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June 13, 2009 Weblog:

Michael Pollan describes swine flu two years before it's news

Reading Michael Pollan's 2006 book The Omnivore's Dilemma. The author is, it would seem, a prophet. Or maybe just a real journalist.

Stop me when this sounds familiar:

The unnaturally rich diet of corn that undermines a steer's health fattens his flesh in a way that undermines the health of the humans who will eat it. The antibiotics these animals consume with their corn at this very moment are selecting, in their guy and wherever else in the environment they end up, for new strains of bacteria that will someday infect us and withstand the drugs we depend upon to treat that infection. We inhabit the same microbial ecosystem as the animals we eat, and whatever happens in it also happens to us.

Not a very satisfying thing to predict, but it's not like informed people didn't see it coming.

December 31, 2008 Weblog:

The Long Emergency

James Howard Kunstler: "The environmental movement, especially at the elite levels found in places like Aspen, is full of Harvard graduates who believe that all the drive-in espresso stations in America can be run on a combination of solar and wind power. I quarrel with these people incessantly. It seems especially tragic to me that some of the brightest people I meet are bent on mounting the tragic campaign to sustain the unsustainable in one way or another. But I have long maintained that life is essentially tragic in the sense that history won't care if we succeed or fail at carrying on the project of civilization."

Kunstler makes some pretty significant predictions for 2009. Much of his analysis and suppositions seem off, but I wonder by how much.

December 30, 2008 Weblog:

Past Gaza Coverage

Jon Elmer: "Israeli pilots carried out a series of air and artillery strikes throughout the Gaza Strip, targeting civilian infrastructure, assassinating militants and striking fear into the population with deafening noise as low-flying F-16 fighter jets shatter the sound barrier overhead day and night." (OCT 2005)

Jon Elmer: "Living in conditions of crushing poverty, less than 15 percent of Al-Mawasi residents were connected to the electricity grid; the rest relied on two generators that operated only in the evenings. With tight army checkpoints, residents had sporadic and unpredictable access to fuel, dictated by the apparent whims of Israeli authorities." (OCT 2005)

Ramzy Baroud: "On Tuesday, January 22, they descended on the Gaza-Egypt border and what followed was a moment of pride and shame: pride for those ever-dignified people refusing to surrender, and shame that the so-called international community allowed the humiliation of an entire people to the extent that forced hungry mothers to brave batons, tear gas and military police in order to perform such basic acts as buying food, medicine and milk." (FEB 2008)

Eva Bartlett: "The youth was struck from behind by an Israeli sniper bullet that dug into his spine, destroying three of his vertebrae and leaving him paralyzed and bleeding on the roof, where he lay for 15 minutes before his younger brother found him. The 13-year-old dragged Abed to the stairs and down into the family's home, dodging further sniper fire as he went." (JUL 2008)

December 30, 2008 Weblog:

Gaza, take I

Eva Bartlett: "One hour later, Jihad Samour (approx. 55 years old), arrived with his 6 sons and one other youth, 15 year old Wassim Eid, HUto drop off scrap metal, the proceeds of which he was to use to buy food. A missile from a drone overhead hit the group, tearing them to pieces and exploding into an even larger blast than usual due to the oxygen tanks at the shop. One of the men, not immediately killed, ran around crying 'help me, I’m burning,' engulfed in flames from the explosion. Only one son, 23 year old Mohammed Samour, escaped the massacre, without an arm and a leg, and in critical condition."

Yoel Marcus: "This doesn't mean the situation is possible to live with, but it appears the hysterical reaction by the public as a whole and politicians in particular stems mainly from the fact that the country is in an election period."

Ali Abunimah: "Already I have received notices of demonstrations and solidarity actions being planned in cities all over the world. That is important. But what will happen after the demonstrations disperse and the anger dies down? Will we continue to let Palestinians in Gaza die in silence?"

Ha'aretz: "But Hamas officials and analysts said Monday that the organization would actually like Israel to launch a ground operation; it hopes this would let it inflict such heavy losses on Israeli tanks and infantry that Israel would flee with its tail between its legs."

