Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Israeli Terror

by David Rovics

I was in Olympia, Washington driving towards Evergreen State College when I got a phone call from someone in the occupied West Bank of Palestine. An Evergreen graduate named Rachel Corrie had been killed a few days before by an Israeli soldier in an armored bulldozer, and someone with an Australian accent on my cell phone named Tom was wondering whether it was OK for the International Solidarity Movement to use the lyrics to a song I had just written about the incident on their website. Rachel's murder was followed quickly by the murder of a British ISM activist named Tom Hurndall.

And now, almost six years to the day after the murder of Rachel Corrie, my friend and comrade Tristan Anderson has been critically injured by the IDF. He joins ISM activist Brian Avery, who was also shot in the face. Brian survived, seriously disfigured but otherwise intact. Tristan lies in a coma in a hospital near Tel Aviv and may or may not be as lucky as Brian. His brain was exposed by the tear gas canister fired at close range at his face, and as I write, large parts of his frontal lobe have had to be removed by the surgeons.

Rachel, Tom, Brian and Tristan join the ranks of the thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese civilians killed and the tens of thousands maimed by the IDF since 2000 alone. Being privileged foreigners (at least before they were killed or maimed), they did not have the opportunity to join the ranks of the millions of Palestinians and Lebanese who have been driven into desperate poverty, malnourishment and homelessness by the Israeli invasion and occupation of their lands.

There are many other contemporary and historical examples of genocidal regimes. A few of them – contemporary Turkey, Indonesia or, chiefly among them, the United States – lay claim to the notion that they are democratic countries. Others, such as Saddam's Iraq, apartheid South Africa, and Nazi Germany also made such claims, but nobody believed them. It's challenging to make comparisons between them, at least in terms of trying to figure out which one should deserve the title of Most Genocidal Regime. There are issues of scale, longevity and historical circumstances that make such judgements difficult. Other types of comparisons, though, are not only easy to make, but seem as unavoidable as the elephant in the living room.

It probably didn't help that as the Israeli military was laying siege to the Gaza Strip two months ago I was on a tour of Australia, free from my responsibilities as a father and thus with more free time than I ever have when I'm home these days. I did then what I normally do in my free time – read. The book I happened to be reading at the time was one I had been meaning to read for decades, which I had just picked up at a book store during a visit to Canada – William Shirer's 1,200-page tome, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. As Israel's massive armored divisions and ultra-modern Air Force was laying waste to an already-occupied walled ghetto filled with nearly starving refugees armed with nothing more than rocks and the occasional small arms, mostly home-made, I was reading about the siege of the Warsaw Ghetto.

The comparisons are not exact. At the height of what was then widely known as the Nazi Terror, in Auschwitz the SS killed thousands of Jews and Russians every day. No such gas chambers exist or have ever existed in Israel. But for those of you reading this who have not already decided that I am a self-loathing Jew or some kind of anti-Semite, I would like to share with you some of the streams of consciousness that were passing through my head as I was attending protests in Australia against the bombing of Gaza, in between the unavoidable visits to the ubiquitous Australian war memorials and the next chapter of Shirer's history of Nazi Germany.

There I was, bearing witness to the siege of a walled ghetto already under occupation. There have been many sieges of cities over the centuries, but sieges of already-occupied walled ghettoes are far fewer, and for any student of history the similarities are obvious, the comparisons inevitable.

When I first visited Israel in 1999 I was struck by what a nation of trauma survivors it was. I was reminded immediately of my first visit to Ireland some years before, where the great famine that wiped out half the population over a century before seemed like it had happened perhaps a generation ago. In Israel the Nazi Holocaust seemed to have happened yesterday, and in the mindset of many Israelis it seemed as if it were carried out by Palestinians rather than Germans. I encountered anti-Arab racism daily in Israel. When I sang songs about the horrors of the sanctions against Iraq (around a half million Iraqi children dead as a direct result at that point according to UNICEF) I was told by middle-class, middle-aged Israeli folk music fans that killing Iraqi children was OK because they were just going to grow up to become terrorists anyway. I was told that “the Arab mindset” was hopelessly backwards and that They just wanted to “drive us into the sea.” (I even heard Israeli Jews refer to “Latin numerals” when it was clear from the context that they meant Arabic numerals – a Freudian slip I'm sure.)

Most of the Israeli Jews I met seemed confident of the historical persecution of Jews in the Middle East. Actual history bears no resemblance to their version of it, but this did not get in the way of their fantasies. It was in Europe where the Catholic Church and the Nazi movement carried out pogroms and built death camps, not in the Muslim world, but these Jews identified culturally with their European inquisitors, not with their historical Muslim and Christian friends with whom their Arab and Persian Jewish brethren had lived in peace for thousands of years.

And now after decades of the so-called “peace process” Israel's new Foreign Minister openly advocates for the ethnic cleansing of Israel, for the driving out of the million or so Palestinians living within Israel's 1948 borders. In this nation of survivors of the Nazi Terror, race laws reign supreme. There is one set of laws for Jews, and another set of laws for everyone else. As in Nazi Germany, “everyone else” is then divided into groups with relative privileges in comparison with each other (for example, “Israeli Arabs” vs. West Bank Palestinians vs. those condemned to live in Gaza, the world's largest open-air prison and the most densely-populated place on Earth).

Like the Zionists, the Nazis also came to power on the backs of trauma and claims of victimhood. For decades, history has been written by the victors, so it is hard to imagine how well Hitler was able to sell the case to the German people (and to many others around the world) that Germany was a nation oppressed by their neighbors as well as by “the enemy within,” the Jews.

Millions of Germans had been slaughtered -- along with millions of Russians, French, Brits, Australians, etc. -- in the War to End All Wars (WWI). German Jews were disproportionately of a leftwing persuasion, and many of the leaders of the social democrats who signed the Treaty of Versailles were, in fact, Jewish. Thus the Jews could be blamed for Germany's defeat (never mind the Kaiser's imperial ambitions) and could also somehow be blamed for the devastating economic depression that followed it (never mind the fact that much of the rest of the world was also in the throes of a similarly devastating depression). The Nazi solution to the “Jewish problem” was to create a society based on racial laws that systematically discriminated against Jews, took away their property, prevented them from joining the military or doing any number of other jobs, drove them out of the country or into ghettoes around which the Nazis built walls, and then ultimately invaded many of the countries into which the Jewish refugees had fled, laid siege to the ghettoes, starving and ultimately killing most of the residents.

Fast forward a few years to 1948, to Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel's father and others in the Zionist movement. The propaganda to try to encourage Jewish emigration to Palestine was that Palestine was a “land without a people for a people without a land,” but the Zionist movement actually on the ground in Palestine knew better. For them, the Palestinian people were all too real, and were an obstacle, a problem to be fixed through systematic, brutal ethnic cleansing. The Zionist movement in Palestine, followed by the State of Israel, dealt with the Palestinian problem (that is, the problem of the existence of Palestinians), by creating a society based on racial laws that systematically discriminated against Palestinians, took away their property, prevented them from joining the military, drove them out of the country or into ghettoes around which the Jews built walls, and then ultimately invaded many of the countries into which the Palestinian refugees had fled, laying siege to their cities, ghettoes and refugee camps, starving and killing thousands upon thousands of the residents, oftentimes in the form of wholesale slaughter that in some instances rivalled the intensity of the Nazi genocide.

