Tuesday, January 30, 2007
January 30, 2007 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
"We are slowly dying in here..."
Weekend Scare Underscores Very Real Danger of Sudden Death for Hunger Striking Detainees at Canada's Guantanamo North
Still No Medical Monitoring After Two Months Without Food JANUARY 30, 2007 -- "We are slowly dying in here," Mohammad Mahjoub says over the phone on day 67 of his hunger strike, day 56 for Mahmoud Jaballah and Hassan Almrei. "Our situation is very bad." The three men, held indefinitely under the much-criticized security certificate regime of secret evidence and deportation to torture, are kept at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre (KIHC), dubbed Guantanamo North. Despite last Thursday's visit by Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, who did not meet with the detainees, there has been no negotiation with the men, and no effort to end a critical situation that could turn deadly at any time. NO MEDICAL MONITORING Indeed, the detainees' lives are on the line as staff at the facility play a dangerous game of roulette: despite considerable medical literature spelling out the need for daily medical checks of hunger strikers who have passed day 10 without food, medical staff have NOT conducted a single physical check on any of the detainees, who are subsisting on water and juice. The need to check weight, pulse, blood pressure, respiration, electrolytes, and sodium and potassium levels, among other standards, is essential in preventing the kind of traumatic incident that occurred this past weekend.
(Click here to read more)
WINNIPEG (CBC) - The family of Matthew Dumas is launching a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Winnipeg Police Service and the City of Winnipeg, hoping to uncover details about how the aboriginal teenager was shot dead by a police officer in 2005.
"We have to do our own investigation of the facts," lawyer Norman Boudreau, who is representing Dumas's family, said Monday.
The lawsuit, which was filed Monday on behalf of Dumas's sister Jessica Paul, seeks a total of $120,000 on behalf of Dumas's family, plus special damages such as funeral expenses. It names police Chief Jack Ewatski, two unnamed police officers and the City of Winnipeg. The defendants have 20 days to respond.(Click here to read more)
TORONTO (CP) - Cottagers have until Wednesday to pack up their belongings and walk away from cottages that some built themselves after the land they have leased on Ontario's Bruce Peninsula for 40 years reverts back to the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation.
Some 68 cottagers on Hope Bay were told in a December letter they had until Jan. 31 to clear out because the Chippewas aren't renewing the long-term lease that made it possible to rent the land to non-reserve residents.
Cottagers were told in the letter they cannot "remove or dismantle" any buildings on the land since they are now considered property of the First Nation.
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Immigrants wishing to live in the small Canadian town of Herouxville, Quebec, must not stone women to death in public, burn them alive or throw acid on them, according to an extraordinary set of rules released by the local council.
The declaration, published on the town's Web site, has deepened tensions in the predominantly French-speaking province over how tolerant Quebecers should be toward the customs and traditions of immigrants.
"We wish to inform these new arrivals that the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries of origin cannot be recreated here," said the declaration, which makes clear women are allowed to drive, vote, dance, write checks, dress how they want, work and own property.(Click here to read more)
Sunday, January 28, 2007
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas; México. January 17, 2007.
To the Good Government Assembly of the Oventic Caracol,
To Human Rights Defenders,
To the state and national governments,
To public opinion,
With this letter, the Centre of Economic and Political Research for Community Action (CIEPAC, AC), based in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, manifests and denounces to you the following:
CIEPAC is a civil society organization which works peacefully and legally for peace, justice, democracy, autonomy, and in defence of the human rights of the indigenous and campesino peoples of Chiapas since its foundation in 1998. We accompany the organizational processes of indigenous, student, campesino, ecclesiastical, etc. organizations with information, analysis, training, and the elaboration of popular education materials which support these organizations in their decision-making processes. We maintain strong links with organizational processes on the local, national, and international level which struggle against the unjust neoliberal system. We seek and support the construction of alternatives by and for the poorest and most marginalized peoples. Recently, CIEPAC has not only signed on to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, but has actively promoted the Other Campaign in the indigenous and campesino communities of Chiapas, since the latter represents a real option of change for peoples’ well-being.(Click here for English Version)
(Haz Clic aqui para Version Espanol)
By Marissa Nelson
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jan 27, 2007)
The federal government has staked out its legal position in talks that are supposed to resolve the standoff in Caledonia.
There appears to be little agreement between the two sides on whether the former Douglas Creek Estates land was rightfully surrendered by Six Nations or not. This week, lawyers for the federal government presented the Six Nations negotiators with a 13-page report that takes issue with a similar native report made in November.
The federal report argues that if the case was brought to court, the surrender of what was called the Plank Road lands would be upheld. But it also stresses that negotiators must find a resolution to the outstanding land and money grievances.
THIS ZINE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE MANZANITA WRITING COLLECTIVE. WE ARE A SMALL GROUP IN SAN DIEGO WHO ARE PARTICIPATING IN THE PROCESS OF TRYING TO ARTICULATE AND DISSEMINATE INFORMATION AND IDEAS ABOUT UNDERMINING THE BORDER AND BUILDING AN INTERNATIONAL ACTION CAMP AGAINST THE USMEXICO BORDER. WE DO NOT SPEAK FOR THE MOBILIZATION AS A WHOLE. THE REST IS UP TO YOU!
(Click here for English Version)
(Version Espanol aqui)
From Indigenous oral histories, passed down through millennia, to the hostile accounts kept by colonial record keepers, a great deal of evidence exists to show that sex/gender variance and homosexuality were part of the fabric of early cooperative societies in the Americas—from pole to pole.
What is significant about the abundant European colonial records—whether military, missionary or anthropological—is not their perception, objectivity or accuracy in describing life among the diverse Native societies in this hemisphere. It’s that these observations by the Europeans and their reactions to homosexuality and gender/sex variance in Native cultures—reflected in terms like “devilish,” “sinful,” “perverted,” “abominable,” “unnatural,” “heinous,” “disgusting,” “lewd”—reveal how different were the societies they came from.
The “observed” were peoples who lived in societies that were either communal or were in the early stages of class division.
