My blog: E = Excellent

May 28, 2008

E Award

I haven’t been on here much lately due to a lot of outside activities and computer problems, so I was genuinely surprised and deeply honoured at being a recipient of an E = Excellent Award by Grace of Realizing Ordinary when I opened my site a few hours ago! She included my blog among the most thought-provoking, interesting and informative blogs in the blogosphere. Thanks a million, Grace, you’ve made my day!

Now comes the difficult task of nominating ten other blogs I consider excellent for the E Award from all of the wonderful blogs out there that I read regularly. And what makes a blog excellent? Michelle at Crow’s Feet put my thoughts into words better than I can:

“…For me it’s mostly those blogs that stand out not only for being interesting to read, but who reach for excellence through hard consistent work to keep their blogs updated, attractive and worth reading. Blogs that constantly challenge their readers to use their brains as well as their eyes – to think as well as read….”

So here they are, all of them interesting, sometimes humourous, always challenging, very worthwhile reading and truly excellent blogs, in no particular order:

1. This Canadian
2. Harper Valley
3. hazel8500
4. Hope and Onions
5. Woman At Mile 0
6. Rolling Back the Tide of Extremism, One Post at a Time
7. Ceasefire Insider Blog
8. Unrepentant Old Hippie
9. redjenny
10. Crooks and Liars

MidEast Dispatches: Through Occupation, The Very Dreams Change

May 28, 2008

Through Occupation, The Very Dreams Change

Inter Press Service

By Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail*

BAQUBA, May 27 (IPS) – After more than five years of U.S. occupation, the very dreams of the people of Baquba have changed. For a start, they are no longer about the future.

Today, a shower is a dream. Or that the electricity supply continues just that little bit longer.

“These needs are very trivial for people of other countries,” 43-year-old political leader Saad Tahir told IPS. “But in Iraq, people dream more of these things than of some ambition or success.”

Abdullah Mahdi, a retired 51-year-old trader, says he dreams only of electricity.

“Like millions here, I hope supply gets better to help us to sleep in this hot summer,” Mahdi told IPS. “We have been suffering from this problem since the 1991 Kuwait war, and this current occupation only made things worse.”

Others dream of freedom of movement. “I dream of travelling among the Iraqi provinces freely and safely,” a local resident said. “For more than two years now, I have not travelled to any province of my country.” Lack of security means Iraqis can rarely travel even to a neighbouring area.

Children also seem to have begun to dream differently.

“I dream of a playground in which I and my friends can play freely and at any time,” 11-year-old Luay Amjad told IPS. Children are not allowed to play just anywhere for fear of unexploded bombs, haphazard firing, and a general fear of the Iraqi military. Many children in Baquba and other districts of Diyala province have been kidnapped.

“All families wish to see their children safe, and then enjoying their time,” said a young father. “We know that they currently live in a very closed world. But we put pressure on our children for their own safety. Streets are dangerous, and even gardens may sometimes be dangerous.”

Others dream of a functioning economy. According to the ministry of trade, unemployment has been vacillating between 40-70 percent over the last two years.

“I hope that the trade and economic process will improve,” said an unemployed trader. “I wish Iraq could be an industrial country with a flourishing and luxurious status of living. I want to get back to my shop and have my own customers.”

Teachers dream of an Iraq that can be a centre for education again. “Iraq was one of the countries that paid great attention to education,” a university professor, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. “Now, breaking the rules of schools is very common, and fake certificates are spread widely all over the country. We dream of a rigorous and successful educational process.”

Farmers simply dream of water, and the security necessary to work in their fields. “I hope I can work on my farm again, and have water to irrigate all the land,” said a local vegetable farmer.

A cleric spoke of bigger dreams. “I dream that all Iraqis will love each other again, as we used to in the past days. We miss hope, a smile, and true love. We hope that cooperation prevails again among people. We hope for killing and displacement to end forever in this once peaceful country. We hope that the sectarian discrimination disappears.”

