As you may have heard on the news, up to 100 Afghan civilians are feared dead as a result of U.S. air strikes. Now, I am writing to alert you of a potential major escalation of Canada’s war in Afghanistan: Canadian fighter-bomber warplanes.
Right now, the military is engaging in a lobbying campaign to have a squadron of our CF-18 Hornet fighter bombers deployed to Afghanistan. The planes would be used to attack suspected insurgents and to fight with Canadian and U.S. troops engaged in search and destroy missions. But they will also kill untold numbers of Afghan civilians in these attacks.
The deployment of CF-18 fighter bombers would be a major increase in our combat role in Afghanistan, and should be opposed by Canadians. Please send your letter to Prime Minister Harper right away. Bombing runs by similar warplanes used by the United States and other Western forces have killed hundreds of civilians, including women and children. As well, U.S. pilots have already killed five Canadian soldiers.
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by Ramzy Baroud
Incongruous. One can hardly think of a more suited term to describe the new US administration's approach to peacemaking in the Middle East. Though there is little evidence that previous US administrations had genuinely attempted to play a balanced role in forging a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians, many hoped -- and a few still hope -- that Barack Obama's administration would bring about new standards.
However, if recent comments made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suffice as a general indication of the administration's Middle East policy, then little change is on the horizon.
Clinton told US legislators 23 April that the key to peace between Israel and the Palestinians was Tehran; that without getting tough on Iran, Israel could not be expected to pursue peace with the Palestinians. "The two go hand in hand," she emphasised. What a baffling approach to peacemaking. In order for peace to prevail, Israel should engage Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority in "discussions" aimed at inspiring the isolation of Iran, for reasons entirely pertinent to US interests and Israeli "security".
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by John Grant - Veterans For Peace Chapter 31, Philadelphia
The $12 million marketing experiment in brand-selling the US Army to Philadelphia youth and adults at the Franklin Mills Mall was forced to shut down for the afternoon on Saturday, May 2nd. Over two hundred protesters -- many from Washington DC, New York and other out of town locations -- expressed their outrage at tax dollars being spent to seduce teenagers to join the Army with violent video games and human-target shooting simulators.
Protesters gathered at Saint Luke's United Church Of Christ a mile south of the Franklin Mills Mall on Knights Road in Northeast
Philadelphia. There were speeches by Gold Star mother Sue Niederer and others, plus the reading of an eloquent Criminal Complaint
directed at both the Army Experience Center and the Simon Property Group, the owner of the Mall that rents space to the Army next to the mini Las Vegas game emporium Dave & Busters. The Army Experience Center features dozens of video stations available to young teenagers to play a host of violent video games like "America's Army," which comes in various versions, all designed around a mission that involves simulated first-person shooting with an automatic weapon directed at human targets.
Members of Philadelphia VFP Chapter 31 were joined by VFP members from the Long Island chapter, in the photo below in front of Dave & Busters. VFP members Phil Reiss and Louise Legun from Lehigh Valley were there, as was Ann Wright and VFP Board Members Elliot Adams and Patrick McCann. VFP member Bill Perry was there with his Delaware Valley Veterans For America group. At least two IVAW members were part of the march.
Dick Durbin knows his way around the Senate. He’s been there a long time, long enough to know how things really work. Over the years, the man from Illinois has come to realize that it’s not the elected officials who are in charge. Last week, he said it was the bankers “who run the place” acknowledging that Senators may be in office, but not necessarily in power.
Usually, the people who pull the strings stay in the background to avoid too much public exposure. They rely on lobbyists to do their bidding. They prefer to work in the shadows. They may back certain politicians, but coming from a world of credit default swaps as they do, they hedge their bets by putting money on all the horses.
They have so much influence because they have been reengineering the American economy for decades through “financialization,” a process by which banks and financial institutions gradually came to dominate economic and political decision-making. Kevin Phillips, a one time Reagan advisor and commentator, says our deepest problem is “the ascendancy of finance in national policymaking (as well as in the gross domestic product, and the complicity of politicians who really don’t want to talk about it.”
Curiously, despite the journalists like Bill Moyers and Arianna Huffinton who have been blowing the whistle on the role of the “banksters” in our political life, criticizing the Republicans and Democrats who deregulated the financial system, this issue seems to float above the heads of most of the public, much of the press, and even the activist community more drawn to punishing the torture inflicted on a few by a former Administration than the economic duress being imposed on the majority of Americans by a minority of the super rich.
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by Dahr Jamail | t r u t h o u t
Indicative of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq, on May 1 the US military reported the death of a Naval petty officer who was killed "on April 30 while conducting combat operations in Fallujah, Iraq." The Department of Defense report went on to explain that the sailor "was deployed with an East Coast based Navy SEAL team." That same day, the military announced the deaths of two marines "killed while conducting combat operations against enemy forces here April 30."
After eight years of member-driven activism and advocacy in the face of Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals aggressive and punitive attacks on fundamental social values, COPE 378 is using the coming election to fight back.
by Diane Walsh
Sex workers in two provinces are challenging Canada’s solicitation laws in different ways but with a common desire—to work and live with greater dignity. In the province of Ontario, a Charter of Rights and Freedoms case is well underway and is based out of Toronto. The suit is being handled by well-known activist lawyer Alan Young. As he’s an Osgoode Hall Law professor vital case preparatory work is being performed by articling students.
