Open Magazine

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Open Magazine

Showcasing Creative Commons-licensed journalism from around the world

New York cracks down on subway surfing

Sustainable farming solutions in Brazil Australia’s Indigenous rights referendum looms

What’s inside: Thailand’s trailblazing trans MP • The European airport banning private jets • Fukushima water released into the Pacific • Schools in Togo embrace local authors • Innovation in Uganda ...and much more!

Oct 2023

A model for the future of journalism

Every article in this magazine was stolen from another publication. Perhaps “stolen” is not the right word, but that’s the word some of these publications use when they encourage others to “steal our stories.” More accurately, these stories have been republished free of charge and without special permission because they were released under Creative Commons licenses.

The same applies to the photos, too. Some have been taken from the original articles, but many were sourced independently from websites like Flickr, Wikimedia Commons or Mapillary. Even the page furniture was remixed from the OpenMoji project.

I recently had the pleasure of collaborating with Jennryn Wetzler, Creative Commons’ director of learning and training, to produce A Journalist’s Guide to Creative Commons. It’s an online handbook that addresses some of the most common questions and misunderstandings that journalists and editors have about using Creative Commons-licensed content in their work. Spoiler: it’s not as daunting as it may appear!

If that is theory, then the magazine you’re holding is practice. Open Magazine contains news articles from all over the world. They include short, snappy write-ups, color stories, interviews, investigations, and even feature articles — essentially running the gamut of journalism. All of the articles have been republished here freely because they’re released under Creative Commons licenses. That means other news outlets can do the same thing without having to ask, and without having to pay.

The whole idea is to show the quality and breadth of content that’s out there, waiting to be reused and remixed by journalists and editors. It also aims to demonstrate how this can enhance the coverage of many publications.

But why all the fuss?

Syndication is nothing new — large media outlets do it all the time. Yet small and medium-sized newsrooms may not be able to afford subscriptions to large newswire services like the Associated Press or Reuters.

Republishing news stories that are licensed under Creative Commons can allow a publication to plug gaps in its coverage, expand across new topics, and generally enhance their product.

A national newspaper in Kenya could quickly republish on-the-ground reporting from an incident in the Philippines. A health magazine in Lebanon could republish expert analysis of the latest medical breakthrough. A local news website in Rio de Janeiro could republish a story about federal politics and instead reallocate its staff and resources towards chasing unreported stories in its own backyard. The reverse is also important: an investigative newsroom in Hungary, for example, could make sure its stories reach the widest possible audience. The possibilities are endless.

The benefits are clear. Good journalism will always be appreciated by readers. This can drive traffic and social media engagement, as well as ad revenue or subscriptions.

I created Open Newswire, a tool which aggregates news articles that have been published under Creative Commons licenses or analogous terms. The idea is to combine these articles from various sources around the world into a comprehensive repository, similar to a bona fide newswire. By my count, almost 200 news outlets have embraced Creative Commons in this way and hundreds others have their own, similar rules.

Open Magazine could easily have been produced in Spanish or Portuguese (save for my lack of language ability). There’s also a decent selection of news outlets publishing under Creative Commons in Arabic, French, Hindi, German, Russian, Chinese, Italian, Indonesian, Hungarian, Bengali, Basque and Catalan. And many other languages are also supported by at least one or two outlets publishing under Creative Commons licenses.

If anything, this little demo magazine is just the tip of the iceberg. The hardest part of compiling it was finding articles that I could fit on a limited number of pages. If you’re a journalist or editor reading this, I hope that this inspires you to do the same at your own publication. Your readers will thank you, and so will your boss.

Scan here to download A Journalist’s Guide to Creative Commons! page 2


What’s happening in...

Africa p. 4

Asia p. 6

Europe p. 8

Latin America p. 10

North America p. 12

Oceania p. 14


Billionaire Harlan Crow Bought Property

From Clarence Thomas. The Justice Didn’t Disclose the Deal p. 16

In Roraima, Indigenous communities forge sustainable solutions amid threats p. 18

Cover image credits

From top to bottom:

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (Alex Krales / The City / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Brazilian Indigenous leader Maria Loreta Pascoal (Amanda Magnani / Mongabay / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

“Yes” campaign rally in Brisbane, Australia (Panthus / Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0)

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Throughout: All emojis designed by OpenMoji — the open-source emoji and icon project. License: CC BY-SA 4.0

What’s happening in Africa

Ugandan fish smoking kiln cuts cancer risk

Pioneers of a fish smoking kiln designed to reduce the risk of cancer and other health problems say it is benefiting hundreds of women in Uganda.

The women, who dominate the country’s fish processing industry, have for decades suffered the effects of smoking fish using locally made ovens, spending sleepless nights watching over their fish to stop them from getting burnt or stolen.

The new fish smoking kiln was developed by scientists at Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organization.

“In addition to reducing the cancer-causing agents, it was largely designed with women at the center because it is mostly women involved in the fish smoking industry,” said John Yawe, a scientist at the organization.

Yawe says the kiln reduces impurities and cancer-causing elements such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from the locally smoked fish, from up to 40,000 parts per billion to two parts per billion.

Togo finally recognizes its authors in the classroom

Togolese authors are at last making their entry into the lessons of their country.

Until 2018, literature syllabuses in Togo privileged the works of foreign writers from the African continent, including classics like Maïmouna by Senegalese Abdoulaye Sadji or The Black Cloth by Ivorian Bernard Dadié. These works were foregrounded in schools to the detriment of the works of Togolese authors.

And yet Togo can boast a long list of authors: the first Togolese novel dates from 1929 — L’esclave (The Slave) by Félix Couchoro — followed by works such as La victime (The Victim) by Yves-Emmanuel Dogbé and Morte saison (Dead Season) by Gnoussira Analla.

To get a better grasp of the evolution and

“The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are as a result of burning wood, garbage, plastic and they are associated with increased cancer cases in addition to reduced lung functionality, asthma, lung and heart diseases.”

Members of the Women of Hope Katosi Fish Processing Association say it is improving women’s livelihoods by making the process more efficient.

“The women used to smoke fish for two to three days and it would go bad within two days,” said Priscilla Nakato, vice chairwoman of the association. “With the new fish kiln, they smoke for 12 hours and the fish will last for a month.”

Fatuma Nassiwa, a member of the association, tells SciDev.Net that the new kiln has improved her life.

“Since we started using the new kiln, we are more peaceful and less worried about the safety and quality of our fish,” said Nassiwa.

“I can load the fish and do other house chores or even go to the market – unlike before, when I would sit there throughout, monitoring the fish so it does not get burnt.”

Nassiwa said some marriages were also in turmoil because of the fish stench.

“However much we bathed and soaked our clothes in detergent, the fish stench would stay,” she said, adding: “This caused our husbands to abandon us for

the belated recognition of this literature, Global Voices spoke with Mawusse Komlan Heka, founder of Editions Awoudy based in Lomé. The interview has been edited for style and length.

Jean Sovon (JS): Where does Togolese literature find itself today?

Mawusse Komlan Heka (MKH): Togolese literature is in great shape since there are many authors writing, publishers publishing, literary activities popping up all over the place, some literary shows relayed on broadcast channels. There are still readers reading, even if not as many as there used to be. So we can say that Togolese literature is alive and developing. In content terms, it’s varied, and you can come across every genre: stories, theatre, poetry, essays on diverse topics. In quality terms, like anywhere else, for that matter, there is very good, acceptable and at least good stuff, depending on the taste of the readership.

JS: Today, Togolese literature can take

‘cleaner’ women.”

Kamya Simon, fish kiln cluster coordinator at the National Agricultural Research Organization, said 165 women fish processors from the Kaliro fish farmers cluster have also benefitted from the kiln.

Simon says it has made fish processing easier and helped expand the market beyond Uganda to include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Rwanda.

“This is because they are able to meet the required standard for the export market of less than two parts per billion, as recommended by the World Health Organization and the EU,” Simon said.

“As a result, their capital has grown from $US84 in 2019 to $US1,100 in 2023. The market value of their fish has also increased from $US1.4 to $US6 per 500g.”

Beatrice Bitulikumyoyo, treasurer of the Kaliro cluster, told SciDev.Net that she started the fish business in 2015 with one pond of fish, but the kiln has helped to increase her earnings enough to get a second pond and venture into other enterprises such as cattle and pig rearing.

“Before we started using the kiln, we would use heaps and heaps of firewood in addition to plastics and polyethene bags,” Bitulikumyoyo said.

“Now, we only use between half and one sack of charcoal for the same quantity of fish.”

pride in over 100 writers. What explains this revolution?

MKH: I think it’s due to the new publishing houses, starting with Awoudy, and to the promotional activities curated to reveal talents and encourage others to get discovered. Many authors rested in the shadows a long time waiting for a boost to fly. Technological evolution, the computer, the internet, play an important role in this revolution. It’s easier now to create a book than a few years back.

What’s more, literary awards seem to be mushrooming in recent years: so the AGAU Prize for Literature which is on its second iteration; the Plumes en Herbe [Budding Pens’] Literary Award, which was won in 2020 by Isaac Kokou Fambi in its maiden year for his work Un funeste destin (A Dire Fate); the France-Togo Literary Award, which in 2022 went to Yvette Koulitime Gnossa for her novel Faces Cachées (Hidden Faces) at its 16th presentation; the Komlan Menssan →

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Canoeist brothers revive Cape Town wetland

Two canoeists have started clearing invasive water hyacinth from the Blowy wetland in Makhaza, Cape Town, and making it into fertilizer for gardens.

Brothers Siyanda and Akhona Sopangisa founded the Khayelitsha Canoe Club in 2023. Along with more than 20 volunteers, the pair spend hours each week picking up rubbish and pulling out the water hyacinth that chokes the wetland.

Working on foot or paddling in canoes, with rakes and gloves, they clean up nappies, plastic bags, clothes, bottles, car tires and building materials which have been dumped in the wetland.

The brothers give the bottles and plastic bags to unemployed women who make a living from recycling. Other rubbish is stored at the Khayelitsha Wetlands Park, where the City of Cape Town collects it.

The brothers used to remove the water hyacinth and throw it away, but now they have found a use for it. They dry it and then burn it in a kiln to turn it into biochar – a sort of charcoal – which can be used as fertilizer in gardens.

“Our plan is to sell it to local gardeners who want to revitalize their gardens,” said Akhona. “We also aim to use the dry hyacinth to make hats, mats and bags and

Nubukpo Literary Award which was carried off in the 2022 competition by Guillaume Djondo with his collection of poems Senteurs des fleurs fanées (Scents of Faded Flowers).