The Irgun and other groups whom the British administrators of Palestine referred to as terrorists blew up buses full of Palestinian civilians, attacked Palestinian towns and cities with naval bombardment, laid siege to towns with tanks and automatic weapons on three sides in order to force the residents to flee. This is how the Zionist movement formed their state, this was the Israeli “war of independence.”

The Zionists who were flooding into Palestine and quickly changing the demographics of Palestinian society claimed they were being persecuted. There were many isolated incidents that could be called persecution, and many more incidents of Zionist settlers in pre-1948 Palestine persecuting the residents with whom they were sharing a country. By the same token, the Nazis made mostly baseless claims that German-speaking citizens of Poland and Czechoslovakia were being persecuted – the Germans were being persecuted and had to defend themselves by invading their neighbors. By the time the Nazis invaded and occupied France, and Britain finally decided to make good on its treaty obligations and fight fascism, the Nazis could – quite rightly – claim that they had been attacked by Britain. The Germans were the victims of Britain was the Nazi line.

Fast forward again to 1948. The Arab countries neighboring Palestine belatedly sent in a force to defend their fellow Arabs from the Zionists – a force that was numerically and militarily no match for the Zionist army and was quickly defeated. But in the annals of Zionist propaganda this was not Arabs coming to the defense of their brethren who were being slaughtered and driven from their land, it was an “unprovoked attack,” like the British assault on poor Germany. Like the Germans surrounded by hostile neighbors bent on keeping the Germans down, “the Arabs” wanted to “wipe Israel off the map.”

One of Hitler's favorite methods of managing, at least in the Nazi-run press, of appearing to be the voice of reason in the face of his “war-mongering” European neighbors was to make a pretense of “peace negotiations” which were generally last-minute ultimatums that could be accepted or not without any actual negotiating at all. For example, Czechoslovakia (and its ostensible allies, Britain and France) was told it could give up the Sudetenland and other Czech territories and thus avert destruction at the hands of the German military. It actually acquiesced to all German demands (with the encouragement of Britain and France) and was annexed by Germany anyway, on the grounds that the Czechs were being unreasonable, that Czechs were terrorizing ethnic Germans within its borders, etc.

Similarly, the Israeli government regularly asserts that if countries like Syria and Lebanon and political movements like Hamas would only “recognize Israel's right to exist” then there could be peace. The Arab states are consistently portrayed by Israel as the unreasonable parties, and any efforts on the parts of Arab countries to obey the will of the majority of their people and stand up to Israel's daily theft of Palestinian land and slaughter of Palestinian people is portrayed by Israeli leaders as proof that they want to “wipe Israel off the map.” Yet when the Israeli government is asked the very simple question, where are your borders, no answer is forthcoming. Like Nazi Germany, the neighboring countries are expected to acquiesce to all Israeli demands or be portrayed as the aggressors. But how can any reasonable country be expected to recognize a nation that will not itself recognize its own borders? What is Israel, and where does it end and its neighbors' lands begin? Also, on what grounds should Israel be recognized, when it is daily involved in violating all sorts of international laws, daily involved in theft and murder, daily involved with the subjugation of the Palestinian people, and refuses to give back land it took by force of arms from Lebanon and Syria?

Resistance to Nazi tyranny within Germany or in occupied countries was dealt with through incredible brutality. Entire families of dissidents would routinely be sent to concentration camps and often killed. If an occupation soldier was killed, collective punishment was the modus operandi of the Nazi regime. Oftentimes a hundred people in a village would be killed in retribution for the murder of one German soldier.

Similarly, whereas the families of partisans would be sent to the camps, the houses of the families of resistance fighters from the West Bank and Gaza are routinely destroyed. An attack on Israeli territory is routinely responded to (even when the attack itself was generally a response) with massively disproportionate collective punishment, including attacks by helicopter gunships on densely-populated areas where multiple families are killed in order to take out one Hamas or other political leader. Border closures resulting in loss of employment for hundreds of thousands are another routine Israeli response to any resistance to their occupation. Thousands of children and adults are routinely arrested and held indefinitely in Israeli prisons without ever being charged (in courts that are themselves illegitimate anyway). As in Nazi-occupied Europe, no Palestinian man or boy can ever be confident that he will not be dragged out of bed on any given night, taken from his home and arrested.

We are told by the Israeli government not to pay attention to the numbers, that proportionality doesn't matter. There often seems to be a clear effort on the part of the IDF and its political leaders to kill a hundred Palestinians for every Israeli killed, as was the case in the most recent Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza. If proportionality is irrelevant and morality has no numerical measure, then presumably it would be morally justifiable from the Israeli government perspective if a hundred Israelis were killed for every Palestinian the IDF shoots, but if such a thing were to happen we could be sure to hear from the Israelis all about Palestinian monstrousness, no doubt. This, however, is extremely unlikely ever to happen, since there is no Palestinian military, no Palestinian tanks, no Palestinian Air Force, etc. It's jet fighters versus home-made bombs and ineffective “rocklets” that rarely hit any target.

The Nazis became famous for, among other things, developing methods of torture that make the Spanish Inquisition look humane. Israel has also excelled at developing new ways to cause horrible physical and emotional suffering to human beings. During the most recent Israeli “war” against Lebanon, among the many buildings demolished from the air was the old Khiam Prison in southern Lebanon. When I visited Lebanon in 2005 I toured the Khiam Prison, which was in an area abandoned by the Israelis in 2000 after years of fighting between the IDF, their Lebanese collaborators, and Hezbollah. In Khiam Prison one could see where the US military got its ideas for torturing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib. There were specially-designed boxes just big enough for a man to kneel, far too small to stand up or lie down, in which men would be held for weeks at a time and subjected day and night to loud music, regularly taken out of their boxes to be beaten.

We are told by the Israelis that the massive civilian death toll among Palestinians is unavoidable, since Palestinian “terrorists” hide among the civilian population when they carry out their attacks on occupation soldiers. We are also told that the Palestinians are targeting civilians in the (now almost nonexistent) suicide attacks inside Israel. It's an interesting form of two-faced logic, since the main form of transportation used by Israeli soldiers are public buses. This is abundantly obvious to anyone who takes a public bus in Israel. In this highly militarized society where most men and women over the age of eighteen are either active-duty soldiers or reservists, you can hardly find a public bus that is not transporting at least one uniformed soldier with a machine gun hanging off of his shoulder.

It's also an interesting form of dual logic, since the ghetto fighters of Warsaw so justifiably revered by Israeli society were fighting entirely from civilian areas, since they were themselves civilians, fighting from and for their homes, armed with home-made or occasionally smuggled weapons, just like the Palestinian fighters today.

