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Archive for April, 2017

ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Posted by strattof on April 28, 2017

Each year since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has set the hands of its Doomsday Clock to show how close humanity is to annihilating itself.

Each second closer to midnight brings us nearer to destroying ourselves with our own technologies. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons.

On January 26, the hands of the Doomsday Clock moved 30 seconds closer to midnight, from 3 minutes to just 2 ½ minutes—the clock’s closest approach to midnight since 1953.

2017 marks the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombs instantly killed 225,000 people. Burns, injuries and radiation poisoning killed many more by the year’s end.

72 years after those horrific events, the threat of nuclear weapons still looms over humanity.

7 2 Y E A R S  A F T E R

NUCLEAR WEAPONS

  • Today, nine nations possess nuclear weapons: Russia, the US, France, China, Britain, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. Together these states have some 15,000 nuclear warheads. Moreover, all are expanding or “modernizing” their nuclear weapons programs.
  • Here’s a breakdown by country of the total nuclear stockpile:

Russia        7,000               Pakistan           120

US             6,800               India                100

France       300                  Israel               80

China         250                  North Korea    Fewer than 10

Britain       215

NUCLEAR THREATS

The threat of nuclear disaster seems to be particularly high at the moment. These are the reasons:

  • Tension between the US and Russia over Syria and Ukraine
  • Tension between the US and North Korea
  • The unpredictability of US President Donald Trump
  • India-Pakistan tensions
  • A nuclear accident—an accident waiting to happen

BANNING NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Last month, the United Nations held a conference to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons. 123 countries attended. It was the first major development in nuclear disarmament in decades. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Canada did not attend the conference. 40 other nations also boycotted the neotiations, including seven of the nine nuclear states. (China and India were the exceptions.)

Why did Canada not attend? Canada is a member of NATO. NATO reserves the right to use nuclear weapons on a first-strike basis. The US instructed all NATO members to reject the negotiations.

Unlike Canada, the Netherlands, also a NATO member, disobeyed US instructions and attended the conference. In the Netherlands, there was strong public pressure on the government to participate in the nuclear ban negotiations.

A SECOND CHANCE

The UN conference to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons will resume on June 15 and run to July 7. It is not too late for Canada to join the conference.

Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not prohibited by international law.

VOICES FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

Albert Einstein, 1945:If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.” 

Arundhati Roy, 1999: “It is such a supreme folly to believe that nuclear weapons are deadly only if they’re used. The fact that they exist at all, their presence in our lives, will wreak more havoc than we can begin to fathom.”  

Mayor of Hiroshima, Kaumi Matsui, 2015: “As long as nuclear weapons exist, anyone could become a hibakusha [victim of those weapons] at any time.

THE PEACE SYMBOL & NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

The peace symbol finds its origins in the British nuclear disarmament movement. Designed in 1958, it uses semaphore signals to transmit its message.

Semaphore is a system of conveying information at a distance. You spell out a word by placing your arms in certain positions, each position representing a different letter in the alphabet.

N and D, standing for Nuclear Disarmament, are the semaphore signals represented in the peace symbol.

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE

CONTACT POLITICAL LEADERS

  • Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want Canada to attend the next UN meetings on banning nuclear weapons and to take a strong stand on their prohibition: trudeau@parl.gc.ca
  • Send the same message to your MP:

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

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

Erin Weir: erin.weir@parl.gc.ca

  • Ask the leaders of the other federal political parties what their position is on the elimination of nuclear weapons:

Rona Ambrose, Conservative Party: rona.ambrose@parl.gc.ca

Elizabeth May, Green Party: elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca

Tom Mulcair, NDP: thomas.mulcair@parl.gc.ca

ENTER THE 2017 PEACE SYMBOL CONTEST

  • Create a peace symbol on any surface: for example, a sidewalk using chalk; a piece of clothing; a cake or cookies using icing.
  • Take a photo of your peace symbol.
  • Email the photo to makingpeace@sasktel.net

You will, in return, receive a peace gift and become eligible to win a major peace prize. The deadline is midnight August 31, 2017.