» continue reading "Gaza, take I"

December 21, 2008 Weblog:

Wark on Iggy

Bruce Wark: "And that's the trouble with our PM-in-waiting. He's usually on the side of the powerful. Ignatieff fervently supported Bush's invasion of Iraq, then when Bush's illegal war turned to shit and tens of thousands were dying, he claimed he'd been blinded by his humanitarian concern for the plight of Iraqi people. He had mistakenly believed, he said, that Bush was carrying on the grand American tradition of sowing the seeds of democracy and peace. On the use of torture, he was equivocal, finally pronouncing that while it was morally wrong, it could yield valuable information, save innocent lives and besides, he had to admit that most people were in favour of it. So much for supporting the UN convention that outlaws torture under any circumstances."

November 19, 2008 Weblog:

Barriere Lake: Second Blockade Today

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / - The Barriere Lake Algonquins have blocked highway 117 by gathering in the middle of the road, after Quebec police dismantled their log blockades earlier in the day, and have now been put on notice that the Riot Police will arrive momentarily.

Community spokesperson Marylynn Poucachiche has been arrested for obstruction and mischief and is currently detained.

-30-

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Barriere Lake Algonquins peacefully blockade highway 117 in Northern Quebec a second time: despite fears of more police violence, community wants Quebec and Canada to respect agreements and Canada to end interference in leadership selection

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / - This morning at 7:30am, Barriere Lake community members of all ages and their supporters once again peacefully blockaded highway 117 outside their reserve, demanding that Quebec and Canada send in negotiators rather than resort to police violence. During the Algonquin's first blockade on October 6th, 2008, Quebec police used tear gas and "pain compliance" techniques against a peaceful crowd that included Elders, youth, and children, arrested nine people, and hospitalized a Customary Councillor after hitting him in the chest with a tear-gas canister, drawing criticism from international human rights groups, the Chiefs of Ontario, and the Christian Peacemakers Team. [ http://blip.tv/file/1391794 ]

» continue reading "Barriere Lake: Second Blockade Today"

October 22, 2008 Weblog:

Westmount security removes candidate's election signs during election

Election signs get defaced and destroyed at an unparalleled rate in Montreal... but this is the first time I've heard of city officials taking part.

The Communist Party had some election signs up, with slogans like "Canada out of Afghanistan" and "End Canadian Support for Israeli Apartheid". Apparently, Westmount officials took them down.

If this is true, then Westmount has really stepped in it. Defacing or removing election signs is a criminal offense.

--

The press release:

Westmount on warpath against Communist candidate’s election posters

On September 28 & 29 2008, Westmount Public Security removed election posters of Communist Party of Canada candidate BILL SLOAN from public poles in the riding of WESTMOUNT-VILLE-MARIE.

The recently posted signs, duly Authorized by the registered agent of the Party, put forward his positions on Canadian policy concerning Afghanistan and Israel. In one case, "CANADA OUT OF AFGHANISTAN" and the other, "END CANADIAN SUPPORT TO APARTHEID ISRAEL".

The signs were removed by the Westmount administration without giving either the candidate or the Party notice, either before or after the removal. Bill Sloan learned of the City’s actions when the Westmount Independent published a note in its October 7-8, 2008 issue, mentioning that "Offensive" posters had been taken down by Westmont public security

" I called their public security on October 9 and spoke to the Director, Mr. Richard Blondin. He confirmed that his service had indeed removed my posters on September 28 and 29, but did not tell me what they had done with them. He declined to explain for what reasons or under what authority they had acted."

» continue reading "Westmount security removes candidate's election signs during election"

October 22, 2008 Weblog:

Media Democracy Day

There's lots of organizing around Media Democracy Day these days. Things are looking particularly hoppin' in Vancouver, where an long list of speakers and sponsors have been signed up.

