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October 4, 2008 Weblog:

Xstrata Faces Strike and Credit Crunch

Bad month for Xstrata, one of the worlds biggest mining groups.

First, CAW Local 599 goes on strike in Timmins, Ontario at the Copper Kidd Metallurgical mine.

Then it's pitch to take over Lonmin, an Anglo-African platinum mine company , fails because of the Credit Crisis.

Xstrata took over Canadian mining company Falconbridge in 2006.

October 4, 2008 Weblog:

Indian Farmers Beat Back Tata

Farmers in West Bengal, India have pushed Tata Motors off agricultural land.

"The West Bengal government acquired 1,000 acres of land for the Nano project in 2006.

"At least 10,000 farmers accepted compensation for their land, but approximately 2,000 of them rejected it as inadequate and demanded 400 acres of land be returned.

"'You cannot run a plant with police protection, you cannot run a plant when bombs are being thrown, you cannot run a plant when workers are being intimidated,' Tata said."

October 4, 2008 Weblog:

Canadian Economy Better than US?

Harper during the debates:

"We are not in the kind of economic crisis we have in the US."

Merrill Lynch Canada Inc.:

"Households in this country are so indebted that it's only a matter of time before we see a major downturn here as well."

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver:

"The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says the number of residential property sales declined 42.9 per cent in September from a year earlier."

October 2, 2008 Weblog:

'Spirit Train' protests continue towards the East

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Activists in Edmonton interrupted the 2010 Olympics Spirit Train stop-off there on September 29th.

Their actions came on the heels of a protest in Vancouver that marked the launch of the train. Vancouver's Olympics Resistance Network has called for mobilization as the train travels east.

A smaller demonstration against the Spirit Train took place in Calgary.

In Sudbury, the local Coalition Against War and Occupation (SAWO) is planning to protest the train as it rolls through on October 11th. The train's last stop will be in Montréal on October 18th.

October 2, 2008 Weblog:

Reproductive Rights STILL an Election Issue

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"Focus on the Born": Image from a demonstration against Bill C-484, The Unborn Victims of Crime Act

When it became clear that an imminent election was in the stars, Harper distanced himself from the widely opposed Bill C-484, The Unborn Victims of Crime Act.

Now infamous, Bill C-484 was a private member bill introduced by Ken Epp (MP for Edmonton Sherwood Park, Alberta). It assigned legal personhood to unborn fetuses (in contravention of the Criminal Code). It was denounced by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), and other feminist organizations, as "an unconstitutional infringement on women’s rights." Similar laws are used in the United States to criminalize pregnant women who use drugs or alcohol for endangering the fetus, or to prosecute those who help them seek abortions.

While Epp refused to drop the Bill, which had passed its second reading, Harper vowed not to reopen the "debate" on abortion. (A promise, incidentally, that he has made before, during the 2004 election, and again in January 2005.)

But does that mean that reproductive rights are no longer an election issue?

Quite the opposite, according to the ARCC. Harper has said that he would not block private member bills about abortion (like C-484) in future.

In fact, on this issue, he has said he would lift tight party discipline and allow a free vote. Considering that the vast majority (74%) of current Conservative MPs are anti-choice, a majority Conservative Government could easily pass an anti-abortion bill into law.

Consider the following facts, largely culled from yesterday's press release issued by the ARCC:

» continue reading "Reproductive Rights STILL an Election Issue"

September 30, 2008 Weblog:

A Letter from the RNC 8

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Dear Friends, Family, and Comrades:
We are the RNC 8: individuals targeted because of our political beliefs and work organizing for protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention, in what appears to be the first use of Minnesota’s version of the US Patriot Act. The 8 of us are currently charged with Conspiracy to Commit Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism, a 2nd degree felony that carries the possibility of several years in prison. We are writing to let you know about our situation, to ask for support, and to offer words of hope.

