Friday, December 30, 2005

"where conventional warfare is conducted simultaneously with humanitarian relief"

"WINNIPEG—Parts of downtown Winnipeg will look like an armed camp as part of a military operation this spring meant to train soldiers for the modern battlefield.

Exercise Charging Bison will begin April 30 and will continue seven days and nights, involving more than 500 army troops, backed by helicopters, armoured vehicles and artillery.

It is believed to be the largest urban warfare training exercise of its kind ever held in Canada.

Col. Kelly Woiden, commander of 38 Brigade, said the drill is designed to simulate the kind of complex conditions soldiers would encounter in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq, where conventional warfare is conducted simultaneously with humanitarian relief operations and nation-building.


"This is different than traditional training when the infantry were facing open ground in front of them, with soldiers in a different uniform," Woiden said. "This is much more complex because we don't know who the enemy is or where the threats are."

A base camp will be set up on the western edge of the city, but most of the exercises will take place downtown."

from Canadian Press.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ordered violation.

There is much eulogizing in Canada of Mark Bourque, the retired RCMP cop killed near the 'no-go zone' of Cite Soleil, Porte-au-Prince.

(no-go zone... How many times does that term come up in the media as shorthand for areas under the full force of colonial repression?)

from the Canadian Press service:

"Mark Bourque, who spent most of his career in the RCMP fighting organized crime, was remembered Wednesday as a spiritual man who gave up his retirement to help bring order to Haiti."

What sort of order did this spiritual man help to bring? Elections? What sort of order is 'brought' to Haiti--while the media construct the familar racist fable of how a people black and poor must be criminal, and thus Haiti must face the full force of order--a pre-packaged narrative like that presented about New Orleans...

UN forces continue to engage in massacres of poor Haitians. Canadian RCMP officers are there to train and work hand-in-hand with the HNP police forces -- read death squads, who have picked up where the anti-Lavalas paramilitaries left off after the coup. And the principal targets for maximum violence are poor women. Some Haitian women have told their stories to San Franciso Bay View journalist Lyn Duff.

Maria:

"My name is Maria, and I’m a survivor of rape from the neighborhood of Martissant in Port-au-Prince. Right now I’m working with other women who have been victimized during this period of insecurity that began with the departure of President Aristide in 2004.

The situation the past year has been extraordinary. The repression against women has been taken to a new level, one that we did not experience in the last coup of 1991-1994. Twelve years ago, when the former military was in power, rape was used to terrorize. But today, today it is a whole different story. Today it is more horrible than anyone could have imagined...

...The goal of the rapist is not to take sex. The goal of the rapist is political. He wants to kill the memory of a different Haiti – he wants to kill the part of us that holds on to the demand that we had a few years ago for dignity.

The rapist does this by being invisible. He attacks at night or during the day – you don’t know when to expect him. He wears a mask and carries a gun. Even if you recognize his voice or if he is a police officer and does not bother to cover his face, you know that the person who is raping you is the very person who is charged with protecting you. So you know that you have nowhere to complain.

The goal of the rapist is to take over your mind so that you begin to believe his lie: That it is your fault you are being violated. The lie is that you are repressed because of who you are and if you would stop being a person from the popular zones, a person who has no money and no dignity, then you would not be violated. But you cannot change who you are.

It’s the fact that you are alive and breathe air that offends him. Eventually, you are so worn down by this war in your head that you begin to believe the lie and you hate yourself for being from the popular zones. You stop being able to remember who your enemy is. And that is when the rapist wins.

This war is between two ideas. One idea is that every one has dignity and is a child of God – that every person is somebody and has worth and deserves respect. The other is that the Haitian people cannot think for themselves, they should be controlled and repressed because the people from the popular zones are those who voted for Aristide and he is responsible for the small problems of the wealthy.

This is very important for us to share with foreigners because they need to know the situation of the women from the popular zones. And when a woman tells her story and hears that the foreigner is on her side, she remembers that being violated is not her fault."

Marjory:

They violated me. [When it was happening] I closed my eyes and waited for them to finish... One of the men told me to open my eyes and look at him while he [raped me]. I didn’t want to look at him. They hit me when I cried.”

Marjory is part of a growing number of girls and young women who human rights investigators say have been victims of mass rape committed by members of the disbanded military and their compatriots who patrol the countryside and Haiti’s cities, hunting down supporters of Haiti’s fledgling pro-democracy movement.

Marjory says she was targeted because her father’s trade union organized against a wealthy businessman and because her parents are members of Lavalas, the political party led by Jean Bertrand Aristide. Other victims say they were targeted because they or their family members belong to other pro-democracy political organizations or because they work with peasant unions or local women’s groups.

“Rape is becoming a common tool of oppression,” explains attorney Mario Joseph whose organization Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) has investigated hundreds of human rights cases in the past year. Joseph, who assisted in the prosecution of the human rights crimes committed during the last coup says that it is discouraging to see the number of convicted human rights violators who are now walking free and serving in the new American-installed interim government.

“Women and young girls are raped because their father or another relative is a member of Lavalas or is targeted [by the political opposition]. They are raped as a form of punishment. The victims do not feel they can go to the police for help with their problems because in many areas the people who victimized them are the ones running the show; they are the ones patrolling the streets as if they are police, committing crimes with impunity under the eyes of the UN. And even in Port-au-Prince, the former military has been hired into the national police force.”

According to Charles Leon, chief of the Haitian National Police, 500 former members of the Haitian Army have been integrated into the police force, with plans for an additional 500-1000 former soldiers to be hired within the next year. Haiti’s army was disbanded in 1994 by then President Jean Bertrand Aristide after soldiers committed numerous human rights violations, including mass rapes, during the 1991-94 coup.


