Saturday, October 07, 2006

Canadian Thanksgiving

The first recorded date of Canadians celebrating Thanksgiving was Thursday, January 10, 1799. Throughout the years, the date changed many times, until in 1957, a proclamation permanently fixed Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday of October. Unlike the American tradition of remembering the Pilgrims, Canadians give thanks for a successful harvest.

In this spirit, I would like to wish a happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Please Join Us ! Coalition for Anti-Racism Education, Action, and First Nations' Solidarity

Please join us in forming a coalition for anti-racism education, action, and solidarity with First Nations’ Peoples in the London area.

Inspired by the recently formed community based anti-racism coalition in Caledonia whose mandate is to engage in anti-racism education and activism in support of Six Nations land rights (, we hope to create a similar coalition which brings together people from First Nations and non-Indigenous communities in the London area.

Our focus will be anti-racism education initiatives of various kinds--public forums / events / media commentaries; work shops / programs for community based settings as well as the public education system—initiatives which raise awareness and generate action that supports First Nations’ land rights and sovereignty and that challenges the racism and racist violence committed against First Nations’ people everyday. Our educational approach emphasizes the connection between racism against First Nations’ people and other racisms, as well as the interconnection between colonialism, race, gender and economic oppressions (both local and global). Our goal is to promote solidarity between First Nations peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians through raising critical awareness and organizing for social change.

Our first meeting will be held:

Thursday October 26th 2006, at 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. in room W 173 (the Wemple Building) at King’s University College, 266 Epworth Ave. London Ontario. Here is a link with directions to King’s and this site also contains a map.

Please let us know if you will join us ! Respond to

Please pass this announcement on to anyone you think may be interested.

We hope to see you on the 26th !

Maria Wallis

Gloria Alvernaz Mulcahy

Lina Sunseri

Chad Cowie

Dan Smoke,

Leslie Thielen-Wilson

CBC Documentaries this week-end

CBC Newsworld will be airing excellent new documentaries during this Thanksgiving long weekend. They are also repeating BANGKOK GIRL and THE BIG PICTURE WITH AVI LEWIS: HOTHOUSE (about the Palestinian 'Security Prisoners' imprisoned in Israeli jails).

All well worth watching!


(Sunday October 8 at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld)
There is no question that the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 changed the face of America. It not only created a climate of fear of future attacks, but also a fear of speaking out against the U.S. government's policies and the mass media's representation of the facts. Not In Our Name explores the state of opposition to the war in Iraq, through the voices of the leaders of the anti-war movement, and its growing supporters.


(Sunday October 8 at 11pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld)
The Vietnam War has been the subject of numerous films, but the story of the rebellion by thousands of American soldiers has been a well-kept military secret. Using candid interviews from Vietnam War veterans and never-before-seen archival footage, Sir! No Sir! reveals the untold story of the GI Movement.


(Monday October 9 at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld)
Never before have Britain and America relied so heavily on mercenaries in fighting foreign wars. At least 30,000 hired guns are now on the payrolls of the Western Powers training and fighting in from Iraq to Afghanistan. Veteran war correspondent Sam Kiley travels to Kabul to investigate the modern dogs of war. Mostly former soldiers men from companies like the British firm Global can expect to earn per day what they got per week in the army. They seek money and adventure, they can't settle into civilian life and now find themselves risking suicide bomb attacks while guarding the American embassy.




(Saturday October 7 at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld)
Bangkok Girl is a 'remarkably accomplished, beautifully photographed and intimate debut documentary that puts a human face on the devastating social issue that, sadly, is the fate of too many impoverished girls.' Producer/Director Jordan Clark enters a world with various levels of prostitution -- from basic bargirls, who merely pour you a drink, money for sex relationships, to hooking on both sides of the gender line.


(Sunday October 8 at 7pm ET on CBC Newsworld)
HOTHOUSE (120 minutes)
At least 10,000 Palestinians are imprisoned in Israeli jails today. They are called 'Security Prisoners'. For most Israelis they are assassins and criminals. For most Palestinians they are heroes and freedom-fighters. With unique access to the most guarded Palestinian prisoners in Israel, director Shimon Dotan and producer Arik Bernstein explore the evolution of the Palestinian Prisoners into a political force and the impact that's having on Palestinian politics out of jail.

Watch the film and stay tuned for a town-hall debate with Avi Lewis.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

MidEast Dispatches: The US Occupation of Iraq: Casualties Not Counted

As the US occupation of Iraq grinds on with no end in sight, the toll on American contractors is not mentioned. In his latest MidEast Dispatch, independent journalist Dahr Jamail writes about these casualties who are not counted...

"Civilian contractors in Iraq, though they are paid handsomely for their time there, are easily lost in a legal no-man's-land if tragedy strikes. Their families are then left in the lurch as well. With an estimated 100,000-125,000 American contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can safely assume there are thousands of stories similar to Tim's and still counting. To each story is attached an individual and a family.
This is independent journalist Dahr Jamail's latest MidEast dispatch about the PTSD toll caused by the US occupation of Iraq. These American casualties are largely forgotten by the Bush administration... "

The US Occupation of Iraq: Casualties Not Counted

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Thursday 05 October 2006

*An anxious unrest, a fierce craving desire for gain has taken possession of the commercial world, and in instances no longer rare the most precious and permanent goods of human life have been madly sacrificed in the interests of momentary enrichment.*
- Felix Adler

In all past wars the United States has been involved in, including the two World Wars, Vietnam and the first Gulf War, the military was self reliant and took care of its basic support functions like cooking, cleaning and other services.

That changed when the Cheney administration took control of the government in 2000. War has now been privatized, and the shining examples of this privatization are Afghanistan and Iraq. As you read this there are approximately 100,000-125,000 American civilian contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their jobs range from
providing security to desk work to interrogating prisoners to driving convoy trucks to clearing unexploded ordnance. A year back, in November 2005, the US Department of Labor listed 428 civilian contractors dead and 3,963 wounded in Iraq - none of which are ever counted in the official casualty counts.

Employing civilian contractors supposedly saves money in the long run and, more importantly, frees trained soldiers for battle. The notion of low expenditure stemmed from the assumption that civilian contractors were hired for temporary/emergency engagements. This assumption no longer holds worth in the face of the current long-term (permanent)guerrilla war (read-Iraq and Afghanistan) without clear front-lines.

Given the astronomical profits posted by these defense contractors, in addition to widespread fraud and waste, it is difficult to believe that any administration would want to adhere to this model, unless of course certain members of that administration were financially profiting from it.

Those vague front lines stretch all the way back home, for it was at home that Tim Eysselinck became one of the thousands of uncounted and unaccounted-for civilian casualties in Cheney's so-called war on terror.

