Archive for September 6th, 2011

Owe Aku, Bring Back the Way, at the White House

Owe Aku, Bring Back the Way, at the White House



Debra White Plume, Photo by Josh Lopez


Posted 05 September 2011, by Staff (Owe Aku, Bring Back the Way), Censored News,


WASHINGTON (September 3, 20011) — Debra White Plume from Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way), a Lakota organization from Pine Ridge Indian land designed for cultural preservation and protection of Lakota treaty rights and human rights, and Kent Lebsock from Owe Aku’s International Justice Project which utilizes international strategies to preserve Lakota treaties, sovereignty and self-determination, were both arrested at the White House on Friday, September 2, 2011.

They were participating in the two-week long civil resistance that occurred there in opposition to the XL Pipeline and tar sands oil mining. Organized by the Indigenous Environmental Network and their allies, September 2 was designated as Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance Day. The tar sands come from Native lands and the pipeline would cross hundreds of miles of Native territory, including Lakota territory, and violate treaty rights under the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868 as well as human rights under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Before the arrests, Debra White Plume addressed the large crowd that gathered in Lafayette Park across from the White House perimeter, saying:

“Our Lakota people oppose this pipeline because of the potential contamination of the surface water and of the Ogallala aquifer. We have thousands of ancient and historical cultural resources that would be destroyed across our treaty lands. As a mother and a grandmother, I am related to Mother Earth and the life-giving water and it is my spiritual responsibility to be here today protecting Mother Earth from Father Greed.”

After being released from jail, Debra White Plume, along with Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network, met with State Department official Daniel A. Clune, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental and Scientific Affairs. There they urged the State Department to consult at high levels with Native leaders and to consider Section 106 (tribal” consultations) in line with free, prior and informed consent as set forth in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Kent Lebsock stated, “What action will be taken by politicians is unknown but the two-week long demonstrations at the White House and Indigenous participation are having an effect, if not on the President, at least in building alliances in opposition to corporate greed and government abuse.”

Democratic state senator from Maryland, Paul Pinsky, also addressed those gathered in the park and stated that the non-Native environmental movement owed a great debt to Indigenous peoples who had been involved in this struggle long before anyone else. Later, Senator Pinsky was arrested along with 165 other demonstrators.

The Native American peoples gathered in front of the White House fence sang throughout the long afternoon of arrests. Differing cultural viewpoints between Native and non-Native allies were only visible when the crowd would chant, “this is what democracy looks like.” Native people were respectfully silent, pointing out that any American view of democracy has rarely served the interests of Native peoples, our lands or resources. Mrs. White Plume was the first Native woman to be arrested and the last five arrests were all of Native men including Owe Aku’s Kent Lebsock. Speaking from the Lakota homeland, Rosalie Little Thunder, also an elder, leader, mother and grandmother from Owe Aku’s International Justice Project and a long time defender of Lakota sacred sites, said of those who took part, “Today, you acquired probably hundreds if not thousands of relatives! It is a good thing to use your whole body and spirit to protect Mother Earth. Was-te ksto!”

Owe Aku Owe Aku International Justice Project
PO Box 325 720 W. 173rd St. #59
Manderson SD 57756 New York City 10032
605-455-2155 646-233-4406

Kent Lebsock/Photo Shadia Fayne Wood


Iranian greens fear disaster as Lake Orumieh shrinks

Iranian greens fear disaster as Lake Orumieh shrinks

Football chants and street protests raise profile of fight to save Unesco-listed site

A ship left high and dry on the solidified salt of Lake Orumieh, which has lost half its surface area. Photograph: Vahid Salemi/AP


Posted 05 September 2011, by , The Guardian News and Media Ltd.,



The fate of a shrinking salt lake is the last thing you would expect football fans to chant about – but Iranians are doing all they can to stop a looming ecological disaster.

Lake Orumieh in north-west Iran, one of the world’s largest salt lakes and a Unesco biosphere reserve, is disappearing due to drought and government mismanagement, and has become a major cause of concern for environmental activists and ordinary people in the Islamic republic.

Thousands of Iranians from Tabriz and Orumieh, two cities in Iran’s Azerbaijan region, have come out on streets over the past few weeks in protest at the government’s failure to protect the lake, which has already lost half of its surface in recent years. Lake Orumieh is situated at the heart of the region, home to the country’s Azeri ethnic minority, whose activists claim they have been marginalised in recent years.

On Saturday security forces on motorcycles in Tabriz and Orumieh clashed with thousands of protesters who gathered in scattered groups raising alarms over the lake’s disappearance. Experts have said the salt lake, crucial to agriculture and tourism, could dry out completely in the next few years.