A little background: the RNC Welcoming Committee was a group formed in late 2006 upon hearing that the 2008 Republican National Convention would be descending on Minneapolis-St. Paul where we live, work, and build community. The Welcoming Committee’s purpose was to serve as an anarchist/anti-authoritarian organizing body, creating an informational and logistical framework for radical resistance to the RNC. We spent more than a year and a half doing outreach, facilitating meetings throughout the country, and networking folks of all political persuasions who shared a common interest in voicing dissent in the streets of St. Paul while the GOP’s machine chugged away inside the convention.
In mid-August the Welcoming Committee opened a “Convergence Center,”a space for protesters to gather, eat, share resources, and build networks of solidarity. On Friday, August 29th, 2008, as folks were finishing dinner and sitting down to a movie the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department stormed in, guns drawn, ordering everyone to the ground. This evening raid resulted in seized property (mostly literature), and after being cuffed, searched, and IDed, the 60+individual inside were released.

» continue reading "A Letter from the RNC 8"

September 29, 2008 Weblog:

Medicare faces first NAFTA challenge

In an election where debate over health care has been next to non-existent, an article in Embassy magazine slipped through the cracks.

In July, a group of 200 American investors, led by an Arizonan businessman, launched a $155 million lawsuit under the North American Free Trade Agreement against the Canadian government. They say the lawsuit is recourse for barriers they faced in trying to establish private health clinics in Canada.

The article points out that he medicare system is probably safe for now, since it is still primarily publicly run. But while this case may be dismissed, there will certainly be more to come. And if in the meantime more private health services are introduced in Canada, the next NAFTA challenge will be that much harder to fight.

(via Rabble's Election Blog)

September 29, 2008 Weblog:

Barriere Lake Algonquins Slow Hwy 117

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, September 29, 2008

Barriere Lake slows down traffic on Highway 117: continues to pressure Minister Lawrence Cannon and his Conservative Government to respect Barriere Lake's agreements and leadership customs

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory Territoire Algonquin /- On the National Day of Political Action, at 1:30 pm, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake will slow down traffic on highway 117 to distribute flyers and raise awareness about the Conservative government's violations of their rights.

"The federal government must accept reasonable demands we've spent years trying to reach them about – that the government honour agreements they've signed with us and stop undemocratically propping up an illegitimate Chief and Council in our community," says Norman Matchewan, a youth spokesperson for Barriere Lake.

They want the Government of Canada to uphold an internationally lauded sustainable development agreement Barriere Lake signed with Quebec and the Conservative federal government in 1991. The Government of Canada has been in breach of the agreement since 2001.
To resolve the situation, Barriere Lake is demanding that the Government of Canada send observers to witness a leadership re-selection, in accordance with Barriere Lake's Customary Governance Code, in good faith recognize the outcome, and then cease all interference in their internal affairs.

– 30 –

Media Contacts:

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819-435 - 2171

Michel Thusky, Barriere Lake spokesperson : (819) 435-2171

Collectif de Solidarité Lac Barrière
*******************************************
www.solidaritelacbarriere.blogspot.com
barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com
514.398.7432
Reply

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September 29, 2008 Weblog:

"Jihad Prevention Act" Introduced in US House

This little gem of insanity was recently introduced by Republican Tom Tancredo.

The Jihad Prevention Act will, among other things, "require aliens to attest that they will not advocate installing a Sharia law system in the United States as a condition for admission."

It will also allow anyone advocating the installation of a Sharia Law system to have their visa and/or naturalization paper's revoked.

September 29, 2008 Weblog:

Ontario Crown Drops Multiple Charges Against Shawn Brant

Shawn Brant has had 7 of the charges against him dropped by the Ontario Crown.

He has plead guilty to 3 of the other charges against him and according to CBC will "receive a sentence of time already served in pretrial detention, plus a 90-day conditional sentence to be spent on his reserve."

A presentation made in August of this year in Napanee, Ontario by Brant's lawyer, Peter Rosenthal, warned that Brant was going to expose police actions if taken to trail including alleged illegal wire tapping by the OPP and the reversal of previously granted immunity.

The crown was seeking a 12 year jail sentence for Brant.

*Correction: In the original edit of this posting, Peter Rosenthal was incorrectly said to have made a presentation in Caledonia. The presentation was in Napanee.

September 29, 2008 Weblog:

An Open Letter From rock-band "Heart" To John McCain

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Hat Tip: shmeen from livejournal

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 26, 2008 Weblog:

Inside the Deal to Save the US Economy

A strange and incredible amount of information is flowing from the Guardian about the inner workings of the $700 billion deal between Republicans and Democrats to bail out the US economy.

