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Archive for May, 2013

OMAR KHADR AND CANADIAN JUSTICE

Posted by strattof on May 29, 2013

In 2011, Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to several charges including murder, attempted murder, and providing material support for the enemy. Although the charges against Omar tend to elicit emotional responses, the facts of his case are complicated and disconcerting.

Does a guilty plea mean the accused is guilty?

THE PLEA DEAL

By entering a plea deal, Khadr was able to secure his repatriation to Canada. Khadr spent almost a decade in the illegal Guantánamo Bay prison.

THE EVIDENCE

  • Inadvertent government leaks prove that it is very unlikely that Khadr threw the grenade that fatally wounded U.S. soldier Christopher Speer. The report that named Khadr originally named another survivor of the U.S. airstrike who was later killed on the battlefield. The report was altered several months after it was submitted.
  • Photographic evidence published by the Toronto Star in 2009 further proved that it would have been impossible for Khadr to have thrown the grenade.

WHAT THE LAW SAYS

  • Khadr was not found guilty in a court of law. He was designated an “unlawful enemy combatant” and was tried for war crimes created by the U.S. Military Commissions Act in 2006. Khadr could not be tried in an American, Canadian, or international court of law because the charges, designation (“unlawful enemy combatant”), and procedures employed at the military tribunals are not legal according to any of these bodies.
  • The U.S. Military Commissions permit the use of coerced statements, have rendered new types of conduct criminal for the first time, and do not meet the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

CHILD SOLDIER

Canada is signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to this convention, Khadr, who was 15 at the time of his capture, was a child soldier. This means that his trial was prohibited under international law; Khadr should have been rehabilitated as a victim, not prosecuted as a perpetrator. Senator Roméo Dallaire has been a staunch advocate for Khadr on this point.

CANADIAN IDENTITY

Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and is signatory to international conventions that condemn human rights abuses and protect the lives of child soldiers. These are the documents which give Canada its identity.

WHAT DOES OMAR KHADR WANT?

When Khadr was visited by Canadian consular officials at Guantánamo Bay, he expressed the desire to improve his health, get an education, have a family, and to find a job where he could help people in need.

Although he was denied educational opportunities while at Guantánamo Bay, Khadr’s lawyer smuggled in lesson plans from an English professor who teaches at a Christian College in Edmonton. As a dedicated student, Khadr read and wrote reports on works by Charles Dickens, Nelson Mandela, and Barack Obama. He also read John Grisham books and the Twilight series. Khadr is now 26 years old and only has a Grade 8 education.

CURRENT SITUATION

Khadr is currently being held in a special security unit in Millhaven prison in Ontario. He is eligible for a parole hearing in July. Khadr’s lawyers are preparing to file an appeal to overturn the military tribunal convictions with the U.S. Court of Appeals. The crimes for which Khadr was convicted did not exist when he was charged, nor do they exist in international law today.

KHADR, TOEWS, AND THE MEDIA

The warden at Millhaven prison recently granted members of the Canadian media permission to interview Khadr. In a highly unorthodox move, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews overruled the warden’s decision. By not allowing Khadr to speak with the media, the government continues to control the messaging around Khadr’s identity.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

  • Watch the documentary You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantánamo. Currently available in its entirety on YouTube, the documentary includes extended footage of Canadian officials interrogating Khadr. It also includes interviews with Canadian officials, psychiatrists specializing in torture, and former Guantánamo detainees and interrogators.
  • Read Roméo Dallaire’s They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers, available at Regina Public Library.
  • Contact Public Safety Ministers Vic Toews, letting him know that the unorthodox move to prevent the Canadian media from interviewing Khadr is unacceptable: 613-992-3128 or vic.toews@parl.gc.ca
  • Send the same message to your MP.

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DANDELION RECIPES

Posted by strattof on May 18, 2013

Dandelion leaves give

  • more vitamin A and beta carotene than carrots
  • more potassium than bananas
  • more iron and vitamin A than spinach
  • vitamins C & B, calcium, magnesium, and choline

Do not use dandelions that have been near pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, car fumes, or

peeing dogs.

Always wash the leaves thoroughly and remove coarse stems.

DANELION TEA

Steep the leaves in not-quite boiling water for 15 minutes.

Dry dandelion leaves for winter brewing. A health-giving tonic!

DANDELION SALAD

Replace lettuce or spinach with dandelion leaves or mix them.  

Dandelion flowers are also edible and add a nice colour to salads.