Eysselinck worked for RONCO Consulting Corporation since 2000, and his last assignment in Iraq from August 2003 up to February 2004 was as the head of a de-mining team that was assigned to clear cluster bombs, land mines and other unexploded ordnance. A combination of this work, a perceived life-threatening airplane accident, and witnessing military personnel kill innocent civilians proved lethal for him. By the time he returned home to Namibia he was steeped in post-traumatic stress disorder.

Two weeks before his death, he told a friend in Namibia, "There was a lot of death and murder going on [in Iraq] that was just not right, and the only thing they could do was to follow orders." He also told her, "I should go back."

For nine years, Eysselinck had served as a captain in the US Army and was very proud to be a member of the Armed Forces. He had been commissioned as a Lieutenant of Infantry from the ROTC at the University of Florida on completion of his BA. He was a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic course, Airborne School, and was Ranger qualified. He had served as a Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer and Battalion
Adjutant in a Light Infantry Division based in Hawaii. After four years he was promoted as Captain. Before leaving he gave up Active Duty. In 1994 he returned to serve with Special Operations Command Europe and was deployed to Bosnia, West Africa, and finally Namibia in 1998. Throughout his military career, Captain Eysselinck received excellent Officer Evaluation Reports.

LTC Nichols, Director of SOCEUR, wrote of Captain Eysselinck: "Absolutely outstanding. Top 5% of all the officers I have every known. Top pick for line Battalion Command. Performs exceptionally under mental stress."

Eysselinck's rating comments for his 1998 posting in Namibia as military liaison officer included the following: "Captain Eysselinck has once again demonstrated why he is on our very short list of Reserve Officers who can be relied upon to complete real world missions."

He left the army in 2000 because his wife, Birgitt, had made that a condition of their marriage. But when he returned home from his time in Iraq, Tim was a changed man.

His mother, Janet Burroway, is a writer and academic who lives in Florida. In an earlier interview with journalist Rick Kelly, she described her son on his return from Iraq thus: "What he experienced had a shattering effect on him. There was absolutely no hint of the depression to come. But the anger was palpable. It was shattering to him, to come to feel that the war was wrong. He spoke of corruption,
lies, greed and a brutish stupidity. At the time, I was so happy to hear that he had seen something of what I felt about the war that I didn't stop to think about how deeply wounding that would be to him. He said that he was disgusted with the Bush regime, and that Bremer had screwed it all up with the Iraqis. He was always, almost glibly, willing to die for his country, and even saw himself as going heroically into battle. But that's not what happened to him. He said at one point to a friend in
Namibia that he was ashamed to be an American. I'll say that any day of the week, but for Tim to say it represents such a huge turnaround."

His wife Birgitt told the same journalist that during his Christmas break in December 2004, her husband had discussed the atrocity he was witnessing in Iraq. She feels this must surely have contributed to his PTSD: "He also said that another time they were driving behind, or with, a military convoy that just started shooting into the civilian houses. And he said, 'Then they try to deny it when civilians are killed.' And he said the military does not have to pay compensation, and he said it with sort of a smirk, like he was saying: 'typical.' They [contractors] were shot on at the site. There were improvised explosive devices placed alongside the roads that they were using, the sites where they were working. One of his colleagues was crippled by a blast - these are all things now that they are trying to pretend didn't happen. They should at least write a certification that if somebody comes out of a war zone
they [contractors] need to be debriefed. You can't just let them back to an unsuspecting family and society. Back in Namibia, we weren't prepared for this. We don't even know what post-traumatic stress disorder is. If I had a clue about what it was, I would have sent him to a doctor immediately, because he had the signs."

And like Tim's mother, his wife too had noticed that it was a changed man who returned from Iraq. "There were changes. The biggest change was his sleeplessness," she told Rick Kelly, "And he had this uncharacteristic hyper-vigilance - locking the doors, making sure both safety gates are closed. Tim was driving recklessly, physically trembling at times and repeatedly blinking his eyes. He was irritable,
anxious and displayed uncharacteristic outbursts of anger on his last day. At the end, he was watching the news quite obsessively and writing to his men almost every second day, which I only discovered afterwards. He was asking how they are. When the Lebanon Hotel blew up, he writes, "Are you OK?" You know, this type of thing: "I watched the news with trepidation, I hope you take care. Worrying about you guys, hope you made it through the recent bombings." He obviously had soldiers' guilt,
or survivors' guilt, whatever you call it.

In a state of shock and disillusionment about a war he had previously supported, 40-year-old Eysselinck committed suicide at his home in Windhoek, Namibia, shortly after he had returned from Iraq on a three-month leave of absence in agreement with RONCO because he felt "over-stressed" after two years in Ethiopia and then Iraq.

It turns out that while working in Iraq, a major stressor for Eysselinck was the persistent attempts by RONCO headquarters to disarm him and his team in Iraq with a view to avoid potential liability. This had become an ongoing struggle, even after other contractors who had been unarmed were killed, ambushed and severely beaten. Eysselinck had threatened to quit if they disarmed him.

Five minutes before Tim killed himself, while holding up the US military-issued Iraq's Most Wanted playing cards, he told his wife, "You get me professional help." Birgitt had said in her interview with Kelly: "He knew something was wrong. Three weeks before, he woke up and said to me, "Something is wrong with me, I'm feeling down." But what was I to do with that statement? Feeling down? I also blame myself in a way, because I don't have any knowledge of depression, I know nothing about the
subject. I mean this was a clear and obvious symptom. And then he said it again a week later - that he couldn't sleep and was waking up three times a night." Around noon on the day of his death, in the presence of the housekeeper, Tim said he was depressed. Later the housekeeper recounted she had seen him marching through the house like a soldier.

With Tim's death began a nightmarish journey and legal odyssey for Birgitt. RONCO refuses to acknowledge that Tim's work caused his PTSD and refuses to pay her any compensation for Tim's death. She initiated legal action to qualify for support from the CNA International insurance carrier under the US Defense Base Act.

RONCO responded to her efforts to first establish Tim as a war casualty and then to get justice by not acknowledging any of it. Not only did the company turn a cold shoulder, they even went out of their way to discredit him, adding to her anguish.

It is important to note that among RONCO's full-time employed staff of 90 US and 300 host-country personnel, the company has many ex-government officials, including a former USAID deputy assistant administrator, mission directors and retired senior military personnel. Their clients include USAID, the US Department of Defense and Blackwater. The company has been awarded contracts in Iraq worth well over $10 million.

Birgitt recently told me that three days after Tim's death, she had received a call from Stephen Edelmann, the president of RONCO. "He expressed his condolences and wanted to know what happened and concluded that "It [Tim's death] was nobody's fault ... it's a defective gene." Reportedly Edelmann had also said that RONCO was too small a company to have a pension scheme."

Birgitt told me that RONCO sent a wreath to the funeral. Her disillusionment showed in her words: "This was the sum total of their assistance to a man who worked from them since November 2000 as a Deputy Task Leader in Namibia, then as Chief of Party in Ethiopia, and someone who finally put his life on the line to establish their projects in Iraq."