United Nations soldiers have also been accused of participating in sexual attacks."

What sort of order has been created to rescue Haiti from its so-called 'failed-state status', a status that justifies 'humanitarian intervention'?

A colonial state of prison camps, torture, rape, murder, and the limitless potential for profit for the wealthy of Haiti, Canada, France and the US.

Rape orchestrated by the forces of order is not peculiar to Haiti. It happened in New Orleans too. The rape of black women, poor women, did happen, is happening. It was not a fantasy, But the media's story was. The fantasy was in who did the raping. It was not a media-ready-made-fantasy-black-criminal-underclass-mass bent on lust, "that cannot think for themselves, they should be controlled and repressed"... rather, it was the forces of order sent to contain and control.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The enclosures.

Slavery is being practiced by the system under the color of law.... Slavery 400 years ago, slavery today; it's the same thing, but with a new name. They're making millions and millions of dollars enslaving blacks, poor whites, and others--people who don't even know they're being railroaded.

-Political Prisoner Ruchell Magee (via Chabert).

It's strange that Foucault, who wrote about an incarceral modernity, about the institutions of criminality, madness, sickness, never wrote about slavery. Did he think that race-based labor institutions were just a footnote to the other systems, or was race too controversial for him? Was he afraid to challenge the liberal narrative of slavery, and in Foucauldian fashion, demonstrate how the system today is more repressive? I don't know. It seems impossible to imagine worse than slavery, but for so many people, what the hell is the difference? Perhaps in the end the institution of slavery challenges the periodization of Foucault's classical and modern ages, that there is a longue duree of racialized exploitation after all, lying at the origins and nadir of the capitalist system.

Perhaps the supposedly special case of slavery reveals the problem of emphasis in Foucault's epistemic breaks: the modes of exploitation shift suddenly, as does the logic of production and its ideological field, but the ever-hurrying pace of capitalist exploitation remains.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Convergence.

""We cannot abandon Haiti again" wrote former Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Barbara McDougall in a December 15th Globe & Mail article. However, far from abandonment, Canadian policy towards Haiti speaks of betrayal.

McDougall is with the Haiti International Assessment Committee established by the International Republican Institute (IRI), a Washington-based organization that is deeply implicated in the Haitian crisis.

In February 2001, as many as 5 days before Jean-Bertrand Aristide took the presidential oath in Haiti, the Washington Post revealed that IRI's "Convergence Democratique" is lobbying for a CIA-backed coup against the elected president .

« Convergence was formed as a broad group with help from IRI...it also includes former backers of the hated Duvalier family dictatorship and of the military officers who overthrew Aristide in 1991 ...The most determined of these men...express their desire to see the U.S. military intervene once again.... to get rid of Aristide and rebuild the disbanded Haitian army... the CIA should train and equip Haitian officers exiled in the neighboring Dominican Republic so they could stage a comeback themselves» (Washington Post, February 2, 2001).""



"On Feb. 8, 2001, the federally funded International Republican Institute's (IRI) senior program officer for Haiti, Stanley Lucas, appeared on the Haitian station Radio Tropicale to suggest three strategies for vanquishing Haiti's president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. First, Lucas proposed forcing Aristide to accept early elections and be voted out; second, he could be charged with corruption and arrested; and finally, Lucas raised dealing with Aristide the way the Congolese people had dealt with President Laurent Kabila the month before. "You did see what happened to Kabila?" Lucas asked his audience."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The coming genocide.

Afterthepurge's Pigdog has an excellent summary of the WTO's meeting in Hong Kong, "WTO kills farmers":

"The farmers say opening their domestic rice market to foreign competition under a WTO treaty would bankrupt them.

The final key agreements of this WTO meeting includes:

  1. All forms of agricultural export subsidies to be eliminated by 2013 - achieved in parallel and progressive manner. A substantial part to be realized by the end of the first half of the implementation period.
  2. All forms of export subsidies for cotton to be eliminated by developed countries by 2006.
  3. Developed countries will give duty and quota free market access for cotton exports by developing countries once the policy is implemented.
  4. The 32 least developed countries will enjoy duty and quota free access for their products in 97% of all product categories, excluding rice and textiles, which the USA and Japan are protective about.
  5. For service industry, countries will adhere to the Doha Ministerial Declaration and continue to aid the developing countries, as stated in the Modalities for the Special Treatment for Least-Developed Country Members in 2003."

also see Lenin's Tomb: "Anti-capitalism hits Hong Kong: Kong Yee Sai Mau!"


What do peasant farmers have to fear from WTO initiatives concerning agriculture?

Samir Amin has an answer:
"Modernization has always combined constructive dimensions, namely the accumulation of capital and increasing productivity, with destructive aspects—reducing labor to the state of a commodity sold on the market, often destroying the natural ecological basis needed for the reproduction of life and production, and polarizing the distribution of wealth on a global level. Modernization has always simultaneously integrated some, as expanding markets created employment, and excludedothers, who were not integrated in the new labor force after having lost their positions in the previous systems. In its ascending phase, capitalist global expansion integrated many along with its excluding processes. But now, in the third world peasant societies, it is excluding massive numbers of people while including relatively few.

The question raised here is precisely whether this trend will continue to operate with respect to the three billion human beings still producing and living in peasant societies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Indeed, what would happen if agriculture and food production were treated as any other form of production submitted to the rules of competition in an open and deregulated market, as decided in principle at the November 2001 WTO meeting in Doha. Would such principles foster the acceleration of production?

One can imagine that the food brought to market by today’s three billion peasants, after they ensure their own subsistences, would instead be produced by twenty million new modern farmers. The conditions for the success of such an alternative would include: (1) the transfer of important pieces of good land to the new capitalist farmers (and these lands would have to be taken out of the hands of present peasant populations); (2) capital (to buy supplies and equipment); and (3) access to the consumer markets. Such farmers would indeed compete successfully with the billions of present peasants. But what would happen to those billions of people?

