In Guatemala City, however, an independent movement exists, where activists have occupied the street in front of Congress since the 22nd of August 2011. Here, warm houses were not sacrificed for tents, rather miserable hovels have been exchanged for tents. Activists from the slums have pledged not to leave until the “Housing Law” is approved – demanding a solution for the housing crisis in Guatemala. A lack of affordable accommodation forces uncountable Guatemalans into shantytowns where precarious living conditions often have lethal consequences.
In a partnership with the Williamsburg, KY Action Team and the Clearfork Community Institute and Woodland Land trust of Eagan, TN Books To Kids has expanded its reach into what has to be described as one of America’s National Sacrifice Areas, the Appalachian region of eastern Tennessee and Kentucky. Current Books To Kids sites include five elementary schools in and around Eagan, TN and a storefront in Williamsburg, KY.
Stories from the Gulf, one year on
By CNN staff*
April 20, 2011
(CNN) — A daughter will walk down the aisle this year without her father. A rig survivor still awakens at night and screams. A Native American tribe in Louisiana now eats pork, chicken and beans instead of oysters and crab.
And the voice of a Cajun musician puts everything into perspective about last year’s oil spill. For years, Tab Benoit had strummed a dire tune of the pillaging of Louisiana’s coast.
“Before all this, you’d try to warn people about problems that were coming, and they’d think you’re a conspiracy theorist,” he says. “The blowout wasn’t a mystery. … It’s not like it was a surprise, ya’ know.”
A year into the nation’s worst oil disaster, BP has launched a public-elations campaign about “making it right.” In a 20-minute video released on the company’s website, group Chef Eecutive Bob Dudley sits at a polished wood table and says the disaster is a “tragedy we deeply regret at BP.”
“In everything we’ve done since that day, we’ve tried to act as a responsible company should,” he says. “I know it will take time to win back people’s respect and it will take actions rather than words. But I hope this helps to demonstrate that we are sorry, that we learned the lessons and we are committed to earning back your trust.”
The video then chronicles BP’s efforts to contain the spill in the days, weeks,and months following the April 20, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling platform.
The plume of crude billowing into the Gulf of Mexico has stopped, and images of oil-soaked birds have subsided. But take a closer look at the Gulf region and you’ll find shattered lives and angry — yet determined — residents.
“One day at a time”
About 50 friends and family members of chief driller Dewey Revette gathered this past Sunday for a fish fry in Mississippi. It was the first time everyone had been together since he and 10 others were killed in the explosion.
“Just wishing that Dewey was there,” says Sherri Revette, his wife of 26 years. Little things like cleaning the gutters or buying a lawnmower became monumental tasks over the last year. “I don’t know what to do,” Sherri says.
And signs of life continue all around. Their first grandchild is due June 30. The boy will be named Dewey.
“I have to try to figure out a way to be excited and not sad,” Sherri says. “That was one of our main dreams, and he wanted a grandson so bad.”
Their youngest daughter, Alicia, always hoped her dad would walk her down the aisle. This October, she’ll be getting married.
“It’s going to be hard,” Sherri says, “on the happiest day of her life, knowing her father’s not going to be there.”
After Sunday’s fish fry, Sherri took friends and relatives to a nearby cemetery where a headstone for Dewey rests. On the back, there’s an image of Deepwater Horizon “so 100 years from now, the next generations will remember that Dewey was one of the 11 on the rig.”
“He’s missed, and I’m just taking it one day at a time,” she says. “We lost 11 good men that shouldn’t have been lost.” She repeats: “It should never have happened.”
The nightmare won’t leave
Matthew Jacobs wakes up screaming in the middle of the night. He was among the 115 survivors of Deepwater Horizon. “It’s something that I just can’t get out of my head,” he says. Every day, he thinks about his 11 colleagues killed on the rig.
“My mind goes right back to the drill floor,” he says, “and the 11 men.” According to his medical records, Jacobs has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and he takes medication for depression, sleep problems, and other issues. He visits psychologists regularly. He says he’s undergone 10 weeks of physical therapy for bulging discs in his back.
“It’s basically changed my life completely since this happened,” he says. “Certain things I don’t do because I just don’t feel comfortable. I love fishing and I just don’t feel comfortable doing it because it’s on the water. I’m really claustrophobic now and I feel it every time I get in the elevator.”
Jacobs is still an employee of Transocean, which owned the Deepwater Horizon [drilling rig], but hasn’t worked on a rig since the disaster. He says he’ll never work offshore again. He’s suing Transocean for pain and suffering and loss of wages.