Roughly three months later, Tim's mother wrote RONCO a letter, with a psychiatrist's report attached, requesting compensation from the company. RONCO realized it would not be able to wriggle out of paying $3,300 that they owed Tim for unused vacation time. To Tim's mother's claim they replied that Tim had been a valued member of their team and referred the family to a lawyer with whom to file a DBA claim.

It is also clear that RONCO has no debriefing infrastructure for their employees who return from Iraq. As Birgitt said, "The point is that they should have debriefed their people. They can't send people into a war and then not take care of them properly. I sent a happy, healthy man to Iraq. We had no problems, no marital problems, no family problems, no money problems - no problems. So evidently, this [Tim's PTSD-induced suicide] was caused by the war and what happened there."

Five months before his death, on 16 November 2003, Tim wrote the following email to his stepmother:

"Talked to Ben tonight and he said that you were worried about me. Don't, I have a deal with Birgitt that if things got bad here I would be brave and be a coward and run away. I would never consider this if I was in the military, but I'm smart enough to know that I don't have to be here and I have way, way too much to live for to take anything but a well-calculated risk with my life. I have a son and daughter to marry
off and both of them need me more than this place. So again, I'll be brave and be a coward, if I feel that my security is really at risk. In the mean time, I've trained 100+ Iraqis that can maybe make a difference and save a few lives. You can't really argue with that as an accomplishment."

But his perception evidently changed after RONCO went operational in November 2003. That is when Eysselinck and his team of international trainers accompanied Iraqis to multiple task sites daily; going through checkpoints around Baghdad to do Battle Area Clearance of live munitions. On 10 January 2004, Tim wrote in his diary: "Everything crazy now. I hope I can make it home safe." The diary entry included detailed
doodles of bombs, rifles, aircraft, gas masks and rocket-propelled grenades.

*Is there something we have forgotten? Some precious thing we have lost, wandering in strange lands?*
- Arna Bontemps

When the claims case came up, instead of taking responsibility for negligently causing the irreplaceable loss of a beloved husband, father and son, and apologizing for the severe emotional damage inflicted upon his family and friends, RONCO introduced into evidence a scurrilous fabricated attack on the character of its deceased employee whom they had themselves entrusted with their most difficult and profitable project.

Among other things, the deceased Eysselinck was accused of being rude, uncaring and indifferent; a military Ranger "wannabe" who "was only a tab wearer but never saw combat." This depraved "defense strategy" compelled his widow to obtain statements from over 16 witnesses, including a statement from the Namibian Defense Force, in order to rebut the allegations made about Tim by a RONCO employee.

RONCO then hired an 82-year-old retired psychiatrist, who when interrogated admitted to not having read current research on PTSD, to falsely claim that the onset of PTSD symptoms occurs immediately after the traumatic event and that suicide is an outcome of depression rather than PTSD.

After their efforts to discredit Eysselinck backfired, RONCO set out to denigrate his work and the very nature of the war in Iraq. Two RONCO workers made the incredible claim that conditions had been far from dangerous in Baghdad between August 2003 and February 2004. They also claimed that Tim had not been exposed to threats. They made these claims, along with testifying that neither of them had seen Tim during
that time. There was and continues to be overwhelming evidence from work reports in the country that are contrary to these fictitious and bogus claims.

It appears that RONCO is more concerned with evading potential liability and sustaining their profit margin than with the safety and well-being of their employees.

Tim was never diagnosed with PTSD before he died so there is no hard evidence that he had PTSD. The reason there exists no irrefutable evidence of his having PTSD is RONCO's criminal negligence in failing to provide psychological screening and counseling to a staff member who spent seven months in a war zone.

According to the Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, the suicide rate in the US Army in 2005 was the highest since 1993. Almost 1,700 service members returning from the war in 2005 said that they harbored thoughts of hurting themselves or felt that they would be better off dead. Over 3,700 said they had concerns that they might "hurt or lose control" while with someone else.

In July 2005, the US Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, announced that, according to a survey of troops returning from the Iraq war, 30% developed mental health problems three to four months after coming home. This is in addition to the 3-5% diagnosed with a significant mental health issue immediately after they leave the theater, and 13% experiencing significant mental health problems in the
combat zone itself.

For decades, it has been an undisputed medical fact that the onset of PTSD is not immediate after the traumatic stressor. This is why the US Army has a policy to debrief troops on their return from the war zone and of checking back in with them six months later in order to check for signs of PTSD.

Tim's family never thought they would have to prove in court the obvious fact that it was dangerous to work in Baghdad during the occupation and the truth that their deceased loved one had faced threats sometimes on a daily basis, not to mention that his job entailed handling unexploded ordnance. Tim worked on the task sites daily and was exposed to the very real threat of being killed while handling unexploded bombs and mines over and above the daily security hazards that all contractors in Iraq face.

Nevertheless, the judge in their case did not agree with the family and the professional opinion of their psychiatrist, despite the fact that the judge had found Eysselinck to have been "a person of high moral character much loved by family, friends and co-workers," "patriotic, a perfectionist, polite and fiercely honorable," and "a devoted husband and father who was respected by fellow workers and trainees."

* A human person is infinitely precious and must be unconditionally protected.*
- Hans Kung

And one is left to wonder how many more Tim Eysselincks there are in Iraq? How many more of them have returned home not knowing about PTSD or how to treat it? How many of their families are currently unnecessarily at risk from the often volatile behavior caused by PTSD or are left in the bereft position that Birgitt finds herself in?

Civilian contractors in Iraq, though they are paid handsomely for their time there, are easily lost in a legal no-man's-land if tragedy strikes. Their families are then left in the lurch as well. With an estimated 100,000-125,000 American contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can safely assume there are thousands of stories similar to Tim's and still counting. To each story is attached an individual and a family.

And the occupation grinds on with no end in sight...

(c)2006 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

Tomgram: David Swanson, The Impeachment Moment

If you've been around long enough, you've lived through moments -- there were a couple of striking ones in the Vietnam era -- when all the collective, practical wisdom of pundits and policy makers about what is possible in this world seems to fall away and suddenly the previously inconceivable enters the mainstream. The next thing you know, it's a commonplace and everybody is proudly ready to take credit for making it so. That was the case when it came to the issue of the impeachment of Richard Nixon back in 1973. Will it, in the near future, be true again when it comes to George W. Bush (and Dick Cheney)?

In the last years, impeachment has been the all-American solution that could not speak its name in the vicinity of Washington DC or anywhere in the mainstream media, even as support for it grew among Americans generally. But we may be at the edge of a new moment, judging by the ever-unfolding Mark Foley affair, the ensuing turmoil in the Republican Party, the muffling of the presidential voice, the latest polls, and even a threatened reversal in oil prices. So it se! ems the perfect moment at Tomdispatch for David Swanson, who last wrote about "trophy photos" in Iraq, but has put his prodigious energies into the issue of impeachment, to take up the subject. Tom

Impeachment Anyone?

