Sunday, December 31, 2006

100,000 Iraqis Flee Their Homes In The Last Month

December 28, 2006 - 100,000 Iraqis flee their homes in the last month

More than 108,000 Iraqis have left their homes and registered as refugees in the last month, a senior official has said. Since the February 22 bombing of a Shi'ite shrine that sparked a wave of sectarian killings between majority Shi'ites and minority Sunnis, about 432,000 Iraqis have fled their homes, Deputy Migration Minister Hamdiya Ahmad said.

"The main reason behind the rise of displaced families is the deterioration of the security situation and the death threats that people have received to flee their houses, in addition to the bombing of safe areas," she said. In Baghdad alone, 42,000 Iraqis have left their homes since the bombing of Samarra. Baghdad has a population of seven million.

(Click here to read more)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam At The End Of A Rope

Saddam At The End Of A Rope By Tariq Ali 30 December, 2006

It was symbolic that 2006 ended with a colonial hanging--- most of it (bar the last moments) shown on state television in occupied Iraq. It has been that sort of year in the Arab world. After a trial so blatantly rigged that even Human Rights Watch---the largest single unit of the US Human Rights industry--- had to condemn it as a total travesty. Judges were changed on Washington's orders; defense lawyers were killed and the whole procedure resembled a well-orchestrated lynch mob. Where Nuremberg was a more dignified application of victor's justice, Saddam's trial has, till now, been the crudest and most grotesque. The Great Thinker President's reference to it 'as a milestone on the road to Iraqi democracy' as clear an indication as any that Washington pressed the trigger.

The contemptible leaders of the European Union, supposedly hostile to capital punishment, were silent, as usual. And while some Shia factions celebrated in Baghdad, the figures published by a fairly independent establishment outfit, the Iraq Centre for Research and Strategic Studies (its self-description: "which attempts to spread the conscious necessity of realizing basic freedoms, consolidating democratic values and foundations of civil society") reveal that just under 90 per cent of Iraqis feel the situation in the country was better before it was occupied.

(Click here to read more)

The War on Terror Hits Africa

The War on Terror Hits Africa By NICK DEARDEN

"The president is not going to allow Somalia to become a safe haven for terrorists."- US spokesperson, May 2006

Once again the Horn of Africa is being drawn into a global power game likely to increase the suffering of its peoples. Ethiopia's attack on Somalia, backed by a nod from George W Bush, is the clearest sign yet that the region in high on the US's agenda in its all-consuming "war on terror". But Ethiopia and Somalia aren't new to global power politics. For decades brutal dictators have received massive support to play the pawns of the US, and previously also the Soviet Union.

(Click here to read more)

Harbor Them! Defend Illegal Immigrants

Help Them! Harbor Them! Defend Illegal Immigrants By DAN La BOTZ

What would the great religions have us do? What would the abolitionists have done? What would the best traditions of the labor movement suggest? How would a humanitarian of any sort react? There can be only one answer: defend the illegal immigrants.

I don't usually use the word. In the immigrant rights movement we say, no human being is illegal. We call them undocumented immigrants. But in this current situation, to be clear to everyone, we'll say: defend the illegal immigrants. All that is best in the American heritage and in the humanitarian traditions of the world call upon us to do so. They are our sisters and brothers. Help them. Harbor them.

(Click here to read more)

In Gaza: Democracy And Its Discontents

In Gaza: Democracy And Its Discontents By Ramzy Baroud 30 December, 2006

It’s all too convenient for the BBC website to describe the ongoing bloodshed between Hamas and Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip as “inter-factional rivalry”, and it’s equally fitting for the Washington Post to narrate the same unfortunate events - which have left many Palestinians dead and wounded - as if they are entirely detached from their adjoining regional and international milieus. Also puzzling are calls made by “leading moderate Arab leaders” to fighting Palestinian factions to convene in this Arab capital or that to settle their differences and to achieve an increasingly elusive ceasefire, as if they, the Arabs - who cowed to US pressure to ensure the success of the debilitating sanctions imposed against the democratic Palestinian governments - haven’t contributed, actively and knowingly to the unfolding crisis in Palestine.

This is all but atypical, where Palestinians will be gently or harshly reprimanded for failing to sort out their differences in a more civilized manner, where they will be taught a lesson or two by some self-righteous American commentators about the true meaning of democracy, where they will be reminded that they are “their own worst enemies” and that they never “miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Nonsense.

(Click here to read more)

Friday, December 29, 2006

Re-Talibanization of Afghanistan

Design or Consequence of US Policy? The Re-Talibanization of Afghanistan By ABID MUSTAFA

Lately, relations between Kabul and Islamabad have taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Hamid Karzai has accused Pakistan of spurring the Taliban to carry out attacks against his fledgling government and the NATO troops that defend it. He is not alone in holding Pakistan responsible for the re-emergence of the Taliban. NATO commanders, the New York Times and the International Crisis Group (ISG) have all pointed the finger at Pakistan for fomenting the Pushtoon resistance that shows no sign of abating.

On its part, the Musharraf government vehemently denies such accusations and continues to blame Karzai's government for its failure to include the Taliban and other militants as part of the national reconciliation drive. It must be stressed here"Pakistan is almost isolated on its present stance"evidence to the contrary shows that Islamabad has actively nurtured Taliban fighters to reassert their authority on towns and villages ceded to US led forces in the aftermath Taliban's collapse during the winter of 2001. Oddly enough, the Whitehouse instead of holding Islamabad to account has thrown its weight behind the Pakistani government and has suggested that a more collaborative approach between Islamabad and Kabul would stymie the rising militancy in Afghanistan. Washington's ambivalent attitude raises the question; is America encouraging the emergence of Taliban as a way of extricating itself from Afghanistan?

(Click here to read more)

TATA out of Singur

Headline Singur By Amitadyuti Kumar 30 December, 2006

It was the 3rd week of May, 2006 – the 18th day to be exact. The Left Front Government was sworn in for the 7th time in a row. Almost immediately Singur, an otherwise non-descript rural area in the Hooghly District, suddenly made the headlines. On that afternoon, the Chief Minister Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharyee, sitting alongside Mr Ratan Tata, the chief of a dominant Indian capitalist group - the TATA’s, announced in a press conference that Tata Motors had made an agreement with the state government to set up a factory for small cars at Singur. In the press conference it was also made public that the state government would hand over 1000 acres of land in Singur. It cleverly remained silent on whether any Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) had been signed.

Towards the evening the news spread in Singur and so did the people’s anger. The next day marked the beginning of public outrage. It did not wait for any organizational strength, political leadership. The fear of unemployment and starvation was so palpable that it broke all the barriers of age, gender and what’s more their political identities. It is not the first time that farmers’ land is taken away.

(Click here to read more)

Egypt: Workers Revolt

LABOUR-EGYPT: Workers' Revolt Pays Off by Emad Mekay. December 29, 2006 IPS

MAHALA EL-KOBRA, Egypt, Dec 14 (IPS) - More than 20,000 Egyptian textile workers have scored a rare win over plans to privatise their publicly-owned company, with a massive strike that forced the company's management and the pro-free market government to back down. Union leaders say the triumph has breathed life into the country's ailing labour movement, weakened by repeated hits from the government of President Hosni Mubarak. The last strike in this city was in 1988.

Workers at the al-Mahala Textile Company (Ghazl al-Mahala) in the country's northwest demonstrated for five days starting last weekend and occupied several factories to protest a decision by the company's chairman Mahmoud el-Gebaly to withhold bonus payments, as promised earlier by the government. Nearly a quarter of the strikers were women. Management had said the decision was a way to lower expenses, even though the original promise was to give workers a meagre bonus of 200 Egyptian pounds per year -- about 35 dollars.