Amateur videos posted on YouTube and social networking websites, believed to have been taken from Saturday’s events, show riot police attacking what appears to be a peaceful protest. Opposition websites said riot forces wielded batons and used teargas and plastic bullets to disperse protesters who were chanting “Lake Orumieh is thirsty”. Scores of protesters, including several environmental activists, have been arrested. The committee of human rights reporters in Iran reported on Monday that Farank Farid, a prominent women’s rights activist, was among the protesters currently held in custody.

A website affiliated to South Azerbaijan’s student movement claimed that protesters were injured in clashes with security forces. The association for defence of Azerbaijani political prisoners in Iran reported that eyewitnesses said at least one person was killed.

“According to the eyewitnesses, a protester was killed by the Iranian riot police in Tarbiat Street of the city of Tabriz. The body was immediately removed by the security forces,” ADAPP said. The association reported protesters were chanting “Lake Orumieh is dying! Iran is issuing its execution”, “Long live Azerbaijan”.

Protesters blame the gradual drying of the salt lake on the government and its policies of damming rivers, but officials say drought and global warming has caused the disaster.

Some 36 dams have been built on rivers on the way to Lake Orumieh. Etemaad, a reformist newspaper, reported that the water level in Lake Orumieh falls by 3mm every day.

Experts say the government has refused to acknowledge the severity of the problem, which could have catastrophic environmental consequences. Fields of vine, almond and garlic in the region are dependant on Lake Orumieh. Experts say the intensity of the wind in the region would mean any salt left behind as the lake dries would destroy flora and fauna in the surrounding area, and also be harmful to humans.

Unable to stage street protests freely, Iranians have exploited every opportunity to voice alarm over the lake’s fate. Football fans have chanted slogans in relation to the salt lake in stadiums since April. Activists are planning to stage another protest on Friday during a football match in Tehran’s Azadi stadium, which holds up to 100,000 people.

Recent unrest in the Azarbaijan region saw familiar scenes to those witnessed in the aftermath of Iran’s post-election protest in 2009.

Some analysts have seen these protests as being inspired by, and a continuation of, the unrest in 2009 and have even linked them to the uprisings in the Arab world. But there is little evidence to suggest recent events are connected to anti-regime movements.

Saturday’s protests came after the Iranian parliament refused to fast-track a bid, proposed by local MPs, to feed the lake with water from a nearby river. Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency published a letter, signed by 22 MPs, urging parliament to act on the issue. Speaking to Khabaronline, a news website, Javad Jahangirzadeh, an MP for the city of Orumieh, said: “In my view, the issue [of Lake Orumieh] should not be seen as a security issue and it should not be politicised. It is a social and environmental issue which we can rescue and it can be solved by the human.”

He added: “Out of 100 people who come and visit me, 99 of them ask about Lake Orumieh, which shows it has become a sensitive issue for them. People follow the lake’s fate, how can I stay silent and ignore their demands regarding an issue which shows their interest in the environment?”

Last year Iran’s state television, Press TV, said the lake’s problems were because “declining rainfall, climate change, and rising temperatures accelerate the evaporation process”. were to be blamed.

Environmental experts fear that Lake Orumieh might see the fate of a lake in neighbouring countries, known as Aral Sea, which was formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world but has almost disappeared due to aggressive irrigation projects during the Soviet Union era.

Iranian media were not allowed to report the protests but an official news agency acknowledged that a gathering had taken place on Saturday.



Climatic CO2 benefits of fertiliser offset by increased N2O emissions

Climatic CO2 benefits of fertiliser offset by increased N2O emissions


Posted 05 September 2011, by Jorn van Dooren, Bits of Science,



Since the 1860′s nitrogen additions to the terrestrial biosphere have more than doubled, due to human activities. Since nitrogen is a key nutrient needed for plant growth and therefore used as a fertiliser, the additions have made a drastic increase in plant growth possible, which was accompanied by a rise in net uptake of CO2 and possibly methane by the terrestrial biosphere.

However, it also stimulated the release of nitrous oxide, another powerful greenhouse gas, from the soil, according to a study in Nature Geoscience.

Human influence

It is hard to quantify the exact climatic impact of anthropogenic nitrogen inputs since the magnitude of uptake of CO2 and release of N2O are uncertain and the carbon and nitrogen cycles are tightly coupled. Human influence on the nitrogen cycle are however known to affect CO2 and NO2 sources and sinks and may therefore have a significant influence on the climate.

By using a model of the coupled terrestrial carbon and nitrogen cycles the researchers found that between 1996 and 2005 nitrogen introduced by humans accounted for about a fifth of the carbon uptake by terrestrial ecosystems. The same nitrogen, mostly introduced because of agricultural intensification, was also responsible for the increase in global N2O emissions in the past decades.