The Case for Taking the Tape Off Our Mouths
By David Swanson

[This piece is based on seven new books on impeachment, all briefly discussed in a final note.]

Never before has the system of government established by the U.S. Constitution been as seriously threatened; never before has the built-in remedy for the sort of threat we face been as badly needed; never before have we had as good an opportunity to use that remedy exactly as it was intended.

Congress has never impeached a President and removed him from office. Once, with Richard M. Nixon, impeachment proceedings forced a resignation. Twice, with Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, impeachment proceedings led to acquittals. On a few other occasions, Congressional efforts to advance articles of impeachment have had legal and political results. These have always benefited the political party that advanced impeachment. This was even true in the case of the Republicans' unpopular impeachment of Clinton, during which the Republicans lost far fewer seats than the norm for a majority party at that point in its tenure. Two years later, they lost seats in the Senate, which had acquitted, but maintained their strength in the House, with representatives who had led the impeachment charge winning big. (This point -- little noted but important indeed -- was made to me recently by John Nichols, author of the forthcoming book, The Genius of Impeachment.)

In every past case, impeachment efforts were driven by members of Congress or other Washington political players, sometimes with support from the media. The public got behind Nixon's impeachment, but only after the proceedings had revealed massive presidential crimes. The public never got behind Clinton's impeachment, despite saturation news coverage and widespread support among political power players. In the case of George W. Bush's impeachment, with the media and both parties in Congress opposed to it, public support is just about all there is -- so far.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Climate Change: Not so inconvenient answers

Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Climate change may be an “inconvenient truth” and that often seems to be the way our federal and provincial governments treat the reality of a rapidly destabilizing and increasingly dangerous climate. But the simple fact is that Ontario remains in an ideal position to actually tackle the problem that others just nash their teeth about.

Phasing out Ontario’s four remaining dirty coal plants could bring this province half way or more to meeting our so-called impossible Kyoto targets. We can start by eliminating the single largest industrial source of greenhouse gases in Canada – the Nanticoke Generating Station – by converting its dirty coal boilers to cleaner natural gas. Then we can fully exploit the enormous potential for high efficiency combined heat and power projects in schools, hospitals, shopping malls, factories, and other institutions to quickly offset the power coming from our remaining inefficient coal plants. The result would be a dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, a more productive economy, and more reliable electricity supplies – nothing terribly inconvenient, in reality.

Our new pamphlet – Nanticoke: Canada’s No. 1 air polluter to keep pumping out pollutants – outlines how we can all win by ending coal burning at Nanticoke. But we need your help to get the message out about the advantages of going coal free. Please help us promote Canada’s best single climate change solution by distributing our pamphlets to your family, friends, schools, neighbours and others. You can order these free pamphlets online at Take action to address climate change today!

Please pass this message on to your friends.

Thank you.

Jessica Fracassi
Ontario Clean Air Alliance
Communications & Membership Manager
402-625 Church St, Toronto M4Y 2G1
Phone: 416-926-1907 ext. 245
Fax: 416-926-1601


The Ontario Clean Air Alliance is a coalition of health, environmental, and consumer organizations, faith communities, municipalities, utilities, unions, corporations and individuals working for cleaner air through a coal phase-out and the shift to a renewable electricity future. Our partner organizations represent more than six million Ontarians.

Harper to back Iran strike?

Harper to back Iran strike?

By Murray Dobbin

Georgia Straight


While Canadians agonize over the quagmire in Afghanistan, few people are looking at what the Harper government will do if George Bush finds a rationale for military action against Iran. That he wants to do so is clear; that he needs to do so is driven by the polls, which show the Republicans are in danger of losing control of the Congress in the November elections. The war president needs another war.

The machinery of lies and distortions that led to the Iraq war has been cranked up for eventual action against Iran. Whether the U.S. and its Middle East ally, Israel, are actually foolish enough to attack Iran remains to be seen. But just what Canada will do if that happens is a question that needs to be asked before the fact, not after.

Americans never take easily to foreign wars—they prefer their consumerism to be uninterrupted by the heavy thinking required to decide about attacking a country they can’t even find on a map. It almost always takes a convincing package of lies to get them onboard: in the first Gulf war, it was Iraqi soldiers dumping babies out of incubators; the second Iraq war needed a whole series of whoppers.

Iran is no different. The first order of business was to demonize Iran’s fundamentalist Shia president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, portraying him not just as dangerous but as a madman. This is the goal behind the myth that on October 26 last year he called for “wiping Israel from the map”. The Manchester Guardian, in an article on June 2, 2006, took the trouble to have a Farsi translator look at Ahmadinejad’s infamous speech. He said no such thing. He was actually quoting from a statement by Ayatollah Khomeini, that “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,” pointing out that the U.S.–backed Shah’s regime in Iran
didn’t last forever.

Ahmadinejad was not making a military threat. Only by portraying him as a madman willing to risk nuclear annihilation (by Israel and/or the U.S.) could this claim be made credible. In fact, according to American historian and journalist Gareth Porter, the Bush administration refused numerous opportunities to talk with Iran, beginning in 2001. These conciliatory overtures—on nuclear development and on recognizing
Israel—were rejected out of hand.

The Bush administration ignored them because diplomacy does not fit its permanent “war on terror”.

The U.S. Congress is just as compliant on Iran as it was on Iraq. In mid-September, it was revealed that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, wrote a letter attacking a U.S. House of Representatives committee report on Iran’s nuclear capability as “outrageous and dishonest”. According to the IAEA, the congressional report falsely stated that Iran is making weapons-grade uranium at a secret enrichment site. It also accused the IAEA of maintaining a policy
“barring IAEA officials from telling the whole truth about the Iranian nuclear program”.

Let’s get past the lies, distortions, and war-mongering of George Bush and Co. and look at what Iran is actually doing. First, Iran has the right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium to three percent—the concentration needed for nuclear power. No intelligence agency claims that Iran is making weapons-grade uranium (83-percent concentration). Even U.S. experts—including National Intelligence Director John Negroponte—have said recently the country could not make even a single, crude nuclear weapon until five to 10 years from now. David Albright, a former UN WMD inspector, stated: “Iran’s gas-centrifuge program is moving unexpectedly slowly. The
program was expected to be much further along by this point.”

But if Iran is intent on developing nuclear weapons—and it may well be—why would it do so? To attack Israel and ensure nuclear incineration by Israel’s 200 atomic and hydrogen bombs? No, Iran would seek such weapons for the same reason others have: to deter a nuclear attack. And Iran just happens to be surrounded by most of those powers: Israel, Pakistan, India, China, and Russia—not to mention the U.S.

Will George Bush actually attack Iran? Will Israel? No one can answer these questions with any certainty. But Time magazine last week had possible war with Iran on its cover (“What War With Iran Would Look Like: [And How to Avoid It]”) and revealed U.S. military communiqués and manoeuvres that led it to conclude “the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran.”