JS: From 1990 up to the start of the 2010s, the Togolese education system did the job of promoting writers of other nationalities. What does that situation look like today?

MKH: For five years now we’ve been noting such a long awaited change. The state is making an effort to give each cohort at least one Togolese literary work on the syllabus. For example, just now, Des Larmes au crépuscule (Tears At Dusk) by Steve Bodjona, published by Awoudy, is on the syllabus in Togo Class 4 [US Grade 8]. Let’s celebrate what’s already begun, but we hope for even better. For example, certain Togolese works are incorporated into the syllabus, but aren’t even in print, so that needs putting right. We also need to be able to export

sell them to locals and tourists.”

Akhona said that when he and other canoeists returned to work in the wetland in June 2022, after a break during the COVID-19 pandemic, they found the hyacinth had taken over. “The hyacinth covered the whole wetland and hindered us from canoing and teaching youngsters to canoe,” he said.

“We googled, chatted to friends on social media and found out that we could turn it into biochar and make money.”

Siyanda says water hyacinth sometimes blocks the way of canoeists, including tourists who visit the area.

Water hyacinth is native to South America. The Agricultural Research Council describes it as “the world’s worst aquatic weed due to its invasive potential, negative impact on aquatic ecosystems, and the cost it necessitates to control it.”

“If the wetland is clean, animals thrive,” Siyanda said. Residents of the surrounding areas come to relax there and watch birds, he says. He said the wetland also provides small farmers with clean water for their cows and pigs and for their gardens, and it attracts tourists.

In July, the volunteers and a group of tourists worked together to remove hyacinth, burn it and then take it to a nearby crèche where the biochar could be used as fertilizer. The tourists paid R400 for the experience, Akhona said.

our books so they are read and studied in neighboring countries. It’s time our literature too was exported, the way we’ve imported other people’s for so long.

JS: What range of themes is more developed in the rising generation?

MKH: A writer’s environment acts on his or her creativity. Going by the evidence we have, the themes of négritude [Black consciousness] or colonialism are not taken up today as they used to be a few decades ago. But there are universal themes that cut across time, like love, the human condition, social inequalities. Nowadays, the rising generation is writing about migration, the political situation in our country, family life with its secrets and aberrations (rape, incest), modernity and its faces (homosexuality, trans people), and still about classic themes (polygamy, forced marriage, betrayal, mistreatment of children, rivalries). We also find at times occult powers and the miraculous in certain texts.

“Tourists want to do activities with locals instead of just taking photos. We give the biochar to them, and they treat it as souvenirs,” he said.

Now the volunteers are looking for community gardens to test the efficiency of the biochar, he said.

“When we grew up, we loved nature and used to swim in the wetland for fun because it was clean,” said Siyanda. He said he wished volunteers would get a stipend to help with basic necessities.

Councilor Patricia van der Ross, Mayco member for community services and health, said the pair were part of the recreation and parks department’s wetland rehabilitation project. The department assisted them by providing storage space for their equipment.

Asked about a stipend for the volunteers, Van der Ross urged them to register on the city’s unemployment database to enable them to be employed through the Expanded Public Works Program.

JS: Your closing words?

MKH: The movers and shakers of Togolese culture and in particular of its literature are sharing their talents, passion, and capacities to bring life to Togo artistically. The state is also making efforts but sometimes even a simple legislative proposal on authorial rights takes over 15 years to be approved and voted, which goes to show just how hard it is to be a literary creator. Togolese literature also need more promotion on a national and international scale. We need to have a presence in the different festivals and circles round the world. In this matter, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism could help us participate, even if we aren’t officially invited.

So we still have to make a lot of people understand that culture is as urgent and fundamental as other sectors labeled ‘priority’. Education rests on culture, on books. There are as many psychologically as physiologically sick people who need cultural conditioning to get better.

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The brothers found new uses for water hyacinth (Vincent Lali / GroundUp / CC BY-ND 4.0)

What’s happening in Asia

Indian rice variety shows promise for diabetics

at our laboratories,” says Rajlakshmi Devi, research leader at IASST’s Life Sciences Division in Assam.

Efforts are now underway to increase demand for Joha and encourage farmers to grow more of the variety.

published by under CC BY 2.0

A scented rice variety grown in India’s remote northeast, known as Joha rice, not only prevents type 2 diabetes but is also rich in unsaturated fatty acids, which work against heart disease, scientists have found.

Early onset of type 2 diabetes is increasing but the condition is reversible through changes in lifestyle and diet, including the moderation of white rice consumption. Rice is a staple in many countries but it can affect blood sugar levels and increase the risk of diabetes.

Joha rice, a short-grain, winter variety known for its unique aroma and taste, drew the attention of researchers at India’s Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST) because of the popular belief that those who consume it regularly are spared diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses.

“Such claims ascribing important nutraceutical properties [health benefits] to Joha rice called for scientific validation and that is how we began investigations

Southeast Asia’s Belt & Road paved with promises

China is strengthening its economic ties with its neighbors in Southeast Asia. As China recently hashed out details of a new free trade agreement with ASEAN, it is worth considering another major project: the Belt and Road Initiative. The trillion-dollar initiative launched in 2013, offering generous financing deals on infrastructural projects that would link China to every part of the world, except the United States.

It is often seen as a rising China’s challenge to the global order. But in some cases, like Sri Lanka, debt from Belt and Road has hurt more than helped.

But the Belt and Road Initiative is still important to ASEAN, a which has orbited around China since 2000. China’s southern mainland forms a land border

Investigations at the IASST showed the presence of two unsaturated fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and linolenic (omega-3) acid, which are important for human health and need to be included in diets because they aren’t naturally produced in the body, says Devi.

Joha rice also proved effective in lowering glucose levels and preventing the onset of diabetes in “in vitro” lab tests and on rats.

The rice variety was found to contain valuable antioxidants making it a “nutraceutical of choice” in diabetes management, according to India’s Department of Science and Technology. It says a number of bioactive compounds were found in Joha which are reported to have antioxidant effects, control blood sugar levels and protect the heart.

“Given that rice is a staple in the Asia Pacific region and also widely consumed around the world, we believe that popularizing a rice variety with potent anti-diabetic activity such as Joha could greatly help reduce the prevalence of type 2 diabetes,” Devi tells SciDev.Net.

Putlih Adzra Pautong, a researcher on nutrition at the International Rice Research Institute, said the top ten countries for diabetes prevalence in 2021 have rice as their main staple. She believes the next big thing in rice research is nutrition.

with many ASEAN countries, shaping lots of projects in the works.

In Laos, China is providing finance for a trans-border railway to connect capital city Vientiane with Kunming in south-west China, while Cambodia has a highway, a communication satellite and an international airport on the way. In Timor-Leste, China has invested in a highway, a port and built a national power grid that it operates and maintains. Indonesia’s mass transit and railway has benefited from Belt and Road, while Vietnam landed a new tram line.

China, the only country to consistently invest in Myanmar since 1988, has taken a special interest in the country. Along with two highways, China and Myanmar are working on a deep sea port in Kyaukpyu and launched a joint radar and satellite communication lab in 2018.

Singapore is not just a partner in Belt and Road, but also a founding member of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a World Bank alternative.

“Farmers are not ready to cultivate it as they are not fully aware about the nutraceutical potential of Joha rice,” Devi says. “It would help greatly if there are government policies to increase awareness.”

Abdul Fiyaz R from the Indian Council for Agricultural Research says popularizing Joha rice should not be difficult since it “not only offers a promising option for diabetics but also delights the senses with its captivating aroma and tender texture, making it a culinary treasure”.

“Several studies indicate that the aromatic compounds found in Joha rice not only enhance its flavor profile but also hold potential health benefits — the combination of aroma and beneficial nutrients makes it an appealing choice,” Fiyaz, who has expertise in rice varieties and plant breeding, tells SciDev.Net.

“Given the diabetes burden that India is facing — 77 million individuals had diabetes in India in 2019 which is expected to rise to over 134 million by 2045 — it is vital that Joha rice and similar food items, known to work against the condition affordably, be popularized and incorporated in dietary interventions,” says Ganesh Bagler, professor of computational gastronomy at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology.

The winners from Belt and Road in ASEAN are middle economies, who take China’s offer to collaborate to help themselves, without falling into a debt trap where they owe more than they can pay. Unless there’s a sudden, severe shock to China, it will continue to play an important role in distributing and aiding global growth, especially to ASEAN nations. Smaller economies should be the most wary when signing up for Belt and Road projects, as they are more vulnerable to political pressure from China (in particular, regarding disputes over the South China Sea). This is especially the case for Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Timor-Leste, who are reliant on generous lending terms from China.

But so long as the ASEAN countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative can pay their debts and assess the potential benefits of the costly projects they’re committing to, it can continue on as a shot in the arm for the region’s economy.

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Trans MP advocates for gender inclusive society

While women have long been considered “ornamental” in Thai politics, with the media and the public mainly focusing on their looks or how they dress and act, LGBTQ representation is nearly non-existent. They are subject to the same fate and even worse. A watershed moment for the community came in the last election when 3 self-identified LGBTQ people won MP seats.

In male-dominated Thai politics, women MPs amounted to only 15.4% with 73 women among 474 total members in 2022 according to iLaw. Of that number, the three self-identified LGBTQ MPs made up only 0.63%.

Another win for the Thai LGBTQ community was chalked up when Move Forward’s Paramee “Juang” Waichongcharoen, a trans woman and party list candidate, was elected. Having spent most of her life working in education, the MP has been tasked with steering the party’s education policy. She will also work with other LGBTQ MPs designate to advocate for gender-inclusive policies.

Growing up in a run-down neighborhood near Wat Soi Thong in Bang Sue, Paramee realized from a young age the importance of education as a tool for betterment in life. She enrolled in Chulalongkorn University to follow her dream of becoming a teacher.

The trans woman later learned that in a university that prided itself in traditionalism with its deep connections with royalty and elitism, its students were expected to dress in uniforms and conform to certain norms and values. Transgender students had to dress and act according to their sex assigned at birth. That experience has haunted her to this day.

Although the university has relaxed many of its strict rules in recent years, a conservative agenda prevails, especially in some faculties that attach themselves to institutionalism. These include the Faculty of Education where Paramee studied.

Although the faculty is known by insiders to have hosted countless LGBTQ students throughout its existence, some faculty members still insist that students dress according to their biological sex and behave accordingly. The tradition was prevalent in Paramee’s day when she had

to wear a short hair wig. The rule was recently repealed in 2020 after a transgender student filed an appeal to the governing body.