In numbers

Purely looking at quantities, much more CO2 was sequestrated than N2O was released. But since N2O has a global warming potential about 300 times as high as CO2 the net results was an increase in radiative forcing. To put it in numbers the total reduction of CO2 radiative forcing due to nitrogen deposition was approximately 96 mW/m2 while the increase of NO2 radiative forcing amounts to about 125 mW/m2.

Not to be over-interpreted

So it appears that the warming effect of from N2O emissions far outweigh the cooling effects of carbon uptake. The scientists stress however that the apparent stronger N2O effect should not be over-interpreted. The key finding is that nitrogen introduced by humans has significant opposite effects on the climate and it is important to always consider carbon and nitrogen cycles jointly to get a clear picture of human influence on climate.

© Jorn van Dooren |


Singapore International Water Week Launches Blue Paper and Solutions

Singapore International Water Week Launches Blue Paper and Solutions


Posted 0-5 September 2011, by Staff (Singapore International Water Week), Asia Corporate News Network,


Singapore, Sept 5, 2011 – (ACN Newswire) – Key ideas from the Water Leaders Summit 2011 and a recap of the activities at Singapore International Water Week 2011 have been captured in the latest Water Week 2011 publications, Blue Paper and Solutions, respectively. The publications were launched by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources at the International Desalination Association (IDA) World Congress on Desalination & Water Reuse in Perth, Western Australia today.

The Blue Paper serves as a strategic resource for global water leaders in the development of sustainable solutions in their own cities. It documents, amongst others, key discussions from the Water Leaders Summit including the inaugural Water Conversation with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Water Ministers Plenary, and Water Leaders Roundtable.

Salient takeaways from these dialogues outlines imperatives such as the need to price water not just to reflect the cost of production and delivery but also its scarcity value while ensuring that water was affordable; the need to harness desalination and water reuse technologies to overcome long-term water challenges; recognising correlation between food security and water security; and the need for governments to address the water-energy nexus by adopting an integrated approach for water-energy planning and management to reap greater efficiencies. The full excerpt of salient points captured in the Blue Paper can be found in the Annex.

Themed “Desalination: Sustainable Solutions for a Thirsty Planet”, the IDA World Congress 2011 is expected to draw over 1,200 industry professionals and leaders from over 40 countries. One of the key events on the global water calendar, it brings together the desalination industry’s greatest thinkers and achievers, from leading scientists and researchers, to end-users, suppliers and manufacturers. The theme of this year’s congress underscores the increasing importance of desalination in addressing challenges in the security of water supply, and the impact that climate change has on water resources planning.

Singapore’s participation and launch of Blue Paper and Solutions at the IDA World Congress cements the strong and synergistic partnership between Singapore and IDA in developing sustainable water solutions. In 2005, PUB played host to the World Congress, with a record of over 850 attendees from 47 countries. Both organisations then moved on to organise the Singapore Desalination and Water Reuse Summit in 2007. That set the stage for closer collaboration between IDA and PUB on the Singapore International Water Week, Water Leaders Summit, research and development, and the IDA Fellowship Award programme.

More significantly, Singapore shares IDA’s commitment towards desalination and water reuse as two sustainable sources of water. Recycled water, branded NEWater in Singapore, and desalinated water are part of PUB’s Four National Taps, a long term water supply strategy to ensure a robust and sustainable water supply for Singapore.

Singapore’s commitment towards pursuing innovation in desalination saw PUB embarking on a partnership with Hyflux in April this year to develop Singapore’s second and largest desalination plant – Tuaspring Desalination Plant, with a long term goal for desalination to meet 30% of Singapore’s water demand. PUB is also engaged in various R&D collaborations to chart new milestones in desalination, with projects aimed at reducing the energy consumption by over 50%, and using biomimicry to mimic natural desalination systems such as mangrove plants and saltwater fishes to further improve the energy efficiency of desalination processes.

Singapore International Water Week 2012

Following the successful staging of Singapore International Water Week 2011, which saw a record 13,500 participants from 99 countries/regions, the fifth Singapore International Water Week will be held from 2 to 6 July 2012 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands.

The United Nations projects that by 2050, urban and industrial water use will double while climate change and rapid urbanisation will place mounting pressures on urban systems. In the face of these global challenges, the Singapore International Water Week 2012 theme “Water Solutions for Liveable and Sustainable Cities” reinforces the pressing need to integrate sustainable water management strategies into the urban planning process.

Held in conjunction with the 3rd World Cities Summit and the inaugural CleanEnviro Singapore, delegates, trade visitors and exhibitors will also have more opportunities to promote practical and sustainable water solutions and tap into a vast network of public and private sector players in urban solutions.

