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Photos by Gwalgen Geordie Dent and Sharmeen Khan
1. The backdrop to the Cuban anniversary celebration in Havana.
2-4. The 50th anniversary celebration. Reported in The Miami Herald the next day: "No big celebrations in Havana Cuba on the 50th anniversary of the Revolution."
5. Cuban cars. The economy has picked up with more petrol, automobiles and consumer goods.
6. A "Cuban 5" sympathy banner in Havana.
7. Quotes by Fidel on a wall in Santiago de Cuba
8. Cuban oil fields. Cuba recently found major deposits of tar-sands-like oil off the coast.
9. Pastors for Peace Caravan
10-11. 50th anniversary billboards in Santiago de Cuba near the Moncada: a major revolutionary-historical monument. Cuba has little to no commercial advertising.
12. The square in Santiago de Cuba where the revolution was officially launched 50 years ago. Raul Castro spoke here 2 days later for the anniversary.
Megaphone Magazine has put out their Olympics Issue. It's well worth the read. If you're in Vancouver, you can find it on a street corner near you.
In Chiapas Under Siege by Global Industries, a new article published in NACLA, John Ross expounds on the commodification of the Zapatista movement, and the threats to Chiapas posed by mega projects.
The real juice, however, is towards the end of the piece:
The Subcomandante's shameful performance at the Digna Rabia Fiesta is an embarrassment to long-time Zapatista supporters such as this writer who has authored four books chronicling the rebel movement. This writer offers his profound apologies for misleading readers about Marcos's exalted status. In recent years, the Sup has transformed himself into a vituperative, narcissistic charlatan who is single-handedly responsible for the depreciation of the Zapatista movement as a national and international player on the Left.
I was in Mexico in December of 2008, and it was headline news in La Jornada that John Berger (who Ross mentions in the article) and Naomi Klein were in Chiapas for an Encuentro. I'd be curious to read Klein's response to Ross' piece, which finishes so:
While the EZLN eschews the public spotlight and has auto-marginalized itself from participation in national and international political activism, autonomous Zapatista communities in southeastern Chiapas continue to be living proof that another world is possible.
The federal minister of public safety announced today that the government of Canada will put $647.5 million dollars towards security during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The feds are also on the hook for all cost overruns.
BC will pay an extra $165 million, bringing the province's total contribution to the security budget to $252.5 million dollars.
The announcement was made in Ottawa just following Obama's visit to the capital.
Photo: Lola May, CC2.0.
Picture 1: Halifax is saturated in cooperative media potential. Posters detailing a list of events in different neighborhoods in and around Halifax can be seen from the four directions.
Picture 2: A presentation at Oxfam involved many projections, even though the writing was on the wall.
Picture 3: A journalism skillshare and intro to the Halifax Media Co-op website drew a diverse and engaged audience into NSPIRG's office at Dalhousie.
Picture 4: Handing people flyers outside of the Halifax Ferry Terminal leading to Dartmouth was incredibly fun. Being able to tell people about the upcoming event in Dartmouth ("it's not just a Halifax thing") felt like an exercise in being thorough.
Dru, The Dominion's tech mastermind, finally meets a beast he can't tame.
Asaf Rashid, one of the four defendants, stands in front of the Nova Scotia Provincial Court. Photo: David Parker
HALIFAX - It was a cold winter's day nearing Christmas, and not much was stirring on the streets of Halifax. In front of the Provincial Court on Spring Garden Road, a group of people huddled together, entering the court for a long-awaited trial date. On December 22, 2008, four Haligonians took the stand and testified in front of a judge to a courtroom packed with supporters.
The defendants had been charged a year and a half earlier after hundreds took to the streets of downtown Halifax on June 15, 2007, to oppose a regional integration proposal known as Atlantica. Charges included carrying weapons, wearing masks with intent, unlawful assembly, and resisting arrest.
The Atlantica demonstrations numbered 400 protesters and included a militant tactic known as a black bloc that intended to shut down the conference.
Demonstrators were targeted by police and reported extreme police brutality, including being choked until unconscious, shocked with taser guns, and beaten by batons.