The Nazis found collaborators within the Jews of Warsaw, who became their Jewish Police, or Judenrat. Prior to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, it was the Judenrat who arrested or rounded up Jews wanted by the Nazis, and brought them to the border of the ghetto, to be safely (for the Nazis) handed over, and generally sent to their deaths. Taking a page from this history, the Oslo “peace process” involved a dividing up of Palestinian territory into areas A, B and C. Area A is the downtown, or the area within the ghetto walls that now surround so many of the bombed-out shells that were once thriving Palestinian towns and cities. Area A is the part that Israelis have generously allowed to be policed by Fatah, which has increasingly become, in the eyes of many Palestinians, Israeli collaborators. Israel regularly invades Area A parts of the West Bank whenever it wants to, but otherwise it tries to get the Fatah police to do their policing for them.

Hamas, which refuses to go along with the program, is then painted as a terrorist group that simply must be wiped out, because they doggedly refuse to be collaborators. Like the Jewish Fighting Organization (the ZOB was their Polish acronym) in Warsaw, Hamas does not deal gently with collaborators or with the Israeli occupation forces. Facing impossible, overwhelming odds and essentially certain death, Hamas does what they can to mount some kind of a resistance to the Israeli Terror. ZOB fighters referred to themselves as the “walking dead.” Like the ZOB and other valiant resistance groups throughout the history of every continent, Hamas also embraces martyrdom. Embracing martyrdom is often painted by Israelis and others as some kind of peculiar trait of “Islamic fundamentalists,” which is ridiculous and completely ahistorical, as well as an insult to the memory of the very ghetto fighters in Warsaw who helped inspire the Zionist state in the first place.

Hitler loved to portray his “Aryan” soldiers as icons of morality and good behavior, which of course was nonsense. Like the IDF, the German soldiers fought very well and bravely, especially from the inside of a tank. And like the IDF, who are also widely viewed within Israel as the world's most moral army, the German soldiers consistently engaged in acts of sadism against civilians throughout Nazi-occupied Europe. And like the IDF, they were almost never punished for such acts.

Reminders of the sadism that permeates the Israeli military are never far away, and are often described most eloquently by former occupation soldiers who turned against their commanders in the Knesset. (Thankfully, there are many such soldiers. Unfortunately, there aren't nearly enough of them to make a difference.) The tendency of IDF soldiers to shoot children in the head with live ammunition is well-known and well-documented.

I vividly recall the outrage of many of my Jewish Israeli fans when Ariel Sharon “visited” the Al-Aqsa Mosque, along with hundreds of soldiers, prompting some stone-throwing from local Palestinian youths, to which the soldiers responded with live ammunition, killing many, leading to the Al-Aqsa Intifada and thousands more deaths, overwhelmingly of Palestinian children.

My fans weren't outraged at Sharon, however, they were outraged at me for writing my first of a series of songs about the Israeli occupation, “Children of Jerusalem.” What many people took particular offense to was the line about the general (Sharon) grinning. They told me this couldn't be accurate, because IDF soldiers carried out their duties with a grim sense of necessity, never enjoying the killing of the kids who were always shot because they were in the way of the ubiquitous “Palestinian gunmen” who were always firing first, at the poor defenseless tanks which for some reason were in the middle of their cities. For my outrageous accusations they called me a fascist and all sorts of other things.

But unfortunately they're wrong. The soldiers often are grinning. Like the smirking soldier who was standing in the ambulance that was trying to transport Tristan Anderson to the hospital just a few days ago, refusing to move to allow the medics to close the door. Tristan was only one of a multitude of victims of the Israeli Terror, and this sadistic soldier was only one of many other sadistic Israeli soldiers obeying the whims of a government run by sadistic, racist men and women.

Israel bears many of the hallmarks of a fascist regime. What's more, it is, like Nazi Germany, a very popular regime among its people. Like Nazi Germany, it is justly reviled by people around the world, but actively supported by so many of its people. Like Nazi Germany, governments and corporations around the world prefer to profit from trading with it rather than standing up to it and isolating it. Like Nazi Germany, it is dependent on the outside world for food, fuel and other basic necessities of life.

Unlike Nazi Germany, Israel possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons. Unlike Nazi Germany, Israel is not going to be defeated militarily. But it can be defeated if the people of the world – especially in the US -- pressure their governments to recognize Israel for the aggressive, racist state that it fundamentally is and has been since 1948, cut off the aid and impose trade sanctions of the sort that were imposed on South Africa under apartheid. The beginning of the process of isolating this small country from the world community that allows it to prosper is to educate people about the true nature of Zionism.

The Middle East has been and must be shared by Muslims, Christians and Jews as it was since long before the Zionist armies expelled 700,000 Palestinians from their lands in 1948. Nothing, including the Nazi Holocaust, justifies what has been done and, most importantly, continues to be done to the Palestinians. The time is long since past to call the Jewish state out for the fundamentally racist regime that it is. In the name of the ghetto fighters of Warsaw, let us strive to see a world where no one needs to die with a stone in their hand trying to defend a starved, walled ghetto against an army of tanks and planes, where people like Tristan don't need to have their brains blown out for trying to prevent a wall from being built around yet another ghetto.

David Rovics is a singer/songwriter, father, and occasional essayist based in Portland, Oregon.

Voice of Palestine, Canada will be interviewing Cindy and Craig Corrie, the parents of Rachel Corrie this coming Tue. evening Mar. 31, 2009 between 8:00pm-9:00pm (PDT). Cindy and Craig have just returned from a trip to Gaza as part of the CodePink delegation, and we will talk with them about the sixth anniversary of Rachel 's death, the situation in Gaza and the CodePink delegation and its humanitarian mission. Voice of Palestine broadcasts weekly on Vancouver Cooperative Radio (CFRO) 102.7 FM, Vancouver, Canada. The show broadcasts for one hour every Tuesday night from 8 to 9 pm PST. It first went on the air in September 1987, and has hit the airwaves every week since then. People outside of Vancouver can listen to the show live on the Internet.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Homeless relocations part of 2010 Games security plan

By Geoff Dembicki March 26, 2009 11:36 pm, Tyee

Homeless people living close to 2010 Games venues may be asked to relocate or face arrest when fences go up, security officials said today.

“I’m not going to lie to you and tell you there won’t be an impact for them,” deputy police chief Steve Sweeney told reporters and concerned residents at a public information session on 2010 security.

When the Games hit town, designated venues such as BC Place will be surrounded by security barriers. Zone size has yet to be determined, but fences at Metro Vancouver venues will start going up the first week of January, assistant RCMP commissioner and head of 2010 security Bud Mercer said.

BC Place and GM Place – along with parts of the Dunsmuir and Georgia Street viaducts – will be barricaded by a single perimeter. When the fences are erected, any street people living inside security zones have to go.

“There may be a few instances where homeless people are impacted because they’re in close proximity,” Sweeney said. City workers and Vancouver police will help affected people find shelter or relocate, but individuals could be arrested if they refuse, the deputy police chief added.

Relocations were just one of many issues at an often heated Q & A session that addressed everything from protest groups to street sweeps.

