Mississauga: Film screening of “Occupation 101”

April 2, 2008

60 YEARS OF AL NAKBA

 

(the catastrophe)

 

In 1948, the world witnessed the forcible expulsion of the Palestinians from their land in order to create the state of Israel. The Palestinians refer to this injustice as Al Nakba. Across Ontario this year progressive and democratic organizations are marking 60 years of Al Nakba not as some event of the past but as an ongoing historical problem demanding a just solution. The screening of Occupation 101 is part of this year long commemoration.

Film screening:

 

Occupation

101

 

A 90 minute award-winning documentary film on the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict followed by discussion

Thurs. April 17

7 pm

Palestine House

3195 Erindale Station Road

(between Dundas St. and Burnhamthorpe Rd.)

Sponsored by:

Brampton Coalition for Peace and Justice

Mississauga Coalition for Peace and Justice

Young Muslims

Contact: www.mcpj.org/ info@mcpj.org

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U of T Media Workshop this Friday

April 2, 2008

Media 101:
Workshop on dealing with mainstream media, and ideas for alternatives

Friday, April 4th
6:00 pm
@ OPIRG and the Centre for Women and Trans People @ U of T
563 Spadina Ave
**This space is wheel chair accessible

Everyday we are bombarded with images and messages from corporate run media. What is the narrative that we are exposed to..what are the facts on-the-ground that are left out of print? How do we learn to read between the lines, and how do we create alternative ways of getting information out?

With:
*Jonah Gindin: independant media activist who has reported from Venezuela (www.venezuelanalysis.com) as well as other places in South America and Central America, and Turtle Island. He is a member of the investigative research collective of www.inthenameofdemocracy.org.

*Ahmed Habib: member of Independant Arabic Media (www.shakomako.net) and Al Wattan news. He is host of CKLN’s (88.1 FM) Kan Ya Makan (Arabic Community Radio), as well as CHRY’s (105.5 FM) Voices of the Students.

Part of the OPIRG – Toronto Tools 4 Change skills sharing and skills building series. For the full schedule of workshops, visit: www.opirguoft.org


MADRE: The US-Colombia Unfair Trade Agreement

April 2, 2008

This info and action alert comes from MADRE:

The US-Colombia Unfair Trade Agreement: Just Say No!

Link to petition: http://madre.kintera.org/petition

With Congress back in session, the Bush Administration is pushing hard to pass another trade agreement based on the failed NAFTA model, this time with Colombia. The Administration is in a race against public opinion, which is quickly turning against the kind of neoliberal trade deals that have worsened poverty and inequality in every country where they have been implemented and led to a massive loss of jobs in the United States. The proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia promises more of the same. The deal will also strengthen Colombia’s government, which is responsible for severe human rights violations.

With more and more people–in Latin America and in the US–becoming aware of the repercussions of unfair trade rules, now is the time to take action and demand change.

Please sign our petition asking Congress to vote No on the US-Colombia FTA. Let your representatives know that a vote for this trade agreement is a vote for:

1. Worsening Rural Poverty and Hunger

The FTA cuts tariffs on food imported from the US but benefits only the few Colombian farmers who export to the US. Moreover, the deal bars the Colombian government from subsidizing farmers, while large-scale US corn and rice growers enjoy billions in subsidies. These double standards guarantee that US agribusiness can undersell Colombian farmers, who will face bankruptcy as a result. Many of Colombia’s small-holder farmers are women and Indigenous Peoples who are losing their livelihoods and being forced off their lands.

2. Fueling Armed Conflict and Drug Trafficking

The intertwined crises of poverty, landlessness and inequality are at the root of Colombia’s 50-year armed conflict. The FTA will further concentrate wealth in the hands of a few while worsening poverty for millions of people. Many Colombian farmers, whose livelihoods will be destroyed by the FTA, will be compelled to cultivate coca (the raw material for producing cocaine) to earn a living.

Continuing a trend begun in the wake of 9-11, the US has cast the FTA as a matter of its “national security,” and the Colombian government has followed suit by treating anyone opposed to the deal as a terrorist. Colombia’s workers, Afro-Colombians and Indigenous Peoples have taken a clear position against the FTA. Their peaceful protests have been met with severe repression, including murder.

3. Repressing Labor Rights

Colombia is already the world’s deadliest country for trade unionists, with more than 2,000 labor activists killed since 1991. The FTA does not require Colombia to meet international core labor standards; it merely calls on the government to abide by its own weak labor laws. Without enforceable labor protections, the trade deal will put more workers at risk. US workers’ power to negotiate better wages will also be weakened by a deal that allows corporations operating in Colombia to keep labor costs down through sheer violence.