George Dalli was one of the defendants on trial. "I saw police hitting other people, pepper spraying, tasers were drawn: it was an intense and intimidating situation before the arrest. I told the officers 'I'm not resisting arrest, not trying to be violent.' I was rolled onto my stomach, hands behind my back. I was choked, fingers were jabbed into my neck, I said 'don't do this to me, I'm losing consciousness, don't do this to me', and I continued saying this until I lost consciousness."
The 21 individuals arrested that day spent the next three days in jail, the first 48 hours in lockdown.
Picture 1: The Dominion presented at the Ecology Action Center to the most receptive audience to date. When asked "If we lived in a real democracy, what would news media look like?" people's responses included "Politicians would have to speak for themselves," "the media would be accountable to it's readers," and "news would not be only from the perspective of power."
Picture 2: We The Dominion presented at the Halifax Labour Council to a small crowd, but many enthusiastic head-nods made up for what we lacked in numbers. The highlight of the occasion was, without question, Labour Council member Judy Haiven's extra-special Mr. Coffee brew.
Picture 3: A Friday night lecture at Dalhousie University entitled "Enduring Legacy, Enduring Challenge: The Global and Canadian Dimensions of the Trans-Altlantic Slave Trade," was one of many events going on in Halifax as part of African Heritage (or Black History) Month. Dr. Afua Cooper performed a spoken word piece called "The Negro Cemetery" about how old 'negro' cemeteries are currently resurfacing all over Canada--in corn fields, and in potato fields. Made me quake, simply. "Historians, by and large, see themselves as guardians of the story of the nation," said Cooper about the way she is treated as a historian who is trying to challenge prevalent notions of Canadian history in scholarly circles.
Picture 1: The Media Co-op's first formal presentation was given to Journalism students at the University of King's College. The crowd was small but receptive, and the event was well-documented by the Media Co-op's Van Ferrier (our traveling videographer).
Picture 2: A Halifax Career Fair for students of Mount Saint Vincent University, Dalhousie, and Saint Mary's was met with protest. The event included recruiters for Lockheed Martin, the world's largest arms manufacturer. Local activist Asaf Rashid played the role of Dr. Clusterbomb of the Weapons Inspection Team.
Picture 1: Last-minute printing needs landed several Dominion organizers at Kinkos an hour before the AGM. They walked in with a USB key, and left with darling pamphlets, secret ballots (on sky blue and lavender paper), and double-sided copies of the candidates' bios. A little less colorful but no less valuable, were the financial statements and special resolutions to be presented at the much-anticipated event.
Picture 2: The food was set out, along with coffee and OJ. Fifteen people attended The Dominion's first ever AGM, and eighteen more participated online. The whole thing was broadcast across the country to whoever cared to watch. Resolutions were passed, and a new board was elected, including Harjap Grewal (new Reader member rep), and Tracy Glynn (winning Writer member candidate). Other highlights included the suggestion that The Dominion feature a cute baby animal in each of its forthcoming issues, in the spirit of covering more positive news.
Picture 3: Dominion Editor Dawn Paley's "Economic Downturn shoes" will continue to glitter long after the fall of capitalism.
Was reading the less-than-stellar analysis of Globe Opinion writer Jeffrey Simpson the other day when I noticed this little gem:
France and Canada are on the same wavelength on issue after issue, including Afghanistan and trade (Canada and the European Union are entering serious talks about a free-trade agreement). They both opposed the invasion of Iraq.
Canada and EU free trade deal? I read a lot of news so I was wondering why I hadn't seen more of this before.
I'm no fan of free trade and think NAFTA should be abolished, but do believe in the benefits of fair trade as long as never-ending growth isn't part of the deal.
Canada's trade has been almost entirely dependent on the US since colonization. Would a free trade agreement with the EU mean less dependence? Would Canadian standards plummet on certain issues? What would the impacts on social justice, the tar sands, mining and other issues be?
Media Co-op HQ, early morning, post-Muesli. The day before The Dominion's AGM and the plan is, roughly: work, eat, work, practice presentation (work), make pamphlets (work), go outside, walk, work, bluegrass with the Smokin' Contraband.
