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Topics - sparqui

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1
Activism / Ban on GMOs and Terminator Seeds
« on: November 28, 2007, 09:14:42 PM »
This letter to Harper is really easy to send:

Just click on the Adopt C-448 button and the letter/address is already set up:

http://www.rightoncanada.ca/site/c.juIZ ... b.2561573/

Here is the message from my in-box:

Quote
Good News for Ban Terminator Campaign

Dear sparqui ,

RightOnCanada.ca has been campaigning for most of this year to halt Canada's promotion of genetically engineered food and related technologies. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I wanted to let you know about two positive developments.

As you may know, Canada is one of the largest producers of Genetically Modified crops in the world. Canada has been called part of the "Axis of Evil" for its past efforts, at meetings under the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity,  to overthrow the international moratorium on Terminator seed.

Terminator seed is genetically engineered so as to become sterile after one harvest. It is part of a strategy by Monsanto and agribusiness to privatize the world's seed supply and require farmers to purchase GM seeds every year from agribusiness corporations. 1.4 billion people around the world depend on farmer-saved seeds, which are crucial for their food security and for the planet's biodiversity.

Here are two recent positive breakthroughs in the fight for food security and biodiversity:

1) The EU's Environment Commissioner, Savros Dimas, wants to ban two types of GM corn because they pose "unacceptable" risks for the environment (see article below). Separate studies have suggested that the GM plants' insecticide harms butterflies and gets into streams, where it poisons aquatic life. "This could and should be the beginning of the end for GM crops in Europe," says Clare Oxborrow, GM campaigner for Friends of the Earth.

2) 80% of British Columbians want mandatory labelling of GM foods. NDP MLA, Gregor Robertson, has just introduced "Right to Know" legislation, which would make BC the first province in Canada to require GM food to be labelled. Phone or email Premier Gordon Campbell telling him you want the "Right to Know" legislation passed (phone: 250 387-1715; email:premier@gov.bc.ca)...

2
Activism / Protests against "Reasonable Accomodation"
« on: November 28, 2007, 08:25:04 PM »
From my in-box:

MONTREAL, Wednesday, November 27, 2007 -- Last night, No One Is
Illegal-Montreal and allies began pickets and speak-outs against the
Bouchard-Taylor Commission on "reasonable accommodation".

A statement on the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, and the racist
"reasonable accommodation" debate, is available here:
http://nooneisillegal-montreal.blogspot ... comodation.
html

At least 75 protesters gathered in the lobby of the Montreal Congress
Center, before proceeding past security guards upstairs, near the
hearing room. The protest was well heard inside by the some 190
participants.

After more than 90 minutes of protesting outside the hearing, at least
20 police officers entered to remove demonstrators. The protesters
proceeded back to the main lobby of the Congress Center, where
security had earlier said the protest could continue unimpeded. But,
after an eviction order, protesters began to leave. Without
provocation, police targeted individuals for arrest.

During the police attack, uniformed officers pushed and punched
protesters, and used batons; several police had also drawn their taser
guns. The protesters included small children, as well as elders, who
were pushed.

Ironically, one officer, who didn't have ID, identified himself as
"Stante". When asked if he was Giovanni Stante, the officer said
"yes". Giovanni Stante was implicated in the murder of Jean-Pierre
Lizotte in 1999. More background info available here:
http://www.ainfos.ca/02/aug/ainfos00058.html

During the speak-out outside the Commission, demonstrators addressed
issues like poverty, police brutality, racism, immigration status and
more, thru speeches, music and spoken word.

Photos and updates from the Commission pickets will be posted at
http://nooneisillegal-montreal.blogspot.com

No One Is Illegal and allies refuse to be intimidated by police
attacks, and will return to the Bouchard-Taylor Commission this
Thursday for another picket and speak-out outside the commission. The
protest will begin at 6:30pm at the Montreal Congress Center at the
corner of Viger and de Bleury (near metro Place d'armes).

For more info:
No One Is Illegal-Montreal
514-848-7583 – noii-montreal@resist.ca
http://nooneisillegal-montreal.blogspot.com

3
Activism / An apology to Commonwealth Nations
« on: November 28, 2007, 08:18:53 PM »
I spotted this link on the Creative Revolution blog. Let's let the Commonwealth know that not all Canadian support Harper's position on Kyoto and Climate Change.