Despite Attacks, Another Popular Assembly Emerges
By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca
January 28, 2007
The Triqui indigenous community of Oaxaca declared its autonomy on January 21, 2007 after the election of its municipal authorities. The election process required two months to complete. The new municipal president is José Ramírez Flores with vice-president Leonardo Merino, constitutional mayor Severo Sánchez and secretary Macario Merino. Six others were named to the new Council of Elders (Concejo de Ancianos).(Click here to read more)
Friday, January 26, 2007
By Rajesh Ramakrishnan
26 January, 2007
The Technical Expert Group on Patent Law Issues, headed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)’s ex-Director General Dr. R.A. Mashelkar, has opined to the Government of India that restricting patenting of pharmaceuticals to New Chemical Entities (NCE) and prohibiting the patenting of microorganisms per se, would be violative of the TRIPS agreement. The Group claims that its approach to the issue was guided by "...the need for access of affordable medicines to Indian people at large, encouraging innovation by Indian industry, its current capabilities in R&D, and balancing of India's obligations under international agreements with the wider public interest". The main implication of the Mashelkar Group's report is that product patents can be issued even on older off-patent drugs which have been marginally altered by pharmaceutical firms, thereby giving a monopoly over these drugs to the patent holder. While the Mashelkar Group's report expresses itself against 'evergreening' of patents, its recommendations permit exactly that.
Reactions have been swift and damning. D.G. Shah, secretary-general, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA): "As the title suggests, the reference to the group was on 'patent law,' but there is hardly any evidence in the report to support its interpretation. Most parts of the report are devoted to narrating the positions of various interest groups, but very little is devoted to what made the Technical Group take the view that to limit patentability to NCEs is not compatible with the TRIPS Agreement." The Centre for Trade and Development (CENTAD), an NGO working on international trade: "The terms of reference clearly mention that the task was to find whether it would be TRIPS compatible to limit the grant of patent for a pharmaceutical substance to a new chemical entity or to a new medical entity involving one or more inventive steps. However, the committee does not answer this question and also cites so-called national interest to make its recommendation. The national interest argument is based on certain assumptions which are either irrational or highly contestable...The so-called national interest perspective considers only the interests of a few big Indian pharmaceutical companies. There is no reference to public health concerns in the report". (Business Standard, January 16, 2007)(Click here to read more)
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Sign to Support: CCIODH Preliminary Conclusions and Recommendations Concerning the Social Conflict in Oaxaca, Mexico
Based on its research carried out in Mexico, the International Civil Commission for Human Rights Observation considers the following findings as established
AS REGRADS DEATHS AND DISAPPEARANCES
1. The Commission considers that the events occurred in Oaxaca form part of a juridical, police and military strategy, acting on a psychosocial and community level, whose goal is to control and intimidate the population in areas where community-based or non-partisan social movements are unfolding.
2. Deaths documented by the CCIODH consist thus far of a total of 23 identified persons. By contrast, the Mexican Attorney General has only recognized 11 deaths and the National Human Rights Commission has acknowledged 20 deaths in its preliminary report. The CCIODH has knowledge of further deaths of persons who have not yet been identified.
3. There is well-founded evidence as to the existence of disappeared persons. However, one of the main obstacles in investigating and shedding light upon these disappearances is the lack of denunciations that have been made.
4. Deaths and disappearances took place during a parallel rise in violence and confrontations as a result of coercive operations designed and implemented with the goal of eliciting more violence. The latter are the work of several intellectual and material authors. They are attested to by the numerous testimonies such as those regarding the events of October 27, 2006 in which a coordinated operation resulted in serious deeds in the municipality of Sta. María Coyotepec as well as several other localities.
(Click here to Read more in English)
(Click here to sign on to the Conclusions)
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - A sleepy-eyed man with a hooded sweat shirt and a plastic lunch pail scurried back into his apartment complex at the sight of a dozen immigration agents outside. He had no reason to worry: They were after his neighbor. Three officers crept toward the building, and one banged on the door of Apt. A. After a tense minute in the darkness before dawn, the door cracked open and they had their first arrest - a 29-year-old immigrant with a driving-under-the-influence conviction. It was a scene repeated across Southern California over the past week in what officials said was one of the biggest sweeps in U.S. history of illegal immigrants who have criminal records or have ignored deportation orders.
By Tuesday, when federal officials announced the results of the sweep, 761 illegal immigrants have been taken into custody: 338 at their homes in five Los Angeles-area counties, and 423 at county jails, said Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
(Click here to read more)
Deportation boats blockaded by the Stop Deportations Groups in Rotterdam
Today, January 2 2007, The Werkgroep Stop Deportaties blockaded again the gates of the Deportationsboats in Rotterdam. This is only a drop in the sea for the people who recently heard by the judge that they now 'are only allowed to be locked up for six months' (And still people are sitting there much longer). And it still stays a drop in the sea as the police are saying they are going to improve things. The pain stays: The deportation boats and all the other prisons made specially for deportations. They're an inhumane institution, designed by cowardly people for a racist policy. There is a reason that visitor groups for the detainees on the boat need to sign a contract saying they will keep their mouth shut, because the government doesn't want the truth to be heard.(Click here to read more)
US Occupation Turns 3.7 Million Iraqis Into Refugees By James Cogan
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported this month that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq has forced one out of every eight Iraqis to flee their homes—more than 3.7 million people. The agency described the refugee crisis caused by the Iraq war as the worst in the Middle East since the ethnic cleansing that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948. The Zionist military and paramilitary death squads drove an estimated 711,000 Palestinian Arabs from their land.
UNHCR estimates that two million Iraqis are now living outside the country—including those who left before 2003 but have failed to return due to the country’s catastrophic situation. Some 50,000 Iraqi émigrés returned in 2005, but just 1,000 came back last year. Another 1.7 million Iraqis have been internally displaced. At least 500,000 people fled their homes in 2006 as a result of US military repression and the dramatic rise in sectarian violence between rival Shiite and Sunni militias in the wake of the destruction of a prominent Shiite mosque in Samarra last February. It is thought that 80,000 to 100,000 people are joining the ranks of internal and external refugees each month.(Click here to read more)
Q. Polls show the Iraqi population eager for a U.S. withdrawal, yet Iraq's elected leadership seems to strongly reject such calls. What do you think is going on?