Under the circumstances, agreeing to the general principle of competition for agricultural products and foodstuffs, as imposed by WTO, means accepting the elimination of billions of noncompetitive producers within the short historic time of a few decades. What will become of these billions of humans beings, the majority of whom are already poor among the poor, who feed themselves with great difficulty. In fifty years’ time, industrial development, even in the fanciful hypothesis of a continued growth rate of 7 percent annually, could not absorb even one-third of this reserve."

Three billion people stripped of their means of producing, of feeding themselves, of sustaining their lives.

Three billion people.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Election preparations:

From CBC’s "The Current", Broadcast August 6, 2004 (via The Dominion):

"Michel Vastel: Denis Paradis was Secretary of State for Latin America [Africa, and La Francophonie] at the time and had been in Haiti in the year 2000. And he was shocked by the state of the people over there, and he decided, he almost made it a personal goal about the problem of Haiti. Denis Paradis wanted to have a brainstorming session with the players in Haiti: France, La Francophonie, the European Union, the [U.S.] Secretary of State sent two what they call “high ranking officials”.

And, for Latin America there was the Minister of Foreign Affairs for El Salvador, and the idea was to just search for new ideas. So the meeting took place at the Meech Lake resort - you know the place - the last week of January 2003. It lasted three days over an extended weekend. Once again, all information that I’m giving you is coming from Paradis and from the French government. There was a consensus that ‘Aristide should go.’ But, how do you do that? This is the French government…who suggested there should be a “trusteeship” like there was in Kosovo. That was not an intervention, they said, that was their responsibility – all these countries – to protect. When the story was published, the government of Haiti, Aristide actually, used it to say, ‘you see, these colonialists, once again they want to intervene, and then Haiti kept on protesting because they were not invited. You know, that was a meeting on Haiti, most everybody was there but not Haiti. The contribution of Canada to this, if I may say, was that it broadened the interest of the world over Haiti.

Harewood: That was Quebec journalist Michel Vastel who writes for Le Soleil and L’Actualite. To talk about what role exactly Canada has played in Haiti, I’m now joined by Jean Saint-Vil. He’s a Haitian community activist based in Ottawa. Good morning.

Jean Saint-Vil: Good morning, sir.

Harewood: What do you think about Michel Vastel’s account?

Saint-Vil: I think it’s one hundred per cent accurate, but for Canadian taxpayers it’s actually outrageous.

Harewood: Why is it outrageous?

Saint-Vil: Because it means that our government was meeting with the US, France, to overthrow a democratically elected government under the guise of some moral responsibility to choose for the people of Haiti when they should change regimes.

Harewood: Denis Paradis in his defense, might suggest that he was looking out for the interests of the Haitian people.

Saint-Vil: Yes, and I would ask Denis Paradis would he like, for example, the government of South Africa to decide when Canadians should change Prime Ministers? As you know there’s a lot of corruption that has been seen in the current Canadian government. Is that a reason to have a foreign government to decide for us that the current Liberal government should go?"

La Revue Gauche has more on Canadian colonialism here.

Election roundup coverage in Canada and Haiti.

Yves Engler on his arrest and sentencing for shouting out "Martin lies, Haitians die" at an Election press conference in Montreal:

"I spent over four days in jail before being able to defend myself. I have been charged with breaking my conditions (“keep the peace”) from the first incident, disturbing the peace and using fake documents (it seems this relates to a press pass in my possession). In addition I have been forbidden from coming within 500 metres of any Member of Parliament or member of the Quebec National Assembly or of the Governor General until my process is complete (it could take years). Plus, I cannot write, call or email them.

While these conditions will be challenged in the legal system, I have thought long and hard for the past ten days about how to respond. The best I can come up with is this:

Mr. Prime Minister, I am honoured to live in a country where the legal system frees me after spending four days behind bars for embarrassing an important person. The real outrage is the fact that Canada has not demanded the release of seventy year old folksinger/activist, So Anne, who I met in a Port au Prince jail a year ago and still has not been charged. Or Catholic Priest Gerard Jean-Juste, who Amnesty international has called a “prisoner of conscience”. Or the constitutional Prime Minister and Interior Minister as well as hundreds of lesser known Haitians detained for their political convictions."

In Haiti, the roundups before the show election are in full swing:

"Just a couple of days earlier, I had been to see Jean Juste, who is recognized by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, and who has been in prison for four months since his latest arrest on bogus charges by the defacto Haitian government. This is the second time Father Jean Juste has been wrongfully imprisoned by the Latortue regime. "It seems that it's a matter of they don't want to release me in time for the elections," Jean Juste stated. "They are afraid I may run, afraid I may cause trouble, I may try to bring them to court for what they have done to me."

On the same visit to the jail, I also spoke with Jacques Matelier, a Lavalas deputy who is being held in the same prison as Jean Juste. "I have been here for 17 months," Matelier told me, "just because I was on the Council of Departmental Delegates in the South … they have nothing to accuse me with; their hands are empty. They just want to keep me in prison because I am a Lavalasien."

The following day, I visited popular Haitian folk singer and grandmother Annette "So An" Auguste, in the Petionville women's prison. So An has been imprisoned without charges since May 2004, when US marines used grenades to bust into her house, while she and five children were sleeping. So An appears to have been arrested merely because she is an outspoken critic who is extremely popular in Lavalas-supporting neighborhoods.

