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Archive for October, 2013

HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: SCARY REGINA

Posted by strattof on October 28, 2013

Be afraid! Be very afraid!! With Halloween upon us, we seek out the genuinely frightening things in our city.

They’re scarier than ghosts, goblins, and witches. They’re scarier than Darke Hall, the site of a number of deaths and ghost sightings. They’re even scarier than the building on Dewdney Avenue, now home to Bushwakkers, where a ghost is regularly spotted on the premises.

For a genuine fright, scroll down to see what is really scary in Regina.

5 SERIOUSLY SCARY THINGS IN REGINA

 HOUSING HORRORS

In 2010, the last year for which figures are available, over 3,400 people used Regina’s shelter services. Today, the city’s shelter system is filled to capacity.

The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Regina is $857, hardly affordable for a full-time minimum wage worker earning $1,736 per month. The commonly accepted definition of “affordability” is spending 30% or less of income on housing.  

According to Mayor Michael Fougere, “affordable rental housing” is “housing with rents at or below average market rent.” Mayor Fougere also says “Homelessness is not a municipal responsibility.” Meanwhile, City Council is giving developers $15,000 per door to build market rate rental units. In other words, our tax dollars are being used to subsidize developers. Now that’s seriously scary!

Safe secure housing is a human right. Moreover, studies show that that the cost of addressing homelessness though emergency services is significantly higher than the cost of providing permanent housing.

MONSTROUS INEQUALITY

The gap between rich and poor is growing in Regina and across Canada. Since 1980, the wealthiest 10% of Canadians have seen their average income rise 34%, while the earnings of the bottom 10% have risen just 11%.

Studies show that more unequal societies have more health and social problems, a higher infant mortality rate, a shorter life expectancy, a higher incidence of mental illness, and a higher crime rate.  

Even the rich benefit from greater equality, with, for example, a reduction in death rates and the incidence of mental illness.

PESTICIDE POISONING

Over 170 Canadian municipalities have banned the use of pesticides on lawns and gardens. But not Regina.

 “Research linking pesticides to serious health issues is significant and growing. Leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast, brain, prostate, lung, pancreatic…and other forms of cancer have all been linked to pesticides.” – Canadian Cancer Society

TRANSIT TRICKERY

Regina Transit experienced a 9% increase in ridership in 2012, resulting in $600,000 in surplus revenue from ticket sales. Still, there was no increase in the 2013 transit budget and the surplus revenue went back into general revenues.

Mayor Fougere says the city is continuing to invest in transit improvements. Is he talking about future investments?

The Mayor has also spooked transit riders by backing a plan that would force them to transfer to smaller buses to get downtown.

HERITAGE HAUNTINGS

A spectre is haunting Regina – the spectre of demolished heritage buildings. All the powers of Regina have entered into an unholy alliance to create this spectre: Mayors, City Councillors, School and Library Boards (with apologies to Marx and Engels).

Demolished heritage buildings include: Regina’s original City Hall, 1903 – 1965; Central Collegiate 1908 – 1985; McCallum Hill Building, 1912 – 1982; and the Capital Theatre, 1921 – 1992.

Now City officials have Connaught School (1912) and Central Library (1962) in their sights for demolition. Connaught is Regina’s oldest school, while Central Library is one of our city’s finest examples of modernist architecture.

Heritage buildings are unique and irreplaceable and create a strong sense of place and local identity.

T R I C K   O R   T R E A T

For too long, all levels of government have played nasty tricks on us. It’s time for some treats: More justice! More equality! A healthier society!

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STOP SWEATSHOPS!

Posted by strattof on October 26, 2013

SWEATSHOP noun: a difficult or dangerous work environment where employees work long hours for low pay, and employers have no regard for the laws, including worker safety, child labour, and minimum wage laws. ●The term sweat shop was coined in England during the Industrial Revolution when people, including children, worked for starvation wages in hazardous, unhealthy situations. ●In today’s globalized economy, most of the sweatshops are located in poor countries.

OUTSOURCE verb: to transfer production to an outside supplier in order to cut costs and avoid regulations. ●Labour organizations call it the “race to the bottom.” ●In today’s globalized economy, it means moving production from wealthy western nations to poor countries.

GARMENT INDUSTRY noun: companies engaged in the manufacture and selling of clothing. ●Once a cornerstone of Canadian industry, the manufacturing of clothing is now outsourced to Asian countries where mainly women workers toil in sweatshops in order to meet the western demand for cheap apparel.