Gilbert Achcar. I think that there is something here that must be clarified regarding the polls. What seems undisputable is that there is an overwhelming majority of Iraqis asking for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Naturally, few wish that the coalition troops evacuate the country all of a sudden in a precipitous manner, within say a few days, in the absence of agreement between the major Iraqi forces. That is because, in the present conditions, it could just leave the way wide-open for an all-out civil war in the country. But, at the same time, the great majority of Iraqis see that the very presence of these foreign troops is fueling the deterioration of the situation: it has fueled the growth of the insurgency for a long time, and now it is fueling the civil war itself. The sectarian strife is being constantly fueled indeed by the presence of U.S. troops and by the political behavior of the occupation authorities. This is why people who want these troops out believe that this is one of the key conditions for restoring peace in the country -- if that is still possible at all. Setting a deadline for the coalition troops' withdrawal, a timetable, would create favorable conditions -- so many people believe -- for speeding up the political process: it would allow the Iraqis to get to some kind of political agreement and find ways to stabilize the situation and reverse the sectarian war dynamics that have been unfolding.
(Click here to read more)
New Scanners for Tracking City Workers By SEWELL CHAN
The Bloomberg administration is devoting more than $180 million toward state-of-the-art technology to keep track of when city employees come and go, with one agency requiring its workers to scan their hands each time they enter and leave the workplace. The scanning, which began in August at the Department of Design and Construction, has created an uproar at a generally quiet department that focuses on major city construction projects.
At a City Council hearing yesterday, several unions vowed to resist the growing use of biometrics — the unique identifying qualities associated with faces, fingers, hands, eyes and other body parts. The unions called the use of biometrics degrading, intrusive and unnecessary and said experimenting with the technology could set the stage for wider use of biometrics to keep tabs on all elements of the workday. The use of new tracking technologies has been contentious at more and more workplaces. At Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, nurses carry radio-frequency identification tags that allow their movements to be tracked, a practice the nurses protested in an arbitration proceeding. A lawyer for the hospital, David N. Hoffman, said the system was used to ensure the quality of patient care and not to keep track of nurses who are on breaks.(Click here to read more)
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Amnesty International's Track Record in Haiti since 2004 By: Joe Emersberger -
The coup that ousted Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide on February 29, 2004 led very predictably to the worst human rights disaster in the Western Hemisphere over the following two years. It is worth reviewing how the world's most famous human rights group, Amnesty International, responded.
Aristide was twice elected President (in 1990 and in 2000). His first government was overthrown in a coup in 1991. The outcome of the 1991 coup was horrific and well documented. Thousands were murdered; tens of thousands were raped and tortured; hundreds of thousands were driven into hiding. The victims were overwhelmingly supporters of Aristide and his Lavalas movement. The 1991 and 2004 coups were both the work of the US government, Haiti's elite and their armed servants. Canada and France collaborated extensively with the planning and execution of the second coup.
The McGill DailyLike most kids growing up Jewish, I loved Israel. I identified with the country and saw my Jewish identity expressed in it. Maybe it was because I found inspiration in an Israeli culture that seemed to focus on youth. I liked how David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, referred to the “New Israeli Jew” – strong, committed and independent – as opposed to the idea of a “European Jew” – weak, emasculated, and dependent. Or maybe I wanted to identify with something other than tedious family gatherings in Toronto complete with a grandmother who pinched my cheeks. Either way, as a short, underweight early teen looking to find a form of community and feeling of empowerment, Israel and its image provided me with a feeling of masculinity.
The Israeli myth allowed me to reject the stuffiness of North American Jewish culture while keeping a sense of an imagined community that was still accepted, and even encouraged, by my family and community. As I explored this more, I began to realize that Zionism was synonymous with a violent colonization and occupation of another people.
(Click here to read more)
Unsafe or uncomfortable? Conflict, Disagreement & Oppression on the Left By Sheila Wilmot
One of the most important concepts that came out of late 20th century feminism is “safety”. And that isn’t just to mean women being secure from invaders in our homes or attacks on the street. The concept of safety is about being free from emotional and physical violence, from any kind of oppression or abuse that undermines our dignity and sense of self, wherever any of us is working or spending our time.
In my experience, however, after a number of years of its use, this definition is not at all clear to many on the left. In fact, I find that people in what are understood to be socially progressive environments often say they feel unsafe when what they actually feel is uncomfortable. This can cause problems when the group gets re-directed into trying to deal with a personal attack that hasn’t happened instead of focusing on the source of the political disagreement to understand it better. That can lead to stalemating decision-making in the short term, or can become part of an unspoken backdrop that makes it hard to develop trust and solid political relationships. The unspoken, stagnating question in some people’s minds can be “will I be called racist/sexist/transphobic every time I disagree with her/him?”(Click here to read more)
Carter and Camp David, where it all began Zachary Wales, The Electronic Intifada, 22 January 2007
Now it's on. The debate over President Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace not Apartheid has become a mainstream staple. Turn on Fox News and see resigned Carter aid Steve Berman bullied into saying that Carter is not only anti-Semitic, but supports terror. Open the New York Times, Amazon.com, Washington Post and find outraged columnists, petitioning consumers, D-Rep. Lady Macbeth washing her hands of that dreaded a-word.But like most things Israeli and Palestinian, few are taking note of history and what it might mean to an ex-president. Carter is no longer in "the game," which affords him the liberty to speak frankly, unlike Howard Dean, who once hinted at criticisms of Israel before quickly retreating to behavioral protocol. Perhaps then it is fairer to judge Carter's present in light of his past, when political cards were stacked and he spoke with another voice.