DANDELION AVOCADO SANDWICH

1.   Spread Saskatchewan mustard on two slices of whole grain bread.

2.  Slice an avocado into strips and lay it on one of the slices.

3.  Pile on dandelion leaves cut into bite-size pieces. YUMMY!

COOKED DANDELION GREENS  

Steam the leaves for a few minutes in a little water.

If you like, add some chopped onion or garlic or a dash of soy sauce.

Save the cooking water for soup stock.

Dandelion leaves can also be substituted for, or mixed with, other greens in recipes such as lasagna. You can also snip them into soups and stews.

 DANDELION POTATOES

1.   Take two medium-size potatoes and peal them if they are not organic. Otherwise, leave the skins on.

2.  Cut the potatoes into quarters.

3.  Boil the potatoes in just enough water so they don’t boil dry.

4.  Cut two handfuls of dandelion leaves into bite-size pieces and add them to the boiling water.

5.  Add black pepper, thyme, and dill.

6.  When everything is tender, drain and mash together, saving the liquid for soup stock.

7.  Sprinkle crumbled feta cheese on top. DELICIOUS!

SWEET DANDELION MEDLEY

1.   Gently heat 2 teaspoons of virgin olive oil in a saucepan.

2.   Slice a medium-size onion and finely chop 2 garlic cloves. Simmer in oil until golden.  

3.   Peel a sweet potato and cut it into very thin slices.

4.   Add the sweet potato slices to the pan while the onion and garlic are simmering.

5.   Add a pile of dandelion leaves cut into bite-size pieces.

6.   Add a little water to keep the mixture from burning.

7.   Add a few drops of soy sauce, and some dried thyme and black pepper.

8.   When the sweet potatoes are soft, drain the mixture, saving the liquid for soup.

DANDELION ROOT COFFEE

Dandelion roots also have medicinal qualities. They can be made into an excellent caffeine-free coffee substitute.

1.   Dig up the roots of mature dandelion plants and wash them carefully. 

2.   Cut the roots into chunks and put them in a large water-filled bowl. Swish with your hands until the water gets cloudy. Pour off and repeat until the water runs clear.

3.   Place the root chunks into a food processor and grind them into a course-looking mixture.

4.   Spread the course grounds on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 250° F for about 2 hours. Leave the oven door slightly open so moisture can escape. Stir periodically to ensure even roasting and prevent burning.

5.   Cool after roasting and then grind in a coffee grinder to the texture of regular coffee for use in a coffee maker. ENJOY your caffeine-free dandelion coffee! 

Dandelion roots can also be chopped into soup as you would parsnip.

DANDELION FRITTATA (or Fancy Scrambled Eggs)

1.   In a thick skillet, briefly sauté cut dandelion greens, along with half a chopped onion or lots of fresh chives, chopped parsley, a chopped garlic clove, and some sliced mushrooms.

2.   In a bowl, beat 2 eggs and add 1 tablespoon of milk, some basil, thyme, or oregano, a dash of chili or hot sauce, and half a cup of white coarsely grated cheese.

3.   Add the egg mix to the mix in the skillet and let set or scramble.

If you have any questions or want more delectable dandelion recipes, please contact Catherine: cfverrall@yahoo.ca or 306-569-7699.

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GO GREEN! LIVE HEALTHY WITHOUT PESTICIDES

Posted by strattof on May 18, 2013

It’s SPRING in Regina! HURRAH!!  But wait! Is that a dandelion I see poking its head up in my pristine green lawn? Not already!! Where is the number for the pesticide company I called last year?

STOP: Before you dial that number, please consider the following facts:

  • The Canadian Cancer Society warns against the use of pesticides, citing research that links their use to cancer and other serious health issues.
  •  Dandelions have many health benefits. All parts of the plant – flower, leaves, stem, and root – are edible and medicinal.  

4 NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF PESTICIDES

1.   Children and unborn babies are at high risk for health problems related to pesticides. These include developmental problems, lower intelligence scores, birth defects, endocrine disruption, allergies, asthma, and leukemia, as well as several other types of cancer. Pesticides drift far on the wind and can be breathed in or land on toys, garden food, and clothes. They can also be tracked into the house. Children are particularly vulnerable as their bodies and brains are still developing and their immune system is immature. Older children doing active sports breathe in more air with its burden of toxins.

 2.   Seniors are also at high risk. Immune systems and organ functions weaken with age. These systems which help the body deal with toxins are often already overworked by daily medications and chemically grown food. So exposure to pesticides has a more damaging effect.

