The Daily GRRR! - Mar. 3, 2015 - “Too Bad It’s Only Tuesday” Edition

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Welcome back to SoundFM! You are now listening to The Daily GRRR! on the air every weekday morning from 9-10 a.m. here at 100.3fm, CKMS in Waterloo, Ontario, and SoundFM.ca on the web. This is Kathryn and I’ll be your host on this Tuesday morning show for March 3rd, 2015.

As always, we are broadcasting from the heart of the Haldimand Tract, the occupied Grand River Territory of the Six Nations, which we continue to recognize as Haudenosaunee land.

The Daily GRRR! is a project of the Grand River Media Collective and is supported by the Community Radio Fund of Canada and CKMS.

We will begin today with headlines:
The Daily GRRR!
HEADLINES for Mar. 3, 2015
1. Picket lines grow as York joins UoT in strike action for TAs and contract profs
2. U.S. college grads launch debt strike, refuse to repay “predatory” student loans
3. Kansas censors teachers, threatens prosecution for “harmful” literary material
4. B.C. First Nations declare victory in case against reopening Van Island fishery
5. Final hearings for proposed uranium mines in Nunavut face deserved criticism
6. Bear Clan Patrol back on Winnipeg streets to protect at-risk indigenous women
7. Guatemalan rappers use modern music to hype indigenous culture with youth

1. Picket lines grow as York joins UoT in strike action for TAs and contract profs

As reported by Excalibur, the York University newspaper, members of CUPE 3903 have voted to reject York’s offer to the union local and began a strike this morning. The Canadian Union of Public Employees, representing teaching assistants, contract faculty, and research assistants at York, has been negotiating new contracts for its three units, all of whom have been without a contract since August 2014. Yesterday, union local members filled the Rexall Centre Convocation Pavillion starting at 4 p.m. and voted late into the evening. David Bush, co-editor of RankandFile.ca, estimated that approximately 1,500 people were in attendance, with the vote being finalized at around 9:45 p.m. Amongst many proposals involved in the contract negotiations, the union local bargaining team has argued for more training (including sexual assault and accessibility) and more job security for contract faculty, and it has expressed concerns about international graduate student funding not matching increases in international tuition. Bargaining sessions continued until the late hours on Sunday, March 1, between York administration, the CUPE 3903 bargaining team, and a provincially-appointed mediator from the Ministry of Labour. In the end, the bargaining team unanimously rejected the university’s offer and recommended that union local members also reject the offer, which a whopping 71% elected to on Monday night. CUPE 3903 is expected to barricade both the Keele and Glendon campus with pickets at several entrances, and a major rally is expected to happen at the main campus entrance at Keele and York Boulevard at 11:30 a.m. this morning.

At York, the strike comes six years after the same union waged the longest strike in Canadian history at an English-language university, cancelling classes for three months and ending only on orders from the provincial government. This time around, a parallel strike is happening at the city’s other major university, where 6,000 teaching assistants in CUPE 3902 walked off the job on all three UofT campuses this past Friday. According to the newly launched website IsUofTBargainingYet.com, the last meeting between the bargaining teams of the University of Toronto and CUPE 3902 Unit 1 ended at 3 a.m. on Friday, February 27th. Since then, CUPE 3902's bargaining team has stated that they were willing to return to the bargaining table anywhere, any time, including on short notice. But while the University has stated that it is "disappointed" about the strike that "threatens to disrupt the studies of thousands of students”, they have yet to return to the bargaining table, leaving union local members no other option but to picket their campuses and pressure the university to play ball.

2. U.S. college grads launch debt strike, refuse to repay “predatory” student loans

As reported by Democracy Now!, American students and activists are taking direct action over what some have called the nation’s next financial crisis: the more than $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. The massive cost of U.S. college tuition has saddled millions with crushing debt and priced many others out of the classroom. Now, 15 former students of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges system have launched what they say is the nation’s first student debt strike. The students have refused to pay back loans they took out to attend Corinthian, which has been sued by the federal government for its predatory lending. Meanwhile, the group Strike Debt announced it has erased some $13 million of debt owed by students of Everest College, a Corinthian subsidiary, after using donated funds to purchase debt at discounted prices and abolish it outright.

Laura Hanna, a filmmaker and activist who helped launch Strike Debt’s Rolling Jubilee initiative, describes the process as follows: “When you can’t pay a bill , the banks...sell it to what’s called debt buyer. debt buyer then turns around and sells it to a debt collector for pennies on the dollar. We step in at that point and pick it up. And instead of collecting, we actually just erase those debts. Then we send a letter out to individuals and tell them what we’re doing, why we’re doing it. And they can contact us from there.”