A political analyst said he dreams of an end to the occupation. “The occupation is the source of all the problems of our people. I do dream of the end of the occupation — no more arrests, no more prison for simple and poor people, and no more suffering.”

(*Ahmed, our correspondent in Iraq’s Diyala province, 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).

Think Dahr’s work is vital? We need your help. It’s easy! ***

Order your copy of Dahr’s new book, Beyond the Green Zone

(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 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


Dahr Jamail’s new book, Beyond the Green Zone is NOW AVAILABLE!

“International journalism at its best.” –Stephen Kinzer, former bureau chief, New York Times; author All the Shah’s Men

“Essential reading for anybody who wants to know what is really happening in Iraq.” –Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent; author of The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq

Order Beyond the Green Zone today!

Tomgram: Mark Engler, How to Rule the World After Bush

May 19, 2008

A mere eight months to go until George W. Bush and Dick Cheney leave office — though, given the cast of characters, it could seem like a lifetime. Still, it’s a reasonable moment to begin to look back over the last years — and also toward the post-Bush era. What a crater we’ll have to climb out of by then!

My last post, “Kiss American Security Goodbye,” was meant to mark the beginning of what will, over the coming months, be a number of Bush legacy pieces at Tomdispatch. So consider that series officially inaugurated by Foreign Policy in Focus analyst Mark Engler, who has just authored a new book that couldn’t be more relevant to our looming moment of transition: How to Rule the World: The Coming Battle Over the Global Economy.

The question Engler is curious to have answered is this: If Bush-style “imperial globalization” is rejected in January, what will American ruling elites try to turn to — Clinton-style economic globalization? Certainly, as Engler points out, many in the business and financial communities are now rallying to the Democrats. After all, while John Edwards received the headlines this week for throwing his support behind Barack Obama, that presidential candidate also got the nod from three former Securities and Exchange Commission chairmen — William Donaldson, David Ruder, and Clinton appointee Arthur Levitt Jr. The campaign promptly “released a joint statement by the former SEC chiefs, as well as former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, that praised Obama’s ‘positive leadership and judgment’ on economic issues.”!

The United States, however, is a very different creature than it was in the confident years when these men rode high. Now, the world is looking at things much differently. Let Engler explain… Tom

Globalizers, Neocons, or…?

The World After Bush

By Mark Engler

Picture January 20, 2009, the day George W. Bush has to vacate the Oval Office.

It’s easy enough to imagine a party marking this fine occasion, with antiwar protestors, civil libertarians, community leaders, environmentalists, health-care advocates, and trade unionists clinking glasses to toast the end of an unfortunate era. Even Americans not normally inclined to political life might be tempted to join the festivities, bringing their own bottles of bubbly to the party. Given that presidential job approval ratings have rarely broken 40% for two years and now remain obdurately around or below 30% — historic lows — it would not surprising if this were a sizeable celebration.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Tomgram: Welcome to the Age of Homeland Insecurity

May 18, 2008

Kiss American Security Goodbye

15 Numbers That Add Up to an Age of Insecurity

By Tom Engelhardt

Once upon a time, I studied the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi — until, that is, I realized I would never locate my “chi.” At that point, I threw in the towel and took up Western exercise. Still, the principle behind Tai Chi stayed with me — that you could multiply the force of an act by giving way before the force of others; that a smaller person could use the strength of a bigger one against him.

Now, jump to September 11, 2001 and its aftermath — and you know the Tai Chi version of history from there. Think of it as a grim cosmic joke — that the 9/11 attacks, as apocalyptic as they looked, were anything but. The true disasters followed and the wounds were largely self-inflicted, as the most militarily powerful nation on the planet used its own force to disable itself.