It's tough to judge what is real and what is fake but there some incredible stuff coming out.

According to one report, a deal had been reached by all parties until a group of hard-right, free-market Republicans met privately with McCain and threw a new "free-market" proposal into the mix.

Their behaviour at the meeting was a study in contrasts, according to press accounts. Obama, granted deference by his fellow Democrats, led off the debate.

Then [Republican minority house leader] Boehner made his move, throwing down a plan that differed wildly from the one under discussion. McCain, asked for his opinion, stayed silent - and that, according to those at the meeting, was taken by his fellow Republicans as a sign of his support for the Republican revolt.

Ironically, a Republican on the Senate banking committee, Richard Shelby, was doing his best to paraphrase the thesis of Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine; that in a state of crisis the ideas lying around are the ones which get used:

"They're trying to push this in an emotional state, saying the sky's falling on our heads," he said. "Every time we have rushed to judgment in the past, we have paid for it."

September 25, 2008 Weblog:

Buzz Hargrove joins the NHL!

Former labour leader Buzz Hargrove has ignored retirement and joined the advisory board of the NHL Players Association.

According to Hockeybuzz.com: "Buzz Hargrove (Toronto, Ontario) served as the national president of the Canadian Auto Workers Union since his acclamation in 1992 until he recently retired in September 2008. Hargrove has been one of Canada’s top labour leaders and has extensive collective bargaining experience."

Let's hope the players don't mysteriously lose the right to strike!

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 24, 2008 Weblog:

Archival photos in the public domain

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I've just discovered pingnews.com's photostream on Flickr. It's loaded with interesting archival images that are not copyrighted. Enjoy!

Above: The Almightier, published in Puck Press, 1907 May 15.

September 24, 2008 Weblog:

Vancouver event about independent media on Friday 26th

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Dominion readers in Vancouver are invited to come to State of the Media, a discussion about alternative media, with folks from Coop Radio Vancouver, the Dominion, rabble.ca, Warrior Publications and AliveinMexico.

The event is on Friday, September 26 at 7 p.m., at 706 Clark Drive (at Georgia St).

There will also be food & music (& probably dancing too).

See you there!

Photo by Dawn.

September 24, 2008 Weblog:

Dion: Liberals won't sign a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia

Stéphane Dion spoke this evening to a crowd of over 400 students at the University of British Columbia.

During the question period, I asked him if he would support a Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Colombia.

Dion (in English, he had previously answered in French):

"The question was about, uh, if we will accept a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia. The way it was negotiated by the Conservatives we have no guarantee at all that the basic rights will be respected through this agreement, the workers rights, and so on. It [sic] is why we can not accept it."

September 23, 2008 Weblog:

Missing Election Issues: Housing

The Liberals released their election spending plan on Monday with promises on health care, education, infrastructure, environment and aboriginal affairs.

But what about housing?

Though housing concerns have been major in certain parts of the country, the Grit plan was mum on the word.

But surprisingly this might be the norm. According to Howard Tessler of the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations (of which this author is an employee) none of the parties have released any sort of housing plan to date.

"It's one of the most important issues for all Canadians", he said. "There's nothing."

September 23, 2008 Weblog:

American Investment Industry Vanishes

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With the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the sale of Merrill Lynch and the subsiqent transformation of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the titans of Americas investment industry has now been wiped off the map.

How bad is it and what does it mean?

A couple of US Congress members who had a nice little chat with the US Fed Chairmen and the US Treasury Secretary had this to say last Friday:

"We’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally. Somber doesn’t begin to justify the words. We have never heard language like this."

But is it all a smoke-screen designed to give the Fed and Treasury complete control over bail-out money? According to economist Paul Krugman:

"Mr. Paulson insists that he wants a "clean" plan. "Clean," in this context, means a taxpayer-financed bailout with no strings attached — no quid pro quo on the part of those being bailed out. Why is that a good thing? Add to this the fact that Mr. Paulson is also demanding dictatorial authority, plus immunity from review "by any court of law or any administrative agency," and this adds up to an unacceptable proposal."