October 15, 2008 Weblog:

Obama's Ground Game: you can't go back

Al Giordano: If Obama wins, what next?

What will become of 10,000-plus (mostly) young organizers earning their subsistence keep working on this campaign after Election Day?

They've been trained well in the resurrected art of community organizing. It would be a shame if they just up and went to grad school instead of applying their new trade. How do we help make sure they don't scatter to the wind and can instead continue harnessing it in harmony with the new political majority about to emerge?

October 15, 2008 Weblog:

Morning After Talking Points

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CKUT's Wednesday Morning After invited me to come and talk about the elections bright and early this morning. Voici mes talking points, albeit in more articulate form, not that I got to all of them:

  • Proportional representation is on a lot of people's minds, but it's not going to happen. If it can't be passed at a provincial level (so far, BC, PEI and Ontario have voted no) then it won't happen nationally, as neither the Libs or Cons will be likely to support it (this is an interesting footnote, though).
  • If that's true, the Green Party has to do some thinking at this point. A spot in the debates, more media coverage than ever, no seats.
  • No matter who people vote for, indications are that we're not going to see anything even beginning to address colonial policies in Canada.

» continue reading "Morning After Talking Points"

September 28, 2008 Weblog:

End of Deregulation?

John Gray argues that the US financial crisis marks the end of the US/IMF model of "deregulation" economics, the end of US primacy, and the rise of economies that managed to avoid US/IMF strictures.

Ever since the end of the Cold War, successive American administrations have lectured other countries on the necessity of sound finance. Indonesia, Thailand, Argentina and several African states endured severe cuts in spending and deep recessions as the price of aid from the International Monetary Fund, which enforced the American orthodoxy. China in particular was hectored relentlessly on the weakness of its banking system. But China's success has been based on its consistent contempt for Western advice and it is not Chinese banks that are currently going bust. How symbolic yesterday that Chinese astronauts take a spacewalk while the US Treasury Secretary is on his knees.

(Article via Murray Dobbin's mailing list)

September 27, 2008 Weblog:

La Presse takes on the Tar Sands

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Yesterday, they pointed out in a front page article that Harper's ministers are getting a lot of face time with oil companies.

Today, La Presse upped the ante again with five-pages of coverage of Alberta's tar sands. Fronting with the headline "Saudi Alberta," the coverage puts the accent on environmental devastation and crimes against Indigenous communities to--I would say--a greater extent than the Dominion's own tar sands issue did.

It's the first in a series on the tar sands.

If you read French, it's worth a look.

September 25, 2008 Weblog:

Media Analysis of the Day

Jon Stewart: "The press is 6-year-olds playing soccer; nobody has a position, it's just 'Where's the ball? Where's the ball? Sarah Palin has the ball!' [Mimes a mob running after her.] Because they can only cover one thing."

September 18, 2008 Weblog:

Barriere Lake takes over Lawrence Cannon's press conference

Or: The Coup D'Etat vs. The Liberal Plane

Members of the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake crashed Lawrence Cannon's press conference in Maniwaki yesterday, demanding a meeting with Cannon, an immediate leadership reselection process in the community, and for the Federal Government to uphold the shared use agreement it signed with the community. (Check out this photo essay for some background).

[If you're looking for election newsy, gossipy, scandalous coverage, don't despair. Read on. The juicy stuff is at the bottom.]

In June, people from Barriere Lake and several supporters occupied Lawrence Cannon's office in Buckingham, QC. Then, Cannon refused to meet, and two Algonquins and four supporters were arrested for refusing to leave until Cannon met with them. (Full disclosure: I was one of the supporters.)

Several other demonstrations were held, before and after, targeting Cannon and various other government officials. It all stems from when, in 2006-2007, the Feds imposed a minority faction as the government.

The background to this story is extensive. It is worth looking into, as it reveals some elementary but shocking truths about Canada's colonial policies and how they are intimately tied to control of natural resources.