4. Exacerbating Climate Change and Threatening Biodiversity

The FTA will increase logging in the Colombian Amazon, weakening the rainforest’s capacity to stabilize the Earth’s climate. Under provisions sought by the US, corporations that have bought the rights to a country’s forests, fishing waters, mineral deposits or oil reserves can totally deplete these resources, with grave consequences to ecosystems and the many species that inhabit them. Small-scale farmers and Indigenous Peoples who depend directly on these natural resources will be the first people to suffer.

5. Subordinating National Sovereignty to Corporations

By allowing corporations to sue governments for passing laws that could reduce profits, the FTA erodes Colombia’s prerogative to regulate foreign investment and undermines citizens’ chances of improving health, safety and environmental laws. In anticipation of the FTA, the US pressed Colombia to pass a law that would expropriate land from Indigenous and Afro-Colombians and allow multinational corporations to gain control of millions of hectares of rainforest. The forestry law was part of a series of constitutional “reforms” undertaken to meet the conditions of a US trade agreement. In January 2008, Colombian civil society won an important victory: the forestry law was struck down as a violation of Indigenous rights. Had the FTA already been in place, US corporations would now be allowed to sue the Colombian government for “lost future profits.”

6. Deteriorating Public Health

By extending patent rights on medicines produced in the US, the FTA hinders the use of far cheaper generic drugs and puts life-saving medicines out of reach for millions of Colombians. Women, who are over-represented among the poor and primarily responsible for caring for sick family members, are particularly harmed by this provision.

7. Loss of Vital Public Services

The FTA requires the Colombian government to sell off critical public services, including water, healthcare and education. Elsewhere in Latin America, this kind of privatization has resulted in sharp rate increases by new corporate owners that deny millions of people access to essential services. Women are hardest hit because it is most often their responsibility to meet their families’ needs for such basic services.

8. Harming Indigenous Women

The FTA would enable corporations to exploit Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge by allowing companies to patent seeds, plants, animals and certain medical procedures developed and used by Indigenous women over centuries. Under the FTA, Indigenous women could lose access to important medicinal plants and agricultural seeds unless they pay royalties to patent holders. Indigenous women’s role as the protectors of their community’s natural resources and traditional knowledge would be eroded, threatening Indigenous cultures and women’s status within the community.

There Are Viable Alternatives to Free Trade Agreements

Despite more than a decade of failed NAFTA-style trade deals, the US continues to insist that its trading partners adhere to rigid neoliberal economic policies. But Latin America’s social movements are articulating viable alternatives for regulating trade and economic integration in ways that benefit women, families, communities and the environment. The women of MADRE’s sister organizations in Colombia and throughout Latin America affirm the need for Fair Trade Agreements that:

1. Are negotiated through democratic processes with effective participation from communities that will be impacted, including women’s organizations.
2. Ensure that life-sustaining resources such as water, food staples and medicinal plants are guaranteed to all people and not reduced to commodities.
3. Ensure that access to basic services, including health care, housing, education, water and sanitation, are recognized as human rights that governments are obligated–and empowered–to protect.
4. Institute the region’s highest, rather than lowest, standards for labor rights and health, safety and environmental protections.
5. Adopt principles of “fair trade,” including social security and development assistance programs that protect small farmers and workers and that recognize the economic value of women’s unpaid labor in the household.
6. Require foreign investors to contribute to the economic development of the communities where they have a presence.
7. Promote policies that respect local cultures and collective Indigenous rights and that preserve traditional agricultural techniques and biodiversity in agriculture and nature.
8. Recognize the links between economic growth, environmental sustainability and building peace.

Toronto: Poor people swept into jail as city cuts services

April 2, 2008

PROJECT REVIVAL: POOR PEOPLE SWEPT INTO JAIL AS CITY CUTS SERVICES

STOP THE WAR ON THE POOR!

April 2, 2008

Yesterday, the Metro Toronto police announced almost 300

arrests in a sweep of one of this city’s poorest neighbourhoods. The arrests took place in the area bounded by Gerrard St. E., Queen St. E., Church St. and Parliament St. Developed through the 51 Division “Community Police Liaison Committee”, the sweep involved undercover officers in a 6 week operation, code named “Project Roundup” and “Project Revival”.

The priorities of cops, city officials, and the gentrifying forces of this neighbourhood are clear. The downtown East End is being remade and ‘revived’ through crackdowns on the poor people who call it home. It is our friends, our neighbours, the people who use the rapidly disappearing services in the East End, who are being swept into jail through operations like this one.

According to Det. Sgt. Howie Page of 51 Division, “When the community came to 51 Division … it was a project aimed at improving the quality of life of people in this area.” And we must ask: Which community? Whose quality of life? We must also ask: When demands are made for affordable housing, detox or harm reduction programs, shelter beds, and better welfare rates, the basic right for people to live in dignity and safety, what kind of response do we get?

The City officials who pay and oversee this police force are the same ones who, over the past year, allowed three large rooming houses in the neighborhood to be shut down, and five major shelters to be closed. $2 million dollars worth of CCTV cameras have been installed in the downtown core, two of them outside the biggest men’s shelters in the east end.

Homeless people are being targeted, fined thousands of dollars in Provincial Offense tickets for minor infractions like encumbering the sidewalk, or camping in a park without a permit. Poor and homeless people are being dispossessed, displaced, and destroyed.

We condemn this latest, blatant attack on the people of the downtown East End. We condemn the police for sweeping the streets, criminalizing people who are fighting to survive. We need housing, shelter, food and income to address the issues in the neighborhood, not more police harassment and intimidation.

For more information contact OCAP at 416-925-6939

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP): www.ocap.ca


Video: The Secret Government

April 2, 2008

This excellent video originally aired on PBS in 1987, hosted by the venerable Bill Moyers. It is presciently pertinent today, in the post-9/11 USA. And it all started with the post-war National Security Act of 1947…

Moyers also worked for Lyndon B. Johnson and has a very professional approach. He interviews many different people involved with the CIA and other government agencies. His documentary gives quite an overview of what has actually happened in the last 50 years regarding the CIA and the cold war (including Iran, Guatamala, Cuba, Vietnam and Chile). He features such people as Ralph McGeehee and Phil Retinger (both former CIA agents), Rear Admiral Gene La Rocque (Ret. U.S.N.), Theodore Bissell (active in the CIA at the time), Sen. Frank Church and many others.  The full video “The Secret Government” is 90 minutes – this segment is edited by Frank Dorrel to 20 minutes.

video link: “The Secret Government: A Constitution in Crisis”:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sstDwKTCpM

MidEast Dispatches: ‘Handed Over’ to a Government Called Sadr

April 2, 2008

‘Handed Over’ to a Government Called Sadr

Inter Press Service
By Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*

BAGHDAD, Apr 2 (IPS) – Despite the huge media campaign led by U.S. officials and a complicit corporate-controlled media to convince the world of U.S. success in Iraq, emerging facts on the ground show massive failure.

The date March 25 of this year will be remembered as the day of truth through five years of occupation.”Mehdi army militias controlled all Shia and mixed parts of Baghdad in no time,” a Baghdad police colonel, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. “Iraqi army and police forces as well as Badr and Dawa militias suddenly disappeared from the streets, leaving their armoured vehicles for Mehdi militiamen to drive around in joyful convoys that toured many parts of Baghdad before taking them to their stronghold of Sadr City in the east of Baghdad.”

The police colonel was speaking of the recent clashes between members of the Shia Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army, the largest militia in the country, and members of the Iraqi government forces, that are widely known to comprise members of a rival Shia militia, the Badr Organisation.

Dozens of militiamen from both sides were killed in clashes that broke out in Baghdad, Basra, Kut, Samawa, Hilla and most of the Iraqi Shia southern provinces between the Mehdi Army and other militias supported by the U.S., Iran and the Iraqi government.

The Badr Organisation militia is headed by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who is also head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) that dominates the government. The Dawa Party is headed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The number of civilians killed and injured in the clashes is still unknown. Iraqi government offices continue to keep largely silent about the events.

“Every resident of Basra knew the situation would explode any minute between these oil thieves, and that Basra would suffer another wave of militia war,” Salman Kathum, a doctor and former resident of Basra who fled for Baghdad last month told IPS.

For months now there has been a struggle between the Sadr Movement, the SIIC, and the al-Fadhila Party for control of the south, and particularly Basra.

Falah Shenshal, an MP allied to al-Sadr, told al-Jazeera Mar. 26 that al-Maliki was targeting political opponents. “They say they target outlaw gangs, but why do they start with the areas where the sons of the Sadr movement are located? This is a political battle…for the political interests of one party (al-Maliki’s Dawa party) because the local elections are coming soon (due later this year).”

The fighting came just as the U.S. military announced the death of their 4,000th soldier in Iraq, and on the heels of a carefully crafted PR campaign designed to show that the “surge” of U.S. troops in Iraq has successfully improved the situation on the ground.

“I wonder what lies General David Petraeus (the U.S. forces commander in Iraq) will fabricate this time,” Malek Shakir, a journalist in Baghdad told IPS. “The 25th March events revealed the true failure of the U.S. occupation project in Iraq. More complications are expected in the coming days.”

Maliki has himself been in Basra to lead a surge against Mehdi Army militias while the U.S. sent forces to surround Sadr City in an attempt to support their Badr and Dawa allies.

News of limited clashes and air strikes have come from Sadr City, with unofficial reports of many casualties amongst civilians. Curfew in many parts of Baghdad and in four southern provinces had made life difficult already.

“This failure takes Iraq to point zero and even worse,” Brigadier-General Kathum Alwan of the Iraqi army told IPS in Baghdad. “We must admit that the formation of our forces was wrong, as we saw how our officers deserted their posts, leaving their vehicles for militias.”

Alwan added, “Not a single unit of our army and police stood for their duty in Baghdad, leaving us wondering what to do. Most of the officers who left their posts were members of Badr brigades and the Dawa Party, who should have been most faithful to Maliki’s government.”

The Green Zone of Baghdad where the U.S. embassy and the Iraqi government and parliament buildings are located, was hit by missiles. General Petraeus appeared at a press conference to accuse Iran of being behind the shelling of the zone that is supposed to be the safest area in Iraq. At least one U.S. citizen was killed in the attacks, and two others were injured.

“The Green Zone looked deserted as most U.S. and Iraqi personnel were ordered to take shelter deep underground,” an engineer who works for a foreign company in the zone told IPS. “It seemed that this area too was under curfew. No place in Iraq is safe any more.”

Further complicating matters for the occupiers of Iraq, the U.S.-backed Awakening groups, largely comprised of former resistance fighters, are now going on strike to demand overdue payment from the U.S. military.

(*Ali, our correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East)

__________________________________________

***
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Order your copy of Dahr’s new book, Beyond the Green Zone
http://dahrjamailiraq.com/bookpage

(c)2008 Dahr Jamail.

All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr’s Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq.com website. Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr’s dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at http://dahrjamailiraq.com


Weekly Grist: Al Gore announces candidacy…more

April 2, 2008

This news item comes from the Weekly Grist , an excellent site to which I subscribe for top environmental news from around the globe. It arrived in my inbox yesterday.  Check the site for more news:

TOP STORY

With Gore Galore
Al Gore will run as Independent for president, Bloomberg tapped as veep

You might want to sit down for this: Al Gore has announced his candidacy for president. Wait, wait, don’t get up yet: Gore, a lifelong Democrat, will run as an Independent. He’s even announced his vice-prez pick: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who only last week dodged rumors that he’d be Barack Obama’s second fiddle. But Bloomberg only has eyes for Dreamy Al. “This is a man who gets things done,” Bloomberg said. “We’re tired of waiting on Democrat and Republican bickering.” In a speech in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday morning, Gore listed climate change, foreign policy, and getting the economy out of the dumps as his top priorities. And he minced no words in deflecting skepticism about his chances. “With all due respect to Senators Clinton, Obama, and McCain,” he said, “what America needs is Al Gore.”

 

sources: The New York Times, Reuters, The Washington Post, Associated Press

 

 

Also Changes Name to DumbCar
General Motors buys SmartCar, shuts down plant

Yesterday, General Motors bought smart-‘n’-tiny SmartCar from Mercedes-Benz (itself a subsidiary of Daimler AG). And before we even had time to write it up, news emerged that GM has already shut down a SmartCar plant in Michigan. GM execs say they’re merely streamlining and no jobs will be lost — laid-off employees will be transitioned to elsewhere in the company. Activists, however, are skeptical of the motives of General Motors, which starred so unforgettably in the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? Will the enviro-beloved, teeny-tiny Smart Fortwo, which just made its U.S. debut in January, meet the EV-1’s grisly end? Stay tuned.

sources: The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Detroit Free Press

 

Where There’s a Will, There’s … Um, Just a Will
McCain wants to run White House on nuclear power

In a campaign speech at Mississippi State University Monday, John McCain declared that by the end of his potential presidency, the White House will be powered “entirely by renewable energy.” Is that so, John? And what kind of renewable energy might that be? “I will work hard to ensure that Americans are safe from terrorists, and I will conduct that work from a White House reliant on safe, clean, nuclear power produced right here in the United States,” McCain said. Really, words fail us.

sources: The Hill, The Reflector