September 22, 2008 Weblog:

Montréal NDP candidate Dr. Samira Laouni attacked on 98.5FM

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Dr. Samira Laouni, federal NDP candidate in Bourassa, Montréal (pictured above), was viciously attacked on Benoît Dutrizac's radio show, broadcast on September 10 on 98.5FM (a summary of the interview was published by the Montréal Gazette).

Laouni, termed "Québec's first veiled federal candidate" by mainstream media outlets, weathered Dutrizac's questioning with calm composure. Interrogated about her marriage, her religious beliefs, and her sexuality, with her measured responses Laouni revealed the deeply Islamophobic, misogynist presuppositions of Dutrizac's questions.

Following the interview, calls for Dutrizac's resignation came from the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The CAF is also filing a complaint with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), urging a full investigation of Corus Radio Network (the media outlet that owns 98.5FM), based in Toronto.

Radio Regulations (Broadcasting Act, 1986) forbid the broadcasting of

any abusive comment that, when taken in context, tends or is likely to expose an individual or a group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age or mental or physical disability.

» continue reading "Montréal NDP candidate Dr. Samira Laouni attacked on 98.5FM"

September 18, 2008 Weblog:

Ipsos Reid: Half of Canadians agree with the 'Harper-as-Bush premise'

A new Ipsos Reid poll reveals that Canadians don't like too much about any of the leaders in the current federal election.

According to the Ottawa Citizen:

"Stephen Harper is a George W. Bush clone with a hidden agenda. Jack Layton is not the champion of the average "kitchen table" Canadian. Stéphane Dion is not a team player and is wrong on the environment and economy.

Those are the findings of a new poll that shows widespread dissatisfaction and disillusionment with Canada's three national party leaders currently vying for the job of prime minister in the federal election."

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 18, 2008 Weblog:

Anti-Capitalists on the Sub-Prime Crisis

Many popular anti-capitalists are interviewed in the Guardian regarding their view on the current sub-prime crisis.

Chris Harman - Socialist Workers Party

"The whole system is unwinding; the other day we saw the biggest nationalisation in the history of humanity and that still wasn't enough.

"This could be a big moment for the left. But we really need to stand up and use the "c" word, say this is a crisis of capitalism and that people are suffering."

Sheila Rowbotham - Socialist feminist

"The problem now - unlike in the 1880s, when people discovered the ideas of socialism, and in the 1930s, when it seemed that communism was the solution - is that the left doesn't have a coherent alternative vision."

Hari Kunzru - Novelist

"In New York apparently, 12,000 jobs went, just like that, and Wall Street represents 20% of the city's jobs and something like 90% its tax base. So there's a definite sense here of systemic crisis.

"This will only genuinely become a crisis of capitalism if people generally become aware that much of the growth and prosperity produced by capitalism is a fiction."

September 15, 2008 Weblog:

New website: Tar Sands Free BC

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Tar Sands Free BC is a comprehensive new website that has been launched as part of a growing movement against the expansion of the tar sands in North America.

Check back frequently for regular news updates on the tar sands in BC & the world.

September 14, 2008 Weblog:

Subprime Crisis Claims Another Major Bank

First a series of mortgage companies. Then UK bank Northern Rock. Then Bear Sterns, followed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Now another major US bank, Lehman Brothers, is about to crumble under the weight of disastrous decision making in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis and ensuing credit crunch.

Lehman Brothers controls almost $700 billion in assets. According to the Guardian, the US authorities have authorized emergency trading of Lehman's shares should it file for bankruptcy.

Though the US bailouts of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were supposed to prevent a 'domino effect' of US banks collapsing, it appears banks are failing anyways.

Should Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest bank on Wall Street collapse "it will be one of the biggest failures in Wall Street history"...again.

September 14, 2008 Weblog:

BC forestry industry "in a tail spin"

BC finance minister, Colin Hansen, has just released a report showing that forestry revenues in BC are down by 36 per cent.

Hansen was quoted in the Tyee's new election blog "The Hook" as saying: "The downturn we are seeing in the forest sector is unprecedented. Since 1993 it has never even come close to being that low."

The pine beetle, sub-prime crisis, high dollar and a series of forestry strikes in BC have all contributed to the downturn which the NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston characterized the industry as being "in a tail spin".

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