That sums up the fate of transgender students who wish to pursue a typical career in education. If you want to be a teacher, you either cut your hair and dress like a man or you are shown the door.

As much as she wanted to be a teacher, Paramee also wanted to live truthfully to who she was. She couldn’t bear wearing short hair and men’s clothes.

Therefore, in 1993 when she graduated with a Bachelor of Education degree, and most of her peers went on to become career teachers, she chose to reject the traditional route and instead became a tutor and private teacher. For 27 years now, she has made a living teaching social sciences to high school students around Thailand.

Having lived through the painful experience of hiding who she was, she hopes she can advocate for a more tolerant education system in which people of all genders can live authentically without being discriminated against.

Thai society may seem open to the existence of LGBTQ people, but discrimination still permeates certain realms, especially in the professional sphere. Living truthfully about who you are might mean being closed off from some opportunities. There are choices one must sacrifice to live as oneself.

“A trans woman who becomes a civil servant cannot dress as a woman. It is still like this in a number of ministries, not just in the Ministry of Education. You cannot dress as a woman right away. You must interview in men’s clothes and hair. Dress as a man. With a wig… You must look for room to maneuverer, how open-minded your supervisor is,” she pointed out.

“Your life is like buying a lottery ticket.” However, she knows big changes need to start small. At a minimum, LGBTQ people should be able to dress as they please without facing resistance, she said. To make this a reality, she will start with the law, studying rules and regulations for opportunities for adjustment and gradually effect changes.

“I will push with other MPs for equality. Not just in the state sector, the private sector sometimes does not dare give LGBT people in big conservative organizations the ability to display the gender they choose,” said Paramee.

The Move Forward Party tasked Paramee, along with two other MPs, with overseeing education policies. She is adamant about advocating for a more equal education where people can receive quality education no matter where they are. In her role as an MP, she will also help steer gender-inclusive policies with other MPs from the LGBTQ community. Besides the same-sex marriage bill, she aims to advocate for trans people to be able to use titles according to their gender.

Although the prospect of a fully inclusive society is grim, she believes it will gradually change through dialogue and open discussion. Paramee wishes to see a more inclusive society where people are more understanding of gender differences.

“I want to create understanding. Don’t stereotype. I want to come out and speak up to create an understanding of gender diversity,” she said.

Paramee believes LGBTQ participation in politics is key to making society more inclusive. She encourages LGBTQ people who wish to participate in politics to do so.

Though considered a veteran in Thai education, Paramee is relatively new to politics. She’s learning to navigate this challenging environment. But she has braced herself, knowing that there will be people who don’t accept her differences.

“I believe in principle,” she said. “If what I do is right in principle, I don’t care what anyone says. You can criticize me if I do something wrong, but you cannot censure my life choices, because that is my right.”

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Paramee “Juang” Waichongcharoen wants to reform Thailand’s education system (Prachathai / CC BY-NC 4.0)

What’s happening in Europe

Amsterdam airport bans private jets

Some 25.5 million passengers arrive at or change planes at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport every year. This makes it the second-largest airport in the EU. Private jets and night flights are now to be banned there from the end of 2025. This will lead to “quieter, cleaner and better air traffic,” according to the airport.

In addition, larger and thus noisier aircraft such as the Boeing 747 will no longer be allowed to land. Residents and climate protection activists welcome Schiphol’s move to improve the quality of life in the Amsterdam suburb. The effects of this decision will now be felt throughout Europe because other cities could push for similar measures in the future.

Speaking in numbers, this would mean about 10,000 fewer aircraft per year to land at Schiphol, their flights being canceled with the ban. Recently, the government also implemented directives for the airport to reduce the flights from 500 to 440 thousand flights, cutting an additional 40 thousand flights, starting November 2023.

“For too long, we have only thought about growth and not enough about the associated costs. We need to be sustainable for our employees, the environment and the world”, said Ruud Sondag, CEO of Royal Schiphol Group.

Lawsuit against guidelines

Travel agencies and airlines have complained about the changes. The Dutch airline KLM, who’s main airport is Schiphol, was surprised, claiming that they had wished for coordinated action across the entire air travel industry. But the lack of actual plans stemming from big airlines might explain why Schiphol’s decision not to wait.

The shrinking of flight numbers at Schiphol was followed by a lawsuit by KLM and four other airlines in fear of having reduced profits. Early April 2023, a Dutch court now overruled the directive due to an issue regarding formalities in the law-making process.

Climate activists are disappointed about the court’s ruling, setting back the efforts of CO2 reduction in the Netherlands drastically. Their hopes now lie with the airport’s lone push to at least save a fourth of the CO2 intended by the government.

Germany to consider ban in the future German air travel expert Sussane Menge sees private jets as a “great climate injustice” and calls for airports in Germany to implement similar directives to Schiphol to combat rising CO2 emissions.

“It is no longer plausible that many people are now combating global warming by insulating houses and replacing heating systems, while a small minority is pumping out jet fuel as if there were no tomorrow,” Menge said.

Now the German Greens have announced that they are considering proposing a similar plan with support from opposition party “die Linke” (the Left), although the future of this legislation is unclear.

Most wealth – Most emissions

The numbers add up, considering that in 2019, a year before the private jet boom properly kicked off, private jets already accounted for 899,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). In comparison, in the same year, the CO2 emissions on a global average per person accounted for about 4.78 tons per year.

Considering these facts, it gets even more baffling when one considers that these 899 thousand tons of carbon dioxide are emitted by just about 22 thousand jets. Meaning that these approximately 22,000 private aircraft owners emit equally to about 188,000 people. And that’s only with their jets. Accounting for other luxuries, these numbers can rise up to a staggering 3 million tons per year for the

top 1%.

A person with average carbon emissions would take more than 627 thousand years to produce the amount of CO2 a billionaire emits in a year. Given the shrinking CO2 budget, rising temperatures and growing wealth inequality, considering bans like this might be a necessity all over Europe in the future.

Regulation killed off the competition. Now a gravel mine owned by Orbán’s nephew’s is thriving by Eszter Katus | First published by Átlátszó under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

It takes about 40 seconds to cross the section of road where the Hungarian Public Roads Company introduced a weight restriction in November 2022. However, these few seconds and a few hundred meters are just enough to put a nearby gravel mine in an almost impossible situation. And the situation benefited another mine, co-owned by none other than Viktor Orbán’s nephew, Dávid Orbán. Independent MEP Ákos Hadházy believes that this is the first and very concrete proof that the Orbán family is using the state apparatus to enrich itself.

Road 1401 connects two cities in northwest Hungary: Győr and Mosonmagyaróvar, near the Austrian border. Last year, the public road operator imposed a 20-tonne weight limit on one section between the villages of Győrzámoly and Győrújfalu. This means that vehicles heavier than 20 tonnes were not allowed to cross the road from November 2022. The only exceptions are buses and agricultural vehicles, and companies that have access permits on the stretch. →

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Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport would see 10,000 fewer aircraft each year under the plan (-JvL- / Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Russia misread Ukraine’s popular mood: report

First published by Eurasianet under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

A new study details just how badly the Russian leadership misread Ukraine’s popular mood during the run-up to the failed blitz on Ukraine in early 2022. The signs of solidarity and resilience shown by Ukrainians were evident in the decade leading up to the war, but the Kremlin ignored the evidence.

Ukrainians’ spirit of civic participation was showing impressive growth in the years prior to Russia’s unprovoked attack. That Ukrainian society came together so fast to resist the invasion should not have come as a surprise, according to the findings of the recently published report, titled Ukraine: Measuring civic space risk, resilience and Russian influence in the lead up to war. The report represents the culmination of a three-year research project carried out by AidData, a research lab at the Global Research Institute at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

However, the nearby gravel pits have not been given access permits, despite their requests. As a result, some companies’ trucks cannot access the Frissbeton/Strabag concrete mixing plant in Győrújfalu (just a few kilometers away), or can only do so by a huge detour.

This has been such a serious blow to one of the gravel quarries in Győrzámoly that it has closed down, while another company in Darnózseli has seen its turnover drop completely: Lajta-Kavics Mining Ltd. had been doing well, with an annual turnover of HUF 300-400 million. It was considered one of the largest suppliers in the region, but this is no longer the case.

Life in the Darnozseli mine has almost come to a standstill since the introduction of the weight restriction. We did not see any movement in the gravel pit when we were there. Not a single truck was coming or going, and the gravel was in piles – although this had never happened before, according to the locals. In fact, as they said, at least 50 trucks a day used to turn around the quarry.

The restriction does not, however, affect the Murobán Ltd. mine in Vámosszabadi, which has been operating for only one and a half years. Rumor has it that the company took over the Darnozseli mine’s place, and has become the main local supplier to the largest concrete producer, Frissbeton. As Murobán did not reply

“The Kremlin severely underestimated the bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people,” the report states.

“President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was an important part of this story, but the willingness of the average Ukrainian citizen to mount a whole-of-society resistance to Putin’s aggression also played a decisive role in overcoming the odds.”

AidData analyzed a “vast amount of historical data” dating back to 2010 to gauge public attitudes concerning Ukraine’s civic space during the pre-war years. A key finding: during the past decade the spirit of volunteerism among Ukrainians significantly outpaced that of their peers in other formerly Soviet states. “Ukrainians’ disenchantment with organized politics stands in sharp contrast to a substantial uptick in their reported participation in other forms of civic life—from increased involvement in demonstrations to growing levels of membership in voluntary organizations, charitable donations, and helping strangers,” the report stated.

Civic engagement in Ukraine did not

to our inquiry, we followed one of their trucks on site to find out where the gravel was being taken.

The truck we followed did not end up in nearby Győrújfalu, but in the Tata industrial park, where Frissbeton also has a site (and where Lajta-Kavics can only reach by detour since the sign was installed). So the rumors may not be unfounded.

We have asked Frissbeton Ltd. whether the allegations that Lajta-Kavics Mining Ltd. supplies little (or no) gravel to their sites in Győrújfalu/Tata Industrial Park, while Murobán Ltd. supplies an outstanding amount of gravel to their sites in Győrújfalu/Tata Industrial Park, are true. The owner Strabag has stated that this information is a business secret and cannot be disclosed.

What is clear from the company report is that Murobán Ltd. of Győr was in the right place at the right time. Although the company has been in existence since 2017, it was only at the beginning of last year that they opened a branch in Vámosszabadi, at parcel number 0112/3, which is none other than the gravel pit itself. To do this, the agricultural land had to be reclassified, but the Vámosszabadi council voted in favor without any dissenting votes or abstentions.

