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Ecuador's pro-mining politics dealt a blow by Indigenous, green movement – Open Democracy



Ecuadorians voted for their next president on Sunday 7 February, but it wasn’t the only significant decision on ballots. 

Cuenca, the third largest city in the South American country, voted to ban mining projects within the nearby drainage basins of five rivers. There are over 4,000 large and small bodies of water in the sensitive Páramo ecosystem, which acts as a reservoir in the Andes. The land, which is directly adjacent to a national park, has been declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. 

Nevertheless, corporations from Canada, Australia, Peru and Chile had already been granted 43 concessions for the mining of various metals. Fourteen grassroots organisations were behind the referendum, approved by the constitutional court last September via the Cuenca city council. 

On Sunday, more than 80% of the electorate voted in favor of the ban. A clear democratic mandate in line with the 2008 constitution, which stipulates the rights of nature.

The result of the referendum is legally binding under the constitution, meaning the next president will have to implement it. Most of the 16 presidential candidates were in favour of expanding mining as a way of leading the country out of the economic crisis. Only one of them has spoken out against mining and an expansion of the oil frontier in the Amazon region: Yaku Perez Guartambel, the leader of Indigenous party Pachakutik.

The presidential election will be decided in a runoff on 11 April. The political heir to ex-president Rafael Correa, Andrés Arauz, who received 32.2% of the votes in the first round, will certainly be on the ballot. 

Who Arauz’s opponent will be is still unclear. With all the votes counted, the margin between the right-wing former banker Guillermo Lasso is less than 1%. The country’s top electoral body plans to conduct a partial recount

For the first time in the country’s history, an Indigenous presidential candidate backed by grassroots organisations has a chance of winning the election. This is already an enormous symbolic success for the Indigenous movement, which made headlines in October for protesting the liberalisation of gasoline and diesel prices. 

If Perez makes it to the final ballot, the election will be a fight between two different interpretations of leftism. Arauz is the candidate of the populist, authoritarian left, embodied by the Citizen Revolution Movement, which was in power from 2007 to 2017. During its term, the party relied on an expansion of extractivism to finance infrastructure and social programs. It promised more equality, but at the price of the destruction of nature and a de facto restriction of democratic rights. 

Perez, the former governor of Cuenca, represents an intercultural and ecological left that primarily appeals to younger generations, puts issues such as climate change and the preservation of the rainforest at the forefront of its agenda. His party builds on the legacy of the 1990s Indigenous movement and their communitarian form of politics. Perez’s surge has brought fresh air to a stale political contest between the old, progressive left (represented by Arauz) and the reactionary right (represented by Lasso). 

Ecuador has some of the greatest biodiversity in the world. At a time of mass species extinction, an economic policy that relies on more mining and oil production could have incalculable consequences far beyond the small country. The pandemic has led to an expansion and acceleration of nature-destroying activities in a legal gray area throughout Latin America, as environmental controls have been largely suspended. At the same time, it has made it very clear that the advance of capitalist overexploitation into fragile ecosystems harbors great dangers for humanity. 

In Cuenca, people have spoken out decisively against mining. This paves the way to discuss urgently needed fundamental change in economic policy, which puts life-sustaining imperatives such as food sovereignty and clean water above those of the market.

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Tina Fey won't talk politics at Sunday's Golden Globes: 'That doesn't seem like a venue for political jokes' – Yahoo Canada Sports



Actress and writer Tina Fey, 50, explained that she won’t delve into political jokes when she co-hosts Sunday evening’s Golden Globe Awards. (Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Tina Fey is ready to co-host Sunday evening’s 78th Golden Globe Awards. But that doesn’t mean the iconic writer and actress is eager to tackle politics in her jokes.

In an interview with Jill Rappaport on her Rappaport to the Rescue podcast, Fey, 50, shared that she and co-host Amy Poehler aren’t looking to discuss politics.

“That doesn’t seem like a venue for political jokes, thank God,” said Fey, who will be live from New York’s Rainbow Room, while Poehler will be live from the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. “Amy and I have talked about how we can just make it a fun hang out for people at home — kind of a stress reliever, so I don’t think you can expect much politics at all.”

Sunday’s broadcast will serve as Fey and Poehler’s return to the (virtual) Globes stage after several years off from the awards. She and Poehler co-hosted in 2013, 2014 and 2015, but will be taking on a new challenge thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been five years and the places we would go, Jill — couture houses, we would meet with the designers, there were muslins, mock-ups and the jewels!” she joked. “Now it’s… like ‘Nordstrom Rack, what do ya got?’”