A few months ago, there were only 45 women in the Petionville prison; today there are about 200óor seven women to each tiny jail cell. Many of these women are from Bel Air. Guerline, an organizer with a Bel Air community organization that fights for women's rights, Famn Vayan Bele, told me that many Bel Air women have been locked up in Petionville after the police came searching for their male partners in their homes. When the police failed to find the men, they took the women instead. "It's another form of kidnapping," Guerline remarked about the imprisoned Bel Air women's hostage-like situation. The police have also hauled many young men from the neighborhood off to prison."

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"Decolonisation: plan B..."

Friday, December 16, 2005

"Good night Battle of Britain, good morning Gaza"

Maple Flag, the Israeli Air Force, and "the new type of battle we are being asked to fight"

Out of two hundred warplanes that took part in Exercise Maple Flag 2005 in Cold Lake, Alberta in May, only ten were Israeli F-16s. It would be easy to miss their significance. Yet, when Canadian forces extended an invitation to the Israeli Air Force for the first time in thirty-eight meetings of the Maple Flag war games, it signalled, according to military planners, a marked shift in Canadian military and political policy in the twenty-first century: good night Battle of Britain, good morning Gaza.

Exercise Maple Flag is the code name for one of the world’s largest air force exercises, with over 5,000 crewmen from eleven countries conducting active training operations and testing new weapons at Alberta's Cold Lake Air Weapons Range. Formerly know as the Primrose Lake Evaluation Range, the sprawling 11,630 square kilometre base is a symbol of Cold War preparedness, a state-of-the-art facility rapidly constructed between 1952 and 1954.

The range is a source of pride for the Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence (DND). In a glowing history posted on the DND website, the Airfield Engineers called the base "by far the biggest undertaking" of Canada in the Cold War, not least because it required "a 42-mile, sand and clay access road [be] constructed through dense bush and muskeg."

The dense forest and running streams tamed by this feat of engineering were the prodigious trapping, hunting and fishing lands of the Dene Suline, now known under the federal government's band council system as the Cold Lake First Nations. In 1952, the Dene were cut off from their traditional lands and the population ultimately expelled. The nearby Canoe Lake Cree Nation faired little better, losing seventy-five percent of their homelands to the weapons range.

Some fifty years after the land grab, the Canadian government settled claim with the Cold Lake First Nations, paying out a total of $2500 to each band member and $7000 to each elder, with an additional twenty million dollars put in a development trust fund. That settlement amounts to about nine dollars per acre (roughly $22 a hectare), and not more than $150 per person for each year of their displacement. Such is the stage for Exercise Maple Flag, a six-week set of war games designed to provide training in the context of hyper-realistic simulations of aerial combat operations abroad.
-by John Elmer.

Public-Private Partnerships.

From the report “Canada in Haiti: Considering the 3-D Approach

"This report is one of the outcomes of a conference in which academics from Canada, the United States and Haiti, officials from the Canadian Departments of Defence, Foreign Affairs and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and representatives from civil society in Canada came together to examine Canada’s past and current engagements in Haiti."

Concluding Remarks:

"Long-term engagement is necessary. Most participants agreed that the international community needs to commit itself to a long-term engagement in Haiti. One participant even went so far as to call for the establishment of a 10- to 15-year protectorate. Although this was by no means a unanimous point of view, all acknowledged that there can be no quick fixes. Most agreed that the fleeting engagements of the 1990s that saw the UN gradually remove itself from Haiti with each successive mission was a counter-productive strategy that should not be repeated."

Who would police this long-term protectorate?

"U.S. Arranges 'Pre-Deployment' Training for Haiti-Bound Private Police" (i.e. Mercenaries)

"The U.S. State Dept. is reaching out to independent contractors to train other private contractors who will be deployed as “civilian police” -- hired guns for so-called peacekeeping missions taking place in Haiti and other geopolitical hotspots. The senior adviser selected for the task “must oversee pre-deployment training currently being conducted” by Dyncorp International, Civilian Police International and Pacific Architects and Engineers/Homeland Security Corporation, according a recently released procurement document.
The three companies currently work under the supervision of State’s Office of Civilian Police and Rule of Law (CIVPOL office) and the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). The INL CIVPOL contractors already have a presence in several “post-conflict locations throughout the world,” according to the document. However, Haiti appears to be a priority, evidenced by a prominently displayed notice on the PAE/HSC website currently announcing that the company is “soliciting applications specific to CIVPOL Officers fluent in French interested in a UN deployment to Haiti.”"

The murder of Dudley George.

Dudley George was fatally wounded by a police sniper on September 6, 1995 when the Ontario Provincial Police attacked a small group of unarmed protestors occupying Ipperwash Provincial Park.

After a decade, a public inquiry is reluctantly underway.

This is what the judge in the trial of the OPP officer said about the charge that the First Nations had opened fire: "I find that Dudley George did not have any firearms on his person when he was shot.... [T]he story of the rifle and muzzle flash was concocted ex post facto in an ill-fated attempt to disguise the fact that an unarmed man had been shot." So it was determined in a court that the First Nations people were not armed.
We were also told at the time of the shooting that there was no burial ground, and then subsequently found out that the province itself, here at Queen's Park, had evidence of a burial ground. The third thing we were told by the Premier was that it was left entirely to the OPP. This is why we need a public inquiry -- to determine whether or not that was the case.


What were then the directives of Premier Mike Harris and Minister of Natural Resources Chris Hodgson?

[Ontario Attorney General Chris] Harnick's silence was shattered Monday when he told the inquiry he heard Harris say, "I want the f**king Indians out of the park" during a Sept. 6 meeting on the crisis attended by two Ontario Provincial Police officers. Hours later, police marched on the park and, in the ensuing melee, aboriginal protester Dudley George was killed by a police sniper.