It is mid-September 1978, and President Carter has invited Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Camp David for thirteen days of negotiation over an Arab-Israeli peace. The event was preceded by Sadat's diplomatic visit to Jerusalem in November 1977, the first public meeting between an Arab leader and Zionist or Israeli official since the June 1918 meeting between Chaim Weizmann and the Emir Faisal. Opposition proliferated: the government in Damascus instituted a "Day of National Mourning," Iraq canceled the celebratory Al-Adha feast, Libya withdrew recognition of the Sadat government, and Egypt's Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmy submitted his resignation.(Click here to read more)
Monday, January 22, 2007
Palestinian refugees and exiles must have a say-so. Rima Merriman, The Electronic Intifada, 15 January 2007
Today, Palestinian refugees outside the occupied territories and Palestinian exiles feel completely excluded from the body politic and national debate currently taking place in the occupied territories. They listen to the feuding emanating from the territories in helpless dismay. They watch those on the inside who are caught up in a carefully engineered web of power struggles and passionate rifts that seem incomprehensible in their intensity and misdirection. This fragmentation in the Palestinian political process has long been in the making. The Palestinian National Authority, courtesy of the Oslo negotiations, is designed to represent only Palestinians living in the occupied territories and to function as no more than Israel's administrative arm.The advent of Hamas on the Palestinian political scene has forcefully brought to the fore the question of adequate forms of representation for the Palestinian people. Far from enhancing democracy and representation, the elections of the Palestinian Legislative Council exclude Palestinians outside the territories. As it turned out, these last elections were also deemed by the international community as irrelevant.(Click here to read more)
The Hauntings of Colonialism (Anthony J. Hall) Canadian Dimension Magazine, January/February 2007 Issue
The publicity attending a showdown in the early 1980s between logging interests and Indigenous peoples in British Columbia drew attention to the ecological ideals of the Fourth World. That showdown took place in Haida Gwaii, the legendary archipelago also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. The controversy attracted the attention of a science broadcaster who was then emerging as one of the most effective voices in the emerging global community of environmental activists. David Suzuki has described his production of a 1982 CBC documentary on the future of the Queen Charlotte Islands as a turning point in his development as a scientist, broadcaster and author. In making the film Suzuki developed lasting collaborations with a number of Aboriginal friends from the region, including Miles Richardson, Guujaaw and Patricia Kelly. As Suzuki describes it, “Guujaaw changed the way I viewed the world and sent me on a radically different course of environmentalism.”(Click here to read more)
National Endowment for Death Squads? The AFL-CIO and the NED By Jon Quaccia
FEW TAXPAYERS ARE familiar with the National Endowment for Democracy, a publicly funded yet privately owned organization operating in at least forty countries. NED's mission? To help the United States set up capitalist economies around the world, backed by regimes that are friendly to U.S. big business. With no interference from the public or congress, the NED is free to accomplish its goals by manipulating and buying elections, starting political as well as economic turmoil, funding counter-insurgency material to right-wing groups, and using other tactics that would be considered illegal in the United States.
Equally disturbing, yet more surprising, is the role that leaders of the U.S. labor federation, the AFL-CIO, play in carrying out the NED's dirty work. The AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center is at work in twenty-eight countries, discouraging radical organizing among workers and promoting privatization by assisting unions and labor groups that support private enterprise.(Click here to read more)
By Coalition to Stop Deportations to Iraq
Over the last ten days the Home Office has been arresting rejected Iraqi Kurdish asylum seekers in Manchester, Birmingham and Doncaster, presumably with a view to attempting another forced removal to Northern Iraq. This is happening at a time when the UNHCR is warning that Iraq cannot deal with the number of displaced persons it already has, and George Bush intends to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq. The Coalition to Stop Deportations to Iraq (CSDI) protests in the strongest possible terms against these arrests.
We have said before, and we repeat now, that Iraq, including Kurdistan, is dangerous, and that it is wrong to return people there. People who had problems with the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) or the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) or Islamist groups in the past will still be at risk if they are sent back now - the KDP and PUK are still in power, and the Islamists are still active.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
The US defence department has released new rules allowing terror suspects to be convicted and possibly executed on the basis of hearsay evidence and some coerced testimony.
The rules, which the department says are "fair", are contained in a manual to be used for upcoming trials of terrorism suspects.
(Click here to read more)
FALLUJAH (IPS) - A stepped up military offensive that targets mosques, religious leaders and Islamic customs is leading many Iraqis to believe that the U.S.-led invasion really was a 'holy war'.
Photographs are being circulated of black crosses painted on mosque walls and on copies of the Quran, and of soldiers dumping their waste inside mosques. New stories appear frequently of raids on mosques and brutal treatment of Islamic clerics, leading many Iraqis to ask if the invasion and occupation was a war against Islam.
(Click here to read more)
Villagers whose crops have failed after a second devastating drought are giving their young daughters in marriage to raise money for food.
Azizgul is 10 years old, from the village of Houscha in western Afghanistan. This year the wheat crop failed again following a devastating drought. Her family was hungry. So, a little before Christmas, Azizgul's mother 'sold' her to be married to a 13-year-old boy. 'I need to sell my daughters because of the drought,' said her mother Sahatgul, 30. 'We don't have enough food and the bride price will enable us to buy food. Three months ago my 15-year-old daughter married.
(Click here to read more)
Dismissal hearings for University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill were held this past week. Ward Churchill appeared before the Privilege and Tenure Committee with many witnesses speaking in his behalf. The committee will have 30 days to issue its findings to CU president Hank Brown. Brown will weigh the findings and make a recommendation to the Board of Regents.
Opposition to his dismissal is growing on campuses across the country. The firing of Churchill, a tenured professor and former head of the Ethnic Studies Department at UC Boulder, is increasingly being seen by those in academia as an attack on academic freedom, dissent and critical thinking that must be stopped. In a recent statement the Colorado branch of the American Association of University Professors notes “we believe that the investigation [into alleged research misconduct] now is widely perceived to be a pretext for firing Churchill when the real reason for dismissal is his politics.” The AAUP statement raises serious questions and concerns over the handling of the Ward Churchill case, and calls for the reversal of the decision to fire him.
(Click here to read more)
(We draft the following letter to the Congress, your endorsement is highly applicated!)