“Beyond the basic provision of water supply and sanitation, water management is crucial for cities to be liveable and sustainable. At Singapore International Water Week 2012, we will continue to look at water solutions for cities, focusing on the essential integration of sustainable water management strategies into the process of urban planning,” said Maurice Neo, Managing Director of Singapore International Water Week. Nominations for the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2012, a highlight of the Water Week, are now open till 31 October 2011. The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize is an international water award that honours outstanding contributions towards solving global water problems by either applying technologies or implementing policies and programmes which benefit humanity. For nomination guidelines and form, please visit

About World Cities Summit

The World Cities Summit is a premier event that brings together practitioners and policy makers with leading experts in their field to identify innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges facing cities today. For more information, visit

About CleanEnviro Singapore

The inaugural CleanEnviro Singapore showcases waste management, energy and resources recovery companies, plant, machinery and equipment and cleaning technologies. Trade visitors will be able to source new waste management solutions and environmental technologies, meet global clients and hear experts on emerging issues on industry trends. For more information, visit

About Singapore International Water Week

The Singapore International Water Week is the global platform for water solutions. It brings policymakers, industry leaders, experts and practitioners together to address challenges, showcase technologies, discover opportunities and celebrate achievements in the water world. Comprising the Water Leaders Summit, Water Convention, Water Expo and Business Forums, it culminates in the presentation of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize, a prestigious international award to recognise outstanding contributions in solving global water issues. The fourth Singapore International Water Week will be held from 4 to 8 July 2011. The theme is Sustainable Water Solutions for a Changing Urban Environment. For more information, log onto


Quek Ai Choo
Singapore International Water Week
Tel: +65 6731 3293

Sept 5, 2011
Source: Singapore International Water Week

Topic: Research / Industry Report
Sectors: Water, Environment General
From the Asia Corporate News Network

Copyright © 2011 ACN Newswire.


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Osun-Oshogbo – Blessings From the Goddess

Osun-Oshogbo – Blessings From the Goddess


Posted 04 September 2011, by Tadaferua Ujorha (Daily Trust), AllAfrica,



Oshogbo — Oshogbo was in a festive mood last weekend when the grand finale of the annual Osun-Oshogbo Festival held. The happy day began with a gentle shower which was like a blessing from the goddess herself. Our reporter was present and vividly captures the very soul of the great event.

The woman who wore an enchanting hairdo was of middle age and danced like a young happy girl. Ten years seemed to fall off her age as she joyfully danced, keeping pace with the drums which were at their most lyrical this morning. The years kept falling off as she danced, making her younger, fresher and more agile with every new turn that she made. The gap between her teeth seemed to glow all of a sudden.

She danced within the palace of the Ataoja of Oshogbo on the final day of this year’s Osun Oshogbo Festival and easily became the cynosure of all eyes. We were simply spellbound. Her dance seemed to radiate the joy of the townspeople who were quite elated on this final day of the famous festival, which lasts twelve days and usually holds in the month of August. During the festival, the town is symbolically cleaned, evil is warded off and the good is wished for or attracted.

Osun, the goddess of fertility, the helpful Being in the Grove, only seen by pure ones, is believed to be at the heart of this process. The dancing woman was dressed in a white wrapper and blouse, and was endowed with a beautiful smile, made more appealing by the splendid gap between her front teeth. All around were a crowd of people equally dressed in white clothes. Some of them wore beads of varying colours. The atmosphere was festive and the rich drumming helped to strengthen this splendid mood.

The festival usually attracts persons from different countries which include Spain, Jamaica, US.A, Brazil and Cuba and the Osun River Grove becomes the centre of so many rituals and activities which are integral to the festival.

The Grove is ‘the domicile of the Osun, the goddess of fertility. Ritual paths lead devotees to 40 shrines, dedicated to Osun and other Yoruba deities, and to nine specific worship points beside the river’. This years festival was its 642nd edition. Some priestly personalities soon came around dressed in white.

They strode around looking very noble and kept their heads up as they moved around. Not one of them allowed his head to hang downwards. The men among them have done their hair in plaits .It is common to see this at Festival time, Sunday Trust was told by a staff of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM). I had arrived Oshogbo the previous evening. After settling, my contact informed me that I should try to be at the palace of the Ataoja of Oshogbo by 7.00 am the next morning. The Votary Maid or Calabash bearing Maiden would emerge from the palace and proceed to the Osun Oshogbo Sacred Grove carrying a covered calabash followed by the Oba, his titled men and countless townspeople to the sound of much music, he tells me.