» continue reading "Barriere Lake takes over Lawrence Cannon's press conference"

September 18, 2008 Weblog:

Rabble's Election Blog

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Rabble.ca has been running a reasonably interesting Election Blog, written by everyone from Alternatives' Pierre Beaudet to the Indigenous Environmental Network's Clayton Thomas-Muller.

September 12, 2008 Weblog:

Less Democratic than Thou

Democracy Watch has compiled a list of some of the legal loopholes and omissions that make the election process less democratic.

September 12, 2008 Weblog:

Afghanistan as an Election Issue

Derrick O'keefe had a good little editorial about making the war an election issue a few days ago.

The worth-always-reading Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui follows suit today with an excellent outline of the current state of the war.

As word of a civilian carnage spread, the U.S. dismissed it as "outrageous Taliban propaganda." Later it said, variously, that five insurgents had been killed, maybe seven, or perhaps seven civilians and 25 insurgents or 30 or 35.

The police chief in Herat put the toll at 90. The United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan confirmed the news: "We found convincing evidence, based on the testimony of eyewitnesses and others, that some 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children."

Phone video footage emerged showing gruesome images of 40 bodies lined up in a mosque, "a majority of them babies and toddlers, some burned so badly they are barely recognizable," said the BBC.

The Canadian media remained mostly mute. Afghan TV naturally kept up with the story, and also that of the mounting public anger.

The opposition response to Harper's promise to pull out of Afghanistan completely by 2011 has so far drawn a response along the lines of "it won't actually happen, Harper will break the promise."

And that's probably accurate. Some military families seem to think so, anyway.

» continue reading "Afghanistan as an Election Issue"

September 11, 2008 Weblog:

Meanwhile, Stateside

Wonkette has this, uh, amusing take on Sarah Palin's first foreign policy gaffe:

To be fair, no one has any f-ing clue what to do about Russia, except that We Must Do Something To Stop Them. But when you’re asked in an interview under any circumstances whether we’ll have to go to War with Russia, you should never respond “Perhaps so,” BECAUSE WAR WITH RUSSIA WOULD BE THE WORST THING IMAGINABLE. It may be the logical outcome of all this NATO-expansion, rub-it-in-Russia’s-nose B.S. people throw around so willingly, but you’re not supposed to let anyone know that, Palin! Even John McCain — who would love nothing more than a full ground siege of f-ing Moscow, it would be the culmination of years of wet dreams — would not have said “Perhaps so”; he’d have something like, “not war, but we must contain the Czar.” And there would be no follow-ups because John McCain is a War Hero and honorable.

September 9, 2008 Weblog:

Election Coverage Coverage Echo Echo

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Globe: "A Web ad featuring a defecating bird and fallout over the Greens' exclusion from a televised leaders debate dominated Day 3 of the federal election campaign on Tuesday despite efforts by the two major parties to supplement nasty attacks with weightier content."

The media during an election is a bizarre spectacle indeed. The media decide that bird poop is a huge deal, and discuss it endlessly. Then, at the end of the day, they summarize their own coverage by saying that the substantial announcement were "dominated" or "overshadowed." The summary of their own reporting nonetheless gives top billing to the bird poop, and passing, insubstantial reference to the issues that it concedes are the only ones having any "weight".

In related news, Jack Layton flew a bunch of journalists over the biggest and most destructive industrial project in human history and we get a brief story with a few quotes. And we can be sure that without further prompting, no one will look into it further. The hundreds of journalists assigned to cover the election prefer, undoubtedly, to cover the latest gaffe or bird poop mini-scandal.

I would like to make one modest suggestion: election coverage doesn't have to look like this.

September 9, 2008 Weblog:

La Presse v. Harper

On the cover of yesterday's La Presse: Harper polling at 43% nationally, if election was held today he'd likely have a majority.

On the cover of today's La Presse: Julie Couillard's new book.

Inside spread: one of the Conservative candidates in Quebec is a member of Opus Dei, a secretive Catholic cult that seeks to place its members in positions of power, may or may not engage in ritual self-flagellation, keeps brainwashed women as wage slaves, and did they mention that they're very secretive?

