Saturday, January 21, 2006

US Message Screen in Havana Angers Castro

The US has taken a new direct route to getting its message across in Cuba and has been accused of provocation by Fidel Castro. An electronic screen perched on the fifth floor of the six-storey US Interests Section (USIS) in Havana projects messages in crimson letters more than a metre high.On Monday and Tuesday it began broadcasting the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the thoughts of US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr and the latest news, to surprised passers by on Havana's seafront.
Full Story

International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA)

Each year thousands of women come to the United States through International Marriage Broker firms (IMBs). These women are commonly referred to as “mail order brides.” These women travel significant distances from their families and communities to enter into marriages arranged by IMBs. Their isolation places them at high risk of abuse and violence, sometimes even murder. Most enter into marriage knowing little about their spouse, including whether he has a prior criminal record, which may include domestic violence, assault, or murder. Victims are often hesitant to seek help because they fear futher abuse or deportation or are unable to seek help because of the language barrier.
» Read more

Climate Change Action - 6 former heads of the EPA call for action on carbon emmisions

The Bush Administration has come under renewed pressure at a recent conference 6 previous heads of the EPA called for federal action to fight climate change and not just token funding for technology, but for actuall mandatory caps within a trading system.

Read rest of this article here: Climate Change Action: 6 former heads of the EPA call for action on carbon emmisions. Why are the govornment following not leading?

Climate Change Action is an interesting, informative environmental blog which I've bookmarked. It's well done with good, up-to-date content.

WATER: Life Before Profit - Workshop Jan. 28 in Hamilton

WATER: Life Before Profit

Saturday, January 28 9am – 1pm

Westdale United Church,
99 North Oval, Hamilton

(Free. Wheelchair accessible. Parking on street. Enter via North Oval door)

Co-sponsored by: Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives Hamilton-Burlington Committee, and IDEA (Interfaith Development Education Association) Burlington

The President of the World Bank has predicted that the wars of the 21st century will be over water. Water – its ownership, safety and security – is literally a matter of life and death.

Hamilton Councillor Brian McHattie and
Paul Lemieux, Animator for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

For more information, call Joy Warner of Kairos at 905-521-0017, or IDEA at 905-637-3110

To find out more about the KAIROS/DevP water campaign

"Anyone with knowledge of illegal activity and an opportunity to do something is a potential criminal under international law, unless the person takes affirmative measures to prevent the commission of the crimes." - Declaration of War Crimes Tribunals following World War ll

Friday, January 20, 2006

Tomdispatch: John Brown on the War on Terror as an Indian War

In the 1940s and 1950s, when the generation of men now ruling over us were growing up, boys could disappear into a form of war play -- barely noticed by adults and hardly recorded anywhere -- that was already perhaps a couple of hundred years old. In this kind of play, there was no need to enact the complicated present by recreating a junior version of an anxiety-ridden Cold War garrison state (though you could purchase your own H2O Missile, a water-powered toy "ICBM" in immitation of the sort just then being prepared by adults to pulverize the planet). For children in those years, there was still a sacramental, triumphalist version of American history, a spectacle of slaughter in which they invariably fell before our guns. This spectacle could be experienced in any movie theater, and then played out in backyards and on floors with toy six guns (or sticks) or little toy bluecoats, Indians, and cowboys, or green, inch-high plastic sets of World War II soldiers. As play, for those who grew up in that time, it was sunshine itself, pure pleasure. The Western (as well as its modern successor, the war film) was on screen everywhere then.

When those children grew up (barely), some of them went off to Vietnam, dreaming of John Wayne-like feats as they entered what they came to call "Indian country"; while others sallied off to demonstrate against the war dressed either in the cast-off World War II garb of their fathers or in the movie-inspired get-ups of the former enemy of another age -- headbands and moccasins, painted faces, love beads (those previously worthless baubles with which, everyone knew, Manhattan had so fraudulently been purchased), as well as peace (now drug) pipes. Sometimes, they even formed themselves into "tribes."

As it turns out, though, there was a third category of young men in those years -- those who essentially steered clear of the Vietnam experience, who, as our Vice President put it inelegantly but accurately, had "other priorities in the '60s." Critics have sometimes spoken of such Bush administration figures as "chickenhawks" for their lack of war experience. But this is actually inaccurate. They were warriors of a sort -- screen warriors. They had an abundance of combat experience because, unlike their peers, they never left the confines of those movie theaters, where American war was always glorious, our military men always out on some frontier, and the Indians, or their modern equivalents, always falling by their scores before our might as the cavalry bugle sounded or the Marine Hymn welled up. By avoiding becoming either the warriors or the anti-warriors of the Vietnam era, they managed to remain quite deeply embedded in centuries of triumphalist frontier mythology. They were, in a sense, the Peter Pans of American war play.

So no one should have been surprised that, when George Bush declared his global war on terror, he also swore to get Osama bin Laden in this fashion: "I want justice. And there's an old poster out West... I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.'" Of course, that "poster" came not from any real experience he had in the West, but directly from the thrilling cowboy films of his childhood. So did his John-Wayne-like urge to "hunt" the terrorists down, or "smoke ‘em out," or (for Iraqi insurgents) "bring ‘em on." From that same childhood undoubtedly came the President's repeated urge to dress up in an assortment of "commander-in-chief" military outfits, much in the style of a G.I. Joe "action figure." (Think: doll). It's visibly clear that our President has long found delight -- actual pleasure -- in his war-making role, as he did in his Top Gun, "mission accomplished" landing on that aircraft carrier back in 2003.

It's not surprising either that a critic who spent real time up close and personal with top Bush administration figures, Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff Larry Wilkerson, would accuse the President of "cowboyism." Nor should it be strange that various neocon writers close to this administration and in thrall to the same spirit should lovingly quote American military men who also believe themselves out on some Western frontier. Robert Kaplan, for instance, cites one officer as saying, "The red Indian metaphor is one with which a liberal policy nomenklatura may be uncomfortable, but Army and Marine field officers have embraced it because it captures perfectly the combat challenge of the early 21st century."

Many things have changed in our world in recent decades. For one thing, hundreds of years of history have more or less disappeared into the entertainment/media maw. In films like Dances with Wolves, which came out at the time of the first American war in Iraq, the Indians have turned all warm and fuzzy and are now the veritable Ewoks of our planet. In the meantime children on their floors and in their video games still shoot down innumerable evil ones ready to ambush them, but so many of them are now off this planet: demons, supervillains, mutants, and aliens. They are surely the first generation in memory to pass a full childhood without fighting old-style Indian Wars on their floors or playing "cowboys and Indians." And yet the paradigm of the frontier and of the Indian Wars settled deep into the American soul. So again, it should not be surprising that the now officially grown up boys, who have the power to make war on the world, should still imagine themselves in their beloved movies of long ago and that the framework of the Indian Wars, however suppressed and transformed, remains in some fashion deeply with us.

Surprising, however, is how little attention this has gotten. Fortunately, John Brown, a former State Department official who resigned to protest the coming invasion of Iraq in 2003 (and who has previously written on Bush's Global War on Terror for Tomdispatch) now takes up this theme and ushers us provocatively into the secret frontier dreamland of our rulers. Tom

Click here to read more of this dispatch.(With full links)

A Town Becomes a Prison

*Inter Press Service*
Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed

*SINIYAH, Iraq, Jan 20 (IPS) - People of Siniyah town 200 km north of Baghdad are angry over a six-mile long sand wall constructed by the U.S. military to check attacks by rebels.*

"Our city has become a battlefield," 35 year-old engineer Fuad Al-Mohandis told IPS at a checkpoint on the outskirts of the city. "So many of our houses have been destroyed, and the Americans are placing landmines in areas where they think there might be fighters, even though most of the time it is near the homes of innocent civilians."

Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division have been coming under nearly daily attack from roadside bombs.

Fuad said the U.S. military was now enforcing a curfew from 5pm. He said "so many explosions occur now which terrify our children."

The U.S. military began to use bulldozers Jan. 7 to build a large sand barrier around the town in an effort to isolate fighters who have been attacking U.S. patrols. Oil pipelines from the area which lead to Turkey have been regularly sabotaged by resistance groups.

The drastic measures have enraged many of the 3,000 residents of the town.

"They think by these measures they can stop the resistance," Amer, a 43-year-old clerk at the nearby Beji oil refinery told IPS. "But the Americans are creating more resistance by doing these things. The resistance will not stop attacking them unless they pull out of our country."

The clerk said he had not been able to leave his house for several days, and was unable to work or to visit family members outside Siniyah.

The U.S. military has named the project of building the huge sand wall 'Operation Verdun' after a battle from World War I. Occupation forces believe the city has become the main launching pad for attacks on their patrols, as well as mortar attacks on their nearby Summerall Base.

Checkpoints have been set up near the town, with U.S. and Iraqi security forces checking every car for weapons and explosives.

"We can't work any more, our income depends on distributing fuel," truck driver Abdul Qadr told IPS at one of the checkpoints. "We are in a very bad situation. The city is isolated now and they are putting barricades everywhere to stop the fighters. Our houses are raided daily while they are searching for foreigners, yet they can't find any of them."

Abdul Qadr, who grew up in Siniyah, told IPS he and his neighbours felt they were in a "concentration camp". That is also how residents of Fallujah and Samarra have described their towns after U.S. forces built similar walls around them.

An 18km long wall has been constructed by the U.S. military in Samarra, while Israeli-style military checkpoints remain in place in Fallujah. The occupation forces have imposed similar measures also in other towns such as Al-Qa'im, Haditha, Ramadi, Balad, and Abu Hishma.

While such security measures have been in place for some time in several towns, the attacks on security forces have only risen, to an average of more than 100 a day over recent months.

"The Americans think the fighters are coming from outside Iraq," said Qadr. "But they are not. Can't they see the only real solution is to let the people of a country rule themselves?"

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the DahrJamailIraq website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media . Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at

Note:All of Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches are reposted here with kind, explicit permission given by Dahr.

Green Party: Stronger Laws Needed to Protect Mail-order Brides in Canada

News Release
For Immediate Release

Stronger laws needed to protect mail-order brides in Canada
(Toronto, Tuesday, 18 January 2006) - The Canadian government must do far more to protect foreign women who emigrate from countries such as the Phillipines to marry Canadian men, said Green Party of Canada leader Jim Harris today.

Harris noted that many of these 'mail-order brides', who have had the courage to step forward, have reported spousal exploitation and abuse once they arrived in Canada, but their unique circumstances means that many others may not be stepping forward to report abuse. Once brides arrive from the Philippines, they have little mobility and are usually economically dependent on their husbands, and consequently vulnerable to abuse. If abuse does happen, there are few resources available to them and the women are often uninformed of their rights.

The Green Party supports increased research, monitoring and resources, based on the recommendations of non-profit groups such as the Philippines Women's Centre of B.C.

The 'mail-order bride' industry is significant in the Philippines. These marriages are arranged through agencies via websites and catalogues.

It is hard to say exactly how many Filipina women immigrate to Canada as brides or fiancées of Canadian men. According to the Philippine government, close to 150,000 Filipina women left the country between 1989 and 1998 as fiancées or spouses of foreigners. In 2003, people from the Philippines formed the third largest immigration group to Canada, after China and India.

Human rights advocacy groups warn that many of the agencies involved in 'mail-order' brides are effectively involved in human trafficking. In a report on human-trafficking, human rights NGO HRI notes that 'mail-order' brides may be as young as 13. Agencies often describe themselves as "introduction services", although their services may include sex tours and prostitution.

"It is crucial that the government accept the recommendations from organisations who work closely with these women. We must ensure that women come to Canada only by choice, that they are given protection under the law, and that they have a connection to services, community, and support," said Harris. "We cannot turn a blind eye to the situation of these women. Canada must be a responsible member of the international community, and tackle all human rights issues at home and abroad."

For more information:
Derek Pinto, David Kay
Media Relations Officers, Leader's Tour

Authorized by the Chief Agent of the Green Party of Canada
Read this media release online

Green Party Supports Go Vote Campaign

A Green Party News Release
For Immediate Release

Green Party supports Go Vote campaign

(Ottawa, Monday, 16 January 2006) - Following its Youth Voter Day initiative, the Green Party of Canada is encouraging young people to get involved in politics by supporting the Go Vote coalition and its campaign to rally the youth vote, said party leader Jim Harris today.

On January 16th, a dozen organizations from across the country will join forces for a 16-hour Day of Action aimed at getting youth out to the polls on Election Day. The Go Vote Campaign aims to assist young voters by connecting them to the political process. The national, non-partisan effort is a collective reaction to low voter turnouts in recent elections, especially among those aged 18 - 29.

"The higher the rate of participation the stronger our democracy becomes, which is why we are proud to show our support for this initiative," expressed Harris. "With over 1.5 million post-secondary students across the country, young Canadians have a unique opportunity to demonstrate just how much their vote counts."

Almost the entire decline in voting rates over the past 20 years (61 per cent in 2004, down from 64 per cent in 2000 and 70 per cent in 1993) is due to low rates of voter participation by youth (Democracy Project). Despite this, Green Party candidate Juliet Burgess (Calgary - Nose Hill) feels that young people are knowledgeable about politics and the issues that affect them.

History is made by those who show up," said Burgess, who at 18 is the youngest Green Party candidate in Canada. "There is still time to get out there and make politicians accountable to all Canadians, because a vote is more than just a piece of paper - it's a contract."

Ilona Dougherty is the National Director for Apathy is Boring (, a Montreal-based non-profit democracy project and member of the Go Vote coalition. Dougherty feels the Day of Action is critical because it shows that there are people from all over the country who think the youth vote is important and recognize that young people should have a voice.

"If we don't vote, politicians have no reason to pay attention to us. We need to break that cycle and start recognizing that issues we face every day in our communities are the same issues that the political leaders are dealing with. It's hard to realize this when there's so much rhetoric going around, but it's something we need to get past to see the impact that politics has on our lives," said Dougherty.

For more information on Go Vote and the national Day of Action, go to:

For more information:
Derek Pinto, David Kay
Media Relations, Leader's Tour

Green Party

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Haiti Forum - January 30 in Burlington

Haiti never arose as an election issue and is not in the news. Yet, it appears that Canada played a major role in the overthrow of the democratically elected Aristide Government.

Come see a shocking film of Haiti under the appointed interim government backed by UN forces. These UN forces are now led by Chilean General Eduardo Aldunate Herman who was one of 11 former high-ranking Chilean military officials under former dictator Augusto Pinochet who trained at the US-run School of Americas. General Herman participated in the coup that overthrew the democratically elected Allende government in Chile in 1973.


“Responsibility to Protect” ? or Failure to Protect ?