The Votary Maid has to be a virgin and must also hail from the palace. The Osun Oshogbo Grove is the foundation of Oshogbo and its people dating back to 1370 AD, so Olakunle Makinde, Curator, Osun Grove, tells me in a communication by email. The Grove sits on a 75 hectares of land, and tree felling, poaching and the catching of fish are prohibited, he adds. One publication says the annual Osun Festival ‘is a living, thriving and evolving response to Yoruba beliefs in the bond between people, their ruler and the Osun goddess’. According to Suzanne Magazine, the festival ‘symbolizes a pact between Larooye, the founder of Oshogbo, and Osun. The goddess promised to give prosperity and protection to the Osun people if they build a shrine for her and respect the spirit of the forest’. I slept a bit late but rose early enough to be at the palace by 6.50 am.

There was a light shower that morning, and near the palace were a considerable number of policemen. Then there came a great concourse of persons heading into the palace to share in the fun and the festivities. The stream of persons never seemed to end.

Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon, a foremost Ifa priest in an interview with POSH9ja, says of the Osun Festival ‘Osun is regarded as one of the spirit gods which contributed to creation.

She is a beautiful and powerful goddess..She loves children and she gives babies to barren women. She also protected this town when there was about to be an invasion of Oshogbo by the Fulanis.’ This was in the 19th century.

Jeremy Fernandez hails from Cuba. He is in Oshogbo for the Osun Oshogbo Festival and is also doing a comparative study of the forms of Bata, a type of drumming, present in both South West Nigeria and Cuba. This afternoon when Sunday Trust meets him, he is quite ecstatic.

On the Osun Festival, he says, ‘The festival is incredible and beautiful. The Dundun, Bata and all the other drums from Sagamu, and all the festive elements, really fascinate me. The spiritualness of it is very exciting and I am glad to be here’. Julia, on a visit to the country, hails from the United Kingdom. But this is her second visit to Oshogbo. Her words ‘I have come to love the place.The religious aspect impresses me a lot. But this is also linked with art. So, how they come together makes it a very special kind of festival.’

She adds enthusiastically ‘I will definitely be coming back’. Janine Sytsma is another visitor to Oshogbo and is currently writing a Dissertation on contemporary Nigerian Art. She first visited the country in 2008 and visited again in 2009. She is here again for a whole year. On the festival, she says, ‘I have come to Oshogbo a number of times. I think it is a celebration of culture. We see here an effort to preserve culture and that’s worth celebrating. ‘On what she likes most about the Osun Grove, she says ‘I always enjoy going to the Grove. It’s a very beautiful Grove’.

The Osun goddess likes White, as do many other Yoruba Deities popularly known as Orisha, with the sole exception of Sango. Her priests, priestesses and devotees generally dress in this colour. This morning, the Osun Grove which is very green in colour, unfolds in luminous white as the devotees gather in their thousands to pray and rejoice at another festival. There is a lot of drumming, dancing and singing. One or two persons seem to be in a trance-like state. You remove your shoes as you enter the grove which is a marvelous, lovely, spiritual sight. Green and white, which are coincidentally, Nigeria’s colours, define the scene. Art works lend not a little beauty to the setting. These are some of the contributions made by Suzanne Wenger, the late Austrian who once dwelled in Oshogbo and swiftly became a committed Osun devotee, and remained so till she passed on. Here too are some of the largest bamboo trees which this reporter has ever seen in his life.

The Grove is of gigantic proportion in many respects. An extraordinary statue of the goddess with arms outstretched stands by the banks of the Osun River, and is draped in a white cloth. It looks so solemn, kind and great. Close to the entrance to the Grove is another statue of the Osun goddess. It presents Osun as the goddess of fertility, as the statue has many children carved around it.

A great multi-coloured crowd stands or kneel by the river, wash their feet and arms and pray, beseeching the goddess for one favour or the other. There is a lot of gentle praying going on in the area, and each man respects his neighbour, since the river bank can only take a few devotees at a time. Some wait for those uttering their prayers to conclude the activity. Then they fill their positions by the river bank.

River Osun is held by many to have fertility, healing and protective powers. There are many who have prayed to the goddess for a child, and this was soon granted. So, at the next festival following the granting, they joyfully return to the Grove, to thank the goddess for her rich blessings. Many have similar stories to tell. Some years ago, Sunday Trust was told, the devotees began to earnestly pray that Oshogbo would be made the capital of Osun State. This eventually happened.