(Click here to read more)

CALL TO ACTION: January 11th, 2007 International Day of Action to Shut Down Guantánamo

CALL TO ACTION: International Day of Action to Shut Down Guantánamo

"There is little question of how history will respond to Guantánamo…it will be looked back on with condescension and bemusement. How could we be so foolish, misguided, cruel? How we will respond is a legal question and a political question. But it is most of all a moral question. Will we respond with courage or cowardice? This is our choice." - Joseph Margulies, a lawyer challenging the indefinite detention of the prisoners at Guantánamo

On January 11th, 2002, twenty hooded and shackled men shuffled off a plane from Afghanistan, arriving at the U.S. prison at Guantánamo. In an attempt to sidestep the Geneva Convention protections for prisoners of war, the Bush administration created a new category of “enemy combatant” for these men captured in the “war on terror.”

Since that time, more than one thousand men and boys have been imprisoned at Guantánamo. Accounts of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment have been condemned by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and other reputable bodies. The prisoners have resorted to hunger strikes as a way of protesting their treatment. Many have attempted suicide; three men killed themselves on June 10th 2006. Desperation, fear and frustration mark their confinement.

(Click here to read more)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Insecurity and Poverty In Iraq Put Pregnant Women In Danger

Insecurity and poverty in Iraq put pregnant women in danger. Report, IRIN, 26 December 2006

BAGHDAD - For years Salah Hussein, 26, had dreamed of having a child, but he never imagined that his wish would be marred by the death of his wife in childbirth. Hussein's wife, Fadiya, died of complications during a delivery which, doctors said, were caused by malnutrition and the stress of living in a war-torn country.

"We are a poor family and I couldn't afford to buy her good food. This was not my fault but the fault of this destroyed country in which the conditions of the health sector are worsening day by day," said Hussein who works as a barber in the capital, Baghdad. Dozens of pregnant women with life-threatening conditions are being admitted to Iraq's hospitals every month.Dr. Mayada Youssif, a gynaecologist at Baghdad's Kadhimiyah hospital, believes that pregnant women are falling ill due to the insecurity and poverty that Iraqis have to live with as a result of the conflict.

(Click here to read more)

Uncle and a 3-Year-Old Will Lead Protests Against Palestinian Immigrant Jailings in Texas

Uncle and a 3-Year-Old Will Lead Protests: Palestinian Immigrant Jailings in Texas By GREG MOSES December 28, 2006 (Counterpunch)

The brother of a jailed Palestinian man whose children and pregnant wife are being held in a Texas jail says he will stage a small protest with his 3-year-old niece Friday morning outside the San Antonio offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at 8940 Fourwinds Dr.

"I am an American citizen, and I know what America is made of," said Ahmad Ibrahim, speaking by telephone Wednesday afternoon. "America is made of good people." Ibrahim will take the family's case to the streets, asking for release of his niece's three sisters, teenage brother, and pregnant mother--all of whom have been held in jail since their midnight arrests on Nov. 3.

(Click here to read more)

The metropolitan left and the Muslim world

The metropolitan left and the Muslim world by Aasim Sajjad Akhtar. December 27, 2006

In much of the western world, progressive political and social forces have rallied to the defence of Muslim immigrant communities that face systematic discrimination following the launching of the ‘war on terror’. In the anti-war movement in the United States and Great Britain for example, Muslim associations have worked closely with secular groups that broadly associate themselves with the political left. This intriguing alignment of forces would appear to be a logical and measured response to the jingoism of many western governments as well as the attendant suspicions and harassment that have become commonplace within larger society.

It is important to be clear that in most cases the left is allying with social and cultural groups that have been associated with the Muslim community, as opposed to overtly political entities that could be categorized as ‘Islamist’. However the effective result of this policy of alignment of progressive groups in Europe and North America is enhanced interaction and even cooperation with political forces that are currently at the forefront of resistance to imperial invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the ongoing brutal occupation of Palestine.

In the final analysis, this resistance is spearheaded by parties and movements that make no bones of their commitment to Islam as the guiding ideology of their politics. In other words, such groups not only seek to defend the rights of Muslims from foreign aggression but also assert their belief in the need for a transformative project that will culminate in a socio-political system guided by the tenets of the Shari’a, or Islamic law.

(Click here to read more)

6000+ migrants dead journeying to Canary Islands

Canaries migrant death toll soars, BBC.

Africans are attempting risky sea journeys to reach Europe. About 6,000 African migrants have died or gone missing on the sea journey to the Canary Islands in 2006, Spanish immigration officials say.

They say more than 31,000 migrants reached the islands in the Atlantic - more than six times as many as in 2005. The coastguard intercepted fewer than 5,000 of them in small wooden - and often overcrowded - boats. The Canaries is one of the most popular destinations for Africans trying to reach Europe to escape poverty. "We're talking about a dramatic number of dead," Froilan Rodriguez, the Canary Islands' deputy director of immigration, told Spain's Cadena Ser radio station.

(Click here to read more)

Statement on UN Sanctions against Iran

CASMII Statement on UN Sanctions against Iran. A Terrible Day for International Diplomacy by CASMII. December 27, 2006

The Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) is gravely concerned about the latest development in the United Nations Security Council. The imposition of sanctions by the Council is ill-advised and destructive to peaceful dialogue. This action not only robs Iranians of their inalienable rights enjoyed by every other nation, it also exposes the irresponsible way in which the international body is being used as a tool to satisfy militant warmongers in US and the West.

This is arguably the first time in history of the Security Council that an entire nation is being punished based not on actual violations of international law, but on pure speculation on the part of some powerful countries, regarding its hypothetical future conduct. As Seymour Hersh reported in The New Yorker, both the CIA and the Israeli intelligence have been unable to substantiate any nuclear weapons program in Iran. Without the slightest evidence presented by the IAEA that indicates the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, the US and the UK have successfully maneuvered to take Iran’s legitimate rights away and to label Iran a “violator” for resisting this transgression. Let us not forget the lessons of the illegal Iraq invasion, the justification for which followed the same path through the UN Security Council only four years ago.

(Click here to read more)

Gateway to the Next Mexican Revolution

Gateway to the Next Mexican Revolution? A Year of Unprecedented Turmoil. By JOHN ROSS

After a tumultuous year in which the red and black flags of civil insurrection unfurled on the barricades and the rancor of "los de abajo" ("those from below") took fire, newly sworn-in president Felipe Calderon and his transnational backers are banking on fading the color scheme to a ubiquitous gray in 2007. Their success will be measured by the fight back of a popular resistance that has surged from the bottom in many parts of the country during 2006. "Unprecedented" became a cliché in Mexico 2006 as social and political turbulence crested in anticipation of the presidential elections. By spring, striking steelworkers were being gunned down and militarized police under the command of Calderon's new attorney general brutalized angry farmers in San Salvador Atenco in one of the most egregious violations of human rights ever witnessed on Mexican screens. The teachers rose in Oaxaca.

The stealing of the election from leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) in July drove millions into the streets in the largest political demonstrations ever recorded on this side of the border. Tens of thousands of protestors encamped in the capital blockading major thoroughfares for seven weeks. Meanwhile, the upsurge in Oaxaca boiled over into urban warfare with death squads in the employ of tyrannical governor Ulisis Ruiz trolling the state capitol with a license to kill. Massive police repression in Oaxaca five days before Calderon's coronation produced hundreds of political prisoners. The first bombings by radical groups in six years sent shivers through Mexico City. The drama culminated in the pandemonium of Calderon's surreal investiture during which the military had to be called out to protect the congress of the country while Lopez Obrador's supporters scuffled with rightwing legislators on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies. 2007 will have a hard time topping its predecessor.