The newly opened mine quickly took off: the company’s asset base expanded

follow a steady upward trajectory. It surged in the wake of the Euromaidan protests in 2014, then dipped in 2017, amid deepening public disillusionment with the government’s failure to tackle corruption. It started rising again in 2019 after Zelenskyy became president.

Gallup’s Civic Engagement Index showed Ukraine’s civic participation reaching its highest level during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020–2021) . In 2021, the AidData report notes, 47% of Ukrainians reported donating to charity, 24% volunteered with an organization, and over 75% reported helping a stranger. Ukrainians were thus poised to quickly rally together to resist Russian aggression. The report offers a reminder for Western governments intent on trying to counter the spread of illiberalism around the globe: “There is a broader lesson here that reverberates far beyond Ukraine: investing early in a robust civil society is not just an optional ‘extra’ but fundamental to a society’s ability to deter, withstand, and repel the destructive intent of an external aggressor in times of peace and war.”

significantly and revenues rose from 46 million Forints to 212 million in a year. And what could be the secret to the new mine’s success? According to some, it’s because Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s nephew, Dávid Orbán, became a co-owner of the company together with a Győr lawyer, Dr. Máté Mürkl, just before the mine opened at the end of 2021.

So there is someone to carry on the Orban’s family mining tradition, and apparently very successfully. To what extent a seemingly harmless weight limit sign on the few hundred meters between Győrzámoly and Győrújfalu, which has just succeeded in making the biggest competitor impossible to reach, has contributed to this is a matter of judgment. But so far no one has refuted the allegations.

Independent MEP Ákos Hadházy believes that this is the first concrete proof that the Orbán family is using the state apparatus to enrich itself.

We asked the Hungarian Public Roads Company, why they only put up a weight limit sign on the few hundred meters of the several kilometers of the renovated section, but they did not respond to our request. We have also not received an answer as to which companies have applied for and received access permits and which have been refused. Dávid Orbán and Máté Mürkl also did not answer our questions, nor did Lajta-Kavics Ltd.

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What’s happening in Latin America

Mexico names 13 protected areas; more to come

Officials have announced the creation of 13 new protected areas across six states in Mexico, putting the country’s list of total federally protected areas at 200.

Mexico introduced six new national parks and seven “flora and fauna protection areas” covering 17,918 hectares (44,276 acres) to be overseen by the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Conanp). The commission said it expects to declare three additional protected areas later on.

“It gives us much pleasure that in this administration…we can leave behind such a grand legacy for the Mexican people,” said secretary of the environment and natural resources María Luisa Albores González at a press conference.

The 85-hectare (210-acre) San Quintin National Park was created in Baja California. The 2,076-hectare (5,129-acre) Nopoló National Park and 6,217-hectare (15,362-acre) Loreto II National Park

Offshore oil plans threaten S. America’s biggest reef

were created in Baja California Sur.

The 4-hectare (9.8-acre) Playa Delfines Flora and Fauna Protection Area, 16-hectare (39-acre) Jacinto Pat Flora and Fauna Protection Area, 37-hectare (91-acre) San Buenaventura Flora and Fauna Protection Area and 10-hectare (24-acre) Cenote Aerolito Flora and Fauna Protection Area were all created in Quintana Roo.

The 2,489-hectare (6,150-acre) Juan M. Banderas Flora and Fauna Protection Area was created in Sinaloa.

The 723-hectare (1,786-acre) Vicente Guerrero National Park and 282-hectare (697-acre) Hermenegildo Galeana Flora and Fauna Protection Area were created in Guerrero.

In the state of Oaxaca, three protected areas were created: the 1,923-hectare (4,751-acre) Bajos de Coyula Flora and Fauna Protection Area, the 2,237-hectare (5,527-

acre) Huatulco II National Park and 1,812-hectare (4,477-acre) Ricardo Flores Magón National Park.

Plans for the management of the new protected areas weren’t available at the time of the announcement.

The wave of new of protected areas came in response to a mandate from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to establish a conservation status in areas with “high environmental value.” Since taking office in 2018, López Obrador’s administration has protected over 4 million hectares (9.8 million acres) of land and water.

“I want to go down in history as the president with the second-most protected reserves created,” López Obrador said earlier this year. “…Lázaro Cárdenas has the first spot. I want to aspire to that.”

Santana | Translated by Matty Rose | First published by Agência Pública under CC BY-ND 4.0

Business leaders and local government officials in Brazil are relishing the opportunity to extract up to 30 billion barrels of oil from offshore deposits off the northeastern state of Maranhão.

But the location is also home to the largest coral reef formation in South America, the Parcel de Manuel Luís. Parcel de Manuel Luís Marine State Park hosts a number of endemic species, including those at risk of extinction, and is considered one of the most stunning reef environments in South America. Oil drilling in the region would also pose a threat to the longest continuous stretch of mangrove in the world, which runs from the Maranhão coastline to the northern state of Amapá.

In December 2019, IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental protection agency, recommended that eight blocks from the

oilfields of the Pará-Maranhão Basin be removed from the auction being conducted at the time by Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency. It cited the “environmental infeasibility of activities that create the risk of oil spills along the coast of Pará and Maranhão and on the Parcel de Manuel Luís [coral reef].”

The risks of such activities were reaffirmed in February 2020 by Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Environment. The decision to block oil exploration in the area remains in force, pending the completion of more detailed environmental studies and the issuance of an environmental report on the blocks in the basin.

Despite this, state-owned oil company Petrobras and several private oil companies have continued to downplay the risks and are pressuring environmental agencies to award the licenses needed to commence exploration.

Allan Kardec Duailibe Barros Filho, president of Gasmar, a mixed-capital gas company in Maranhão and the state

government’s go-to person on the topic, is among those pushing for a decision from IBAMA.

“The chances of a spill, going by Brazil’s track record in the exploration phase, is zero. It has never happened. Environmental laws in Brazil are too strict. Nowadays, no company even dares to dream of causing a spill, because its shares would collapse. This story [of the potential for a spill] is a narrative that is trying to be imposed,” Kardec said.

Alexandre Costa, a professor at Ceará State University, sees it otherwise: “Any type of oil operation creates enormous imbalances. There is no such thing as a risk-free oil operation.”

Costa said that, contrary to Kardec’s claims, the imbalances can be observed from as early on as in the prospecting phase, when studies are conducted to identify the submerged oilfields.

“The techniques used [in this phase], such as seismic [blasting], for example, affect animals that depend on echolocation, and this destabilizes the lives of a →

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The Huatulco National Park is on the west coast of Oaxaca. (Daniel Lobo / Flickr / CC0 1.0)

Indigenous leaders: Mayan justice for corrupt officials

by Regina Pérez | Translated by Rowan Glass | First published by Prensa Comunitaria under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Indigenous authorities from different communities in Guatemala have symbolically applied Xik’ay, or ancestral Mayan justice, to officials considered corrupt. Among them are Attorney General Consuelo Porras, the head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (FECI) Rafael Curruchiche, and Judge Fredy Orellana.

On August 20, 2023, sociologist and ex-diplomat Bernardo Arévalo of the progressive Movimiento Semilla party won the Guatemalan presidency by a wide margin, marking the beginning of a new era in a country that has otherwise been characterized by democratic backsliding and attacks against critical voices. However, his party is now in the cross hairs of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which is investigating potential irregularities in the gathering of the signatures necessary for the formation of Movimiento Semilla several years ago. Both the prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Rafael Curruchiche, and the judge who ordered the suspension, Fredy Orellana, are on a list of corrupt actors compiled by the United States. Guate-

number of animals that rely on it,” Costa said.

Kardec, who is also a professor at the Federal University of Maranhão and former director of the National Petroleum Agency, was the lead author of a scientific study, supported by the Federation of Industries of the State of Maranhão, that “indicated the possible existence of 20-30 billion barrels of oil in Risked Prospective Recoverable Resources (as defined by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE, and the World Petroleum Congresses, WPC).”

A technical paper published by the researchers also said that, “in the event of any oil spill (minimum probability for an exploratory well),” the mangrove forests of Amapá and Pará wouldn’t be polluted “because Brazil’s Northern Current is very strong and would carry any floating material into a vortex in the middle of the equatorial Atlantic Ocean.”

But Jorge Nunes, a fellow professor at the Federal University of Maranhão, said the argument put forward by the researchers is a dangerous one.

mala’s electoral authorities temporarily blocked Semilla’s suspension, but Arévalo has denounced ongoing attempts to prevent him from assuming his mandate.

For many Guatemalans, these are unwarranted attacks against the president-elect and his party. With a ceremony performed before the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), the Indigenous authorities performed this act, under the energies of Jun T’zi, an appropriate day in the Indigenous cosmovision for the application of Mayan justice to the operators of justice, public servants, and officials who, in their opinion, have been responsible for consolidating corruption in Guatemala.

In Guatemala, about 40% of the population identifies as Indigenous, composed of 23 different ethnicities. Through Indigenous movements and organizations, they have sought greater political representation and the promotion of their interests in a context in which they have historically faced socioeconomic challenges and discrimination. One Indigenous leader, Thelma Cabrera, tried to seek the presidency in these elections, but a court banned her candidacy, together with other progressive candidates.

Sebastiana Par, an ancestral authority of the Maya K’iche’, indicated that in her community, when a person steals a chicken or an ear of corn, they face justice. “That’s why we are calling on all author-

“This is a surface-level current, but how would it work on the ocean floor? Are there other circulation patterns?” Nunes said. “On its own, the current is not going to be enough to save the coral reef or the longest continuous mangrove forest on the planet [which lies on the same coastline].”

Vital nursery at risk of extinction

Established under a state decree in 1991, Parcel de Manuel Luís Marine State Park spans 45,238 hectares (111,785 acres) and is vital for the survival of 53 species that are at risk of extinction in the Pará-Maranhão Basin. This is almost double the number of at-risk species recorded in the Amazon Basin (27), with 25% of them categorized as critically endangered (13 species). Another 15% (eight species) are categorized as endangered and the rest (32 species) as vulnerable.

Responsibility for the marine park’s management and environmental monitoring lies with the Maranhão state government’s environment secretary. In an interview with Agência Pública, the secretary’s superintendent for biodiversity

ities on the national level to also apply justice, not just to people who steal corn, but to these corrupt politicians who are robbing the country of its life, robbing the next generations of their future,” she said.

Alida Vicente of the Indigenous Mayor’s Office of Palín, Escuintla, suggested that the use of Xik’ay is due to the fact that officials have failed to fulfill their mandates and have acted irresponsibly in their positions, in addition to bearing responsibility for weakening democracy and failing to observe the rule of law.