Next page: ex-PMs and celebrities deplore Canada's "lack of action" on climate change. Also: Sierra Club gives Cons an "F+" grade on the environment.

Next page: Interview with a Liberal candidate and actor who was appointed by Conservatives, and was there just long enough to see how ideologically flawed the whole Conservative machine is. He quit to run for the Liberals.

Next full spread: Duceppe appeals to federalists to vote for the Bloc to stop Harper; Dion calls Harper a liar.

Arts and Culture section, front page: Interview with Liza Frulla, former Heritage Minister, discusses at length how inexperienced and damaging Josée Verner is.

September 6, 2008 Weblog:

Obama: the Dashing

From the Red Pepper Obama Blog:

The story of the left’s infatuation with Barack Obama follows an established storyline. So many hopes that "this time", things will be different: that Obama won’t be like Lula in Brazil in 2002 – who came to power on a Socialist platform only to bow to the power of global finance once in office; like Tony Blair in 1997, when a generation of progressives who’d grown up to hate Thatcher and the Tories could not but rejoice; the Green Party coming to power in Germany in 1998, where – no use in hiding it – I, too, had high hopes; the African National Congress in South Africa – backed by Communists, but soon a key driver of Neoliberalism in Southern Africa. So many hopes dashed. And yet, the infatuation continues…

September 4, 2008 Weblog:

Venezuelan Cooperatives

The excellent Upside Down World has an interesting, critical take on the Venezuelan cooperative movement.

August 11, 2008 Weblog:

The Ossetia Escalation

No, it's not a Robert Ludlum novel. The Socialist Project has posted an interesting take on the new war in Central Asia.

By attacking Tshkinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, a de facto independent territory since the 1992 ceasefire between Georgian and Osset armies, Saakashvili seems to have attempted to provoke Russia into a confrontation and thus force the hand of the NATO alliance into acting more rapidly. Russia has seen this bluff. But the West, despite some harsh words by the U.S. administration, has simply not followed suit. Saakashvili is a political adventurer who has not refrained from risking to throw the region, indeed the whole world, into the vortex of all out war just to have his country join the imperialist alliance.

August 9, 2008 Weblog:

3000 women missing. They're saying we should do something.

A dedicated group is walking across the country to demand an inquiry into the 3000 women, mostly Indigenous, who have gone missing.

August 7, 2008 Weblog:

Klein in Shenzen

Naomi Klein's investigation (published in Rolling Stone) of China's massive surveillance project, the "Golden Shield," is well worth the read.

The crackdown in Tibet has set off a wave of righteous rallies and boycott calls. But it sidesteps the uncomfortable fact that much of China's powerful surveillance state is already being built with U.S. and European technology. In February 2006, a congressional subcommittee held a hearing on "The Internet in China: A Tool for Freedom or Suppression?" Called on the carpet were Google (for building a special Chinese search engine that blocked sensitive material), Cisco (for supplying hardware for China's Great Firewall), Microsoft (for taking down political blogs at the behest of Beijing) and Yahoo (for complying with requests to hand over e-mail-account information that led to the arrest and imprisonment of a high-profile Chinese journalist, as well as a dissident who had criticized corrupt officials in online discussion groups). The issue came up again during the recent Tibet uproar when it was discovered that both MSN and Yahoo had briefly put up the mug shots of the "most wanted" Tibetan protesters on their Chinese news portals.

July 3, 2008 Weblog:

Writing on the Tar Sands... for Pay!

[Reposting...]

Call for submissions

In Western Canada-- Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan-- mega projects, massive developments and international events are bringing vast changes across the entire region. From nuclear power plants to Ski Hills and the world's largest ever industrial project, there are many components of similarity throughout Western Canada that can be and must be connected.

From the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) through to the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) the provinces are streamlining the vast changes and degradations in human rights, living conditions and environmental health.

In the Fall 2008, OilSandsTruth.org (OST) will be releasing a one time magazine on many of the issues being faced by the populations living within both provinces.