The Honorable Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
Dear Speaker Pelosi, The National Immigration Solidarity Network is a national coalition of multi-ethnic groups that include grassroots community-based organizations, labor, student and youth groups, human rights groups, and peace and global justice organizations all of whom are united in the defense of undocumented immigrants. We oppose immigrant bashing, we support immigrant workers rights, we say no to sweatshop exploitation and we resist the perpetuation of racism in our communities.
(Click here to read more)
Friday, January 19, 2007
In at least one area, President Bush is on the run and Congress should run him to ground. The issue, which should be of concern to Democrats, Republicans and independents alike, is illegal spying on Americans by the National Security Agency. Back in 2005, the New York Times (after unconscionably holding the story for a full year) exposed the fact that Bush, in late 2001, had authorized the NSA to illegally begin a wide-ranging program of monitoring the phone calls and internet communications of Americans in direct violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
That act had been passed by Congress in 1978 precisely because of a similar spying program authorized by President Richard Nixon. It had turned out Nixon was using the NSA illegally to spy on political opponents both outside and inside his own administration. Last year, a federal judge determined, in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, that Bush's actions had been illegal, violating both FISA (a felony), and the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
(Click here to read more)
In recent months, the escalating violence in Afghanistan has begun creeping back into the headlines. Most of the stories have focused on the resurgence of the Taliban and the accompanying suicide bombings, assassinations of Afghan politicians, and deaths of US and NATO soldiers. Much of the blame has been placed on insufficient coalition troop levels, the under-paid and under-trained Afghan National Army, and anger in the Muslim world regarding Iraq. Unfortunately, the gross mismanagement, epidemic corruption, and massive failures of the US-led reconstruction of Afghanistan have been mostly ignored.
In her recent 30-page Corpwatch investigative report, "Afghanistan Inc.", Fariba Nawa proves that "war profiteering" is an accurate term to describe the behavior of many of the corporations contracted with rebuilding her home country. Fariba's family fled Afghanistan to settle in Fremont, CA's "Little Kabul" neighborhood in 1980's, but she moved back to the real Kabul in 2004 to report on the reconstruction and Afghanistan's booming opium trade. Although "Afghanistan Inc." details the facts and figures of corporate corruption, it also tells the Afghan people's hope and eventual disappointment. According to Fariba, the vast majority of the Afghans were overjoyed with the prospects of peace and prosperity following the US's ouster of the violent, repressive Taliban. In the five years since, the continuing lack of power and water, crumbling roads and buildings, and lack of new schools and health facilities has transformed much of this gratitude into aggravated cynicism and even hostility. A few days after 9/11 (2006), Liam O'Donoghue of Faultlines spoke with Fariba about life in Kabul, the Taliban, and her predictions for the future of her war-torn homeland.
(Click here to read more)
To see images of the
action, please visit: Vancouver
To see brief video clips of the
action, please visit: Vancouver
To read the Open Letter from Gitmo North as well as how to take action, please visit:
On January 12th, about 30 people – event organizers from No One Is Illegal Vancouver and allies from various communities – gathered to join the national days of action (January 11th to 15th) demanding an end to Security Certificates in solidarity with the Security Certificate detainees, their families and supporters across the country. The other demands of the action were an immediate closure of the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre (KIHC) – also known as Guantanamo North, an immediate release of Canada’s secret trial “Security Certificate” detainees or at the very least provision of a fair, transparent and open trial to them, an end to all deportation proceedings of the Secret Trial Five, an end to deportation to torture and an immediate condemnation of the illegal prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
The action came in the wake of a weeks long hunger strike being carried out by Mahmoud Jaballah (currently at 41 days of his hunger strike), Mohammad Mahjoub (52 days) and Hassan Almrei (41 days) at KIHC, a $3.2 million six-cell detention block that was created especially for security certificate detainees by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) within the maximum security prison, Millhaven Penitentiary. The men were moved to the prison in
The action took place a day after the fifth anniversary of the official opening of
The men at Millhaven have been detained under Security Certificates for as long as upwards of 6.5 years. The other two, Adil Charkaoui and Mohamed Harkat, have been released on bail under deplorable conditions including a state of virtual house arrest. All five men were arrested under "Security Certificates," a measure of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) that has been described by Amnesty International as "fundamentally flawed and unfair". Security certificates and secret evidence reverse the fundamental rule of innocent until proven guilty. Neither the detainee nor his lawyer are informed of the precise allegations or provided with the full information against him. They are imprisoned indefinitely without charges on secret evidence and face deportation to their countries of origin, even if there is a substantial risk of torture or death. The Certificates can only be used against refugees and permanent residents – highlighting how lack of citizenship has been used to strip particular individuals and communities of basic and fundamental rights.
Other actions have taken place in at least
As of Friday, January 19th, the three men continue on with their hunger strike, 56 days, 45 days, and 45 days and are facing grave medical consequences.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
With some two million of its citizens having fled to other countries and another 1.7 million internally displaced, Iraq has become one of the world's biggest and fastest growing humanitarian crises for which the United States should take far more responsibility, according to human rights groups and other experts.The administration of President George W. Bush, which is currently spending roughly 30 million dollars a day on military operations in Iraq, has earmarked only 20 million dollars for Iraqi humanitarian needs in bilateral aid for all of 2007, the administration's senior refugee official, Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey, told a Senate hearing Tuesday.
We should not repeat the tragic and immoral mistake from the Vietnam era and leave friends without a refuge and subject to violent reprisals.It has also granted refugee status to only 466 Iraqis since 2003, she told the Senate Judiciary Committee, which called on the administration to be far more generous both in providing aid to alleviate the refugee crisis and in offering asylum to fleeing Iraqis, particularly those who have worked for the U.S. military and occupation authorities.
(Click here to read more)
U.S. prisoners working for a computer-recycling operation run by Federal Prison Industries (FPI) are being exposed to a toxic cocktail of hazardous chemicals through their prison jobs while efforts by some prison officials to protect them have been met with stonewalling and subterfuge.