Before that fateful day, the Bush administration had considered terrorism, Osama bin Laden, and al-Qaeda subjects for suckers and wusses. What they were intent on was pouring money into developing an elaborate boondoggle of a missile defense system against future nuclear attacks by rogue states. Those Cold War high frontiersmen (and women) couldn’t get enough of the idea of missiling up. That, after all, was where the money and the fun seemed to be. Nuclear was where the big boys — the nation states — played. “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.…,” the CIA told the President that August. Yawn.

After 9/11, of course, George W. Bush and his top advisors almost instantly launched their crusade against Islam and then their various wars, all under the rubric of the Global War on Terror. (As Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pungently put the matter that September, “We have a choice — either to change the way we live, which is unacceptable, or to change the way that they live; and we chose the latter.”) By then, they were already heading out to “drain the swamp” of evil doers, 60 countries worth of them, if necessary. Meanwhile, they moved quickly to fight the last battle at home, the one just over, by squandering vast sums on an American Maginot Line of security. The porous new Department of Homeland Security, the NSA, the FBI, and other acronymic agencies were to lock down, surveill, and listen in on America. All this to prevent “the next 9/11.”

In the process, they would treat bin Laden’s scattered al-Qaeda network as if it were the Nazi or Soviet war machine (even comically dubbing his followers “Islamofascists”). In the blinking of an eye, and in the rubble of two enormous buildings in downtown Manhattan, bin Laden and his cronies had morphed from nobodies into supermen, a veritable Legion of Doom. (There was a curious parallel to this transformation in World War II. Before Pearl Harbor, American experts had considered the Japanese — as historian John Dower so vividly documented in his book War Without Mercy — bucktoothed, near-sighted military incompetents whose war planes were barely capable of flight. On December 8, 1941, they suddenly became a race of invincible supermen without, in the American imagination, ever passing through a human incarnation.)

When, in October 2001, Congress passed the Patriot Act, and an Office of Homeland Security (which, in 2002, became a “department”) was established, it was welcome to the era of homeland insecurity. From then on, every major building, landmark, amusement park, petting zoo, flea market, popcorn stand, and toll booth anywhere in the country would be touted as a potential target for terrorists and in need of protection. Every police department from Arkansas to Ohio would be in desperate need of anti-terror funding. And why not, when the terrorists loomed so monstrously large, were so apocalyptically capable, and wanted so very badly to destroy our way of life. No wonder that, in the 2006 National Asset Database, compiled by the Department of Homeland Security, the state of Indiana, “with 8,591 potential terrorist targets, had 50 percent more listed sites than New York (5,687) and more than twice as many as California (3,212), ranking the state the most target-rich place in the nation.”

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Uranium News: Robert Lovelace beings Hunger Strike for good faith negotiations in Uranium dispute

May 18, 2008

May 15, 2008 – For Immediate Release

Jailed Algonquin Leader Begins Hunger Strike
Second Algonquin Chief Going to Jail – McGuinty Government Does Nothing

On February 15, 2008 Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN) Spokesperson Robert Lovelace was sentenced in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Kingston to 6 months in maximum security, plus crippling fines, for peacefully protesting uranium mining in the Ardoch homeland. Chief Paula Sherman was fined $15,000 and given until today to pay the fine, failing which she will be jailed.

On March 17, a Superior Court judge in Thunder Bay sentenced six leaders of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) to six months after they were found in contempt of court in dispute which is virtually identical to that of the Ardoch Algonquins.

The jailing of respected, law-abiding community leaders has had a devastating impact on our communities, particularly on the families of those incarcerated. The indifference shown by the McGuinty government towards the rights of First Nation communities and the imposition of long jail terms and crippling fines in the name of “the rule of law” has further eroded respect for both the legal system and the government of Ontario in the eyes of First Nations people in this province.

The cases of the KI Six and Robert Lovelace are strikingly similar. In both cases Ontario gave approvals to mining companies to conduct aggressive mineral exploration on land claimed by First Nations as their own. In both cases this approval was given without any consultation with affected communities, forcing the First Nations to take action to end the illegal exploration when the government refused to act. In both cases the mining company sought and obtained court injunctions to end the peaceful protests of the First Nations, while lawyers representing Ontario supported the mining industry’s legal manoeuvres at every stage.