At the end of last year, when Transocean gave bonuses to employees and touted a stellar safety year, Jacobs says, “It made me sick to my stomach.” Transocean later apologized for its handling of the bonuses, and five top executives said they would donate their safety bonuses to the families of the 11 workers killed.
What happened on April 20, 2010, Jacobs says, will forever be with him.
“You have to live your life now taking medicine every day to try to keep the nightmares from coming back,” he says. “It’s always in the back of your mind, and I think about it every day.”
Avoiding oysters for a year
In the Louisiana marshes, members of the Pointe Aux Chenes Indian Tribe say the spill has affected everything.
“It changed our way of life for sure,” says tribe member Theresa Dardar. “We’re not eating like we usually eat.”
The nearby marshes are still slickened with oil, she says.
The tribe is made up of about 700 members whose ancestors were forced from their lands and resettled to Louisiana more than 100 years ago. Coastal erosion had already hit the tribe hard. Then the spill hit.
Her family used to eat seafood every day. Now, they eat shrimp only on Fridays. The rest of the week, it’s chicken, pork and beans.
She says she hasn’t had an oyster since “before the spill.” That especially hurts because she longs for the oysters of the past.
“We love fresh oysters,” she says. “My husband even more so. He was tempted to get some recently, but he said no, he wouldn’t take a chance.”
Dardar says the tribe had independent tests conducted on local shrimp, oysters and crab — and the results showed some were tainted. “We don’t trust the tests that the state and federal governments did.”
The Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have consistently said thousands of tests “prove Gulf seafood is safe from oil and dispersant contamination.”
Her anger, Dardar says, is directed straight at BP.
“I’ve become angry”Read More
You can view the interviews here.
Hermann Scheer: 1944-2010
Yesterday‚s sudden death of Right Livelihood Award Laureate Hermann Scheer bereft the world of one its most dedicated and successful advocates for renewable energy and energy independence.
Hermann Scheer, Member of the German Parliament and President of Eurosolar, had been named by TIME magazine as a ‘Hero for the Green Century’ in 2002. He died unexpectedly in Berlin on October 14th.
Interview: Governments are puppets
Amy Goodman (RLA 2008) from Democracy Now!, USA, conducted one of the last interviews with Hermann Scheer (RLA 1999) at the 30th Anniversary Conference of the Right Livelihood Award in Bonn, Germany, last month.
In this interview, Hermann Scheer once more made his case for a decentralised energy system relying on renewable energies. He calls it a “fight between centralization and decentralization, between energy dictatorship and energy participation in the energy democracy. And because nothing works without energy, it‚s a fight between democratic values and technocratical values.”
Watch the interview by clicking here
Scheer leaves a big void
Hermann Scheer received the Right Livelihood Award in 1999 “for his indefatigable work for the promotion of solar energy worldwide.” The Right Livelihood Award Foundation was deeply saddened to learn about the death of Hermann Scheer.
“Hermann leaves a big void on a personal, as well as on a political, level. He pinpointed fossil and nuclear energy production as the major danger of our time and showed the world how this threat can be averted. There are only a few people who have done more for the future of our planet. Our thoughts are with his family, who supported this work.
Hermann Scheer was a practical visionary and political person at his very core. He fought tirelessly for the cause of a 100% renewable energy future, often cross party lines, never putting his career first. The German Renewable Energy Law, which essentially goes back to Herman Scheer, now serves as a role model worldwide.
To see how much Herman Scheer was able to achieve as a parliamentarian and civil society activist gives hope for our political system. He has influenced and inspired thousands of colleagues and fellow activists around the world. They will continue his work, but will have very big shoes to fill.”
Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation
Alex Miller, an EMT from New Mexico, spent time in Haiti after the earthquake working for a clinic in the town of Petit Goave near Port-au-Prince. He realized the clinic could use an ambulance for transporting patients so when he returned to the U.S. he began to fundraise for one. Longtime Plenty donor and former Plenty volunteer with the Plenty Ambulance Service in the South Bronx 30 years ago, Robert Reifel heard about Alex’s effort and decided to contribute through Plenty. In the photo above Robert presents Alex with a check for $2,000, money that helped buy the ambulance. The two are holding up a display of pictures of the ambulance and of the clinic in Haiti.
US Senate Report Says Haiti Rebuilding Has Stalled
By Jonathan M. Katz, Associated Press Writer – Mon Jun 21, 2010
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti has made little progress in rebuilding in the five months since its earthquake, because of an absence of leadership, disagreements among donors and general disorganization, a U.S. Senate report says.