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Comm ... index.html

4
North Africa and the Middle East / Zoe's Arc of Kidnapped Kids
« on: November 01, 2007, 10:09:35 PM »
I am disgusted and perversely fascinated by the story of this French non-profit group that tried to smuggle in kids from Sudan into France to hand them over to prospective foster parents.

Here is the low down on the group from Reuter's AlertNet:

Quote

FACTBOX-What is Zoe's Ark?

30 Oct 2007 10:28:24 GMT
Source: Reuters

Chadian authorities charged nine French nationals on Tuesday with abduction and fraud after they were detained trying to fly 103 children to Europe to live with families, Chad's government said.

Seven Spanish citizens were also charged as accessories to the crimes. The 16 Europeans were detained last Thursday as they tried to fly the African children out of Abeche in eastern Chad. A Belgian pilot was detained separately but not cited in Tuesday's charges.

Here are some details about the French organisation Zoe's Ark, (L'Arche de Zoe) which has said it intended to help the children, not abduct them, and that it acted legally.

* The group was created by enthusiasts from the French four-wheel-drive community in the wake of the tsunami that devastated parts of Asia on December 26, 2004. They set up four temporary camps in Banda Aceh in Indonesia...

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L30676583.htm

These kids have parents and were perfectly healthy. The UN refugee group is now trying to find their families and arrange reunification. What were these people thinking? And what credentials do they have for even starting such an NGO (four x four enthusiasts?!?!).

This is a fascinating albeit depressing interview from August. Some excerpts that just underscore how the North treats the South as some sort of purveyor of cheap commodities.

Quote
...Yes. It's bigger. The family hopes that Louis will be sharing it--not with either of his two older sisters--but with a new member of the family. They are preparing to become a host family for an orphaned child from Darfur, the war-torn region in western Sudan.

Lelouch: This is a big project, a crazy project.... to evacuate some childrens from Darfur.

Emilie Lelouch is a member of the Arche de Zoe--"Zoe's Ark"--a French humanitarian organization that has launched an operation to bring 1,000 orphans from Darfur to France....

The Arche de Zoe was founded by Eric Breteau, a firefighter who spent two years in Indonesia after the tsunami hit south Asia in 2004. He set up temporary camps for children there. In April 2007, he went to Sudan to try to do something similar for children in Darfur. He found appalling conditions there.

Breteau [translation]: The scene that marked me the most was between two destroyed villages. A zone that we might consider a desert area, with few trees and vegetation. And in this area of a few kilometers, there were about 50 children who were living on their own, without adults. They were in a deplorable sanitary situation. These children had a really low life expectancy.

Breteau decided the conditions in Darfur were too dangerous to do any work on the ground:

Breteau [translation]:There is no sign that we can effectively help the people of Darfur on the ground. To save children, the only solution today is to evacuate them. And once they are protected we can talk longer with the UN, with the Sudanese government, to find solutions. We start by taking children out of danger. Even if the discussions take four years, at least the children won't be dying.

Breteau wants to find a thousand families in France to take in children, orphans, five years old and younger. Emilie Lelouch explains that they will be evacuated without the support of the French government, or the permission of the Sudanese...

Emilie Lelouch says that the Arche de Zoe isn't focusing on adoption. But that's not exactly true. When the organizers first started looking for families, they went to those who already had approval from the French Government to adopt a child. They posted on adoption message boards.

Lelouch: We went to Internet and we started to discuss with people who was waiting for a child for a long time, just because we think they are much more ready

[knocking on a door, "bonsoir"]

Manuella and Emmanuel live in a stylish loft-space in Paris. She is 41, he's 40. They found out they couldn't have children themselves, so they decided to adopt. But it's been hard, because they are over 35 years old.

Emmanuel: It seem that we arrived a little bit late [laugh] for the adoption

They were intrigued by the Arche de Zoe's project

Emmanuel: It seems to us as a possibility to uh welcome a baby very quickly and to bypass the normal uh- adoption process that is very long and uh very desperating

The couple has some doubts, though.

Manuella: The biggest question mark was the possibility of the children to be ill.