Through it all, Mercer tried to make one message clear: “If it’s lawful today, it will be lawful during the 2010 Games.”

The Olympics will be the largest peacetime operation in Canadian history, with an estimated 15,000 police, private security and military personnel and a $900 million price tag.

Come Games-time, many protest groups will try to broadcast their message to an international audience. Security forces will cordon off free speech areas in high profile areas near venues, but it’s fine if activists decide to demonstrate lawfully outside the zones, Mercer said.

“It makes no difference to me,” he said.

He added the 2010 Integrated Security Unit is keeping tabs on groups that “have a history of criminal protests” and profess violent or unlawful aims.

To ensure public safety, Vancouver police will beef up their numbers at city-run "live sites", entertainment districts and the Downtown Eastside, Sweeney said.

He assured the crowd people won’t have to go through any barricades unless they’re entering official venues or be subject to a physical search unless there’s a lawful reason for it.

“There are no special authorities granted to police because we’re having the Olympic Games.”

Sweeney added there are no plans afoot to move Downtown Eastside locals off the streets in anticipation of 2010.

“We’re not engaging in social cleansing,” he said.

In 2002, VANOC committed to holding an inner-city consultation to address issues around the 2010 Games and security.

Vancouver poverty activist Am Johal said today’s meeting is a positive step, but should have occurred when security plans were being thought out, not in the final stages.

“We’re seeing very late in the game a move to address our concerns,” he said. “This is not a consultation.”

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Call To Boycott Israel - agriculture and environment


At the heart of the multi-billion dollar oil sands industry in Northern Alberta, Dr. John O' Connor's career is jeopardized as he fights for the lives of the aboriginal people living and dying of rare forms of cancer downstream from one of the largest oil operations in the world.

Making the short-list for this year's Academy Award® Nominations for best short documentary, Downstream provides an in-depth look at the toll oil sands extraction is potentially taking on the residents of Ft. Chipewyan. A community affected by high rates of unusual cancer, the people of Fort Chip have struggled for years to have their concerns addressed by government and industry.

Downstream has raised unprecedented awareness in Canada and the U.S. regarding the environmental and social impacts of the tar sands. In conjunction with high level members of the NRDC, it is now being viewed by members of the Obama Administration.

Edmonton Small Press Association (ESPA)
P.O. Box 75086 RPO
Edmonton, Alberta
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editor's note: i spent some of my younger years in northern alberta, in a town where most of the employment was in the petro-chemical or mining industries. many of my friends travelled to the tar sands for even higher paying jobs. one friend, i'm still in contact with, prefers to take lower paying jobs now - he says the fort mcmurray of today is very different - they're raping the land and taking the oil as fast as possible, and he doesn't feel it's a safe working environment. he told me a story about a plant sending its workers home one day because of some safety concern, but when the media went there they were told it was a 'free day', no problems at all. there's a lot more going on there, i think, than any of us have been told.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

George Bush invades Canada

Carole James moves further Right?

From: Hanna Kawas

The New Democratic Party (NDP) is joining the other two major Canadian parties in declaring that Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism.

Read the story in the Asper papers.

Following is a very good article by Charlie Smith the editor of the local paper the Georgia Straight. My response is at the end of the comments.



March 24, 2009

The Mable Elmore controversy over Zionism is truly embarrassing
By Charlie Smith

This is one of those mornings when I feel sick and disgusted and embarrassed to be a working journalist in B.C.

It relates to the ridiculous controversy that has erupted over comments that Vancouver-Kensington NDP candidate Mable Elmore made to an on-line publication called Seven Oaks in 2004.

Elmore, a critic of Israel’s actions in the Middle East (which have often been condemned by the United Nations), said it was difficult to generate opposition to the war in Iraq because of vocal Zionists in the workplace.

B.C reporters hammer provincial NDP leader Carole James on party candidate Mable Elmore's 2004 comments.

The war in Iraq was illegal. Elmore was correct in trying to prevent Canadian kids from getting killed and wounded in this illegal war. And I have no doubt that she probably encountered opposition from vocal Zionists in her workplace.

I’m not going to apologize for saying this.

Elmore, however, was forced to apologize because NDP Leader Carole James—whom I’m tempted to describe as a dimwit—didn’t understand that the term “Zionist” describes someone who supports the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East.

“The comments were clearly unacceptable and they were offensive and she has issued an apology,” James told reporters.

The Zionist movement was created in the late 19th century by journalist Theodor Herzl to encourage the migration of people to the land now known as Israel. The term is used regularly in the Israeli media.

Herzl's idea probably prevented some of his fellow Jews from being killed by the Nazis.
Yet we’ve come to a state in B.C. in which a politician can’t utter the word “Zionist” in conversation because this has somehow become offensive. I bet they’re guffawing at us in Tel Aviv.

James demonstrated a similar level of idiocy in 2005 when she condemned another very capable NDP candidate, Rollie Keith, for suggesting that former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic’s war-crime trial was a farce.

Many people agreed with Keith’s remarks, including Michael Mandel, a law professor at Osgoode Hall.

Keith was forced to step down because James kowtowed to gutter journalism.

Our local reporters and columnists also egged Elmore into apologizing, and then James chimed in with her condemnation of her newest candidate.

Some B.C. journalists who've dealt with this story have probably never read a book about the history of the Middle East, but they knew that jumping all over Elmore would please the bosses at Canwest Global Communications Corp.

It smacked of sycophancy to me. That’s why I feel sick and disgusted and embarrassed to be a working journalist in B.C. this morning.

Georgia Strait Comments:

Charlie Smith. You are one of a handful of working journalists in BC who has consistently demonstrated your unshakable integrity. You are well-read (hopefully in both senses of the word) and fearless about taking on controversial subject matter.

People may think that I'm being sycophantic here but I know damn well that you'd be just as willing to call me an idiot if I deserved it. Sure, it might sting but it would be my wake up call to smarten up. Good critical analysis is the mark of a good journalist.

And that's why you should never feel embarrassed.

Submitted by Lisa Barrett on Tue, 2009-03-24 09:35.


Mable Elmore's comments were not anti-semitic, but I wonder about Carol James and the NDP after all this fooferaw. Is every Jew a Zionist? No. Are all Zionists Jews? No. But it seems James has conflated being Jewish with being a Zionist, something that comes closer to bigotry than Elmore's statement.

You're a great journalist Charlie, and I agree with you that your colleagues are an embarrassment to the profession. Instead of engaging in a serious enquiry, they do sound like they're dancing for the boss.

Submitted by Colleen Fuller on Tue, 2009-03-24 10:52.


Are you blaming Carole James, or the media? I think the media has more to do with this than James, though I think you are right to call her out on this.

Submitted by ezekiel bones on Tue, 2009-03-24 11:41.

The NDP will make a great government alright. Perhaps James will force a different candidate in if this keeps up.

Submitted by thecossack on Tue, 2009-03-24 12:01.


Thanks Charlie for your courage.