(Click here to read more)

When Iraqis Gave Up on Government

When Iraqis Gave Up on Government. by Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily. December 28, 2006. Inter Press Service

BAGHDAD, Dec 27 (IPS) - The Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Noori al-Maliki, like earlier governments assigned by U.S. occupation authorities in Iraq, appears to have killed Iraqi dreams of a brighter future. General elections Dec. 15, 2005 brought in a government that was supposed to listen to Iraqis all over the country. It was called a unity government because the cabinet was formed to include ministers from all ethnic and sectarian backgrounds after months of negotiations in the parliament."This is a unity government that no one should object to," al-Maliki told reporters recently in Baghdad. "All of the powers in parliament should take part in improving security and services in order to achieve success."Maliki condemned groups such as Jabhat al-Tawafuq and The Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, along with other political groups who have been critical of the government.

Maliki condemned groups such as Jabhat al-Tawafuq and The Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, along with other political groups who have been critical of the government. Jabhat al-Tawafuq comprises three leading Sunni groups: the Iraqi Islamic Party, the Iraqi People's Conference and the National Dialogue Council. Their platform is based on national unity and ending the occupation.The Iraqi Front for National Dialogue also stands for ending the occupation, rebuilding government institutions and improving theeconomic and security situation.But opposition leaders blame Maliki for denying them a role within government, undermining his claim that there is indeed a unity government.

(Click here to read more)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Haitian activist detained in Windsor

JEAN CANDIO - A POLITICAL PRISONER OF THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT. Jean Candio has been imprisoned in Windsor, Ontario since December 13, 2006.

He left Haiti in March, 2004, following the Coup d'etat which culminated in the kidnapping of democratically elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He left as a result of persecution brought about against the Lavalas movement and Party by the U.S./Canadian and French installed interim government which brought back to power many criminal forces from the previous periods of dictatorship in Haiti. In May of 2000 Mr. Candio was elected deputy in the Haitian Parliament. He represented the 2nd region of Aquin. He was elected with 91% of the vote. Prior to the 1991 coup d'etat, Mr. Candio was a Vice-Delegate in the first Aristide government, under Prime Minister Rene Preval, responsible for education and community programs in the region of Aquin from March 2, 1991 until September 30, 1991. After the 1991 coup, Mr. Candio was forced into exile - along with most of the Aristide government - until 1994.

The 2004 coup, like the 1991 coup, was orchestrated and financed by foreign powers, specifically, in the most recent case by the governments of the U.S., Canada and France. Canada, along with the U.S. sent its troops to Haiti prior to the Coup, which eventually participated in the kidnapping of Haitian President Aristide. Canadian Forces secured the airport from which Aristide was taken out of the country by U.S. marines. Mr. Candio was an outspoken critic of foreign interference in Haiti's affairs, particularly of U.S. interference in Haitian politics. As a result, following the coup, his family was threatened, some of them murdered. His house was burned to the ground, while his sister was still in it.

He fled Haiti initially to the Dominican Republic and then to the United States in March of 2004. He was living in the U.S., with his wife, from that time. From March 2006 to April 2006 he was detained in the U.S. by INS. He was released after negotiating a voluntary departure. On December 13 he crossed the Canada U.S. border at Windsor, leaving his wife and newborn child in the U.S. while he sought refugee status in Canada, where, if successful they would follow. At the border he immediately requested political asylum in Canada. He was detained from that time until today at the Brock Street Prison in Windsor, Ontario.

(Click here to read more)

U.S. Applies Afghan War Tactics On Mexican Border

U.S. applies Afghan war tactics on Mexican border. Dec 20, 2006 By Bernd Debusmann, Special Correspondent

NACO, Arizona (Reuters) - The United States has begun to apply tactics perfected in the war in Afghanistan to tighten control of the border with Mexico, using a mix of age-old hunting techniques and high-tech spy-in-the-sky surveillance.

On the ground, U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback, on foot, and in all-terrain vehicles scour the desert for the footprints of illegal border crossers so they can pursue and arrest them. "Tracking and signcutting are essential skills for us," said Border Patrol Agent Jeffrey Smith. "They are as old as time. What we do here is a mix of the very old and the very new." The wave of illegal crossings from Mexico has become a contentious political problem. Last year, the U.S. border patrol made more than a million arrests and by some estimates for every crossing that fails, two succeed.

(Click here to read more)

Ex-Abu Ghraib detainee recounts atrocities committed by US forces

Ex-Abu Ghraib detainee Recounts Atrocities Committed by US Forces. December 27, 2006. The Peninsula (Qatar)

DOHA • An Iraqi who spent seven months in Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad says he has horrifying experiences to tell of how the US soldiers have committed atrocities on innocent Iraqi civilians who were taken into custody and put behind the bars for no fault of theirs.

And among the prisoners were not only young Iraqi men, but also the elderly, women and children, according to Abdul Jabbar Al Azzawi. Having vowed to expose the "dirty face of America" before the world, Al Azzawi is here holding an exhibition of photographs showing "chilling" human rights violations committed by the US soldiers in his country.

(Click here to read more)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Update from Six Nations by Mohawk Nation News

This update is regarding the land theft at Six Nations known as the “Plank Road”. It is expertly researched and put out by the Six Nations/Haudenosaunee Negotiating Team.

On June 18, 1987, Six Nations submitted the documentation to the Government of Canada verifying Six Nations’ ownership in the Hamilton/Port Dover Plank Road Lands. No response was received from Canada until 19 years later on November 03, 2006 as presented by the Department of Justice and only than as a result of the February 2006 Douglas Creek Land Reclamation. Previously, every documented land claim put forward by Six Nations and counter researched by Canada was validated in Six Nations favor. The stumbling block in resolving these claims has been an acceptable process for Six Nations many complex and unique issues. Canada’s Specific Claims Policy “Outstanding Business” is policy based on the extinguishment of treaty rights and has been recognized by Canada and First Nations across Canada as a failure.

(Click here to read more on the land theft of Plank Road and evidence submitted by Six Nations)

Urgent Action: Denounce UN attacks on Haitian people

Haiti Action Committee: Urgent action alert. The UN's Christmas present to Haiti

A pre-dawn, heavy-caliber assault on the men, women and children of Cite Soleil. In the early morning of Friday, December 22nd, starting at approximately 3 a.m., 400 Brazilian-led UN occupation troops in armored vehicles carried out a massive assault on the people of Cite Soleil, laying siege yet again to the impoverished community. Eyewitness reports said a wave of indiscriminate gunfire from heavy weapons began about 5 a.m. and continued for much of the day Friday — an operation on the scale of the July 6, 2005 UN massacre in Cite Soleil. Detonations could be heard for miles, AHP reported. Initial press accounts reported at least 40 casualties, all civilians. According to community testimony, UN forces flew overhead in helicopters and fired down into houses while other troops attacked from the ground with Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs). People were killed in their homes. UN troops from Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia took part in the all-day siege, backed by Haitian police. UN soldiers once again targeted the Bois Neuf and Drouillard districts of Cite Soleil — scene of the July 6th massacre.

(Click here to read more and for a list of contacts to email/fax your letters of protest)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Foreigners in UK face biometric ID cards

Foreigners living in Britain face compulsory biometric ID cards: Photo and fingerprint scheme for 700,000. Visitors to be screened before flying to UK. Alan Travis, home affairs editor Wednesday December 20, 200 Guardian

Compulsory powers to fingerprint and photograph 700,000 foreigners a year who live in Britain as part of the national identity card scheme were announced yesterday by the home secretary, John Reid, as the scope of what critics see as a future Big Brother state became clearer. At the same time, 150 screening centres around the world are to be set up in 18 months so that biometric data - electronic fingerprints and photos - can be taken and stored from passengers coming to Britain from 169 countries outside Europe.

