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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 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?


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


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 26, 2007 Weblog:

Evo Morales on the Daily Show

His delivery of the closing line is pretty great.

September 26, 2007 Weblog:

Simon Houpt's nutty report (final Ahmadinejad update)

Here's the Globe and Mail's headline for Simon Houpt's "report" today:

Iranian President gets rough welcome
Leader's speech avoids incendiary comments about Israel's destruction and denials of the Holocaust

I'd like to propose some other suitable headlines for things that were avoided today:

  • Globe and Mail Correspondent Simon Houpt avoids kicking puppies during walk down Broadway
  • Globe and Mail editor Edward Greenspon avoids incendiary racist tirades for one entire week
  • ...and so on...

While I expressed hope that Ahmadinejad's real, on the record comments would allow reporters to move on to criticize him for things he has actually said, this move shows that a) the Globe's editors are aware that the claims are erroneous and b) have decided to keep the claims alive despite the fact that they know that they are false. Pretty grim stuff.

In other news, I emailed Margaret Wente to ask for a source for her talk of "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies the Holocaust ever happened and seems quite happy at the thought of unleashing nukes against the Jews."

She responded with an excerpt from this 2005 BBC report. Does it provide enough evidence to back up her claim? (Does it say anything relevant to her claim?) You decide.

And with that, no more Ahmadiblogging for me.

September 25, 2007 Weblog:

Ahmadinejad's speech


You can see videos of Ahmadinejad's speech and Colombia University President Lee Bollinger's opening remarks. Without any apparent sense of irony, Bollinger calls on the Iranian President to allow an American who is being held without trial in Iran to be allowed to leave, just to cite one example of the bizarre double standard that is, well, standard in the US right now. It's probably standard everywhere, but in any case, it's embarrassing to watch intelligent people talk like this.

September 25, 2007 Weblog:

Ahmadinejad should be criticized, but let it be about things he has actually said


Ahmadinejad was in New York today, as some of you may have noticed. I'm sure many Iranians (as well as the entire US elite) will tell you that he is pure evil. But as of the last election, they are still in the minority. This may have something to do with his blend of appealing to Islamic "values voters" and the poor ("putting the petroleum income on people's tables" was apparently one of his campaign slogans).

He's a religious nut, but not much more so than George W, as far as I can tell. There's plenty to dislike about the Islamic Revolution--violence, suppression of rights, theocracy, and so on. (That said, the revolution was a reaction to the Shah, who killed his way to power with US help, replacing a democratic, secular government that wanted control over their own oil.) To an extent, Ahmadinejad can be said to represent the results of this theocracy.

That said, let's be serious.

Maybe, just maybe we can put to rest the references to "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies the Holocaust ever happened and seems quite happy at the thought of unleashing nukes against the Jews" (as Margaret Wente put it in her absurdly high-profile Globe column on Saturday).

Hopefully the fact that Ahmadinejad repudiated claims that he said these things (not that there was a lack of evidence before) will put this line of thinking to rest.

» continue reading "Ahmadinejad should be criticized, but let it be about things he has actually said"

September 24, 2007 Weblog:

Statscan: Rich got richer, poor and middle class stayed same

A new study says high-income Canadians got a lot richer between 1992 and 2004, while the rest of the population made little financial progress.

The Statistics Canada study, which used tax returns to explore trends among high-income earners, found the top five per cent of the tax-filing population accounted for about 21 per cent of total income in 1992; by 2004 it accounted for 25 per cent.

The study found little improvement among the rest of the population and it says that while there were more high-income earners who were women in 2004, their share of the pie was depleted.

Three-quarters of the 1.2 million high-income Canadians were men, even though men were a minority (48 per cent) of individual income recipients in general.

--Report on Business (not, I note, the National section)

September 24, 2007 Weblog:

High Canadian Dollary Linked to Tar Sands

The rise in value of the Canadian dollar "is an energy story," said Busch. With crude oil futures trading at more than $83 U.S., investment capital is pouring north to help extract oil from so-called tar sands, also known as oil sands, in the province of Alberta.

