$150,000 Award Rejected due to Immoral Investments

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The insurance company Aviva gives a cash award for community groups that make a positive change, one of their winners this year rejected the financial award. Indigenous Climate Action were thrilled to found out they won, but not so thrilled when they found out that one issue they are campaign against is backed by Aviva. It turns out that Aviva invests in the tar sands. As a result, ICA stood their ground and turned down the money. It’s good to see that a group that could really benefit from additional resources stayed true to their mandate.

Shortly after receiving news they were winners in the competition, ICA received information that Aviva plc, Aviva Canada’s parent company, held major passive investments (over half a billion  USD) in corporations operating in Alberta’s tar sands, including: Teck Resource Ltd (Frontier Open pit mine), Encana, Exxon, Imperial, Suncor, Chevron, Cenovus, Kinder Morgan (TransMountain pipeline), TransCanada (Keystone XL pipeline); and Enbridge (Line 3 pipeline)1. These investments, according to ICA, are in direct contradiction with their organizational mandate.

“We cannot in good conscience accept an award from a corporation that is financially associated with fossil fuel energy projects that violate the rights of Indigenous peoples and contribute to global climate change. Our organization is working to support Indigenous rights and address the climate crisis while Aviva is investing in corporations proposing or operating tar sands projects that threaten water, land, the climate and Indigenous rights,” stated Eriel Deranger, Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action.

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Flash North Korea for Freedom

Flash Drives For Freedom from Doug Burnett on Vimeo.

The reclusive state of North Korea doesn’t like it when information leaks in or out. The government is propped up by ignorance, fear, and a lack of a viable alternative. They control their population by limiting access to knowledge; North Korea bans free and open internet just like their neighbour China (and ironically as does their opponent the USA). An international organization has been fighting the censorship in North Korea by attaching USB flash drives to balloons and letting them drop randomly in the country. And it’s making a difference.

Believe it or not, USBs are a significant form of sharing information in North Korea. Many citizens have devices with USB ports. So for many years, North Korean defectors have organized efforts to smuggle outside info into North Korea on USB drives to counter Kim Jong-un’s constant propaganda. But these groups were buying USB drives at cost with limited resources. Flash Drives For Freedom is a campaign that travels the world inspiring people to donate their own USB drives. As a collaboration between the Human Rights Foundation, Forum 280, and USB Memory Direct, Flash Drives for Freedom is significantly increasing the capacities of these North Korean defector groups.

Check it out.

Intersection Design Improved by Using Leaves

Dave Meslin got back to his roots by engaging in some very local activism. The Toronto-based activist, artists, and all around good person decided to change an intersection near his house. The intersection is not particular safe or well designed. By using just chalk and raked leaves he and his merry band of locals improved the intersection. It’s now safer and has revealed space that can be used to plant trees or a new park for people to relax in.

Using only sidewalk chalk and fallen leaves, Meslin and his neighbours temporarily “fixed” a dangerous intersection near Regal Road and Springmount, taking special care to maintain all existing road widths at a city-approved 28 feet.

“We revealed a surplus surface area of 2,000 square feet which could be transformed into a parkette, new sidewalks, and much shorter/safer crossings,” wrote Meslin in a Facebook post about the project.

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WikiTribune to World: “Hello”

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In 2001 when Jimmy Wales launched Wikipedia he never thought that the website would become what it is today. This year he has launched (with many others) WikiTribune and hopes that it becomes as influential as Wikipedia is online. WikiTribune exists because of the disappointing state of news media right now (it’s worth noting the idea for the site came before Trump) and the hope is that WikiTribune can outsource news production to people like the way Wikipedia does.

This is the launch of a project to build a news service. An entirely new kind of news service in which the trusted users of the site – the community members – are treated as equal to the staff of the site. As with any true wiki, you can jump in and get involved at the highest levels, doing as much or as little as you like to help. As with any successful wiki, there will be detailed discussions and debates by the community to set policy on all the matters necessary to build a news service.

My goals are pretty easy to understand, but grand in scope (more fun that way, eh?): to build a global, multilingual, high quality, neutral news service. I want us to be in as many languages as possible as fast as possible. I want us to be more concerned with being right than being first. I want us to report objectively and factually and fairly on the news with no other agenda than this: The ultimate arbiters of the truth are the facts of reality. That’s agenda enough to keep us busy.

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Why Net Neutrality is Important

The current federal administration in the USA is really challenging norms in American society, the most recent attack is on net neutrality. Earlier this year the Trump administration tried to prop-up the profits of a handful corporations at the cost of internet freedom and failed because of actions taken by the average citizen. What the government tried to was remove net neutrality. Net neutrality is important because it allows fair and open competition online, clearly the Trump administration is not supportive of traditional capitalism.

America it’s time again to prove that you care about freedom – call your representatives today!

Cable companies are famous for high prices and poor service. Several rank as the most hated companies in America. Now, they’re lobbying the FCC and Congress to end net neutrality. Why? It’s simple: if they win the power to slow sites down, they can bully any site into paying millions to escape the “slow lane.” This would amount to a tax on every sector of the American economy. Every site would cost more, since they’d all have to pay big cable. Worse, it would extinguish the startups and independent voices who can’t afford to pay. If we lose net neutrality, the Internet will never be the same.

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