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Archive for the ‘afghanistan’ Category

PEACE ON EARTH

Posted by strattof on December 21, 2014

2014 has not been a good year for peace.  

  • Canada is directly involved in two international wars ‒ Iraq and Ukraine ‒ and indirectly in at least one other ‒ Palestine-Israel.
  • Canada has jumped from the 15th to the 12th largest military exporter in the world.
  • Canada is the world’s 2nd largest producer of uranium. All of Canada’s uranium comes from Saskatchewan, accounting for 20% of world uranium production.
  • Regina high schools, both public and Catholic, are about to start offering courses in military training for credit and money.
  • Regina is the murder capital of Canada. 

What can we do for peace?

WHAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN DO FOR PEACE 

  • The Canadian government can stop being one-sided in its view of conflicts.In each of the conflicts in which it is currently involved, Canada has demonized one of the combatants: ISIS in the case of Iraq, Putin in Ukraine, and Palestine in the Israel-Palestine conflict. The other side is idealized‒identified with freedom and democracy. ●Such a good-versus-evil scenario lays the groundwork for war by creating a culture of hate and fear. ●There are few, if any, totally good guys or bad guys in any of these conflicts, just many varying shades of gray. ●For example, ISIS has killed a number of westerners by beheading them. Undoubtedly, they were, as Prime Minister Harper said, “brutal and barbaric” acts. But are they any worse than dropping bombs on people? The 2003 US “shock and awe” campaign in Iraq, done in the name of non-existent weapons of mass destruction, killed 7,500 Iraqi civilians. ●Let’s work for peace by being fair-minded and even-handed!

 

  • The Canadian government can work through the UN for a political solution to conflicts, rather than rushing off to war.Canada has been endlessly at war since 2003. Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria: Canada has been or is there making war. Which got shipped out faster: military equipment to Iraq or medical supplies to Sierra Leone to treat Ebola? ●Let’s give peace a chance!

 

  • The Canadian government can sign the Arms Trade Treaty, a treaty aimed at restricting the global arms trade. Nearly 70 countries signed the treaty in June of last year, but not Canada. Let’s stand for peace, not for selling weapons!

WHAT THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT CAN DO FOR PEACE 

  • The Saskatchewan government can place a ban on uranium development, as have three other provinces: Nova Scotia, BC, and Quebec.Saskatchewan uranium is the initial source of much, if not all, of the depleted uranium (DU) currently being used by the US military for the production of DU weaponry. A form of low-level nuclear warfare, DU weapons are classified as weapons of mass destruction under international law. Let’s work for peace by leaving Saskatchewan uranium in the ground.

 

  • The Saskatchewan government can reverse its decision to introduce military training into Regina high schools. Should we be turning our high schools into military recruitment centres? Do we want weapons handling to be part of our education system? Let’s introduce a high school course for credit in Peace Studies.

 

WHAT THE CITY OF REGINA CAN DO FOR PEACE 

  • The City of Regina can work to reduce inequality in our city. Study after study has shown a strong connection between inequality and violence. Regina’s boom has been a bust for many, especially those living in rental housing, which has become increasingly unaffordable. City Council could address inequality by developing a program to build 100 new units of affordable rental housing a year. Let’s work for peace by working for justice.

3 THINGS YOU AND I CAN DO FOR PEACE 

  1. We can sign the petition, NO MILITARY TRAINING IN SASKATCHEWAN HIGH SCHOOLS. We have copies of the petition with us at the vigil. Petitions can also be downloaded from facebook.com/PeacequestRegina
  2. We can let Premier Brad Wall know we don’t want our schools used to program young people to accept war as normal: 306-787-9433 or premier@gov.sk.ca
  3. We can see JOYEUX NOEL, a film about peace. Nominated for an Oscar in 2006, Joyeux Noel (“Merry Christmas” in English) tells the story of the First World War 1914 Christmas truce in the trenches, as experienced by Scottish, French, and German soldiers. ►Showing at Regina Public Library Film Theatre, 2311 12th Avenue

7 pm, Thursday December 18 and Saturday December 20

9 pm, Friday December 19 and Sunday December 21

Let’s work for peace!

