Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ontario: Premier McGuinty Starts boy band

[A friend of mine from Toronto posted this and I found it so funny I thought I'd forward it. P.S. sorry about the lack of posts I'm having internet issues as my router broke down]

because the manufacturing sector is collapsing, well we here in Ontario need to put those hard hats to a different use.


so, i wonder if this is what Premier Dalton McGuinty (the lead singer) had in mind when he laid out 1.5 billion for retraining and apprenticeships. if so, i fully support it!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Brussels: Activists Shut down NATO for a day

Oh how I love Europeans, maybe it is just me but, I don't think North Americans would do this, well maybe Quebecers would supply clowns. On Saturday according to the Independent Media Center 500-1000 (depending on report) Europeans from 17 different countries shut down NATO headquarters. They came in small groups of 20 or 30 and went at the headquarters from basically every direction with materials to scale the barbed wire fences and barricades, including one marching brigade of clowns.

The police were very much expecting the protesters however, and came prepared with attack dogs, water cannons, jail buses and, quite a few police on horseback. The protesters were there due to what they saw as the terrorism and war committed by NATO around the world. One protester put the emphasis on the United States and Britain as the main perpetrators [1 Indymedia movie]. One of the major influences of the date was the anniversary of the Iraq war last week. According to the BBC around 150 protesters were arrested by Belgium police[2].

Images from the Independent Media Center

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Activist Video: Howard Zinn On Human Nature and Aggression

I've been reading a lot of Howard Zinn lately, provocative historian and activist. He was a major organizer in the civil rights movement of the US as well as the 1970s peace movement. One of his most famous books is A People's History of the United States.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Opinion: Religious Holidays in our 'Secular' Society

So, today is a statutory holiday here in Canada. It is due to the Christian holiday Good Friday which is part of Christian (although Christian Orthodox is later) celebrations for Easter the day when supposedly the day Jesus rose from the dead. Although, I could go on a long tirade about how the story of Jesus was stolen from previous gods, or that the holiday Easter is just taken from a Pagan fertility goddess whose symbols were the egg and rabbit, I would rather talk about these statutory holidays in our 'secular' society.

Canada is supposed to be a secular multi-cultural society where people of all ethnicities and religions are created equal. Yet, when it comes to holidays we are not. Now I have to admit not having to work today and still getting paid is quite something I enjoy. However, I certainly believe that the framework we have in this country for religious holidays is obviously biased and unfair. For the vast amount of Canadians who are Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox Christian, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Bah'ai, Atheist and more they are pushed aside on holidays saying Good Friday, Christmas and, the Christian New Years are the date accepted as holidays. Although, I have less issue with New Years due to its fairly overarching acceptance, though still created by a Pope, I certainly have issues with Good Friday and Christmas.

The only reason these days are at all good for me is getting statutory holiday pay and that I have certain segments of my family who are Christian (though I and my mother are not). My suggestion is giving each person the choice of so many religious holidays a year to take, these would be paid holidays taken upon whatever your faith's days are. If you are however atheist you may take these days simply as free vacation days. People may say that this would create too many problems, would put things out of balance, but I think if scheduled and an actual will was made in our society it could work. However, as I always am assumed to be Christian and am wished a Happy Easter when I celebrate the Spring Equinox and full moon, I have my doubts our society will have the will any time soon.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

USA: Presidential Politics and the War

Usually I stay out of US electoral politics, but after the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and the occupation going into the sixth year and a large number of Americans who watch my site I decided to comment. I hear a lot about ending the war by both the Democratic candidates. When in reality none of the presidential candidates are truly for ending the war despite the widespread opposition to the continued occupation throughout the United States. Below I will detail the three candidates and their actual policies.