OST is looking for articles on the following:

How the SPP facilitates the tar sands;
How the SPP facilitates the 2010 Games;

Tar sands and the impact of the boom on indigenous self-determination;
2010 and the impact of the Games on indigenous self-determination;

Tar sands and the impact of the boom on housing;
2010 and the impact of the Games on housing;

Tar sands and how the impacts of the boom are gendered;
2010 and how the impacts of the Games are gendered;

Tar sands and the effects on migrant rights and temporary foreign workers;
2010 and the effects of the Games on migrant rights and temporary foreign workers;

Tar sands and trade union rights;
2010 and the effects on labour rights;

Tar sands development and what it means for land and the forests;
2010 and the impacts on lands and the forests;

Tar sands development and the impact on water quality;
Olympic development and the impact on water quality;

» continue reading "Writing on the Tar Sands... for Pay!"

June 1, 2008 Weblog:

Two Christie Blatchfords?

"A National Day of Action? After yesterday, a national day of insurrection sounds more in order."

Is it possible that this article and this one (and what about this one?) were written by the same former National Post senior columnist named "Christie Blatchford" who once penned one-sided racist sob stories about the Caledonia occupation?

May 30, 2008 Weblog:

From Chile to the Quinte Detention Centre

Sandra Cuffe has an epic, but very worthwhile article that starts with an Indigenous rights activist from Chile visiting Shawn Brant in jail and follows the concentric circles of mining and indigenous resistance outwards.

April 28, 2008 Weblog:

Open Letter to Julian Fantino

[Received via email from Shelley Brant]

I would like to address the myths that Police Commissioner Julian Fantino has perpetuated in the media since the arrest of Mr. Shaun Brant on Friday April 25, 2008 and the events that have transpired since regarding police action at the Mohawk protest in Deseronto:

An Open Letter to Police Commissioner Julian Fantino:

First of all Shawn Brant was not arrested during a routine traffic stop as explained by Fantino:

“Tensions boiled over in eastern Ontario near Deseronto, Ont. Friday, when one of the protesters of a land claim dispute near that community, Shawn Brant, was arrested during a traffic stop.”

Mr. Brant was arrested while giving an interview with APTN the Aboriginal People’s Television Network. This can be proven by watching their news footage on April 25, 2008 which shows Mr. Brant’s arrest and also verifies he was arrested while doing an interview with them.

Also there are no weapons on the site as reported by your men obviously when yours were drawn and pointed:

“Police say they saw a “long gun” being pointed at them from a location inside an occupied quarry, which protesters have controlled since March, 2007.”

“An order was issued to all police personnel on the scene to take cover, and guns were drawn by officers crouching behind their vehicles, but no shots were fired.”

‘The protesters said they had no weapons at the quarry.’

You also say that you are not trying to remove anyone from any land and that this has nothing to do with land claims, however, this comment shows that the protesters have indeed been ordered to leave the land they have been occupying now for close to a year.

» continue reading "Open Letter to Julian Fantino"

April 1, 2008 Weblog:

Paul Martin on Helping Africa

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[Irving-owned media version here.]

[From an email:]

Engineers Without Borders hosted a lecture by former PM Paul Martin last night at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. The title of the lecture was called: "How business and government can help Africa." The auditorium spilled into 2 other full rooms. The rooms were filled with many Liberals but also several people completely offended by the lecture. We had a great flyer done up, which mocked the event and had information about Paul Martin's track record.

When Paul Martin began his speech. Two UNB students unfurled a banner that read "Canada Out of Haiti and Afghanistan". They were told by a student organizer to move to the side, which actually made them closer to Martin. The students were surprised when they were not told to leave. Another couple of students unfurled another banner that read "Neo-Liberalism=Neo-Colonialism" on the other side of Martin. They stood there during his entire talk with Martin acknowledging their presence a couple of times.

Pictures:
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» continue reading "Paul Martin on Helping Africa"

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