In February 2004, Canada, France and the United States removed from power the democratically-elected President of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In the intervening two years, Haiti has been ruled by an unelected interim government, supported by national police and a UN-sanctioned foreign military-political occupation force, in which Canada is an active participant. Canada justifies its action in Haiti by a new doctrine called "Responsibility to Protect." Although the situation has been often unclear, there have been reports of thousands of deaths and of hundreds of Haitians incarcerated without charges being laid, and forced into internal or external exile.

Justin Podur is a writer (often for Z Magazine), translator and activist living in Toronto. He has undertaken several research trips to Haiti, most recently in November 2005.

Haiti: The UNtold Story

MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2006 7:30 pm
East Plains United Church
375 Plains Rd. East, Burlington.
Free. Wheelchair accessible.

For more information:

BAND 905-632-4774

IDEA 905-637-3110

BAND: Burlington Association for Nuclear Disarmament
IDEA: Interfaith Development Education Association
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Burlington-Hamilton
Wider Work: Committee, East Plains United Church

Israel Preparing Possible Attack on Iran / US Feds After Google Data

IAF pilots have completed their mission training and fighter jets have been prepared for an Israeli attack on Iran, the British Sunday Times reported. The article reported that "the elite 69 strategic F-15 I squadron" had been equipped with weapons that will be tested in combat for the first time, and that two missile submarines were on standby: one in the Persian Gulf and the second in Haifa Bay.
Read more from

Feds After Google Data

In court papers filed in US District Court in San Jose, Justice Department lawyers revealed that Google has refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for records, which include a request for one million random web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.
Read more from

Chile's New Era

Michelle Bachelet’s election as president of Chile represents a historic shift in the profile of Chilean politics, says Roberto Espíndola.

Chile’s new era
Roberto Espíndola
16 - 1 - 2006

The victory of Michelle Bachelet in the second-round of Chile’s presidential election on Sunday 15 January was in the end decisive. The result – Bachelet received 53.45% of the vote against 46.5% for her rival, Sebastián Piñera – confirmed opinion-poll predictions and the voters’ own forecasts. However, it came after a first round on 11 December where the two candidates of the right-wing Alianza gathered more votes than Bachelet, the sole nominee of the ruling centre-left Concertación, and after an expensive, negative campaign focussing on her and seeking to persuade voters that a woman – and a divorced, agnostic, socialist single mother, into the bargain – couldn’t possibly become Chile’s president.
Read full article

NDP Pledged to Push for Debate & Vote on Canada's Military Role in Afghanistan

The NDP pledged to push for a debate and vote in Parliament on Canada’s military role in Afghanistan.

This is a very significant development and begins a much-needed discussion about the Americanization of the Canadian military. Hundreds of Canadian soldiers, including secret commandos, are currently fighting Taliban "insurgents" alongside U.S. forces and under U.S. command. Canada’s military commitment will grow to more than 2,000 troops in the coming weeks under an expanded NATO mission, relieving thousands of U.S. troops headed for Iraq.

On Tuesday, NDP leader Jack Layton described the Afghan mission as "warlike" and told reporters, "Our view is that Canadians support the peacekeeping role…But what Canadians do not support, in my view, is a warlike offensive role in the context of Afghanistan."

Later, on CBC’s The National, Layton said, "Certainly there should be a hearing in front of the [Parliamentary] Standing Committee that deals with these matters so all Canadians can find out precisely what’s going on, and public opinion can have its expression on this before the [Parliamentary] vote as well."

While the statement comes late in the campaign, the NDP is drawing attention to this issue and is setting up the debate for the next Parliament. No doubt many Canadians were very concerned about the tragic death of a Canadian diplomat in a suicide bomber attack in Kandahar. We deserve to know why the government is putting so many Canadian soldiers' and diplomats' lives at risk.

As the election winds down, has posted on the web site all of the party responses to our "Put it to the Politicians" questionnaire (only the Liberals did not reply).

You can also find a useful comparison of the party positions and platforms on The Globe and Mail’s website.

Which party do you feel will best promote peace?
Take's online poll

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Media Challenged with Guidelines for Election Results Coverage



In an open letter to CBC, CTV, Canwest, the Globe and Mail and Maclean’s, Fair Vote Canada today challenged the national media to follow five guidelines for their coverage of next week’s election results.

Fair Vote Canada -- January 18, 2006

“We urge the media to take these steps to eliminate erroneous and misleading coverage of this critically important national event,” said Wayne Smith, President of Fair Vote Canada.

“When covering past elections, the Canadian media have focused almost exclusively on what the voting system produced rather than what voters said with their ballots,” said Smith. “Unfortunately, their core assumption – that the results reflect what voters said – is simply wrong. “

“Media professionals are expected to look behind the curtain for the real story,” said Larry Gordon, Executive Director of Fair Vote Canada. ‘We call on Canada’s leading national media to do that on election night by applying the following five guidelines to their election coverage.”

1) Anchor your commentary and analysis on what voters have actually said with their ballots, rather than blindly reporting the number of seats won by each party.

For example, in the last election, the NDP won far more votes than the Bloc. If the voting system treated all voters equally, the NDP would have had more MPs than the Bloc, but the voting system gave the Bloc nearly three times as many seats. When reporting on the seats won by each party, the media should provide a parallel report on how many seats each party would have won if every voter had an equal vote.

2) Do the same for provincial and regional results.

In the last election, the media reported the Conservatives “swept” 26 of 28 seats in Alberta. In reality, nearly two out of five Albertans voted other than Conservative, but the voting system gave those voters only two out of 28 seats. Journalists should not make sweeping statements about Albertans, Ontarians and others, as though seat results reflected the way they actually voted.

3) Provide fair, balanced and accurate commentary on the treatment of voters supporting each party.

In 2004, election commentary noted the “failure” of the Green Party, which won more than a half-million votes. But election analysts provided no comparative commentary on how other groups of partisan voters were treated by the voting system. For example, fewer than half-million Liberal voters in Atlantic Canada elected 22 Liberal MPs. Election analysis should include a comparative scorecard on how the voting system treats the voters of each party and to what extent it diverges from voter equality.

For example, in the 2004 federal election:

The Bloc Quebecois elected one MP for every 31,113 votes.

The Liberals elected one MP for every 36,905 votes.

The Conservatives elected one MP for every 40,601 votes.

The NDP elected one MP for every 111,969 votes.

The Green Party elected zero MPs for 582,247 votes.

4) Provide an efficiency rating for the voting system.

Citizens cast votes to elect their Parliamentary representatives. But how efficient is the system? Give viewers and readers the answer by providing an election night and post-election analysis of the number of effective votes (votes that elected MPs) and wasted votes (those that elected no one) for voters in each province and the nation. Provide comparative electoral efficiency figures for other democracies. Offer commentary on the implications for democracies whose voting systems waste an average of 50% of all votes, compared to those with 5% or fewer wasted votes.

5) Do not make inappropriate and erroneous statements about winners and losers.

Based on the issues noted above, it follows that traditional descriptors of the winners and losers must be scrapped. Do not state that a party receiving far less than a majority of votes has received a “mandate from the people”. Do not state that the “voters have spoken” when referring to seat results. Do not make exaggerated and erroneous statements about regional political preferences based on seat allocations.

Contact: Wayne Smith, 416-407-7009

or Larry Gordon, 647-519-7585

Fair Vote Canada
26 Maryland Blvd.
Toronto, ON M4C 5C9

Phone: 416-410-4034
Fax: 416-686-4929


Party Leaders: "Freeze Military Spending, Consult Canadians"

Canada's military spending is already 7th highest in NATO, and planned increases will push military spending higher than at any point during the Cold War. The government is building up our military to help the US wage the "War on Terrorism," not to help UN peacekeeping.