John McCain - Republican

John McCain of the three candidates is probably the most honest about his position on the war. He has taken the quintessential stance of the current Republican leadership that the war should have been fought and the policy title on his website is "Strategy for Victory in Iraq". John McCain is an interesting candidate in that he previously had spoken out against the administration on torture, actually served in Vietnam and, had in the past talked out against those on the strong religious right. This resulted in him being liked by people such as Jon Stewart and Bill Maher. During this election that however, changed resulting in him falling in line with the hard Republican and religious right.

McCain currently wishes for more funding for security forces and reconstruction. He wants to keep senior officials in place instead of rotating them, put pressure on Syria and Iran, convince the American people that it is important to stay in Iraq called "Win the homefront" on his website and, ultimately has no plan for ever withdrawing unless the Iraqi's 'stand up'. Which at the moment they seem to be doing just against each other and against US rule.

Hillary Clinton - Democrat

Clinton's website may be very against the war with the title "Ending the War in Iraq" and quotes such as "Our message to the president is clear. It is time to begin ending this war -- not next year, not next month -- but today." These seem like more rhetoric then anything as her end to the war would still include tens of thousands of troops left in Iraq.

Clinton's campaign has been run on that she is the candidate with experience. When we look at her experience we also see a telling history. Clinton while her husband was President always supported his actions including bombings of Iraq and sanctions that resulted in the deaths of untold Iraqis. When she was acting as a Senator of New York she voted for the invasion and has not once truly apologized for that action. She sat on the Armed Services Committee during that time and, rarely created real opposition to the continuing occupation and, up until recently had not even acknowledged private military contractors. Clinton since a statement by the Obama team has now joined legislation to ban private contractors including groups such as Blackwater, but this has been a obviously political move not one based on ethics.

Barack Obama - Democrat

Obama has been touted by many to be the anti-war candidate. He made a speech against the invasion of Iraq prior to the invasion and in comparison to the other two candidates has a fairly clear history. Obama is believed to be a bridge due to his ethnic background, eloquent persona and, relative blank slate. Although, he has been better then the other candidates on the issue of Iraq, but is not anti-war. He may have the rhetoric of ending the war.

Of all the candidates Obama has probably the most comprehensive policy on foreign policy, but that includes being staunchly pro-Isreal, enlarging the US military, sending more forces to Afghanistan and, keeping 'residual forces' in Iraq. These residual forces would include 40-80 thousand forces as well as keeping in place the private contractors of which there are currently around 180 thousand which are not accurately kept in line. The US Embassy (which is less an embassy and more a giant military Americanized zone) and the green zone would still be kept in place under Obama's plan.

Ultimately I would like it to be understood that the rhetoric put out in the media about ending the war is anything but true by these candidates. Though Senator Obama seems to have the most comprehensive foreign policy plan he too is not anti-war and that should be understood. I ultimately do not support any candidate nor do I think a Canadian has the need to do so or not, but sadly what happens in those elections will effect Canada, Iraq, Afghanistan and, the rest of the world.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tibet: Increase in Chinese Violence Against Protests

For those who haven't heard mass protests have been sweeping across Tibet against Chinese rule. Tibet had been a free country up until the 1950 invasion by the Chinese Communists. The Chinese government brutally squashed any dissent and went through a period of cultural genocide by destroying temples, monasteries and, doing awful things to any practitioner of Buddhism especially the monks and nuns. For a while though still under strict Chinese rule Tibet was semi-autonomous due to creation of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965 and its physical separation from the rest of China. The distance from the rest of China was altered however by the 2006 completion of a railway to Lhasa the capital of Tibet allowing for the increasing of Chinese exploitation of resources and clamp down of power.

Protests in occupied Tibet started a couple weeks ago coinciding with the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese occupation of Tibet. The protests were started mainly by Buddhist monks, but has spread to Tibetan exiles marching over the Indian-Chinese border and, many civilians in Tibet. Some of the protests have actually become violent including stores and police cars being set on fire. The Chinese response however has been even more violent and deadly. Below is part of a release from the Free Tibet Campaign:

The photos, which clearly show gunshot wounds, were taken on Sunday night and Monday morning at Kirtii monastery. As Free Tibet Campaign reported on 16 March 2008 (release below) an eyewitness told Free Tibet Campaign's contact in Dharamsala that he had seen Chinese security forces fire into the crowd of Tibetan protesters and that he had seen 13 Tibetans killed as a result of the firing. Other eyewitnesses reported seeing 30 Tibetans shot dead.