Fey also opened up about her upcoming 20th anniversary with husband Jeff Richmond, with whom she has two daughters, Alice, 15, and Penelope, 9.

“Quarantine is a real test of whether you’re functioning together as a unit. I think we’re good about letting each other have time if we need it,” said Fey. Though she claimed she doesn’t know “what the secret is” to a successful marriage, she called her husband “generous and kind of spirit.”

“The fussier things, like jewelry or flowers or perfume on Valentine’s Day, that doesn’t mean anything to me. That’s not how we operate,” said Fey. “I think people talk about what their love language is, and I think our love language is working together and helping each other in the workplace and around the house. Jeff does a lot of cooking, I get up and walk the dogs while he makes coffee. I think we are together almost all the time, even before this pandemic.”

Fey went on to say that the family welcomed a second dog during the pandemic, this time a rescue pup. Now, the family has two poodles, Mabel and Teddy, both of whom she credits for helping the family de-stress during challenging times.

“I think like so many people, during the pandemic, we realized we’re home a lot, and this would be an opportune time to take a new member of the family in, and so we have been able to be here for all four children of the family so much more,” joked Fey, who went on to thank her dog walker. “Both dogs have been a real calming influence in this dark and stressful time, to just be present and sit in a chair with them. And there have truly been times with every member of the family when they’ve been anxious about something else… Just go sit with Teddy and Mabel, and it’ll calm you down. I think that has really been a blessing for all of us.”

Fey also used the opportunity to express how grateful she is for her many blessings.

“Like a lot of people who are going through this time feeling tremendous gratitude for what you have, for your health, your home, when people are losing so much, losing loved ones, but also losing their employment and facing food insecurity and so much stress in the world,” said Fey. “We’re very, very, very grateful for what we have and have been trying to focus on ways to give back and help other people during this time.”

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The politics of naming and renaming public spaces in India – Hindustan Times



Some saw it a justifiable tribute to the man who is a Gujarati icon, has contributed immensely to Ahmedabad’s infrastructure and also headed the state’s cricket administration (AFP)

The politics of naming and renaming public spaces in India

Modi is the first Indian prime minister in office to get a stadium, or any other public place for that matter, named after themselves. If one looks for examples outside India, he is not in great company either
By Ronojoy Sen
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 07:24 PM IST

The renaming of the Motera cricket stadium as the Narendra Modi stadium created a flutter before the India-England Test match. Some saw it a justifiable tribute to the man who is a Gujarati icon, has contributed immensely to Ahmedabad’s infrastructure and also headed the state’s cricket administration. Others saw it as the hubris and vanity of a leader who allowed a stadium to be named after him during his lifetime.

Naming and renaming of public spaces are a complicated and political business in most countries, especially so in India. After Independence, we saw a flurry of name changes as India sought to physically erase markers of the colonial legacy. In Delhi, names of landmark roads were changed — Kingsway to Rajpath and Queensway to Janpath, for instance.

This was also true in Kolkata, once the second city of the empire, where, over the years, British names were assiduously dispensed with. So Dalhousie Square, named after Governor General Dalhousie, in the heart of the city, was renamed Binoy Badal Dinesh (or BBD) Bagh (or Bag). Numerous other city landmarks were also peremptorily renamed. For instance, the name of Minto Park, named for a former viceroy, was changed to Shaheed Bhagat Singh Udyan. More interestingly, Auckland Square, named after yet another governor-general, was changed to Benjamin Moloise Square after the South African poet.

The internationalist tenor, prompted by India’s leadership of newly independent nations, was most pronounced in Delhi where roads were named after now forgotten figures like Benito Juarez. Perhaps the most amusing of the changes was in Kolkata where Harrington Street, where the American consulate is located, was renamed Ho Chi Minh Sarani during the Vietnam War. Some of these names have not stuck, the best example being Rajiv Chowk that replaced Connaught Place.

A similar impetus, but driven more by nativism, was responsible for the renaming of Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Bangalore and a host of other cities from the mid-1990s. The Shiv Sena’s first stint in power in Maharashtra from 1995 also saw an aggressive championing of Marathi icons, most notably Shivaji. Several Mumbai landmarks, including the Victoria Terminus and Prince of Wales Museum, as well as the airport, were renamed after Shivaji. Since the Modi government came to power in 2014, the renaming impulse has been motivated by the erasure of India’s Islamic heritage and Muslim rule. Perhaps, the prime example is the renaming of Allahabad to Prayagraj. Others include the renaming of Faizabad district to Ayodhya and Mughalsarai, a major railway junction, to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Nagar after the BJP ideologue and leader. There are more on the anvil, most notably the renaming of Ahmedabad as Karnavati.