The spending increases will be used to increase the capability of the Canadian military forces ability to easily intergrate with US forces to help them wage the "War on Terrorism."

Meanwhile, Canada has abandoned UN peacekeeping - for every 10 dollars we spend on military missions - only 30 cents goes to UN peacekeeping.

It's time the Government updated its defence policy and included Canadians in deciding what role our military will play in the world. Until then, military spending should be frozen.

Be the 412nd person to send a message.


Mouseland: As told by Tommy Douglas in 1944

This is the poignant little parable called "Mouseland", which was told by Tommy Douglas in 1944. For those readers who have never heard it, I have posted it here. It is well worth reading or, for some of you, re-reading. -- Annamarie


Tommy Douglas (1904 -1986) was one of Canada's best known New Democrats. He was a man of many talents and, being involved in politics since 1936, he is renowned for various reasons.

The "Mouseland" story is a small sample of the wit and humour many people knew him for. To see and listen to Tommy Douglas in person was a rare treat. Tommy was a most accomplished orator.

Some people saw Tommy Douglas as a true democratic socialist, someone who placed human rights and needs above the mere pursuit of profits and power. Such principles should be implemented at the wish of the majority of the people. A social minded government would plan the economy of the country to allow all people to share in the country's wealth and have equal access to such basic needs as health and education.

Others saw Tommy as a great politician whose natural speaking, story telling and debating abilities helped bring social change to the country. Tommy was first elected to the House of Commons in Ottawa in 1936. He later switched to provincial politics and it was during his years as Premier of Saskatchewan that Medicare was first introduced to North America. Prior to Medicare, health care services were only available to those who could pay the price.

When the C.C.F. (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation) was renamed the New Democratic Party in 1961, Tommy Douglas was chosen as the Leader of the New Party until he resigned in 1971.

Tommy Douglas relates his message of social democracy in such a fashion that any audience can understand even the most complicated issue and be well entertained at the same time.

To social minded people everywhere, Tommy Douglas remains a constant source of inspiration.


As told by Tommy Douglas in 1944

Mouseland (1962)
Click here to go to the site and listen to this story in Quick time - 4MB, 6 min.

It's the story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland was a place where all the little mice lived and played, were born and died. And they lived much the same as you and I do.

They even had a Parliament. And every four years they had an election. Used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. And got a ride for the next four years afterwards too. Just like you and me. And every time on election day all the little mice used to go to the ballot box and they used to elect a government. A government made up of big, fat, black cats.

Now if you think it strange that mice should elect a government made up of cats, you just look at the history of Canada for last 90 years and maybe you'll see that they weren't any stupider than we are.

Now I'm not saying anything against the cats. They were nice fellows. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws--that is, laws that were good for cats. But the laws that were good for cats weren't very good for mice. One of the laws said that mouseholes had to be big enough so a cat could get his paw in. Another law said that mice could only travel at certain speeds--so that a cat could get his breakfast without too much effort.

All the laws were good laws. For cats. But, oh, they were hard on the mice. And life was getting harder and harder. And when the mice couldn't put up with it any more, they decided something had to be done about it. So they went en masse to the polls. They voted the black cats out. They put in the white cats.

Now the white cats had put up a terrific campaign. They said: "All that Mouseland needs is more vision." They said:"The trouble with Mouseland is those round mouseholes we got. If you put us in we'll establish square mouseholes." And they did. And the square mouseholes were twice as big as the round mouseholes, and now the cat could get both his paws in. And life was tougher than ever.

And when they couldn't take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and put the black ones in again. Then they went back to the white cats. Then to the black cats. They even tried half black cats and half white cats. And they called that coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: they were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat.

You see, my friends, the trouble wasn't with the colour of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice.

Presently there came along one little mouse who had an idea. My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, "Look fellows, why do we keep on electing a government made up of cats? Why don't we elect a government made up of mice?" "Oh," they said, "he's a Bolshevik. Lock him up!" So they put him in jail.

But I want to remind you: that you can lock up a mouse or a man but you can't lock up an idea.

The Moral of the Story
"Mouseland" is a political fable, originally told by Clare Gillis, a friend of Tommy Douglas. Tommy has used this story many times to show in a humorous way how Canadians fail to recognize that neither the Liberals or Conservatives are truly interested in what matters to ordinary citizens; yet Canadians continue to vote for them.

The story cleverly deals with the false assumption by some people that CCF'ers (NDP'ers) are Communists. The ending shows Tommy Douglas has faith that someday socialism, which recognizes human rights and dignity, will win over capitalism and the mere pursuit of wealth and power.
Mouseland - Sask New Democrats

Court Snubs Bush on Suicide Law / US Looks to Bolivia's Neighbours

The US Supreme Court has ruled that Bush administration overstepped its authority when it barred doctors from helping terminally ill patients die in the only state that allows physician-assisted suicide. In a stinging defeat for the administration on Tuesday, the high court ruled by six votes to three that John Ashcroft wrongly interpreted a federal law in 2001 when he was attorney-general to bar distribution of controlled drugs to assist suicides, disregarding the Oregon law authorising it. "It is difficult to defend the attorney-general's declaration that the statute impliedly criminalises physician-assisted suicide," Justice Anthony Kennedy said for the court majority. The court's most conservative members, Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas and new Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by President Bush, dissented.
Full Story

US looks to Bolivia's neighbours
A US official has said Brazil, Argentina and other nearby countries are going to determine the success or failure of the new government of Evo Morales, the president-elect of Bolivia who will take office next week.
Full Story

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

NDP on Peace Issues

For me, concerns about peace have always been at the forefront. As my readers and fellow bloggers have seen, politics is only of importance to me as it pertains to the primary issues of peace, human rights, social justice, civil liberties, equality, poverty, environment, democratic reform and freedom. In other words, to a more just, equitable, peaceful society and global peacekeeping -- and peace-making.

Due to my involvement with several groups representing these issues, I had sent out numerous emails to all parties and riding candidates asking questions about some of these concerns and had posted them here previously.

Tonight I received the the NDP's answers to a questionnaire I had sent to all parties. (Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have replied, so far. They have not replied to any of my other questions either.)

Here is the NDP's reply:

NDP on Peace Issues

Thank you for writing. The following is our reply to's questionnaire regarding peace.

Q. If elected, will you ensure that Canada does not participate in the U.S. ballistic missile defence system?

Yes. The NDP forced the Liberal Government to keep Canada out of Bush's missile defence system. We will continue opposing Canada's involvement in the U.S. ballistic missile defence system.

Q. If elected, will you commit to returning Canada to our former position as one of the world's top 10 contributors of soldiers to UN-led peacekeeping missions?

Yes. The NDP is committed to ensuring Canada focuses on peacekeeping.

Q. If elected, will you redirect planned military spending increases to support UN peacekeeping and other important security measures, such as improved health care, environmental protection and foreign aid?

We will ensure Canada's military spending promotes Canadian sovereignty as well as international peace and security.

Q. If elected, will you tighten Canada's arms export controls, end public subsidies to corporations for weapons production, and ensure that public dollars, such as Canada Pension Plan funds, are not invested with arms producers?


Q. If elected, will you ensure that Canada leads the way for nuclear disarmament and the prevention of an arms race in space?


Again, we appreciate hearing from you. All the best.