Since 1994, FPI has used inmates to disassemble electronic waste (e-waste)—the detritus of obsolete computers, televisions and related electronics goods—for recycling. According to a new report, “Toxic Sweatshops”—published jointly by the Texas Campaign for the Environment, California-based Computer TakeBack Campaign and the Prison Activist Resource Center—the waste contains high levels of arsenic, selenium, mercury, lead, dioxins and beryllium—all considered dangerous by the Environmental Protection Agency.
(Click here to read more)
Nearly one thousand people gathered in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Oct. 12-15, 2006 at the first ever Border Social Forum (BSF). Modeled after the massive World Social Forum that draws tens of thousands of people every year, the Ciudad Juarez gathering featured dozens of workshops, a border “reality tour” and street demonstrations against the Bush administration's planned series of new border walls and the North American Free Trade Agreement. At the conclusion of the BSF, delegates from U.S. and Mexican non-governmental organizations issued a 23-point declaration that calls for sweeping changes in immigration, human rights, labor, economic, and environmental policies on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
(Click here to read more)
TORONTO (CP) - Aboriginals say the discovery of an ancient village and 9,000-year-old stone tools on disputed land currently being occupied by Six Nations protesters in Caledonia, Ont., strengthens their claim to the former housing development site.
A dig of around 18 locations on the occupied land uncovered stones left behind by nomadic hunting groups thousands of years ago and the remains of an 800-year-old longhouse, complete with refuse pit, Ontario's Ministry of Culture told The Canadian Press.
(Click here to read more)
U.S. urges 'fivefold expansion' in Alberta oilsands production
The U.S. wants Canada to dramatically expand its oil exports from the Alberta oilsands, a move that could have major implications on the environment. U.S.and Canadian oil executives and government officials met for a two-day oil summit in Houston in January 2006 and made plans for a "fivefold expansion" in oilsands production in a relatively "short time span," according to minutes of the meeting obtained by the CBC's French-language network, Radio-Canada. The processing plant at the Suncor oilsands project in Ft. McMurray, Alberta, pumps steam into the air. The meeting was organized by Natural Resources Canada and the U.S. Department of Energy.(Click here to read more)
Power Politics In Bangladesh By Taj Hashmi
After witnessing ten weeks of political standoff, rioting and killing of more than forty political activists on the street by members of political rivals, Bangladesh is now under Emergency rule. On January 11th, President Iajuddin Ahmed declared the State of Emergency as the country was heading towards total anarchy. The Emergency is the outcome of the Awami League-led 16-Party Grand Alliance’s stubborn opposition to taking part in the parliamentary elections scheduled for January 22nd on the pretext that the elections would not be free and fair for various reasons.
One wonders if the State of Emergency by curtailing several fundamental rights of the people will finally lead to free and fair elections, participated by the major political parties and acceptable to all at home and abroad. One is, however, sure about one thing. Unless both the main political rivals, the Awami League- and BNP-led alliances, are convinced of winning the majority of seats in the Parliament, there will not be any elections in the over-polarized polity of Bangladesh.
LATIN AMERICA: POLITICS, POVERTY AND CRIME. El Salvador's migrants by Raphaëlle Bail January 17, 2007
EL SALVADOR is the ideal country in which to observe the effects of massive emigration. This is unsurprising, given its scale: between 1.7 million and 2.5 million Salvadorians, 25-34% of the population, live abroad, the majority in the United States. A deputy minister is responsible for looking after the interests of this highly organised diaspora. Daily newspapers contain entire sections devoted to them, especially El Prensa Gráfica, whose `Departamento 15' pages are named after El Salvador's 15th department, the US.
Salvadorian migrants are generous. According to the central bank, remesas (remittances) amounted to $2.1bn in 2003, $2.5bn in 2004 and almost $3bn in 2005. This is equivalent to 15% of El Salvador's gross domestic product, more than the country's education and health budgets put together. For families, remesas are a significant additional income. The UN Development Programme estimates that 20-25% of the population benefits by $400 per person a year. In regions along the frontier with Honduras where emigration is especially prevalent, these contributions can amount to almost 30% of income.
Lebanon on the Brink by Fawwaz Traboulsi and Assaf Kfoury January 18, 2007
[Introduction by Assaf Kfoury: The little country is exposed more than ever to the political storms east of the Mediterranean. In the following article, historian and long-time political commentator Fawwaz Traboulsi explains that the dangers faced by Lebanon today are, in part, the result of its "confessional system". This system did not always exist and Lebanese were not ordained to live in it. Lebanese and other communities of the Levant existed for hundreds of years before this peculiarly factious power-sharing formula based on religious denominations was first introduced in the second half of the 19th Century, partly dictated by the balance in the contest between a declining Ottoman empire and encroaching European colonial powers.
The latter sought out local partners (commercial agents, political allies, consular officers) among co-religionists or members of religious minorities, in exchange for special privileges and protection against Ottoman authorities. The arrangement was then adjusted and re-adjusted, but never abandoned, after every political upheaval ever since, always at the prodding if not behest of external actors. By tying the fate of the country to external interests, different for different confessional parties, the confessional system belies lofty proclamations by Lebanese politicians about "national independence" and voids that term of its meaning, as pointed out by Traboulsi.
More Than 34,000 Iraqi Civilian Deaths In 2006 By Kate Randall
The United Nations reported Tuesday that 34,452 Iraqi civilians died in 2006 as a result of bombings, extra-judicial executions and other forms of violence. Iraq’s population is 27 million. If violent deaths occurred at the same rate in the US, with a population of 300 million, the toll would surpass 370,000. This would be equivalent in terms of numbers to the annihilation of an entire city the size of Cincinnati, Ohio. The UN report, which acknowledges that its tally underestimates the actual number of Iraqis killed last year, paints a horrific picture of a society wracked by military and sectarian violence and a collapse in the basic conditions of life. It is a social catastrophe with few parallels in modern history, and a direct consequence of the US invasion and occupation of the country.(Click here to read more)
The Steady March to War on Iran: What It Would Take to Stop It By VIRGINIA TILLEY
From its inception, the US occupation was a lose-lose proposition. Simply rolling into Iraq -- a society of which the Bush neocons had so distorted a conception and US occupation commanders and foot soldiers had no grasp at all - was a formula for doom. But US policy in the Middle East has now advanced to a new stage and the risk to the rest of us has changed. For stopping an attack on Iran, which is the only way to avert final regional disaster, may require action in Washington that falls outside the parameters of what is normally politically possible.