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EARTH DAY 2017

Posted by strattof on April 21, 2017

Saturday, April 22, is EARTH DAY, a time to reflect on the catastrophic damage we are doing to the earth systems that give us life, and a time to start taking action to reverse the damage.

CLIMATE FACTS

  • The upper safety limit for CO2 in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million. Today the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is 407.05 per million, well over the safety limit.
  • The leading cause of the increase in atmospheric CO2 is the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Rising CO2 levels in the earth’s atmosphere are the main cause of climate change.
  • Average global temperature has already risen by 1°C.
  • A global rise in average temperature of less than 2°C must be avoided if catastrophic consequences for human, animal, and plant life are not to follow.
  • 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded—until 2015 beat it by a wide margin. Then 2016 set a new record.

EARTH DAY 2017: CANADA’S CLIMATE RECORD

CLIMATE COMMITMENTS

In 2015, the Trudeau government, signed the Paris Climate Agreement, committing, along with 195 other countries, to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2°C, and thus avoid catastrophic climate change.

To help meet this goal, Canada also pledged to reduce its CO2 emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

BROKEN COMMITMENTS

In 2016, the Trudeau government approved two new tar sands pipelines: the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

  • Together these two pipelines will expand tar sands production by about 1 million barrels of oil per day.
  • Tar sands development is the single biggest contributor to the growth of carbon emissions in Canada.

If the government proceeds with these pipeline expansion plans,

  • Canada will not be able to keep its Paris Agreement pledge to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • The world will also likely be prevented from meeting its Paris Agreement commitment of keeping the increase in global temperature below 2°C.

According to climate scientists, if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must leave at least 85% of tar sands oil in the ground.

BROKEN ELECTION PROMISES

In approving the pipelines, Trudeau also broke three of his election promises:

  1. To make Canada a world climate leader.
  2. To overhaul the National Energy Board’s environmental assessment process before considering any more pipelines.
  3. To implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples and to build a nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations.

The Trudeau government has also broken another crucial climate-related election promise: to end the Harper government’s $34 billion a year subsidy to the fossil fuel industry.

SASKATCHEWAN’S CLIMATE RECORD

Premier Brad Wall says that his government was forced into an austerity budget because of “a massive reduction in resource [mainly oil] revenues.”

Why has the price of oil dropped so sharply? Because supply has outpaced demand. One of the reasons demand is low is a growing switch away from oil to renewable sources of energy—sources, such as wind and solar, that generate little or no global-warming emissions.

But not in Saskatchewan! A vocal champion of the fossil fuel industry, Premier Wall supports pipeline and tar sands expansion. His solution to the province’s budget crisis is to lure Calgary-based oil companies to relocate to Saskatchewan.

Is it any wonder, then, that Saskatchewan has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emission rates in the country and ranks last among the provinces in environmental performance? SHAME! 

EARTH PROTECTORS

Indigenous communities across Canada have taken the lead in opposing pipelines and tar sands development. The original caretakers of this land, they are determined to protect it, and the entire planet, from environmental destruction.

WE ALL MUST BE EARTH PROTECTORS!

TAKE ACTION FOR EARTH DAY

Tell Prime Minister Trudeau that saying “yes” to pipelines is saying “yes” to climate disaster. Let him know you want his government:

  • To stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry.
  • To review the Line 3 and Trans Mountain pipeline projects.
  • To implement the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • To keep the pledge Canada made at the Paris Conference.

justintrudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-922-4211 

Contact Premier Wall and let him know you want the provincial government:

  • To say ‘no’ to tar sands pipelines.
  • To say ‘yes’ to developing a sustainable green economy.
  • To help the federal government keep the carbon reduction pledge it made at the Paris Climate Conference by working to reduce carbon emissions.

premier@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-9433

PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH: SATURDAY APRIL 29, NOON – 2 pm, LEGISLATIVE BUILDING

  • Celebrate our interdependent relationship to each other, and our dependent relationship to the Earth.
  • Demonstrate support for Saskatchewan showing leadership in addressing the climate crisis.

