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Exhibition: ‘Looking to the Future: Children of the Amazon and Mexamerica’ in Paris all this month

12705184_10207690382110457_6462740429685922510_nThis month in Paris, some of my photos from Brazil will be exhibited at the Maison des Associations in the 11th Arrondissement as part of a show called “Looking to the Future: Children of Amazonia and Mexamerica” (“Regard sur l’Avenir; enfants de l’amazonie et Méxamérique”). The Facebook event is here. The exhibit will be up through the month of March. On March 22, the documentary Voix d’Amazonie (Amazon Voices — trailer here) will be shown. If you’re in Paris, check it out!

Here’s a blurry pic of the last show in Paris, in December, which I neglected to mention on this blog. Since I happened to be in town reporting on the Tribunal for the Rights of Nature I was able to stop by. The two photos at bottom left are mine:


Flyer for the last show:





Ecuador condemned at the new Tribunal for the Rights of Nature in Paris (Mongabay)

José Gualinga, a Sarayaku leader, testifies at the Tribunal about his people’s successful efforts to halt seismic testing for oil in their territory. Photo by Karen Hoffmann.

Last weekend, while the official COP21 negotiations were going on north of Paris at a site called Le Bourget, leaders of indigenous nations in North and South America were in Paris calling for justice for what they say are ongoing violations of the rights of the earth itself.

The “rights of nature” were recognized in the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2010, designed as an alternative to the COP meetings. The declaration, which gave rise to the International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature, created “a manifesto for earth justice,” in the words of the president of the current tribunal, Cormac Cullinan, author of Wild Law. The book, published in 2003, lays out a case for granting legal rights to communities and ecosystems.

The first such tribunal was held last year in Quito, Ecuador, and its second session was almost a year later in Lima, Peru.

Among the cases heard by this tribunal, several dealt with oil exploitation in Ecuador — a country that, ironically, was the first to include the rights of nature into its 2008 constitution. One of these cases focused on Yasuní National Park.

Yasuní is a UNESCO World Heritage Preserve and a biodiversity hotspot. Nowhere else are there more documented species of mammals, birds, amphibians and vascular plants. As one presenter noted, in one tree in Yasuní, one can find 94 species of ants; one hectare holds more tree species than the US and Canada together.

But Yasuní also sits above the largest oil reserve in Ecuador – 846 million barrels – presenting a threat to the people and animals living in it. More at>

Notes from Basque Country

I’m back from Spain. My house feels too big. Terrible news about Mayor O’Connor. Pittsburgh is not the same without him.

Saturday morning (a week ago) we flew from Pittsburgh to Atlanta and had lunch with some family and friends… Then we flew to Düsseldorf, then to Paris. In Paris we took the metro into the city, saw the Eiffel Tower, and had lunch (again) at a café.

Then we flew to Bilbao. At this point I was so tired I was having visions. In Bilbao we got our bags which had made it (!) and took the bus to the city. Despite having a map we were somewhat lost but many Basques helped us. They were walking around wearing blue neck scarves—it was the last night of their Big Week, Aste Nagusia. We finally made it to our hotel, the Husa Jardines de Albia, where we fell asleep to the sound of fireworks.

The next day—Monday—we walked around Bilbao, had sandwiches for lunch, walked some more by the river, saw the Guggenheim Museum and the Puppy and had some beer in a café next door listening to Bob Dylan and then some jazz musicians.

We sat in the Plaza Moyua where kids were playing with inflatable balls and kicking them toward people. An old man hit it back with his cane.

And we had dinner at a restaurant. I had bacalao (salted cod) with some sort of green and red sauces and Lou had solomillo de buey (rump roast?). We drank txacoli, local wine.

The next day, Tuesday, we had breakfast in a sidewalk café, took the metro to the bus station, took the bus to San Sebastian (Donostia in Basque). A few Americans on the bus, last we’d see until plane back.

In San Sebastian, crowded, more than I remembered. Lovely though. We stayed at the Hostal La Concha right near the beach. We had pintxos (Basque for tapas) and beer. Muchos. First canas and then as we got drunker, suritos (little beers). Wandering…

Next day more wandering. First though, the beach. Water was clear. Beautiful warm sunny day. Fantastic time.

Dinnertime, paella. Huge! Should have taken a picture. The crawfish did freak me out though. I made Lou peel them. Then ice cream, tiramisu and chocolate orange.

Next morning, dammit time to leave San Sebastian. Took the bus to Vitoria-Gasteiz where the Azkena Rock Festival, the pretext for this trip, was taking place. Took the taxi to our hotel, Pension La Zuyana, on the outskirts of Vitoria, the only one we could find beforehand that wasn’t sold out. Comes time to whip out wallet, oops, not there. Where could it be? Frantic. Must be on taxi. Call taxi company. Girl at bar checking us in is sympathetic, helpful, talking too fast. I tell her slow down, but still can’t understand her. She says “policia” and says we can go up to our room but must pay cash later or she’ll be in trouble with her boss. Where’s the ATM? Oh, walk this way then that and there’s a shopping center. After calming down some we trudge to El Boulevard – a mall! Didn’t know they had these in Spain. Pay for room, eat, take taxi to the Mendizabala, where the festival is held.

The Young Fresh Fellows! Lou’s favorite band and he’s never seen them live before. He has worn his YFF shirt for this occasion. The band shows their appreciation. Then they play one of the funnest shows I’ve ever seen.

More coming soon…

Jerry Falwell speaks… but why is anyone listening?

Just saw this AP story, Rev. Falwell Decries Stem Cell Research. Why the AP feels the need to give this crazy man an outlet is a mystery to me. This is the same guy who said feminists, gays and lesbians, and the ACLU were responsible for 9/11:

I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians…the A.C.L.U., People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, “You helped this happen.”
Falwell on The 700 Club about the 9/11 terrorist attacks

Casey: Too pure for Savage money

Melissa Meinzer reports in this week’s Pittsburgh City Paper that Bob Casey has turned down a donation from Savage Love‘s Dan Savage.

Larry Smar, spokesperson for the Casey campaign, says that controversial and vulgar content in the column and on Savage’s anti-Santorum Web site,, led to the decision to return the contribution.

Casey’s $10 million behind Santorum in fundraising. He’ll take money from more than 200 of the same corporate PACs as Santorum does, but not from Dan Savage? The man continues to amaze.

Savage’s response was to send the money to Philadelphians Against Santorum. He says, “I’m going to have to swallow hard and support Bob Casey whether he wants me to or not.” Then he ends with this gem:

But if I wanna keep sending money to mainstream politicians it looks like I’m going to have to form a political action committee (PAC) to fudge the source of the funds. Bob Casey may not take check from me, but maybe he’ll take one from my Fudge PAC.