ATTACK ON WORKERS

Outsourcing is an attack on workers in both rich and poor countries.

  • Canada lost over 75,000 jobs between 2001 and 2010 due to outsourcing in the garment industry. 
  • Bangladesh, because it is cheapest, has become the country of choice for the western garment industry to outsource the manufacture of apparel. About 4 million Bangladesh workers, mostly poor women, toil in factories making clothes for such brands as Gap, Sears, Walmart, Target, Lululemon and Loblaws. Workers are paid about 28 cents an hour, work 12-15 hours a day, 6 days a week, and live in tiny overcrowded hovels in abject misery. They also work in extremely dangerous conditions. 

BANGLADESH FACTORY TRAGEDIES

In the past year, over 1000 people, mostly young women, have died in Bangladesh in a series of factory tragedies:

FACTORY FIRE, November 24 2012 – Tazreen Fashions Ltd, Dhaka, Bangladesh: 112 killed, stranded in the factory building with escape exits locked and windows barred. At least 200 injured.

FACTORY COLLAPSE, April 26 2013 – Rana Plaza commercial building, Savar, Bangladesh: 1,100 workers, including children, killed. 2,500 injured and/or maimed. Hundreds still missing.

FACTORY FIRE, October 8 2013 – Aswad Composite Mills, Gazipur, Bangladesh: 10 killed; 50 injured.

WHAT CORPORATIONS HAVE DONE

  • In response to international pressure from labour, as well as from groups working against sweatshops, 100 mainly European corporations have signed onto the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
  • Only 1 Canadian company signed on: Loblaws.
  • Instead, other corporations, led by Walmart and the Gap, came up with their own initiative: Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.

Both the Accord and the Alliance are agreements that commit corporations to assessment of worker safety. However, the Accord is legally binding and the Alliance is not.

Neither agreement commits companies to pay fair wages to workers or to compensate injured workers.

THE QUESTION OF RESPONSIBILITY

Western corporations operating in Bangladesh do not invest in factories. Rather they deal with subcontractors, offering them a narrow margin of profit and thus forcing them to run the factories in barbaric conditions.

Subcontracting makes it easy for western corporations not to take responsibility, allowing them to pass culpability on to the small factory owners and to distance themselves from the blood and sweat of Bangladesh workers, while continuing to enjoy the benefits of cheap labour.

It is easy to cast blame for the Bangladesh factory tragedies. But who will take responsibility?

Western corporations and politicians certainly need to be held accountable. But what about western consumers? What is our responsibility?

WHAT YOU AND I CAN DO

Workers are dying in Bangladesh so we can have cheap clothing. Garment workers earn approximately $38 a month, an amount many of us would not think twice about spending on a single piece of clothing.

Take a stand against sweatshop abuses and help make corporations accountable for their actions:

  • Become an ethical shopper. Do not purchase “Made in Bangladesh” goods from companies that have not signed the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Ask Regina retailers why their company has not signed the Accord
  • Look for alternatives such as “Made in Canada” or “union made” companies. Or buy second-hand clothing.
  • Tell our MPs we do not want goods made in sweatshops imported into Canada.
  • Learn more about sweatshops and anti-sweatshop campaigns: Google “sweatshops in Canada”; Google “Maquila Solidarity Network links” or go to: http://en.maquilasolidarity.org/resources/links
  • Learn about the history of the labour movement in North America. Read about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York that, in 1911, killed 146 workers. The conditions in the factory were very similar to those in Bangladesh factories today. The 1911 fire led to labour standards and laws, including the right to organize. The New York garment workers did not die in vain. Nor should the Bangladesh factory workers.

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KEEP SPACE FOR PEACE, 0CTOBER 5 – 12, 2013: A WORLD-WIDE WEEK OF ACTION AGAINST SPACE WEAPONS

Posted by strattof on October 11, 2013

Over 50 years ago, with the launch of Alouette I, Canada became only the third nation in the world to design and build an orbiting satellite. In 1967, Canada and a host of other nations signed the Outer Space Treaty to restrict placing weapons in space, recognizing the common interest of all mankind in the progress of the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.”

Since Alouette I, Canada has benefitted from some of those peaceful uses: satellites have helped us communicate, navigate, forecast the weather, and monitor the environment.

OUTER SPACE IS BECOMING EVER MORE HEAVILY MILITARIZED

Today many nations, including Canada, rely on satellites to carry out military operations: communications, coordination, reconnaissance, surveillance, and weapons targeting all depend on space-based networks.