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THE HUNGER GAMES & CANADA 2014

Posted by strattof on November 28, 2014

Mockingjay‒Part I, the third installment of The Hunger Games series of films, just opened in theatres. Based on Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy, the movies, like the novels, have been enormously successful. Set in the near future, the story takes place in a country known as Panem, a post-apocalyptic totalitarian society established in North America following the destruction of our civilization.

At the centre of the story is Katniss Everdeen, a mere 16 years old at the beginning of the series. We learn of her struggles, first to provide for her mother and beloved younger sister after their father’s death, and then to survive the Hunger Games, a nationally televised event in which children between the ages of 12 and 18 are required to fight to the death until there is only one remaining.

The Hunger Games trilogy is categorized as “young adult fiction.” However, its multitude of fans represents a broad demographic, extending from pre-teens to senior citizens. As many of us know, it tackles serious issues and offers a critique of contemporary society.

What can The Hunger Games tell us about present-day Canadian society?

CLIMATE CHANGE

In The Hunger Games, climate change is responsible for the demise of North America. As the Hunger Games contestants are about to be selected in District 12, the mayor “tells the history of Panem, the country that rose up out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America. He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained.”

On the 2014 Climate Change Performance Index, Canada ranks 58th out of 61. We are one of the top 10 CO2 emitters in the world. To protect tar sands development, the Harper government has gutted environmental regulations and blocked progress at international climate conferences. 76% of Canadians believe Canada should sign on to an international climate agreement.

ECONOMIC INEQUALITY

Panem is an extremely unequal society, with a disposable periphery where Katniss and her family struggle to survive, being exploited to feed the glittering capital where people live in unimaginable luxury. It is a classic case of what the Occupy Movement calls the 1% and the 99%.

Since the 1980s, inequality has been rapidly increasing in Canada, reversing the trend since the 1930s that saw increasing equality.

Today in Canada

  • The richest 1% earn 13.3% of income, up sharply from 7% in 1982.
  • The highest paid 100 CEOs earn 171 times more than the average worker, up from a ratio of 105 to 1 in 1998.
  • 900,000 people use food banks every month.
  • 1 in 5 children live in poverty.

Reducing Income Inequality: 5 Measures Governments Can Take 

  1. Increase tax rates on high incomes. In 1948, the top income tax rate for Canadians was 80%. Today it is only 43%.
  2. Reverse corporate tax cuts. The federal corporate tax rate has been slashed from 48% in 1984 to its current 15%, a 69%% tax rate cut.
  3. Raise the minimum wage to $17 an hour and then index it to inflation.
  4. Invest in social housing.
  5. Introduce high quality universal early childhood education.

BREAD AND CIRCUSES

Panem, the name of Katniss’s country, refers to the phrase “Bread and Circuses.” Coined by a first century Roman writer, it describes how ruling classes pacify commoners by providing entertainment that serves as a distraction from their exploitation and subjugation.

In ancient Rome, it was gladiatorial contests that provided the deadly distraction. In Panem, it is the Hunger Games. What is it in our society?

Collins has said that her main model for the Hunger Games was Reality TV. Her portrayal of the Panem games suggests that Reality TV not only diverts our attention away from the REAL issues; it also hardens viewers to violence, suffering, and cruelty.

WAR AND PEACE

The Hunger Games are a metaphor for war. We too send our young people off to kill other young people–in our case in other countries, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. As Collins indicates, even the most brutal of the young fighters in her novels are creations of the adult world which programs them, almost from birth, to fight and kill.

The anti-war stance of The Hunger Games is also evident in the portrayal of the impact of violence on the young characters. Like many soldiers who fought in Afghanistan, Katniss suffers from PTSD, experiencing flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and guilt.

Spoiler alert: Another indication of the novels’ attitude to war is the resolution of the Gale-Katniss-Peeta love triangle in favour of Peeta, “the boy with the bread,” and not Gale, Katniss’s childhood hunting partner. A man so consumed with “rage and hatred,” Gale sees violence, no matter the cost, as the only way forward.

