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December 29, 2007 Weblog:

The Hexayurt

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The Hexayurt project is an attempt to create an extremely efficient, easy-to-construct, versatile and sustainable dwelling that can be affordable for people who live on around $1/day... in addition to the obvious structure, the project deals with heating, water purification, and sewage treatment. This is combined with an "open source," no-intellectual-property, globally collaborative approach development. The results are pretty interesting.

Here's a fascinating interview with the project founder, wherein he explains the difficulties in getting institutions to support something so obviously compelling. Here's his basic ethos:

:My goal is pretty simple: by the time I die, everybody in the world has a place to sleep and a bowl of rice a day. No starvation, no poverty of the kind that forces men and women to live like beasts of the field. We can do it: we are well past the point that Buckminster Fuller said our technology had to pass before it was possible.

Most people envisage making the poor rich: this is a social and economic approach. The rich fight it like hell all over the world.

So instead, I decided to focus on cutting the price of essential goods and services to the point where the poor can afford them. Nobody seems to be against that, and if we all agree, then the work will go so much faster than if I had to waste effort arguing with people who don’t think what I’m doing is a good idea.

December 29, 2007 Weblog:

Haiti: Fanmi Lavalas Supporters March Against the Cost of Living

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By:
Wadner Pierre

On Friday, December 28th, 2007, several hundred supporters of Fanmi Lavalas, the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, marched through several streets of Port-au-Prince protesting the rising the cost of living in Haiti. Slogans on placards reflected the denunciations of demonstrators of the Minister of Trade, Ms. Maggy Durce of the Democratic Alliance Party of Mr. Evans Paul, for having done nothing to improve the living conditions of the population. Some demanded the departure of the Minister and others a profound change in the government of Jacques Edouard Alexis.

As usual they did not hide their commitment to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, demanding his physical return to the country, which many insisted could help the country, especially the poorest regions.

"Titid we love you and we hope you will return very soon," said Deshommes Presengloire, member of Base cell of Fanmi Lavalas. "This is the year of mobilizations for the return of our historic leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and this is one of the main demonstrations."

The march against the high cost of living would end in front of the Ministry of Commerce. Organizers insisted that the Minister takes her responsibilities seriously or withdraws from this post.

"We are here to ask for Madam Maggy Durcé to take control of her responsibilities, because women can no longer continue to be cope with the rising prices of basic necessities," added Mrs. Kermeline. "As a woman, she knows our pain very well."

This march was well secured by several units of the Haitian National Police (HNP), police of the United Nations mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and a jeep contingent of Brazilian MINUSTAH soldiers.

» continue reading "Haiti: Fanmi Lavalas Supporters March Against the Cost of Living"

December 23, 2007 Weblog:

Is this really Christmas?

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By:
Wadner Pierre

Christmas is the celebration of love, sharing, solidarity and reconciliation, which is often conducted in the popular neighborhoods.

With this sentence we wonder too how can one celebrate Christmas in a country like Haiti, the poorest country in the American continent, which is going through a horrible and inhuman situation, despite the efforts of its people? A government able to fulfill the needs of its citizens, to relieve the misery of its people, renders street-level demands of respect for the principles voted for during elections unnecessary.

Today, members of Haiti's diaspora, despite their best efforts, are unable to meet the needs of their relatives in Haiti. Why not? The current blockade of the ports deprives much of the Haitian population, which depends directly upon the Haitian Diaspora for its livelihood. The Eleventh Department has recently made a gesture about removing the blockade, but we still hear sighs, grinding of teeth, continually climbing commodity prices. Is this is a conspiracy against the people? Where are the forces of nation, the Church, especially the Catholic church, which is the official religion of this country, the economic sector, the Haitian bourgeoisie?

Children from neighborhoods, people who are accustomed to receiving toys from the Haitian presidency during the years of the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, complain today because of the backwardness of the Ministry of Social Affairs in this case. But this year, it seems, is the worst since 2004, despite statements by authorities. We see nothing new.

"On the wings of time the sadness flies and the time brings pleasure."

» continue reading "Is this really Christmas?"

December 18, 2007 Weblog:

Lakota Sioux withdraw from treaty with US

Lakota Freedom: "We are the freedom loving Lakota from the Sioux Indian reservations of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana who have suffered from cultural and physical genocide in the colonial apartheid system we have been forced to live under. We are in Washington DC to withdraw from the constitutionally mandated treaties to become a free and independent country. We are alerting the Family of Nations we have now reassumed our freedom and independence with the backing of Natural, International, and United States law."