These photos, together with the eyewitness statement, provide conclusive force that lethal force was used at Aba town by the Chinese security forces on 16 March 2008. The photos directly contradict recent denials to the press by Jampa Phuntsog (Chairman of the Tibetan Autonomous Region Govt) and China Premier Wen Jia Bao that Chinese security forces had not used lethal force.

The photos were taken long before the Chinese government's deadline of midnight Monday and prove that the use of lethal force has been in force long before the Chinese government's supposed deadline for protesters to turn themselves in before the use of force would be used.

Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign said: "These photos provide shocking proof of the brutality being exercised by Chinese forces in forcefully putting down Tibetan protests. It is not acceptable for national governments to call merely for restraint from the Chinese government. Government leaders must immediately condemn China's clear use of lethal force and demand that China's leaders stop their brutal crackdown on Tibetan protesters."

If one follows the below link one will see the photographic evidence. I do however warn people that these images are highly graphic. I feel that these images need to be shown, but I will leave it up the reader whether they feel comfortable enough. See the pictures here.

Images taken from Al Jazeera English

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Activist Video: Drug War Reality Tour

I have to admit on this Saint Patrick's Day my mind does not go to celebration it goes to addiction. I see so many people use any holiday simply as an excuse for addictive behaviour. Therefore for those who haven't seen this Guerrilla News Network video Drug War Reality Tour, this is an amazing video. Addiction is a medical and economic issue not a legal issue.

Original video at: Guerrilla News Network

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ottawa: Hundreds Protest War, Thousands More around the World

Approximately 700-1000 people took over the streets of Ottawa yesterday in opposition to the continuing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The protest was part of a national and international series of protests against these continuing wars. March 19th is the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq which has killed over 29000 officially and some estimates go as high as one million dead as a result of the invasion. Protests in Canada and the UK were called for the Saturday before though many protests in the United States are happening actually on the 19th.

The Ottawa protest which joined Canadians coast to coast in over 20 reported cities was mainly focused on Canadian direct involvement in Afghanistan. The occupation has become increasingly unpopular throughout the country as according to the latest Angus Reid Poll [1] 61% of Canadians oppose the extension of the mission beyond February 2009 and 53% saying they would like to see a withdrawal even before February 2009. Despite the widespread opposition this past thursday a motion was past in Parliament to extend the occupation until 2011. It was opposed by the NDP, Bloc, and a few lone Liberals, but it was passed mainly out of desire by the Liberals not to go into an election, not what the electorate wanted.

Students started the rally here in Ottawa starting from the University of Ottawa and mainly comprising Carleton University and University of Ottawa students who were members of the Student Coalition Against War. They blocked off Rideau and Sussex with a mockuppation a reccuring theme for Ottawa students. With people in orange jump suits and many people with red paint representing blood on their hands they denounced the war and shouted about war profiteers including companies like SNC Lavalin and Boeing. The protest was marched down Sussex to meet the main demonstration starting at the National Art Gallery.

At the National Art Gallery there were a number of speakers organized by the Ottawa Peace Congress. Some of the speakers included Francios Picard of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, the assistant to the President of the Canadian Labour Congress, members of various local peace groups, Qais Ghanem a poet and Green Party candidate for Ottawa South, NDP Member of Parliament Libby Davies as well as her colleagues from the Gatineau NDP coalition, a representative from the Association of Arab Professionals and, performances by the Just Voices Choir and the Raging Grannies.

