Friday, February 29, 2008

History: Truth and Reconciliation

South Africa holds a certain hold on the minds of the world. Personally I have a mother who grew up under Apartheid, she may have been part of a privileged minority simply due to her skin colour, but the system still has impact today. For others especially in the South it provides a beacon of overturning oppressive systems.

The system of Apartheid in South Africa was abolished in 1994, but the affects on the people were not stripped from their psyche. It was known that a system needed to be put in place to deal with the cycle of violence that had plagued the people of South Africa. There had to be some recognition that it was the racist institution of Apartheid that had been the problem, not the people socialized under it. If any type of true unity and peace was to be established the sins of the past needed to be cleansed.

In 1995 an institution was created to deal with the aftermath of the violence committed under Apartheid, it was known as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The idea was to bring justice for the crimes committed, but with the least harm possible. For the commission to work people from both sides the perpetrator and victims had to be present. If the crimes were politically motivated and, proportional and, the perpetrator gave full disclosure of everything that happened in presence of the victims they were given the chance of amnesty.

The people brought to trial included crimes from every side of the violence including the former Apartheid government and African National Congress members. Some say that the Commission didn't do enough, but is a profoundly different way of approaching crimes then the more European form of victor's justice. Ultimately it was an institution that should be remembered and improved upon to deal with future injustice.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

UK: Scottish group wants pardon for Witches

It seems that witchcraft has been in the news a lot lately. There was the scandle over Miss Canada Plus being a Witch, the recent condemning of a Saudi women for "practicing witchcraft" and, now in the UK a group is trying to get pardons issued for Witches who were jailed in the UK under the Witchcraft Law of 1735. The law continued to convict people for the practice of witchcraft -- and things mistaken as such -- until 1951 when it was repealed. The group wishes a pardon for some 4000 people who have all passed on who were charged under the law.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Quotes: In Memory of 1973 Wounded Knee

I was enlightened to find out the standoff at Wounded Knee in 1973 by the American Indian Movement started today. They were the same people who fought at Wounded Knee in the massacre of 1890 and the same people who today they are seperating from the US.

Quotes from the Sioux Nation:

"Western civilization, unfortunately, does not link knowledge and morality but rather, it connects knowledge and power and makes them equivalent." - Vine Deloria, Jr. (1933 - 2005)

"One does not sell the land people walk on." - Crazy Horse, Sept. 23, 1875

"You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round..... The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours....

Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. " - Black Elk Oglala (1863-1950)

And an Ancient First Nations proverb of unknown origins:

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Image from

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ottawa: Protest against Gay Organ Ban

Today on parliament hill gay rights protesters gathered in protest against a recently introduced policy by Health Canada. The policy bans gay men from being organ donors, a move made based more on homophobia then any form of science. This is a move that only hurts people desperately needing organ transplants. The idea states some sort of dark age belief that gay men are some how contaminated and diseased which is far from acceptable in a country that is supposed to be one of the most progressive on gay rights.

It seems that the charter of rights and freedoms is a document that many people are forgetting these days. As under Charter law people cannot be discriminated against based on sexual orientation. Yet Health Canada seems to have forgotten the Charter and is living on either Judeo-Christian notions of sin or the homophobia based scare of HIV/AIDS despite the fact that most AIDS victims are actually heterosexual. The concept that people may die because, Health Canada won't allow gay males to give their organs is a blatant disregard for the Hippocratic Oath and any other for Health professionals to do no harm.

The protest was organized by 'Standing Against Queer Discrimination'. The first protest held was in London, Ontario on January 17th outside the Health Canada office there. They since called a National Day of Action for February 26th. Cities across the country had protests outside local Health Canada offices against the ban and, here in Ottawa SAQD officials met with parliamentary officials while the protest went on outside. According to Ottawa residents the protest on Parliament with about 80 people in attendance and speakers including an NDP MP and the Liberal Health Critic.

Yet this is not the only discriminatory health practice in Canada against gay males. Any man who has ever in their lifetime had sex with another man is barred from donating blood by the Canadian Blood Services a policy that has gone on since 1977. Even if a womyn has had sex with a man who has sex with a man she is disqualified for giving blood for a year. Both the organ ban and blood donation ban does nothing but harm the public and puts people at risk who could otherwise be helped.