The ultimate futility of armed resistance is, however, most clearly apparent when Coin, the president of District 13, the centre of the armed rebellion, begins to replicate the power plays of the Capital, dropping bombs on children and planning to reinstate the Hunger Games. Violence begets violence is Collins’s message.

If armed resistance is not the way to respond to brutal, unjust power, what is? Collins’s answer seems to be a fostering of certain values – community, resourcefulness, self-sacrifice, love – combined with a strategy of revolutionary non-violence.

THREE-FINGERED SALUTE

In The Hunger Games, the three-fingered salute is a symbol of resistance to unjust and corrupt power. Let’s do the three-fingered salute in Regina!

  • ENERGY EAST PIPELINE: This pipeline will cut right through Regina in the Harbour Landing area, thus expanding Canadian tar sands production and driving dangerous climate change. ►Let Premier Brad Wall know we want him to join the premiers of Ontario and Quebec and demand an assessment of Energy East’s climate impact.   
  • MILITARY TRAINING IN REGINA HIGH SCHOOLS: Starting in February, Regina high schools, public and Catholic, will offer a military training program to grade 11 and 12 students. Students will earn 2 credits for taking the course. They will also be paid $2,000. ►Sign the petition, No Military Training in Regina High Schools. We have copies with us. Petitions can also be downloaded from facebook.com/PeaceQuestRegina ►Let Premier Brad Wall know we do not want our schools used to program young people to accept war as normal.

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END ALL WARS: MARKING THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF WORLD WAR I

Posted by strattof on July 31, 2014

August 4th will mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, “the war to end all wars.” Over the next six years, the Harper government plans to spend $38 million commemorating this and our country’s other wars.

Anniversaries provide an opportunity for reflection. The First World War caused terrible loss and suffering, claiming over 16 million lives, 61,000 of them Canadian, and leaving more than 20 million wounded.

Sadly, Canada is not using the World War I centenary to promote peace. Rather, our government is utilizing it to glorify war and promote militarism.

Where is the glory in war? War is a catastrophe for everyone who experiences it.

Let’s put aside the war-mongering and listen to the voice of peace.

END ALL WARS

1914 – 2014

V O I C E S   F O R   P E A C E

Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder. ‒ Harry Patch, Britian’s last surviving World War I veteran

In war, the first casuality is truth. ‒ Aeschylus

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

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Martin Luther King

You can bomb the world to pieces but you can’t bomb the world to peace. Michael Franti

May the noise of weapons cease! War always marks the failure of peace. It is always a defeat for humanity. ‒ Pope Francis

All we are saying is give peace a chance. John Lennon

Our motto should be: let us make peace so that we can concentrate on the really important work that needs to be done. That is, alleviating the plight of the poor and the defenceless, for as long as most of humanity feels the pain of poverty we all remain prisoners. Nelson Mandela

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing. ‒ Arundhati Roy 

END ALL WARS

1914 – 2014

CANADA’S WAR VETERANS BETRAYED

The Canadian government is spending millions on war commemorations. At the same time, it is reducing the support it provides for veterans, especially the 40,000 Canadian soldiers who served in Afghanistan.

Canada needs to honour its veterans by providing them with all the support they need to deal with their physical and psychological injuries.

Another way to honour veterans would be to avoid creating new generations of wounded and dead soldiers. 

E N D   A L L   W A R S !

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HONOURING VETERANS OF WAR

Posted by strattof on February 9, 2014

The Harper government says it holds Canada’s veterans in the highest regard. Its actions, however, indicate otherwise: a complete disregard for the welfare of Canada’s veterans.

Last week provided yet another example of the government’s “we really don’t care about veterans” attitude.

• First, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino failed to show up on time for a scheduled meeting with veterans who had travelled from across Canada to meet him in Ottawa.
• When he did finally appear, he treated the vets and their concerns with disrespect.

The veterans were in Ottawa to protest the closure of nine veterans’ service centres across Canada – one of them in Saskatoon. The centres were shut down despite the pleas of veterans and their families.