As demonstrators started to get cold due to the snowy weather the protest was moved going through part of the market leading to the United States Embassy. Outside the Embassy a large die in was enacted using a giant tarp and about a third of the demonstrators. Chants were shout out such as "Bush and Harper are the Same the Only Difference is the name" and "Bush Bush We know you, your daddy was a killer too" as well as the death tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan being read out. It has been estimated around 40,000 people have been killed so far in Afghanistan. Afterwards the protest moved up to a brief stop off at Parliament Hill. After that the demonstration split up many people going home and some going to the Anti-War teach-in that happened at the Ottawa Public Library including a recent CBC documentary on how Drug Lords rule Afghanistan's parliament, a live video feed from Winter Soldier the testimonies of US soldiers testifying of the atrocities they've seen and done in Iraq and Afghanistan, finishing with some speeches from Afghanistani community members.

All Images are my own property. Unfortunately my camera battery died before the actual march started images are of the Student Protest and pre-march presentation

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

In Memory: Of all those who Died

I would like everyone who reads this today or in the coming weeks to take one minute. Just one minute out of their lives to have a moment of silence for those who have died in the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention in all other wars. Below is a list of Canadian soldiers who have died in Afghanistan, let us remember them and outcry against the death of any more. I wish I could say more about each person who has died, but as wars rage on people become faces, faces become names, names become numbers and, numbers are faceless and nameless.

Sergeant Marc D. Léger Lancaster, Ontario
Corporal Ainsworth Dyer Montreal, Quebec
Private Richard Green Mill Cove, Nova Scotia
Private Nathan Smith Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia

Sergeant Robert Alan Short Fredericton, New Brunswick
Corporal Robbie Christopher Beerenfenger Ottawa, Ontario

Corporal Jamie Brendan Murphy Conception Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador

Private Braun Scott Woodfield Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia

Diplomat Glyn Berry United Kingdom
Master Corporal Timothy Wilson Grande Prairie, Alberta
Corporal Paul Davis Bridgewater, Nova Scotia
Private Robert Costall Gibsons, British Columbia
Corporal Matthew Dinning Richmond Hill, Ontario
Lieutenant William Turner Toronto, Ontario
Myles Mansell Victoria, British Columbia
Corporal Randy Payne Gananoque, Ontario
Captain Nichola Goddard Calgary, Alberta
Corporal Anthony Boneca Thunder Bay, Ontario
Corporal Francisco Gomez Edmonton, Alberta
Corporal Jason Patrick Warren Quebec City, Quebec
Corporal Christopher Jonathan Reid Truro, Nova Scotia
Sergeant Vaughn Ingram Burgeo, Newfoundland and Labrador
Corporal Bryce Jeffrey Keller Regina, Saskatchewan
Private Kevin Dallaire Calgary, Alberta
Master Corporal Raymond Arndt Edson, Alberta
Master Corporal Jeffrey Scott Walsh Regina, Saskatchewan
Corporal Andrew James Eykelenboom Comox, British Columbia
Corporal David Braun Raymore, Saskatchewan
Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish Truro, Nova Scotia
Warrant Officer Richard Francis Nolan Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador
Private William Jonathon James Cushley Port Lambton, Ontario
Sergeant Shane Stachnik Waskatenau, Alberta
Private Mark Anthony Graham Hamilton, Ontario
Private David Byers Espanola, Ontario
Corporal Shane Keating Dalmeny, Saskatchewan
Corporal Keith Morley Winnipeg, Manitoba
Corporal Glen Arnold McKerrow, Ontario
Private Josh Klukie Thunder Bay, Ontario
Sergeant Craig Paul Gillam South Branch, Newfoundland and Labrador
Corporal Robert Thomas James Mitchell Owen Sound, Ontario
Trooper (Private) Mark Andrew Wilson London, Ontario
Sergeant Darcy Tedford Calgary, Alberta
Private Blake Williamson Ottawa, Ontario
Chief Warrant Officer Robert Girouard Bouctouche, New Brunswick
Corporal Albert Storm Niagara Falls, Ontario