Photos Courtesy of Kaitlyn Kincaid

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Canada: Authorization of US troops on Canadian Soil

It seems the Harper and Bush governments have signed a no-longer secret agreement on February 14th authorizing the use of the foreign government's military on domestic soil. Canadian Troops on American soil and American troops on Canadian soil. The result of which is the further integration of the Canadian and American militaries as well as possible abuses of power.

There is distrust of this agreement on both sides of the border. On the Canadian side of the border there is a distrust of the American military and how it has been used around the world. According to many polls Canadians want to be less connected militarily to the United States and want to be more independent working with many other countries around the world. There is a fear that the American military may be called in to quell civilian disturbances such as protests opposing corporations, further integration, the control of Canada's natural resources or dissent against foreign policy decisions. In the United States people feel that Canadian forces may be called in to also quell local dissent and aren't bound by the same laws preventing the use of military and military searches in civilian situations.

I don't doubt the importance of the military during natural crises, but why we need a foreign power especially one that has had serious abuses of power is dangerous for Canadians. When we are in a period when the use of our military is being so hotly debated it is undemocratic and an abuse of power to sign an agreement allowing foreign military on our soil without parliamentary or public consent. This seems just one more step in a North American Union.

Image of Bush, Fox, and Harper at the Security Prosperity Partnership

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Opinion: Marginalized Groups Against Each Other

It seems that the largest problem standing in the way of true freedom today is a combination of apathy and, opposition. Every day it seems that one oppressed group is being pitted against one another. Instead of communities that should be exploding you have communities imploding. Groups fighting each other as if it is life or death or worse turning the struggles into life or death. We loose sight that the same powers that be are usually the ones oppressing all of us. Instead we see the other oppressed group as a threat to their own freedom and so oppress them more.

It saddens me to see Queer groups being pitted against racial or religious groups. Religion becomes a profane word for Queers and is made into something evil to be defended against. Then just harder we see the opposite happen, fear of Queers used as a political tool to distract the masses and win elections. It saddens me to see poor whites being pitted against immigrants as if they are some awful invasion force stealing the jobs and education poor whites deserve. When in reality its the large corporations outsourcing jobs and the education is failing due to the government.

Liberation movements seem coopted to oppress others as if there is only so much liberation to go around. A major example is the 2nd wave feminist movement which was discriminatory against people of colour, lesbians and, trans people. Movements today have been pushed by others and seem less so, but so is the amount of people willing to participate feeling so much apathy. Instead you see rights movements waning in strength (except I would say for the anti-globalization movement) and marginalized peoples being politically used against each other. It is a unfortunate state of affairs in my mind and the greatest political tool for keeping the people in line for them to think that their greatest threat to their freedom is the person down the street.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ottawa: Reliving Bilderberg

Last night at Ottawa Cinema Politica the movie Endgame by Alex Jones was shown. I have a number of issues with the movie, but he does accurately give information regarding the creation of a North American Union, the Security Prosperity Partnership, local militarization, a history of Eugenics (though I don't agree with all his inferences) and, the Bilderberg Group. The Bilderbergs are a group that has met since the 1950s including major heads of state and, large corporate interests. The group meets secretly in order to have discussions on world affair. Some major members include the Rothchilds, Rockafellers, royalty of the Netherlands, members of the IMF, World Bank, and most western heads of state such as Steven Harper. In 2006 the Bilderbergs met in Ottawa and I was covering them, here are the links for those who were interested.

Bilderberg Posts:
Ottawa: Bilderbergs Arrive Tomorrow
Ottawa: Some Bilderbergs Arrive
Ottawa: Bilderberg Tickets and Researchers
Ottawa: Bilderberg Site and Article Round Up
Ottawa: Bilderbergs at Brookstreet Report
Ottawa: Pictures Outside the Bilderberg Conference
Ottawa: Bilderberg Conclusion

Also people had an interest towards the military takeover and operations in Winnipeg of that same year as many could not believe it.:
Winnipeg: Exercise Charging Bison

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Activist Video: Take America Back

A video of Steve Connell and Sekou at the 2006 ACLU conference. It is a very good spoken word poem, performed with such ease that it impresses me.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