The People’s Climate March will be a peaceful, family-friendly event. Bring your kids. It’s their planet!

On facebook: https://actionnetwork.org/events/peoples-climate-march-regina-2017?referrer=&source=widget#

 

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PEACE IN SYRIA

Posted by strattof on April 14, 2017

Last week, the US launched 59 missiles against a Syrian govern-ment air base. The US says the missile strikes were in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack allegedly carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—an attack that killed 86 civilians, many of them children.

Prime Minister Trudeau “fully supports” the US missile strikes in Syria. Did our Prime Minister consider the following?

  • As yet, there is no clear evidence as to who is responsible for the chemical weapons attack.
  • The US missile strikes are illegal under international law.
  • Over the six years of this brutal war, multiple war crimes have been committed, seemingly on all sides. The US, for example, has admitted to using depleted uranium weapons in Syria.
  • While attacks with chemical weapons are deplorable, to respond to such attacks with missile strikes achieves nothing. It is war—the killing of people, whether with chemical or conventional weapons (missiles, bombs)—that is deplorable.

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!

MAKING WAR IN SYRIA

CANADA MAKES WAR

March 2015: Canada became part of the US-led coalition fighting in Syria when the Harper government expanded Canada’s military mission in Iraq into Syria. 

March 2016 – 2017: The Trudeau government has twice extended Canada’s military mission in Syria, most recently until June 2017. 

April 2017: Last week, Prime Minister Trudeau endorsed the US missile strikes in Syria. Earlier this week, Trudeau went one step further than Harper, coming out in support of the US policy of regime change in Syria.

ENDLESS WAR

The war in Syria has been raging on for more than six years. That’s six years of waste, loss, and suffering for the people of Syria. Why does this war go on and on? Here are two major reasons:

  1. Foreign Intervention: The Syrian civil war has become a proxy war for the US and Russia. The US has an agenda of regime change, now shared by Canada. It wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out. Russia, Assad’s ally, is determined to keep him in power.
  2. Arms Sales: Many countries, including Canada, are making a killing selling arms to the Middle East. Much of this weaponry is being sent to Syria, fueling the civil war. Canada is the world’s second largest exporter of arms to the Middle East.

DEATH & DESTRUCTION IN SYRIA

The United Nations has declared the Syrian war “the worst humanitarian crisis since the Cold War.” It is the world’s most devastating conflict.

  • Over 400,000 Syrians have been killed in the war.
  • 9 million Syrians have become refugees.
  • 5 million Syrians are internally displaced.
  • Nearly half of the affected people are children.

MAKING PEACE IN SYRIA

There is no military solution to the war in Syria. Rather than supporting US military action and escalating the conflict even further, Canada should be working to end the Syrian bloodbath and to bring peace through a negotiated political solution.

CONDITIONS FOR PEACE

  1. All of the major parties involved in the Syrian conflict must be brought to the peace table, including the Assad government, Syrian rebel factions, Da’esh , the Kurds, the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, with the Syrians taking the lead in the discussions.
  2. The flow of arms to the Middle East must stop.

WHAT CANADA MUST DO

  • Withdraw from the US-led coalition fighting in Syria.
  • Make diplomatic peacemaking in Syria a top priority.
  • Stop selling arms to the Middle East. 

SYRIAN REFUGEE CRISIS

Syria accounts for more of the world’s refugees than any other country. 4.9 million Syrians have fled their homeland because of the ongoing war.

Some have found permanent homes in countries like Canada (40,000) and Germany (600,000). The majority, however, are in refugee camps in nearby countries or in Europe. Thousands have died trying to make it to Europe.

No one leaves home unless

Home is the mouth of a shark

You only run for the border

When you see the whole city running as well

From Home, a powerful poem by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire: http://seekershub.org/blog/2015/09/home-warsan-shire/

How to end the Syrian refugee crisis? End the war!