This was the latest in a long series of actions the Harper government has taken against the interests of Canada’s veterans, starting almost from the moment it first took office.

THE NEW VETERANS CHARTER
In 2006, the Harper government replaced the Pension Act, used since the First World War, with the New Veterans Charter. Under the Charter, Canadian soldiers making an application for disability benefits are awarded a one-time, workers-compensation-style lump sum payout, rather than a lifetime pension.

Studies show the Charter is a financial disaster for many disabled soldiers. ●For those severely disabled, it can mean a 40% reduction from what they would have received under the Pension Act. ●It can also mean receiving 90% less than what other Canadian workers would receive for the same injuries.

REACTIONS TO THE CHARTER

Veterans Ombudsman: Charter Failing Veterans
In his June 2013 report, Canada’s veterans ombudsman, Guy Parent, found that the New Veterans Charter is failing many veterans and the Canadian government needs to take “urgent action.” According to the report:
● More than 400 of the most severely wounded and disabled veterans are at risk of spending their retirement years in poverty.
● 53% of veterans assessed as “totally and permanently incapacitated” have not been awarded impairment benefits.
● Benefits meant to help veterans transition from a military to civilian career are inadequate.
● Compensation for pain and suffering is lacking.

Afghanistan War Vets Take Charter To Court
● In 2012, wounded Afghanistan war vets filed a class-action law-suit in B.C. against the federal government over the lump-sum disability payment under the Veterans Charter, arguing that it is meagre in comparison with the lifetime disability pension and that it violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
● Federal lawyers argued for a dismissal of the veterans’ class-action lawsuit, saying Ottawa has no moral obligation to care for veterans.
● Last October, a B.C. Supreme Court ruling allowed the case to proceed.
● The Harper government says it will appeal the ruling – a stalling tactic that could delay the case for years.

VETERANS FURTHER DISHONOURED

Injured Soldiers Booted From Military

To qualify for an indexed pension, a Canadian soldier must serve in the military for 10 years.
To remain in service, a soldier must be fit to be deployed at a moment’s notice.
To balance the budget, the Harper government is not allowing wounded soldiers who are unable to meet the deployment rule to remain in service long enough to reach pension eligibility.

MILITARY SUICIDES
Since 2008, there have been 75 military suicides in Canada. As many as 10 have occurred in the last two months.

Even as thousands of Canadian forces members are struggling to cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental and physical health issues after returning from Afghanistan, the Harper government continues to cut veterans’ services.

To win the 2015 election, the Harper government is trying to claim a balanced budget while shortchanging Canada’s veterans.

TAKE ACTION
Tell Stephen Harper his government has committed to caring for all veterans, and that you want his government to meet this commitments. Remind Mr. Harper of the words he spoke at the last Conservative Party convention: “Let’s never forget that only this party takes to heart the debt owed to our brave men and women in uniform.” pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.

Send the same message to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Julian Fantino: julian.fantino@parl.gc.ca or 613-996-4971.

Call on the Harper government to treat Canadian veterans with respect: http://www.ceasefire.ca/?p=17570

Call on the Canadian government to provide lifelong support for wounded veterans. Google “change.org Canadian veterans.”

P U T   A N   E N D   T O   W A R

Another way to honour ill and injured veterans would be to avoid creating new generations of wounded and dead soldiers.

Posted in afghanistan, justice, peace activism | Leave a Comment »

THE HUNGER GAMES: CANADA 2013

Posted by strattof on December 6, 2013

Catching Fire, the second installment of The Hunger Games series of films, has just opened. Based on Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy, the movies, like the novels, have been enormously successful. Set in the near future, the story takes place in a country known as Panem, a post-apocalyptic totalitarian society established in North America following the destruction of our civilization.

At the centre of the story is Katniss Everdeen, a mere 16 years old at the beginning of the series. We learn of her struggles, first to provide for her mother and beloved younger sister after their father’s death, and then to survive the Hunger Games, a nationally televised event in which children between the ages of 12 and 18 are required to fight to the death until there is only one remaining.