Dr. Elaine Meller Todres at the Ipperwash Inquiry Nov. 30th, 2005:
A: And they wanted it done with. They wanted to move on. They had a legislative agenda and they wanted this dealt with as quickly as possible and they didn't want to be -- they didn't want it to linger, if I can put it that way.
Q: All right. Can you describe any words or phrases that would have taken you to this understanding?
A: Well, there were -- there were – I did get the sense that they wanted things done. I mean, I recall -- the first thing that I recall is that the Minister of -- of Natural Resources was extremely agitated and very concerned. And in a moment of apparent exasperation, uttered a phrase that I would prefer not to repeat.
Q: I'm going to ask you to repeat it.
A: He said, in my recollection, "Get the [expletive deleted] Indians out of my Park." That is the phrase that I recall.
Q: He didn't say, "expletive deleted"?
A: No, he didn't. You're asking me to say that word.
Q: I am asking you.
A: He said, "Get the fucking Indians out of my Park"

Studies in a Canadian Colonialism:
“The colonial world is a world cut in two. The dividing line, the frontiers are shown by barracks and police stations. In the colonies it is the policeman and the soldier who are the official, instituted go-betweens, the spokesmen of the settler and his rule of oppression.”
-Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, quoted in "Police Murders & Inquiries"


Silly teenager...driver's licences are for students

The Ontario government is proposing new legislation which would ban highschool dropouts from being able to get a driver's licence.


"The law also provides for fines of up to $1,000 for students who are regularly absent from school and would fine parents the same amount, up from $200 under current legislation. Employers who have students working during school hours could also be fined $1,000."

Education Minister Gerard Kennedy notes:
"This by itself can't make the difference," Kennedy said of the driver's licence restrictions, which will apply with some exceptions for "family situations."


"We're saying to people that you shouldn't be going into a job, no matter how attractive it looks, that doesn't have a learning component, if you're 16 or 17," he added. "You're short-changing yourself. The success of this will really much more depend on the (educational) program that we're putting forward," he said. "What we're doing, mainly, is opening up better choices for students."

I think that "choice" is a very pertinent word in this instance. The word choice implies that people are able to freely choose to attend school or not attend school. But is this always the case? As Kennedy notes, "family situations" can often get in the way for many students. But, what counts as a "family situation?" For instance, it seems obvious that the Liberal government does not include having to work to support your family or yourself, as a "family situation" since you "shouldn't be getting a job, no matter how attractive it looks." However, this elides the fact that there are certain students who are more likely to be absent than others, such as poorer students, rural students, etc. Students, in other words, who are already disadvantaged. What the proposed legislation assumes is that students are freely choosing to work instead of go to school, which may not often be the case. Furthermore, fining students and their families up to $1000 dollars for missing school seems to completely miss the point. Attending school is not always a choice for some students, and this legislation does absolutely nothing to address underlying issues such as poverty and discrimination. In fact, it seems to do the exact opposite. Instead of creating more "choices" for students, it seems to be decreasing the already limited choices certain students have.

As the following highschool student notes:

Molle Dorst, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Seed Alternative School, said the legislation won't encourage students to stay in school."By not letting a student get their licence, it is saying, `If you drop out, we're going to cut your choices you have in life,'" she said."There's lots of experiences they can have based on their life experience, which are just as valid as having a university education."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Islamic Fundamentals.

DECEMBER 3, 2005 -- The following open letter has been written by the secret trial detainees held in Toronto, and is being sent to Arab media outlets around the world in the hope that it will add to the millions of voices calling for the release of Toronto's Jim Loney and other Christian Peacemaker Team members currently held in Iraq:

To the people holding James Loney and the other Christian Peacemaker Team Members in Iraq,

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious and Merciful,

Our names are Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohammad Mahjoub and Hassan Almrei, and we have been detained without charge for between four and five and a half years. Some of us have spent as many as four years in solitary confinement as well. We are being held captive under security certificates because the government of Canada alleges we are linked to terrorist organizations and that we pose a threat to the national security of Canada. Allah is witness to our innocence of these allegations.

We are suffering a great injustice here in Canada because the government stereotypes Muslims and because of our strong faith and daily attendance to mosque. We have been suffering innocently.

Many Canadians have heard of our injustice and have been supporting us in our fight for freedom by contacting politicians, by holding demonstrations in front of the jail, by writing letters to authorities and spreading the word all over Canada by way of media.

James Loney of the Christian Peacemaker Teams is one of thousands of people who have been fighting to right this wrong. He is a person who has organized and motivated people to participate in this struggle for what is right. We have recently seen a photo of him in the newspaper and it has saddened our hearts to learn that he is being held captive in Iraq.

This is the same James Loney who has travelled to Iraq on more than one occasion to help the people of Iraq. This is the same James Loney who has reached out to the families of the Abu Ghraib prisoners. This is the James Loney who was against the U.S. invasion and is against the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

It pains our heart to know that a person of this calibre is being held captive. We care about his freedom more than we do our own.

If you love Allah, if you have goodness in your heart, please deal with this matter as righteous Muslims and not let these kind, caring, compassionate and innocent people suffer. Prophet Mohammad, Peace be upon Him, said, "If you do not thank the people, you do not thank Allah." The Prophet, Peace be Upon Him, also said, "If someone did a favour to you, try to return his favour."

We hope and pray to see these captives freed as much as we hope and pray for our own freedom here in Canada, a freedom for which James Loney has worked so hard.

*******For further information: Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada, (416) 651-5800, tasc(at)web.ca

The Secret Trial 5:

Adil Charkaoui, held since May, 2003.


Mohamed Harkat, held since December, 2002.


Hassan Almrei, in solitary confinement since October, 2001.

Mahmoud Jaballah, held since August 2001.