By the time this reporter returns to the Grove in the afternoon, the Calabash bearing maid is within the first palace of the people of Oshogbo, which is located within the Grove. It is a building of remarkable architecture. Very soon, the maid emerges from the palace and the crowd previously solemn and meditative, become quite animated. It is a stunning transformation. The Votary Maid is akin to a magnet just now. She literally pulls the crowd along with her. Men, women, young and old hurry after her. It is a magical, believable sight. Earlier, she had arrived the Grove, escorted by the Ataoja of Oshogbo, his titled men, as well as the townspeople.

According to Oyintiloye Olatunbosun, ‘the Ataoja …is not leading the procession, but the Arugba, whose appearance from the palace road prompt(s) the people into prayers refuting bad for good, as well as hoping that her appearance ushered new things into their lives. This month is significant as the Arugba’s passage to the grove is believed to have warded away the bad omen in the society’. Now, she is making the return trip to the palace.

As she progresses, she stops from time to time and dances. She dances to her left, and then dances again to the right. While doing this the basket which is covered with a nice red cloth, is balanced so nicely on her head. The red cloth is sublime in appearance. It is said that the cloth is guarded as though it were the Central Bank. My source added that any man who looks at the cloth at a moment when he is not supposed to, such as at festival day, stands the risk of going blind.

On the other hand, a woman may become barren. The maiden continues towards the palace and the overjoyed crowd escorts her. Along the way, groups of excited women look from houses, or stand by the road with arms outstretched, seemingly praying to the Osun goddess as Arugba passes by. The closer Arugba gets, the more animated the women become. It’s a stirring sight which cannot be easily replicated. The crowd runs along to catch up with Arugba who doesn’t run, but walks swiftly, a pace which is rather swift and almost creates the impression of running. But Arugba does not run.

One tour operator whom Sunday Trust came across, says that the Osun Festival is a great event, but adds that Nigeria could do a bit more in terms of showcasing what it has to the outside world. According to him, there is a strong link between culture and a people’s technology which Nigeria needs to connect with

Major players in the tourism and culture sector were present. These included the Minister of Culture, Chief Edem Duke, D-G National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) Yusuf Abdallah Usman, Adedayo Funso, Director, Heritage Monuments and Sites, the Deputy Governor of Osun State, Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, private tour operators, and the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun. Interestingly, the Osun State government stated at the festival that it hopes to attract 20,000 tourists to the state by the year 2015. There were many other remarkable points about this year festival. One is the fact that it coincided with the month of Ramadan, and so this affected the turnout of visitors and devotees. But the population present was huge, despite this. Of course, there were the ever present jerry cans brought by the devotees who used them to fetch water from the River Osun. At home they would now drink the water, which is believed to possess healing or curative powers. The entrance to the Grove which had buntings, balloons and art works, so beautifully arranged, is something one cannot easily forget. The road slopes downwards as you approach the Grove.

At a point it rises. Then it declines as you now enter the Grove proper, through a little gate. There were numerous stilt-walkers who added not a little drama to the festival, and whose unusual size and quick movements hinted at the numerous powers, or even blessings, of the goddess of fertility. Also, there were women from Sagamu who arrived the Grove dressed in white and expertly bore white pots on their heads which contained green plants.

They were largely quiet as they stood by the river. Then suddenly, from time to time, as though under a higher influence, they began to dance and sing. They brought colour and some physical and verbal poetry to the event. Finally, there was a beggar pleading for alms from the devotees as they passed by him, in much the same manner as the latter were beseeching Osun for blessings. It was impossible to ignore him as he lay on the ground, as expensive cars and richly endowed persons passed by. He had weak, thin legs. But he also had eager lips, which didn’t stop pleading for help.

Relevant Links


Which Is More Likely to Rebuild the Labor Movement: Environmental Allies or 6,000 Temp Jobs?

Which Is More Likely to Rebuild the Labor Movement: Environmental Allies or 6,000 Temp Jobs?


Posted 05 September 2011, by Mike Elk, In These Times,



“For us, this is our Wisconsin,” environmental activist Bill McKibben told a meeting of labor leaders on Friday, describing the dramatic protests against the Keystone XL pipeline during which more than a 1,000 people were arrested in front of the White House over a period of two weeks.

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring hard-to-extract oil all the way from the Tar Sands region of Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico. Building the pipeline is vital for the expanded development of the Tar Sands region, which environmental activists say would dramatically worsen the effects of global warming. As leading NASA climate scientist James Hansen said, if the Tar Sands fields are fully developed its “essentially game over for the climate.” Thus McKibben declared the fight over the pipeline to be the environmental movement’s “Wisconsin.”

Unlike in Wisconsin, however, where organized labor rallied together with allies including environmentalists, labor leaders have largely ignored the pipeline protests. While many writers will write op-eds on this Labor Day bemoaning the decline of the labor movement that built the middle class and blaming it all on unionbusters and Republican politicians, perhaps it would be more meaningful to examine why organized labor has largely remained silent on the issue of the pipeline in order to understand organized labor’s decline.