3. Kansas censors teachers, threatens prosecution for “harmful” literary material

As reported by Book Riot, the Kansas state senate passed a bill last week allowing teachers to be prosecuted for distributing materials deemed harmful to minors. Supporters say that Senate Bill 56, which passed 26-14, will be used to protect kids from pornography at school and will not be used to interfere with teaching works of literary or scientific value. But not only was the bill originally drafted in response to a sex-ed poster that was posted in a middle school classroom, days before the bill passed a Republican senator accused a book by Toni Morrison of being pornographic—and thereby criminal under this new legislation. This is a nightmare come true for many Kansas educators and advocates of intellectual freedom. Teachers and school librarians who make available books and materials about sex education, sexual harassment, same-sex relationships, and just being a normal adolescent human, may now be subject to criminal prosecution. Meanwhile, any book that deals with controversial themes could be challenged, even banned, on the grounds that it contains pornographic or harmful material. In short, censorship is alive and well in the American midwest.

4. B.C. First Nations declare victory in case against reopening Van Island fishery

As reported by the Vancouver Sun, B.C. First Nations won a major victory Friday when a Federal Court judge granted an injunction blocking the opening this year of a herring fishery on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The decision came after an internal memo revealed Fisheries Minister Gail Shea overruled recommendations of scientists in her own department, which advised that the longstanding closure of herring fisheries be upheld in 2015. The commercial roe herring fisheries on the west coast of Vancouver Island have been closed over conservation concerns since 2006. Before that, the fishery was also closed between 1968 and 1971 after a complete collapse of the herring population due to over-harvesting. Given this history, complete with lessons learned the hard way, the minister’s decision to open the fisheries anyway came as a nasty surprise to many. Legal action was launched by five Nuu-chah-nulth nations in early February, culminating in last week’s injunction to block the irresponsible re-opening of the fisheries. Don Hall, an indigenous program manager for the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Fisheries, provided some important context for the case: “It is important to make clear Nuu-chah-nulth do not oppose commercial fisheries,” he explained, “but do not want to see them unless there is sufficient herring to support them.”

5. Final hearings for proposed uranium mines in Nunavut face deserved criticism

As reported by Warrior Publications, French nuclear giant Areva is proposing to build one underground and four open-pit mines just west of Baker Lake in central Nunavut, on the edge of the calving grounds of one of the North’s great caribou herds and near the largest and most remote wildlife sanctuary on the continent. The $2.1 billion project would provide at least 400 jobs, many reserved for local Inuit, but the costs and risks include emptying part of a lake, building a road through the habitat of a declining caribou herd, stretching an industrial bridge across a Canadian heritage river, and polluting the airspace with planes loaded down with the mine’s radioactive materials. Moreover, the road and mill that Areva is proposing in their plans would make it easier for other mines to open in the area, and the uranium deposits are on calving grounds for caribou that indigenous communities in three provinces and two territories all depend on for their survival and livelihoods. Critics are also concerned about the company’s acknowledgment that uranium prices are currently so low that it could be up to two decades before construction of the mine actually begins. “They cannot approve this and wait 20 years,” said local resident Hilu Tagoona. “That’s not reasonable whatsoever. Everything will have changed.” The Kivalliq Wildlife Board, which manages wildlife in the region under the Nunavut Land Claim, says it’s “firmly opposed” to the mines until protections for the calving ground are in place and Areva commits to a start date.

7. Guatemalan rappers use modern music to hype indigenous culture with youth

As reported by Warrior Publications, a group of Guatemalan musicians is on a mission to breathe life into pre-Columbian language and heritage through the thoroughly modern genre of hip-hop. Calling themselves Balam Ajpu, which means Jaguar Warrior or Warrior of Light, they rap in the ancient Mayan Tz’utujil language with the goal of making it seem cool to kids and teaching them their ancestors’ ways and stories. Their debut album, “Tribute to the 20 Nawuales” (or “20 spirits”), has a planned release date of March 20th to coincide with the spring equinox. Three years in the making and completed in mid-February, the album’s songs pay tribute to each of Guatemala’s 22 provinces plus Mexico’s Chiapas and Yucatan, encompassing the region where the Mayan civilization hit its apex around 250 to 950 A.D. The musicians rap in the Mayan language and in Spanish, blending a hip-hop beat with marimba and natural sounds like bird songs and running water. As rapper Rene Dionisio explains, “Since the time of the (Spanish) invasion, the (Mayan) worldview was persecuted, even almost snuffed out, but now it’s returning to life, relying on music and sustaining itself in art. Our commitment as artists is to rescue the ancient art.”

Midway Music: Body Like A Queen by Kinnie Starr

Feature: Interview with Pam Palmater on #MMIW and Girls by Greg Macdougall for EquitableEducation.ca
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dULLnpG9Hg#t=

Closing Song: Batz by Balam Ajpu

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