The calendar is marked for October 6, 2009. The Ontario Superior Court is scheduled to hear what’s become of this on-going constitutional challenge that has the aim to strike down three sections of the Criminal Code. These include: prohibitions on keeping a bawdyhouse, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purposes of prostitution.
In British Columbia it’s clear that the action is moving at a much slower pace. A judicial roadblock has been put in the way. On December 15 2008, Supreme Court Justice W. F. Ehrcke of British Columbia refused to proceed to hear the claims brought forward by the plaintiffs which are, Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United against Violence Society and Sheryl Kiselbach.
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by Chris Hedges
Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East.
What, for all our faith and hope, has the Obama brand given us? His administration has spent, lent or guaranteed $12.8 trillion in taxpayer dollars to Wall Street and insolvent banks in a doomed effort to reinflate the bubble economy, a tactic that at best forestalls catastrophe and will leave us broke in a time of profound crisis.
Brand Obama offers us an image that appears radically individualistic and new. It inoculates us from seeing that the old engines of corporate power and the vast military-industrial complex continue to plunder the country. Corporations, which control our politics, no longer produce products that are essentially different, but brands that are different. Brand Obama does not threaten the core of the corporate state any more than did Brand George W. Bush.
In this series of personal testimonies, PCHR looks at the aftermath of Israel’s 23 day offensive on the Gaza Strip, and the ongoing impact it is having on the civilian population.
Words by Malian/PCHR
Mahmoud before and after the attack that claimed his sight
Mahmoud Mattar spent his 15th birthday in February this year, lying in the intensive care unit of Egypt’s Sheikh Zayid hospital. He is one of the 1,606 children who were injured during Israel’s military offensive on Gaza, some of who sustained horrific disabilities, head and spinal injuries, facial disfigurement, burns and amputation.
On Wednesday 7 January 2009, Mahmoud Mattar, then 14, was struck by a rocket near his home in Sheikh Radwan, Gaza City, that left him permanently blind and with extensive injuries. It was around 09:30 in the morning and Mahmoud was at home with his mother and siblings when an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at al-Taqwa mosque, 150 metres away.
Mahmoud ran to see what had happened, and shortly afterwards a second missile hit the scene, killing two 15 year old boys, including Abdullah Juda, one of Mahmoud’s school friends. Mahmoud’s uncle, Nahed Mattar, 43, went to find his nephew while people gathered in the area.
Just as Nahed reached out to grab Mahmoud, a third rocket hit. “I had gone to find Mahmoud and bring him home,” said Nahed. “I saw the two boys who had been killed and their bodies were dismembered. People were trying to evacuate them because ambulances were unable to reach the area and the mosque had been destroyed, with just a minaret left standing.:
by Humane Society International/Canada
Help us build a Bear Memorial in front of the BC Parliament.
But we need your help to do more!
Despite thousands of emails and letters sent to the provincial government, Premier Gordon Campbell is still unwilling to stop the slaughter of bears in the Great Bear Rainforest. This is why we desperately need your help to attract the premier's attention by bringing this issue to Victoria before the May 12th election.
It is the "enhanced reading" version, not the full production - but the same performer as in Vancouver, Adrienne Wong.
70 minutes Metro Studio (1411 Quadra) One Reading Only: Friday May 22, 6:00 pm
My Name is Rachel Corrie (Enhanced Reading) from the writings of Rachel Corrie edited by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner Neworld Theatre (Vancouver BC) Read by Adrienne Wong, Directed by Marcus Youssef Director of Original Production: Sarah Garton Stanley Stage Manager: Dani Fecko Photographs: Jon Elmer
Passionate, sometimes irreverent and always intelligent, My Name is Rachel Corrie explores an extraordinary young woman's singular experience in a region most of us only know from the news. Rachel Corrie sought to discover for herself the human impact of her own country's foreign policies on people thousands of miles from her home.
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by David Swanson
Our nation has more money than any other, more weapons than all the others combined, and a majority of its citizens believing it is, in some undefined sense, superior. But the people who live in the United States trail many other nations in basic measures of health and well-being. Almost uniquely among wealthy nations, we leave tens of millions of our citizens without health coverage, and many times that number with insufficient -- albeit expensive -- health insurance. We pay more per capita than anybody else for healthcare, and we get dramatically less for it. What gives?
While there is great variation among the systems used in other wealthy nations, and while their citizens have complaints as well, there is a feature that everybody else has found effective that we uniquely lack, and nowhere is there a nation whose people would willingly part with that feature in exchange for a system like ours. That feature is called single-payer. In a single-payer system, such as Canada's, a nation can have private healthcare, private doctors, private hospitals, and greater choice for patients than what we have. In such a system, no insurance company can tell you which doctors to see, or tell doctors which patients to treat. Nor are there different prices and procedures depending on what class of patient you are, whether you have insurance through your job or privately, etc. In such a system, you can go to whatever doctors you want, bring no bill home, and spend zero minutes per year dealing with insurance companies. In such a system, health insurance companies, at least as we now know them, cease to exist.
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