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE IN SYRIA

RALLY FOR PEACE IN SYRIA, SATURDAY APRIL 22, 2:30 pm

PEACE FOUNTAIN, REGINA CITY HALL

Let Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and your MP know you want Canada to stop making war and to start working for peace in Syria.

PM Trudeau: justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4211

Ralph Goodale: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca or 613-947-1153

Andrew Sheer: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4593

Erin Weir: erin.weir@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-9115

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SASKATCHEWAN’S AUSTERITY BUDGET: OFF THE BACKS OF THE POOR

Posted by strattof on April 14, 2017

We are told that our province’s dire financial situation—a $1.2 billion deficit—means that we all have to tighten our belts. There do, however, seem to be some exceptions:

  • The corporate tax rate: reduced by 1 point, from 12% to 11%, making it the lowest in the country.
  • Personal income tax rates: reduced by 1%.

Such corporate and personal income tax breaks will have two main effects:

  1. Further shift the tax burden from businesses to individuals.
  2. Make the tax system less progressive and more regressive: One of the purposes of taxes is to redistribute wealth from those who have more to those who have less. These tax changes do the opposite.

To make matters worse, the Wall government has raised the PST by 1 point, from 5% to 6%, and extended it to include children’s clothing. Consumption taxes, like the PST, are a greater burden for poor people than for those with higher incomes.

Now Brad Wall is offering our tax dollars to lure Calgary-based oil companies to relocate to Saskatchewan. Turns out Wall and his wife own shares in three of these companies.

OFF THE BACKS OF THE POOR

 CUTS TO SOCIAL PROGRAMS

SAID (Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disabilities) is “an income support program for people with significant and enduring disabilities.” In August 2016, the Wall government announced that SAID recipients would lose the Excess Shelter Allowance, a cut made in the name of “equity and fairness.”

There was such a public outcry the government reversed the cut for those currently on the SAID program. However, it still applies

  • To all new applicants.
  • To anyone who changes address.

Even with the Excess Shelter Allowance, the maximum amount a SAID recipient can receive in rental support is $715. Not much housing is available in Regina for $715 a month. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $926.

PRIVATIZATION OF SERVICES

CLEANING SERVICES

The 251 cleaners of government buildings in Saskatchewan used to earn $19.20 an hour, or about $40,000 a year. Despite being the lowest paid government workers, they at least made a living wage.

Now that the Wall government has privatized cleaning services, these same cleaners are likely to make the minimum wage: $10.72 an hour. This is not a living wage.

PRISON FOOD

The Wall government also privatized prison food services, contracting out meal preparation to Compass Group, a for-profit, multi-national corporation. Now meals for Saskatchewan’s prison population are prepared in Alberta and trucked in frozen.

Since food privatization took effect, prisoners at Regina’s Correctional Centre have gone on four hunger strikes, citing concerns about food quality and quantity. Also 62 unionized workers lost their jobs.

ELIMINATING STC

The Wall government is eliminating the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC), a Crown Corporation. Many people use STC, but its loss will affect different groups differently:

  • 70% of STC riders are low-income.
  • Many First Nations use STC. In BC, the absence of a rural bus service resulted in the Highway of Tears.
  • 300 rural cancer patients use STC to get to their appointments.
  • Many newly-released prisoners rely on STC to return to their communities.

STOP THE ELIMINATION OF STC

  • Sign petitions calling for plans to eliminate STC to be stopped:

https://www.facebook.com/stopthecutsSK/

http://www.saskndp.ca/stc 

LIBRARY CUTS

The Wall government has cut all funding for public libraries in Regina and Saskatoon and more than half of the funding for regional libraries. Like STC, the loss of library services will affect different people differently. For example:

  • You are an avid reader, but can’t afford to buy books.
  • You are looking for a job and don’t have access to a computer.
  • You are a high school student and need a quiet place to study.
  • You are a new-comer to Canada and want help with English.
  • You are homeless and need to get out of the cold until the shelter where you sleep reopens.

STOP THE CUTS TO OUR LIBRARIES

Sign petitions calling for funding to be restored to our libraries:

 

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