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Archive for March, 2011

CONSUMERISM

Posted by strattof on March 25, 2011

IT’S KILLING US

Consumerism, noun: a social and economic order that equates personal happiness with consumption and the purchase of material possessions; a widespread cultural belief in capitalist societies that more and more STUFF brings happiness and well-being.

Consume, verb: to use up, to destroy, to squander.

This is precisely what our culture of consumerism is doing: using up, destroying, and squandering the earth’s resources–resources that make our lives possible.

CONSUMERISM = SQUANDERING RESOURCES

  • Oxygen-giving forests are ravaged to provide timber and paper products. Much of that timber is transformed into monster houses, which are wasteful both of space and energy.  Some of that paper is (mis)used to print advertisements urging us to buy more stuff. 
  • Aquifers are over-pumped to produce crops used to feed cattle. Many of those cows become fast food McDonald hamburgers.
  • The manufacturing of all that stuff we buy requires lots of water and plenty of energy. The energy comes mainly from fossil fuels and dirty coal. 
  • The earth’s atmosphere is fouled with carbon dioxide emissions from the factories manufacturing the stuff, as well as from cars, and tar sands development. CO2 emissions cause global warming, which is making the earth less habitable for humans.
  • Global warming is causing the glaciers to melt. Glaciers are the source of water for southern Saskatchewan.
  • Stores are crammed with stuff made from the Earth’s resources. Much of that stuff is tossed out shortly after purchase, and ends up in the landfill.

A QUIZ FOR SHOPPERS: 8 QUESTIONS TO ASK OURSELVES EVERY TIME WE GO SHOPPING

  1.  Do I need it?
  2.  How long will it last?
  3.  Could I borrow it from a friend or family member?
  4.  Can I get it second hand?
  5.  How will I dispose of it when I’m done using it?
  6.  What resources have been used to produce it?
  7. Are those resources renewable or nonrenewable?
  8. Is it made from recycled materials and is it recyclable?

ALTERNATIVES TO SHOPPING OR HOW TO FIND TRUE HAPPINESS

Studies show that, after basic needs are met, real happiness comes, not from all that stuff we buy, but rather from such things as ●fulfilling social relationships ●engagement with community ●non-competitive games ●creative activities ●mental and spiritual enrichment ●contact with nature.

We can get out of the rat race by putting a stop to unnecessary shopping. When we are not pressured to work to pay for pointless stuff –a new outfit, a bigger car, the latest gadget–we have more time for activities that can give us lasting happiness.

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy stuff we don’t need.” From the movie Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk

THE RECOVERING CONSUMER’S PLEDGE

This month, rather than shopping, I will do 2 of the following:

  1. Spend more time with family and friends.
  2. Go out of my way to help someone in my neighbourhood.
  3. Invite someone over for coffee or soup.
  4. Take up a creative activity. Discovering the trendy skill of knitting is one option. Joining a choir is another.
  5. Borrow a book or DVD from the library.
  6. Expand my mind. Take a class.
  7. Play a game with a child or an older person.
  8. Take regular walks around my neighbourhood.
  9. Buy less so I can afford to give more.
  10. Add my strength to a group working for social change. Studies show that activists are healthier! ☺

RESOURCES TO HELP US CHANGE OUR VALUES

The Story of Stuff, available in book form at the library and as a 20 minute animation on line at: http://www.storyofstuff.com/

Linda McQuaig, All You Can Eat: Greed, Lust and the New Capitalism, a book available at Regina Public Library.

The Worldwatch Institute, State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures from Consumerism to Sustainability, a book available at Regina Public Library. Sections of the book are available on line at http://blogs.worldwatch.org/transformingcultures/about-2/preview/

The Compact, a movement to buy nothing new beyond necessities, for one year. Google “The Compact.”

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.  –Mahatma Gandhi

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Posted in climate, environment, justice, water | Leave a Comment »

ABOUSFIAN ABDELRAZIK

Posted by strattof on March 17, 2011

A CALL FOR SUPPORT AND SOLIDARITY

The name “Maher Arar” is now well-known in Canada. Less familiar is the story of another Canadian–Abousfian Abdelrazik–who was also imprisoned, tortured, exiled, and blacklisted with the complicity of the Canadian government.

Abdelrazik is still not free of the shackles placed on him. For he remains on an international blacklist and continues to live under sanctions that freeze his assets, making it illegal for any Canadian to give him money–whether a gift, loan, or salary.