Where is the difference between the NDP and the Conservative parties, when both make the biased and false claim that anti Zionism is anti Semitism?

In fact, the opposite is true - “Zionism and anti-Semitism are two faces of the same coin; they both believe that Jews do NOT belong to their respective homelands because they are a ‘different race or nationality’, they are ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’ and they belong somewhere else.” See my recent article about Jason Kenney’s outrageous statements and actions.

It is about time to call for a new Canadian party that cares about the Canadian working class, and cares about human rights, freedom, justice and democracy all over the world. Maybe we should call it the Integrity Party.

Hanna Kawas

Submitted by Hanna Kawas on Tue, 2009-03-24 12:20.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The SRO (Single Room Occupancy) Hotels

by Janelle

Looking at Vancouver's Single Room Occupancy Hotels, the primary housing option for many people living in poverty in our city. There is much debate over the SRO, some want them saved as they are often the only available housing option for some people, others want them removed and replaced with more appropriate housing. Many SRO's are known to be unsafe and in poor repair, where bed bugs, roaches and rats roam. While these rooms lower cost then apartments, they certainly are not cheap. check out one of our better hotels.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


MARCH 21, 2009 11am to 5pm 755 Pandora Street, Victoria, Coast Salish Territories


As the 2010 Olympic Winter Games approach, opposition and resistance are rising. On the mainland, the Olympics have already resulted in infrastructure development on unceded Native land, environmental destruction, gentrification in downtown Vancouver, increased funding for "security" forces and unethical labour practices. These issues are intensifying against a backdrop of escalating public debt. But the issues at stake on the mainland also touch communities on Vancouver Island – before, during and after the Olympic Games. With the torch relay beginning in Victoria on October 30, it's time for our movements to come together, organize our opposition, and make our voices heard!

You are invited to a day of workshops focused on building coordinated campaigns and actions in Victoria.



++ 11:00 am – 11:30 am ++
Opening and welcome

++ 11:30 am – 11:45 am ++
Local organizing against the 2010 Games and the Torch Rally
* No 2010 Victoria

++11:45 – 12:45 ++

==> Workshop 1
Ecodefense and the Law of the Land
* Zoe Blunt
Not a legal rights workshop, but a look at how development and colonization destroy the natural world and our communities. We examine the challenges of defending the land and ways to leverage more pressure on the powers-that-be. The Law of the Land says those who "own" the land make the laws, and vice versa.

==> Workshop 2
Dealing with Impacts of Housing and Homelessness in Victoria
* David Turner - The Committee to End Homelessness
The impacts of displacement of housing and tenants in Vancouver leading up to the Olympic Games are recognized. This is a brainstorming session to plan strategies to reduce such impacts in Victoria.

==> Workshop 3
Decolonization and Land Restitution
* Check our website at www.no2010victoria.net for an update

++ 12:45 pm – 1:30 pm ++

++ 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm ++

==> Workshop 1
Local Legacies of Our Colonial Inheritances
* Serena Kataoka
The 2010 Olympics has been bought and sold on “legacies” at the cost of accepting our inheritances. This workshop will explore how we can assume response-ability for our colonial inheritances, such as Victoria, BC... and the world. Might we make other legacies possible?

==> Workshop 2
Health Care Workers fighting for justice: The General Strike and Beyond
* Marilyn Rust and Bob Wilson - Hospital Employees’ Union
After the Gordon Campbell's government decimated BC's public sector Hospital Employee Union members stood up and fought back, despite the labour movement, and sometimes their own leadership, trying to stop them. Come and here stories from the front lines of the general stike that was and the one that will be in March 2010.

==> Workshop 3
Harm Reduction Victoria
* Kim Toombs
Harm Reduction Victoria is a grassroots organization that began in response to the imminent closure of Victoria's only fixed site needle exchange. Since the closure HRV has also been challenging the creation of a harm reduction no-go-zone in Victoria's inner city, and to demanding the immediate creation of comprehensive health services (including supervised consumption site) for people who use drugs. HRV hopes to inform and engage other activist and community members about this vital struggle.

++ 2:45 pm – 3:45 pm ++

==> Workshop 1
Minstrels of Bremen: Tentcities and the local impact of 2010
* Rose Henry, Trish Palichuk and Nathaniel Uhlman – Temporary
Autonomous Shelter Committee (TASC)
Reflections on Seattle's tentcities as a model for resistance and solidarity by the homeless and their allies against the impact of the Olympic Games.

==> Workshop 2
Society of Living Intravenous Drug Users - SOLID
With a general consensus that the Olympics do not benefit people who use drugs and will only increase the discrimination, violence and poverty, members of the Society of Living Intravenous Drug Users (SOLID) will give insight into the issues that currently affect their community/ies here in Victoria.

==> Workshop 3
Prostitutes Empowerment Education and Resource Society (PEERS)
* Tracy Fawkes, Theresa Riggs and Sarah Stewart
PEERS provides support, resources and programs for past and current sex workers—male or female—as well as help with housing, training and volunteering opportunities, advocacy and public education around sexual exploitation and the issues of adult sex work. Come hear PEERS' reflections on the Olympics.

++ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm ++

==> Building local alliances in opposition to the 2010 Games and Torch Relay
* Presenters from all workshops

A plenary of people involved in a diversity of local movements will come together to share ideas for action as the Torch Relay and Games draw near. Share your ideas and leave the teach-in inspired!


Friday, March 20, 2009

It's a sad day when George Bush is allowed entry into Canada, but George Galloway isn't ....

Jason Kenney bans British MP George Galloway from Canada

By Kim Elliott

March 20, 2009

Has Jason Kenney and the Conservative government simply lost their minds? News broke today that Kenney has denied entry to British MP George Galloway, who is about to embark on a speaking tour in Canada.

The buzz about Galloway's North American tour has been growing loudly across the social media sphere and activist circles. That Canada would ban Galloway seemed like an internet hoax, when I first heard it, so I called Alykhan Velshi, MP Kenney's director of communications, this morning for confirmation. He explained that the decision is that of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and that Mr. Kenney's role is only to decide to adhere or to overturn their decision. He has chosen not to overturn it.

Velshi refused to explain the specific grouns, but referred me to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Section 34(1)

34. (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on security grounds for

(a) engaging in an act of espionage or an act of subversion against a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada;

(b) engaging in or instigating the subversion by force of any government;

(c) engaging in terrorism;

(d) being a danger to the security of Canada;

(e) engaging in acts of violence that would or might endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada; or

(f) being a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe engages, has engaged or will engage in acts referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c).

You can find the full act here
. Mr Vishi refused to tell me which of the above security threats Mr. Galloway posed.

I briefly met Mr. Galloway at the Rafah Border in Egypt last week, as I was returning from a Code Pink delegation to Gaza, and he was returning from having successfully delievered over 1.2 million dollars in aid to Gaza, and bringing world-wide attention to the humanitarian disastor in Gaza via a 10,000 km caravan of more than 100 vehicles that traveled from Britian to Gaza called Viva Palestina. And this threatens Canada's border security... how?