The Hunger Games trilogy is categorized as “young adult fiction.” However, its multitude of fans represents a broad demographic, extending from pre-teens to senior citizens. As many of them know, it tackles serious issues and offers a critique of contemporary society. What can The Hunger Games tell us about present-day Canadian society?

CLIMATE CHANGE

In The Hunger Games, climate change is responsible for the demise of North America. As the Hunger Games contestants are about to be selected in District 12, the mayor “tells the history of Panem, the country that rose up out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America. He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained.”

In 2011, the Harper government pulled Canada out of the landmark Kyoto Protocol climate change agreement. At last month’s UN climate conference in Warsaw Poland, Canada was dishonoured with a special Lifetime Unachievement Fossil Award for our country’s practice of blocking progress at UN climate conferences. 76% of Canadians believe Canada should sign on to an international climate agreement.

ECONOMIC INEQUALITY
Panem is an extremely unequal society. The people in the Capital live in unimaginable luxury, while those in the outlying districts, like Katniss and her family, are poor and starving. It is a classic case of what the Occupy Movement calls the 1% and the 99%.

Since the 1980s, inequality has been rapidly increasing in Canada, reversing the trend since the 1930s that saw increasing equality. Today:
• The richest 1% of Canadians earns 11% of Canada’s income, up sharply from 7% in 1982.
• The highest paid 100 Canadian CEOs earn 122 times more than the average worker, up from a ratio of 84 to 1 in 2002.
• 900,000 Canadians use food banks every month.
• 1 in 7 Canadian children live in poverty.

Reducing Income Inequality: 5 Measures Governments Can Take
1. Increase tax rates on high incomes. In 1948, the top income tax rate for Canadians was 80%. Today it is just 43%.
2. Reverse corporate tax cuts. The federal corporate tax rate has been slashed from 28% in 2000 to its current 15%, a 46% tax rate cut.
3. Raise the minimum wage to $16 an hour and then index it to inflation.
4. Invest in social housing.
5. Introduce high quality universal early childhood education.

BREAD AND CIRCUSES
Panem, the name of Katniss’s country, refers to the phrase “Bread and Circuses.” Coined by a first century Roman writer, it describes how ruling classes pacify commoners by providing entertainment that serves as a distraction from their exploitation and subjugation.

In ancient Rome, it was gladiatorial contests that provided the deadly distraction. In Panem, it is the Hunger Games. What is it in our society?

Collins has said that her main model for the Hunger Games was Reality TV. Her portrayal of the Panem games suggests that Reality TV not only diverts our attention away from the REAL issues, it also hardens viewers to violence, suffering, and cruelty.

WAR AND PEACE
The Hunger Games are a metaphor for war. We too send our young people off to kill other young people – in our case in other countries, such as Afghanistan. As Collins indicates, even the most brutal of the young fighters in her novels are creations of the adult world which programs them, almost from birth, to fight and kill.

The anti-war stance of The Hunger Games is also evident in the portrayal of the impact of violence on the young characters. Like many soldiers returning from Afghanistan, Katniss suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, experiencing flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and guilt.
Spoiler alert: Another indication of the novels’ attitude to war is the resolution of the Gale-Katniss-Peeta love triangle in favour of Peeta, “the boy with the bread,” and not Gale, Katniss’s childhood hunting partner. A man so consumed with “rage and hatred,” Gale sees violence, no matter the cost, as the only way forward.

The ultimate futility of armed resistance is, however, most clearly apparent when Coin, the president of District 13, the centre of the armed rebellion, begins to replicate the power plays of the Capital, dropping bombs on children and planning to reinstate the Hunger Games. Violence begets violence is Collins’s message.

If armed resistance is not the way to respond to brutal, unjust power, what is? Collins’s answer seems to be a fostering of certain values – community, resourcefulness, self-sacrifice, love – combined with a strategy of revolutionary non-violence.

DANDELIONS

In The Hunger Games, dandelions are a symbol of hope, “the promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses.” Dandelions are also celebrated as a source of health-giving food. On the point of starvation, Katniss spies a dandelion and that evening she and her family feast on dandelion salad, along with the bread Peeta has provided.