Corporal Kevin Megeney Stellarton, Nova Scotia
Sergeant Donald Lucas St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
Corporal Aaron E. Williams Lincoln, New Brunswick
Corporal Brent Poland Camlachie, Ontario
Private David Robert Greenslade Saint John, New Brunswick
Private Kevin Vincent Kennedy St. Lawrence, Newfoundland and Labrador
Corporal Christopher Paul Stannix Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Master Corporal Allan Stewart Newcastle, New Brunswick
Trooper Patrick James Pentland Geary, New Brunswick
Master Corporal Anthony Klumpenhouwer Listowel, Ontario
Corporal Matthew McCully Orangeville, Ontario
Master Corporal Darryl Jason Priede Burlington, Ontario
Trooper Darryl Caswell Bowmanville, Ontario
Sergeant Christos Karigiannis Laval, Quebec
Corporal Stephen Frederick Bouzane Scarborough, Ontario
Private Joel Vincent Wiebe Edmonton, Alberta
Captain Matthew Johnathan Dawe Kingston, Ontario
Corporal Jordan Anderson Iqaluit, Nunavut
Corporal Cole Bartsch Whitecourt, Alberta
Private Lane Watkins Clearwater, Manitoba
Captain Jefferson Francis Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia
Master Corporal Colin Bason Abbotsford, British Columbia
Private Simon Longtin Longueuil, Quebec
Master Warrant Officer Mario Mercier Estrie, Quebec
Master Corporal Christian Duchesne Montreal, Quebec
Major Raymond Ruckpaul Hamilton, Ontario
Corporal Nathan Hornburg Calgary, Alberta
Corporal Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec
Private Michel Levesque Rivière-Rouge, Quebec
Gunner Jonathan Dion Val-d'Or, Quebec

Warrant Officer Hani Massouh Alexandria, Egypt
Corporal Eric Labbé Rimouski, Quebec
Trooper Richard Renaud Alma, Quebec
Corporal Etienne Gonthier Quebec City, Quebec
Trooper Michael Yuki Hayakaze Edmonton, Alberta
Bombardier Jérémie Ouellet Matane, Quebec

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Activist Video: Sara Marlowe Power of the People

Rise up! Show the power of the people tomorrow!

Saturday, March 15, 1 PM
Gather at the National Gallery
(Giant Spider, St. Patrick and Sussex, map)
Student Protest outside University of Ottawa Morriset Library 12 noon

Across Canada: Canadian Peace Alliance Call-Out

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ottawa: International Womyn's Day Celebrations

I missed posting about this on International Womyn's Day as I have been sick and the internet was down temporarily. However, saturday March 8th was International Womyn's Day which has been celebrated since the early 1900s with wide ranging events such as womyn's rights protests, workshops, international conferences, and other events. International Women's Day is actually an official holiday in multiple countries (mostly the former USSR countries) as the March 8th date comes from the beginning of the Russian womyn's "bread and peace" campaign in 1917 though, the day was also linked internationally to a protest in 1857 where womyn in New York walked out of factories in protest despite police repression.

In Ottawa this year most events such as the march for womyn's rights, the workshops at the Bronson Center, and others were canceled or postponed. This was due to one of the largest blizzards in many years (except for one earlier this winter). The art events showcasing the art of womyn of colour at the Agora, and the break dancing/trip-hop/electro event Ladies in the House still occurred at Babylon with large success despite the storm. The canceled workshops will probably be simply postponed until mid-April.

Womyn are far from equal in Canada with a discrepancy of 72.5 Cents on the dollar (which is actually an improvement however), a government body for womyn which no longer has equality in its mandate, only 21% of parliament being womyn and, much higher levels of violence and abuse.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

UK: British SAS soldier tells of Extrodinary Rendition

I wanted to pass on this information for those who haven't heard already. Originally came to me through the blog If there is hope...

Griffin's statement:

This statement was prepared and read by Ben Griffin, ex-SAS soldier, at a press conference on Monday 25 February 2008.

Our government would have us believe that our involvement in the process known as Extraordinary Rendition is limited to two occasions on which planes carrying detainees landed to refuel on the British Indian Ocean Territory, Diego Garcia. David Miliband has stated that the British Government expects the Government of the United States to “seek permission to render detainees via UK territory and airspace, including Overseas Territories; that we will grant that permission only if we are satisfied that the rendition would accord with UK law and our international obligations; and how we understand our obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture¹.” (Taken from a statement given to the House of Commons by the Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Thursday 21 February 2008)

The use of British territory and airspace pales into insignificance in light of the fact that it has been British soldiers detaining the victims of Extraordinary Rendition in the first place. Since the invasion of Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001 UKSF has operated within a joint US/UK Task Force. This Task Force has been responsible for the detention of hundreds if not thousands of individuals in Afghanistan and Iraq. Individuals detained by British soldiers within this Task force have ended up in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, Bagram Theatre Internment Facility, Balad Special Forces Base, Camp Nama BIAP and Abu Ghraib Prison.

Whilst the government has stated its desire that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp be closed, it has remained silent over these other secretive prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. These secretive prisons are part of a global network in which individuals face torture and are held indefinately without charge. All of this is in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions, International Law and the UN Convention Against Torture.

Early involvement of UKSF in the process of Extraordinary Rendition centres around operations carried out in Afghanistan in late 2001. Of note is an incident at the Qalai Janghi fortress, near Mazar-i-Sharif. UKSF fought alongside their US counterparts to put down a bloody revolt by captured Taliban fighters. The surviving Taliban fighters were then rendered to Guantanamo Bay.

After the invasion of Iraq in 2003 this joint US/UK task force appeared. Its primary mission was to kill or capture high value targets. Individuals detained by this Task Force often included non-combatants caught up in the search for high value targets. The use of secret detention centres within Iraq has negated the need to use Guantanamo Bay whilst allowing similar practice to go unnoticed.

I have here an account taken from an interpreter interviewed by the organisation Human Rights Watch ( He was based at the detention and interrogation facility within Camp Nama at Baghdad International Airport during 2004. This facility was used to interrogate individuals captured by the joint US/UK Task Force. In it are the details of numerous breaches of the Geneva Convention and accounts of torture. These breaches were not the actions of rogue elements the abuse was systematic and sanctioned through the chain of command. This account is corroborated by an investigation carried out by NYT reporters into Camp Nama and the US/UK Task Force, which appeared in the New York Times on March 19 2006. Throughout my time in Iraq I was in no doubt that individuals detained by UKSF and handed over to our American colleagues would be tortured. During my time as member of the US/UK Task Force, three soldiers recounted to me an incident in which they had witnessed the brutal interrogation of two detainees. Partial drowning and an electric cattle prod were used during this interrogation and this amounted to torture. It was the widely held assumption that this would be the fate of any individuals handed over to our America colleagues. My commanding officer at the time expressed his concern to the whole squadron that we were becoming “the secret police of Baghdad”.

As UK soldiers within this Task Force a policy that we would detain individuals but not arrest them was continually enforced. Since it was commonly assumed by my colleagues that anyone we detained would subsequently be tortured this policy of detention and not arrest was regarded as a clumsy legal tool used to distance British soldiers from the whole process.

During the many operations conducted to apprehend high value targets numerous non-combatants were detained and interrogated in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention regarding the treatment of civilians in occupied territories. I have no doubt in my mind that non-combatants I personally detained were handed over to the Americans and subsequently tortured.

The joint US/UK Task Force has broken International Law, contravened The Geneva Conventions and disregarded the UN Convention Against Torture. British soldiers are intimately involved in the actions of this Task Force. Jack Straw, Margaret Beckett David Miliband, Geoff Hoon, Des Browne, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown. In their respective positions over the last five years they must know that British soldiers have been operating within this joint US/UK task force. They must have been briefed on the actions of this unit.

As the occupiers of Iraq we have a duty to uphold the law, to abide by the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture. We are also responsible for securing the borders of Iraq on all counts we have failed. The British Army once had a reputation for playing by the rules. That reputation has been tarnished over the last seven years. We have accepted illegality as the norm. I have no doubt that over the coming months and years increasing amounts of information concerning the actions of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will be become public.

Whilst the majority of British Forces have been withdrawn from Iraq, UKSF remain within the US/UK Task Force.

¹Torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, is "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession.”

Ben Griffin
25 February 2008

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Activist Video: 5 Years Too Many

Protests are happening around the world to mark the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. For those in Ottawa please join in the protest against the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ottawa Saturday March 15th
1pm Rally And March starting at the National Gallery
2:30pm A Teach in at the National Archives of Canada

For those in other parts of Canada go to: The Canadian Peace Alliance
For those in the United States go to: 5 Years Too Many
For those in the UK go to: Stop the War Coalition

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Alberta: Suspected Neo-Nazis Firebomb House

This is a story that I only heard today. In Calgary a home of two Communist Party Members was firebombed using molatov cocktails on February 12th. The couple and their four children were able to escape the home, but the home itself was badly damaged. Neo-Nazi white supremacist group members are suspected of causing the crime. The couple Jason Devine and Bonnie Collins believe the reason they were attacked was due to their strong Anti-Racism activism and workshops done around Calgary.

Alberta has had some of the strongest support for Neo-Nazi and white supremacist movements. Though other parts of the country have certainly experienced these movements as well, including white supremacist marches on Parliament Hill during the early 1990s where members were attacking people in the streets and giving the heil to the Canadian Anthem. Alberta however, is one of the few provinces where actual organized groups are active in comparison to unorganized racists here and there. As Neo-Nazi groups in the past few years in Alberta have actually held demonstrations. A great post on one of the groups The Aryan Guard can be found at the Anti-Racist Canada blog.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Afghanistan: Opium Production and Death Toll on the Rise

In Afghanistan things seem to be getting worse according to opium production and death tolls. Opium used to create the world's supply of mainly heroin has been a major issue in Afghanistan for many years. Before the invasion of US and NATO led forces into Afghanistan in 2001/2 Afghanistan had been the lead supplier of Opium producing approximately 75% of the world's opium in 1999. However, come 2000 to early 2001 the Taliban reduced the cultivation drastically which was confirmed by the United Nations [1]. Since the coalition invasion however opium production has risen each year to formerly unknown heights. In 2007 93% of the worlds opium came from Afghanistan which is more then any country ever before. It is also estimated that 14% of Afghanis are participating in the cultivation of poppies [2] and a 78% unemployment rate. This is mainly due to the increasing instability in the country and the economic viability of opium which produces at least 4X or more profits in comparison to other crops.

The instability in Afghanistan is seen very blatantly through increasing mortality rates. 2007 also had the highest mortality rates of more then 6500 deaths by direct conflict 222 being outside forces [3] including 30 Canadians. Five more Canadian soldiers have died already this year including yesterday Trooper Michael Yuki Hayakaze, with no knowledge of how many more casualties will result during the spring and summer -- consistently the most violent time when the most Canadians have lost their lives.

Not to mention that though part of the reason for this war is "Women's Rights". The rights of women are worse then ever. A male journalism student recently looked at a article on the internet that said that women's subjection under Islam was actually a misrepresentation of the Prophet Mohammed's words and the Koran. This has resulted him having to go to court with a possible death sentence. To quote The Independent of London "Violent attacks against females, usually domestic, are at epidemic proportions with 87 per cent of females complaining of such abuse – half of it sexual. More than 60 per cent of marriages are forced. Despite a new law banning the practice, 57 per cent of brides are under the age of 16. The illiteracy rate among women is 88 per cent with just 5 per cent of girls attending secondary school. Maternal mortality rates – one in nine women dies in childbirth – are the highest in the world alongside Sierra Leone." [4] It seems that despite the overthrowing of the Taliban regime things in Afghanistan seven years later are worse not better.

Images of Opium Production and a recent Afghan Funeral from the BBC

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Opinion: Ten Commandments for Changing the World

I was sent this and very much enjoyed it so I figured, I would post a copy of it. Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of the death of one of the authors Tooker Gomberg.

by Angela Bischoff and Tooker Gomberg

Changing the world is a blast. It's all the more achievable if you have some basic skills, and lots of chutzpah. With apologies to Moses, and God, here are our top Ten Commandments For Changing the World. Try them out on your issue. Have fun!

But first, some inspiration from Noam Chomsky: "If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that's something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can't live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organizations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time."

1. You Gotta Believe
Have hope, passion and confidence that valuable change can and does happen because individuals take bold initiative.

2. Challenge Authority
Don't be afraid to question authority. Authority should be earned, not appointed. The "experts" are often proven wrong (they used to believe that the earth was flat!). You don't have to be an expert to have a valuable opinion or to speak out on an issue.

3. Know the System
The system perpetuates itself. Use the tools you have - the telephone is the most underrated. The internet can be of great value for research as well. Learn how decisions are made. How is the bureaucracy structured? Who are the key players? What do they look like? Where do they eat lunch? Go there and talk with them. Get to know their executive assistants. Attend public meetings.

4. Take Action
Do something - anything is better than nothing. Bounce your idea around with friends, and then act. Start small, but think big. Organize public events. Distribute handbills. Involve youth. It's easier to ask for forgiveness after the fact rather than to ask for permission. Just do it! Be flexible. Roll with the punches and allow yourself to change tactics mid-stream. Think laterally. Don't get hung-up on money matters; some of the best actions have no budget.

5. Use the media
Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper are read by thousands. Stage a dramatic event and invite the media - they love an event that gives them an interesting angle or good photo. Bypass the mainstream media with email and the world wide web to get the word out about your issue and to network.

6. Build Alliances
Seek out your common allies such as other community associations, seniors, youth groups, labor, businesses, etc. and work with them to establish support. The system wins through Divide and Conquer, so do the opposite! Network ideas, expertise and issues through email lists. Celebrate your successes with others.

7. Apply Constant Pressure
Persevere - it drives those in power crazy. Be as creative as possible in getting your perspective heard. Use the media, phone your politicians, send letters and faxes with graphics and images. Be concise. Bend the Administration's ear when you attend public meetings. Take notes. Ask specific questions, and give a deadline for when you expect a response. Stay in their faces.

8. Teach Alternatives

Propose and articulate intelligent alternatives to the status quo. Inspire people with well thought out, attractive visions of how things can be better. Use actual examples, what's been tried, where and how it works. Do your homework, get the word out, create visual representations. Be positive and hopeful.

9. Learn From your Mistrakes

You're gonna make mistakes; we all do. Critique - in a positive way - yourself, the movement, and the opposition. What works, and why? What isn't working? What do people really enjoy doing, and do more of that.

10. Take Care of Yourself and Each Other
Maintain balance. Eat well and get regular exercise. Avoid burn-out by delegating tasks, sharing responsibility, and maintaining an open process. Be sensitive to your comrades. Have fun. As much as possible, surround yourself with others (both at work and at play) who share your vision so you can build camaraderie, solidarity and support. Enjoy yourself, and nourish your sense of humour. Remember: you're not alone!

So there you have it. Tools for the Evolution. You can easily join the millions of people around the world working towards ecological health and sustainability just by doing something. With a bit of effort, and some extraordinary luck, a sustainable future may be assured for us and the planet. Go forth and agitate."

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