Jun. 23rd, 2011

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Witness: Witness: To the Last Drop

Residents of one Canadian town are engaged in a David and Goliath-style battle over the dirtiest oil project ever known.

The small town of Fort Chipewyan in northern Alberta is facing the consequences of being the first to witness the impact of the Tar Sands project, which may be the tipping point for oil development in Canada.

The local community has experienced a spike in cancer cases and dire studies have revealed the true consequences of "dirty oil".

Gripped in a Faustian pact with the American energy consumer, the Canadian government is doing everything it can to protect the dirtiest oil project ever known. In the following account, filmmaker Tom Radford describes witnessing a David and Goliath struggle.

I shot my first film, Death of a Delta, in Fort Chipewyan in 1972. I shot it with a hand crank Bolex camera with a maximum 26-second wind. I had to make sure people knew what they were talking about. There was no time for red herrings. In our new film, To the Last Drop, the latest in digital HD and Cineflex cameras capture the landscape of northern Alberta as never before.

But while technology can go through multiple revolutions in 49 years, the issue that drives both our films remains the same: the rights of downstream communities, and the need to recognise those rights, no matter how powerful their upstream neighbours.

Death of a Delta documented the fight of Fort Chipewyan to have a voice in the construction of a massive hydroelectric project on the Peace River, the W.A.C. Bennett Dam. At stake was not only the survival of the oldest community in Alberta, but the protection of a World Heritage site, the Peace Athabasca Delta, a convergence of migratory flyways and the greatest concentration of waterfowl on the continent.

In the David and Goliath struggle that ensued, David won. Water was released from the dam and water levels in the Delta returned to normal. The unique ecology of the region was saved. The town survived.

Today, that same David, the collective will of the thousand residents of Fort Chipewyan, is fighting an even more imposing Goliath. The Alberta oil sands is arguably now the world's largest construction project. Its expansion will have an estimated $1.7 trillion impact on the Canadian economy over the coming decades. An area of boreal forest the size of Greece will be affected by industrial activity.MORE
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Western journalist tend to play up stories of Western humanitarians, mostly white, coming in to save the poor grateful people from themselves. This film was so fucking empowering. Such a middle finger in the eye of the narrative. Dude, when every study abroad post you see for African and South and Central America is for volunteering, while Europe and Australia are for learning and vacations, it grates on you. When every NGO and spokesperson for some charity org that is featured is white... When every fictional movie and documentary focuses on the compassionate white person who is always there to help out the benighted person of color whose country just can't get it together...it builds on you. It joins the where is your history, you don't have one! chorus that you get from you are born. It joins the lack of heroes on your entertainment, it joins the outright racism in everyday interactions, it joins the narrative. I have seen countless profiles of extraordinarily humanitarian white kids saving their poor cousins around the world. There is a serious lift in my heart to see the extraordinary "poor cousins" saving themselves.

Witness: Witness - The Children's Parliament

Childrens Parliament: An organisation run by children for children has made it their mission to fight for children's rights in DR Congo.

Children's Parliament is a local organisation run by children for children. Their mission since its conception in 1999 is to fight for the rights of children. As teenage students, the parliamentarians dedicate their free time to this noble task and receive no payment, despite enormous obstacles and risk to themselves. Members of Children's Parliament are elected by their peers and delegates are chosen from different neighbourhoods, schools and districts. What unites them is their will to make a difference for Congo's children.

We wanted to make a film that would personify the myriad of problems faced by youths in Eastern Congo and hold out a candle of hope for their future, in the form of two leaders of the Children's Parliament.


We first met the parliamentarians, Alimasi and Museke while filming another documentary on international aid in Congo. We were trying to find examples of Congolese aid organisations, and came across the Children's Parliament. When we first met them, they were in their office joking around with each other, like ordinary teenage boys. From the moment we asked them about their organisation, it was clear they were far from ordinary.
When we asked about what they did, they eloquently explained their mission and the problems they were trying to address, with a depth and understanding far greater than the foreign aid workers we had spent most of our time interviewing. They discussed their belief that the future of Congo must be led by its children. Unlike many foreign NGO workers tainted with cynicism, these boys are articulate and funny, but deadly serious about their work. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and drew us in immediately.
the_future_modernes: text icon: black history month (struckout) and replaced with 365 (Black history month)
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Calling ESPECIALLY, all the Caribbean peeps...look at this: People: This popped up from the Caribbean feminist collective Red for Gender. It is from the Daily Mail so fucked up language and attitudes are a given. But its the fucking STORY that made me bring it here. Bear with me.

Widow of Lord Glenconner begs manservant who inherited West Indies estate to give back his fortune

The widow of Lord Glenconner, who has left his fortune to his West Indian manservant, has appealed for him to return part of the estate to the family.

Distressed Lady Anne Glenconner said she hoped that Kent Adonai, 48, ‘would do the right thing’.

Lady Anne, who was a close friend of Princess Margaret, said it was a ‘surprise’ to learn that her husband had left the multi-million pound estate on the Caribbean island of St Lucia to Mr Adonai.

Rewarded: Kent Adonai, with Lord Glenconner, inherited his multi-million pound estate

Rewarded: Kent Adonai, with Lord Glenconner, inherited his multi-million pound estate

At a memorial service yesterday for Lord Glenconner, 83, near Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders, Lady Anne said: ‘Kent was beloved by my husband but so were we all – I was married to him for 55 years.’

Mr Adonai had walked the baron’s pet elephant in the Caribbean, cooked for his jet-set friends and slept on the floor by his bed for 30 years.

Lord Glenconner changed his will seven months before his death from cancer to leave Mr Adonai everything that had been meant for his heir, his 17-year-old grandson Cody.

This included his beachside house between the Pitons in St Lucia, all its contents and a valley overlooking the Caribbean.


People, you need to see the 1985 picture of Lord Glenconner and his servants to get the full flavor of this fuckery. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH WTF IN THE WORLD FOR THIS SHIT. And, of course, questions arise as to how exactly that fortune was amassed in the first place! And therefore, I am sure you will join me in wishing Mr. Kent Adonai VERY VERY WELL, and in urging him to do the right thing, which is to send TWO middlefingers in Lady Glennconner's direction, tell them to go fuck themselves, and do with that fortune as he wishes. Last I checked, the Daily Mail comments were right with me.

Here's a longer and more informative article on the whole business (again, Daily Mail)


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