THE BACKGROUND: PRISONS WITH WALLS

In 2003, Abousfian Abdelrazik travelled from Montreal to Sudan to visit his ailing mother. Once there, he was arrested and imprisoned. In 2008 the Canadian Federal Court concluded that this arrest probably took place at the request of Canada’s spy agency, CSIS.

During two periods of detention, totaling a year and a half, Abdelrazik was beaten, threatened, and tortured. He was also interrogated by CSIS officials. He was never charged.

Following his release in 2006, Abdelrazik made many attempts to return to Canada. Because his Canadian passport had expired while he was in prison, he needed a travel document. But, even though he had been cleared of all suspicion by CSIS and the RCMP, the Canadian government refused to issue one to him. 

In 2008, afraid of being rearrested, Abderazik claimed refuge in the Canadian Embassy in Sudan. He lived in the Embassy for 14 months, unable to leave the grounds, until a Federal Court order, along with public pressure, forced the Canadian government to bring him back to Canada.

THE PRESENT: A PRISON WITHOUT WALLS

Abdelrazik has been back in Canada for almost two years, but he is still not free as his name is on the UN list of suspected terrorists, placed there in 2006 at the request of the US.

The list, known as the “1267 list,” is not only a no fly list. It also imposes sanctions that prevent listed individuals from earning a salary, receiving gifts or loans of money, or maintaining a bank account. These restrictions make it impossible for Abdelrazik to rebuild his life. So, even though he has never been charged with anything, he continues to live in a prison–now one without walls.

THE 1267 LIST: UNJUST AND UNFAIR

“I add my name to those who view the 1267 Committee regime as a denial of basic legal remedies and as untenable under the principles of international human rights. There is nothing in the listing and de-listing procedure that recognizes the principles of natural justice or that provides for basic procedural fairness….It can hardly be said that the 1267 Committee process meets the requirement of independence and impartiality when, as appears may be the case involving Mr. Abdelrazik, the nation requesting the listing is one of the members of the body that decides whether to list, or equally as important, to de-list a person. The accuser is also the judge.”

                                              Canadian Court Justice Russel Zinn, 4 June 2009

GETTING ABDELRAZIK OFF THE 1267 LIST

On 25 January 2011, Abdelrazik submitted an individual delisting application to the 1267 Committee through the ombudsperson. Crucial to the success of Abdelrazik’s application is public support for his delisting and public exposure of the injustice and unfairness of the 1267 regime.

Project Fly Home, a grassroots organization, is calling on all Canadians who believe in justice and fairness to join a solidarity effort to get Abousfian Abdelrazik off the 1267 list. Here is what we can do

  • We can contact our MP and ask him to endorse the following short statement against the Security Council’s 1267 list:

 The UN Security Council imposes an asset freeze and an international travel ban on individuals whose names have been placed on its “1267 List.” The listing and delisting processes do not meet standards of procedural fairness or of natural justice fundamental to the rule of law. The 1267 Regime and the “Al Qaeda and Taliban Regulations”–which implement the 1267 Regime in Canada–violate rights to liberty, security and freedom of association.

CSIS and the RCMP cleared Abousfian Abdelrazik of any criminal activity in November 2007.

For these reasons I call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to 1) lift sanctions from Mr. Abdelrazik in Canada (as was done in the case of another Canadian citizen, Mr. Liban Hussein, in 2002); 2) contact the embassies of all United Nations Security Council members to inform them that Mr. Abdelrazik’s removal from the 1267 List is a diplomatic priority for Canada; and 3) revoke the unconstitutional “Al Qaeda and Taliban Regulations,” which were established by Order in Council.

To help convince your MP, you can email him the backgrounder on the 1267 list, found at www.peooplescommission.org/en/1267.php

Please forward your MP’s response to projectflyhome@gmail.com

  • If your MP can’t be convinced, contact the Foreign Affairs critics of all three opposition parties, asking them to sign the statement.
  • Join the Abdelrazik-Project Fly Home Facebook group. It is a way to deliberately and publically associate with Abdelrazik, as well as to keep in touch with the campaign to get him delisted. 