Amalgamated Transit Union President Larry Hanley, whose union opposes the pipeline, believes the mentality that leads some labor leaders to endorse the pipeline project is the same mentality that has weakened organized labor.

“It’s a short-term gain of a few thousand jobs to endorse this pipeline, but a big long-term loss for the labor movement to support this pipeline, Hanley says. “Not only do we hurt the environment, but we lose our allies. We need our allies to overcome the incredible obstacles that face the labor movement.”

The AFL-CIO has not taken a position on the pipeline because four unions—the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Laborers’ International Union of North America±—have signed project labor agreements that would allow their members to build the pipeline.

In a joint statement supporting the pipeline’s construction, the unions described the Keystone XL pipeline as something that will “pave a path to better days and raise the standard of living for working men and women in the construction, manufacturing, and transportation industries.” But a State Department analysis says the pipeline would create only 5,000- 6,000 temporary construction jobs for three years, while a study financed by oil company TransCanada claims the project would create 20,000 temp jobs.

While it is unclear how many jobs would be created for members of organized labor, it is clear that building the pipeline would help some enemies of the labor movement. “The people making money off of this pipeline are the people making problems for everybody,” says McKibben. “The Koch Brothers have a refinery very close to the tar sands region in Alberta. By building this pipeline, we are funding the very people attacking all of us.”

While the pipeline may help construction unions whose members are suffering record levels of unemployment, some worry its construction could spell the end of unions all together. “Look, it’s very simple. If the earth goes out of existence, the labor movement goes out of existence too,” says union organizer Joe Uehlein, executive director of the Labor Network for Sustainability.

Only two public transit worker unions—Transport Workers Union and the Amalgamated Transit Union—have come out in opposition to the pipeline.

“If you truly believe in building a movement to build a green economy, this pipeline is taking a huge step backwards,” says Hanley. “By building this pipeline we are increasing our dependence on fossil fuels instead of focusing on building the green economy.”

With unions divided over the pipeline and the AFL-CIO preoccupied with other issues (like nationwide unionbusting and state austerity measures in part targeting unionized public-sector workers), the labor movement has not paid much attention, according to one senior AFL-CIO staffer.

“Even though the protest is going on down the street from our building, it’s not something that is buzzing in the building. It’s a shame,” Cathy Feingold, director of international programs of the labor federation, said Friday in Washington, D.C. “It’s just not something that is on a lot of people’s radar screens.”

Such silence on crucial issues not directly related to labor—like the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War—created deep rifts between the Baby Boomer generation and organized labor.

“Remember, the AFL-CIO boycotted the March on Washington in 1963. It’s an unpleasant part of our history, but it’s true,” said Transport Workers Union Vice President Roger Toussaint. “Had it not been for a few unions like the UAW supporting the Civil Right Movement, we might have missed the opportunity to gain from that period. Now we risk losing the opportunity to gain from this movement.”

Former Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers International Union leader Tony Mazzocchi (dubbed the “Rachel Carson of the American Workplace”) argued that just because unions work in heavily-polluting industries doesn’t mean organized labor shouldn’t be critical of them.

Mazzocchi argued unions should instead fight for their own vision of a “just transition” in which workers who worked in harmful industries would be given jobs in environmentally sound industries. Furthermore, he  argued that by always supporting the corporate position on environmental issues, unions were weakening their own power by abandoning the allies needed to bring about change.

“We don’t have to carry the boss’s water on these kinds of issues. This is a real learning moment for building the kind of movements we need to change the world,” says former Mazzocchi aide and longtime union organizer Marc Dudzic. “We can’t build alliances with environmentalists, young people, and Native Americans that aren’t based on real principles. How do we expect to be able to revive the labor movement if we take these allies’ support for granted?”

The endorsement of the pipeline by four major unions says something significant about the state of today’s labor movement. Unions make separate deals that hurt other sectors of the labor movement when they would rather save themselves (at least temporarily) than be wiped out altogether.

Earlier this year in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker tried to cut a separate peace with two powerful unions by exempting police and firefighters from losing collective bargaining rights. He hoped this would stop politically popular firefighters and cops from rallying alongside less popular teachers. Instead of making a separate peace, they showed up with bagpipes rallying under the slogan “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

Wisconsin’s firefighters and cops helped light a flame of solidarity so bright that it inspired young activists to defend the labor movement. Organized labor now has a chance to grow that flame even larger by moving closer to the fire of environmental activists.

The question I have for labor leaders this Labor Day is: How will a few thousand temporary construction jobs rebuild the labor movement?