“According to the principles and values of our worldview, we observe K’ixib’al (shame), a principle that these officials do not have, and they are responsible for the injustice which is lived in Guatemala today,” they mentioned in a press release. Par explained that in the Mayan justice system, applying Xik’ay involves a process, starting with the Pixab, which means advice, to prevent problems or conflicts.

Then they proceed to dialogue and listen, but if the person does not understand, one of the sanctions is Xik’ay, for which quince or willow branches are used. They are applied to the person’s body “to reactivate their energy or to straighten their path, as a corrective measure.”

and protected areas, Laís de Morais Rêgo Silva, denied that the potential exploration of oil posed any risk to the park.

“There are just two blocks that are available for auction that have a closer proximity [to the park], but with a certain distance,” Silva said. He added projects of this type are subject to environmental impact assessments that use modeling for possible oil spills “that don’t even exist yet.”

For Costa, who holds a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences, even if there were no risk of oil spills, the expansion of the production of fossil fuels, responsible for further accelerating global warming, would be a lethal blow to the entirety of the coral reefs that make Brazil’s equatorial region an essential asset for the preservation of marine life.

“This could have extremely serious consequences for marine life,” he said, “and not only that, as we know that many human lives depend on marine life, for fishing and ecotourism.”

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What’s happening in North America

Thousands of temporary foreign workers can now study in Canada

When he first arrived in Canada from Ukraine last December, 19-year-old Ivan was faced with the choice of getting a work permit or applying to study here.

Like many of the roughly 200,000 Ukrainians who have come here under the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel scheme (CUAET), his main priority was to get a job and survive in a new country. He opted for a work permit, but soon had second thoughts.

For about four months, Ivan worked in Vancouver at survival jobs for 60-70 hours per week. He saved some money during this time, but he realized that to get a skilled and well-paid job in Canada you need a local education.

At the time, the process of obtaining a study permit for longer than six months

NYC rolls out anti-subway surfing campaign


Social media companies have yanked thousands of subway surfing videos and photos offline in recent months — at the request of New York’s City Hall and the MTA — as part of a new campaign to discourage kids from riding outside of trains, officials announced Tuesday.

Subway surfing has, according to the MTA, resulted in five fatalities this year — the same number of total deaths from 2018 to 2022 — as social media has fueled a rise in reckless behavior.

Standing beneath the elevated 33rd Street stop along the No. 7 line in Queens, Mayor Eric Adams blamed the “overproliferation” of daredevil posts on online platforms for driving behavior that is more dangerous than when he was a kid.

“The difference of now and then is that when I did something dumb, it stayed on the block, it stayed to 35 people,” Adams said. “Now these children, when they do something, it expands to 35 million people.”

was lengthy. Applicants needed to apply for authorization by providing comprehensive information on their study program. It could take several months.

At the end of March, Ivan decided he would apply for a two-year graphic design diploma course at Vancouver Community College. But it started in May, and he wasn’t confident there would be enough time to secure his study permit.

Based on advice from the forums of Ukrainian immigrants in Canada, Ivan flew out of Canada and back again, requesting a study permit at the airport as a Ukrainian under the CUAET scheme. He was refused, as he already had a valid work permit. The border officer advised him to apply through regular channels.

Ivan did so and got the necessary documents a few days before his course began. His story ended well, but a lot of time and nervous energy was wasted.

Thousands of immigrants who come to Canada have found themselves in a similar situation. Many do not have the ability

Adams joined MTA, NYPD and Department of Education officials to launch the “Ride Inside, Stay Alive” campaign, which also incorporates social media companies into flagging clips and images of daredevils riding on top of trains.

In June, 14-year-old Jevon Fraser was killed at the Sunnyside station after tumbling off a train car atop the No. 7.

“We’ve all seen the videos posted on social media too many times, followed by headlines announcing that yet another young person has lost their life while riding outside of a subway car,” Janno Lieber, MTA chairman and CEO said. “When we see that, it’s heartbreaking, we all feel it.”

In the first six months of 2023, there were more than 450 instances of people riding outside of trains, according to MTA data. That’s down from 565 in the same time period last year — but a more than 70% increase from 2019, when there were 262 such reports.

THE CITY reported in February there were 928 reports last year of people riding outside of trains, a 366% jump from 2020, when subway ridership plummeted at the start of the pandemic.

and time to go through the lengthy application process and get stuck for years in a loop of low-skilled and survival jobs. Over time, the ambitions with which they came to start a new life in Canada give way to the daily work routine, and the prospects for success remain distant. But in June, Sean Fraser, the then-immigration minister, announced a new temporary measure that removed the limit on the length of study programs that temporary foreign workers could enroll in without a study permit.

The temporary measure will be in place for the next three years. Foreign workers can study full-time or part-time while their work permits are valid or until the expiration of the policy. However, if a foreign worker wishes to study longer than the duration of their work permit, they still need to apply for a study permit.

“This immigration measure helps employers, workers, and our economy by addressing critical labor shortages,” Fraser said

According to Aleksandr Piven, a lawyer who helps Ukrainian immigrants in Ontario process different permits in Canada, this is a temporary measure to avoid the flood of applications for study permits.

There were two deaths tied to subway surfing in 2022, according to the New York Post. Both of them were teenagers.

Social Push

“The innocence of exploration, of being youthful, is now being turned against our children and our young people because of the overproliferation of social media and we have to notice this,” Adams said.

Lieber hailed Google, Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram), Snapchat and TikTok for developing algorithms that flag subway surfing content and for sharing “content that affirmatively discourages this kind of behavior.”

“In the short time that we’ve been working together, we’ve already seen them take down 2,600 photos and videos,” Lieber said. “That’s amazing work and I have to give credit and kudos to each of these companies.”

A Meta spokesperson told THE CITY that the company is improving the technology used to detect harmful content on its apps and making potentially sensitive material harder to find, while a representative for TikTok said the video-sharing app will “promptly remove dangerous content like subway surfing.” →

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Ohio voters reject bill that hinders abortion rights

Ohio voters rejected an effort that would have made it harder to pass citizen-led ballot initiatives, in a rebuke of Republican efforts to block an expansion of abortion rights that’s on the ballot in November.

Issue 1, which would have raised the threshold to pass citizen-led ballot measures from a simple majority to a 60% threshold, failed. The “no” vote led by about a 13-point margin.

The vote was a defeat for anti-abortion advocates and GOP lawmakers, who scheduled the special election in part to thwart the passage of a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution.

Liz Walters, chair of the Ohio Democrats, criticized how GOP leaders put the measure on the ballot as “remarkably cynical.”

“They put this issue on the August ballot kind of taking a bet that most Ohioans weren’t going to pay attention and weren’t going to see this as the naked power grab

Adams said social media companies may have been moved after listening to loved ones of kids who have died from subway surfing.

“We called on them over and over again,” he said. “I think they heard us and they heard the voices of parents who lost loved ones.”

Maritza Santos, whose 14-year-old son, Eric Rivera, died while subway surfing in 2019, told THE CITY that the safety message needs to sink in among teenagers and their parents.

“It’s too late for me, but hopefully not for other families,” she said.

Her son died in November 2019 after riding with friends atop a No. 7 train and falling near Queensboro Plaza. His mother told THE CITY that “about a week” before Eric’s death, she had spotted him in a subway surfing video clip.

“I pray and hope that this will encourage teens to stop this reckless behavior,” Santos said. “But there is still so much that needs to be done besides taking down these videos from social media companies.”

Elvis Suarez, 21, of Jamaica, said he

that it is,” Walters said. “But I think that’s backfiring on them.”

Issue 1 would have had far-reaching consequences for Ohio’s over 100-yearold citizen-led initiative process. In addition to raising the threshold to pass citizen-led initiatives, Issue 1 would have imposed new barriers to getting them on the ballot in the first place. The measure would have required initiative campaigns to get signatures from all 88 Ohio counties instead of 44 and taken away the window for voters to contest signatures thrown out by the secretary of state.

Republican leaders behind the amendment include Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a candidate for US Senate in 2024 who has made the amendment a central issue in his campaign. LaRose told fellow Republicans in May that Issue 1 is “100%” aimed at blocking the passage of what he called a “radical, pro-abortion amendment.”

The amendment on Ohio’s ballot in

thinks of one thing whenever he sees people riding on top of the No. 7 train during his travels: “It’s very stupid.”

An Eye for Safety

As part of the “Ride Inside, Stay Alive” campaign, straphangers will hear station announcements telling people to not ride outside of trains and see MetroCards pushing the public safety slogan. The ads were designed by students of The Art and Design High School in Manhattan through a summer program.

Milana Blokhina, who just graduated from the school and now studies graphic design at the School of Visual Art, was one of five students who spent end of summer working on the safety initiative. She said the team brainstormed on different slogans and images for weeks before they were revealed Tuesday.

“It is happening now and it is an issue that needs to be solved as soon as possible because lives are at stake,” said Blokhina, who lives in Sheepshead Bay. “We’re hoping that we’ll be saving lives with this campaign.”

THE CITY ( is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.

November would establish an affirmative right to abortion and other reproductive health care, including pregnancy care, miscarriage care and contraception. It’s modeled after a constitutional amendment Michigan voters passed with 57% of the vote in the 2022 midterms. While recent polls have shown a majority of voters support the Ohio abortion amendment, passing an amendment with 60% of the vote would be a much more difficult task for organizers than a simple majority.

Democratic Rep. Shontel Brown said Tuesday’s vote left her “cautiously optimistic” for November.

“The good news is this was not solely a one-sided, one-party outcome as relates to Issue 1. This was both Republicans and Democrats alike who showed up to vote Issue 1 down,” Brown said. “As it relates to November, that is going to require us to do some digging, see where our strengths are.”

Supporters of Issue 1 also argued it would limit outside influence and special-interest spending in citizen-led initiative campaigns. The battle over Issue 1 has drawn over $35 million in spending, much coming from out-of-state groups, the Ohio Capital Journal reported. Most of the funding for Protect Our Constitution, a pro-Issue 1 group, has come from a single out-of-state GOP donor, Illinois shipping magnate Richard Uihlein.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, an anti-abortion group, laid the blame for Issue 1’s failure on “the silence of the establishment and the business community in Ohio” in a statement after the vote.

Abortion in Ohio is currently legal up to 22 weeks, while a six-week ban passed by Republican lawmakers remains on hold in the courts. Ohio could prove especially critical to abortion access in the Midwest. Lawmakers in nearby states like Indiana and Iowa have passed new abortion bans that are currently blocked by courts but could eventually go into effect.

“Ohio is now the center, the battleground state for abortion rights in this country, and we take that responsibility very seriously,” Walters said. “And we know that there’s a lot at stake here, most importantly for Ohio women, but also for women all over this country.”