Jack Layton and Canada's NDP
Getting results for people
Des réalisations concrètes

The Power of Oil: Scramble for Diminishing Resource Shapes Global Relationships

Many thanks to the friend who sent me this very interesting piece. -- Annamarie

As demand for oil increases, the dependent countries hesitate to antagonize those with ample supply. As a result, developing nations that are oil-rich have discovered newfound power, with oil politics often taking priority over democracy or human rights. For example, Chinese energy interests protect the Sudan from US anger over the massacre in Darfur. Likewise, some Western capitals are reluctant to bring Iran before the UN Security Council, because any sanctions including an oil embargo would damage their own economies. Over the past 70 years, the US led the way in setting ground rules for oil politics, yet now seems surprised by trends that have given developing countries more power. – YaleGlobal

The Power of Oil: Scramble for diminishing resource shapes global relationships

by Dilip Hiro

YaleGlobal Online, 10 January 2006

LONDON: A geopolitical game has been underway ever since oil became a strategic commodity just before World War I. Once dominated primarily by Western nations, the game now includes many non-Western ones, with the countries dependent on oil imports increasingly reluctant to antagonize those endowed with oil.

A case in point, Western capitals have abandoned threats of placing Iran in the dock at the UN Security Council – at least for the time being. On January 10, to the chagrin of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran resumed research in enriching uranium that it had voluntarily stopped earlier.

Last September, the European Union Troika (EU3) succeeded in convincing the IAEA Board of Governors to declare that Iran was in non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) it had signed. But the EU3 did not take the next logical step of referring Tehran to the UN Security Council.
Read full article

Dilip Hiro is the author of "Secrets and Lies: Operation 'Iraqi Freedom' and After," and most recently "The Iranian Labyrinth: Journeys through Theocratic Iran and its Furies," both published by Nation Books.

Celebrated journalist and historian Dilip Hiro, who has been writing and reporting on Iran since the 1979 revolution and is one of the world's leading experts on the Middle East, deftly navigates the Iranian labyrinth. He both conveys the country's rich history and provides fascinating eyewitness accounts of the contemporary events and institutions. Hiro's deeply informed contribution to our understanding of a country at the center of foreign affairs is invaluable.

Hiro describes Iran as a land of contradictions. On the one hand, chador-clad women are the majority at universities, Iranian films win prizes at international festivals and human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; and on the other, a rising number of journalists, intellectuals, women and youth suffer under the sociopolitical restrictions imposed upon them by the Islamic regime.

Dilip Hiro writes regularly for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Observer, the Guardian and The Nation. His twenty-seven books include the best-selling, "Iraq: In the Eye of the Storm", as well as "The Longest War", widely regarded as the definitive history of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq conflict.

© 2006 YaleGlobal Online, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization

Tomgram: De la Vega, Does the President Really Know Best?

[Note to Tomdispatch readers: I'm switching coasts for a month. While I hope to post the normal number of dispatches during this period, I might, at least initially, prove slower than usual answering mail or fielding requests of all sorts. Please bear with me. I also might, as today, write less myself. Tom]

In every way they could imagine -- unnoticed in broad daylight and in the darkness of eternal secrecy -- the President and his top officials have been hardest at work not at governing the country but at bulking up presidential powers. This, it now seems, was the centerpiece of an audacious law-breaking plan -- or even, you might say, a law-breaking vision -- involving illegal war, illegal treatment of captives, illegal detentions, illegal spying on citizens, and so on -- in which global and domestic power would be nailed down for a generation. Certainly, these officials were intent on creating an unfettered "commander-in-chief" (not just of the military but of a nation of civilians) for their own benefit and that of their followers, not -- you better believe -- for some future Democratic president. They even came up with a fancy theory for why this Constitution-breaking scheme was deeply constitutional (and all their law-breaking unbelievably legal) and dubbed it the "unitary executive theory" of power. This "theory" is to be enforced at the highest level by courts well-packed with believers and a Justice Department led by another believer, a former White House Counsel who personally helped make the theory real. This is nothing short of an imperial cult of the presidency in formation. Former Federal Prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega, who regularly writes on the Plame case and other legal matters for this site, considers that "theory" and the nature of the law-breaking that lies behind it in the case of the President's authorization of warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency. Tom

Bush's Warrantless Spying
Does the President Really Know Best?

By Elizabeth de la Vega

OK, everyone who has studied the Unitary Executive Theory of the Presidency, raise your hand. Anyone? Anyone?

If you are not raising your hand, you're not alone. As regular readers of Tomdispatch are aware, only recently has the world received notice that President Bush's "I can do anything I want" approach to governance has a name: the Unitary Executive Theory of the Presidency. Not having heard of this concept, and thinking perhaps that I had missed something in Constitutional Law, I decided to survey a random sampling of attorneys about it. The group included civil practitioners, prosecutors, a federal judge, a former federal prosecutor who has a PhD as well as a J.D., defense attorneys, and a U.S. magistrate. The precise question was, "When did you first hear about the Unitary Executive Theory of the Presidency?" Most said, "The past few weeks," but my favorite was, "A few seconds ago, when you asked about it." All agreed that the term does not appear in the U.S. Constitution and that, the last time they checked, we still had three branches of government.

Discussion of this "theory" has been prompted, of course, by President Bush's recent confession to a crime: repeatedly authorizing the National Security Agency (NSA) to intercept domestic electronic communications for foreign intelligence purposes without a court order in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). FISA contains no exception for the President, but Bush claims his action is legal because: (1) Congress endorsed it in its September 18, 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force in response to Al Qaeda's September 11th attacks, and (2) he has inherent power as Chief Executive to act as he deems necessary in wartime. Many scholars, including Georgetown University's David Cole and former New York State Congressional Representative Elizabeth Holtzman have thoroughly debunked these arguments.

You don't have to be a constitutional scholar to know that Bush's legal justifications are weak. You merely have to consider the administration's duplicitous conduct. The Bush team has deliberately concealed this program, not only from the public and Congress, but, most damning of all, from the very agency that is responsible for executing the laws of this country: the Department of Justice (DOJ). It has been widely reported that even Bush appointees, such as former Assistant Attorney General James B. Comey, and possibly former Attorney General John Ashcroft, objected to the NSA's wide-ranging warrantless spying. After 20 years as a federal prosecutor, I am absolutely certain that the vast majority of career attorneys at DOJ and criminal prosecutors from U.S. Attorneys' Offices around the country, as well as federal law enforcement agents, would have refused to participate knowingly in this program. Bush and his coterie knew that their legal arguments were weak and intellectually dishonest, if not ludicrous, so rather than making their case honestly, even to their own people, they avoided dissent by acting in secret and affirmatively misleading the entire country. Using a tragically familiar modus operandi, Bush has carried out his unlawful spying scheme by acting not as a unitary executive (whatever that is), but as a solitary executive -- as if the President Knows Best.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

VIDEO: Al Gore's Speech Highlights, and more from BuzzFlash

Today's BuzzFlash laudatory message thanks Al Gore and highlights the lackluster, pathetic Democrats and the cowed mainstream, corporate US media. As always, BuzzFlash's daily introductions to their headlines are gems which I enjoy, and thought I'd share them with readers here:

" True transformations in politics are as rare as palm trees in the Arctic Circle.

But Al Gore is that palm tree.

On Martin Luther King Day, Al Gore took us to the mountaintop and allowed us to view the desecrated landscape of Constitutional rubble that the Bush Administration has spread across America. Gore has, for the last three years, been a prophet of saving our democracy and restoring out Constitution.