If India has gone through bouts of renaming, the act of naming government buildings, projects and schemes has been queered by the Congress hegemony for much of independent India. While every respectable town has at least one road named after Mahatma Gandhi, the Nehru-Gandhi family has reigned supreme. According to an RTI query in 2013, a staggering 12 central and 52 state schemes, 28 sports tournaments and trophies, 19 stadiums, five airports and ports, 98 educational institutions, 51 awards, 15 fellowships, 15 national sanctuaries and parks, 39 hospitals and medical institutions, 37 other institutions, chairs and festivals and 74 roads, buildings and places were named after Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. There are many who insist that the renaming of the Ahmedabad cricket stadium must be seen in the context of pushing back at the Nehru-Gandhi legacy.

However, it is more than that. Modi is the first Indian prime minister in office to get a stadium, or any other public place for that matter, named after themselves. If one looks for examples outside India, he is not in great company either.

Whatever the rationale for the renaming, it is ironical that most stadiums in India are named after politicians and administrators, and rarely sportspersons. The renaming of the Ahmedabad stadium, the largest cricket stadium in the world, perpetuated that trend.

Ronojoy Sen is senior research fellow, ISAS & SASP, National University of Singapore

The views expressed are personal

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LeBron James responds to Zlatan Ibrahimovic telling him to stay out of politics – NBC News



LOS ANGELES — LeBron James responded to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s criticism of his political activism with a promise that he will never just shut up and dribble.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar also pointed out that Ibrahimovic clearly didn’t feel the same way about spotlighting social injustices when the soccer great called out racism in his native Sweden just three years ago.

The AC Milan striker and former LA Galaxy star criticized James and other socially conscious athletes Thursday in an interview with Discovery Plus. Ibrahimovic called it “a mistake” for James and other athletes to get involved in political causes, saying they should “just do what you do best, because it doesn’t look good.”

James responded forcefully to Ibrahimovic’s stance after the Lakers’ 102-93 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

“I would never shut up about things that are wrong,” said James, who had 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

“I preach about my people and I preach about equality, social injustice, racism, systematic voter suppression, things that go on in our community,” James added. “I know what’s going on still, because I have a group of 300-plus kids at my school that’s going through the same thing, and they need a voice, and I’m their voice. I’ll use my platform to continue to shed light on everything that’s going on around this country and around the world. There’s no way I would ever just stick to sports, because I understand how powerful this platform and my voice is.”

James funds the I Promise School in his native Akron, Ohio. The third-leading scorer in NBA history also backs numerous initiatives pursuing social justice, voting rights and other progressive causes.

James also made it clear he was aware of comments made in 2018 by Ibrahimovic, the Swedish-born son of a Bosnian father and a Croatian mother.

“He’s the guy who said in Sweden, he was talking about the same things, because his last name wasn’t a (traditional Swedish) last name, he felt like there was some racism going on when he was out on the pitch,” James said. “I speak from a very educated mind. I’m kind of the wrong guy to actually go at, because I do my homework.”

Indeed, Ibrahimovic told Canal Plus that “undercover racism” caused the Swedish media and public to treat him with less respect and reverence: “This exists, I am 100% sure, because I am not Andersson or Svensson. If I would be that, trust me, they would defend me even if I would rob a bank.”

James and Ibrahimovic overlapped in Los Angeles for about 16 months from the summer of 2018 until November 2019, when Ibrahimovic went back to Europe. While Zlatan was unable to carry the Galaxy to an MLS Cup title despite playing exceptionally during two largely frustrating seasons, LeBron already won the Lakers’ 17th NBA title in his second season with the club.

They also share remarkable similarities as two astonishing athletes who have remained among the world’s best players deep into their 30s. The 36-year-old James is still one of the best all-around players in modern basketball, while the 39-year-old Ibrahimovic remains among Serie A’s scoring leaders with 14 goals in just 13 league games for Milan.

Dennis Schröder, the Lakers’ German point guard, gave his support to James and confirmed the obvious truth that Ibrahimovic’s attitude is decidedly not shared by many European athletes.

“Every athlete can use our platform and try to make change in this world,” Schröder said. “Zlatan, he’s a little different. Unique player, unique character.”

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