For the first two years of the occupation, the US dilemma was plain to everyone. On the one hand, pulling out "prematurely" promised an internal Iraqi melee for power and the quick collapse of the feeble pro-US Iraqi government. On the other hand, the ongoing presence of American troops and the inevitable brutalities of occupation could only inspire more armed resistance, progressively wreck US legitimacy, and make things worse. As it staggered forward, wreaking tens of thousands of direct Iraqi casualties (and possibly hundreds of thousands in indirect ones), the US occupation fed an unprecedented surge of anti-US and anti-western militancy. As a result, three short years later, five decades of largely uncontested US hegemony in the Middle East are collapsing into the same clouds of dust now engulfing Iraq's national society -- the World Trade Center towers going down in slo-mo.(Click here to read more)
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Canada’s New Government invests over $430M for smart, secure borders
WINDSOR, Ontario, January 12, 2007 — The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, today announced an investment of $431.6M over five years to reinforce smart, secure borders. This funding will allow three key initiatives under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) — eManifest, Business Resumption and Partners in Protection – to move forward.(Click here to read more)
Nonviolent demonstration at checkpoint links plight of Palestinians to that of Native Americans
Dozens of Palestinians staged a nonviolent demonstration at Huwara Checkpoint in southern Nablus Sunday dressed in the traditional outfits of Native Americans. The point was to make the connection between the colonization taking place in Palestine and that which happened in the Americas while the US Secretary of State was nearby.
Israeli forces occupying the northern West Bank attempted to block media coverage of the demonstration and quickly closed the checkpoint. The Palestinian Dama Center representatives told reporters that they organized the event as “an expression of the will of the vast majority of Palestinians and their refusal to accept the daily practice of the occupation.” This protest is part of a larger program entitled, “30 Days against the Barriers.”(Click here to read more)
Murder and Migration by David Bacon
Development projects anywhere in the world often have a high human cost. In Colombia, the price is often measured in human lives and blood. Esperanza (she would risk her life, she says, if her real name appeared in print) saw her neighbors pay that price in 2001. Her house sits on the bank of the Rio Salvajina, in the Afro-Colombian municipality of Buenos Aires in Cauca province. 'I saw armed men arrive in cars,' she remembers, 'with two, three, four, even five people tied up. They dragged them onto the bridge, shot them two or three times and threw their bodies into the river.' When the paramilitaries came to her own home, she was so frightened she lost the baby she'd been carrying for five months.
Today Esperanza is a community activist organizing against the hydropower project for which her neighbors were killed. If ratified by Congress, the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which President Bush and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe signed in mid- November, could lead to more such projects, she fears, and more such violence. 'It will permit many more development projects by multinational companies. Many more people will be displaced. And if they won't leave voluntarily, there will be more assassinations. We know this because we live with it already.' Esperanza's experience is a microcosm of the large- scale impact of corporate development in Colombia's countryside. One quarter of Colombia's nearly 43 million people are Afro-Colombian, and most live in rural areas, where resources like hydropower and gold and mineral deposits are concentrated. Far from enhancing the villagers' lives, however, these projects more commonly despoil their lands and force them to flee.(Click here to read more)
Tyendinaga Update: The Fight for Return of Culberston Tract Lands
The Culberston is a tract of land, 923 acres in size that runs along theeastern boundary of Tyendinaga today. In 1837 the Federal Governmentchanged the status of the land from Indian land to white land. All agreements with the Mohawk Nation predate the existence of Canada.While the Mohawk Chiefs immediately registered their people’s dissent in 1837 when the land was stolen, no formal legal process existed to pursueits return. Despite a fundamental obligation to uphold previousagreements between the Mohawks and the crown, the Federal Government only created such a process in 1991.Tyendinaga filed a formal claim for the land with the Feds in 1995. The claim seeks the restoration of lands to the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. In November 2003, Tyendinaga received a letter from the Federal Governmentacknowledging what the people of Tyendinaga have always known: That the Culberston Tract was never surrendered and is Mohawk Land.(Click here to read more)
New Orleans: Letter from St. Bernard Occupation
We are the individuals currently occupying the St. Bernard Housing Project. We are inside as guests of, and at the request of undisclosed current lease holders. We are members of an organization called Mayday NOLA, a housing rights organization “committed to the belief that housing is a human right, and that all people are entitled to economic justice. Many of us have been or currently are homeless ourselves, so we are dedicated from within the communities most affected by economic injustice.”
We are occupying St. Bernard Housing Project because we were contacted, and have been requested to do so by St. Bernard residents and other public housing residents. We are not outside agitators. We are individuals working at the request and under the direction of those most effected by the demolition of New Orleans' public housing system. The residents are the voices demanding justice, and we are inside because of their organizing, and in solidarity with their struggle for their homes. It is our intention to continue to occupy St. Bernard in protest until the scheduled demolitions are canceled permanently, or the residents are satisfied that their demands have been met. On this we are not negotiable.(Click here to read more)
Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto is not a mere adventure tale, it’s not just another excruciatingly brutal portrayal of apocalyptic violence for its own sake, and the Village Voice is dead wrong when it says that unlike Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto is “unburdened by nationalist or religious piety,”— that it's “pure, amoral sensationalism.”
Despite its extreme brutality Apocalypto isn’t just Gibson’s latest snuff film with a religious theme. The film is a morality play, and there are only two things one needs to remember to get a hint of the ugly moral intent behind Mel Gibson’s depiction of the Maya. The first is that, despite Gibson’s vile portrayal of the Maya as a macabre cult of deranged killers straight out of Apocalypse Now!, there is no evidence that the Mayan people ever practiced widespread human sacrifice, and they certainly didn’t target the innocent hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists Gibson chooses to portray as the victims of a Mayan death cult.
