Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

Archive for May, 2012

NO TO WAR! NO TO NATO!

Posted by strattof on May 27, 2012

2012 CHICAGO SUMMIT

NATO heads of state met in Chicago last week for the largest NATO summit in the organization’s 63 year history. At the top of the agenda was the NATO war in Afghanistan.   

Many groups opposed to NATO also gathered in Chicago for the Counter-Summit for Peace and Economic Justice. They organized educational events, acts of non-violent civil disobedience and public protest, and a peace march from Madison Wisconsin to Chicago.

NATO represents itself as a purveyor of peace and stability. Nothing could be further from the truth. NATO is an aggressive military alliance which perpetrates violence across the entire globe in order to secure economic and strategic advantages for the United States and other NATO countries.

NATO HISTORY

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, is a military alliance that today consists of 28 member states. It was established in 1949 on the initiative of the United States to contain the Soviet Union and ensure worldwide military and economic domination by the US-led capitalist west. Canada was one of the original 12 member states, along with the US and 10 western European countries.

At the time of NATO’s founding, the US had sole possession of nuclear weaponry and had dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Within months, the Soviet Union had the bomb, and the Cold War followed.  

In 1954, the Soviet Union, in an attempt to halt the escalating arms race in Europe, offered to join NATO. The offer was rejected. It was only after this rejection by NATO that, in 1955, the Soviet Union initiated the establishment of the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance subscribed to by eight Eastern Europe socialist states.

The 1990s saw the collapse of the Soviet Union and the break-up of the Warsaw Pact. But the dissolution of NATO did not follow.

Instead, at its 1999 Washington summit, NATO adopted a new Strategic Concept, reserving for itself the right to interfere in the internal affairs of any country. Since 1999, NATO has waged war on three continents: Southeast Europe (Yugoslavia), South Asia (Afghanistan), and North Africa (Libya). None of these countries is near the north Atlantic area. 

YUGOSLAVIA

In June 1999, without the backing of the United Nations, NATO initiated an illegal bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, raining bombs down on that tiny country for 78 days. More than 500 of the bombs were carried by Canadian planes. The result was the destruction of road and rail networks, schools, petroleum facilities, and cultural monuments. As depleted uranium was used in the bombs, water ways and vast expanses of land were polluted, essentially forever.

AFGHANISTAN

In 2001, the US, assisted by Britain and Canada, invaded Afghanistan. The invasion violated international law, including the Charter of the United Nations. In 2003, NATO, at the request of the US, took over the military effort in Afghanistan. This war is now in its 11th year.  

At the Chicago summit, NATO leaders endorsed a partial withdrawal of troops by 2014, leaving behind about 16,000 US troops for training and special operations. Prime Minister Harper stated all Canadian forces would depart by 2014. He also pledged $110 million a year to pay for the training of Afghan forces.

Last year, 3,021 Afghan civilians died as a result of the war, a record high. Over 15,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001. 

LIBYA

On March 19 2011, a US-led coalition of western forces, including Canadian, began to bombard Libya with cruise missiles and air attacks. The declared goal of the bombardment was to enforce a UN Security Council resolution requiring the protection of civilians from government security forces.

Less than two weeks into the mission, it was handed over to NATO. Over the 7 months of the war, Canadian planes conducted 10% of NATO air strike missions.

According to Human Rights Watch, “NATO air strikes killed at least 72 civilians,” including 20 women and 24 children. Though it is obliged under international law to do so, NATO has refused to acknowledge these casualties or to investigate them.

Mere weeks after the death of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird travelled to Libya in the company of Canadian business leaders. The goal of this mission was to secure Canadian economic interests in Libya.

Earlier this month it was revealed that the Libyan mission cost Canada $350 million– 7-times what Defence Minister Peter Mackay said it would cost.

NATO POLICIES

1.   An attack on one NATO member nation is considered an attack on all members.

2.   NATO has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of any country.

3.   NATO has the right to use nuclear weapons on a first-strike basis.

NATO AND THE UNITED NATIONS

Each of these policies is at odds with the principles on which the United Nations was founded, including the principle of the establishment of international security collectively and exclusively through the UN, as well as the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states.  NATO’s position on nuclear weapons also counters the efforts made by the UN to bring about nuclear disarmament.

One of NATO’s main functions today is to allow the US, along with its allies, to circumvent the principles on which the United Nations was founded and to undermine its role as an international force for peace. 