In Regina, dandelions are considered noxious weeds to be eliminated with poisonous pesticides. The Canadian Cancer Society warns against the use of pesticides, citing research that links them to cancer and other serious health issues. Over 150 Canadian municipalities have banned pesticides. But not Regina. Here the pesticide lobby has more authority and influence than the Canadian Cancer Society.   

Posted in afghanistan, climate, environment, justice, peace activism | 3 Comments »

HONOURING VETERANS OF WAR

Posted by strattof on November 21, 2013

F A C T  S H E E T 

  • 750,000: Approximate number of veterans of all wars in Canada 
  • 39,000:  Number of Canadian veterans of the war in Afghanistan 
  • 8,026: Number of Canadian soldiers released from  the military because of injury or illness between 2006 and 2011 
  • 3,900: Number of Afghanistan veterans the Canadian forces estimate will be diagnosed with some form of occupational stress injury     

Earlier this month, on November 11th, Canadians honoured our veterans of war at Remembrance Day services. Surely the best way to honour ill and injured veterans would be for our government to offer them adequate compensation for their often horrific and life-changing injuries. But that is not happening in Canada.

THE NEW VETERANS CHARTER

In 2006, the Harper government replaced the Pension Act, used since the First World War, with the New Veterans Charter. Under the Charter, Canadian soldiers making an application for disability benefits are awarded a one-time, workers-compensation-style lump sum payout, rather than life-time pension.

Studies show the Charter is a financial disaster for many disabled soldiers. ●For those severely disabled, it can mean a 40% reduction from what they would have received under the Pension Act. ●It can also mean receiving 90% less than what other Canadian workers would receive for the same injuries.   

REACTIONS TO THE CHARTER

Veterans Ombudsman: Charter Failing Veterans

In his June 2013 report, Canada’s veterans ombudsman, Guy Parent, found that the New Veterans Charter is failing many veterans and the Canadian government needs to take “urgent action.” According to the report:

  • More than 400 of the most severely wounded and disabled veterans are at risk of spending their retirement years in poverty.
  • 53% of veterans assessed as “totally and permanently incapacitated” have not been awarded impairment benefits.
  •  Benefits meant to help veterans transition from a military to civilian career are inadequate.
  • Compensation for pain and suffering is lacking.

Afghanistan War Vets Take Charter To Court

  • In 2012, a group of wounded Afghanistan war veterans filed a class-action lawsuit in B.C. against the federal government over the lump-sum disability payment under the Charter, arguing that it is meagre in comparison with the lifetime disability pension and that it violates the Canadian Charter.  
  • Federal lawyers argued for a dismissal of the veterans’ class-action lawsuit, saying Ottawa has no moral obligation to care for veterans.
  • Last month, a B.C. Supreme Court ruling allowed the case to proceed.
  • The Harper government says it will appeal the ruling, a stalling tactic that could delay the case for years.

VETERANS FURTHER DISHONOURED 

Injured Soldiers Booted From Military  

  • To qualify for an indexed pension, a Canadian soldier must serve in the military for 10 years.
  • To remain in service, a soldier must be fit to be deployed at a moment’s notice.
  • In a bid to balance the budget, the Harper government is not allowing wounded soldiers who are unable to meet the deployment rule to remain in service long enough to reach pension eligibility.

Veterans Affairs Offices Shut Down

In another cost-saving move, the Harper government is closing 9 Veterans Affairs offices by February 2014. In the words of a veteran who depends on the services of a soon-to-be closed office: “It’s just going to kill us…,They couldn’t do it on the battlefield so they’re going to do it right here in Ottawa” (CTV Atlantic).

Dignified Funeral Applications Denied

Since 2006, a federal fund meant to ensure veterans have a dignified funeral has rejected 20,147 applications submitted by families of low-income soldiers for a funeral stipend. The rejections represent 66% of the requests received.