USA: Lakotah Seperates from the US

The official cessation of the Republic of Lakotah occured on December 17th, 2007. According to both United States constitutional law and international law it has a strong case. The new republic takes large portions out of the Northern Mid-west of the United States. These are descendants of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and the resisters of Wounded Knee. This is completely legal and has been done with full legal requirements. The question that it really comes down to is whether the US will follow its own constitution and international law, in a time where it is regularly broken and, against a people it has historically had no trouble violating. Below is a video by Elder Russel Means explaining the withdrawal.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Activist Video: Join the Revoultion Fall in Love

This is by far one of my favourite short films so I thought I'd share it. It is from the Crimethinc book Days of War, Nights of Love[1] which is a very interesting book even to non-anarchists like myself. The section of the book that the video is depicting is "L is for Love". It talks about how the most revolutionary act in life is true passionate romantic love. Warning: It does depict scenes with nudity, sexual acts, and violence. Keep a box of tissues around.


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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ontario: Push for Gender Studies in High Schools

On Valentines Day across the province feminists will be calling the Minister of Education Kathleen Wynne. No, the minister of Education does not have secret love affairs across the province the people will be calling in support of the Miss G_ Project. The Miss G_ Project was instituted three years ago with the main purpose of instituting a Women's and Gender Studies course into the high school curriculum.

The campaign has gained momentum throughout the province, but has been constantly been pushed aside with bureaucracy and excuses that they look into it are vaguely given. The major purpose of the inclusion of this course is to provide anti-discriminatory education in schools. Though issues some issues of discrimination are dealt with in schools issues such as sexism and homophobia are practically normal daily occurrences. The course would allow students to analyze those issues and have an institutional way to deal with the issues they are experiencing in their school and community. The course would also allow for the untold history of womyn to be spoken publically.

So, on Valentines Day join the people of Ontario in demanding Women's and Gender Studies be included in the Ontario high school curriculum. For more information on how watch this video:

For More Information:

The Miss G_ Project:

Ontario Minister of Education: Kathleen Wynne's
Office: 416.325.2600
TDD/TTY: 1-800-263-2892
Fax: (416) 325-2608

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ottawa: Non-Humane Humane Society?

You find a lost hurt animal on the street, you care about animals so naturally you think that you should do something. You aren't sure whether this is a lost pet or was abandoned. You decide that the best thing to do is to bring it to the humane society in order to help it. This is a common theme for animal lovers in many places including Ottawa. Sadly however, many people don't know the actual practices of the Ottawa Humane Society.

Yet this seemingly flawless organization from its media image at its heart is actually unaccountable and treats animals fairly badly attracting the attention of pet owners, now former Ottawa Human Society (OHS) donors, and animal rights activists. A campaign was started about a year and a half ago called 'Reform the Ottawa Humane Society'. It was created by a pet lover who found a stray dog and her neighbor who was a donor to the OHS. The stray dog was taken to the OHS in case its' owner went looking for it however, if no one came to claim the dog it was going to be adopted by the person who found it and her partner. The OHS euthanized the dog against their wishes saying that it had an aggressive temperament. Despite this being a very small dog who had been very friendly to the person who found it.

After this a campaign was started as the pet lover heard more and more similar stories. The way the OHS tested the dogs' temperament was examined. It seems that the OHS' testing method to see if dogs are aggressive is while they are in a large room with concrete walls, metal bars and, loud noise due to a number of animals the dogs are poked with a stick which has a rubber glove on the end of it repeatedly. If the dog at all bites the glove or stick they are deemed aggressive and are never shown to the public and are euthanized. For cats there is no formal assessment just a subjective look at the cat in the highly disturbing and stressful environment.

This does not even look at the unaccountability issues. No information from the OHS is recorded on the amount of animals who are collected, nor the amount that are euthanized. The board of directors in mainly nameless and prefer to be anonymous to the public and choose the next board. Not to mention the amount of stories of volunteers or members who were immediately fired or had their membership revoked if they at any point said anything negative about the organization. What do they have to hide? Why are tax dollars being spent, yet the organization refuses to be at all accountable to the public?

The most obvious answer was that despite the OHS being a non-profit someone is making money off of it. The more extreme speculation suggested by some is that the OHS sells animals to animal research in compliance with the Ontario Animals for Research Act. "The Ontario Animals for Research Act requires pounds to relinquish dogs and cats they have held for more than three days if requisitioned by a registered research facility. ... [it is stipulated] that laboratories pay only $6 per dog and $2 per cat. In contrast, a person wanting to adopt one of these animals as a companion could be required to pay up to $150 for a dog and $80 for a cat." [1] It is publicly stated though that any pound associated with the SPCA including the OHS do not approve or comply with this Act, but without evidence either way it is impossible to know.