They are particularly concerned about AIDS. Manuella worries about her reaction if her child were bleeding:

Manuella: I'm afraid that I would not be able go towards him and take him in my arms. And when I'm not able to do that, it means you are not able to be a mother to that child. I don't know how it would be if he was here, but I think that I would be rigid. And I don't think it would be good for me or him. For him most of all.

Emmanuel: The meeting confirmed that uh- we were not ready to go further with this project

Manuella: I'm not sleeping well since. It's a hard decision. You feel very bad because you know that you are leaving a baby. I was surprised by seeing all the other people at the meeting who seemed to have less doubts than us.

Emmanuel: Many of these people consider their wish- welcoming a child of Darfur as a humanitarian act. And we do not. Our first aim is to adopt a child- it's not to save a child from death

Peyre: An adoption is not a humanitarian cause...


http://www.toucanradio.org/zoetranscript.html

5
Cause we're all in this together / Breaking stereotypes
« on: October 15, 2007, 04:22:04 PM »
Every once in awhile, something uplifting can happen on crap TV:

http://www.maniacworld.com/Phone-Salesm ... Crowd.html

6
Africa / Prosperity Gospel: New Breed of Evangelism in Ghana
« on: July 10, 2007, 01:25:01 PM »
I caught the following Radio Netherland's documentary on CBC's The Current this morning. I found it fascinating but depressing.

Quote
Treasure on earth
by David Swatling
23-03-2007

The charismatic church in Ghana offers great material wealth to its believers, here and if not now at least very soon. This troubles Kofi Owusu of the Christian radio station Joy FM in Accra. While being a committed believer in the charismatic church, he is uncomfortable about the repeated reminders and requests for the congregation to make offerings....


It's not just the practice of tithing that is bothersome but the emphasis on God will make good Christians wealthy. Materialism as sanctioned by God.

It's very reminiscent of the whole RW uber-Christians in North America. It reflects a similar mindset that makes such crap books like
The Secret best sellers.

Here is the wiki entry for prosperity theology:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology

What bothers me most is that such religion encourages complete submission to the corrupt order of things based on promises of individual prosperity. This plays nicely with rapacioius corporate control over the destiny of poorer, developing countries.

7
Activism / Fighting Poverty through Fair Trade
« on: May 15, 2007, 12:12:23 PM »
Avaaz petition:

Quote
G8 - Keep Your Word to the Poor!

This Friday, the finance ministers of the world's richest countries meet to plan the G8 summit in Germany. Two years ago, they pledged to double aid to Africa--but despite their promises, aid from the G8 has actually gone down, and 20,000 children every day are still dying preventable deaths.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has signed on to a letter organised by Avaaz and our friends at the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. The letter will be featured in big ads in the Financial Times and German press on Friday morning, so that the finance ministers are reminded of their promises before they meet. Let's show how many of us want the rich world to keep its promises to the global poor!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/g8_poverty_letter/?cl=9241385

International Trade Union Confederation issue statement:

Quote
Union leaders call on the OECD to reinforce rules for fair globalization and responsible investment funds

Union leaders from OECD countries and Global Unions will call on governments to reinforce international rules and domestic policies to manage the social and environmental cost of globalisation at consultations between the TUAC and OECD Ministers on the evening of 14 May. In a statement issued ahead of the Annual OECD Ministerial (15-16 May), the unions call on OECD Governments to rebalance growth, to invest in social protection and education, and to strengthen rules on international trade, investment and capital flows...


http://www.ituc-csi.org/spip.php?article1143

8
Activism / Labour Action -- Unions under attack!
« on: March 16, 2007, 03:39:20 PM »
Thought I would make this a generic appeal for actions since there's lots of labour action calls.

From today's inbox:

ZIMBABWE AND SRI LANKA: UNIONS UNDER ATTACK

Quote
We probably don't have to tell you that the regime of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe has launched a ferocious assault on the country's trade union movement.  This morning we have launched a major online campaign to show our support for our brothers and sisters in the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.  Please send off your message today:

http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/soli ... .cgi?c=212

We've also received an urgent request for help from trade unionists in Sri Lanka, who are facing intimidation including threats of abduction.  We name six trade union leaders who are being labelled as 'terrorists' and we are calling on the country's president to ensure their safety. (One of those brothers has a highly unusual name, by the way.)  The campaign is here:

http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/soli ... .cgi?c=210

Please pass this email on to your lists -- let's flood the inboxes of the governments of Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka with our messages today.