As expected, the mainstream press, ever afraid to offend Bush, has largely ignored or margianlized Al Gore's spectacular speeches holding up a mirror to the reality of the Bush Administration. Indeed, in the front page of the moring January 17th Internet editions of the Washington Post and the New York Times, not a single story could be found on the Gore speech (except for a story in the rolling AP list on the NYT about the current Bush consigliere -- and U.S. Attorney General -- Alberto Gonzales refuting Gore!).

The fact that the two major Eastern "establishment" papers can, in terms of top stories, basically shut out the man who was elected president in 2000 --despite his deliverance of a speech that provided an abundance of evidence that Bush broke the law and has precipitated a Constitutional crisis -- well that about says it all for the fall of the mainstream media into Royal Court propaganda publications.

And the mainstream D.C. Democrats, particularly in the Senate, appear more concerned about protecting their status quo "day jobs" than protecting the Constitution. They haven't rallied to Gore's side either -- or to the side of heroes like John Murtha, a man speaking on behalf of members of the Pentagon elite echelon who believe Bush and Rumsfeld are destroying our military capabilities with the ill-fated, misbegotten Iraq War.

No, lackluster Senators like Dianne Feinstein do the administration's work by signaling there won't be a Democratic filibuster of Alito. Di-Fi says that Alito did just fine in the hearings. Yeah, she says she won't vote for him, but that is meaningless without a filibuster. Di-Fi has long been an administration enabler, never risking much of anything on a vote or a pronouncement. She'll not join a filibuster, even though Alito adamantly believes in the concept of Bush as the "unitary executive," which, in the vernacular means, a man with dictatorial powers. Di-Fi would rather allow an egomaniac of immense mediocrity and incompetence become an entrenched ruler with dictatorial powers than speak out for our Constitution.

Al Gore isn't just brining the truth to the Bush Administration. He is bringing it to a Democratic establishment which has been ethically compromised and corrupted by their personal sinecures and commitment to their Senate positions, rather than their commitment to our Constitution.

This is Al Gore day on our BuzzFlash alerts, because Al Gore has the temerity to tell the truth with passion and alarm -- and document his assertions everystep of the way.

Gore is the real thing, someone who went through a personal crisis, traveled to the mountain top, and saw the light.

It was fitting that he delivered his latest salvo in defense of our Constitution and form of checks and balances on Martin Luther King Day.

Thank you, Al. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. "

Al Gore calls for special prosecutor to investigate Bush's authorizations of unwarranted wiretapping.

*Video: Al Gore's Speech Highlights. He Speaks the Truth, While Most Other Democrats Prattle and Blather on, Content to Keep Their Day Jobs and Not Rock the Boat by Standing Up for America.

Get It From BuzzFlash, Now Shipping! "Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future" by James Carville and Paul Begala. "They understand what moves people and how to frame a message." -- A BuzzFlash Review

Gore Assails Domestic Wiretapping Program; asserted Monday that President Bush "repeatedly and persistently" broke the law 1/17

Read more of the news that counts at BuzzFlash

When a Democracy is NOT Really Democratic

This is an excellent article on by John Gray, where you'll notice a lot of our Dubious Democracy data and presentation. My only question: why isn't this a lead story on the friggin' National, where it belongs?

By John Gray, Reality Check Team | Jan. 16, 2006 |
More Reality Check
" Before Canadians go to the polls on Monday, one conclusion is already clear. That is, whatever happens, the results will be curiously at odds with the votes that were actually cast."
Read more

Harper May Set Phony Majority Record



According to poll results and seat projections released yesterday, Stephen Harper may be close to setting a new Canadian record for the phoniest majority government ever.

The current record is held by Jean Chretien, who captured a majority of seats in 1997 with only 38.5 per cent of the popular vote.

According to the January 13-15 Ipsos Reid survey, the Conservatives have 38 per cent support but, thanks to distorted results created by the first-past-the-post system, are poised to win 152 seats, just a few shy of majority control of Parliament.

“This is ludicrous,” said Wayne Smith, President of Fair Vote Canada, a national citizens’ campaign for voting reform. “Here we are – a major western democracy in the early 21st century – wondering whether a party that six in ten voters do NOT support will gain absolute control of our Parliament and political agenda for the next four or five years.”

The following shows the projected seats from the Ipsos Reid survey, compared with the number of seats each party would get if every vote had an equal effect on electing MPs.

Conservatives (38%): 152 seats projected – when 117 seats are deserved

Liberals (26%): 66 seats projected – when 80 seats are deserved

NDP (19%): 31 seats projected – when 59 seats are deserved

Bloc (12%): 59 seats projected – when 37 seats are deserved

Greens (5%): 0 seats projected – when 15 seats are deserved

“As the chart illustrates, we will soon have yet another badly skewed and unrepresentative Parliament,” said Larry Gordon, Executive Director of Fair Vote Canada.

Gordon pointed out that Canada’s dysfunctional voting system generally creates phony majority governments, which is why most major democracies scrapped first-past-the-post voting between 50 and 100 years ago.

“Since World War One, Canada has had only had four legitimate majority governments that were elected by a majority of voters” said Larry Gordon, Executive Director of Fair Vote Canada. “Every other majority government was created by our antiquated voting system, not the voters.”

Fair Vote Canada -- January 17, 2006

Contact: Wayne Smith, 416-407-7009

or Larry Gordon, 647-519-7585

Has Harper Really 'Evolved'? / So What DID Harper Say? (Sound bite File)

Harper: Learning from Reagan

What do you think? Has a new Harper emerged from the ashes of his 2004 campaign, or has he merely reshaped his image to make him more acceptable to Canadian voters, as evidenced by his popularity in recent polls? I can't help but ask the old question: "Can a leopard change its spots?"

Read these articles from TheTyee to learn a little more about the possible future leader of our country.

Insiders say he's changed his image, not beliefs.
By Tom Barrett
Published: January 16, 2006

The old Stephen Harper was an inflexible neo-conservative ideologue.

That was the guy who thought that Canadians were content to live in a "second-tier socialistic country," that the federal Liberals conspired to stack the courts in favour of gay marriage and that Alberta should build a "firewall" to preserve its values against a hostile federal government.
Read more

So What DID Harper Say?

Grey man, hot tongue.

The Conservative Leader's sound bite file on everything from taxes to Iraq, health care, gay marriage, nature, left wingers...
Read more

The Day the Music Died

This is the most compelling, vividly descriptive, emotive article I've read about post-Katrina New Orleans.

Author and critic Nik Cohn has been obsessed by New Orleans for more than 30 years, and has been involved in the rap scene there for the last five. Six months after Hurricane Katrina he revisited the city and was stunned by what he found. In this compelling despatch he describes communitites struggling to piece together their lives as they watch their city being ripped apart by politicians and planners with designs on a very different New Orleans.

The day the music died

Sunday January 15, 2006
The Observer

Monday, January 16, 2006

Tell Exxon's New CEO – Time is Running Out on Global Warming

ExxonMobil, the most powerful, most profitable, most polluting oil company, claims that it is the world's leading supporter of global warming research. But what Exxon leaves out is that it spends millions of dollars to convince people that global warming is a hoax. Tell ExxonMobil's new CEO, Rex Tillerson, that enough is enough. The world needs action, not disinformation campaigns. Urge him to move ExxonMobil in a new direction!

Bush & the Limits of Debate

George W. Bush, who sees himself as America's all-powerful "unitary executive," has begun pronouncing limits on "responsible" debate about his Iraq War policies, putting outside the bounds questions on his ulterior motives and false pre-war claims. But it looks like Rep. John Murtha, who advocates a prompt withdrawal from Iraq, can expect some harsh treatment, too, as conservatives dredge up allegations that he exaggerated his war wounds in Vietnam.