It should be noted however that the OHS does provide some important services to the community such as spay/neuter education, community education programs, cruelty investigations, emergency response and micro-chipping family pets this is why the campaign is to reform the OHS not abolish it. Plus many other Humane societies have much higher standards then the Ottawa version, including real animal temperament testing techniques. Regardless the Ottawa Humane society has too many issues to deserve the name 'humane' and needs some real changes and accountability.

For more information:
Reform the Ottawa Humane Society:
The Ottawa Humane Society:
Cruel Science (Canadian Animal Testing):

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Opinion: 2011? Supporting our Troops?

As we come close to the end of Canada's military role in Afghanistan, the war drums are on again to continue the occupation longer. The Canadian combat operations are set to end in Afghanistan in February 2009, a year from now. Due to this Stephen Harper is on the warpath to extend combat operations until 2011. He has stated after that, the operations would be handed over to Afghan security forces.

Yet, this would indicate that slowly the country is getting more stability. This is not the case. Even in Kabul considered one of the safest regions suicide attacks have started, which is a tactic that up until recently was rare in Afghanistan even if a widely used tactic in Iraq. Norway has actually had to evacuate their embassy recently in Kabul [1] due to terror threats. Plus Canadians are having more and more people come home in body bags.

In a letter I sent to former Minister of Defence Gordon O'Conner when the combat mission was extended in May 2006 to continue to February 2009, one of his major statements was "When terrorists attacked the United States on 11
September 2001, 24 Canadians died. We must do all that we can to tackle the
terrorist threat to our national interests before Canadian lives are lost again." [2] In total so far 79 Canadians have died in Afghanistan which by my count is much higher. The numbers are concentrated in the last few years however with 37 deaths in 2006, 30 in 2007 and 4 so far just this year.

According to a recent Strategic Counsel poll [3] more Canadians think that Canada is in Afghanistan because, the United States wants them there. More Canadians think their foreign policy is less independent then 50 years ago and that the US is the thing most influencing foreign policy. Plus according to their July 2007 study [4] Most Canadians (59%) oppose our troops being in Afghanistan.

Lets bring our troops home, go with public opinion, and not see any more destruction of our military or the death of our soldiers.

[2] Personal Email Sept 27, 2006

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Toronto: Canadian Beauty Queen discriminated against for being Wiccan

15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. -- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

It seems that the religion aspect of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms according to the Miss Toronto Tourism pageant doesn't refer to Wiccans.

I am by far not one who frequents the world of Beauty Pageants and, in fact have many problems with them, but the outright discrimination of anyone on the basis of religion is something that bothers me. Recently the Miss Toronto Tourism Pageant dropped Miss Canada Plus as a judge due to finding out "her hobbies are yoga, reiki and tarot card reading." According to the pageant reiki and tarot card reading are occult practices and are "...not acceptable by God, Jews, Muslims or Christians. Tarot card reading is witchcraft and is used by witches, spiritists and mediums to consult the dark world." This was the direct reasoning for her being dropped from being a judge.

The result of which was Miss Canada Plus openly coming out as a Wiccan and a Witch. She tried to dispel the myths that either are evil and worship the devil. This outright discrimination is despicable by a supposedly secular organization. Worse is the denunciation of what is or is not acceptable to God and obviously their consideration of who counts as a religion.

Her practices were demonized to the extent that Karen Murray, Miss Toronto Tourism pageant director said, "We want someone down to earth, not someone into the dark side or the occult." If Ms. Murray wasn't obviously ignorant she would know that in fact Wiccans are more 'down to earth' then those who practice Abrahamic religions as Wiccans believe in the direct worship and respect for the Earth, in comparison to Abrahamic religions which believe they can do as they wish with the Earth as its a gift to them from God.

To quote the Toronto Star "The letter went on to quote a couple of passages from the Bible, including one from the book of Leviticus that warns, 'Do not turn to mediums or seek out spirits for you will be defiled by them.'

'We hope that Stephanie Conover will turn from these belief systems and will repent from her practice of them,' the letter reads."

Ms Conover (Miss Canada Plus) character was also directly insulted merely for this, not on any of her actual record. She may be taking the organization to court. I certainly hope she does and wins.

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