Points of Progress: Wiyot Tribe reclaims land, and more

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Wiyot Tribe/AP
The historic village of Tuluwat is seen on Indian Island north of Eureka, California. Eureka turned over more than 200 acres to the Wiyot Tribe on Oct. 21, 2019.

United States

The Wiyot Tribe received more than 200 acres of land from the city of Eureka, California, on Oct. 21 that was forcefully seized by settlers in an 1860 massacre. The 600-member tribe has been fundraising since 1998 to buy back portions of Indian Island in Humboldt Bay suffering from environmental contamination. The tribe purchased the first parcel of land in 2000. Now Eureka has turned over the deed for the rest of the island to the tribe. Tribal members and residents of Eureka have worked together in recent years to clean up the toxic remnants of a former shipyard and restore ancient ceremonial sites. The island won a clean bill of health from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2014. (The Associated Press)

Canada

Toronto is turning solid waste into fuel for its garbage trucks. In concert with Enbridge Gas, the city has installed new biogas-upgrading equipment at its waste management facility to transform collected organic waste into a type of renewable natural gas. The project, one of the first of its kind in North America, will produce an estimated 845 million gallons of renewable natural gas per year, enough to fuel a majority of the city’s garbage trucks. Toronto will introduce the use of biogas in March 2020 and hopes to expand the project to its other conversion facilities. (CBC; city of Toronto)

Latvia

Ints Kalnins/Reuters
A woman holds her daughter in Mazirbe, Latvia, Aug. 1, 2019. All babies born in Latvia will have citizenship status beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Beginning next year, all children born within Latvia’s borders will be granted automatic citizenship, regardless of their parents’ citizenship status. The legislation complies with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which provides for a child’s right to acquire a nationality at birth. About 230,000 noncitizens live in Latvia. Most are members of a Russian-speaking minority barred from voting or holding government positions after the country gained its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. There are currently more than 4,800 noncitizen children under age 15 in Latvia who will remain stateless under the new legislation. (Moscow Times; Council of Europe; OHCHR)

Worldwide

Countries across the world have pledged $9.8 billion to help developing countries reduce their emissions and cope with the effects of climate change. Yannick Glemare, executive director of the South Korean-based Green Climate Fund, said 27 countries announced their contributions at an October conference in Paris. France and Britain each pledged more than $1.5 billion. The United States declined to contribute. This year’s combined contributions are an increase over the fund’s initial $7 billion raised five years ago. (The Associated Press)

New Zealand

Mark Lennihan/AP
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum on Sept. 25, 2019 in New York.

New Zealand is stepping up efforts to find and prosecute extremist and terrorist content online. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced 17 new full-time staff members will be added to the Department of Internal Affairs, doubling its investigative and prevention work. Tracey Martin, minister of Internal Affairs, said the “ease and speed” of circulation of the video of the March 15 killings of Muslim worshippers showed the need for better government systems to protect New Zealanders online. More than 40 countries have signed the Christchurch Call – a voluntary pledge to eliminate terrorist and violent content online – issued by New Zealand and France in May. Tech giants Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Twitter have also signed the pledge. (The Guardian)

Rwanda

Mara Group has launched the first high-quality, affordable smartphones manufactured in Africa. The Mara X and Mara Z will use Google’s Android operating system. Mobile phone usage in sub-Saharan Africa, which has seen unprecedented growth, is primarily for social and entertainment purposes, as well as to send and receive payments, according to Pew Research. President Paul Kagame hopes the Mara phone will increase his country’s smartphone usage, currently around 15%, and boost Rwanda as a growing tech hub. Mara Group also aims to profit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a 55-nation trade bloc, scheduled to start in July 2020. (Reuters; Pew; CNN)

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