December 16, 2007 Weblog:

Wyclef and Akon Visit Haiti

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Wyclef and Akon visited Bel'Air, one of the poorest districts in Port-Au-Prince, during their recent visit in Haiti. The people were happy to receive them. Wyclef goes there sometimes when he comes in Haiti, but for Akon it was his first time. He ate at a "Yele Cuisine" (yele kitchen), a restaurant where people with little money can buy a plate of food. There are two of these kitchens in the capital, one in Bel'Air and the largest in Cite Soleil. "Yele Cuisine" is supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), which funds the UN's World Food Program (WFP).

December 14, 2007 Weblog:

The people of Haiti thank Our Lady of Help for 125 years and 65 years.

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By:
Wadner Pierre

1882-2007 marks 125 years of the miraculous healing of the Haitian people from the scourge of Verette which ravaged the country at that time. According to what we have learned, the bishops of that time gathered in prayer with the faithful in Bel'Air in the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel, and asked for a blessing for the people who had perished from this epidemic. Grace was dropped from the sky and all the people who were infected with this disease were cured.

1942-2007 marks the 65th years of the official consecration of Haiti. Our Lady of Perpetual Help at that time existed under the term of President Elie Lescot, a mulatto. According to historical testimony, there had been a kind of hunt against Voodoo priests (who were called 'Defeated'), as if this faith prevented the country from continuing on the road of progress. So why do we celebrate this date, 65 years later?

At that time the sons and daughters of Haiti who practiced Voodoo had difficulty explaining their religion. Most of them were black, while the president of that time was a mulatto. Similarly, the current president of the Haitian Conference of Bishops, Mgr. Louis Kébreau, is also a mulatto. He has often harshly criticized the democratically elected governments but has never lifted a finger to condemn the abuses against the people of Haiti during the reign of defacto government (2004-2006).

» continue reading "The people of Haiti thank Our Lady of Help for 125 years and 65 years."

December 14, 2007 Weblog:

Activist Priest Gérard Jean-Juste in Port-au-Prince Appeals Court

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By: Wadner Pierre

"I am not a visitor. It is my country. I come when I want, only I have a lot of things to do to the United States with the various Haitian communities, and I travel frequently. I am only here for an appointment with the honorable judges of the Court of Appeal in Port on Monday, November 26, 2007 at 10:00 AM. I respect the justice of my country” - so stated Father Gérard Jean-Juste to journalists shortly after stepping off a plane in Port-au-Prince.

Accompanied by his lawyer Mario Joseph, of the Bureau des Avocats Internaux (BAI), the priest arrived one half hour early for his court appointment. At 11:30 am the hearing began with the three judges of the Court of Appeal: Ms. Lise Pierre Pierre, Mr. Daran and Mr. Eddy Joseph Lebrun. Father Gérard Jean-Juste has been battling charges against him since July of 2005 despite international protests in which even Amnesty International participated.

Jean-Juste is charged with the notoriously vague allegation of "criminal association", as well as illegal possession of weapons. After questioning, the court asked Jean-Juste to summarize his defense.

In response to the charge of "criminal associations" he stated "As a priest my boss is Jesus, then the Bishops, and after them my people are my associates. I am not a member of an association of 'malefactors', but a member of an association of benefactors, and in this association Jesus is the boss."

» continue reading "Activist Priest Gérard Jean-Juste in Port-au-Prince Appeals Court"

December 12, 2007 Weblog:

Thousands Halt Vancouver Deportation on Human Rights Day

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This is probably the most inspiring bit of news I've heard in a long time. The deportation of Singh, who is paralysed, has only been stayed temporarily.

An attempt to deport a paralysed man back to India on International Human Rights Day fell apart after a grass-roots protest at Vancouver International Airport Monday literally halted traffic and prevented border and immigration agents from taking custody of him.

By mid-afternoon the Canada Border Services Agency halted its plan to deport Laibar Singh after it concluded that it would be too risky for its agents to walk out to a waiting taxi in which the elderly man was sitting. Between them and the curb were as many as 2,000 protesters, many of them members of an Abbotsford-area Sikh temple that had rallied in support.

December 6, 2007 Weblog:

Adbusters: the Digital Pitch, by Sean Condon

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Full Article at Adbusters Magazine.

Despite the privacy invasions and wrongful imprisonments in the Minority Report, the most disturbing scene in the futuristic thriller is the interactive hologram advertisements that read people’s emotions and call out to them by their name. While Philip K. Dick’s vision of a wayward security state still lies in the realm of science fiction, the personalized ads were frighteningly real...