Would Stephen Harper blindly support George Bush? The prime minister’s approach to foreign policy is dangerously shallow. His extension of Canada’s commitment to the war in Afghanistan was made with no reference to history or, it seems, to any calculation of the potential consequences. Harper’s eagerness to please Bush was revealed in his answer to a reporter’s question about Iran after Harper’s recent speech to the UN General Assembly: “[Iran] is the biggest single threat the
planet faces.”

This leaves little doubt where the prime minister stands.

Such military support would be catastrophic for the Middle East and Canada, and its repercussions would reverberate for decades. Bush believes he is fighting a war of civilizations, a belief with terrible potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In such a war there will be no room for nuance.

If we are with Bush, we will be seen to be against Islam, with all the attendant consequences.

Ironically, it is with respect to Iran that Harper could actually play a positive role. Pollsters say Harper’s quest to improve Canada–U.S. relations has hurt him because he is seen as simply too close to Bush. He could use this close relationship to try to influence the U.S. away from war. Regrettably, Harper doesn’t want to influence George Bush. He wants to follow him.

Canadian Action Party demands Canada condemn U.S.torture bill

RE: USA Detainee Torture Act, HR 6166 set to be signed by President Bush,

PRESS RELEASE October 1, 2006 For Immediate Release

October 2nd, 2006.

The Canadian Action Party demands that Canada formally condemn the new bill in the United States of America that grants the US president the right to torture, removes Habeus Corpus (a rule against arbitrary detention), defines as a terrorist anyone who questions or challenges the President or his government, removes civil trials, and otherwise purports to legalize crimes against humanity, and purports to extend into and apply in foreign jurisdictions against other nationals, as well as US citizens.

This new Bill is itself an act of terror.

Canadians are particularly at risk not just due to our physical proximity to the USA, but as a result of the unconstitutional agreements and arrangements being implemented secretly and/ or administratively such as the Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement, the Smart Border Plan, and others, which integrate Canada with the United States of America.

Further, Canada’s own antiterrorist legislation was enacted under a veil of panic arising out of a terrible act in a foreign country, the Unites States of America , which act to date has been inadequately investigated as to its real cause , and which cause may even be rooted in some of the proponents of torture legislation. Citizens have a right to know the truth.

This new US Bill finalizes the elimination of all citizen rights in the USA.
Canada must distance itself from such law.

    On behalf of all Canadians, the Canadian Action Party/ Parti action canadienne demands that our government :

  1. affirm our Rule of Law, and

  2. assure Canadians that no such legislation will be tolerated in Canada, and

assert that any attempt by President Bush to arrest or detain any Canadian under this new Bill anywhere in the world will not be tolerated.

With grave concern,

Constance (Connie) Fogal, Leader, Canadian Action Party

Contact Connie Fogal at cell 778 891 4919


Telephone Connie Fogal at: 604 872 2128

Copyright belongs to the author. Articles may be reproduced for non-profit, educational use so long as they remain intact, the author is acknowledged, you include a link to the website

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

First Nations Sovereignty: An OCAP Community Event


SPEAKERS: Andrea Curly, Youngblood, Nahnda Hill
Six Nations of the Grand River Territory
Shawn Brant
Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory

FILMS: ‘Day Zero’ (footage from the April 20 O.P.P. raid)
By John Jeeks and Nahnda Hill
'Mohawk Smokes' by Folkard Fritz and Audrey Huntley
'Letters from Caledonia/Six Nations'
By Audrey Huntley, Sarah Kapoor
and Musical Guests

WHEN: Saturday, October 14, 2006
5pm Movies and Meal
7pm Speakers

WHERE: PARC (Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre)
1499 Queen Street West
(1 Block west of Lansdowne)

COST: Pay What You Can (donations will be accepted)
Accessible space. Childcare will be available.
Now in the eighth month, the people of the Six Nations Haudenosaunee(Iroquois) Confederacy continue to remain steadfast in their reclamation of the ‘Douglas Creek Estates’, land that is part of the Haldimand Tract, sold to developers even though it was contested. The site, renamed ‘Kahnestaton’ or ‘The Sacred Place’, stands as a symbol of resistance by First Nations
people, an assertion of sovereignty and self-government. The Six Nations peoples’ reclamation of Kahnestaton is an act of strength, one which reveals the failure of the Canadian government’s land claims process, and demands that respect for First Nations’ land and treaty rights is not a
debate - it is essential.

Negotiations between the government of Canada and the people of Six Nations also continue, a process that actually recognizes the traditional, hereditary system of government created by the people of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. This system has been upheld by a community that is home to one of the longest-standing democratic governance structures in all of Turtle
Island/North America.

Early on in the reclamation, the Mohawks of Tyendinaga, took action to support the reclamation when it was under attack by the Ontario Provincial Police. Blocking rail lines that run through their Territory, the Tyendinaga Mohawks jammed up more than $100 million worth of cargo and forced more than 6,000 passengers to be diverted. This rail blockade was held until the Canadian government gave assurance that the place of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy at the negotiation table would be recognized.

The community of Tyendinaga, located near Belleville, has itself been targeted for ‘illegal’ cigarette sales, and for the peoples’ determination to keep foreign police forces off their land and out of their lives. A new longhouse has nearly been completed, where no such governance building has stood for over 50 years.

The long history of colonization on which this country has been built--theft of natural resources and land, genocidal assimilation policies, marginalization and impoverishment of First Nations peoples--has been resisted at every step by the refusal of indigenous communities to
accept such criminal treatment. The stand being taken by the people of Six Nations and of Tyendinaga, whether through land reclamation, building alternative economic prosperity, assertion of indigenous governance structures, resistance to colonial policing, is evidence of the struggle and victories in the battle for First Nations’ sovereignty.

Join us on October 14th, to hear directly from representatives of both Six Nations and Tyendinaga, speaking about their communities and their strength.

For more information, contact OCAP at or 416.925.6939

Iraq Dispatches: New Militias Push Govt Back Further

In this latest dispatch, independent journalist Dahr Jamail reports about the setting up of new US-backed Sunni militias while the deepening chaos in Iraq shows no signs of abating.

It is republished here with the kind permission of the journalist.

New Militias Push Govt Back Further

*Inter Press Service*

Ali Al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail

*RAMADI, Oct 3 (IPS) - Reports of the setting up of U.S.-backed Sunni militias have brought new uncertainty to deepening chaos within Iraq.*

Some Sunni leaders from the troubled al-Anbar province west of Baghdad recently met away from their tribes to set up new militias, according to local reports.

These new armed groups have received early praise from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki and U.S. officials. The United States had earlier called for the disarming of all militias for the sake of social peace and reconciliation, but that policy has clearly changed. The occupation forces now back both Shia and Sunni militias in different areas of the country.

These new groups are drawing strong condemnation from other Sunni tribal chiefs.

"They are a group of thieves who are arming thieves, and this is something dangerous and nasty," Sheikh Sa'adoon, chief of a large Sunni tribe near Khaldiyah city in al-Anbar told IPS. "This only means we will have more disturbances here, and it could create local civil war."

