africa and Asia. Credit: Abdurrahman Warsameh/IPS
Nearly 50 percent of the estimated 3.4 million people who were physically or economically displaced by World Bank-funded projects in the last decade were from Africa and Asia. Credit: Abdurrahman Warsameh/IPS

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 16 2015 (IPS) – An expose published Thursday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its media partners has revealed that in the course of a single decade, 3.4 million people were evicted from their homes, torn away from their lands or otherwise displaced by projects funded by the World Bank.

Over 50 journalists from 21 countries worked for nearly 12 months to systematically analyze the bank’s promise to protect vulnerable communities from the negative impacts of its own projects. Continue reading Investigation Tears Veil Off World Bank’s “Promise” to Eradicate Poverty