(Click here to read more)
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
16 January 2007 World Socialist Web
In a desperate bid to end weeks of political turmoil, Bangladesh’s president Iajuddin Ahmed announced last Thursday that he was postponing national elections due on January 22, imposing a state of emergency and stepping aside as head of the interim caretaker government. The president had been the target of weeks of protests by opposition parties, which accused him of being a stooge of the ruling Bangladesh National Party (BNP). The main opposition party—the Awami League—had demanded that Iajuddin Ahmed step aside and the election be postponed to enable the drawing up of accurate electoral rolls. According to the opposition, the current list contains more than 10 million fake or deceased voters.
On Friday, the president swore in former central bank governor Fakhruddin Ahmed as the new head of the interim government to hold power until after the election. At this stage, it is not clear when the poll will be held or whether the postponement is strictly constitutional. The BNP-led government stepped aside in October, at the end of its five-year term, paving the way for elections within 90 days as required by the country’s constitution. Following the announcement of a state of emergency, the security forces immediately clamped a curfew and strict media censorship on the country. Amid widespread criticism and open flouting by newspapers of the ban on political news, both measures were eased. The information ministry is, however, still urging the media not to write anything provocative.
Monday, January 15, 2007
JUMAH AL-DOSSARI is a 33-year-old citizen of Bahrain. This article was excerpted from letters he wrote to his attorneys. Its contents have been deemed unclassified by the Department of Defense. January 11, 2007 Los Angeles Times
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba - I AM WRITING from the darkness of the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo in the hope that I can make our voices heard by the world. My hand quivers as I hold the pen. In January 2002, I was picked up in Pakistan, blindfolded, shackled, drugged and loaded onto a plane flown to Cuba. When we got off the plane in Guantanamo, we did not know where we were. They took us to Camp X-Ray and locked us in cages with two buckets- one empty and one filled with water. We were to urinate in one and wash in the other. At Guantanamo, soldiers have assaulted me, placed me in solitary confinement, threatened to kill me, threatened to kill my daughter and told me I will stay in Cuba for the rest of my life.
(Click here to read more)
Military intervention won’t stop the killing. Those who are clamouring for troops to fight their way into Darfur are suffering from a salvation delusion. It’s a simple reality that UN troops can’t stop an ongoing war, and their record at protecting civilians is far from perfect. Moreover, the idea of Bush and Blair acting as global moral arbiters doesn’t travel well. The crisis in Darfur is political. It’s a civil war, and like all wars it needs a political settlement. Late in the night of 16 November Kofi Annan chaired a meeting at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa at which he, the AU and the UN Security Council reaffirmed this basic fact. When he promised to bring the government of Sudan and the rebels who are still fighting around the table within weeks, the outgoing UN secretary general was adopting a simple and correct rationale: fix the politics first and the peacekeeping will follow. It’s not a distant hope: the political differences are small.
(Click here to read more)
President George W. Bush has asked the American people to "be patient" so that Iraq can become like Colombia—so that the Iraqis can defeat terrorism and establish a stable democracy like the one Washington has nurtured in Colombia. I would like to comment on this nightmare.
Plan Colombia, a "pro-democracy" aid package provided by the United States to Colombia, was established in 1999. Its primary stated objective was to end drug trafficking in Colombia. Later on, it was discovered that the plan had the further objective of defeating the guerrilla movement, though that component of the plan was never acknowledged by Washington while Bill Clinton was in office. It was, however, made explicit in subsequent versions of the plan devised by George W. Bush's administration, which identified its principal objective as combating "narco-terrorism," thus conflating the drug war with the anti-guerrilla struggle. Furthermore, the Bush government has proposed that the plan combat any other threat to the security of the Colombian state, a proposal that has since been repeated in a State Department document.
(Click here to read more)
The existence of an Arab labour movement in Palestine before 1948 has virtually been erased from the collective memory of at least the non-Arabic-speaking world. No archives or other comprehensive, reliable written sources survived the Nakba and the subsequent collapse of organised Arab labour in Israel. The historical narrative prevalent in the Western hemisphere presents political initiatives of indigenous Arab workers either as instigated and facilitated by the Histadrut or as a mere propaganda tool of the ruling Arab bourgeois "effendis". Certainly, there was no labour movement and no working class consciousness in the largely rural, semi-feudal society of early 20th-century Palestine, but the local population adjusted quickly to the new challenges posed by mass immigration, industrialisation and Western colonial rule. Between 1925 and 1947, Palestine had a thriving Arab labour movement - though at times weakened by internal struggles - led by the largest union institution PAWS (Palestinian Arab Workers' Society). The Palestinian Arab working class and their leaders displayed a diversity of political ideologies and different attitudes concerning the Histadrut and joint Arab-Jewish organisation. Palestinian Arab unions were also internationally recognised as legitimate representatives of the Arab workers in Palestine.
The state of Israel is built upon the sweeping success of two interlinked political campaigns ran by the Labour Zionist movement in the first half of the 20th century in Palestine: namely, the Conquest of Land and the Conquest of Labour. "Separate and Unequal" focuses on the latter - the conquest of labour - and how the local Arab population dealt with this challenge.
(Click here to read more)
WASHINGTON, Jan 12 (IPS) - President George W. Bush's address on Iraq Wednesday night was less about Iraq than about its eastern neighbour, Iran. There was little new about the U.S.'s strategy in Iraq, but on Iran, the president spelled out a plan that appears to be aimed at goading Iran into war with the U.S.
While Washington speculated whether the president would accept or reject the Iraq Study Group's recommendations, few predicted that he would do the opposite of what James Baker and Lee Hamilton advised. Rather than withdrawing troops from Iraq, Bush ordered an augmentation of troop levels. Rather than talking to Iran and Syria, Bush virtually declared war on these states. And rather than pressuring Israel to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the administration is fuelling the factional war in Gaza by arming and training Fatah against Hamas. Several recent developments and statements indicate that the administration is ever more seriously eyeing war with Iran. On Wednesday, Bush made the starkest accusations yet against the rulers in Tehran, alleging that the clerics were "providing material support for attacks on American troops."
(Click here to read more)