T A K E   A C T I O N

  • Tell Stephen Harper the Government of Canada has made a commitment to provide care to all veterans and you want his government to meet that commitment. Remind Mr. Harper of the words he spoke at last month’s Conservative Party convention: “Let’s never forget that only this party takes to heart the debt owed to our brave men and women in uniform.” pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.
  • Send the same message to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Julian Fantino: julian.fantino@parl.gc.ca or 613-996-4971.
  • Sign the petition calling on the Canadian government to provide life-long support for wounded veterans. Google “change.org Canadian veterans” or go to  www.change.org/petitions/government-of-canada-our-wounded-veterans-deserve-life-long-support 

P U T   A N   E N D   T O   W A R

Another way to honour ill and injured veterans would be to avoid creating new generations of wounded and dead soldiers.

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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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CANADA DAY QUIZ

Posted by strattof on July 1, 2013

(Answers at end)

1. How many people signed the KEEP REGINA WATER PUBLIC petition?

a) over 4,000              b) over 14,000             c) over 24,000

 2. Give 3 reasons why a P3 wastewater plant is a bad idea. 

3. What historically important event took place in Regina on July 1 1935?

4. Children who attend school on reserves receive 30% less funding for education than other Canadian children.

True or False

5. What is the poverty rate for First Nations children in Canada?

a) 30%                       b) 40%                         c) 50%

6. Canada’s rich are getting richer.  

True or False

7. How many people are homeless in Regina?  

a) 300             b) 1,500                       c) 3,000

8. On the 2013 Climate Change Performance Index, Canada ranks

a) 6th out of 61                 b) 26th out of 61          c) 56th out of 61

9. The federal government provides an annual subsidy of approximately $1 billion to the tar sands industry.

True or False

10. Which of the following statements are true?

a) On average, 3 workers per day lose their lives to workplace accidents in Canada.   

b) The unemployment rate for First Nations people is roughly double the rate for non-Indigenous people.  

c) Saskatchewan’s minimum wage is the 2nd lowest in Canada.

d) All of the above.

11. Match each quotation with its author:

a) Be the change you want to see in the world.

b) You can bomb the world to pieces but you can’t bomb the world to peace.

c) War cannot be humanized; it can only be abolished.

d) When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.

e) Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Albert Einstein             Michael Franti           Jimi Hendrix

Martin Luther King     Mahatma Gandhi     

12. How do you stop strips of Canadian bacon from curling in the frying pan?

QUIZ ANSWERS

1. c): 24,232 people signed the petition. That’s more than enough to force a vote on the future of Regina’s water system.

2. a) The P3 deal will put Regina’s wastewater treatment plant in the hands of a private corporation for the next 30 years. Water is not a commodity. It is an essential human need. It must always be in public hands. b) The P3 deal will cost Regina taxpayers more than if the City of Regina were to retain control of the facility. c) The P3 deal will result in a reduction of service quality. Private companies minimize cost in order to maximize profit.

3. The Regina Riot: The riot began when the Regina police and the RCMP charged a crowd made up mainly of Regina citizens who had come out to show their support for the On-To-Ottawa Trekkers, unemployed single men who had ridden box cars from Vancouver, determined to take their demand for real work and fair wages to Ottawa. Charles Millar, an undercover policeman was killed in the riot, and Nick Schaack, a Trekker, died later in hospital from head injuries. The police denied any Trekkers had been killed.

4. True: In 1996, the federal government imposed a 2% growth cap on all Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development funding. The cap has had a particularly harmful effect on education programs.

5. c): The average child poverty rate for First Nations children in Canada is 50%, compared to 12% for all other children.  

6. True: Since 1980, the wealthiest 10% of Canadians have seen their average income rise 34%, while the bottom 10% have seen their earnings rise just 11%.  

7. c): In 2010, the last year for which figures are available, over 3,400 people used Regina’s shelter services.

8. c) Canada is one of the top ten CO2 emitters in the world.

9. True: Tar sands development is the single biggest contributor to the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. 

10. d) All of the above.

11. a) Mahatma Gandhi  b) Michael Franti  c) Albert Einstein  d) Jimi Hendrix  e) Martin Luther King

12. Take away their tiny brooms.

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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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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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