MPs                                                                Foreign Affairs Critics    

Roy Boughen: boughr@parl.gc.ca     Paul Dewar, NDP: dewar.p@parl.gc.ca

Tom Lukiwski: lukiwt@parl.gc.ca      Jean Dorion, Bloc: dorion.j@parl.gc.ca

Andrew Scheer: scheea@parl.gc.ca  Bob Rae, Liberal: rae.b@parl.gc.ca

Ralph Goodale: goodale.r@parl.gc.ca

Posted in justice, peace activism | Leave a Comment »

HOMELESS IN REGINA

Posted by strattof on March 10, 2011

Regina has one of the lowest apartment vacancy rates in Canada. In October 2010, it was 1%, well under a 3% rate that is considered reasonable. As a result, rental accommodation is very difficult to find in Regina.  

Nor is Regina any longer a cheap place to live. In the last decade, house prices have risen more rapidly than in any other city in Canada. Rents too have increased at a rapid rate. Between April 2009 and April 2010, Regina had the largest rent increases in Canada.  

It’s often families with young children, single mothers, and those trying to get a foothold in the job market who find themselves without a home in Regina.    

Few homeless people in Regina live on the streets or in parks. Instead, they couch surf, double up, live in overcrowded conditions, or squat in abandoned buildings. Some even live in tents, garages, and cars. 

HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA: 7 MORE KEY FACTS

 1.      In 2009, an average of 267 people stayed in homeless shelters or transitional housing each night in Regina. Many more resorted to couch surfing or doubling up in over-crowded and  unhealthy conditions.

 2.      From October 2006 to October 2010, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Regina increased by 43%, going from $559 to $802 a month.

 3.      At that rate, a single person on social assistance would be required to spend 97% of their monthly income on rent, leaving only 3% to cover food, transportation, and other monthly expenses.

 4.      Minimum wage earners working full time would be required to spend 73% of their monthly income on shelter and food.

5.      In 2006, 15,600 households in Regina spent 30% or more of their income on shelter–a level that indicates unaffordability. That’s 41% of tenant households. The percentage would be much higher today.

6.      The face of homelessness in Regina is very diverse. Homeless people include ●children ●single mothers ●single women ●single men ●seniors on fixed income ●families ●adults working minimum wage jobs ●women fleeing abuse ●young people who cannot get a foothold in the job market ●individuals with mental health issues ●those struggling to overcome addiction. The homeless could be a relative or a friend. They could be you or me.

7.      A recent Salvation Army survey reported that one in five Saskatchewan adults has come close to or has actually experienced homelessness at some time in his/her life.

HELP END HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA

COME TO A DEMONSTRATION FOR RENT CONTROL AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING

LEGISLATIVE BUILDING, MARCH 15 10 am TO 12:30 pm

Has your rent gone up recently? Get the facts:

  • The majority of Canada has rent control: BC, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and PEI.
  • So, why doesn’t Saskatchewan?

Support yourself and your fellow citizens. Housing affects us all!

Sponsored by All Peoples’ Housing and the University of Regina Social Work Student Society

LET PREMIER BRAD WALL KNOW YOU WANT THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT

  • To pass rent control legislation
  • To invest in affordable housing

                  premier@gov.sk.ca or 787-0958

SEND THE SAME MESSAGE TO YOUR MLA

Ron Harper, Regina Northeast: rharper@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-1887

Bill Hutchinson, Regina South: bhutchinson@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-4983

Dwain. Lingenfelter, Douglas Park: dlingenfelter@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-7388

Warren McCall, Regina Elphinstone: wmccall@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-8276

Sandra Morin, Regina Walsh Acres: smorin@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-6309

John Nilson, Regina Lakeview: jnilson@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-0939

Laura Ross, Regina Qu’Appelle Valley: lross@mla.legassembly.sk.ca  or 787-0942

Christine Tell, Regina Wascana Plains: ctell@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 7874300

Kim Trew, Regina Coronation Park: ktrew@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-1898

Trent Wotherspoon, Rosemont: twotherspoon@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-0077

Kevin Yates, Regina Dewdney: kyates@mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-0635

If you want to send your message by regular mail, the Premier and MLAs can all be reached at: Legislative Building, Regina S4S 0B3.

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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: CENTENARY 1911-2011

Posted by strattof on March 10, 2011

Tuesday March 8 is International Women’s Day. First observed in 1911, International Women’s Day is this year marking its 100th anniversary. It is an occasion both for celebrating women’s social, economic, and political achievements and for reflecting on the action required for more progress to be made toward realizing gender equality. 

It is in this spirit, that today’s flier features the struggles and remarkable achievements of three women’s organizations, as well as key facts and figures on gender inequality in Canada.