Obtained Monday by The Associated Press, the eight-page report is meant to give Congress a picture of Haiti today as U.S. legislators consider authorizing $2 billion to support the country’s reconstruction.
That picture is grim: Millions displaced from their homes, rubble and collapsed buildings still dominating the landscape. Three weeks into hurricane season, with tropical rains lashing the capital daily, construction is being held up by land disputes and customs delays while plans for moving people out of tent-and-tarp settlements remain in “early draft form,” it says.
Plenty’s 2010 Kids To The Country begins next week and we are looking forward to another exciting season. It’s so amazing to watch the kids go through their changes as they experience nature, many for the first time. An encounter with a tadpole, to be surrounded by trees, to chase lightning bugs in the night to the sound of whippoorwills, nature has the power to inspire hope like nothing else can.
This year it costs approximately $300 per child, which covers all of their food, lodging and activities throughout the week. If you would like to sponsor a child, please visit our donation page, http://plenty.org/donate.html
This KTC video provides an excellent overview of the program and gives a real look at what the children will experience when they arrive at the 1750 acres that make up our community.
Here’s a news clip that describes children from New Orleans who were victims of Hurricane Katrina that were brought up to Tennessee to participate in the Kids to The Country Program.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — With graffiti and protests, from sweltering tents to air-conditioned offices, Haitians are desperately trying to get a message to their government and the world: enough with the status quo.
The simple phrase “Aba Préval” (Down with Préval, a reference to Haiti’s president, René Préval) has become shorthand for a long list of frustrations, and an epithet expressing a broader fear — that Haitians will be stuck in limbo indefinitely, and that the opportunity to reinvent Haiti is being lost.
While few have given up entirely on the dream that a more efficient, more just Haiti might rise from the rubble, increasingly, hope is giving way to stalemate and bitterness. “Is this really it?” Haitians ask. They complain that the politically connected are benefiting most from reconstruction work that has barely begun. They shake their heads at crime’s coming back, unproductive politicians and aid groups that are struggling with tarpaulin metropolises that look more permanent every day.
“We’re going to be in this position forever,” said Patrick Moussignac, the owner of Radio Caraïbes, a popular station broadcasting from a tent downtown. “We could be living on the streets for 10 or 20 years.”
Gulf of Mexico oil spill reinforces the industry’s bad will for American Indians
By The Associated Press
May 18, 2010, 6:55AM
Like many American Indians on the bayou, Emary Billiot blames oil companies for ruining his ancestral marsh over the decades. Still, he’s always been able to fish — but now, with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, even that is not a certainty.
An oil spill — 5 million gallons and counting — spreading across the Gulf of Mexico has closed bays and lakes in Louisiana’s bountiful delta, including fishing grounds that feed the last American-Indian villages in three parishes. It is a bitter blow for the tribes of south Louisiana who charge that drilling has already destroyed their swamps and that oil and land companies illegally grabbed vast areas.
“Once the oil gets in the marshes, it’s all over, that’s where your shrimp spawn,” said Billiot, a wiry fisherman with tough hands, his fingernails caked with bayou dirt. “Then we’re in trouble,” he said in a heavy French-Indian accent.
In the month since an offshore drilling platform exploded, killing 11 workers, BP PLC has struggled to stop the leak from a blown-out underwater well. Over the weekend, engineers finally succeeded in using a stopper-and-tube combination to siphon some of the gushing oil into a tanker.
In Pointe-Au-Chien, 60-year-old Sydney Verdin felt a tingle of vengeful satisfaction at BP PLC’s misfortune over the oil spill.
“I’m happy for the oil spill. Now the oil companies are paying for it the same way we’ve had to pay for it,” said Verdin, disabled by a stroke, as he sat in his living room and watched his grandchildren play.
Even before the leak, oil’s influence on the south Louisiana landscape was unmistakable. Signs warning about underground pipelines are everywhere. So are plastic poles in canals to show the pipelines’ location. Out in the marsh, oil and gas facilities are often the only lights visible at night.
Since the 1930s, oil and natural gas companies dug about 10,000 miles of canals, straight as Arizona highways, through the oak and cypress forests, black mangroves, bird rushes and golden marshes. If lined up in a row, the canals would stretch nearly halfway around the world.
They funneled salt water into the marshes, killing trees and grass and hastening erosion. Some scientists say drilling caused half of Louisiana’s land loss, or about 1,000 square miles.