3.   Pesticide exposure damages the same brain areas as those linked to multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimers, and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). It is also becoming clear that pesticides are hormone disrupters. Thus long exposure to chemical pesticides can cause cancers such as prostate cancer and other degenerative diseases.

4.   Bees are gravely threatened by pesticides. Bees depend on dandelions, their first spring source of nectar. We depend on pollination by bees for about one-third of our food. Neoncotinoid pesticides are particularly harmful to bees, attacking their nervous system and hence threatening their survival.   

“Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pesticides. Children eat and drink more per kilogram of body weight than adults. Their skin is more permeable and their livers do not excrete as efficiently as adults’. Their hand-to-mouth behaviour increases the chance of ingestion and their dermal contact is increased because of a proportionally larger skin surface, and because they play on the ground outdoors and on the floor indoors.”

                                         Ontario College of Family Physicians 2004

HOW GREEN DOES OUR GARDEN GROW?

Five Canadian provinces have banned pesticides: Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. But not Saskatchewan.  In our province it is still legal to use dangerous pesticides on lawns and gardens.

  • Over 170 Canadian municipalities have also banned pesticides. But not Regina.  In 2002, a citizen campaign to introduce a ban ended with City Council voting against it.
  • However, in May 2010, City Council did institute a one-year pilot pesticide reduction project, designating three parks–Gordon Park in southwest Regina, Al Pickard Park in north Regina, and Queen Elizabeth II Court in front of City Hall–as pesticide-free.
  • This experiment, now in its 4th year, has been a success in both economic and aesthetic terms. However, the project has not been expanded to all city parks.
  • Instead, on March 7, 2013, the City changed the designation of the three parks from “pesticide-free” to “herbicide-free” to allow for spraying for pests such as mosquitoes and cankerworms.
  • The City also adopted a plan whereby a threshold count of weeds will be undertaken in all City parks, including the three parks designated as “herbicide-free.” If a park has a weed count above the threshold, the City will start using herbicides on it. Is there a health-risk threshold?
  • Why not completely eliminate the use of pesticides for cosmetic or non-essential use in all our parks? This is the question raised by the Canadian Cancer Society which is advocating for all parks in Regina, indeed all lawns in Saskatchewan, to become pesticide-free. 

“Research linking pesticides to serious health issues is significant and growing. Leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast, brain, prostate, lung, pancreatic, stomach, kidney and other forms of cancer have all been linked to pesticides. Learning disorders, reproductive issues and acute health effects are also associated to pesticides. By eliminating the non-essential use of pesticides, exposure to these harmful chemicals will drastically decrease, contributing to better overall public and environmental health.”

                                                               Canadian Cancer Society

WHAT YOU AND I CAN DO

Find out more about the harmful effects of pesticides. Google “Canadian Cancer Society, pesticides” and “Saskatchewan Environmental Society, pesticide reduction.”

Banish toxic pesticides from our property, making it safe for people, birds, bees, and pets.

Find out more about the benefits of dandelions. Google “dandelion benefits.”

Dig the dandelions and EAT them. See DANDELION RECIPES insert or call Catherine at 306-569-7699 for suggestions.

Have a healthy lawn: mow high, dig out weeds, aerate (poke holes), leave grass clippings on for nutrients. Alternatively, plant non-grass ground covers.

Speak out about our concern about pesticides at work places, health centres, senior homes, daycare centres, and schools.

Contact Regina City Councillors, asking them to adopt a policy of avoiding pesticides for cosmetic or non-essential use in the management of land owned or administered by the City.

Urge the Government of Saskatchewan to follow other provinces and ban the cosmetic use of pesticides.  

Premier Brad Wall: 306-787-9433 or premier@gov.sk.ca

Minister of the Environment Ken Cheveldayoff: 306-787-0393 or kcheveldayoff@mla.legassembly.sk.ca   

Call on the federal government to ban neoncotinoid pesticides.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper: 613–992-4211 or pm@pm.gc.ca

 Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq: 613-992-2848 or leona.aglukkaq@parl.gc.ca

 

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VIGIL’S 6TH BIRTHDAY

Posted by strattof on May 5, 2013

MAY 2 2013 VIGIL'S 6TH BIRTHDAY 006 MAY 2 2013 VIGIL'S 6TH BIRTHDAY 005 MAY 2 2013 VIGIL'S 6TH BIRTHDAY 011 MAY 2 2013 VIGIL'S 6TH BIRTHDAY 010 MAY 2 2013 VIGIL'S 6TH BIRTHDAY 008 MAY 2 2013 VIGIL'S 6TH BIRTHDAY 020

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