--Chicago Tribune

September 23, 2007 Weblog:

Review of the Shock Doctrine

"Her specific exposes across six decades of infamy are often excellent, but in her larger ambitions her metaphors betray her."

You have to read to the end of Alexander Cockburn's review of Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine to find that line, which summarizes the case he makes in the preceding pages. Which is, I think, intuitive, though I haven't read the whole thing: Klein's is good journalism, but "shock doctrine" is too tidy to be a lasting theoretical contribution. As a slogan, though, it's brilliant.

September 22, 2007 Weblog:

For a little taste of how Iran is seen...

...by the right wing of America's young elite, visit this link.

September 21, 2007 Weblog:

The Damage Done: Canada and the Coup in Haiti


Independent journalist and occasional Dominion contributor Darren Ell's The Damage Done: Canada and the Coup in Haiti is up on the CitizenShift web site. The documentary (and accompanying interviews, podcasts and weblog entries) looks at Canada's role in the coup against democracy in Haiti and the ensuing human rights catastrophe.

September 20, 2007 Weblog:

Demonstrators Disrupt Bernier's First Speech in Quebec as Foreign Minister


One by one, protesters stood up to interrupt recently appointed foreign minister Maxime Bernier during a speech urging support for the occupation of Afghanistan.

Press accounts in both French and English called it a "baptism of fire" for Bernier.

Radio-Canada has video.

Toronto Star correspondent Allan Woods couldn't make the drive from Ottawa, and ended up publishing quotes from the transcript that was sent to him. He probably got home early enough to watch it on TV.

September 19, 2007 Weblog:

Navajo Caravan Detained for 48 Hours by Ontario RCMP

According to this story, it appears that a group of Navajo were detained without a warrant or arrest by the RCMP using antiterrorism legislation.

were on their way to Deseronto in nine vehicles with 10 horses in tow to show support and respect for a group of Tyendinaga Mohawks, said Spata Desareau, 64, a member of the tribe. They travelled across western Canada without incident, but once in Ontario, were stopped by law enforcement three times - Wawa, Sault St. Marie and finally Kaladar, where they were taken into police custody Sunday, he said.

September 17, 2007 Weblog:

Outremont election spin


So, the conventional spin is that the Liberal lost all three by elections in Quebec today, including the "Liberal stronghold" of Outremont, and oh what a disaster for Stéphane Dion.

But the truth is, Outremont elected yet another Liberal in 2007... he just had orange campaign signs. Less than seven months ago, Thomas Mulcair was minister of the environment in Jean Charest's Liberal government. (Yes, that Jean Charest.)

The key challenge for the NDP will be to keep Mulcair from crossing the floor to the Liberals when they recover in the polls. That, or take the Liberal Party's place by becoming cynically opportunistic by running from the left and governing from the right.

Cynics will note that despite the fact that the anti-war vote contributed to Mulcair's victory, the fact that the Liberal Party is weak in Quebec is apparently likely to have the opposite effect on actual policy when it comes to Afghanistan.

Believers in party politics will tell you that Quebec now has a strong progressive voice in the house of commons, who will pressure the government to withdraw from Afghanistan and fulfill Kyoto obligations.

But he surely won't be to blame if troops remain in Afghanistan, and greenhouse gas emissions and the extractive industries that drive them remain undeterred.

September 17, 2007 Weblog:

T-Star: Right to Self-Determination "Troubling," "Worrisome"

Toronto Star Editorial: "Particularly troubling is the 'right to self-determination' in article 3. Notwithstanding last-minute changes to the declaration that purport to protect the territorial integrity of existing states, could this phrase go beyond encouraging legitimate aspirations for native self-government and empower full-blown secessionist movements? Based on the declaration, it's hard to tell. That's worrisome."