Remember: it is not enough to send off your own message.  The campaign will only take off if you get other people to do as you have done and to mobilize your own union.

9
Activism / Protest - Security and Prosperity Partnership
« on: February 18, 2007, 04:50:16 PM »
TODAY: ORGANIZING MEETING to oppose the meeting of the "Security and Prosperty Partnership" ministers

=><=><=><=><=><=><=><=><=
Sunday February 18th 2006
6pm QPIRG Concordia
1500 Maisoneuve Suite 204, Montreal
(Metro Guy)
=><=><=><=><=><=><=><=><=

Next Friday, 23 February, the "Security and Prosperity Partnership"
ministers from Canada, the United States and Mexico will be meeting in
Ottawa.  These are
the leaders who have done so much for the "security and prosperity" of
indigenous people of the Americas; have greatly added to the tip-top happy
security of Muslim, Arab and migrant communities through the
introduction of such measures as "Safe Third Country", special
registration, "anti-terrror" laws, and the use of the security
certificate; are busy securing Afghanistan for the prosperity of others;
have done such a fantastic job in raising the security and prosperity of
Iraqis (655,000 securely dead since the beginning of the invasion, as of
last Lancet study) ... and they are here to plan for much more !

Among expected participants are US Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice and
Michael Chertoff,  secretary of Homeland Security.
These two are responsible for the continued imperialist drive in Iraq -
including the worst year of violence since the occupation began almost 4
years ago - and the continued war at home, increased arrests, continued
policies of torture and indefinite detention.

Also expected are Peter Mackay, whose ideas of security and prosperity seem
to have been borrowed from his close ally, the apartheid state of Israel,
and Stockwell Day, whose ignorance and arrogance in his horrific policies
are typified in the way he has dealt with the almost 80-day hungerstrike of
Mohammed Mahjoub, Hassan Almrei, Mahmoud Jaballah - playing with their lives
because they have dared to ask for a tiny bit of dignity, using them as
pawns in the "war on terror", that increasingly threadbare excuse for a
particularly vicious and brutal expansion of North American economic and
political interests in all corners of the world.

The 23 February meeting is a preparatory meeting to a summit of the
Security and Prosperity Partnership, probably taking place in
Kananaskis, Alberta sometime between June 26-29.

To help build for this mobilization, to reserve a seat on the bus from
Montreal to Ottawa, and for more information contact Block the Empire:
514-848-7583, or bloquezlempiremontreal@resist.ca.

10
Activism / Support striking women at FirstOntario
« on: February 06, 2007, 10:45:23 AM »
Quote
Times have changed though and their employer is now run by management who comes from the banking sector and who aspire to create their own little empire - by gouging their employees and demanding massive concessions at the bargaining table. These clawbacks include demands to give up sick days and retirement benefits as well as job security. Management takes the position that clawbacks and concessions are necessary despite boasting recently of record profits. Management has even taken the unprecedented step of cancelling the Annual General Meeting of the credit union - presumably because they feared the wrath of their largely union member clientele and a call for the CEO's resignation.

The financial sector is an industry notorious for its anti-union stance in Canada and these women represent the cutting edge of union organizing. It is cold on the picket line in Hamilton but these women are determined to win. Show them your support. They are making history in the financial services sector and you can help them do it. As Cesar Chavez used to say - si se puede - yes it can be done!


http://www.cope343.ca/calendar_events.htm

(Click on link to take you to the petition site.)

11
1. Feminism provided me with the insight and courage to defy my parents’ wishes and pursue my own goals. This may not seem like a big deal in this day and age but in my era, to call your parents’ sexist because they insisted you pursue a secretarial career while investing your brothers’ university education, was a big deal. I was lucky to have the encouragement of feminist women who told me I had nothing to lose and the world to gain. They were right and eventually when I managed to graduate while living on my own without any support from my parents, my father apologized and said he was terribly wrong.

