Saturday, December 31, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
"the light at the end of the tunnel" -- photo by AlicePopkorn at Flickr
This year, the Solstice occurs on the morning of 22 December when the arc of the sun reverses the journey of light and darkness in our days. If you are in the North, you'll be heading into more light as we in the South will be heading into more darkness. It all depends on where one stands.
Might it be like that as well in the interior world where we also take a stand? What determines our view of our individual and collective futures? What obstacles must be overcome? Václav Havel, who led a "velvet revolution" against totalitarian rule in Czechoslovakia and recently died, left us a poignant point-of-view:
For the real question is whether the brighter future is really always so distant. What if, on the contrary, it has been here for a long time already, and only our own blindness and weakness has prevented us from seeing it around us and within us, and kept us from developing it? (from The Power of the Powerless)
Monday, December 19, 2011
One atrocious event in Egypt in a world of far too many events like this one. I post it just because I have some faith in awareness -- that somehow feeling the pain can lead to better outcomes and even mere tears will not be in vain.
Cesária Évora, who brought the music of the tiny Cape Verde islands off Senegal to a worldwide audience, died on Saturday in Mindelo, on São Vicente, her native island in Cape Verde. She was famous for bringing the melancholy morna style, which is full of what is known in Portuguese as saudade, to the world.
Saudade is a word that is impossible to translate adequately. It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for something or someone that was held dearly but is now lost. The feeling, somehow, is also very sweet because it recalls something truly loved that survives in the heart -- a loss that lives on and brings a guiding light. The world now says, "saudades" and knows that the light of Cesária Évora will live on.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Deforestation for cattle in Capixaba, Acre, Brazil
[Update December 16, 2011: Greenpeace Brazil reports that a law was passed and signed that would exclude the Federal enforcement agency IBAMA from policing against illegal logging, passing the responsibility to local authorities who are often less resistant to violations of the law.]
The fierce struggle over setting limits to deforestation in Brazil continues. The good news is that the final vote on a revised Forest Code has been delayed until March, 2012 which pushes it close to the major UN environmental conference RIO+20 where President Dilma hopes to showcase Brazil as a global green leader who can halt deforestation and demonstrate sustainable development.
The bad news is that the delay was forced in the Chamber of Deputies by the powerful agribusiness bloc that does not want to accept even the relatively small green amendments that were introduced as the proposed law passed through the Senate. So, the battle lines have been drawn and across the next months we can expect intense campaigning on all sides.
Here's how the World Wildlife Fund sees the situation:
Chevron's oil spill off the coast of Brazil.
Brazil got lucky this time in that the spill came on a Chevron project rather than on a Brazilian Petrobras project. Pointing the finger at the bad gringo corporation is a great smokescreen to hide the fact that Brazil is investing billions in dangerous extreme deep-water drilling that will inevitably produce its share of accidents, not to mention the fossil fuel contribution to global warming. There is so much deep-down oil off the coast Rio de Janeiro state that ex-President Lula and many others previously concluded that "God is Brazilian."
Raimundo Irineu Serra (Mestre Irineu)
Françisco Alves Mendes Filho Cena (Chico Mendes)
Today is the anniversary of the birth of two great men who received their missions deep in Brazil's western-most state of Acre, back when it truly seemed as the end of the world. But for them it was the center of the universe and a place from which they could launch their visions into the world.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
A brilliant Brazilian campaign against the Belomonte monster dam, with some of the country's biggest stars, is going viral -- more than 1,200,00 hits so far in the Brazilian version. The English version is above. Please help amplify it -- sign and share now.
When you start the video, there should be English subtitles. If not, click on the red CC button at the lower right of the player frame and choose English. Also, you can eliminate the captions by clicking on the blank red button.
The petition (in English and Portuguese) is here.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I have this little altar where I place the symbols of some of my important pieces, shift them around, and look at them in diverse ways. It's a fun meditation. Sometimes, when it seems too fascinating, I get get saved by remembering the Buddha raising his hand and saying, "Finger pointing to the moon -- look at the moon, not the finger." And then I recall being told, "Don't look at altars. Something was put in your heart for a reason. Just look in your heart." Can't really talk about that but I sometimes I get a few pointers at the altar -- like now -- and I feel grateful.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Disastrous Deal in Durban: "The main element of the deal struck in Durban is that all the world’s countries will start discussions next year aimed at signing an agreement by 2015 that will come into force in 2020." (read more)
Nina Simone's cover of the Bob Dylan classic has the perfect tone of righteous anger:
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Selected as one of the best TED Talks of the year, here's a sample of Naomi at her best.