But Mr Reid had to confirm that the Home Office's original plans for one huge new "clean" database to store the details of everyone resident in Britain have had to be scaled back on the grounds of expense as the government tries to cut the estimated £5.4bn cost of introducing ID cards. The controversial national identity register, which will store everyone's biometric fingerprints and photographs as well as personal biographical details, will now be housed on three separate existing government computer systems.

(Click here to read more)

Arroyo/U.S. "Low Intensity" State Terrorism

Arroyo/U.S. "Low Intensity" State Terrorism By Brian McAfee 26 December

Philippine President Gloria Macapagati Arroyo's Melo Commission to investigate the killings of leftists and journalists has apparantly concluded that investigation and will submit their report in early January. Most in the Phillippines believe the Melo Commission and its upcoming report to be part of an ongoing ruse by the Arroyo government to cover up that the government itself, in colusion with the military and state police are the actual perpetrators of the mass killings.

The ongoing killings now number 803 after the shooting death of Francisco Bantog, provincial chairman of the Bayon Muna party-list group. Then the shooting death of Nelson Asocenor a 19 year old youth leader and member of a peasant group. Karapatan. The nation's leading human rights group, has kept an ongoing tally along with amnasty international and the Asian Human Rights Commission. The human rights groups, particularly Karapatan have meticulously kept the name, locations, and circumstances of the murders, by contrast. The Arroyo government's Melo Commission puts the number of dead at 136.

(Click here to read more)

India in American Perspective

India in American Perspective by Girish Mishra. December 24, 2006

Ever since the early 1990s India has been moving closer to the United States of America. The collapse of the world socialist system, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and China becoming a capitalist-roader hastened this process. The forces that once talked of free enterprise and attacked Nehru-Indira Gandhi dispensation have become emboldened to talk of the “wasted” or “disastrous” years when the ruling party mouthed its commitment to socialism, equitable economic growth, public sector commanding economic heights and state controlling the steering wheel of the economy. There is no dearth of such people at present boldly walking in the corridors of power in India’s capital.

India was one of the earliest to go in for the ten points of the Washington consensus. It meant limiting the role of the state, privatizing the existing public sector enterprises, opening the doors of the economy for free flow of goods and capital, imposing fiscal discipline, keeping labour under control and, above all, allowing market forces to operate freely without any substantial regulation. It has been the firm belief of the people and parties that have been in power since the early 1990s that there is no other way out except this to make India an economic super power. Time and again the rising Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange and the increasing rate of economic growth have been held up as a conclusive proof of the success of the new strategy based on the Washington consensus. Each time the Sensex has crossed the next 1,000 mark it has been celebrated with great fanfare by the government as well as the media.

(Click here to read more)

Satire: Santa's Immigration Status Questioned

Unwelcome: That jolly old foreigner. A mystery Web site spoofs Hazleton's law on immigrants by banning Santa Claus from the town. Associated Press, Dec. 23, 2006

A satirical new Web site pokes fun at Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta by claiming he has banned Santa Claus, "the nation's most prominent undocumented worker," from the city.

Playing off the mayor's recent crackdown on illegal immigrants, the elaborate claims that Barletta has launched acampaign against the jolly old elf, who is "not an American, nor is he legally recognized for residency or occupational purposes in this country." Appearing unlawfully for too long to remember, the site says facetiously, Santa Claus employs "hundreds to thousands of elves in what are clearly described as sweatshop or slave labor-type conditions." That undercuts the American workforce in favor of unfair foreign competition or informal domestic laborers, the site contends.

(Click here to read more)
Visit the website here

Bush "Developing Illegal Bioterror Weapons" for Offensive Use

Bush developing illegal bioterror weapons for offensive use, book says. Sherwood Ross Middle East Times December 19, 2006

WASHINGTON -- In violation of the US Code and international law, the Bush administration is illegally developing offensive germ warfare capabilities on an unprecedented scale. In fact, it is spending more on such weapons (in inflation-adjusted dollars) than the $2 billion spent on the "Manhattan Project" that made the atomic bomb in World War II.

So says Francis Boyle, the professor of international law who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 enacted by Congress. He states the Pentagon "is now gearing up to fight and 'win' biological warfare" pursuant to two Bush national strategy directives adopted without "public knowledge and review" in 2002. The Pentagon's Chemical and Biological Defense Program was revised in 2003 to implement those directives, endorsing "first-use" strike of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) in war, says Boyle, who teaches at the University of Illinois, Champaign. Terming the action "the proverbial smoking gun," Boyle said the mission of the controversial CBW program "has been altered to permit development of offensive capability in chemical and biological weapons!"

(Click here to read more)

US Has the Most Prisoners in the World

US Has the Most Prisoners in the World
Reuters via Common Dreams December 9, 2006 by James Vicini

WASHINGTON - Tough sentencing laws, record numbers of drug offenders and high crime rates have contributed to the United States having the largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world, according to criminal justice experts.

According to the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College in London, more people are behind bars in the United States than in any other country. China ranks second with 1.5 million prisoners, followed by Russia with 870,000. The U.S. incarceration rate of 737 per 100,000 people in the highest, followed by 611 in Russia and 547 for St. Kitts and Nevis. In contrast, the incarceration rates in many Western industrial nations range around 100 per 100,000 people.

(Click here to read more)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Global Horizons: importer of foreign workers

Global Horizons and its attorneys have informed us that they are contesting the accuracy of the article below in California state court.

Guest Workers Seek Global Horizons: U.S. Company Exploits Migrant Laborby Kari Lydersen, Special to CorpWatchNovember 3rd, 2006

Global Horizons is one of the biggest companies in the business of importing temporary foreign workers to do jobs in the U.S. ranging from agriculture to nursing. Their workers sometimes endure worse conditions, and enjoy less rights than undocumented workers.

About 170 Thai migrants paid thousands of dollars to recruiters in Bangkok for the opportunity to work in the bountiful orchards of Washington state. Their tale illustrates the pitfalls of the H-2A guest worker program which is a mainstay - along with undocumented labor - of the U.S. agricultural system.The migrant workers paid up to $8,000 each to Thai recruiters working for Global Horizons, a California-based company, which then obtained H-2A agricultural guest worker visas for them, flew them to Washington and set them up in housing, as required by the federal program. Before taking the jobs, the workers had been told they would live in apartments, eat meals catered by a Mexican restaurant and be able to send significant amounts of money home to their families, according to the Seattle Times. Instead Global Horizons housed the Thais in motels and trailers that had not been approved, as required, by the state labor department.

(Click here to read more)

Palestinian Women Pay Health Toll at Checkpoints

Palestinian Women Pay Health Toll at Checkpoints
By Brenda GazzarWeNews correspondent

In the past six years, at least four pregnant women and 34 newborns have died after mothers were delayed at Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank and Gaza. Volunteers and aid groups are working to ease access restrictions.

SHEIKH SA'AD, West Bank (WOMENSENEWS)--At the entrance of this small village near Jerusalem, Palestinian grandmother Khadijeh Musa Alaan was told at an Israeli checkpoint that she could not leave to visit her daughter in a nearby village.Two Israeli volunteers, Laura Sznajder and Tamar Bilu, politely tried to persuade an Israeli army official to let the 59-year-old woman pass on that hot August afternoon. He refused. Alaan, a Palestinian resident of the West Bank, did not have a temporary permit from the district commander's office, he said. She was also turned back at the checkpoint in July while trying to visit a doctor for treatment of her diabetes, she says. Alaan is just one of many women whose health and safety have been placed in jeopardy as a result of Israel's nearly 40-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and increasingly restrictive security measures.

(Click here to read more)

Investigating AFL-CIO and COSATU

Is Cosatu playing with the devil? Investigating the AFL-CIO and its Solidarity Center by Kim Scipes

The US labour centre, the AFL-CIO has a Solidarity Center in South Africa. Few unionists know what it does or stands for. Kim Scipes, in this revealing article, exposes some of its worldwide operations and wonders why Cosatu has a relationship with it.

The AFL-CIO, the major labour center of the United States, has an office of its Solidarity Center in Johannesburg. There is no American trade unionist outside of the highest levels of foreign policy leadership that has the slightest idea of why the Solidarity Center is in South Africa, or what it is doing there. Yet the Solidarity Center uses the fact that Cosatu [
Congress of South African Trade Unions] works with them to undercut American union criticisms of the reactionary foreign policy of the AFL-CIO (AFL). The question must be asked: is Cosatu playing with the Devil?

(Click here to read more)

UN Kills Haitians in major assault

UN Kills at least ten Haitians in major assault

UN Operation in Cite Soleil leaves at least 10 killed, dozens others injured during the night of Thursday December 21' UN spokesperson Sophie Boutaud de Lacombe claims the operation was aimed at apprehending kidnappers in Bois Neuf and bringing them to justice. However local residents say the victims were ordinary citizens whose only crime was that they live in the targeted neighborhood. Detonations could be heard for miles. De Lacombe denies that a UN armored vehicle was seized by bandits.Some radio stations in the capital have been justifying the attack in Cite Soleil by the fact that local residents had set fire to a UN tank that had been abandoned by UN soldiers who had fled. In addition to the dead and injured, residents report very serious property damage and there are concerns that a critical water shortage may now develop because water cisterns and pipes were punctured by the gunfire.

(Click here to read more)

Cuba Labor Conference calls for solidarity with immigrant workers

Cuba Labor Conference hears call for solidarity with immigrant workers
By Bob McCubbin Tijuana, Mexico Dec 18, 2006

The Cuba/Venezuela/Mexico/North America Labor Conference convened Dec. 8 in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, where international representatives, activist union leaders, immigrant-rights youth activists, people working in solidarity with revolutionary Cuba and Venezuela and others involved in struggles against racism, imperialism and war all gathered for two days of fruitful discussion and information exchange.

Action proposals included the May 1, 2007, immigrant rights mobilizations, a spring “Hands off Cuba and Venezuela/Free the Cuban Five” demonstration in Washington, D.C. or New York City, and the Sixth Anti-FTAA/FTA International Conference in Havana at the end of April 2007. Other highlights of the conference included presentations on the achievements of and current challenges facing Cuban workers, on the struggle to free the Cuban Five, on the situation of Mexican workers, and on the efforts to defend the Colombian SINALTRAINAL union.

(Click here to read more)

Women's Rights Another Victim of the Iraq Catastrophe

Women's Rights Another Victim of the Iraq Catastrophe
December 22, 2006 by Kavita N.Ramdas (Common Dreams)

The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq recently issued a frightening report documenting the growing practice of public executions of women by Shiite militias. One of the report's more grisly accounts was a story of a young woman dragged by a wire wound around her neck to a close-by soccer field and hung from the goalpost. They pierced her body with bullets. Her brother came running, trying to defend his sister. He was also shot and killed. Sunni extremists are no better: Organization of Women's Freedom members estimate that at least 30 women are executed monthly for honor-related reasons. Almost four years into the Iraq war, Iraqi women are worse off than they were under the Baathist regime in a country where, for decades, the freedoms and rights enjoyed by Iraqi women were the envy of women in most other countries of the Middle East.

Before the U.S. invasion, Iraqi women were highly educated. Their strong and independent women's movement had successfully forced thegovernment to pass the groundbreaking 1959 Family Law Act, which ensured equal rights in matters of personal law. Iraqi women could inherit land and property; they had equal rights to divorce and custody of their children; they were protected from domestic violence within marriage. In other words, they had achieved real gains in the struggle for equality. Iraqi women, like all Iraqis, certainly suffered from the political repression and lack of freedom, but the secular - albeit brutal - Baathist regime did not impose tribal and religious fundamentalist laws that are now in effect and are contributing to women being kidnapped, raped and executed.

(Click here to read more)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Walls, Amnesty, and False Choices

Walls, Amnesty, and False Choices by Sameer Dossani November 29, 2006
Foreign Policy In Focus

The national immigration debate largely is split between two camps. The first "anti-immigrant" camp notes that the number of undocumented workers has shot up in recent years, perhaps to as many as 10 million, and claims that these people are taking jobs and using services that should belong to "Americans." The other, "pro-immigrant" camp notes that these "illegals" wouldn't be here unless they were being hired for jobs that no one else is willing to do, and claims that therefore they should be allowed to stay and some form of legalization, possibly amnesty, should be accorded to them.

Both of these positions address an extremely narrow question (namely, what do we do with "these people"?) and both fail to ask the primary underlying questions: why are these people coming here in the first place? Will there be more of them? Why do they continue to come?

(Click here to read more)

Iraq: Worst Year Of Occupation

Iraqi Hopes Dim Through Worst Year Of Occupation
By Dahr Jamail & Ali Al-Fadhily 24 December, 2006, Inter Press Service

BAGHDAD, Dec. 22 (IPS) - Despite promises from Iraqi and U.S. leaders that 2006 would bring improvement, Iraqis have suffered through the worst year in living memory, facing violence, fragmentation and a disintegrated economy.

A year back Iraqis were promised that 2006 would be the fresh beginning of a, prosperous, democratic and unified Iraq. Through an elected parliament and a unity government, they would find peace, and start rebuilding a country torn apart by the U.S.-backed UN sanctions and then the U.S.-led invasion and occupation. But everyone agrees that the situation now is worse than ever. Leaders in Iraq disagree only to the extent they blame one another for the collapse in security that has led to worsened services and living conditions.

(Click here to read more)

Mexican mother organizes in Sanctuary

Mexican mother organizes from inside Chicago church
By Andrew Stern Fri Dec 22, 7:37 AM ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) - With Christmas fast approaching, Elvira Arellano dispatched her 8-year-old son to Washington to plead her case and that of other immigrant families who fear being torn apart by deportation.

The Mexican-born Arellano, 31, cannot go herself because she has been fighting a deportation order since August from inside a Chicago church where she has imprisoned herself, invoking the ancient medieval protection of sanctuary.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there are 2 million families in the United States with mixed status, meaning some members are undocumented. The families have nearly 4 million children, most of whom are U.S.-born. The U.S.-born children must wait until they turn 21 before petitioning to have their immigrant parents join them legally in the United States.

(Click here to read more)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Power Struggle In Saudi Arabia

Power Struggle In Saudi Arabia:A Sign Of Regional Instability By Peter Symonds
23 December 2006

The abrupt resignation of Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, Prince Turki al-Faisal, last week is one more sign of a power struggle underway in Riyadh. While factional intrigues in the Saudi royal family are undoubtedly involved, the overriding factor is the deepening instability throughout the Middle East being fuelled by the aggressive intervention of the US, above all in Iraq. One consequence has been an intensification of the traditional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran for regional dominance.

After just 17 months as US ambassador, Prince Turki announced on December 12 that he was quitting to spend more time with his family. The reason is obviously absurd. He gave the same excuse when in 2002 he stood aside as head of the Saudi intelligence services—a post he held for 24 years and which included responsibility for providing covert funding in the 1980s to the Afghan mujaheedin via Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

(Click here to read more)

Anti-Apartheid Boycott Campaign Against Chapters and Indigo


On Thursday 21 December, activists in Toronto and Montreal officially announced the launch of a boycott campaign against Chapters and Indigo Bookstores. The campaign demands an end to the financial support offered by the majority owners of Chapters and Indigo to Heseg ­ the Foundation for Lone Soldiers. This is a program of financial support for former 'lone soldiers' in the Israeli military.

WHAT IS THE FOUNDATION FOR LONE SOLDIERS? Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz, majority owners of Chapters and Indigo bookstores, founded an organisation called Heseg the Foundation for Lone Soldiers. At its peak, it will distribute up to $3M per year to provide scholarships and other support to former 'Lone Soldiers' in the Israeli military. 'Lone Soldiers' are individuals who have no family in Israel but decide to join the Israeli military. As Israeli soldiers, they participate in a military that operates checkpoints that restrict Palestinian freedom of movement, enforces the occupation of Palestinian land, and has a documented history of human rights violations.

(Click here to read more)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Darfur: Bush And Blair Plan No-Fly Zone And Consider Air Strikes Against Sudan

Darfur: Bush And Blair Plan No-Fly Zone And Consider Air Strikes Against Sudan By Ann Talbot

The Bush administration is considering imposing a no-fly zone over the Darfur region in western Sudan. It would be backed up by the threat of air strikes, a naval blockade and an extension of the existing sanctions regime. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has endorsed the plan. Blair announced his support for “tougher action” on his return from a trip to Washington. A UK official was reported in the Financial Times as saying, “The Americans mean business.”

The plan seems to be to work with France, which has 1,200 troops in Chad and units of its air force in the Central African Republic. French mirage jets have already carried out air sorties over the last two weeks in the Central African Republic and Chad. A spokesman from the French Ministry of Defence warned of the danger of “Somalisation” of the region. He told the Independent, “We want to ensure that the Darfur crisis does not take on a further dimension. The region is crucial if we want to put a peace force in Darfur.”

(Click here to read more)

Appeal Fifth International Civil Commission on Observance of Human rights for the incidents in Oaxaca

Barcelona, December 7, 2006

To Mexican civil society
To international civil society
To the Mexican government
To the media
To the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca

In February of 1998, as a result of the killings in Acteal three months earlier, international civil society responded with diverse mobilizations. It expressed its repudiation of the massacre against the rebellious indigenous people in Chiapas and sought to find a peaceful solution to to the conflict. Over 500 organizations and individuals across five continents supported the creation of the International Civil Human Rights Watch Commission (CCIODH) that traveled to Chiapas at the time.

In November of 1999 a second commission carried out a follow-up visit to Chiapas in order to assess the situation based on observations and recommendations made by the previous commission. In February of 2002, the CCIODH carried out its third visit. After the electoral victory of the new government, its objective was to assess the possibility of a just solution to the conflict. After the ratification of the new constitutional legislation on indigenous people (Ley Indígena) in 2001 the possibility of a just solution had been frustrated through the incompletion of the San Adrés Accords, signed by the Mexican government. This was denounced by the EZLN, the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) as Mexican and international civil society.

(Click here to read more and to sign appeal)

Afghanistan's Drug Catastrophe

Afghanistan's Drug Catastrophe: Poppies Rising By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY

"Opium production in Afghanistan, which provides more than 90 percent of the world's heroin, broke all records in 2006, reaching a historic high despite ongoing US-sponsored eradication efforts, the Bush administration reported yesterday . . . . White House drug policy chief John Walters called the news "disappointing"." - Washington Post, December 2, 2006 / "Today we mark the fulfillment of the ambitious vision that we all set out together four years ago in Bonn, Germany: A fully functioning, sovereign Afghan government."- Condoleezza Rice, January 31, 2006

Rice is a gifted intellectual with the common sense of a traveling rabbit, and is exactly the sort of person who is invaluable in the dysfunctional bunker in which lurks the Fuhrer of the United States, fantasizing, as did Adolf in the mad chaotic days before the fall of Berlin, that some miracle will save his lunatic régime. Among so many matters of pressing importance that the Bush ménage considers a low priority is the débâcle in Afghanistan, and especially the ineffectiveness of Afghanistan's totally non-functional government concerning the heroin trade.

(Click to Read More)

US Migration Sweep Creates Havoc for Workers' Families

Massive Migration Sweep Creates Havoc for Workers' Families by Alyssa Giachino

Families are still scrambling to get information about their loved ones a week after U.S. immigration agents arrested over 1,000 workers at meatpacking plants in six states in a massive operation targeting people working with false documents. Nancy's husband George Velasquez, originally from Guatemala, was detained in one of a series of raids Tuesday on Swift & Co. meat packing plants in Greeley. "A lot of people still don't know where they are," Olivia Figueroa, who runs a small grocery store in Worthington, Minnesota, told IPS. Although Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a hotline for family members to inquire about detainees, Figueroa said the information given is often contradictory. Figueroa's husband works at the Swift pork plant in Worthington, and he says production lines are slow because of missing employees. Figueroa said there are still workers who haven't reported to the plant because they are afraid of another raid.

On Dec. 12, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents swept in on Swift & Co. meat processing plants in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Iowa and Minnesota. Production lines stopped as thousands of workers were asked to provide proof of legal residency or citizenship. ICE said the raid was part of an investigation into a "massive identity theft scheme that has victimized hundreds of U.S. citizens". Within hours, ICE had arrested 1,282 workers on administrative immigration violations. Thus far, 144 people have been criminally charged for identity theft as well as other crimes such as illegal reentry to the United States.

(Click to Read More)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Anti-war Christmas tree censored

Christmas tree just too violent for charity
MICHELLE COLLINS From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

A charity auction of artist-decorated Christmas trees stirred some unexpected controversy on the weekend after organizers rejected one tree that featured graphic photographs of Iraq war casualties. The war-themed Christmas tree, festooned with poppies and images of civilian casualties, of injured American soldiers and of prisoners -- and surrounded by toy soldiers -- was created by Toronto artist Asma Mahmood. She had been invited to produce one of 12 trees that were to be auctioned off as a fundraiser for the United Way at Artists Walk, a co-op of galleries in Burlington.

Ms. Mahmood's tree, entitled Merry Christmas from Mesopotamia: Lest We Forget, also featured 50 greeting cards with the verse "So this is Christmas" and 50 with the verse "And what have you done?"

(Click to Read More)

Principles and Practices of Anti Oppression

Principles of Anti-Oppression

* Power and privilege play out in our group dynamics and we must continually struggle with how we challenge power and privilege in our practice.

*We can only identify how power and privilege play out when we are conscious and committed to understanding how racism, sexism, homophobia, and all other forms of oppression affect each one of us.

* Until we are clearly committed to anti-oppression practice all forms of oppression will continue to divide our movements and weaken our power.

* Developing a anti-oppression practice is life long work and requires a life long commitment. No single workshop is sufficient for learning to change one’s behaviors. We are all vulnerable to being oppressive and we need to continuously struggle with these issues.

*Dialogue and discussion are necessary and we need to learn how to listen non defensively and communicate respectfully if we are going to have effective anti-oppression practice.

* Challenge yourself to be honest and open and take risks to address oppression head on.

(Click to Read More)

Iranian Trade Unionist Free

The International Transport Workers' Federation today welcomed the release of detained Iranian trade unionist Mansour Osanloo, while deploring the fact that he had to post additional bail to ensure his release. Osanloo was already on bail of 150 million Toman (US$ 165,000), stemming from his previous detention by the authorities from 22 December 2005 to 9 August 2006.