December 4, 2007 Weblog:

Canada and the Coup in Haiti

Canadian photographer Darren Ell's films, photographs, interviews, podcasts and weblinks about Canada's involvement in the 2004 coup d'état in Haiti and its ongoing impact is all online now with the National FilmBoard of Canada website Citizenshift. This work was released several months ago, but there were problems with the video pieces. Everything is now fully functioning! So dive in and learn!

November 30, 2007 Weblog:

CRTC Awards Compensation to Citizen's Advocacy Group for Cost of Preparing Submission

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The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has won a major victory for Canadians who want a say in telecommunications policy in Canada. In Telecom Costs Order CRTC 2007-14 issued today, the CRTC upheld PIAC's request for compensation for the preparation of a submission to a public hearing on whether or not to eliminate regulatory constraints on telephone companies' basic rates.

The original public hearing (Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2006-10) was instigated in response to a letter from Bell Canada requesting deregulation of basic phone service fees. PIAC was strongly opposed to such a move, and included with its submission a request under s.44 of the CRTC Telecommunications Rules of Procedure for compensation for the costs of preparing its submission. Under s.44, the CRTC can award costs against a regulated company to an intervener who represents a class of subscribers with an interest in the outcome, who has participated in a responsible way, and who has contributed to a better understanding of the issues. The CRTC ordered that PIAC be compensated in the amount of $20,182.74.

» continue reading "CRTC Awards Compensation to Citizen's Advocacy Group for Cost of Preparing Submission"

November 29, 2007 Weblog:

"Reasonable Accommodation": A Feminist Response

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Photograph: Women's studies student Lily Tandel presenting the statement (below) to the Commission's Citizens' Forum on November 20, at the Bibliothèque Interculturelle in Côte-des-Neiges, Montréal. Also pictured, Nada Fadol, a member of the statement-writing committee. Photo credit: Tanya Déry-Obin.

"Reasonable Accommodation": A Feminist Response /
Les « accommodements raisonnables » : Une réponse féministe

Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Montréal

[version française à suivre]

As anti-racist, anti-colonial feminists in Québec, we have serious misgivings about the Commission de Consultation sur les pratiques d'accommodement reliées aux différences culturelles. The Conseil du statut de la femme du Québec (CSF) has proposed that the Québec Charter be changed so as to accord the right of gender equality relative priority over the right to religious expression and to ban the wearing of "ostentatious" religious symbols in public institutions by public employees. Our concern is that the Commission and the CSF's subsequent intervention pave the way for legislation that will restrict rather than enhance the rights of women. We invite you to join us in questioning the exclusionary structure of the Commission, the assumptions it supports, and the negative impact it is likely to have on women's lives.

So, why call into question the legitimacy and the effects of the Commission?

» continue reading ""Reasonable Accommodation": A Feminist Response"

November 29, 2007 Weblog:

News item: Polls can be faked

Venezuela Analysis: "This opens up the possibility for the use of fake polling, as was done in the last (2004) referendum, to cast doubt on the results if the proposed constitutional reforms are approved"

November 29, 2007 Weblog:

Dion's Constituents March in Ville St-Laurent

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A number of Stephane Dion's constituents marched through his riding, demanding that the Liberal leader oppose legislation around Security Certificates.

November 23, 2007 Weblog:

NS Government Faces Heat Over Anti-Strike Bill

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In one of the more polite demonstrations I've attended, a union coalition lead by the Nova Scotia General Employees Union staged a sidewalk rally of about 500 in front of the province's legislature on Thursday. While members of the crowd, which included a strong contingent of nurses and healthcare workers, heckled Premier Rodney Macdonald's minority government (top pic), the military guard-laden arrival of Nova Scotia's Lt.-Gov Mayann Francis, due to read her first speech from the throne, on the other side of the building was met with no interruption (bottom pic). After Macdonald's assertion that the unions were being "disrespectful" for holding a demonstration during the ceremonial speech from the throne, the union leadership responded by urging demonstrators to remain quiet outside of the legislature while Francis made her speech.

The rally was called in response to a bill due to be introduced by the minority tories banning the right to strike for the 32,000 healthcare workers in Nova Scotia. Macdonald had promised to introduce the bill in May following a one-day strike at a children's hospital in Halifax. The bill seems to be on the verge of being junked as a result of the union campaign, as both the Liberals and NDP have pledged to vote against it, were it to be introduced by the minority government. As a result, Macdonald has admitted he is unwilling to see his government fall as a result of the proposed anti-strike legislation.

Regardless of this apparent defeat, the throne speech outlined the Tory government's plans to establish more publicly funded, private health facilities in the province.

» view more photos in"NS Government Faces Heat Over Anti-Strike Bill"

November 20, 2007 Weblog:

McGill Daily on Tar Sands

The McGill Daily, a student paper in Montreal, has a pair of decent articles about the tar sands in their most recent edition.

November 19, 2007 Weblog:

Last Chance for War Resisters?

After deliberating for months, the Supreme Court of Canada finally refused to even hear the case of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, the first two war resisters to have publicly travelled to Canada in order to refuse to fight the US's illegal war in Iraq. They are expected to face deportation proceedings soon.

The War Resisters support campaign held protests in eight Canadian cities over the weekend and is appealing to supporters to bombard Canadian MP's with letters and faxes asking for a parliamentary provision allowing Hughey and Hinzman to remain in Canada.

On Tuesday, November 20th, 2007, a motion in support of Hinzman and Hughey, introduced by Toronto NDP MP Olivia Chow, is expected to be presented before Canada's Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

October 31, 2007 Weblog:

Irvings under fire in NB

Is New Brunswick finally getting tired of having one company own all of its newspapers?

With a new paper starting up and the Conservatives saying that the media monopoly needs to be looked into, NB might just be on the verge of doing something about its little problem.

October 31, 2007 Weblog:

Artists Against Apartheid.

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Part of the 5th international week of action against the apartheid wall, initiated by the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, to oppose Israeli occupation and ethnic cleansing and to support the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Leading up to ‘Palestinian Perspectives’, an evening of film screenings at the Cinéma du Parc in Montreal on November 29th, to commemorate 60 years of occupation and to celebrate the Palestinian voice. Featuring cutting edge cultural projects from Montreal & internationally, uniting in expression against Israeli Apartheid.

Performances by:

* Lubo Alexandrov: A Bulgarian-born guitarist, composer and singer, Alexandrov has developed a unique musical style, merging Bulgarian, Turkish and Roma musical traditions. Recipient of the 2007 Juno Music Award for the ‘Best World Album’. http://www.luboalexandrov.com

* Valerie Khayat: Poet, singer songwriter, Khayat has been active in folk, poetry and spoken word circles since 2004. She released her first book of poetry, ”The Road to Vesper”, and her first full length album, ”Resonance in Blue”, in 2007. http://www.myspace.com/valeriekhayat

* Kalmunity Vibe Collective members:

Jason Selman: Performance poet & musician
Mohamed Mehdi: Singer songwriter, poet.
Phenix: Hip-hop artist, poet of the Haitian diaspora.

* Ehab Lotayef: Writer, photographer, poet, activist and engineer.

* DJ Kandis: Middle Eastern, international beats, music from DJ Kandis.

Screening two films from the ‘Beyond Blue & Gray’ documentary project of Eyes Infinite Films, with an introduction by series producer Nirah Shirazipour:

» continue reading "Artists Against Apartheid."

October 25, 2007 Weblog:

Democracy and Union

Geoff Bickerton has some thoughts about the democratic implications of the deal between the CAW and Magna.

October 23, 2007 Weblog:

About that Poll

The Canadian Peace Alliance has a few things to say about the recent poll (trumpeted by the Globe and La Presse) that ostensively shows Afghans supporting the occupation.

October 22, 2007 Weblog:

Radio Tadamon! Facing Racism in Quebec.

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Download / Podcast the program HERE.

In Canada, a state commission on “Reasonable Accommodation” regarding the rights of minorities and new immigrants in Quebec has created a storm of controversy. This edition of Radio Tadamon! features Indu Vashist, a community organizer in Montreal and May Hayder of Al-Hidaya Association presenting alternative perspectives on ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ to the government sponsored commission...

October 18, 2007 Weblog:

Wal-Mart's Facebook Ghost Signals Need for Ad Policy

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Tightly trapped in cellophane, a pixelated ghost looks more like a desperate prisoner than a spooky sweet. In the latest move of their Facebook marketing strategy, Wal-Mart has branded a digital ghost cookie with their logo, creating a free "gift" that Facebook users may send to their friends. Clicking the cookie brings you to Wal-Mart's halloween website.

Unlike the usual crop of virtual gifts available to users of the social network, the Wal-Mart ghost screams of crass marketing, and critics are skeptical of whether this approach will earn the beast of Bentonville any dividends. The e-commerce site Get Elastic has gone so far as to call the ghost a "terrible social media marketing tactic", arguing that Facebook users "know intrusive advertising when they see it."

Among the reactions to the branded gift, however, is little discussion on whether Facebook should be accepting advertising from Wal-Mart in the first place, whose long standing record of human rights violations led the Norwegian government to completely divest from the company earlier this year. Aside from a predictable piece by Wal-Mart Watch, much of the debate related to the ethical issues at stake is taking place on Facebook itself.

» continue reading "Wal-Mart's Facebook Ghost Signals Need for Ad Policy"

October 2, 2007 Weblog:

Yves Engler on Canada in Haiti: New Podcast

Yves Engler is the co-author with Anthony Fenton of the most significant book on Canada's involvement in the 2004 overthrow of democracy in Haiti: Canada in Haiti: Waging War On the Poor Majority. The full audio interview with Yves Engler regarding Canada's involvement in the crisis in Haiti since 2004 is now online with the NFB website Citizenshift. The interview develops further ideas not presented in the video interviews published in Darren Ell's Citizenshift dossier about Haiti and Canada. In particular, Yves addresses the role of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Canadian Embassy in blocking meaningful progress in Haiti.

October 2, 2007 Weblog:

A US Map

RadicalCartography.net has a lot of cool maps, including this complete map of US territories around the world.

September 30, 2007 Weblog:

Burma and Democracy Protests: Where is the coverage of Ivanhoe?

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Burma (aka Myanmar) has been on the front page of the Globe and Mail twice this week, and has been featured by many other publications and media outlets, as monks and pro-democracy protesters are mercilessly killed on the orders of the military junta that rules the country.

This has spawned a whole outpouring of solidarity and concern in various forms, as should be expected.

But the media coverage has been truly bizarre, and it seriously compromises the aims of that solidarity. The massive coverage given to the Burmese crackdown raises two very serious questions, the premises of which are somewhat contradictory:

1. Where was the the media outrage when this was happening in Haiti?

» continue reading "Burma and Democracy Protests: Where is the coverage of Ivanhoe?"

September 30, 2007 Weblog:

"a simple message of resistance"

Has anyone seen "a simple message of resistance", a video apparently (?) put out by a group called the "Islamic Jihad Army"? It has apparently been around for quite a while (Jan 06), but I'm behind the times, it would seem. There's also this, which is more recent.

I have no idea as to its authenticity, but I've never seen this kind of direct, targeted video propaganda from guerrillas before--I'm not even sure the Zapatistas did anything like this with video--at least not in English.

Regardless of its origin, that makes it interesting as an attempt to bypass the media and speak to people directly.

Update: There's this, but I haven't found much in the way of commentary.

September 29, 2007 Weblog:

Local Media and GM Strike

Editor and Publisher has an interesting piece about the anti-union stance of newspapers that publish in union towns like Detroit.

September 28, 2007 Weblog:

Algonquin Canoe to Ottawa

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As anticipated in the photo essay about Algonquin resistance to uranium mining on their land, members of the Ardoch and Shabot Obaadjiwan Algonquin Nations canoed to Ottawa to protest the planned uranium mines on Parliament Hill and demonstrate that the waters connect planned mines with downtown Ottawa.

September 28, 2007 Weblog:

Who is the Terrorist? A Critical Conversation on Hezbollah.

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    WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17th, 6:30pm

Leacock Building, Room 232
McGill University, 688 Sherbrooke St.
Montreal, Canada

A public event hosted by Tadamon! Montreal & the Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) at McGill University within the context of the campaign to challenging Hezbollah’s listing as a ‘Terrorist’ Group in Canada…

Presentations from:

Bilal Elamine: Currently living in Beirut, originally from Southern Lebanon, the former editor of Left Turn Magazine, Elamine will outline the current and historical role of Hezbollah in Lebanon from a progressive perspective. Critical recent events in Middle East history will be addressed within the presentation, as Elamine will speak about the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, the 2007 general strike and opposition protests within the context of Hezbollah’s role in Lebanese society.

Brian Aboud: Presenting on Tadamon!’s campaign to challenge the listing of Hezbollah as a ‘terrorist’ organization in Canada. Today, Canada is one of only three countries world-wide to designate Hezbollah as a ‘terrorist’ organization. The other two are Israel and the United States.

Film Screening:

A Summer Not to Forget: A film by Lebanese film maker, Carol Mansour. Using powerful and disturbing images, the film tells a story of yet another war on Lebanon: 1,200 killed, 4,000 injured, one million displaced, 78 bridges destroyed, 15,000 homes damaged, 15,000 tonnes of oil spilled on 80km of the Mediterranean coastline, 57 collective massacres and much more. Director Mansour takes you into the harsh realities of a nation devastated by war and a people caught under siege.

» continue reading " Who is the Terrorist? A Critical Conversation on Hezbollah."

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