Another tribal leader in the area, speaking to IPS on condition of anonymity, said "they are only doing this in order to kill as many Sunnis as possible, and this time with Sunni hands."

He said true tribal leaders should lead any militias they form, rather than issue orders from the Green Zone, the U.S. and Iraqi government enclave in Baghdad.

"Leaders should lead their soldiers on the battlefield, but those so-called sheikhs are well protected behind concrete walls inside the dirty zone (green zone)," he said. "How can they win a battle by remote control?"

The controversial move appears to have brought widespread condemnation also from academics, Iraqi military leaders, and even Shia politicians. "It is a new way of making millions of dollars," a professor at al-Anbar University in Ramadi told IPS.

Brigadier-General Jassim Rashid al-Dulaimi from the new Iraqi Army in Anbar province told IPS: "I cannot imagine 30,000 more guns in the Iraqi field. I hope they will reject the idea. Iraq needs more engineers and clean politicians to solve the dilemma of the existing militias rather than recruiting new ones to kill more Iraqis. The idea sounds to me as turning the country into a mercenary recruitment centre."

Shia leader Jaafar al-Assadi said the move will bring more violence. "Al-Anbar will fight even more now with the guns given to those fools," he told IPS. "They are surely going to sell their weapons to the terrorists or surrender to them soon or later."

Some of these group leaders have distanced themselves from the new militias. Sheikh Hamid Muhanna, chief of the large tribe al-Bu Alwan appeared on al-Jazeera denying the creation of such militia. He said he and the other sheikhs are in control of their tribes, and those who met al-Maliki speak for themselves only.

The main Sunni religious group, the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), remains staunchly opposed to any continuance to the occupation.

"It is all in the hands of the Americans, we are trying to cover the sun with a piece of glass," Sheikh Ahmed from AMS told IPS in Baghdad. "The occupation power is too strong for any player to make a major change, and so we should believe in our own capabilities without dreaming of useful solutions from our enemy."

The Association has consistently refused to take part in Iraqi politics under U.S. occupation.

The new militias are riding the back of what is controversially referred to as federalism, under which each group appears headed its own way.

Thafir al-Ani, official spokesman for al-Tawafuq, a major Sunni parliamentary group, resigned as chairman of a constitution committee last week. "I would have had to take part in dividing Iraq under the flag of federalism, which would have put a mark in my history as one of those who established the dividing of my country," he said.

The solutions being put forth are all driven by personal and sectarian interests, and fail to consider what is best for the country, Maki al-Nazzal, political analyst from Fallujah told IPS.

"The change that could take place is an Iraqi people's 'Orange revolution', which could occur with all Iraqis, regardless of their ID information," al-Nazzal said. "But that would be very dangerous without international protection to the people who would do it because Iraqi rulers today, together with the U.S. Army, could massacre demonstrators."

The 'Orange revolution' was the name given to public protests across Ukraine in November 2004 against a government and an election seen as illegitimate. The revolution was widely believed to have had U.S. support.

A member of an Iraqi Human Rights non-governmental organisation who asked to be identified as Ibrahim said the United Nations must take a stronger stand in Iraq.

"The international community must take its real role in the country," he told IPS. "UNAMI's (UN Assistance Mission for Iraq) hands are tied, and they are only monitoring the disastrous situation without doing anything to help stop the bleeding of Iraq."

(c)2006 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

Tomgram: De la Vega, A Libby Pardon for Christmas?

Sometimes, the proximate cause of an unraveling, even an implosion, may catch everyone by surprise. This week the "tipping point" (to borrow a Bush administration phrase from the Iraq War) for the possible unraveling of Republican control of Congress may be the roiling, boiling Mark Foley affair with its sexually explicit emails and instant messages to teenage House pages, which, in the pattern of any such scandal, has surely not yet fully emerged into view. Only today, the editorial page of the right-wing Washington Times called on House Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign "at once," while the Washington Post reported "intense anger among social conservative activists in Washington yesterday." Meanwhile, news about how much the Republican leadership (and the FBI) knew about Foley's activities without taking any action continues to emerge and the Democrats are clearly about to press their sudden advantage in undoubtedly below-the-belt campaign ads. As Perry Bacon, Jr. of Time Magazine puts it, a potentially expanding "‘throw the bums' out mentality... could result in a Democratic win in the House" -- and, with that, the power to investigate the Bush administration would fall into far less friendly hands at a moment when the landscape is chock-a-block full of investigative possibilities.

In just the last couple of weeks, it was learned that lobbyist Jack Abramoff may have practically camped out in Karl Rove's office; that Henry Kissinger had quietly returned to the Oval Office to re-fight the Vietnam War; that the complete American intelligence community agreed, in a National intelligence Estimate, that Iraq was a veritable machine for creating terrorists; that (according to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, who created laudatory portraits of the President when things were going so well) George W. Bush (gasp!) actually lied to the American people about the situation in Iraq; that he was also determined to make sure American troops remained mired in Iraq even if only his wife and dog supported his policy; that his former national security advisor and present secretary of state may have shrugged off a meeting with the top two people in the CIA in July 2001 warning about an Osama bin Laden attack; and finally that Congress passed a bill essentially giving the President and the CIA a get-out-of-jail-free card for illegal past acts in the thriving field of torture and illegal detention.

In such a scandal-ridden, edge-of-election moment in Washington, it's easy enough to let older scandals slip from sight. Right now, that's the case with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's upcoming prosecution of I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Cheney's former right-hand man. As it happens, however, even if we've taken our eyes off the case (and the set of scandals behind it), key administration figures haven't for a simple reason that former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega explains in striking fashion below. After all, the Libby case, when laid out in court, would threaten to unravel the Vice President's command post in full view of the public. So, take a moment off from the scandals of the present to consider a scandal of the past which, one way or another, is guaranteed to be a major scandal of the near future. Tom

Pardon Me?

Scooter Libby's Trial Strategy
By Elizabeth de la Vega

Maybe you are thinking that Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's case against Scooter Libby is yesterday's news, or, worse, in its last throes. Think again.

It has recently come to my attention that the title of the Ukrainian national anthem is "Ukraine Is Not Dead Yet." (Seriously, it is.) The same could be said of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's ongoing prosecution of Vice President Cheney's former aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby: The case -- involving charges of perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice in connection with Fitzgerald's investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of the identity of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative -- is not dead yet, nor is it even ailing.

U.S. v. Libby is Alive and Well

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Tomgram: Nick Turse, The Pentagon Befriends

Congressman Mark Foley (R. Florida), who co-chaired the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children and billed himself as an enemy of pedophiles and online predators everywhere, just resigned over emails and instant messages sent to underage male congressional pages who "said the congressman, under the AOL Instant Messenger screen name Maf54, made repeated references to sexual organs and acts." Moreover, the Washington Post and the New York Times Sunday report that this information was known to the Republican leadership in late 2005 and widely available to top Republicans by last Spring.