Osanloo, who is President of the ITF‑affiliated Trade Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company ("Vahed Union"), was arrested on November 19th, only months after being released on bail following a long campaign of intimidation by Iranian police and state security agents that has seen him and colleagues brutally arrested and meetings violently broken up. His release followed public protests by Vahed Union members.

The Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) was formed in 1968 but was disbanded by the authorities in the early 1980s. Instead, a Workers’ House and Islamic Labour Council were formed by the government and the company. In 2003, activists began to re-establish their independent union but faced serious repression, including a massive roundup in early January 2006 that resulted in the arrests of approximately 1300 members of the union.

To read a year-long chronology of the struggle of and repression against the Vahed Bus Union, please click here.

Chomsky: From Bolivia to Baghdad

From Bolivia to Baghdad: Noam Chomsky on Creating Another World in a Time of War, Empire and Devastation

Noam Chomsky spoke this weekend at an event titled, "What's Next? Creating Another World in a Time of War, Empire and Devastation." Chomsky spoke about the Iraq Study Group report, recent elections in Latin America, the current situation with Iran and much more.

NOAM CHOMSKY: There are efforts to try to extricate the US from the US power -- doesn’t matter much to the people, but US power -- from the catastrophes it’s created for itself. The most recent such effort, right on the front pages now -- so I’ll keep to that one -- is the Baker-Hamilton report, the Iraq Study Group report, which has some interesting features. Very interesting.

For example, one of its -- it doesn’t have much in the way of proposals -- but the thinking is interesting. So here's one paragraph, refers to recent polls in Iraq. The US government and polling agencies here take regular polls in Iraq. They care a lot about Iraqi opinion. And this points out that recent polling indicates that 79% of Iraqis have a mostly negative view of the influence that the United States has in their country, and 61% of Iraqis -- includes Kurds -- approve of attacks on US-led forces. Well, that's clearly a problem. And we have to deal with that problem by changing tactics, so they'll understand that we really love them and we’re trying to help them and they'll stop thinking they ought to attack us and hating us, and so on. OK, that was the proposal. There's something missing. The same polls that they cited have some other information, for example, that two-thirds of the people of Baghdad want US troops out immediately, and about over three-quarters of the whole population, including Kurds, again, wants a firm timetable for withdrawal within a year or less.

(Click to Read More)

Rounding Up The Usual Immigrants

Rounding Up The Usual Immigrants
Roberto Lovato December 19, 2006

Last week's controversial immigration raids at Swift & Company meatpacking plants in six states, which federal officials have characterized as the largest sweep of its kind in U.S. history, should send waves of fear among citizens and non-citizens alike. The very high profile arrest and detention of almost 1,300 workers marks a major move to further erode all of our rights.

Merely viewing "Operation Wagon Train" as another in the lengthening line of dehumanizing and brutal attacks on immigrant and labor rights-as most analysts do-falls short. That's because in the so-called War on Terror immigration and immigrants have become the justification of choice in the ongoing erosion of labor, privacy and other rights under the Bush administration.

For example, a statement about the status of the Swift workers by John Bowen, the attorney representing the workers on behalf of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, was indistinguishable from those of attorneys representing detainees in Guantanamo or in secret CIA facilities. "We don't know where they are and we don't know what's happening," he said. "We don't know if they are being pressured to do something or not. We can't provide them or their families with information until we know where they are."

(Click to Read More)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Myths and Realities on Lebanon protests

Several Montreal-based organizations are speaking out in defence of the popular protests which have overtaken Lebanon’s capital for more than a week. The groups are concerned with a prevailing bias in Canadian media coverage of the events in Lebanon. It also fuels a dangerous sectarianism that threatens Lebanon.

"The real political choices that people face in Lebanon, with far-reaching consequences for the entire region, are obscured when the contest is again and again mis-represented in the Canadian media as the sectarian manoeuvering of one party and its regional allies to take over the country,” noted Mary Foster, a member of Tadamon-Montreal who returned from a delegation to Lebanon last week.

To read Tadamon's list of common media distortions, click here.

Mapping Canada in Haiti

Visualizing Canada in Haiti: Poster version from the Dominion's Foreign Policy issue

Two 11x17" posters in pdf format that visually document Canada's intervention in Haiti over the last six years. "Promoting Democracy?" maps out relationships between Canadian government agencies, NGOs and US agencies involved in "democracy promotion" in Haiti. "No Time for Democracy" is a timeline that chronicles the last six years of Canadian intervention

(Click to Read More)

Update: Desert Rock Blockade New Mexico/Arizona

Dineh Territories: Members of the Navajo nation have established a blockade to prevent preliminary work for the proposed Desert Rock coal-fired power plant. Sithe Global & DPA are proposing to build the Desert Rock power plant, a 1,500 MW Coal Fired plant in the Four Corners area on the Navajo Reservation. This is an area already polluted by 2 other major coal power plants. Local Navajo residence and community members oppose this project for many harmful reasons!! This Desert Rock power plant is still in the environmental review process and has NOT yet been permitted.

However, Desert Rock company trucks have began moving onto the backyard of Alice Gilmore, an elderly navajo woman, and her family on wednesday to begin drilling efforts. Desert Rock officials and police have not shown any documents or permits to the local residents stating their purpose or permission to be there. Dine supporters and community members have joined Alice and her family to blockade the road. They are elderly women and youth, and they have been camped out on the road over night since Tuesday! Desert Rock trucks have repeatedly rushed them and have almost run-over people a number of times as they attempt to get by. Desert Rock power company is violating the lease rights of the local Navajo residences and is harassing elderly Navajo women and youth! This is an urgent time and support is needed!!!

- For more background information and ways to support including officials to call/email, click here.
- A list of background issues and FAQ's can be found here

Border crossing deaths in Europe

November-December 2006: Report of deaths of migrants trying to enter Europe. This is most likely an incomplete list as it depends on media reports (source: no border network)

* 18.Dec.06: at least 80 African migrants died when their boat - a small wooden fishing craft - sank off the Senegalese town of St. Louis. There were up to 150 people on the boat from which fishermen rescued about two dozen survivors. (source:
* 14.Dec.06: a migrant boat wrecked inthe waters off Senegals capital, Dakar, and close to 30 people were rescued from that craft. One person died at sea and three people later died in the hospital. (source: international herald tribune)
* 08.Dec.06: Another of the immigrants who arrived on the Canary Islands on the 6th has died of hypothermia. He was amongst the 37 passengers who arrived in the port of Arguineguin, in southern Gran Canaria. (source:
* 07.Dec.06: a cayuco bearing 36 immigrants, one of them dead, reached Arguineguin in the south of Gran Canaria 13 of the occupants were taken to hospital with symptoms of hypothermia and dehydration. (source:
* 06.Dec.06: Fifty two Sahrawis drowned last week off the coast of Boujdour, in Western Sahara. The dead, including nine children younger than 11, were on a makeshift boat heading for Spains Canary Islands. (source:
* 28.Nov.06: the bodies of ten drowned children have been found washed ashore in Western sahara. 24 people in a separate boat who were on their way to the canary islands are missing in the same area. (source: Reuters AlertNet)
* 20.Nov.06: a boat carrying migrants to Greece capsized just off Turkeys coast early Sunday, and the coast guard recovered the body of one migrant and was still searching for two other missing migrants (source:

Transcontinental Migrant Justice Day of Action

Saturday the 7th of october was the 3rd Day of migration related action directed against the denial of rights, against the criminalisation of migrants and against all immigration controls. Actions took place in more than 30 cities across Europe, Africa and North America, demanding European unconditional legalisation and equal rights for all migrants; the closure of all detention centers in Europe and everywhere; an end to all deportations and the externalisation process; and the uncoupling of the residence permit from the labour contract and against 'precarity'.

(Click to Read More)

US “democracy promoters” and Iranian regime change

US “democracy promoters” and regime change in Iran by Michael Barker December 18, 2006

The Iranian question is on everyone’s lips at the moment, and judging by the ongoing discussions in both the mainstream and alternative (progressive) media, it is apparent that, one way or the other, the US (and its coalition of willing cronies) has its sights firmly set on bringing regime change to Iran.

So far, for the most part, the alternative media has focused on the nuclear threat posed by the Middle East’s most dangerous lawbreaker, Israel. The mainstream media, however, has persistently and erroneously portrayed Iran as the “real” nuclear threat...Thus, although the alternative media has tended to focus on the Israeli nuclear threat in relation to the “Iranian problem,” military intervention is only one among many instruments available to the architects of imperialism to promote regime change in Iran. Other methods commonly used to “encourage” geo-strategically favourable “changes” in leadership include economic and diplomatic persuasion. However, a relative newcomer to the armoury of foreign policy elites – and the topic of this article – is the use of democracy itself as a tool of foreign policy. A tool which is arguably one of the most potent weapons in the war of ideas waged by policy elites against progressive activists.

The strength of this new “democratic strategy” lies in its unique public relations value, which allows those who wield it to cloak their “free-market” agendas in the powerful rhetoric of human rights and humanitarianism. Ironically, the democracy idea was first picked up with gusto in the early 1980s, when President Reagan (with bipartisan support) created the quasi-nongovernmental organisation, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Needless to say, the Reaganites newly defined “democracy” quickly debased democracy as commonly understood by the American populous: a not wholly unexpected development from a government reliant upon covert propaganda for implementing their deeply regressive domestic politics.

(Click to Read More)

US History of Torture

The U.S. Has a History of Using Torture by Alfred W. McCoy December 18, 2006

In April 2004, Americans were stunned when CBS broadcast those now-notorious photographs from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, showing hooded Iraqis stripped naked while U.S. soldiers stood by smiling. As this scandal grabbed headlines around the globe, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the abuses were "perpetrated by a small number of U.S. military," whom New York Times' columnist William Safire soon branded "creeps" -- a line that few in the press had reason to challenge.

When I looked at these photos, I did not see snapshots of simple brutality or a breakdown in military discipline. After more than a decade of studying the Philippine military's torture techniques for a monograph published by Yale back 1999, I could see the tell-tale signs of the CIA's psychological methods. For example, that iconic photo of a hooded Iraqi with fake electrical wires hanging from his extended arms shows, not the sadism of a few "creeps," but instead the two key trademark's of the CIA's psychological torture. The hood was for sensory disorientation. The arms were extended for self-inflicted pain. It was that simple; it was that obvious.

After making that argument in an op-ed for the Boston Globe two weeks after CBS published the photos, I began exploring the historical continuity, the connections, between the CIA torture research back in the 1950s and Abu Ghraib in 2004. By using the past to interrogate the present, I published a book titled A Question of Torture last January that tracks the trail of an extraordinary historical and institutional continuity through countless pages of declassified documents. The findings are disturbing and bear directly upon the ongoing bitter debate over torture that culminated in the enactment of the Military Commissions law just last October.

(Click to Read More)

Bush Cracks Down on Gitmo Detainees

Bush Cracks Down on Gitmo Detainees, Despite Overwhelming Evidence Most are Not Terrorists By DAVE LINDORFF

* The U.S. is holding hundreds of innocent people at its detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
* Military authorities at Guantanamo have decided to tighten the screws on detainees because it has been determined that the U.S. has been too kind and accommodating to them.

If you find those two sentences jarring and contradictory, you're not alone, yet both were leading news items in today's newspapers. The first appeared in a page one story in of the Philadelphia Inquirer by Associated Press reporter Andrew O. Selsky, which said most of the detainees are innocent of any crime. The second was a page one story in the New York Times by reporter Tim Golden, who reported on a harsh crackdown on Guantanamo detainees, including removal of common eating privileges, inmate soccer games, and incentives for good behavior by prisoners.

(Click to Read More)

Democrats Prepare to Fund Longer Iraq War

Democrats Prepare to Fund Longer War By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

This last Sunday Harry Reid, the incoming Democratic majority leader in the US Senate, went on ABC's Sunday morning show and declared that a hike in U.S. troops in Iraq is okay with him.
Here's the evolution of the Democrats' war platform since November 7, 2006, the day the voters presented a clear mandate: "End the war! Get out of Iraq!" and took the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives away from the Republicans.
So somewhat to their surprise the Democrats recaptured both the Senate and the House. Then they went to work--to obliterate the mandate. The first thing they did was reject Jack Murtha, the man who said "Quit Now" in 2005. They voted down Murtha as House majority leader and picked the pro-war Steny Hoyer.

Then Nancy Pelosi, chose Silvestre Reyes as House Intelligence Committee chairman. Reyes promptly told Newsweek, "We're not going to have stability in Iraq until we eliminate those militias, those private armies. We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize IraqI would say 20,000 to 30,000-for the specific purpose of making sure those militias are dismantled, working in concert with the Iraqi military."

(Click to Read More)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Suicide attempts at Baxter Detention Centre Australia

Suicide attempts at Baxter Detention Centre in Australia Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Australia's litany of human rights abuses continue. Multiple suicide attempts at the Baxter Immigration Detention Centre in South Australia. Six people have attempted to take their own lives inside the Baxter Detention centre near Port Augusta over the past week. Western Australian group Project SafeCom said detainees had tried to hang themselves, while others had slashed themselves with broken glass and mirrors. The immigration department said a number of incidents had taken place over the past few days but none had resulted in serious injury to any inmates. The latest incident occurred on Tuesday morning. Last week, more than 30 detainees staged a protest at the Baxter maximum security complex. A Baxter detainee says a group of detainees blocked the front gate of the detention centre, and others are on a hunger strike. He says the protest follows reports of several detainees harming themselves to draw attention to their frustrations.

(Click to Read More)

Open letter to Tarek Fatah

A letter to Tarek Fatah December 18, 2006 Derrick O'Keefe

The following letter was sent to Tarek Fatah some ten days ago. The response was so flailing and off topic that we felt it was worthwhile to post the original note to him as an open letter, though we have no illusions of generating a coherent response or a change of course. Mr. Fatah’s slide to the Right – in his case from the NDP to the Liberals, and from opposing Israeli apartheid to collaborating with authorities and some of the most repellant columnists the corporate media has on offer – is hardly unique, but disturbing nonetheless.

Dear Tarek Fatah,

We met a couple of years ago in Toronto at a rally opposing the November 2004 siege of Fallujah. At the time, I congratulated you on a letter you and 24 other Arab and Muslim NDP members had sent to leader Jack Layton, urging him to take a stronger stand in opposition to the apartheid wall that Israel is building to annex additional territory in the West Bank of occupied Palestine. What a difference two years can make. It would have taken quite a macabre imagination to envision the political journey you have made in such a short period of time. I would not dare to call you an apostate of the Left, knowing the cynical way in which you have distorted the words of your critics to criminalize the Muslim population at large. And before you fire up a response, let me assure you that this critic of yours is very secular, downright atheistic in fact. Some of the things I do believe in very strongly are progressive principles of solidarity, and opposition to attacks on civil liberties and wars of Empire.

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