Male Sex Hormones May Make Women More Interested In “Things”

Male Sex Hormones May Make Women More Interested In “Things”



Posted 05 September 2011, by , Jezebel,



A new study provides a sure-to-be-controversial explanation for why women are less likely than men to pursue careers in science and engineering: exposure to male sex hormones in utero appears linked to a later interest in “things” rather than people.

According to Psych Central, researchers compared young people with congenital adrenal hyperplasia to their peers without. People with CAH are genetically female but have been exposed to more androgen in the womb than women without the condition. The scientists found that girls and young women with CAH were more interested in careers related to “things” — such as engineering or surgery — than their were non-CAH counterparts. Non-CAH women, meanwhile, were more interested in people-related fields like teaching and social work. Said study author Adriene Beltz,

We found there is a biological influence on that interest toward things, so maybe women aren’t going into STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] careers because what they’re interested in — people — isn’t consistent with an interest in STEM careers.

Gender discrimination is obviously another possible reason for women’s underrepresentation in STEM careers, but that’s outside the scope of this study. Beltz did note that it’s not necessarily true that science and engineering are all about “things” — she says, “Maybe we could show females ways in which an interest in people is compatible with STEM careers.” Many careers involve interaction with both things and people, and sometimes it’s hard to separate the two — for instance, is a heart valve really a “thing?” On the other hand, it’s interesting to find that hormones in the womb can affect career choices. We shouldn’t use this information to conclude that women — at least those without CAH — should stick to supposedly people-focused careers, or that we shouldn’t be striving for gender parity within STEM fields. Rather, we should take this study for what it is — a clue to one way in which womb environment may affect the brain. Such clues can be valuable as long as we don’t misinterpret them as rules, or foundations for social policy.

Career Choice Influenced By Sex Hormones [Pysch Central]

Image via lculig/

Declaration On Women in Media and Environment Conference

Declaration On Women in Media and Environment Conference

Held At the Impilo Conference Centre, Department of Health


Posted 04 September 2011, by Government of South Africa, AllAfrica,


press release

Pretoria — We, the delegates of women drawn from the media and environment, also joined by women in the public sector, academia and non-governmental organisations, attending the first “Women in Media and Environment” conference in Pretoria on 3 and 4 September 2011.

Supportive of South Africa’s hosting of the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Durban from 28 November to 9 December 2011.

Recognising that climate change is a reality that will have devastating impacts on the environment and people of the world if no concrete action is taken urgently.

Determined to play a role in educating ourselves and broader society on matters relating to environmental health and climate change.

Concerned about the lack of public awareness on the subject of climate change.

Concerned that women will bear the brunt of environmental degradation as a result of climate change, and consequently subjecting poor households threats to food security and price volatility in the market.

Imploring world governments and all delegates to the COP17/CMP7 to act decisively and with requisite urgency to restore the integrity of international climate change negotiations.

Recognising that our continent, Africa, is already experiencing dire consequences of climate change and that the continent is likely to suffer the most from these consequences.

Calling on women and society at large to take greater interest in matters relating to environmental health and climate change.

Therefore resolve as follows:

 Public awareness and capacity building

  • To utilise every available opportunity and every relevant platform at our disposal to raise awareness on climate change.
  •  Call on the South African media fraternity including print, broadcast and electronic – to inform and educate society on climate change
  • Call on government to invest more in educating and training women in the areas of environmental health as well as science and technology in order to create a substantial skills and knowledge base.
  •  Call on the private sector to take advantage of opportunities in the green economy to protect and create sustainable green jobs.
  • Call on all sectors of society to sustain information flow on climate change towards COP17 and, more importantly, well beyond the conference.
  • Further call on all sectors of society to work together and implement campaigns, like nationwide tree-planting, in order to raise public awareness on environmental health and climate change.
  •  Commit to sustain partnerships forged at this conference on climate change awareness and activism.

Implementation of previous treaties

  • Call on the South African government to move urgently and decisively towards formulations and implementation of necessary policies in order for South Africa to adapt adequately to, and mitigate the impacts of, climate change.
  •  Call on delegates at the COP17/CMP7 to build on the foundation laid by the Kyoto Protocol and move a step further towards an all-inclusive mechanism to deal with the negative impacts of climate change.
  • Call for implementation, without further delays, of all previous international treaties on climate change.

African position

  • Call on African delegates to the COP17 to speak with one voice and represent the best interests of African people at the conference as Africa stands to suffer the most from climate change.
  • Further call on African delegates to the COP17 to take advantage of the conference and create partnerships with both the developing and developed world towards a future climate change treaty that protects and benefits the livelihoods of all in the African continent.

Issued by: The Presidency


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