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Obama offers a glimmer of hope for the Arctic

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In 10 or 20 years, there may be no ice left in the Arctic region; a sea that would dramatically impact global warming for the worse.  

There’s a glimmer of hope, though.

A letter sent by President Obama to Latin Grammy winning singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz offers significant hope for the creation of an Arctic sanctuary in the face of accelerating global warming.  

How’d Sanz become one of the faces of this movement to Save the Arctic? In June 2013, he took a trip to the Arctic with some Greenpeace members to survey the effects of global warming in the region.  His perspective was permanently changed, and witnessing the devastation led to his efforts to champion the Save the Arctic movement along with other Hispanic celebrities, including Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Pedro Almodóvar.  Naturally, he reached out to President Obama to recognize the critical state of things in the Arctic and to support specific measures in support of protecting the region. 

In Obama’s letter to Sanz, he mentions some of the steps his administration has taken during his time in office, including the issuing of the Climate Action Plan and The National Strategy for the Arctic Region.  

Progress! 

Read more about Sanz and the Arctic region at Latin Times

Check out Obama’s letter

Written by Jessica Lipman of The Urgency Network 

Social and Environmental Activism of 2013

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The #Arctic30 protect a threatened region, and activism is threatened in the process

The fight against climate change took a dramatic turn this year, as (30) Greenpeace activists were arrested and detained on charges of piracy and hooliganism by Russian Security agents in October of 2013. Russian security agents illegally boarded the Arctic Sunrise in international waters, seizing the ship and detaining all those on board at gunpoint. The Arctic 30 were arrested for peacefully taking action against destructive Arctic oil drilling and the onslaught of climate change, protesting at state-owned Gazprom’s Arctic drill platform in the Barents Sea.

However, there’s light at the end of this tunnel, the activists are now being granted exit visas and will be able to return home in the coming days. The Hamburg Tribunal, whose rules are binding to any party of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, ruled in favor of releasing the Greenpeace ship and the Arctic 30. Russia’s compliance is interpreted by many as a means of cleaning their international image in light of the rapid approach of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

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Nelson Mandela Passes Away, but his legacy lives on

The passing of Nelson Mandela on December 5, 2013 (age 95) serves as a moment of both sadness and loss as the world loses a true visionary.  His passing also invites remembrance and celebration of a leader whose efforts significantly impacted race relations in South Africa and the world. An anti-apartheid revolutionary, Nelson Mandela was the President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. Prior to his historical Presidency - as the first black chief executive in South Africa - he led a life dedicated to anti-colonial politics, particularly marked by non-violent tactics which then led into militant attempts to end apartheid in the South African government.  He then served a 27 year prison sentence, being released in 1990 after an international campaign lobbied for his release. He received hundreds of honors throughout his life, trumped by his Nobel Peace Prize of 1993.

In the Rivonia Trial Speech of 1964, Mandela famously stated:

"I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die. "

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Success for Gay Marriage 

With the legalization of gay marriage in over 16 states and civil unions for same-sex couples in 4 states, the gay rights movement is seen by many as the fastest growing civil rights movement in U.S. history. One of the most significant victories of this year is the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to get rid of a statute within DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) that denied federal benefits to gay couples married under state law. The fight will continue into 2014, as 29 states still deem gay marriage illegal.  

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Malala Yousafzai brings women and children’s educational issues to the fore

This 16 year old Pakistani education, children and women’s rights activist was awarded the Sakharov prize for freedom of thought by the European Parliament this year and Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize, as well as receiving a nomination for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.  The Taliban attempted to assassinate her on October of 2012, shooting her in the head which left her in critical condition and unconscious.  This assassination attempt led to an international and national movement to support Malala’s efforts and to bring education to all children in the world. She now lives and attends school in England. We’ll definitely be seeing more outstanding work from this power-house 8th grader in the future.  


Here’s to more action and a more just world in 2014! 

Words by Jessica Lipman of The Urgency Network 

Arctic 30 + Pussy Riot Granted Amnesty

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On Wednesday, December 18th, “The Russian parliament…formally adopted an amnesty that will end legal proceedings against the Arctic 30” (Greenpeace USA). After wrongfully being held in the first place, the Arctic 30 and Pussy Riot are ready to leave the Russian jail. However, what exactly are the terms of amnesty? Will the protestors be home for the holidays? And, how are the different parties involved reflecting on this experience and registering it as they move forward? 

Read More

2013 Open Your Heart in Paradise Retreat Highlights

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Ram Dass and Friends came together in Maui recently!

Check out some video highlights from the retreat:

Ram Dass “Grace is True”

Jack Kornfield “The Artist’s Task”

Ram Dass “At Home in the Heart”

Ram Dass “Freedom from Separateness”

Jack Kornfield “The Heart of Presence”

Saraswati Markus’ yoga class 

Weren’t able to make the retreat in Maui? Totally understandable. Your chance to head to Maui is right here.

Take action on the #BeHereNow campaign to help Love Serve Remember Foundation create a digital media library preserving Ram Dass’ 40+ years of teachings, and you’ll earn the chance to spend time with Ram Dass in Maui in February at a private retreat! Only 7 days left on the campaign! 

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