[Note: Obama decided to reduce the political risk of tar sand oil by deferring the Keystone pipeline decision until after the 2012 election. Now, Canada must decide whether to wait for the US market to open or to build a pipeline to the Pacific for shipment to Asia. It's all about where, when and how and not about NOT doing it -- that's how the addiction works.]
Looks like fun. So simple.
Friday, December 09, 2011
Once again, Naomi Klein nails it. Capitalism-vs-climate is a must read.
Klein's view will seem radical to those steeped too deeply in market mythologies that don't work well as limits are reached. Here's a brief helpful background video about why we are stuck in a growth economy. If you want a more in-depth ecological view check out Herman Daly's Toward a Steady State Economy.
This is not an ideological rant. It's the emerging ancient-future awareness that nature is reciprocal -- the only way to keep taking is to keep giving back and there's no place other than the earth itself where capital accumulation leads to a virtuous cycle of abundance and consumption. We reap what we sow -- nothing more and nothing less. Mutuality more than competition leads to survival.
If prayer would do it
If reading esteemed thinkers would do it
I'd be halfway through the Patriarchs.
Monday, December 05, 2011
In a shocking development, the BBC reports:
The politics of the UN climate process are undergoing something of a fundamental transformation. Increasingly, countries are dividing into one group that wants a new global treaty as soon as possible - the EU plus lots of developing countries - and another that prefers a delay and perhaps something less rigorous than a full treaty. The US, Russia and Japan were already arguing for a longer timeframe. ...But BBC News has learned that Brazil and India took the same position.
AVAAZ says, "President Dilma is considering the unthinkable -- siding with the US and other big polluters at UN climate negotiations in Durban. We have to bring her to her senses before it's too late." Here is the petition.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
Possibly the greatest love song ever written, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" is a 1957 folk song written by Ewan MacColl for his wife Peggy Seeger. It was popularized by Roberta Flack and became a breakout hit for the singer after it appeared in the 1971 Clint Eastward film Play Misty for Me. Though the song first appeared on Flack's 1969 album First Take, it topped the Billboard Hot 100 and won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year three years later.
Paco de Lucia, John McLaughlin and Al di Meola at the Mediterranean Sundance
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Four years ago -- during more ecologically sensitive times -- the Brazilian Government, the NGOs and the World Bank all cooperated to produce this magnificent video. That was before Dilma Rousseff and her developmentalist comrades in mining, energy and agribusiness took control and decided to ramrod the Belo Monte Monster Dam and the weakening of Brazil's Forest Code. As the political mood changed and the world looked on aghast, the Call of the Samaúma has become even more urgent. Please join the beat and pass it on.
Amazon Watch and Comitê Brasil are excellent sites to watch for latest developments.
For the first time in the history of the "Fossil of the Day" award, Brazil took first place for its ridiculous statements in defense of its new forest code. The Climate Action Network (CAN) -- a worldwide network of over 700 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 90 countries, working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels -- is giving the awards for absurd statements being made at the UN Climate talks being held in Durban, South Africa. Read more about it here.
Friday, December 02, 2011
"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
Thousands marched through the streets of São Paulo earlier this year.
1,408,899 people from more than 100 countries have signed a petition at Avaaz.org calling on President Dilma to make Brazil an international leader on the environment by taking immediate action to save Brazil's precious forests.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Re-posted from the Financial Times
The Amazonian biome faces multiple threats, ranging from deforestation to climate change. Although the forest’s vastness can give a false sense of security, many of the forces leading to its destruction are expected to increase.
The award-winning documentary (below) gives an excellent review of the struggle for the Sanctuary of Shamans in Brasilia. It needs to be translated from Portuguese to English. If you are bi-lingual (English and Portuguese) and would like to help, please contact Marcello Pedroso -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- who is coordinating the group translation project.
Here is the video in Portuguese:
Here is the video in Portuguese: