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Archive for March, 2018

ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Posted by strattof on March 8, 2018

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 25, 2018, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced it had moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight, 30 seconds closer than it was in 2017 and the closest to catastrophe since the height of the Cold War.

2018 marks the 73rd anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombs instantly killed at least 140,000 people, mainly civilians. The death toll continued to rise significantly in the following years and survivors are still today suffering from the effects of radiation.

73 years after those horrific events, the threat of nuclear weapons still hangs heavily over humanity.

THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

NUCLEAR DESTRUCTION

Today’s nuclear weapons are many times stronger than those the US dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. B83, the most powerful nuclear weapon currently in the US arsenal, is 75 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The US has 650 B83s.

NUCLEAR STATES

  • 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 is particularly high at the moment. These are the reasons:

  • NATO’s insistence on the right to a nuclear first strike
  • Tension between the US and Russia
  • 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

This is a dangerous time, but the danger is of our own making. Humankind has invented the implements of apocalypse; so can it invent the methods of controlling and eventually eliminting them.—Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

BANNING NUCLEAR WEAPONS

NUCLEAR WEAPON BAN TREATY

In 2017, 122 countries voted at the UN to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Recognizing the “catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences” of their use, the treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, and possession of nuclear weapons.

2017 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Here’s more good news: The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a civil society coalition that has been advocating for a strong and effective nuclear weapons ban since 2007.

THE BAD NEWS

Canada did not sign the treaty banning nuclear weapons. Nor did any of the nine nuclear-armed states.

Why did Canada not sign? 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 treaty.

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Here’s an excerpt from the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, delivered on behalf of ICAN by Beatrice Fihn and Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor, on December 10, 2017. To listen to the whole speech, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1daV8n6fTY

The story of nuclear weapons will have an ending, and it is up to us what that ending will be. Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us? One of these things will happen….  

To all citizens of the world: Stand with us and demand your government side with humanity and sign this treaty. We will not rest until all States have joined.

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE

CONTACT POLITICAL LEADERS

  • Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want Canada to sign the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty: 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

LEARN MORE ABOUT NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Books

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, by Daniel Ellsberg (2017)

Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System, by Jim Harding (2007)

Film

Dr. StrangeloveOr How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, by Stanley Kubrick

ENTER THE 2018 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, 2018.

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CITY OF REGINA 2018 BUDGET

Posted by strattof on March 8, 2018

ENDING HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA

In the 2016 municipal election, Mayor Fougere ran on a platform of ending homelessness. In his words: “We need to provide more housing and we need to end homelessness. Those are the major things I want to see happen.

On February 27, 2018, City Council passed its 2nd budget since that election.  For the 2nd year in a row, there is no money for Housing First, the Mayor’s preferred solution to Regina’s homelessness crisis, and little if any money (“up to $2.5 million in capital grants”) for affordable rental housing. WE WANT CHANGE!

HOMELESS IN REGINA

  • The average monthly rent for one-bedroom apartment in Regina is $935, hardly affordable for a full-time minimum wage worker earning $1,899.73 per month. The commonly accepted definition of “affordable housing” is housing that costs a household 30% or less of its income.
  • Since 2016, the names on the Regina Registry of Homeless People has more than doubled, growing from 240 to 539 names.
  • This figure does not include Regina’s hidden homeless—people who are double-bunking or couch-surfing—numbers that would double or even triple the homeless figure.
  • Regina’s shelters are filled to capacity.
  • Homelessness is too often a death sentence. According to new statistics released by the coroner’s office, at least 146 people died due to exposure in Saskatchewan over the past decade.

TRUTH & RECONCILIATION

  • A vastly disproportionate number of homeless people in Regina are Indigenous, 75% according to a 2015 study.
  • This might be a good time to remember that Regina is located on Treaty 4 territory.
  • There will be no reconciliation until there is justice!

YET ANOTHER PLAN

Instead of taking concrete action to end homelessness, Mayor Fougere has put his considerable weight behind the development of yet another plan to end homelessness in Regina. There has already been an overabundance of such plans: the 2007 Regina Community Plan on Homelessness the 2013 Regina Comprehensive Housing Strategy the Mayor’s two Housing Summits the Mayor’s Housing Commission. Did nothing come out of these?

$60,000 of City of Regina taxpayers’ money has already been spent on this new plan—to hire consultants. This money could have been used to house homeless people.

The plan won’t be released until September. In the meantime, more and more Regina residents are experiencing the misery and suffering and injustice of homelessness!

2018 REGINA BUDGET

REGINA POLICE SERVICE A BUDGET PRIORITY

The same City of Regina budget that provides little or no money for ending homelessness has allocated oodles of money to Regina Police Service (RPS).

  • $88 million for operating expenses: That’s $3.4 million more than the 2017 budget and 20% of the City’s operating budget, the most of any budget item.
  • $375,000 for the purchase of a tank
  • $12 million in 2018 for the purchase of the former STC depot

Why would we do this, especially at a time when a growing number of Regina residents have no roof over their heads?

“PUBLIC SAFETY”

According to the RPS website, “ensuring public safety is the primary goal of the RPS.” It would seem that, from the perspective of City officials, “public” does not include homeless people. Being homeless is inherently unsafe. Indeed, homelessness kills!

Moreover, as RPS Chief Evan Bray has often stated, reducing homelessness is an effective crime reduction strategy.

ENDING HOMELESS

There needs to be a shift in budget priorities. Here are two modest proposals:

  1. Invest the $175,000 for the tank in Regina’s Housing First program.
  2. Begin to defund the RPS. We keep handing the police ever increasing amounts of money and nothing changes. Let’s reduce, rather than increase, the RPS operating budget by $3.4 million this year and do so annually for the foreseeable future.

The money saved can also be put into Regina’s Housing First program until Regina reaches a state of functional zero homelessness—Mayor Fougere’s goal in ending Homelessness in Regina.

 

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