For the full story about this management of dissent, go to

Posada Carriles May Soon Be Freed / Watch VIDEO: "Extradition of a Terrorist"


The man responsible for the blowing up of a Cuban passenger plane with 73 people on board in 1976, Luis Posada Carriles, could soon be freed by the U.S. government. Read the article "Posada Carriles may soon hit the streets" below for a summary and analysis of the most recent deveopments in Posada's case. The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition has also set up an easy-to-use mechanism to tell Congress and the Bush administration that Posada should be extradited to Venezuela, where he is to stand trial for his crimes. A.N.S.W.E.R. has also released a brand new video, "Extradition of a Terrorist" revealing the crimes of Luis Posada, which you can watch by clicking here

A.N.S.W.E.R. has actively protested Posada's terrorist history and demanded his extradition to Venezuela since Posada's arrival into the U.S. was known in April 2005, by demonstrations, press conferences and the letter-writing campaign.

Funds are urgently needed to continue this campaign, spread the word, and keep the pressure on the Bush administration and Congress. If you believe Luis Posada Carriles should be extradited, please click here to make a donation

Watch the new A.N.S.W.E.R. video, "Extradition of a Terrorist":




by José Pertierra*

It's now clear why the United States refused to charge Posada Carriles with terrorism. Not until now do we see exactly why the government charged him only with the single and timid charge of entering the country without proper papers. Instead of pursuing justice, the United States government simply scolded the terrorist.

According to an article published this Wednesday in the Miami Herald's Spanish language newspaper, the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently informed Posada's lawyers that his "status as a detainee would be reviewed on the 24th of January." This means that within a few weeks Posada Carriles, the man responsible for the blowing up of a passenger plane with 73 people on board in 1976, could soon be freed by the U.S. government under regulations that prohibit the indefinite detention of undocumented aliens whose deportation from the country cannot be carried out within a ninety-day period.

Everything has gone according to script so as to give the appearance of legality to actions whose intent is precisely to circumvent the law.

Immigration Judge William Abbott ordered Posada's deportation to any country but Cuba or Venezuela on September 26, 2005. The law requires that once an order of deportation becomes final, it should be carried out within a ninety-day period or the person released, because the indefinite detention of undocumented aliens is illegal. In this case, the 90 days began running a month after the order became final when the government declined to appeal. That is to say, on the 26th of October.

In Zadvydas v. Davis, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an undocumented alien has the right to conditional liberty if he cannot be removed from the country within a reasonable period. However, terrorists are exempt from this ruling. "Terrorist" is a word that the government has avoided associating with Luis Posada Carriles at all costs.

The Patriot Act authorizes the detention of someone who has not been deported, if he is a danger to the national security of the country or has been involved in terrorist acts. We don't have to go far to find evidence that Luis Posada Carriles is a terrorist. It's sufficient to read his own book, The Paths of the Warrior, in which he boasts about some of the terrorist acts he has organized, or we can go to the declassified intelligence cables from the CIA that report Posada's boasting of his plans to down a Cuban passenger plane three months before he actually did it! We can also read the interview he gave the New York Times in 1998 in which he admits orchestrating the campaign of bombs that his paid Central American agents placed in various hotels and restaurants in Havana in 1997-bombs that killed an Italian tourist and wounded several others. We can also turn to the Panamanian Court decree that finds him guilty of trying to use the explosive C-4 to blow an auditorium full of students in 2000 during a speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro in Panama. In the interviews he gives and in his public statements, Posada Carriles advocates violence as the best way to defeat the government of Cuba: "It's the only way to create an uprising there," he told the New York Times.

There are enough laws in the United States to keep this terrorist in jail. What is lacking is the political will to do so. From the beginning of this drama, George W. Bush has wanted to shelter, rather than prosecute, the terrorist. Somewhere in a drawer in the Department of State are the pleadings filed by Venezuela, asking for his preventive detention as well as his extradition. The Bush Administration thus far ignores them and instead mocks U.S. law, as well as three separate extradition treaties signed, ratified and conveniently used by the government of the United States in other cases in its war on terror.

The family members of the victims of the passenger plane that Posada Carriles downed over the waters of Barbados on October 6, 1976, seek only minimal justice: that the man responsible for the cold blooded assassination of those 73 passengers be prosecuted for homicide and not treated as a humble undocumented worker in the United States.

With the possibility of Posada Carriles? imminent release from detention in the next several days, it is more urgent than ever that the Department of Justice do what it should have done since May of last year: file the Venezuelan petition for an extradition detainer against Posada before a federal court. The Justice Department must file the request for a detainer right away. It need not wait until the immigration case is finished, because the extradition process has priority over immigration matters. The law here is quite clear and there is more than enough evidence to show that this man is a fugitive from justice in Venezuela with a resume filled to the brim with terrorist acts. As such, Posada has no right to conditional release and instead needs to be extradited for murder. As if this weren't enough, two of his closest collaborators who presumably helped him enter the United States illegally, Santiago Alvarez and Osvaldo Mitat, are now in jail in South Florida charged with illegal possession of a war chest loaded with weapons and false documents.

The only problem facing the American justice system in the case of Luis Posada Carriles is the false premise that the United States government uses to spin this case. From the beginning the Bush Administration has tried to bury this man's bloody past and instead presents him before the law and public opinion not as the terrorist that he is but as a simple undocumented alien that entered the United States without being inspected by an immigration officer. If the government is allowed to operate with this false major premise, he will be free within a few days. If Posada Carriles hits the streets, mendacity will have triumphed as it did when the world was told that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

(José Pertierra is a lawyer representing the government of Venezuela in the extradition case of Luis Posada Carriles. His office is in Washington, D.C.,




A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 323-464-1636
San Francisco: 415-821-6545

Bomb Attacks Shake Afghanistan / US Helicopter Crashes in Iraq / Another Bird Flu Death

More than 20 people are reported to have been killed in two bombings in Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar. In one incident on Monday 20 were reported killed and another 20 injured in a blast in the town of Spin Boldak, close to the border with Pakistan.
Full Story

US helicopter crashes in Iraq
A US helicopter has crashed north of Baghdad, with witnesses saying a rocket hit it. One witness said US troops surrounded the crash site and that smoke was rising from the area on Monday near the small town of Mishahda.
Full Story

Rice defends US raid in Pakistan
Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, has defended tough US tactics to root out Al-Qaeda fighters on Pakistan's border after a deadly air strike on a village sparked a wave of angry street protests. Rice would not comment on the reported deaths of 18 villagers in a raid said to target Osama bin Laden's deputy. She merely said: "We'll continue to work with the Pakistanis and we'll try to address their concerns."
Full Story

Indonesian girl dies of bird flu
A 13-year-old Indonesian girl died of bird flu at the weekend while two of her siblings have tested positive for the H5N1 virus, a health ministry official said, citing the results of local tests. "We found three positive bird flu cases in one family coming from Indramayu, West Java," said Hariadi Wibisono, the ministry's director of control of animal-borne diseases.
Full Story

Chileans Elect First Woman President / US Senators: Iran Strike an Option

Michelle Bachelet, a Socialist pediatrician, has been elected Chile's first woman president, with her opponent conceding that the former political prisoner has won. The victory by the governing centre-left coalition on Sunday kept Chile in pace with a steady leftward trend in Latin America.
Full Story

US senators: Iran strike an option
Republican and Democratic senators have said the United States may ultimately have to undertake a military strike to deter Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, but that should be the last resort. "That is the last option. Everything else has to be exhausted. But to say under no circumstances would we exercise a military option, that would be crazy," Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said on CBS's Face the Nation.
Full Story

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Green Party on Making Poverty History - Abolition de la Pauvreté

Being a supporter of the "Make Poverty History Campaign", I had sent out letters asking each of the parties to endorse the principles and objectives of this Campaign. Only two parties replied : The NDP and the Green Party.