2. Feminism ensured I developed self-esteem. It fuelled me to take on challenge after challenge, confident in my ability to succeed no matter how long the odds or how little encouragement I received from many around me. Thanks to that attitude I have travelled much of the world, often on my own, discovered creative talents that I never knew existed, and demanded the respect I was owed in professional and personal relationships. This has also made me passionate in encouraging and supporting other women just as the mentors in my life had encouraged and supported me.

3. Feminism gave me access to safe reproductive choices that were not available to generations of women before me. The ability to control your body and shape your future is one of the greatest gifts given to my generation. It has allowed me to live my life childless by choice and not feel inadequate or selfish. This in turn allowed me to build a life with a partner that loves and respects me, and shares the same dreams and values.

4. Feminism taught me to value my mother for all her strengths and to understand her suffering. I wish it had happened earlier, before she passed away, but at least it her influence on me in perspective and allowed me to adore her for all she sacrificed for me and the many joys she brought into my life. It also allowed me to use this insight to forge a stronger and appreciate relationship with my aunt, and to learn more about the many amazing women in our family.

5. Feminism infused humanity into my approach to political change. The pursuit of justice seems to have been very much focused on intellectual tools and political philosophy in the past and to some extent the vestiges of a once male dominated arena still dictate political discussion. Feminism is thankfully changing that dialogue and has taught many of us that empathy trumps judgement and bottom up is more effective than top down change.

12
Narrow Shoulders / French language advice
« on: September 14, 2006, 08:02:48 PM »
I need to re-do my language tests to maintain bilingual status and hopefully get an interview for a job I applied to. I urgently need some tips for on-line sources for brushing up on my French grammer. I have to cram over the weekend so any advice would be greatly appreciated. (I should add that I have not used any French in the five years that I've been in Winnipeg so I am extremely RUSTY!)

13
Asia / East Timor: a cause celebre no more?
« on: July 13, 2006, 06:06:15 PM »
It's been awhile since I've heard a peep about East Timor. Here is an excellent overview of the tensions and manipulations going on:

Quote
East Timor: Too Many Men With Too
Many Guns
                         
                         
By: Carmela Baranowska
                         
07/13/06 "Information                          Clearing House"
...Some serious questions need to be asked - of the UN, US and                          Australia - about why they voted for the withdrawal of international                          peacekeepers last year, at a time when cracks in the East Timorese                          security forces had already appeared.
                         
                         According to East Timorese observers, in 2003, F-FDTL officers from                          both East and West had been conspiring to organise a coup against                          Alkatiri. This had been interrupted by the petitioner movement. In                          the same year, the police force had divided into the Polisi                          Nationalista - a reform movement that tried to purge the force of                          those who had served with the Indonesian police - and those who had                          worked with the previous Indonesian command structure.
                         
                         Back in Dili in May and June 2006, the city's rumour mill went into                          overdrive. Everyone had a story to tell. But facts remained murky.                        
                         
                         There were two interesting coup theories: either the coup had been                          organised by Alkatiri in order to retain power; or Gusmão and then                          Foreign Minister José Ramos Horta were part of an Australian-US                          conspiracy.
                         
                         Others just sighed - East Timor had so many serious internal                          problems leading to the crisis, that mention of a coup was                          laughable.
                         
                         At the end of May, there was no response to the crisis from the East                          Timorese leadership. I wondered if this was incompetence or                          deliberate. Gusmão was widely condemned for inflaming the East-West                          divisions but, in the end, everyone turned to him.
                         
                         When Ramos Horta hit the ground running, meeting everyone affected                          by the crisis, his popularity and power grew. But there were also                          dark mutterings from the Alkatiri camp that in the last six months                          Ramos Horta had changed his tune on the oil and gas deal with                          Australia - he had moved significantly closer to Alexander Downer's                          position. He could do deals, while Alkatiri remained arrogant (or                          was it resolute?).
                         
                         Within six weeks, I saw Alkatiri go from 'strong leader' to                          'terrorista.' He tried to hang on, which was either admirable or                          foolhardy, depending on your politics. People may have admired him                          but he was no Nasser or Mossadegh. 'Our leaders may be bad,' a woman                          from the districts told me, 'but Fretilin is still sacred.' And the                          irony is that Fretilin would still win an election handsomely...


http://www.informationclearinghouse.inf ... e13973.htm

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