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Ohio voters held many protests against Issue 1 (Paul Becker / Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

What’s happening in Oceania

A divided Australia will vote on the most significant Indigenous rights referendum in 50 years

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced an October 14 date for a national referendum on whether to amend the Constitution to establish a new advisory body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Called the “Voice to Parliament”, the new body would provide advice and make representations to parliament and the government on any issues relating to First Nations people.

The Voice to Parliament has been toted as a vital step toward redressing Australia’s painful history of discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, has said it would also remedy a “long legacy” of failed policies on a variety of issues, from the over-representation of First Nations people in the prison system to poorer outcomes for First Nations people in health, employment and education.

The Voice represents a new approach. Initially proposed in a document called the Uluru Statement from the Heart following a First Nations constitutional convention in 2017, the Voice would be enshrined in the Constitution to ensure it would have a permanent presence and role in Australian government. This is why a referendum is needed –and why this particular one has been so fiercely debated for years.

Decades of efforts toward equality

In order for a constitutional referendum to be successful, it must garner a majority of votes nationally, as well as a majority of votes in a majority of states (this means four of the six states). Votes in Australia’s two territories – the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory –will count toward the national vote count but not toward the majority of states requirement.

Referendums don’t pass frequently. Only eight out of 44 previous referendums

have passed in the country’s history.

The last time Australia voted on a referendum dealing with Indigenous affairs was in 1967.

This referendum made two things possible: the Commonwealth could count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the national census and make laws with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The referendum passed by a huge margin.

for change, emphasizing how governments have consistently failed First Nations communities across the country. They say better policy decisions result from local communities being heard on matters that affect them. To secure support from a mostly non-Indigenous population, the campaign also presents the Voice as an opportunity for all Australians to come together in support of recognition and democratic renewal. Arguments against the Voice have been made on two different grounds.

Independent Senator Lidia Thorpe, a DjabWurrung, Gunnai and Gunditjmara woman, has argued the Voice is a powerless advisory body. She has called for the government to pursue a treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people instead.

However, treaty processes can take many years to progress. For example, the state of Victoria began a treaty process with First Nations people in 2018 and negotiations are only just about to commence. The official “no” campaign, led by the conservative opposition parties, has depicted the proposed Voice as a body for elites in Canberra, the nation’s capital, which would be divisive for the country and prone to judicial overreach. “Yes” campaigners contend many of the “no” arguments are misinformation.

With the government able to make laws about First Nations people for the first time, it ensured they would be protected by the Racial Discrimination Act that was passed in 1975. This act prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and access to public facilities, such as swimming pools, cinemas and shops.

But for all the 1967 referendum made possible, progress has been slow.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up a very small minority of the overall Australian population (less than 4%), so the right to vote has not always ensured political representation.

Although there are currently 11 Aboriginal members of parliament, they cannot represent all Aboriginal people. And there have yet to be any representatives at the Commonwealth level from the Torres Strait Islands (an archipelago between Australia and Papua New Guinea).

The “yes” and “no” campaigns In the lead-up to this year’s referendum, the nation has been split along a stark “yes” and “no” divide.

The “yes” campaign has declared it’s time

The significance of the vote

Even after 1967, it remains clear that existing voting rights and political institutions alone cannot represent the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the federal government. Internationally, other countries have attempted to create improved political participation and government accountability for Indigenous peoples. In New Zealand, for example, there is designated Māori representation in the parliament. In Scandinavia, the Sámi parliament represents seven Indigenous nations across Finland, Norway and Sweden. In Canada, First Nations people have both “first-contact” treaties that were negotiated upon European arrival, as well as modern treaties.

The 2023 referendum is the first occasion Australia has considered how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be meaningfully represented in the federal government. Whatever the outcome of the referendum, it will send a powerful message to rest of the world about how Australians view their country.

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The Voice would be an advisory body of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people (Andrew Arch / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0)

Reimagining Pacific tourism by thinking local

“We are lucky COVID happened,” a female elder in Fiji told researchers from Massey University.

“It has been good to spend time and teach my children and grandchildren … share skills of weaving, cooking outdoors and gathering food.”

Pacific islanders were hit hard when the pandemic closed down borders, putting a halt on global tourism. But there were silver linings for the community.

“[We] would say to each other…isn’t it nice? Not having tourists around? We have the whole beach to ourselves!”, a Cook Island elder said.

Pacific destinations re-opened their borders with much fanfare and enthusiasm from governments and resort managers alike. Tourists have been assured of a warm welcome from their hosts.

Pacific Island nation people have served the tourism industry — and tourists — very well for the past few decades. But local perspectives and voices have largely been ignored, allowing resort-style tourism owned by external companies to grow unchallenged in many places.

Pacific communities protest Japan’s release of treated nuclear water

In rebuilding the industry more sustainably, the discussions could be turned around: how can tourism better serve the interests of Pacific people, rather than continue on the same trajectory?

When borders closed, profit-driven investors closed up shop and tourism-dependent communities were largely left to fend for themselves. As a response, Pacific people sought out a range of social, cultural, natural and virtual capital. Diversified their economic activities and improved their food security.

People’s adaptation in the face of a crisis and a lack of wage subsidies showed tourism and money are not the be-all and end-all. Culture was at the heart of their survival and adaptive strategies.

Traditional structures and societal characteristics supported Pacific people’s resilience. They felt the need to support one another better in an environment where — in many cases — foreign economic domination, inequitable benefits and job insecurity have been the norm for some time.

Rather than bouncing back to business-as-usual, we could listen to Pacific Islander on what is best for themselves, valuing their agency and aspirations.

Researchers found Pacific island communities’ feel their needs and interests have been neglected in the past. In 1975, Fijian

economic planner John Samy wrote that workers in the tourism sector only receive “crumbs from the table”, and it seems as though not much has changed.

People want jobs that allow them to earn a fair wage. The tourism worker wage in Fiji is currently between NZ$2.00 to NZ$2.50 per hour and has remained relatively stagnant since 2006. This is despite tourists paying an average of NZ$400-500 a night for a hotel room.

Many people felt abandoned by their employers when the pandemic struck, left to ‘sink or swim’ when major businesses shut up shop. A greater level of protection is needed by tourism employees, who often have to weather the ups and downs of seasonality in the sector, cyclones, floods and other shocks. Affordable insurance schemes, more robust trade union savings platforms, along with tourism provident funds, could provide a level of protection to tourism employees.

Many would appreciate more opportunities for professional development within their jobs. Many have also said they no longer want to spend most of their waking hours working in tourism. Research has affirmed that time for family, culture, community, and the gardens planted during long periods of border closures, are important. This is not just for surviving the pandemic, but for also when the next shock hits.

Mong Palatino | First published by Global Voices under CC BY 4.0

Protests were organized across Oceania after Japan started releasing treated water from the decommissioned Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.

The 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant contaminated the groundwater. It hasnbeen collected, treated, and stored onsite ever since.

On August 24, Japan started discharging treated water amid lingering concern about the damage it may cause. Operator TEPCO said the water has a “negligible” impact on the environment, citing the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Pacific Islands Forum said it will continue engaging with Japan for more information and transparency, although it is divided on whether it will support or reject the release of treated water.

But for Pacific environment groups, the dumping of treated water is tantamount to destroying marine life and the future of the region. Justice Pacific’s statement reflects this popular sentiment among non-government organizations:

“The implications of Japan’s decision to dispose of nuclear waste water in such a manner are far-reaching and potentially catastrophic. It not only poses a severe threat to marine life and ecosystems but also raises serious concerns about the health and safety of Pacific communities that depend on these waters for their livelihoods and sustenance.”

In Fiji, hundreds protested the move. The Pacific Feminist Community of Practice warned of potential radiation exposure: “Japan’s actions in releasing radioactive waste water from the Fukushima nuclear disaster into the Pacific ocean is adding to intergenerational burdens for our region. The science is in, no matter what this violent and poisonous industry says. There is no safe dose of radiation.”

At the protest, community leaders men-

tioned the painful experience of Pacific islands which became nuclear testing grounds of developed countries like the United States and France. The same communities face heightened risk linked to the harsh impact of climate change. Protesters also chanted: “If it is safe, dump it in Tokyo! If it is safe, test it in Paris! If it is safe, store it in Washington! But keep our Pacific nuclear free!”

Dr. Marco de Jong, a Sāmoan New Zealander and Pacific historian, told e-Tangata magazine that science is being used to silence voices of dissent in the Pacific.

“To suggest that Pacific people are approaching this unscientifically is a supreme form of colonial gaslighting that diminishes our collective rights, our rights to self-determination, and our proper concern for intergenerational impacts,” he said. “It’s simply untrue and leans into racist stereotypes — that as Pacific people, we’re not capable of understanding complex issues. When, really, we know our rights and we know that this is a trans-boundary harm issue.”

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Billionaire Harlan Crow Bought Property From Clarence Thomas. The Justice Didn’t Disclose

the Deal.

In 2014, one of Texas billionaire Harlan Crow’s companies purchased a string of properties on a quiet residential street in Savannah, Georgia. It wasn’t a marquee acquisition for the real estate magnate, just an old single-story home and two vacant lots down the road. What made it noteworthy were the people on the other side of the deal: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his relatives.

The transaction marks the first known instance of money flowing from the Republican megadonor to the Supreme Court justice. The Crow company bought the properties for $133,363 from three co-owners — Thomas, his mother and the family of Thomas’ late brother, according to a state tax document and a deed dated Oct. 15, 2014, filed at the Chatham County courthouse.

The purchase put Crow in an unusual position: He now owned the house where the justice’s elderly mother was living. Soon after the sale was completed, contractors began work on tens of thousands of dollars of improvements on the two-bedroom, one-bathroom home, which looks out onto a patch of orange trees. The renovations included a carport, a repaired roof and a new fence and gates, according to city permit records and blueprints.

A federal disclosure law passed after Watergate requires justices and other officials to disclose the details of most real estate sales over $1,000. Thomas never disclosed his sale of the Savannah properties. That appears to be a violation of the law, four ethics law experts told ProPublica.

The disclosure form Thomas filed for that year also had a space to report the identity of the buyer in any private transaction, such as a real estate deal. That space is blank.

“He needed to report his interest in the sale,” said Virginia Canter, a former government ethics lawyer now at the watchdog group CREW. “Given the role Crow has played in subsidizing the lifestyle of Thomas and his wife, you have to wonder if this was an effort to put cash in their


Thomas did not respond to detailed questions for this story.