September 16, 2007 Weblog:

Skateboarding, Parkour and Architecture


Photo by Jens-Olaf, creative commons 2.0

Back in 2005, I wrote a review of an art exhibit about skateboarding as a critique of architecture.

In the artwork and the narrative that accompanies it, the exhibit is unabashedly theory-driven. In the large-type wall mounted introduction, curator Anthony Kiendl proposes that skateboarding can be the basis of a "critique of architecture, social spaces, and the values constituted by those spaces." Further comments displayed on the walls alongside the artwork by architectural historian Iain Borden (among others) speak of "movement of the body across social space", of skateboarding as "a reassessment of the values of society as expressed through the reappropriation of social space," or as a kind of "performative language".

[...] A discussion of the skateboarder as flâneur invokes Baudelaire and Benjamin, among others. Like the young men of 19th century Paris celebrated by urban critics and poets of the time, skateboarders are not only a part of the cityscape, but a critical, aloof, self-conscious force within it.

The embedded theoretical text also discusses the privilege granted to "the vertical" in urban architecture and posits the skateboarder as a subversive force that asserts her value in the horizontal plane. Emphasis is taken from the towering edifice and transferred to the ledges, curbs, benches and other ground-level surfaces that surround it. The authority of columns and grandiose feats of engineering are rejected in favour of the immediate human interface available on the ground. (In the language of one of the many quoted theorists, "hierarchies" are "reintegrated from vertical to horizontal arrangements".)

» continue reading "Skateboarding, Parkour and Architecture"

September 15, 2007 Weblog:

Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Passed...

You may have heard that the United Nations recently passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

You may have also heard that only four countries voted against it. Any guesses?

Here's the list:

  • Canada
  • USA
  • New Zealand
  • Australia

» continue reading "Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Passed..."

September 13, 2007 Weblog:

Canada's Ayatollah

Murray Dobbin has a fun piece where he compares Tom D'Aquino of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives to Iran's Grand Ayatollah. The role, it turns out, is not dissimilar.

September 11, 2007 Weblog:

Michael Vick

The WSWS had a great little analysis of the media coverage surrounding Michael Vick. And their interview with Cindy Sheehan is worth a second look, too.

September 10, 2007 Weblog:

"similar to injecting a big rat with crystal meth, then throwing it into a roomful of feral cats"

Stan Goff tries to introduce the "netroots" to the idea of orientalism, and then suggest that they might be participating in that.

August 31, 2007 Weblog:

Letter to Council of Canadians

[Andrea from People's Global Action picked up the CoC's petitions at the anti-SPP demonstration and decided to make a few points while offering to deliver them.]

Dear Maude and Staff at the Council of Canadians,

I just wanted to write to let you know that the 10,000 petitions you delivered with great fanfare to the gates of the Chateau Montebello last week are safe. You know, the ones in the three clear plastic bins with the blue lids. The ones featured in that photo on your website ( www.canadians.org).

» continue reading "Letter to Council of Canadians"

August 16, 2007 Weblog:

We are urging for the safe return of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine.

[lifted from Upside Down World]

Port au Prince, Haiti
Contacts: Eugenia Charles and Jacob François
Phone 011-509-698-8134, 011-509-448-3672

Our international human rights delegation seeks the safe return of Lovinsky Pierre Antoine. A long-time defender of human rights and advocate of the poor, Lovinsky Pierre Antoine has not been seen since 10:00 pm Sunday, August 12, 2007. Our delegation has made numerous attempts to contact him but thus far has been unsuccessful.

» continue reading "We are urging for the safe return of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine."

August 14, 2007 Weblog:

Roger Annis in Haiti

Roger Annis is in Haiti, posting regular reports on human rights issues on the Toronto Haiti Action Committee web site.

July 31, 2007 Weblog:

Indigenous Struggles in July

Ahni at Intercontinental Cry has this month's roundup of coverage of indigenous struggles around the world.