Mohammad Mahjoub, held since June 2000.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Speciesism

Chabert points to the shameless opening address by Director General Pascal Lamy at the latest WTO meeting:

"You are the heirs of almost 60 years of tradition in trade negotiations, of a remarkable set of rules and decisions, and an impressive body of legal interpretations. You have also inherited a well-oiled machine that oversees and ensures the implementation of a balanced system of rights and obligations. You have every reason to be proud of the past achievements of your collective enterprise. So much for the past.

The current state of affairs is somewhat more heterogeneous. On the one hand, the day-to-day and dispute settlement activities are doing relatively well. Although the number of disputes has risen considerably, most of the decisions are respected and implemented, without recourse to retaliation — which speaks for the credibility of the dispute settlement mechanism. Only a handful of the more than 300 disputes submitted to the WTO since its creation in 1995 have not yet been resolved.

The negotiations part of your activities, on the other hand, could certainly be improved. There is also a lot of room for improvement in public acceptance of the WTO, as there is in its marketing activities. The WTO — the crowds in and certainly outside this building will remind you with sound and sometimes fury — is not the most popular international organization around, to say the least.

Even if it is famous throughout the world, the WTO is a very small business: its budget for 2006 is only 140 million US dollars — five times less than the budget of another international organization — FIFA — the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, for example (US$700 million), and almost ten times less than the budget of a famous NGO! I will certainly have to use your magic to see if we can get a more powerful engine for the WTO car, which is getting bigger and bigger, and now includes two newcomers, Saudi Arabia and Tonga.

As for the future of the WTO, it started in Doha in 2001 and it is up to you to decide, in this assembly, how you wish to fashion the years to come. If the WTO is to maintain and increase its current activities, then you must take a further step and commit yourselves to a new investment in the improvement of its rules, through the success of the current negotiations.

How do you decide on this collective investment? The WTO decision-making process, as you all know is, let us say, difficult. The difficulty stems from the fact that all stakeholders — all of you — have decided that you have exactly the same right, no matter how big or small, no matter how powerful or weak, no matter how rich or poor you are: you all have the right to speak, the right to agree, the right to disagree. In sum, in spite of all criticism, the WTO decision-making process is democratic. If it were different, taking decisions on the negotiations would probably be easier. But it would not be as legitimate. Reaching agreement in the WTO is difficult because it is done bottom-up — and it is good this is so. It takes more time, it is more burdensome and cumbersome, but I am convinced it remains the best way to take decisions that impact directly the lives of billions of people.

In short, you should indeed be proud of this healthy and democratic common institution. But like any stakeholder, you should also look beyond your immediate needs, you should think prospectively, you should care about the future.

Let me tell you a little secret I learnt since I took office as Director-General: there is an apocryphal and funny Secretariat guide to the language of trade negotiators in the old GATT. This guide tells you that, in those years, when negotiators said “Mr Chairman, we seek a balanced agreement”, what they really meant was “this agreement had better contain everything we demand”; when the negotiators said “we have demonstrated flexibility”, they really meant “we have successfully concealed our intransigence”; and when the negotiators announced “we are prepared to make our contribution to an ambitious outcome”, they really meant “we will only support agreements where others make all the concessions — and we make none”! This attitude, as we all know, is part of our past.

This is the past because today, what we really need are negotiators that are bold, open-minded and prepared to take some risks, as successful stakeholders. Ministers often face the difficult task of explaining to national constituencies that they have gained something in negotiations, even if the negotiating process is not over. The many people who benefit from open trade are usually politically silent, whereas those fewer who are affected by it can be politically very loud. We all understand the need of each and every delegation to take home some gain from trade negotiations.

The reality is that the true magic of these negotiations is to achieve results where all participants are winners, all will be able to declare victory. But for that, some risks must be taken. A popular Chinese proverb says “If you don't go into the cave of the tiger, how will you get its cub?” — in other words: nothing ventured, nothing gained."
-Pascal Lamy

Lamy speaks to the WTO stakeholders about policies. But people aren't mentioned, except for outbursts of fury, or as tigers or cubs to be hunted. These aren't people he talks about. They aren't even sub-human. The language used is as if people at the receiving end of these policies were a different biological entity. It's as if Wells' Martians were speaking of the invasion of Earth: "that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water."

But this talk of stakeholders seemed familiar. Where had I heard this before?

Oh yes, in almost every communique from the university administration:

"Queen’s [administration] has established a working group to review key higher education issues and begin the process of preparing the university’s formal submission to Ontario’s Rae panel on Postsecondary Review......As the process moves forward, the working group will be talking to other key stakeholders on campus and in the broader community."
-The Queen’s Committee on the Rae Review on [privatizing] Higher Education [further]

Elites used to use terms like 'citizen', or 'the public', as a fantasmal referrent that was said to have been consulted on the way to the exploitation of people. Now, such a a pretense at a universality (within a state) is dropped. It is only the mighty stakeholders, the overseers, that matter.

On Wikipedia 'stakeholder' is defined as:

"originally a person who holds money or other property while its owner is being determined......In the last decades of the 20th century, the word "stakeholder" has evolved to mean a person or organisation that has a legitimate interest in a project or entity."

This legitimate vocal participant in bureacratic memos and communiques, the stakeholder, is the new bureaucratic overman, it is the new public, the new citizen, the new species.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Turning a blind eye to Canadian war crimes in Haiti.

Canada's unflinching complicity (via CHAN)

Canada is complicit in each and every one of these acts of violence. The Haitian National Police are currently being trained by a 1600-member UN Civil Police Force, which has largely been under Canadian command since last summer. The UN Mission in Haiti, as well as the Canadian government, have thus far failed to acknowledge the well-documented killings and detentions of human rights activists, journalists, grassroots activists, and ordinary Haitians which have been carried out by the HNP.