For the first month of Bob Lovelace’s incarceration, the government of Ontario said nothing, remaining indifferent to this travesty. Since the jailing of the KI Six, and public outcry which followed, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Michael Bryant, has told the media that he has “bent over backwards” to try to resolve the disputes which led to the incarceration of seven First Nations leaders from our two communities. He also claims that he wishes to see the incarcerated communities leaders freed from jail.

We want to set the record straight.

In fact, there has been no response from Minister Bryant to any of our proposals for peacefully resolving the dispute. Minister Bryant’s staff also has not responded to several calls and emails seeking a response to our proposals. To put it bluntly, Michael Bryant is a liar.

Bob Lovelace is now entering his fourth month in jail while the KI Six are about to begin their third month of incarceration. They are prisoners of conscience, jailed by the government of Ontario to send a message that the interests of the mining industry will trump Aboriginal rights and the environment of Ontario.

Lovelace, who turned 60 in jail, announced that he will begin a hunger strike tomorrow to press the government to respond to Ardoch’s request for good faith negotiations. “I do not want my children and grandchildren to have to go through what we are going through” he said. “Starting tomorrow I will consume only water in the hopes that our cry for justice will be heard by Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Bryant.”

Chief Paula Sherman said: “I will soon be going to jail because I cannot and will not pay this unjust fine. I am a single mother with three dependents whose only crime is the defense of our land. Like Bob Lovelace and the KI 6, I would rather go to jail than take food out of my children’s mouths or let our land be destroyed .”

Acting Co-Chief Mireille Lapointe added “We are sickened by the hypocrisy of the McGuinty government. While honest, conscientious community leaders languish in their jails for peacefully protecting our land from uranium mining, all these politicians care about is their public image. They are lying when they say they are trying to resolve these disputes. They have done nothing at all and continue to show total indifference. They do not even respond to our letters, calls and emails asking for negotiations, meanwhile claiming they care about us and our land”.

Ardoch and KI remain committed to resolving these disputes peacefully, through negotiations which lead to responsible, cooperative land use planning. We call on all citizens of Ontario to support the unconditional release of our leaders and negotiators by joining us at Queen’s Park on May 26 at the Gathering of Mother Earth’s Protectors.

For more information contact Paula Sherman: (613) 329-3707

Or Chris Reid, lawyer: (416) 629-3117

Resistance to Gold Mining in Latin America – Events in Toronto May 18-21

May 18, 2008

Toronto, Canada, May 18-21

[Please invite your friends and redistribute this information all around]

* * *

@ 7pm

“Goldcorp Inc. – Investing in Conflict” = Hear speakers from Honduras (Carlos Amador), Guatemala (Fausto Valiente) and Rights Action (Grahame Russell) tell stories about how indigenous and campesino communities are resisting the environmental and development harms and human rights violations that Goldcorp is causing on their lands. Multi-media event.
LOCATION: Steelworker’s Union, 7pm, 25 Cecil St, Toronto
CONTACT: Grahame Russell,, cel: 250-231-5158 ; Sakura Saunders,, cel: 530-304-8297

* * *

@ 3pm – 10pm
Banner making & action planning for street education and activities in front of Goldcorp’s Annual Shareholder Meeting.

LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor St W, Room 2198, (corner of Bloor St and St. George)
CONTACT:, cel: 530-304-8297
@ 7pm

DOCUMENTARY FILM: “No Todo Lo Que Brilla Es Oro – Una Historia de Explotación y Resistencia”
(All That Glitters Isn’t Gold – A Story of Exploitation and Resistance) is an hour-long documentary that tells the stories of community members residing near the San Martin open-pit heap-leach gold mine in the Siria Valley in Honduras, owned by Canada’s Goldcorp. The first mine to be developed under Honduras’ controversial new mining law passed in the wakes of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, San Martin opened in 2000 and is the largest open-pit heap-leach mine in Honduras. As the mine nears its closure, community members discuss the complications they have experienced since the mine began operating — from wide-spread health problems to lack of water — contesting the company’s claims that the mine has been a model of healthy development for the community and has caused no adverse effects. Spanish with English subtitles. DVD. Comments will be made by Steven Schnoor (film maker) and Carlos Amador, community leader from the Siria Valley in Honduras.

LOCATION: 7pm, OISE, 252 Bloor St W, Room 2198, (corner of Bloor St and St. George)
CONTACT: Steven Schnoor,, cel: 514 795 0825 ; Grahame Russell,, cel: 250-231-5158

* * *

@ 1pm – 2:30pm

GOLDCORP Inc’s ANNUAL SHAREHOLDER MEETING – STREET EDUCATION & PROTEST ACTIVITIES: Come join a festive, colorful street “education session” (bring your own banners, posters, happy noise makers, etc) in front of the King Edward hotel where the Goldcorp AGM will take place – support community members that have come to protest the environmental and development harms and human rights violations that Goldcorp is causing on their lands.

LOCATION: King Edward Hotel, 1pm – 2:30pm, 37 King St. E., Toronto
CONTACT: Sakura Saunders,, cel: 530-304-8297 ; Grahame Russell,, cel: 250-231-5158 ;

* * *

WEDNESDAY, MAY 21: PUBLIC EVENT: “Indigenous resistance to Canadian mining corporations in Latin America”
@ 7pm

An evening with Sergio Campusano, Chief of the Pueblo Diaguita Huascoaltinos, indigenous people of Chile and additional speakers from Guatemala and Honduras also resisting environmental devastation and human rights violations at the hands of Canadian gold mining corporations on their lands. In a rare visit to Canada, Sergio Campusano — an eloquent speaker on the subject of indigenous resistance to industrial development — will share the struggle of his people against Canadian gold, uranium and copper extraction industries on ancestral lands. There will be special mention of the infamous Pascua Lama mine, which threatens the water supply for 100,000 farmers at the drought-ravaged border of Chile and Argentina.

The Diaguita community has pressed charges against the Chilean State for its complicity with these corporations, including a notice to appeal before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Their fight is not only for survival and human rights, but also to preserve the living systems of the Earth, which they regard as sacred. Community leaders from Guatemala and Honduras, in Toronto for the Goldcorp AGM, will also share their struggles to protect the land against open-pit industrial mining.

This event is the final evening in a two week long series of events focused on international indigenous resistance to indigenous resistance to Canadian corporations Barrick Gold and Goldcorp. For more information see and

LOCATION: Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto (south west of Museum subway, off of Harbord St)
CONTACT: Paul York,, cel: 647-342-7995

* * *

NEW REPORT: “INVESTING IN CONFLICT: Public Money, Private Gain – Goldcorp Inc in the Americas”

Written by Dawn Paley (, with Mining Watch ( and Rights Action, and edited by Sakura Saunders, Investing in Conflict is about the “nexus of mining companies, the mainstream media, the Canadian government, International Finance Institutions and bought off NGOs” that are working “hard to keep the reality of large-scale, open pit mines out of picture, keep[ing] community resistance marginalized, and no matter what, to keep talking about “development”.” Focusing on Goldcorp Inc., Investing in Conflict brings “hard facts and community perspectives together to help North Americans become more informed about the nature of the mining industry.”

FREE COPY at Go to our website and read the report on line, or print your own copy. Feel free to print and distribute copies to family and friends, investors and politicians.