The NDP endorsed it, and outlined their commitments in an earlier email.

The Green Party also endorsed this Campaign, adding the poignant questions, "what is real defence?" in today's reply email:

Green Party of Canada on Making Poverty History [Fran硩s ci-dessous]

Dear Make Poverty History Supporter:

Thank you for your email message about the Make Poverty History Campaign. On behalf of all Green Party of Canada candidates, I am writing to tell you that we endorse the principles and objectives of the Make Poverty History campaign, and to explain why.

Today, a staggering one billion people live on less than $US 1 a day and 40 per cent of the world's population - some 2.8 billion people - live on less than $US2 a day. Yet in 2005, for the first time in the history of the world, global military spending exceeded one trillion dollars (US) in 2005. The US alone spent $500 billion - half of the world's military spending in 2005. That is more than all the world's governments spent collectively on health care and education combined.

The Green Party asks different questions - we ask what is real defence?

Real defence is defence against the spread of AIDS - 40 million people worldwide are living with AIDS - over 25 million of them in Africa. Real defence would have been working to protect the citizens of New Orleans against the impact of Hurricane Katrina and real defence means working to reduce carbon emissions globally to prevent climate change.

Real defence is also providing meaningful support to Canadian families through Employment Insurance so that governments cannot hijack Canada's social safety net. During the 12 years of Liberal rule, a staggering $48 billion "surplus" from the Employment Insurance program has been taken from the working poor and used to balance budgets and pay down debt. One of the reasons child poverty persists in Canada is because when parents loose their jobs, they can't receive the Employment Insurance benefits that they paid with their hard earned money when they were working.

The Green Party is fully committed to eradicating the root-causes of poverty through approaches that go beyond one-off solutions, ensuring that Canadians and citizens around the world enjoy a better quality of life by building stronger and healthier communities. Clean drinking water, safe food, health services and educational opportunities are basic human rights that the Green Party holds as fundamental to living in balance with each other and the environment.

To this end, the Green Party unequivocally supports the goals of the Make Poverty History Campaign by working to cancel long-standing debts of poor countries and increase foreign aid spending to 0.5 per cent of GDP by 2010, meeting Canada's commitment to spend at least 0.7 per cent by 2015. This timetable would set the stage for greater cooperation on humanitarian goals. Alternative measurements of progress will also help create new networks of cooperation and support that go beyond financial transactions. The Green Party is at the forefront of policy options that will enable socially and environmentally responsible activity through fair trade and local measures to meet and satisfy well-being.

Specifically, Green Party MPs would pressure Parliament to:

- Propose a reform of the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank, placing these institutions under the authority of the UN General Assembly.
- Shift the direction of international trade away from "free trade" to "fair trade" focusing on the global protection of human rights, labour standards, cultural diversity, and ecosystems.
- Reform the regulatory environment of agriculture to challenge corporate concentration, eliminate international dumping and subsidies, and continue to allow seed saving by farmers.
- Increase foreign aid spending to 0.5 per cent of GDP by 2010, and meet Canada's commitment to spend at least 0.7 per cent by 2015.
- Erase debts with emerging countries that have been in default for over ten years to break the vicious cycle that has been hampering the allocation of resources to feed, nourish and sustain populations overseas.

Here in Canada, the Green Party would work to tackle poverty by:

- Creating a "Comprehensive Anti-Poverty Strategy for Canada" that would raise child benefit and employment insurance levels and expand eligibility, toughen regulations to ensure fair treatment and better wage standards for all working Canadians, and remove GST on education supplies and specific family products.
- Adopting and funding a strategy to promote sustainable and affordable housing construction and renovation so that housing is not only affordable to rent, but also to heat and operate, as well as healthy to live in.
- Supporting provinces that adopt a basic income strategy to ensure the benefits of a living wage are available to every citizen through existing federal programs.

I invite you to learn more about how Green Party MPs would work to ensure that Parliament better addresses these and other issues. Please have a look at our platform at


Jim Harris
Leader, Green Party of Canada

P.S. Please remember to vote on January 23!

Phone Toll-free: 1-866-868-3447

Tomgram: Ariel Dorfman on How Bush Makes Fiction of Us All

In April 2005, I posted a dispatch in which I claimed that "a senior official in one of our intelligence agencies" had slipped me an unpublished manuscript by "the President." I added that I believed it genuine and had done my best to vet it. My source, I mentioned, had told me that the book might have had illustrations by either Paul Wolfowitz or Donald Rumsfeld (though no illustrations arrived with it). The title of the manuscript, I swore, was George's Amazing Alphabet Book of the Contemporary World, or Al-Qaedas All Around and, though it was missing two letters of the alphabet, K and R, it had stirring contemporary entries for children like:

"W as in Waterboarding. Wally waterboarded Ahmed (see A). Kids, it's not surfboarding, but almost! There's the board and the water and the person on the board, and it's the main sport of the Central Intelligence Agency (see G), and the great thing is -- you can do it twenty-four hours a day. You never have to wait for the surf to be up."

With this satire, I hoped to catch something of George's grim world. I assumed that what I had written, including "George's" book, was far too ridiculous on every level for anyone to take seriously and so never put a humor warning on it. How wrong I was became clear as soon as the first e-letters from readers arrived at the Tomdispatch mailbox, filled with shock that the President had written such things, or insisting I had been gulled, that this was obviously a product not of the President but of the CIA. Certifiably sane but puzzled friends got in touch to ask whether the "manuscript" was real or my fantasy. In this way, I learned a painfully useful lesson, one Ariel Dorfman, author of Other Septembers, Many Americas, absorbed recently -- as he recounts in his piece below (a shorter version of which appears on the Los Angeles Times Sunday op-ed page). The lesson is simple enough: The Bush administration's actions since 9/11 have outstripped anyone's ability to parody them; or, put another way, nothing in our world now is too absurd, too far-fetched to seem plausible. This, of course, is why one of the more popular news programs of recent years is Jon Stewart's Daily Show where the silliest parodies often come closer to our reality than anything you might see on the network prime-time news.

In fact, story after story from the Age of Bush reads like fiction of an especially improbable sort. Take the recent account by James Moore, author of Bush's Brain, a less than positive book about Karl Rove, that was put up at the Huffington Post website. He describes how, a year ago, he arrived at an airport, found himself on the government's no-fly list ("All I can tell you is that there is something in your background that in some way is similar to someone they are looking for..."), and has been unable to get off it ever since, though he continues to fly with some added inconvenience. ("I have been on the No Fly Watch List for a year. I will never be told the official reason. No one ever is. You cannot sue to get the information. Nothing I have done has moved me any closer to getting off the list.") No fiction, in other words, could be stranger than the truths of our moment. Tom

Homeland Security Ate My Speech
by Ariel Dorfman

On December 27th, at 11:31 in the morning to be precise, agents of the Homeland Security Department detained me at Miami International Airport and proceeded to impound a speech I was supposed to deliver in Washington, D.C. to a plenary session of the Modern Language Association of America.

Well, not quite.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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