In a statement, Crow said he purchased Thomas’ mother’s house, where Thomas spent part of his childhood, to preserve it for posterity. “My intention is to one day create a public museum at the Thomas home dedicated to telling the story of our nation’s second black Supreme Court Justice,” he said. “I approached the Thomas family about my desire to maintain this historic site so future generations could learn about the inspiring life of one of our greatest Americans.”

Crow’s statement did not directly address why he also bought two vacant lots from Thomas down the street. But he wrote that “the other lots were later sold to a vetted builder who was committed to improving the quality of the neighborhood and preserving its historical integrity.”

ProPublica also asked Crow about the additions on Thomas’ mother’s house, like the new carport. “Improvements were also made to the Thomas property to preserve its long-term viability and accessibility to the public,” Crow said. Ethics law experts said Crow’s intentions had no bearing on Thomas’ legal obligation to disclose the sale.

The justice’s failure to report the transaction suggests “Thomas was hiding a financial relationship with Crow,” said Kathleen Clark, a legal ethics expert at Washington University in St. Louis who reviewed years of Thomas’ disclosure filings.

There are a handful of carve-outs in the disclosure law. For example, if someone sells “property used solely as a personal residence of the reporting individual or the individual’s spouse,” they don’t need to report it. Experts said the exemptions

clearly did not apply to Thomas’ sale. The revelation of a direct financial transaction between Thomas and Crow casts their relationship in a new light. ProPublica reported last week that Thomas has accepted luxury travel from Crow virtually every year for decades, including private jet flights, international cruises on the businessman’s superyacht and regular stays at his private resort in the Adirondacks. Crow has long been influential in conservative politics and has spent millions on efforts to shape the law and the judiciary. The story prompted outcry and calls for investigations from Democratic lawmakers.

In response to that reporting, both Thomas and Crow released statements downplaying the significance of the gifts. Thomas also maintained that he wasn’t required to disclose the trips.

“Harlan and Kathy Crow are among our dearest friends,” Thomas wrote. “As friends do, we have joined them on a number of family trips.” Crow told ProPublica that his gifts to Thomas were “no different from the hospitality we have extended to our many other dear friends.”

It’s unclear if Crow paid fair market value for the Thomas properties. Crow also bought several other properties on the street and paid significantly less than his deal with the Thomases. One example: In 2013, he bought a pair of properties on the same block — a vacant lot and a small house — for a total of $40,000.

The block in Savannah, Georgia, where Texas billionaire Harlan Crow bought

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ProPublica found long-running link between Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and billionaire developer Harlan Crow (Stetson University / Flickr / CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)

property from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Today, the vacant lots Thomas sold to Crow have been replaced by two-story homes. Credit: Octavio Jones for ProPublica

In his statement, Crow said his company purchased the properties “at market rate based on many factors including the size, quality, and livability of the dwellings.”

He did not respond to requests to provide documentation or details of how he arrived at the price.

Thomas was born in the coastal hamlet of Pin Point, outside Savannah. He later moved to the city, where he spent part of his childhood in his grandfather’s home on East 32nd Street.

“It had hardwood floors, handsome furniture, and an indoor bathroom, and we knew better than to touch anything,” Thomas wrote of the house in his memoir, “My Grandfather’s Son.”

He inherited his stake in that house and two other properties on the block following the death of his grandfather in 1983, according to records on file at the Chatham County courthouse. He shared ownership with his brother and his mother, Leola Williams. In the late 1980s, when Thomas was an official in the George H.W. Bush administration, he listed the addresses of the three properties in a disclosure filing. He reported that he had a one-third interest in them.

Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1991. By the early 2000s, he had stopped listing specific addresses of property he owned in his disclosures. But he continued to report holding a one-third interest in what he described as “rental property at ## 1, 2, & 3” in Savannah. He valued his stake in the properties at $15,000 or less.

Two of the houses were torn down around 2010, according to property records and a footnote in Thomas’ annual disclosure archived by Free Law Project.

In 2014, the Thomas family sold the vacant lots and the remaining East 32nd Street house to one of Crow’s companies. The justice signed the paperwork personally. His signature was notarized by an administrator at the Supreme Court, Perry Thompson, who did not respond to a request for comment. (The deed was signed on the 23rd anniversary of Thomas’ Oct. 15 confirmation to the Supreme Court. Crow has a Senate roll call sheet from the confirmation vote in his private

Thomas’ financial disclosure for that year is detailed, listing everything from a “stained glass medallion” he received from Yale to a life insurance policy. But he failed to report his sale to Crow.

First image: Thomas’ signature on the deed for his deal with Crow. Second image: A 2014 photograph shows the vacant lots that Crow bought from Thomas. Credit: First image: Chatham County Superior Court. Second image: Chatham County Metropolitan Planning Commission.

Crow purchased the properties through a recently formed Texas company called Savannah Historic Developments LLC. The company shares an address in Dallas with Crow Holdings, the centerpiece of his real estate empire. Its formation documents were signed by Crow Holdings’ general counsel. Business records filed with the Texas secretary of state say Savannah

Historic Developments is managed by a Delaware LLC, HRC Family Branch GP, an umbrella company that also covers other Crow assets like his private jet. The Delaware company’s CEO is Harlan Crow.

A Crow Holdings company soon began paying the roughly $1,500 in annual property taxes on Thomas’ mother’s house, according to county tax records. The taxes had previously been paid by Clarence and Ginni Thomas.

Crow still owns Thomas’ mother’s home, which the now-94-year-old continued to live in through at least 2020, according to public records and social media. Two neighbors told ProPublica she still lives there. Crow did not respond to questions about whether he has charged her rent. Soon after Crow purchased the house, an award-winning local architecture firm received permits to begin $36,000 of improvements.

Drawings illustrate some of the improvements made to Thomas’ mother’s home

after Crow bought it. Credit: Obtained by ProPublica

Crow’s purchases seem to have played a role in transforming the block. The billionaire eventually sold most of the other properties he bought to new owners who built upscale modern homes, including the two vacant lots he purchased from Thomas.

Clarence Thomas Defends Undisclosed “Family Trips” With GOP Megadonor. Here Are the Facts.

Crow also bought the house immediately next door to Thomas’ mother, which was owned by somebody else and had been known for parties and noise, according to property records and W. John Mitchell, former president of a nearby neighborhood association. Soon the house was torn down. “It was an eyesore,” Mitchell said. “One day miraculously all of them were put out of there and they scraped it off the earth.”

“The surrounding properties had fallen into disrepair and needed to be demolished for health and safety reasons,” Crow said in his statement. He added that his company built one new house on the block “and made it available to a local police officer.”

Today, the block is composed of a dwindling number of longtime elderly homeowners and a growing population of young newcomers. The vacant lots that the Thomas family once owned have been replaced by pristine two-story homes. An artisanal coffee shop and a Mediterranean bistro are within walking distance. Down the street, a multicolored pride flag blows in the wind.

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Clarence Thomas spent part of his childhood on East 32nd Street in Savannah, Georgia (davegis / Mapillary / CC BY-SA 4.0)

In Roraima, Indigenous communities forge sustainable solutions amid threats

Under the scorching sun and blue sky, the freshly weeded cassava fields offer no shade to hide in this piece of the Amazon Rainforest. It’s winter, time for planting. As the days go by, most in excess of 30° Celsius (86° Fahrenheit), heavy rains to come will make the seeds sprout.

The cassava crops through which Maria Loreta Pascoal now walks are the livelihood of the Indigenous community of Novo Paraíso, where she has been the tuxaua, or chief, since being elected in late 2022. “All of us in the community are farmers,” Pascoal tells Mongabay. “This is how we cultivate our subsistence.”

Life in Novo Paraíso, located in the Manoá-Pium Indigenous Territory in the Brazilian state of Roraima, relies heavily on the production and trade of cassava flour. Some nine months from today, the cassava plants that now barely scrape the tuxaua’s heels will be ready for harvesting and handling.

Demarcated and homologated, or officially recognized by presidential decree, in 1982, Manoá-Pium covers an area of less than 44,000 hectares (109,000 acres). It’s home to seven communities with a combined population of more than 3,900 people, all of whom depend on family farming.

On the hour-long drive from Boa Vista, capital of Roraima, to Novo Paraíso, changes in the landscape are striking. Most of the preserved areas along the road are covered by the lavrado, a savanna-like vegetation. Pascoal’s community, however, is an exception: it’s coated in tall, thick, dark-green trees — what you’d imagine on hearing the word “rainforest.”

However, the most distinct variations are perceptible when crossing monocultures. Besides the visible contrast between the homogenous farms and the vibrant forest, differences in the temperature and air quality are palpable: the air is dry and the heat feels arid on the skin when driving alongside the monocultures.

Like other Indigenous lands in Roraima, Manoá-Piuam was demarcated in what’s known in the state as an island format. Rather than being composed of a large, contiguous swath of territory, these lands are small and encompass only a

few communities, separated from one another and surrounded by monoculture plantations.

A couple of decades ago, acacia plantations were the region’s leading cause of land conflicts, silting up rivers and streams and contaminating the air and the land with pesticides. Today, most of the monocultures in the Serra da Lua region, where the Manoá-Pium Indigenous territory is located, are either soy or corn.

“The savanna-like vegetation that covers most of the region favors the cultivation of grains,” Lúcio Keury Galdino, a geography professor at the Federal University of Roraima and author of three books on the geohistory of the state, tells Mongabay. “The expansion of agricultural borders brings incalculable negative impacts to the Indigenous communities in the region.”

Residents struggle with these impacts in the Tabalascada Indigenous Territory, 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Novo Paraíso but also in the Serra da Lua region.

“We see the planes spraying pesticides over there, on the other side,” Andreia Machado, president of the local farmers’ association, tells Mongabay. “We can smell it. It’s in the air we breathe. It gives you headaches and nausea, even though you’re not sick. Sometimes, I’m here eating, and there’s a plane flying over our heads.”

At first, all Machado could see was that the “neighbors” were deforesting a large area. “I believe no one in the community knew what exactly was happening there at the time, but when we got a better look, we saw they had already started planting soy and corn,” she says. Now, she says she’s worried about future impacts. “We don’t know what they are using, but we know the wind and the rain will bring all of it into our lands and will affect us.” Monocultures, however, aren’t the only issue afflicting island-demarcated territories. Contrary to the notion popular among right-wing factions in Brazil that “there is too much land for too few indians,” the population growth in these Indigenous communities in the past decades has made both farming and protected lands a scarce resource.

“Around 2005, when our territory was demarcated, we only had a few families, so the land was enough to provide for all of our needs,” Aldenísio Pereira da Silva, a teacher of Indigenous education at Tabalascada, tells Mongabay.