NATO, A THREAT TO WORLD PEACE

  • NATO has armed forces in all six inhabited continents.
  • NATO has at its disposal two million troops.
  • NATO member states account for over 70% of world arms spending.
  • NATO insists on its right to employ nuclear weapons on a first strike basis.

WHAT IS CANADA DOING IN NATO?

NATO impacts Canadians directly and indirectly. Paying for NATO deprives Canadians of tax dollars required for public education, health care, child care, pensions, and affordable housing. Indirectly, it imposes a requirement to support the NATO doctrine of military intervention abroad that is bound to embroil Canada and its youth in even more costly and terrible wars.

TAKE ACTION

Individual Canadians do not have a vote in NATO. But we do have a vote in Canada. Let your Member of Parliament know

We want Canada out of NATO now!

                           &

We want Canadian troops out of Afghanistan now!

Ray Boughen, Palliser: ray.boughen@parl.gc.ca or 790-4646

Tom Lukiwski, Regina-Lumsden: tom.lukiwski@parl.gc.ca or 790-4747

Ralph Goodale, Wascana: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca or 585-2202

Andrew Scheer, Regina Qu’Appelle: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca or 790-4727

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NEW STADIUM VS AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Posted by strattof on May 17, 2012

City of Regina has its priorities upside down. As part of its Regina Revitalization Initiative, it wants $278.2 million worth of public money to be spent on a new football stadium. If City officials have their way

  • $208.8 million will come from the province;
  • $8.8 million will come from the federal treasury;
  • $60.6 million will come from the City’s own coffers.

Regina already has a perfectly serviceable football stadium. Why tear it down–especially after it has been refurbished to the tune of $14 million for the 2013 Regina Grey Cup?

Because of a lack of affordable rental housing, a growing number of Regina citizens are experiencing ever-increasing levels of misery and suffering. Yet City officials remain obsessed with a new football stadium. Such upside-down priorities indicate a moral deficiency. Affordable rental housing isn’t even on City Hall’s agenda.

In fact, there is no affordable housing of any sort in the Revitalization Initiative. What the plan calls for is “up to 700 new affordable, market-rate housing units.” “Affordable, market-rate housing” is an oxymoron. As everyone knows, the market-rate for housing in Regina is anything but affordable.

REGINA’S HOUSING CRISIS: 10 KEY FACTS

1.      In 2010, over 3,400 people used one or more of the city’s shelter services. Many others double-bunked, couch-surfed, or lived in overcrowded unhealthy conditions. These latter groups could easily double the number of homeless people in Regina.

2.      Between 2006 and 2010, homeless shelter use in Regina rose by 44.5%.

3.      In 2010, 83.7% of shelter users were unable to find a home to live in after leaving the shelter.

4.      Since 2006, the average resale price of residential homes in Saskatchewan has risen more than 83%.

5.      Between October 2009 and October 2011, the number of apartments in Regina decreased by 260. Over the period, many apartment buildings were converted to condominiums.

6.      Regina’s apartment vacancy rate has remained at or below 1% since 2008. A 3% vacancy rate is considered normal. Since April 2011, Regina has had the lowest apartment vacancy rate in Canada.  

7.      Since 2006, average rents in Regina have increased by 9% a year. Between 2006 and 2010, average rents in Regina went up 43%.

8.      The average monthly rate for a one bedroom apartment in Regina in October 2011 was $790, an increase of $48 (6.5%) a month from the previous year. Assuming a 40-hour work week for 4.34 weeks a month, individuals earning the minimum wage of $9.50 an hour would spend approximately 49% of their before-tax income on rent for a one bedroom apartment. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines “Affordable Housing” as costing a household 30% or less of its before-tax income.

9.      A cashier earning $1,811.30 per month cannot afford a one bedroom apartment in Regina. Nor can a security guard earning $2,031.43 per month or a food services supervisor earning $2,395 per month.

10.  For a minimum wage-earner to afford a bachelor apartment in Regina, the minimum wage would have to rise from its current rate of $9.50 to $10.04 per hour. A three bedroom apartment would require a minimum wage of $20.35.

HOW MANY AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS CAN WE GET FOR ONE STADIUM?

At a cost of $150,000 per unit, $278.2 million will get us 1856 affordable housing units.

TAKE ACTION

  • Let Premier Brad Wall know that you don’t want any of your tax dollars spent on a football stadium. Rather you want his government to spend the money on affordable housing: premier@gov.sk.ca or 787-9433.
  • Send the same message to Ken Cheveldayoff:  kcheveldayoff @mla.legassembly.sk.ca or 787-0605.

HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT

Safe, secure housing is a human right.

  • It is protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, [and] housing.”
  • The right to housing is also enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, signed into law in 1982. Because it puts their health and life at risk, homelessness breaches a homeless person’s Charter Section 7 rights to “life, liberty and security of person.”

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MOTHER’S DAY FOR PEACE

Posted by strattof on May 10, 2012

MOTHER’S DAY FOR PEACE

In North America, Mother’s Day comes from an anti-war Mother’s Day Proclamation written in 1870 by U.S. suffragette, abolitionist, and peace activist Julia Ward Howe.

Horrified by the carnage of the American Civil War, Howe became a crusader for peace and for the equality of all people, regardless of race, religion, or gender.

Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation calls on women everywhere to rise up against war. As a passage from it shows, Howe’s original words are as relevant in 2012 as they were in 1870:

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts,

Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn

All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience.

We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country

To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.

It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

It is not too late to answer Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day call for world peace and justice. 

CANADA IN AFGHANISTAN PAST 2014:

WHAT IS THE COST OF WAR WITHOUT END?

The War’s Extensions Go On and On

According to the April 25th edition of the Globe & Mail, “Stephen Harper is leaving the door open once again to extending Canada’s military participation in the costly Afghanistan war.”

This would be the fourth time the government has prolonged the war in Afghanistan – including 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Canadian troops first landed in Afghanistan in late 2001. An extension beyond 2014 would make this war longer than WWI, WWII, and Korea combined.

The Financial Cost Grows as the War Goes On and On

Canada’s taxpayers’ bill for the conflict is expected to exceed $14-billion, according to Parliament’s independent budget watchdog Kevin Page.

This cost will only increase if the war goes on, diverting funds from needed investments in health care, education, the environment and social services.

Canada’s Human Cost Grows and Grows as Well

Canada has lost 158 soldiers in the Afghanistan War, and 635 more have been seriously wounded in action.

According to the Globe & Mail, one quarter of those soldiers who return suffer from mental illness, even as the Ottawa Citizen reports on federal government cuts to the services that help these same soldiers.

These physical and mental costs will increase if the war goes on.

Afghanistan’s Human Cost Grows and Grows as Well

The civilian death toll in Afghanistan is measured not in the hundreds, but in the thousands—and tens of thousands.

According to the UN, in 2011, the civilian death toll for the war in Afghanistan reached a record high with 3,021 deaths—in just one year. Over 15,000 civilians have died in Afghanistan since 2001.

“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”

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VIGIL CELEBRATES ITS 5TH BIRTHDAY

Posted by strattof on May 5, 2012

BIRTHDAY GREETINGS

FROM NOAM CHOMSKY

Very pleased to learn about what you are doing, the kind of dedicated work
that can really make a difference in the longer term.  And pleased at well
that I’ve indirectly been able to be of some help.  Congratulations on the
anniversary, and I hope that May 3 is a memorable day.

FROM GORD BARNES OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REGINA

I would like to extend my personal best wishes to you and everyone of the rest of the wonderful people who are part of the Making Peace Vigil. This is truly a time to celebrate. Best wishes to everyone.

P   E   A   C   E

WHEN THE POWER OF LOVE OVERCOMES THE LOVE OF POWER

THE WORLD WILL KNOW PEACE

Jimi Hendrix

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or under the holy name of liberty or democracy?

Mahatma Gandhi

It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war

is nothing but an act of murder.

Albert Einstein

We used to wonder where war lived, what it was

 that made it so vile. And now we realize that we

know where it lives, that it is inside ourselves.

Albert Camus

The old law of an eye for an eye

leaves everybody blind.

Martin Luther King

All we are saying is give peace a chance.

John Lennon

You can bomb the world to pieces

but you can’t bomb the world to peace.

Michael Franti

 J   U   S   T   I   C   E

If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.

George Monbiot

W E   A R E   T H E   9 9 %

Occupy Movement

He who sleeps on a full stomach whilst his

neighbour goes hungry is not one of us.

The Prophet Muhammad

Feed the hungry.

Give drink to the thirsty.

 Clothe the naked.

House the homeless.

from the Christian corporeal works of mercy

Thou shalt not be a victim.

Thou shalt not be a perpetrator.

Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.

Holocaust Museum, Washington, DC

Security for any one of us

lies in greater abundance for all of us.

Gail Bowen Kaleidoscope

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.

On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.

Arundhati Roy

 

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