Three more organizers have arrived in the last 24: Dawn Paley (Dominion editor) from Vancouver, Van Ferrier (video guy), and Moira Peters (coordinating editor extraordinaire)!!
A practice-run of the Media Co-op's presentation got positive feedback and a few snickers (all in good fun) from a couple of friends who sat down to listen.
Slide 1: After assessing an issue each of both the Chronicle Herald and the Metro, it was pretty clear that the vast majority of articles were "canned," (gleaned from newswires). Of those that weren't, most reproduced content from press releases or announcements. Of those that were actually original, local stories however, none could rightly be called investigative.
Slide 2: First, we take Halifax.
January 30th, 2009
By: Wadner Pierre - HaitiAnalysis.com
What kinds of words do the Haitian people need to hear from President René Préval during these hard times? Do Haitians need the hopeful discourse of US president Barack Obama?
One would think that President Préval, a man with high level government experience dating back to the Aristide administration of 1991, would know how to address the Haitian people. Honesty need not crush hope, and false hope is useless. From the time of slavery Haiti has been plagued by commissions that do nothing for the people. The reason for their failure is simple. They exclude the people who know and care the most about Haiti. Any well intentioned leader must always bear this lesson in mind and ensure that it guides his actions and his words.
On January 1, 2009 in front of the cathedral of Gonaives, Préval gave a speech to the nation to open the year – something countless Haitian presidents (most of them illegitimate unfortunately) have done. Préval gave a mundane speech that highlighted road construction and “dialog”. When parliament opened on January 12, Preval pledged to continue with the “dialogue” that he thinks has brought peace to Haitians.
However, Senator Jean Hector Anacasis from “LESPWA (hope)”, the party of President Préval, announced something more significant. He said that in April a commission would be formed to review the Haitian constitution that would include “all sectors”. However, the Préval administration has already formed commissions that exclude the largest sectors – the peasants and the urban poor.
Hillary talks briefly to the Student Coalition Against War (SCAW) at Dalhousie University about the Media Co-op. There is interest in future involvement and events.
The Dominion's first day of a month-long Media Co-op tour in Halifax, it's inaugural city, was all about getting the presentation together in time for a slew of speaking events, scheduled throughout February in different Halifax neighbourhoods. We did not have to look very far to find examples of media that do not serve the people.
The Integrated Security Unit, which comprises the West Vancouver Police, Canadian Forces and RCMP, will make their presence known during their second training operation from February 9-13, one year before the 2010 Games. “The public are certainly going to see us," said Bud Mercer, assistant RCMP commissioner and head of the ISU.
Bob Mackin, one of Vancouver's best journos writing on the Olympics, recently broke the story about the "$44 million for six camps to accommodate 1,600 Canadian Forces personnel during the 2010 Winter Olympics."
Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton spoke against the back to work legislation of CUPE 3903 (York TA's and Graduate Faculty) being debated in the Legislature on Monday January 26th, 2009:
"In the last week, the university insisted on a vote on their offer. The workers voted; they voted democratically. They said, "No, this offer is not good. We turn it down." The workers prepared a counter-offer. Do you know what the university said? "We're not going to look at it. We're not going to bargain. We're not even prepared to discuss it." Does that sound like a university that wants to get the students back in the classroom? Does that sound like deadlock? No, what it sounds like is a university that is saying, "We're not going to bargain."
Let me give you another example. We left here before Christmas. There was about a three-week break in the university schedule over Christmas before they'd return to class-the last exams; ample opportunity to bargain. Was York University willing to bargain during those three weeks over the so-called winter break? Lots of opportunity: three clear weeks. Was the university willing to bargain? No.
They tell us, and the McGuinty Liberals tell us, that it is absolutely essential to get these students back to the classroom today. They had three weeks, the end of December, the beginning of January, where they could have, should have been bargaining and they wouldn't do it. And where were the McGuinty Liberals? Were the McGuinty Liberals calling up the York University administration, saying, "You'd better get to the table, and you'd better work within Ontario's labour relations system and try to find a collective agreement"? No. The McGuinty Liberals weren't doing anything either.