According to his website, MP George Galloway "vowed to use "all means at my disposal" to challenge the decision by Canada's pro-war, conservative immigration minister, Jason Kenny, to refuse him entry to the country to give a series of speeches."

No doubt organizers of Mr. Galloway's events, anti-war organizers and free-speech advocates will respond to Mr. Kenney's the CBSA's poor thinking, in the meantime, individuals can voice their concerns to their MPs, and to Mr. Kenney's office directly. Details here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

VANOC, AFN Press Conference DISRUPTED, Toronto, March 8th 2009

Indigenous communities the Olympic torch will be travelling through

The following is a list of Aboriginal communities the Olympic Flame will visit during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay. More communities may be added at a later date:

New Brunswick (5)
Oromocto (FN/PN)
St. Mary's

Nova Scotia (6)
Bear River (FN/PN)

Prince Edward Island (1)
Lennox Island

Newfoundland and Labrador (1)

Alberta (5)
Stoney Nation

Saskatchewan (4)
Duck Lake
Lac La Ronge
Moosomin (Cochin)
Saulteaux (Cochin)

Dakota Tipi
Long Plain
Sioux Valley Dakota
St. Laurent

Yukon (2)
Kwanlin Dun
Old Crow

Nunavut (3)

Northwest Territories (3)

Quebec (11)
Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam
Ontario (19)
Chippewas of the Thames
Curve Lake
Fort William
Oneida of the Thames
Red Rock (FN/PN)
Six Nations
Wauzhushk Onigum
British Columbia(50)
Bella Bella
Fort Nelson (FN/PN)
Hagwilget Village
Lake Babine
New Aiyansh
Osoyoos (FN/PN)
Penticton (FN/PN)
Seabird Island
Esquimalt (FN)
Squamish (Xwemelch'stn)
Taku River Tlingit
Tsawwassen (FN/PN)
We Wai Kum
Westbank (FN/PN)

About the Olympic Torch: The modern convention of moving the Olympic Flame via a relay system from Olympia to the Olympic venue began with the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. The relay, captured in Leni Riefenstahl's film Olympia, was part of the Nazi propaganda machine’s attempt to add myth and mystique to Adolf Hitler’s regime. Hitler saw the link with the ancient Games as the perfect way to illustrate his belief that classical Greece was an Aryan forerunner of the modern German Reich.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Day Before the Save the Seals Rally .....

Sunday, March 15th, at noon - folks will be gathering in Centennial Square to voice their concerns about the annual Canadian Seal Slaughter. This is part of what happened the day before ....

Friday, March 13, 2009

the further corporatization of cbc

Dear Stephanie,

Thanks so much for writing to Prime Minister Harper with such a clear message not to allow ads on CBC Radio!

We have now learned that the CBC Board of Directors is meeting next Monday to consider the matter of ads on radio.

Now is the time to send CBC Directors a strong message that putting ads on CBC Radio would be a desecration of a national treasure, that they should not permit to happen.

Please take a moment to view the video FRIENDS has produced and to send CBC's Board a strong message that they should NEVER allow ads on CBC Radio.

Best regards!

Ian Morrison
FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mass Murderer George Bush to Visit CowTown

From an email:

Express your disgust at the welcoming of a mass murderer to Canada ... Please consider acting on at least one of the below ... e-mails provided ... and PLEASE share this widely.

Also, there will be a major shoe throwing at the image of Bush. Anyone who would like to quickly send some shoes on with a message the address is below. Please alert your contacts in Calgary re. the below, too! ( I intend to send on children's ballet slippers with photos of Bush & Co.'s horrific radioactive D.U. victims)

Local 109
5621 11 St. NE
Calgary, Alberta
T2E 6Z7

Former US President and known War Criminal will be speaking in Calgary, AB on March 17th, sponsored by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, and the Law firm of Bennett Jones , whose clients include Terasen Gas, Petro Canada and Husky Oil.

This is Bush's first speaking engagement since leaving his disgraced office. He stands to make a pile of (blood) money for this event.

It's important that both organizations that are sponsoring this realize that Canadians abhor torture and war crimes and do not appreciate inviting this demon to our country.

The clueless that are sponsoring this event deserve to hear from you and if you feel the need to call them a few times then so be it.

I've spent the time to make it easy for you to take a moral stand as a human being of conscious and let them know how you feel.

It should disgust you that George Bush made the oil industry astronomical profits at the expense of over a million human beings.

Now out of office the oil industry pays him via speaking engagements such as this. Quid Pro Quo. Does it get anymore pathetic ?

Wives, Mothers, Dads, Grandparents, Babies and Children all slaughtered not to mention American soldiers as well and their widowed wives and orphaned children.

The trail of destruction is enormous and is felt the world over.

The disconnect to humanity that the sponsors of this farce are displaying, by inviting this ghoul, should be enough to get you off your ass and make a couple phone calls.

Calgary Chamber of Commerce

1) CALL Main Reception: 1.403.750.0400
2) Email chinfo@calgarychamber.com,hdouglas@calgarychamber.com,rhofmann@calgarychamber.com,tabbott@calgarychamber.com,jgrabic@calgarychamber.com
EXECUTIVE OFFICE Heather Douglas, President & CEO (403) 750-0404 hdouglas@calgarychamber.com Rosangela Hofmann, Executive Assistant (403) 750-0414 rhofmann@calgarychamber.com EVENTS Tracey Abbott, Manager, Events & Sponsorship (403) 750-0430 tabbott@calgarychamber.com Jozefina Grabic, Senior Event Coordinator (403) 750-0422 jgrabic@calgarychamber.com Rebecca Clark, Community Relations & Marketing Coordinator (403) 750-0429 rclark@calgarychamber.com

Law Firm of Bennett Jones
3) CALL 1.403.298.3100
4) EMAIL THE DIRECTORS OF THIS FIRM mackinnonh@bennettjones.com, spitznagelp@bennettjones.com,



6) Write a "Letter to the Editor"
The Calgary Herald letters@theherald.southam.ca
The Calgary Sun Letters to the Editor callet@sunpub.com
The Globe and Mail letters@globeandmail.ca
The National Post letters@nationalpost.com
The Edmonton Journal letters@thejournal.southam.ca
The Edmonton Sun sun.letters@ccinet.ab.ca

Here's all the email addresses for the sponsors and the news outlets.... you can copy paste a general email to all .
chinfo@calgarychamber.com, hdouglas@calgarychamber.com, rhofmann@calgarychamber.com, tabbott@calgarychamber.com, jgrabic@calgarychamber.com, hdouglas@calgarychamber.com, rhofmann@calgarychamber.com, tabbott@calgarychamber.com, jgrabic@calgarychamber.com.rclark@calgarychamber.com, mackinnonh@bennettjones.com, spitznagelp@bennettjones.com, letters@theherald.southam.ca, callet@ sunpub.com, letters@globeandmail.ca, letters@nationalpost.com, letters@thejournal.southam.ca, sun.letters@ccinet.ab.ca,



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

they hate me !!! they really hate me !!!!!!

as the song goes, "you ain't done nothing if you ain't been called a red!"

unfortunately, this brave non-reader has not identified themselves so any attempt at intelligent dialogue is denied. plus, i don't know which issue or article has pissed him/her off so i can't consider whether the 'criticism' is valid. and, the person can't spell. ("it is" is abbreviated as "it's"). but it's hate mail, and that means we're doing our job sufficiently enough to have (hopefully) comforted the afflicted and (presumably) afflicted the comfortable.