WOZA – WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE ARISE

With more than 35,000 members, WOZA is one of the most prominent civil society movements in Zimbabwe. Its purpose is to protest the worsening social, economic, and human rights situation in Zimbabwe by organizing non-violent demonstrations. Since their first protest action on Valentine’s Day 2003, when members distributed red roses symbolizing a better life for all Zimbabweans, these courageous activists have repeatedly been harassed by the Zimbabwe police, who have subjected them (and their babies) to ill-treatment. 

When WOZA women take to the streets, they are frequently arrested and detained for periods ranging from a few hours to several weeks. Conditions in detention are often poor and cells over-crowded. Police have also attempted to deny detained activists access to legal advice, and lawyers acting for WOZA have been subject to harassment by police.

But WOZA prevails and has led to the start of a new–and growing–organization called MOZA: Men of Zimbabwe Arise.

To learn more about WOZA, go to:  http://wozazimbabwe.org/

RAWA – REVOLUTIONARY ASSOCIATION OF THE WOMEN OF AFGHANISTAN

RAWA was founded in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1977 as an independent political and social organization of Afghan women. Using non-violent strategies, it struggles for human rights and social justice in Afghanistan.

In the 1980s, RAWA demonstrated against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In retaliation its leader, Meena Keshwar Kamal, was assassinated by agents of the KGB. Since the overthrow in 1992 of the Soviet-installed regime, the focus of RAWA’s political struggle has been against Islamic fundamentalist regimes, including the Taliban and Northern Alliance.

RAWA was also highly critical of the US-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, emphasizing civilian casualties. It continues to criticize the US for relying on the Northern Alliance for support, seeing it as replacing one fundamentalist regime with another. RAWA also believes that “freedom and democracy cannot be donated” but must be achieved by the citizens of a country.

To learn more about RAWA, go to:  http://www.rawa.org/index.php

NWAC – NATIVE WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION OF CANADA

Established in 1974, NWAC works to enhance the social, economic, and political well-being of Aboriginal women in Canada. Focusing on such issues as housing, healthcare, childcare, education, and employment, NWAC has sought to get the needs of Aboriginal women, one of the most marginalized groups in Canada, on the political agenda. (43% of Aboriginal women live in poverty in Canada, double the percentage of non-Aboriginal women and significantly more than the number of Aboriginal men.)

In 2004, NWAC launched its Sisters in Spirit initiative, a national research project to document evidence and raise awareness pertaining to sexual and racial violence against Aboriginal women resulting in disappearance or death. A 2010 Sisters in Spirit study shows that 582 Aboriginal women have been murdered or gone missing in Canada since 1970, with 39% of the cases having occurred since 2000. While Aboriginal women make up only three per cent of the population, they have been 10 per cent of the murder victims in the past 20 years.

In 2010, the federal government cancelled its funding for the Sisters in Spirit initiative. As a result, the upkeep of the Sisters in Spirit internationally acclaimed database of missing and murdered Aboriginal women is at risk.

Is Sisters in Spirit being punished for its success in raising awareness about violence against Aboriginal women in Canada? Whatever the case, it is only one group in a long list of information-collecting and advocacy organizations that have in recent years lost government support.

To find out more about NWAC and Sisters in Spirit, google NWAC.                                   

GENDER INEQUALITY IN CANADA: 10 KEY FACTS

 1.      More women than men live in poverty in Canada. In Saskatchewan, one in every eight women is poor, while for men it’s one in every eleven.

2.      Women earn less than men in Canada. Women who work full time, year round, earn only 71 cents for every dollar earned by men.

3.      60% of minimum wage workers in Canada are women. The minimum wage in Saskatchewan in $9.25 an hour.

4.      Only 39% of unemployed women are receiving EI benefits. 45% of unemployed men collect.

5.      Women do more than 80% of the unpaid care giving in Canada.

6.      In a 2008 UNICEF study of 25 wealthy nations, Canada placed last in the ranking of early childcare and education services offered.

7.      In the business sector, women make up 47% of Canada’s work force, but fill just 17% of corporate officer positions in Canada’s 500 largest organizations.

8.      Women constitute 52% of Canada’s population, but hold only 22% of the seats in the House of Commons. Canada ranks 52nd in the world in representation of women in the national parliament, behind many poor countries, including Rwanda and Afghanistan.

9.      51% of Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.

10.  Canada came 20th on the World Economic Forum’s 2010 global gender equality index. The index measures how the world’s countries share their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations. It shows that, in terms of gender equality, Canada was in 14th place in 2006 when the World Economic Forum first started to compile the index.

 

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