Chomsky has a series of insightful (if not painfully dry) speech segments on the Israeli invasion of Gaza posted onZmag.
True to form, a written summary of them reveals a couple gems:
Obama provided the usual reasons for ignoring the elected government led by Hamas. "To be a genuine party to peace," Obama declared, "the quartet [US, EU, Russia, UN] has made it clear that Hamas must meet clear conditions: recognize Israel's right to exist; renounce violence; and abide by past agreements."
Unmentioned, also as usual, is the inconvenient fact that the US and Israel firmly reject all three conditions.
In international isolation, they bar a two-state settlement including a Palestinian state; they of course do not renounce violence; and they reject the quartet's central proposal, the "road map." Israel formally accepted it, but with 14 reservations that effectively eliminate its contents (tacitly backed by the US).
As previously reported, both the New York Times and CanWest Global have been facing steep economic challenges recently.
The Times has been thrown a lifeline by Carlos Slim Helu, the Mexican Communications Billionaire who's loaning them $250 million to help them cope with the $l.1 billion in debts they already have.
Things however, seem to have gotten a whole lot worse for CanWest. David Beers, editor-in-chief at the Tyee, managed to get an internal memo from CanWest about 'cost containment'.
It's seems everything is being cut at the chain including:
A freeze on all hiring,
A freeze on salaries,
A freeze on meals, catering and entertainment expenses,
Ceasing engagements with external consultants,
A freeze on conference/seminar attendance,
Equipment expense and capital purchase delays,
Limiting the use of mobile devices by 20-25%,
Reducing energy usage.
According to the Tyee, both Canada Post and Telus have been censoring Youtube.
The story claims that video's by angry union members have been at the centre of attempts by both censor the free video uploader.
Telus 'cleansed' 23 video's in 2007, while Canada Post took a strong exception to CEO Moya Greene being portrayed as The Greench Who Stole Xmas" in late 2008.
Guess she never saw this video.
What's surprising is that these massive employers seem to be using a well-known loophole to remove the material:
"The case highlights a common occurrence under U.S. law, which allows copyright owners to file complaints with web hosts such as YouTube if they believe that the site is hosting infringing content. Under the law, the web host avoids liability if it immediately removes the content. No court or independent third party reviews the infringement claim since nothing more than a complaint that meets certain criteria is needed."
There, he fulfilled a foreign policy agenda that seeks to ensure stability for Canadian investors in El Salvador, while guaranteeing a consistent stream of temporary migrant workers from El Salvador to Canada.
Days after his visit, Salvadorans voted in legislative and municipal elections, with the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) taking the majority of legislative seats in what experts consider "an auspicious prelude to the presidential vote," which is to take place in March.
There is little doubt that the rise of the FMLN in some way mirrors that of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, who now govern Nicaragua.
After a visit to Nicaragua, Peter Kent, Canada's junior foreign affairs minister continued on to Guatemala, Central America's most populous country, and the site of one of the most horrific wars in the Western Hemisphere.
Kent participated in a high profile ceremony with President Alvaro Colom, where he announced a $10 million donation from the Canadian International Development Agency destined for rural development in the Sololá region.
Kent allegedly agreed that Canada would loosen some of the terms in the deal, long seen as having been killed by Canada's refusal to open up the sugar market.
Today, Canadian mining interests are of utmost importance in Guatemala, and it may be politically expedient for Canada to agree to up sugar quotas in order to guarantee that the mining sector has better investment conditions.
After months of denial, the Bank of Canada has finally admitted that Canada has entered into a period of recession.
"Major advanced economies, including Canada's, are now in recession and emerging-market economies are increasingly affected," reads today's release from the BoC. It continues:
Canadian exports are down sharply, and domestic demand is shrinking as a result of declines in real income, household wealth, and consumer and business confidence. Canada's economy is projected to contract through mid-2009, with real GDP dropping by 1.2 per cent this year on an annual average basis. As policy actions begin to take hold in Canada and globally, and with support from the past depreciation of the Canadian dollar, real GDP is expected to rebound, growing by 3.8 per cent in 2010.
A Scotiabank analyst called the projected rebound by 2010 "overly optimistic."
Image by Paul Wicks.
It's been a whirlwind workweek for Peter Kent, who on Monday kicked off his first field trip as Canada's minister of state for the Americas. The junior minister post is a new position created by the Conservatives in order to fulfill their plan to re-engage in Latin America.
Kent started off his week in a meeting with President Daniel Ortega in Managua, Nicaragua.
But he didn't make the local news until he expressed "serious concern" about "credible evidence" pointing to fraud in municipal elections in the country last November. Among the critics of the fairness of the elections are the opposition, the US, and the Organization of American States.
OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza said in a press release that the organization was "very concerned" about the "difficulties unfolding in Nicaragua as votes [were] being counted." The same press release duly noted that "Insulza remarked that since the organization had not been invited to observe any of the latest elections in that country, it is not in a position to comment on them." Ummm... ¿Perdon?
Also reported here in the Guardian on November 5th:
A four-month ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza was in jeopardy today after Israeli troops killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid into the territory.
Hamas responded by firing a wave of rockets into southern Israel, although no one was injured. The violence represented the most serious break in a ceasefire agreed in mid-June, yet both sides suggested they wanted to return to atmosphere of calm.
Canada's junior minister of foreign affairs has made a point of pointing fingers lately. For that matter, so has Canada, which was the only country on the United Nations' Human Rights Council that voted against a motion condemning Israel for its recent attacks on the Gaza Strip.
The vote before the Geneva-based body shows the Stephen Harper government has abandoned a more even-handed approach to the Middle East in favour of unalloyed support of Israel, reads an article in today's Toronto Star.
Peter Kent, a former anchor with CBC Newsworld and foreign correspondent for NBC, seems to be settling right into his role as Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon's sidekick in an increasingly reactionary Ottawa. His outspoken condemnation of Hamas has rippled through the news as Israel continues its attacks on the Gaza Strip.
"The government of Canada has been very clear since the beginning of this crisis that it believes that the Hamas rocketing was responsible for the initial development of this crisis and for the continuing deepening humanitarian tragedy," Kent told the CBC little more than a week after Israel began Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
It seems the New York Times could no longer be in circulation as soon as May. According to The Atlantic:
Earnings reports released by the New York Times Company in October indicate that drastic measures will have to be taken over the next five months or the paper will default on some $400 million in debt. With more than $1billion in debt already on the books, only $46million in cash reserves as of October, and no clear way to tap into the capital markets (the company’s debt was recently reduced to junk status), the paper’s future doesn’t look good.
Things are not much better for Canwest, which Jen & Fitz report has a:
High debt load of $3.6 billion, falling ad revenues for Canadian newspapers and broadcasters, and precipitously falling value of Australian TV stations it might try to sell to raise cash.
Could be ripe timing for some other kind of alternative media giant to emerge...
Youth from Fort Chipewyan marched through the streets to protest against the tar sands in -32 degree temperatures this afternoon.
The march was organized by 10 year old Robyn Courtoreille, who got other youth involved in the protest.
"Syncrude and Suncor have been poisioning our water, air, so we protested to let them know we want a future not cancer," said Dailen Powder, 12, after the protest.
"I was protesting because I dont want anymore deformed two jawed fish in our lake," said Cherish Kaskamin, 11.
There is another protest in Fort Chipewyan planned for January 12th.
The LA Times published an excellent interview with Colombia's defense minister Juan Manuel Santos today.
The interview focuses on Plan Colombia, which has failed in terms of coca crop eradication, but which has, as Santos states, allowed the Colombian military to "retake control of our territory."
Many simply call that military occupation.
Santos continues to explain that he's not worried about the fact that Obama has never been to Colombia, because "Vice President-elect Joseph Biden was one of the fathers of Plan Colombia and he promoted it a lot."
Another gem from Santos: "I have no doubt that the Colombian army is receiving more human rights training than any army on Earth."
Now that's a scary thought.
A Colombian military parade in Medellín. Photo by Michael von Bergen.
Dominion Weblogs compiles the weblogs of Dominion editors and writers. The topics discussed are wide-ranging, but Canadian Foreign Policy, grassroots politics, and independent media are chief among them.
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.