In a report issued by the Miami-based Centre for the Study of Human Rights last January, members of the UN Civil Police Operations, as well as UN peacekeepers stated that their mission consisted of offering "back up" to HNP raids within poor neighbourhoods. A commander of the Civil Police from Quebec City was interviewed and stated that all he had done in Haiti was to "engage in daily guerrilla warfare." The Brazilian head of the UN forces was quoted in a Reuters article in November as stating "we are under extreme pressure from the international community to use violence." He cited France, the United States, and Canada among the countries pressing for the use of force.

Haitian government officials are currently on the payroll of the Canadian government as well. Philippe Vixamar, a minister within the Justice Department, has stated publicly that he was assigned to his position by the Canadian International Development Agency, and is currently on the CIDA payroll. CIDA is also employing Fernand Yvon, a senior advisor to President Gerard Latortue. Vixamar also denied that there were any political prisoners in Haiti in early November. Paul Martin, on a state visit to Haiti several days later, would make the same claim. In reality, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has estimated that there are over 700 political prisoners throughout Haiti, including former Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and other ex-cabinet ministers within Aristide's government.

Haitian coup: Made in Canada?

However, in noting the Canadian role in legitimizing the current government, one cannot leave out the role Canadian politicians have played in de-legitimizing the government of Aristide in the lead-up to last year's coup.

In January of 2003, according to an article which appeared in L'Actualite magazine in March of the same year, Canadian MP Denis Paradis hosted a "high-level roundtable meeting on Haiti," at the Meech Lake Resort. The round-table's invitees included Canadian officials, high-level US officials, diplomats with the Organization of American States (OAS), and officials from throughout Latin America. No Haitian representatives were present.

L'Actualite reporter Michel Vastel noted that Paradis had told him the themes of the meeting would include Aristide's possible removal, the possibility of placing Haiti under international "trusteeship," and the potential return of the Haitian military, which was disbanded in 1995 by Aristide as a result of its history of human rights abuses and corruption. This revelation raises troubling questions of the role of Canadian officials in the planning of the coup of Aristide.

In addition, CIDA funding to Haiti during the period from 2000-2004 -- like that of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) -- was funnelled solely to "grassroots" NGO's and business organizations who were aligned with the opposition Democratic Convergence party. The Democratic Convergence never managed to gain more than eight per cent voter support in Haitian elections. Supported by neo-Duvalierist ex-military members as well as members of the Haitian business elite, it was the Democratic Convergence which first claimed that the May 2000 parliamentary elections in Haiti were fraudulent, contrary to the conclusions reached by election observers from CARICOM and the Organization of American States. Only eight out of 7000 total positions decided in this election were contested. Yet the Canadian media, as well as Canadian officials, parroted the accusations of fraudulence made by the Democratic Convergence even after Aristide ordered the eight government officials to resign.

The Canadian Corporate/State Nexus In Haiti by Anthony Fenton

http://canadahaitiaction.ca/

New Orleans: Kick 'em When They're Down

By Jordan Barab, Reprinted From Confined Space
It never ceases to amaze me how, whenever a crisis hits, Republicans instinctively go after the very workers that society depends on to pull them out: public employees. It happened after 9/11 and now it's happening again in New Orleans.
Gulf Coast Watch blog reports that SEIU Local 21 led a successful charge against Louisiana Senate Bill 5which would have
allowed parishes and municipalities to slash wages for teachers, water and sanitation workers, social workers, and other public employees for up to six months AFTER a declared state of emergency was terminatedRepublican Senator Tom Schelder withdrew the bill after the legislature was hit by flood of emails and phone calls by a very nice coalition that came together to oppose the bill:
Opposition to this bill was supported by the Black Chamber of Commerce, the Northern and Central Louisiana Interfaith Network, and members of newly formed NOAH (New Opportunities for Action and Hope), founded by community and labor organizations in Louisiana in order to ensure that as LA rebuilds
via labor blog

Friday, December 09, 2005

Union Busting NYU style

In 2000 there was a landmark ruling at the National Labour Relations Board, which granted the right to graduate students to form unions at private universities. In 2004 the NLRB reversed its ruling, now making it illegal to form unions at private universities, stating that:

"Graduate-student assistants, including those at Brown, are primarily students and have a primarily educational, not economic, relationship with their university," the majority wrote. They further found that since the money received by teaching assistants is the same as that received by students on fellowships, it is not "consideration for work" but financial aid.

Because of this ruling, in 2005 when it came time for NYU students to negotiate a new contract, the administration refused to recognize their union, GSOC. This is why graduate students at NYU have been on strike since November 9th.

"The strike is the culmination of tensions that began this summer when NYU announced it would no longer recognize the Graduate Student Organizing Committee, the local affiliate of the United Auto Workers that represents NYU graduate assistants."

Around November 28th, NYU President John Sexton sent out a letter to all striking teaching assistants threatening them with financial repurcussions and blacklisting, should they not return to work by December 5th, which was then extended to December 7th.

Gordon Lafer notes that the threatening sanctions and scare tactics against the teaching assistants and faculty at the university have not been seen since the McCarthy era:

"According to Sexton, teachers who continue striking will be banned from teaching in the spring and will be denied their full salary for that term. Such punitive threats are patently illegal under federal law; while it is permissible to dock the pay of people while they are on strike, it is illegal to ban them from future work as punishment for past strikes.

Sexton further demanded that anyone who takes a teaching job in the spring pledge - as a condition of employment - not to participate in job actions. This type of "yellow dog" contract has been illegal since 1932, when it was banned in legislation authored by New York's own Fiorello LaGuardia, when he was a member of Congress.

Finally, Sexton suggests that those who participate in strike actions but, God forbid, graduate before they can be punished, may have negative assessments attached to their university record when they apply for jobs at other schools. This type of blacklisting has not been seen since the dark days of McCarthyism."