Veganiculture - Si Se Puede!

my friend on denman island sent me this link to her new blog:

Denman Island Veganiculture Association

Also called stock-free farming, vegan-organics is a system which avoids all artificial chemical products (synthetic fertiliser, pesticides, growth regulators), genetically modified organisms, animal manures and slaughterhouse by-products (blood, fish meal, bone meal, etc).

Monday, March 9, 2009

Humanitarian Aid Caravan arrives in Gaza

on february 13th a caravan left manchester, england, carrying humanitarian aid all the way to gaza. today .... they arrived!!!


And they entered side by side like heroes, some on foot some in their vehicles, tears, smiles, hugs, flowers. It was historic, it was legendary. Gaza we are here. We have fulfilled the promise - Viva Palestina! The lifeline from the people of Britain to you, the people of Gaza, has arrived.

We have broken the barriers, we have opened closed borders, we have defied the odds,we have overcome the challenges across thousands of miles and three continents. We are here to be with you, to embrace you, to share your tragedy with you.

After another morning of intense negotiations, a deal was reached to allow all of the members of the convoy to go through. In the end, Viva Palestina had to make the sacrifice of agreeing that some vehicles will have to cross the border from the Al Ouja Israeli controlled crossing point. This includes our mascot, the fire engine and the boat. This was due to the restrictions imposed by Egyptian law governing the Rafah Crossing.

A tearful Talat Ali told me that 'Rafah is the most beautiful crossing in the world', he also said that the time , effort and sacrifices put in by all the Viva Palestina family meant that history has been made today - on the day the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was born.

George Galloway made an emotional speech thanking the people of Gaza for the wonderful reception and assuring them that for Viva Palestina and in our millions, "WE ARE ALL PALESTINIANS!" George also reiterated that the people of Palestine have voted and that their voice should be respected.

Today the convoy will head along the Salah Eddine road towards Gaza City witnessing along the way the destruction and death caused by the Israeli war machine. Along the way they will be greeted by the people of Gaza who will know that Viva Palestina is here and that they will NEVER BE ALONE.

Farid Arada

click here for more information

and then write your local media and ask why this is the first you've heard about this ....

It's snowing on Victoria's cherry blossoms - and still they want to clear cut

Stop the South Skirt Mtn 'Development'!

** New public hearing: Monday, March 16, at Langford City Hall (877 Goldstream Ave.) Doors: 6:30 pm. Anyone is welcome to speak. **

Hi everyone,

Our team won the first round, now we advance to the finals! Langford Mayor Stew Young has caved in and scheduled a second public hearing on the massive South Skirt Mountain towers project. The blustery mayor denies there was a problem with the public process, but we seek to educate him!

Everyone is invited to join us for a big thumbs-down to the massive new condo development proposed for South Skirt Mountain, part of Victoria's Greenbelt and adjacent to Goldstream Provincial Park. "Unlimited height" towers are planned to replace rare garry oak and arbutus bluffs, home to great horned owls, screech owls, pileated woodpeckers and bald eagles, only 20 km west of Victoria.

Questions: Does this new public hearing signal the return of democracy to Langford? Will Langford City Council adopt the re-zoning for South Skirt Mountain? Or will they actually listen to the residents who oppose it? Will this hearing get thrown out for lack of due process like the last one? We're rolling out the heavy artillery (so to speak!)

Get a front-row seat for the show! Anyone with an interest can speak at the public hearing. Folks can also send letters by email to: council@cityoflangford.ca, or by mail to 877 Goldstream Ave, 2nd Floor, Victoria V9B 2X8. Please state plainly if you are opposed to the project (Bylaw 1209) or not. Thank you!

VIC FAN welcomes the new hearing, but Langford Council is still on notice for bad behaviour.

Young told the Goldstream Gazette this week that VIC FAN's demand for an unbiased hearing was "purely a stall tactic and would have happened regardless of the public hearing." He said speakers who brought up water quality and wildlife were "derogatory" and "incorrect" and he
has the right to interrupt and insult them. These statements contradict the rules set out by the Local Government Act and fly in the face of decades of case law on the subject of bias at public hearings, according to VIC FAN's legal counsel and experienced municipal observers.

Zoe Blunt, representing VIC FAN, said the new meeting is good news, but the proceedings will be closely monitored.

"We have the right to speak without being insulted at public hearings," she said. "We are standing up to initimidation and we are asking for proper public process."

VIC FAN has noted several times that Young's belligerent pro-development stance isn't winning the hearts and minds of Langfordites. Today, we're warning him that continuing to bash conservationists could backfire. Young's behaviour comes dangerously close to tainting the entire public process for South Skirt Mountain. His latest comments, published in the Gazette March 6, further demonstrate the mayor's disregard for his own constituents and their legitimate concerns about unchecked development and urban sprawl alongside Goldstream Provincial Park.

Thanks to everyone who's joining us, sending letters and making donations to the legal fund! Every little bit helps! Please visit our website for the latest news, video, photos, and Paypal link.

Happy day,

Zoe Blunt

"Public deserves a South Skirt say"
Times Colonist editorial (March 7)


(Sample Letter) To Langford Mayor and Council:

I live in Victoria so you may conclude that my opinions have no validity in your jurisdiction.

However, it's March 9th, and I'm watching a significant blanket of snow fall - very unusual for this part of the world. I also notice, from my fourth floor apartment, momentous winds that blow from the west knocking everything on my balcony over. I've lived here eight years, and those winds have only begun in the past few years. I call them the "Bear Mountain Winds" which blow across that bald face.

Now I don't want to hold Langford responsible for all the global climate changes we're seeing, but I do believe that clearcutting the planet and paving it with unsustainable and poorly planned monster housing developments is a very old way of going about business.

You may choose to deny that the way you behave on the earth has anything to do with anything, but many of us know differently. I am writing to ask you to check your egos, and accept that the world is changing. The demands of the youth are changing. They will not be impressed if you keep going on the path you're on. Some of us measure success using something other than our bank accounts.

Please stop the wanton destruction of planet earth.


Janine Bandcroft
Founder and Co-ordinator, Victoria Street Newz

Saturday, March 7, 2009

International women’s day - Día Internacional de la mujer

Free Liliany Obando Campaign

(photos: Liliany at Camosun College in Victoria; Liliany in a Columbian jail)

On this International Women’s Day, Peace and Justice for Colombia sends its greetings to Liliany, all women political prisoners and all women in the struggle for a better society for those who they love.

You are not alone in your struggle. From behind the bars, will emerge flowers and doves for the new society
Long live women! Freedom for all political prisoners!

En este Día Internacional de la mujer, Paz y Justicia para Colombia envía sus más profundos saludos a Liliany, a todas la presas políticas y a todas las mujeres que luchan por una sociedad mejor para aquellos a quienes aman.

No están solas. De las rejas nacerán flores y palomas de libertad para una nueva sociedad.

Vivan las mujeres! Libertad para las presas políticas!

En el día internacional de la mujer: 8 de Marzo del 2009

Del amor a la acción
Acción que nos lleva al amor
Ese amor de patria vedada
Vedada por la injusticia social

Sincero torbellino de caricia
Aroma diurno y nocturno
Patria bella por la que vivimos
Toda una vida de sentimiento

En este día de mujer de campo
De ciudad y de estudiante
De Universidad y las negritudes
Hoy encerrada en las mazmorras

Mujer madre, amante y esposa
Compañera y acompañante
Las mismas que dan dulzura
Las mismas de la lucha diaria

A todas ustedes, principio de fin
Ese aroma de libertad que libera
Ese momento de esperanza
Libertad a las prisioneras políticas
Paz y Justicia para Colombia, PJFC

On international women’s day: 8th March 2009

From love to action
Action that takes us to love
Love of a forbidden motherland
Forbidden by social injustice

Sincere whirlwind of caresses
Diurnal and nocturnal aroma
Beautiful motherland we live for
A full life of sentiment

On this day of peasant women
Of city and student
Of University and afro latitude
Today locked up in prisons

Woman mother, lover and wife
Companion and compañera
The same ones that sweeten
Those of the daily struggle

To all of you, the beginning of the end
That aroma of freedom that releases
That moment of hope and fight
Freedom women political prisoners

Peace and Justice for Colombia, PJFC

Liliany Obando, Colombian trade union and human rights activist was arrested and detained on
August 8, 2008 by the anti-terrorism unit of the Colombian National Police. Liliany was charged with "rebellion" against the state, a catch-all charge that is regularly used to imprison those who speak out against the government.

Liliany a mother, sociologist, filmmaker, worked for The National Federation of Agricultural Farming Unions (FENSUAGRO- CUT), Colombia's largest rural-based labour organization where she tirelessly advocated for the labour rights of the peasantry and rural workers. As a direct result of her efforts, a number of projects across Colombia were established, ranging from the creation of socioeconomic infrastructure for small and medium agricultural producers, human rights education and data collection, and the development of an important experimental farming and educational facility called La Esmeralda, which assists displaced rural families in areas of agriculture, gender equity, and literacy.

At the time of her arrest, Liliany had been carrying out a study on assassinations of
Agricultural Workers Union Federation (FENSUAGRO-CUT) members by paramilitary death squads and government security forces. All this begs the question as to why the state has targeted Liliany (and FENSUAGRO-CUT).

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Permaculture Principles at Work

tent cities in the u s of a

an oprah inspired look at tent cities. i love the part where the interviewer asks the woman who's raised three children "have you ever worked?"

Sunday, March 1, 2009

smells like a north america union (i don't remember voting for that!)

i'm trying to get through the bureaucratic red tape and attain a british or european union passport. i figure, if things keep going the way they are, it might not hurt to have an escape route. trying to navigate the government website can lead one to madness, so i wrote. here's one response:

From November 2008 all new passport applications made by British nationals in North America - including Canada - will be processed at the North America Passport Production Centre in Washington DC. Please go to the following link at http://ukinusa.fco.gov.uk/en/passports , for all of the information that you need. You will be able to download and print UK passport application forms from this website.

hello? canadians have to get a british passport from an office in washington dc ?!??!!

it's time to learn more about the secret security and prosperity document, which is neither secure nor prosperous unless you're one of the elite:

slavery is alive

i almost didn't go to see kevin pina's newly released movie last night - haiti: we must kill the bandits - because alternative media is my day job and it was saturday night and sometimes i just need some time off to chill in front of the tube and watch something mindless. i'm beyond feeling guilty for that .... it's not easy confronting the horrors inflicted by a flawed and failing economic system day after day, year after year, wondering whether all one's efforts to inform and educate and make change are actually having any impact whatsoever. so, i try to keep my 'saving the world' job within the 7 hour days, and 40 hour weeks, as labour activists before me suggested is more than adequate, and then, continuing to live according to my values (gently, veganish) i try to take some time away and find tiny glimmers of hope for change in the subtly subsersive antics of the 30 rockers, or the little mosque bunch, or the corner gas crew, or sometimes i just completely throw all my environmental values out the window and cheer the amazing race teamsters traversing the globe on planes, trains, and automobiles.

but last night, on the 5th anniversary of the canadian funded coup d'etat that removed the democratically elected jean bertrand aristide from his job providing education to haiti's poorest citizens (an act that would eventually negate all the efforts to maintain a sweatshop slave mentality in the population), i accepted a ride from some friends to watch kevin pina's movie. i had previously spoken with him on my radio show, had listened to him speak on friends' radio shows at cfuv, so i knew what i was in for. still, it's absolutely devastating to realize the extent my government, the french government, and the united nations will go to keep those black people in their place as slave labourers. it's no big surprise that the american government was involved, war is pretty much the only industry they export anymore (although i've heard their largest export is actually garbage), but it was rather, um .... there really aren't words to describe how i feel after watching the united nations 'peace-keepers' standing by while haiti's police shoot (presumably with american made weapons .... do they make weapons, or just design them and then have them built in china?) into crowds of peaceful protestors who were guilty only of showing their undying support for their ousted leader, mr. aristide.

kevin's travelling across canada this week, in an effort to educate canadians (with a haitian woman at the helm of canada's military) about where our taxpayer dollars are going, about how our international reputation is decidedly shattered, about the on-going saga of the first nation in history to survive a slave revolt (they kicked out the french in the early 1800s) only to find themselves at the centre of a battle to keep those n-words in their place. that's the unspoken subtext to what's going on in haiti --- just as the cubans have never been forgiven for their successful peoples' revolution throwing the gambling empire into the sea, so the haitians cannot be allowed to succeed in their efforts to self-determination. with the capitalist empires finally (though not surprisingly) reaching the natural end of their greed and consumption cycle, one wonders whether an american president of african descent will find a way to build an economy on something other than war. so far he's bombing the crap out of pakistan, he's increased military spending, and he wants more troops in afghanistan.

i can see america's olympic mountains from my little office here and, although some of my dearest friends live over there, i don't hold out much hope for them, for any of us. sad, isn't it. i'm just glad i don't have any kids or grand-kids to worry about. it seems the global warming future, with its empires and weapons manufacturers, is gonna be a scary ride. last week our own rcmp were on the streets of victoria ticketing street-looking people for jay-walking. maybe they're raising money to pay for their olympics, maybe they're preparing us for the inevitable police state that will keep us in our place. in any event, it's my understanding that you do not have to present identification to police unless you're driving a motor vehicle, or are charged with some crime.

the police, the patriarchal authorities, they thrive on intimidation. check out kevin's film and see what they're up to in haiti.