It's already clear that they were far more eager to retain Foley's House seat than do a thing about his gross dereliction of duty. They didn't even bother to remove him from his caucus on children. In fact, they were so eager to keep the matter under wraps that they didn't even inform Michigan's Rep. Dale E. Kildee, the sole Democrat on the House Page Board, set up to protect the congressional pages from just such advances, about the matter (though Republicans on the Board were informed). It's a remarkable, still-unfolding little tale of political hypocrisy that might even endanger House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert on the eve of the mid-term elections.

In recent times, Congress, while not policing its own, has put much energy into the matter of the possible cyberspace stalking of the young by sexual predators at sites like, home to a zillion young "friends" and "friends of friends." As it turns out, these days there are predators of all sorts roaming the Internet looking to lure young bodies their way. In the case of the Pentagon, which, Nick Turse reports, has only recently made its "friendly" debut at the wildly popular MySpace website, the interest in those bodies isn't sexual, but -- given the state of George Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- the phrase "e-cannon fodder" certainly comes to mind. If you want to know more, check out Turse's latest below and then consider the deeper recruitment desperation of the Pentagon and the way it's transforming our military in his previous Tomdispatch piece, "Dirty Dozen, The Pentagon's 12-Step Program to Create a Military of Misfits." Tom

With Friends Like These…

The Militarization of MySpace
By Nick Turse

Those young years can be hard ones. The acne, the awkwardness, the angst. That may be one reason why, if you're between your early teens and your mid-twenties, you may already be making "friends" in the cozy cyber-confines of, the social networking website which bills itself as "an online community that lets you meet your friends' friends." At MySpace, each user can create a customized webpage or "profile," upload photos (only from your best angle and then photo-shopped to the hilt), blog around the clock, and -- most important of all -- court those "friends."

In an eerie reflection of the very world many MySpace scenesters undoubtedly plunge into cyberspace to avoid, the measure of success at the site is how much you can increase your page's popularity. You do this by posting attention-grabbing content, breathlessly soliciting other users, putting up provocative pictures to attract attention, sending out "bulletins" to your existing "friends," and asking them to "whore" you out to their list of friends. With its multimillions of "friends" to garner, the site is wildly popular -- and not just for insecure teens either.

MySpace has become a magnet for those that want, for one reason or another, to draw young eyeballs (and often young pocketbooks). Colleges, corporate products like Toyota's Yaris and the Honda Element, even fictional characters like Ricky Bobby. from the movie Talladega Nights or fast-food outlet Wendy's minimalist cartoon pitchman Smart have already gotten into the MySpace act.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The anatomy of a massacre: A special report by Robert Fisk

Wissam talks slowly but without tears as he describes what happened next. "I lost sight of Myrna. I just couldn't see her any more for the dust flying around. Then the helicopter came back and started firing its guns at the children, at any of them who moved. I ran away behind a tel [a small hill] and lay there and pretended to be dead because I knew the pilot would kill me if I moved. Some of the children were in bits."
Read this Information Clearing House article here.

Appeasement Driven by Oil

The Bush Administration and Darfur

By David Morse

Appeasement driven by oil is surely as reprehensible as any. When confronted with reality, this President is clearly reluctant to confront the genuine "Islamo-terrorists" of his nightmares.
Read ICH article here.

A Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy?

By Mike Whitney

Next week, President Bush will sign the “Military Commissions Act of 2006” into law. - The law will allow Bush to imprison anyone he chooses and abuse them as he sees fit. It places Bush above the law, our first American monarch.
Read ICH article here.

Why I'm Banned in the USA

By Tariq Ramadan

My experience reveals how U.S. authorities seek to suppress dissenting voices and -- by excluding people such as me from their country -- manipulate political debate in America. Unfortunately, the U.S. government's paranoia has evolved far beyond a fear of particular individuals and taken on a much more insidious form: the fear of ideas.
Read this ICH article here.

The New Face of Class War

By Paul Craig Roberts

The United States is the first country in history to destroy the prospects and living standards of its labor force. It is amazing to watch freedom-loving libertarians and free-market economists serve as apologists for the dismantling of the ladders of upward mobility that made the America of old an opportunity society.
Read this ICH article here.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

USA Detaineed Torture Act HR 6166 and controversial internet programs

Sometime tomorrow, October 2nd, Pres. Bush will be signing the USA Detainee Torture Act, HR 6166. As a result, it is likely that many straight-talking programs such as the internet program "Late Night with D'Anne" will not be allowed, and such audio archives may soon be deleted from the internet.

Please read the urgent notice below and follow the links to hear the program which contains essential information. The next 12 hours may be your last chance to hear it!


This is an urgent, emergency notice. I want you to access and listen to the audio archive of an September 30th, 2006 internet program called Late Night With D'Anne at I want you to access this program within the next 12 hours, if possible, because it is likely that such straight-talking programs will not be allowed after Bush signs the USA Detainee Torture Act, HR 6166 sometime tomorrow, Monday October 1st. Such audio archives may soon be deleted from the internet.

On that program is essential information which is important for you to understand and which is will be relevant to your personal safety and survival.

The program is 2 hours long. You should record the program as an audio file for future reference.

Also,visit: for the full copy of the USA Detainee Torture Act, HR 6166. Make a hard copy of this bill or download it to your computer for future reference.

(Name witheld)

USA Absorbs Canada in Secret Talks in Banff Alberta

Canadians who are concerned about our sovereignty would be well advised to read this disturbing article written by Maude Barlow:

While the media were busy obsessing over rumours of a budding romance between Condoleezza Rice and Peter MacKay last week, a more significant relationship was developing behind closed doors.

Away from the spotlight, from Sept. 12 to 14, in Banff Springs, Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day and Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor met with U.S. and Mexican government officials and business leaders to discuss North American integration at the second North American Forum.

According to leaked documents, the guest list included such prominent figures as U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Mexican Secretary of Public Security Eduardo Medina Mora and Canadian Forces chief General Rick Hillier, although we have no final confirmation of attendees.

Read rest of this article here.


If you are interested in the dire reality of global warming, be sure to tune in to CBC Newsworld tonight at 11 pm ET to watch this wonderful program which first aired last week.

CBC will be airing many poignant - often controversial - documentaries this fall. You can sign up to receive weekly email alerts about them here:

(Sunday October 1 at 11pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld)

It's in the media every day. It's blamed for everything from floods to droughts. And if we are to believe the prophets of doom we are rushing headlong towards a global catastrophe. Global warming is the hottest scientific topic of the age. And yet despite all the hype, it is still highly controversial. BBC's Paul Rose, who has spent much of the past 10 years organizing expeditions to examine global warming, looks at the issues.

What makes us human?

(Illustration for Time by Tim O'Brien)

What Makes Us Different?

Not very much, when you look at our DNA. But those few tiny changes made all the difference in the world.