  • The US military refers to the 1991 Gulf War as “the first space war” because it marked the first major use of satellite-guided (GPS) bombs and other space-based military systems.
  • In the 1991 Gulf War, 7% of all aerial bombs were GPS-guided; by the time of the 2003 war in Iraq, it was over 90%.
  • In Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere, western-led forces increasingly use satellite-guided drones to monitor and target insurgents, often dropping bombs on villages.
  • Since 2004, the USA’s drone campaign has killed as many as 400 civilians in Pakistan alone, 94 of them children, according to London’s Bureau for Investigative Journalism.
  • During the 2012 war in Libya, NATO forces used satellite-guided JDAM (Joint-Direct Attack Munition) bombs. Over 70 civilians died in that war, according to Human Rights Watch.
  • An Ottawa Citizen report from August of 2012 reported Canadian interest in satellite-guide drones “that can be outfitted with missiles and other bombs. According to Department of National Defence documents the military intends to spend around $1 billion on the project.”

Since then, a new head of Canada’s Space Agency has been named: General Walter Natynczyk, a former Chief of Defence Staff who was Canada’s top participant in the illegal invasion of Iraq.

These developments represent a far cry from “the use of outer space for peaceful purposes.”

SATELLITES: THE EYES, EARS, & BRAINS OF MODERN WARFARE

  •  Satellites capture the images of targets (including individuals) that war-makers wish to destroy.
  •  Satellites pick up conversations and sounds that further identify targets, while GPS systems provide the gunsight that directs weapons to their destination.
  •  Drones and other new age weapons bring us closer to removing humans from the decision-making loop.

Canadians must oppose space militarization and a costly and dangerous new arms race in the heavens.

TAKE ACTION

  • Sign the petition to ban weaponized drones: http://bit.ly/OGIQ3T
  •   Email your MP to say you want Canada to oppose the militarization of space:

Ray Boughen: ray.boughen@parl.gc.ca  

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

Tom Lukiwski: tom.lukiwski@parl.gc.ca

Andrew Scheer: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca

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MARCH AGAINST MONSANTO

Posted by strattof on October 11, 2013

MONSANTO’S GENETICALLY MODIFIED SEEDS: WHY WE SHOULD STOP THEM

What are genetically modified (GM) seeds?

GM seeds have had genes from other organisms inserted into them. Genetic engineering is completely different from natural breeding, as it involves the direct transfer of genes from organisms into entirely different species. Monsanto’s GM seeds are engineered to be resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s powerful herbicide, Roundup.

Are GM foods safe to eat?

  • GM foods are approved for human consumption based on company-produced science. Health Canada does not do its own testing. There is no mandatory labeling in Canada.
  • There are 2 main sources of adverse health effects from GM foods: genetic engineering and the herbicide Roundup.
  • Independent research has shown that Monsanto’s GM foods can lead to serious health conditions, including cancer, Crohn’s disease, infertility, and birth defects.

Are there any environmental risks?

Once GM seeds are released into the environment, they cannot be controlled. They contaminate traditional crops; destroy genetic diversity; create super weeds that are herbicide resistant; and result in increased herbicide use. Worse, the herbicide, glyphosate, triggers pathogens that continue in the soil for years, lessening the soil’s ability to grow healthy food for future generations.

Who owns GM seeds?

GM seeds mean corporate control, as corporations, like Monsanto, take out patents on genetic sequences. Biotech corporations make huge profits, while farmers suffer huge losses. Forbidden to save their seeds and replant them, farmers are trapped into paying higher and higher prices for seeds and chemicals.

TAKE ACTION

In an obscene development, a Monsanto executive is winning this year’s “Nobel Prize of agriculture” – the prestigious World Food Prize – for creating GMOs. Receiving it legitimizes the sort of rampant genetic modification Monsanto pioneered.

Tell the World Food Prize Foundation not to reward Monsanto’s outrageous practices: http://action.sumofus.org/a/world-food-prize-monsanto-syngenta/5/2/

M A R C H   A G A I N S T MONSANTO

DATE:      Saturday October 12

TIME:       10:30 am – 1:30 pm

WHERE:   Starts at the Legislative Building

                Ends at City Square Plaza

October 12 is WORLD FOOD DAY, a good time to MARCH AGAINST MONSANTO, the largest seed company in the world and owner of 86% of GM seeds.

FURTHER INFORMATION

www.facebook.com/events/583443078335565

www.march-against-monsanto.com

IT’S TIME TO TAKE BACK OUR FOOD!

 

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