Facebook site:


‘Canada does not yet have laws to ensure that the activities of Canadian mining companies in developing countries conform to human rights standards, including the rights of workers and of indigenous peoples.’
– Canada’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. June 2005

‘Canadian mining companies are taking advantage of [inadequate and poorly enforced regulatory controls] to expand into all corners of the globe, manipulating, slandering, abusing, and even killing those who dare to oppose them, displacing Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike, supporting repressive governments and taking advantage of weak ones, and contaminating and destroying sensitive ecosystems.’
– Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada. November 2006


Resistencia a la minería aurífera canadiense en América latina

domingo, el 18 de mayo, a las 7pm.
Vengan a escuchar las historias de los lideres Fausto Valiente de Guatemala y Carlos Amador de Honduras sobre la resistencia de sus comunidades en contra de las operaciones de la empresa minera canadiense Goldcorp en sus tierras. Presentacion multimedia.
– Steelworkers’ Union Hall, 25 Cecil, Toronto

lunes, 19 de mayo, entre las 3pm y las 10pm.
!!!La fiesta de afiches y mantas!!! Vengan a charlar con los y las organizadores mientras todos y todas hagamos materiales para la protesta del dia siguiente.
– Sala 2198, edificio OISE, Universidad de Toronto
– 252 Bloor St W (estacion de metro St George, salida calle Bedford)

martes, 20 de mayo, 1pm a 3pm
Vengan y apoyen la delegacion internacional con el festival de resistencia y de educacion popular. !Traigan sus mantas, afiches, instrumentos, consignas, y voces! Estaremos frente al hotel King Edward, donde la Goldcorp llevara a cabo su reunion anual general.
– 37 King St. E., en el centro de la ciudad de Toronto

martes, 20 de mayo, 7pm
‘No todo lo que brilla es oro – Una historia de explotación y resistencia’: Vengan a ver el nuevo documental sobre la grave situacion que enfrentan las comunidades afectadas por la mina de oro a cielo abierto San Martin en el Valle de Siria, Honduras. El documental se discutara con la participacion de Steven Schnoor, activista de video, y Carlos Amador, lider ambientalista de la zona.
Para mayor informacion, contacten a Derechos en Accion ( o a Sakura Saunders (

Toronto: Housing Not War FUNDRAISER CONCERT! (May 31)

May 17, 2008

Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC) needs resources to continue mobilizing pressure on our government to act for peace and justice. Our communities (activists, allies and those we fight for) also need to have FUN once in a while. The solution? A Housing Not War fundraiser concert – with many of the tickets to be donated to homeless and low-income people!
*See event details below*

On Saturday, May 31, come out for a night of great music and great company in Toronto AND/OR contribute by buying tickets for those who can’t! Just let us know whether the tickets you’re purchasing are for you, or for TDRC to provide to people we’re fighting for. Whether you’re joining us that night or giving someone else with the opportunity to do so, you’ll provide crucial support for TDRC’s non-profit advocacy work.

Thanks, and hope to see you on the 31st!

To purchase tickets, get more info, or support the event in some other way (eg. donating raffle prizes) contact the TDRC office:
416-599-8372 |



TIME/DATE: 9pm – Saturday, May 31, 2008
LOCATION: Cecil Street Community Centre, downtown Toronto (58 Cecil St. – one block south of College @ Spadina)
TICKETS: $10 advance / $15 at the door

FEATURING: Gravity Wave (dance/pop), Sara Marlowe (folk), Mohammad Ali (spoken word/hip hop), Marnie Niemi (bluegrass) AND MORE!

*VENUE IS WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE* For any accessibility concerns contact TDRC and we will try to make arrangements.
*CHILDCARE IS AVAILABLE!* To arrange for (on-site) childcare during the event, please contact TDRC.
*BUY TICKETS FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T!* Individuals and organizations are buying special tickets to be donated to homeless and low-income individuals. Let us know whether the tickets you’re purchasing are for you or for TDRC to provide to others.

Download the event posters (please distribute!):
Poster #1:
Poster #2:

To purchase tickets, get more info, or support the event in some other way (eg. donating raffle prizes) contact the TDRC office:
416-599-8372 |