In this compelling, interesting article in today's Time Magazine, a team led by molecular geneticist Svante Paabo in Leipzig, Germany, will announce a stunning achievement: the sequencing of a significant fraction of the genome of Neanderthals who are far closer to us genetically than chimps are. And though Neanderthals became extinct tens of thousands of years ago, Paabo is convinced he's on the way to reconstructing the entire genome of that long-lost relative, using DNA extracted from a 38,000-year-old bone.

For most of us, it's the grand question about what it is that makes us human that renders comparative genome studies so compelling. According to scientists, evolution is a random process in which haphazard genetic changes interact with random environmental conditions to produce an organism somehow fitter than its fellows. After 3.5 billion years of such randomness, a creature emerged that could ponder its own origins—and revel in a Mozart adagio. Within a few short years, we may finally understand precisely when and how that happened.

You don't have to be a biologist or an anthropologist to see how closely the great apes—gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans—resemble us. Even a child can see that their bodies are pretty much the same as ours, apart from some exaggerated proportions and extra body hair. Apes have dexterous hands much like ours but unlike those of any other creature. And, most striking of all, their faces are uncannily expressive, showing a range of emotions that are eerily familiar. That's why we delight in seeing chimps wearing tuxedos, playing the drums or riding bicycles. It's why a potbellied gorilla scratching itself in the zoo reminds us of Uncle Ralph or Cousin Vinnie—and why, in a more unsettled reaction, Queen Victoria, on seeing an orangutan named Jenny at the London Zoo in 1842, declared the beast "frightful and painfully and disagreeably human."


And sometime in the next few weeks, a team led by molecular geneticist Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Leipzig, Germany, will announce an even more stunning achievement: the sequencing of a significant fraction of the genome of Neanderthals—the human-like species we picture when we hear the word caveman—who are far closer to us genetically than chimps are. And though Neanderthals became extinct tens of thousands of years ago, Paabo is convinced he's on the way to reconstructing the entire genome of that long-lost relative, using DNA extracted, against all odds, from a 38,000-year-old bone.

Laid side by side, these three sets of genetic blueprints—plus the genomes of gorillas and other primates, which are already well on the way to being completely sequenced—will not only begin to explain precisely what makes us human but could lead to a better understanding of human diseases and how to treat them.

Read full article here.

21st Century Manifesto

This is a manifesto for the 21st century on the eve of Mahatma Gandhi's birthday and the 100th anniversary of Sathyagraha:

Press Release: 2 October: On Mahatma Gandhi’s Birth Day: Manifesto.

The Manifesto will be released on Mahatma Gandhi’s Birth Day – 2 October 2006. It will be forwarded to the United Nations, Heads of State, and to leaders and preachers of political and religious ideologies.

No society, religion or country is free from violation of human rights. I think, therefore, the struggle is not exclusive for or against anyone people, region or religion or nation. We should focus on the life and liberty of on coming generations inclusive of all humanity. Karl Marx had said "Workers of the World Unite."

Now we say: Let all nations/ humans of the world unite.

You are requested to circulate the Manifesto among University colleagues, activists groups and national and international media.

Thanks for your support. Fraternal greetings and regards, Dhirendra

-------------------------------------------------------------------­ Dr. Dhirendra Sharma. Director, Centre for Science Policy Research, Nirmal-Nilay, Dehradun 248009. (0135) 2735 627.


---------------------------------------------------------------------The 21st Century Space Age Manifesto for Global Peace

We the concerned Scientists and Philosophers for Social Action hereby call upon the leaders and preachersof all faiths and religions, and Heads of all sovereign states to abide by the Declaration of Human Rights as enshrined by the United Nations.

Weapons of Mass Destruction and the suicidal bombers - both are equally destructive of human life and liberty. Please consider the millions homeless, and orphaned children turned destitute in every region due to the violent conflicts in the 21st century Space Age.

Whereas powerful countries with the Weapons of Mass Destruction and with technologically advanced military-industrial establishments have unleashed global violence threatening the life and liberties of entire human civilization; less powerful cultural, and religious chauvinists directly or indirectly are involved in the war of attrition against " the other" human beings.

An Indian school girl asked Dr. Abdul Kalam:

"Are you a Muslim, Tamilian, Indian, a Scientist, or the President of India?"

"I am a Human Being and that covers all others," replied the scientist sage President of India.

We, therefore, appeal to all nations, Heads of all faiths, and Religions, the leaders of all states and countries, to "Remember your Humanity and forget the rest."

Mahatma Gandhi said: "If you follow the rule ‘Eye for an Eye’ - the entire world will become blind". And the Bible says: "Let him throw the first stone who is not guilty". No race, religion, or country, caste, class or creed is free from wrong doings against its own and “the other” humans. There are no innocent followers of any Faith or culture that have not violated human rights of meek and the weak. Nonetheless, there is nothing so precious as human life, and peace and security is necessary for the survival of our civilization.

We call upon you to condemn violence - all violence, committed by any race, state, or the religious followers; and remember that advances in Life Sciences have given us the knowledge of matching the Blood Group necessary for human life, not your exclusive cultural identity of race, region or religion.

We especially call upon Religious Heads of all Faiths to declare that killing of human being is not sanctioned by any divine Commandment. We specially call upon all the extremist leaders and custodians of the fanatic politico- religious organisations around the world to give up the tactics of the suicidal bombing.

And follow the Gandhian path of non-violent resistance to unjust politics.

Sponsoring Signatories include:

Prof. Noam Chomsky ( Philosopher, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, USA);

Prof. Sal Restivo ( Editor-in-Chief: Science,Technology and Society Encyclopaedia, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y. USA);

Prof. Gajendra Singh, ( Vice-Chancellor, Doon University, Dehradun, India).

Rt. Hon. Tony Benn ( Socialist leader and former Cabinet Minister, UK).

Dr. (Ms) Indoo Pandey Khanduri (Philosopher, Garhwal University, Srinagar-Garhwal,India).

Dr. Robert Macfarlane ( Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, is author, Mountains of the Mind.)

Prof. Johnjoe McFadden ( Prof. of Molecular Genetics, University of Surrey, UK).

Prof. Hugo D. Estrella (South American Peace Research, International Network of Engineers and Scientists, Cordoba, Argentina).

Dr. N. Natarajan, (Aeronautics Scientist,.and former Vice-Chancellor of Garhwal University, is Air Vice-Marshal (retd.) India).

Dr. Balwant Bhaneja, ( Former Canadian Science Counsellor in Bonn, and London, is Senior Fellow for Science Policy and Pugwash Group at the Ottawa University, Canada).

Prof. Brian Martin (Science, Technology and Society, University of Wollongong and International Director of Whistleblowers Australia).

Mr. Aloke B. Lal ( Public Administration Scientist, and Arts Critic and Painter,is Currently, Additional Director-General of Police, Uttaranchal State, India).

Dr. Dhirendra Sharma ( Director, Centre for Science Policy Research, Dehradun, India).


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