Communities like Tabalascada and Novo Paraíso have been fighting to expand their territories, aiming for the constitutional right to the land and natural resources necessary for both their physical and cultural survival.

Conceiving the future

But the Indigenous communities of Roraima have no time to lose. For these peoples, who have suffered centuries of oppression, the search for sustainable solutions has always been a matter of survival.

“We need to preserve our forests because they are important for our Indigenous culture,” Pascoal says. As she sips her coffee outside the house, the loud roar of groups of guariba monkeys swinging atop nearby trees fills the air.

Since becoming the tuxaua of Novo Paraíso, she’s taken on the job of warning the community about the risks of deforesting new areas for farming. “We have more than enough capoeiras [areas that have already been cleared for planting] which we can reuse for cultivation. By employing them alternately, we will have great harvests that don’t need any chemical additives for decades to come,” she says while pointing to the heaps of decomposing corn, cassava and other organic matter that will enrich the soil.

Demarcated Indigenous territories are the least deforested areas in the Brazilian Amazon. According to a study published

The tuxaua of Novo Paraíso, Maria Loreta Pascoal, says there’s enough cleared land for sustainable rotational farming (Amanda Magnani / Mongabay / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) page

in Nature Sustainability, these protected territories accounted for only 5% of net forest loss between 2000 and 2021, even though they contain more than half of the region’s forest.

In Roraima, the Brazilian state with the highest percentage of Indigenous people in its population, 46% of the area lies within demarcated Indigenous lands. Protecting and managing these territories is an ongoing effort, for which the Indigenous communities of the state developed the Territorial and Environmental Management Plans (PGTAs).

Conceived by the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR) in the early 2000s, when significant Indigenous lands like Raposa Serra do Sol were demarcated after decades of conflict, PGTAs were born from communities’ needs to create strategies to manage the natural resources of the newly secured territories.

“For us, Indigenous people, a PGTA works as a life plan,” Genisvan da Silva, an Indigenous Macuxi and geographic information systems expert at CIR, tells Mongabay. “It is devised to last 20, 30, 50 years. That is how we conceive our future, and that of our territories.”

Before any PGTA is created, Silva says, the community diagnoses its demands and potentials through a collective ethno-mapping process. “Together, the residents will define sacred, productive and preservation areas within the territory,” Silva says. “Each community then elects its main economic activity for the years ahead.”

In Novo Paraíso, the activity elected was cassava flour production. Once roasted and bagged, the flour produced in the community is sold in nearby communities and markets in Boa Vista, where it fetches 8 reais ($1.60) a liter, or about 77 U.S. cents a pint.

“For us, the PGTA is like a mother who will provide support for the other projects in the community,” Pascoal says. “As of today, we have cattle, fish farming and medicinal garden projects that are at a standstill. It is the income from selling cassava flour that will allow us to resume all of them.”

While for Novo Paraíso this is still a midto-long-term goal, the community of Tabalascada has already reached another level of circularity. Nearly all that is produced by the residents, from crops to poultry and fish, is traded and consumed within the community. Last year, the

residents even created a WhatsApp group to sell and buy goods.

A history of resilience and adaptability

Despite achieving success in some initiatives, Indigenous people in Roraima face several challenges. The circular trade in Tabalascada, for instance, may be threatened in the near future. As the population grows, there’s a fear that there will be no room to expand production according to Indigenous traditional ways.

Roraima’s Indigenous peoples also suffer from land grabbing and from a model of territorial domination and exploitation that has prevailed in the region since the 18th century, according to Galdino. “Roraima has always been a coveted territory. It was coveted in the past, and it is coveted in the present,” he says.

Illegal mining has become a more urgent threat in recent decades. Present in the state at least since the 1980s, when it was denounced by the Indigenous leader Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, illegal mining has grown exponentially. In 2022 alone, the last year of Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency, illegal mining in the Yanomami Indigenous territory grew by 54%.

That same year, studies found elevated levels of mercury in rivers across Roraima. The contamination has gotten so severe that consuming the fish caught in these rivers has become a health hazard.

Machado says she can recall when the first signs of contamination started to appear in the community of Tabalascada, long before the first studies came to light. “In the past, the fish we caught early in the morning were still good by noon. Now, between catching the fish and bringing them home, they already start to rot,” she says.

Fish, alongside cassava flour, is a staple of the local diet. The community needed an alternative.

Since 2017, Machado and her husband, Deodato Leocadio da Silva Filho, along with five other members of the farmers’

association, have been cultivating fish in a pond behind the couple’s house. “The pond, which was actually excavated by my father in 2009, sits in an area where there is a small headspring,” Silva tells Mongabay.

He says it’s been a years-long learning process to get the fish farming to where it is today. “The first time we tried to raise fish, we put more than 2,000 fry in the pond, and almost all of them died from lack of space,” Silva says.

Today, not only is fish farming an answer to the problem of how to eat healthy fish, it’s also become a source of income for the family.

Profits, however, have never been the main goal of this endeavor. “Our focus is on feeding our family and the community,” Silva says. On the table where breakfast is served, an insulated box preserves the fish caught the afternoon before. In a few minutes, Tabalascada’s tuxaua will arrive to collect them — a contribution for the community’s mothers’ day lunch.

As Silva prepares coffee in the dark kitchen, illuminated by a single feeble lamp, the heavy rain outside darkens the morning sky. It’s almost loud enough to drown out the sounds of the family’s dogs, hens and pigs. He and Machado say they remember when the pond lay empty, a time when the family was most in need of food.

Because of that, they often give out the fish for free. “We know the people in our community, and we know their financial situation,” Silva says. “Many of those who come for the fish can’t really afford to pay for it.”

Galdino says such a display of solidarity is characteristic of the Indigenous economy in communities across Roraima. “What happens in Tabalascada also happens elsewhere in the state. There is a sense that can be well described by the African word Ubuntu: I am because you are,” he says. “This solidarity chain, which pervades their family and collective farming, as well as the barter that still exists in

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Machado and Silva cultivate fish behind their house (Amanda Magnani / Mongabay / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

some communities, is what differentiates the Indigenous economy from that experienced by our capitalist society.”

Yet, the two economic systems don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

A study by World Resources Institute (WRI) Brazil found that adopting bioeconomic models that replicate productive arrangements already existing within Indigenous communities could be highly profitable for the Amazon. By 2050, these models could increase the region’s GDP by 40 billion reais ($8 billion) and create 312,000 new jobs.

Adopting so many changes, however, will require heavy investment. According to the WRI study, Brazil would have to invest the equivalent of 1.8% percent of its annual GDP, which by 2050 would amount to 2.56 trillion reais ($517 billion).

Communities need support — but of the right kind

Subsidizing the sustainable development of the Amazon and its peoples was one of then-president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s promises when addressing the international community at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt in November 2022. “Brazil is back,” Lula said at the event, less than two months before taking office. By then, he had already pledged to tackle the climate crisis as the central policy of his agenda, alongside Indigenous issues.

Since becoming president, his third term, Lula has created a Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, appointed an Indigenous woman to head Funai, the federal agency for Indigenous affairs, reinstituted the National Policy for Territorial and Environmental Management of Indigenous Lands, and resumed the demarcation of Indigenous territories, which Bolsonaro had outright refused to do. More recently, Lula has met with presidents of the other Amazonian countries in an effort to forge unified policies for the development of

a sustainable and socially responsible economy in the region.

But Lula faces challenges in negotiating with the conservative-led Congress. Lawmakers have weakened both the ministries of environment and of Indigenous peoples, and advanced a bill aimed at restricting the legal recognition of Indigenous territories throughout the country.

For Enock Taurepang, vice coordinator of the Indigenous Council of Roraima, the Indigenous movement’s newly occupied political spaces are certainly a significant achievement. Yet the lack of political outreach to the communities and accommodation of their demands remains an obstacle to be overcome.

“The people who are actually creating change inside our territories are not people you will find at large summits. You will find them farming their lands or making their craftwork under the shade of a tree,” Enock tells Mongabay.

“In order to empower them, we must strengthen the initiatives that already exist in our territories rather than bring something completely new that will impose changes to our traditional ways of life. Our communities don’t need crumbs, what they need are real opportunities,” he says.

As intuitive as that might sound, however, past experience has shown that this is far from the reality of how public agencies have behaved.

In the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Territory, a seed bank created in 2019 to protect traditional seeds from extinction experienced it firsthand. For the past three and a half years, residents of the territory’s Willimon community have been collecting and multiplying the variants of seeds used by generations before them.

The seedbank isn’t a single physical space, as the kind of sterile, clearly compartmentalized vault that the word typically conjures. In Willimon, the bank is alive: In every home, dozens of plastic bottles are filled to the top with beans, corn and other grains. Inside them, ashes help keep pests away. When planting season arrives, the community helps each farmer pre-

pare their land, exchange seed variants, and joke about who’s the best grower.

About a year ago, the community was approached by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), which falls under the Ministry of Agriculture, with a project aimed at supporting the seed bank.

But Embrapa never went through the official consultation processes, says Amarildo Mota, the former coordinator of the seed bank. It ended up offering alien seeds to the community — much like the invasive grains that endangered the traditional ones in the first place.

“The day they arrived with the project, we denied their entrance,” Mota tells Mongabay. “How does one try to strengthen a traditional seed bank by inserting foreign seeds? If we accepted, we would be killing our own efforts.”

Only then did Embrapa sit with the community and listen to what they needed to keep the seed bank alive. “Now, instead of the alien seeds, Embrapa has offered to build the hut that will house the seedbank and to hire two Indigenous agronomy technicians to help run it,” Mota says.

“When we defend our territories and resources, we are preserving the planet as a whole,” says Taurepang from the Indigenous council. “This fight is not only our fight, of the Indigenous people, it is society’s as a whole. It is a fight of all people who respect nature and understand its fundamental role in life.”

What the past eight months have shown is that, even with a favorable government, winning this fight won’t be easy. For Indigenous teacher Aldenísio Silva, however, Brazil now has a unique chance to get a head start. “Now that we have managed to put our Indigenous representatives inside the government, the next four years will be key to consolidating our rights,” he says. For tuxaua Maria Loreta Pascoal, that means investments in independence and self-sufficiency. “In the long run,” she says, “we hope that all the projects in our community can stand on their own two feet.”

A map of Novo Paraíso’s land and environmental management plan. The plants drawn on either side are coconut and mango trees to be planted (Amanda Magnani / Mongabay / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
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Amarildo Mota is the former coordinator of the Willimon traditional seed bank and one of its creators (Amanda Magnani / Mongabay / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

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