If you believe that graduate students should have the right to form unions, and they possess a dual role in the university as both students and workers, please send a letter to NYU President John Sexton (john.sexton@nyu.edu) or sign the online petition, which now has over 6000 signatures on it:
http://new.petitiononline.com/tosexton/petition.html

To keep up to date on the strike:

http://www.2110uaw.org/

Remembrance.

"Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified.

But my contention here is that the US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognised as crimes at all. I believe this must be addressed and that the truth has considerable bearing on where the world stands now. Although constrained, to a certain extent, by the existence of the Soviet Union, the United States' actions throughout the world made it clear that it had concluded it had carte blanche to do what it liked.

Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America's favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as 'low intensity conflict'. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued - or beaten to death - the same thing - and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed. This was a commonplace in US foreign policy in the years to which I refer...

...The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."

-from Harold Pinter's Nobel acceptance speech.
video of the speech here.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Monument.

Friday, December 02, 2005

UN troops continue to murder Haitians

Urgent Action Alert: The Haiti Action Committee has received eyewitness reports over the past four days from Cite Soleil that UN troops have launched a new round of attacks on the residents there, killing at least three civilians and gravely wounding others. According to the preliminary reports:

On Wednesday, November 23rd, UN troops killed one man who was a maker of kitchen utensils when they fired into his shop near his home; 5 reported wounded.

Over the weekend, UN troops\x98led by Jordanian soldiers\x98killed two more Cite Soleil residents, husband and wife, and wounded 8 people. More people could have been killed and wounded\x98further investigation is required.

Residents in Cite Soleil are once again trapped and under siege. This could be a massacre that is in the making as we send out this alert. Unfortunately, the UN troops have already demonstrated on July 6th, 2005, and again on other occasions that they will shoot and kill men, women and children in their homes, in their beds, and as they go about their daily chores. Now is the time to act -- to let them know the world is watching and demands an end to the killings!

Contact the following officials and demand that they intervene to stop the siege on the residents of Cite Soleil:

* Craig G. Mokhiber

Deputy Director, NY Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Ph: 917-367-5208 mokhiber@un.org

* Juan Gabriel Valdes

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Haiti

Phone: 011-509-244-9650 or 9660 Fax 011-509 244 3512

* Thierry Fagart

Human Rights Chief, UN Mission in Haiti

Ph: 011-509-510-3183 or 3185 - ext. 6360 fagart@un.org

* US Embassy in Haiti Telephones: 011-509-223-4711...222-0200 or 0354...Fax: 011-509-223-1641 or 9038 Email to Dana Banks, Human Rights Officer: BanksD@state.gov

OVER THE WEEKEND OR AT NIGHT -- Call 011-509-222-0200 and press "0" for emergency.

***Be sure to contact your local media, and ask that they cover these atrocities.

Please check www.haitiaction.net for updates on what is happening

(via Le Colonel Chabert)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The free press and imperialism.

"U.S. Army officers have been secretly paying Iraqi journalists to produce upbeat newspaper, radio and television reports about American military operations and the conduct of the war in Iraq."

"The military's effort to disseminate propaganda in the Iraqi media is taking place even as U.S. officials are pledging to promote democratic principles, political transparency and freedom of speech in a country emerging from decades of dictatorship and corruption. It comes as the State Department is training Iraqi reporters in basic journalism skills and Western media ethics, including one workshop titled "The Role of Press in a Democratic Society." Standards vary widely at Iraqi newspapers, many of which are shoestring operations"

The banal but horrifying truth, that this imperialist adventure would engage in deceit and lies, that it would seek to pacify an occupied country through the media (as useful an unconventional weapon as white phosphorus) of course must be framed in the ‘free’ press as some sort of contradiction: the press in Iraq is being ‘perverted’ by the military. Cue outrage.

Of course, there is every reason to be outraged by this, to be angered by this vicous bamboozle, to print it on pages, on screens, to talk about of how fucking despicable our institutions of occupation are. But what does this narrative about these press articles, this story about a story, tell us as consumers of the ‘free’ press, consumers safely inside the borderlands of empire? That we are outiside of the information being shaped by imperialist interest? What agendas are met by reporting this as some sort of perversion, of pretending this present order is just a momentary corruption of a just system as it overextends itself?

“Freedom of the press” is another of the principal slogans of “pure democracy”. And here, too, the workers know — and Socialists everywhere have explained millions of times —that this freedom is a deception because the best printing presses and the biggest stocks of paper are appropriated by the capitalists, and while capitalist rule over the press remains—a rule that is manifested throughout the whole world all the more strikingly, sharply and cynically—the more democracy and the republican system are developed, as in America for example. The first thing to do to win really equality and genuine democracy for the working people, for the workers and peasants, is to deprive capital of the possibility of hiring writers, buying publishing houses and bribing newspapers. And to do that the capitalists and exploiters have to be overthrown and their resistance oppressed. The capitalists have always use the term “freedom” to mean freedom for the rich to get richer and for the workers to starve to death. And capitalist usage, freedom of the press means freedom of the rich to bribe the press, freedom to use their wealth to shape and fabricate so-called public opinion. In this respect, too, the defenders of “pure democracy” prove to be defenders of an utterly foul and venal system that gives the rich control over the mass media. They prove to be deceivers of the people, who, with the aid of plausible, fine-sounding, but thoroughly false phrases, divert them from the concrete historical task of liberating the press from capitalist enslavement."

Meanwhile:

Canadian journalists 'train' Haitians in the midst of massacres they don't report.


Fifteen years after the Oka Crisis, Canadian colonialism continues in Kanesetake.

Defenders of a free press and war criminals: