Iraq: Battleground Falluja '09

Combat Operations in Fallujah
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."
Woman gestures toward the wreckage of a car destroyed in a car bomb explosion in Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City, Iraq Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The dateline for the latter press release is "AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq." Apparently, all is not well in Fallujah and al-Anbar province. The US military, having met the fiercest resistance throughout their occupation of Iraq in these areas, is once again conducting combat operations there.
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Gordo's Great BC Hydro Heist

Great BC Hydro Heist
by is an initiative of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 378 (COPE 378).

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.

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Making Sex Constitutional

Sex workers in the midst of constitutional lawsuits
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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Brand Obama

Buying Brand Obama
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.
Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest.

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 has allocated nearly $1 trillion in defense-related spending and the continuation of our doomed imperial projects in Iraq, where military planners now estimate that 70,000 troops will remain for the next 15 to 20 years. Brand Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan, including the use of drones sent on cross-border bombing runs into Pakistan that have doubled the number of civilians killed over the past three months.
Brand Obama has refused to ease restrictions so workers can organize and will not consider single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans. And Brand Obama will not prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes, including the use of torture, and has refused to dismantle Bush’s secrecy laws or restore habeas corpus.

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.
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Gaza Tales: Aftermath # 8

Palestine-Israel: Aftermath (8) Life is blind
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.:

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Unbearable: Stopping B.C. Bear Trophy Hunting

Two events to help end bear trophy hunting. Join us in Victoria on May 5    
by Humane Society International/Canada   
Help us build a Bear Memorial in front of the BC Parliament.
Dear Friend; trophy hunting season in the Great Bear Rainforest continues and grizzly and black bears are targeted as they emerge from hibernation. Our bear mascots and volunteers have been busy spreading the word on the streets about the cruel trophy bear hunt on BC's coast.

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.

You’re invited to two exciting events on May 5 that will bring the message to the provincial capital.
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MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE coming to Victoria

MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE coming to Victoria on May 22nd, at 6:00p.m.
by Uno Fest
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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Shutting Down Insurance Companies

Give Everyone Healthcare by Shutting Down Insurance Companies
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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Rafe Mair's Last Stand on Run of Rivers

Rafe’s Summary
by Rafe Mair
Rafe here, I thought I might send you my last thoughts on the rivers issue. In order to get the message out, would you please send it to your address book and ask them to do the same? Best, Rafe.
I’ve been fighting injustice my entire life. I have long looked with considerable skepticism at those in charge feeling strongly that they must have the closest possible scrutiny.  I’ve been in government and know how the spin is administered to issues so that evils in government policies are disguised. I’ve long been guided by what I call Mair’s Axiom I, namely, “one makes a serious mistake in assuming that people in charge know what the hell they’re doing”.
During my time practicing law I took many cases “pro bono” because I sensed an injustice.
As Consumer Minister I battled hard for consumers passing 33 pieces of legislation in two sittings, a record before or since. In the Ministry of Environment I stopped government killing wolves, stopped exploration for and mining of uranium and negotiated the saving of the Skagit River from being made into a lake by Seattle raising the Ross Dam. 
In radio I fought against two disastrous constitutional exercises, Meech Lake and Charlottetown, the Kemano Completion Project, a gravel pit on the Pitt River, the fish farm issue and recently the private river swindle.
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Nuke Ammo Fired in Mid-East Could Kill More than Fat Man and Little Boy

Radioactive Ammunition Fired in the Middle East
May Claim More Lives than Hiroshima and Nagasaki
by Sherwood Ross
By firing radioactive ammunition, the U.S., U.K., and Israel may have triggered a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East that, over time, will prove deadlier than the U.S. atomic bombing of Japan. So much ammunition containing depleted uranium(DU) has been fired, asserts nuclear authority Leuren Moret, “The genetic future of the Iraqi people for the most part, is destroyed.”

“More than ten times the amount of radiation released during atmospheric testing (of nuclear bombs) has been released from depleted uranium weaponry since 1991,” Moret writes, including radioactive ammunition fired by Israeli troops in Palestine. Moret is an independent U.S. scientist formerly employed for five years at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and also at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, both of California.

Adds Arthur Bernklau, of Veterans For Constitutional Law, “The long-term effect of DU is a virtual death sentence. Iraq is a toxic wasteland. Anyone who is there stands a good chance of coming down with cancer and leukemia. In Iraq, the birth rate of mutations is totally out of control.”

Moret, a Berkeley, Calif., Environmental Commissioner and past president of the Association for Women Geoscientists, says, “For every genetic defect that we can see now, in future generations there are thousands more that will be expressed.” She adds, “the (Iraq) environment now is completely radioactive.”

Dr. Helen Caldicott, the prominent anti-nuclear crusader, has written: “Much of the DU is in cities such as Baghdad, where half the population of 5 million people are children who played in the burned-out tanks and on the sandy, dusty ground.”

“Children are 10 to 20 times more susceptible to the carcinogenic effects of radiation than adults,” Caldicott wrote. “My pediatric colleagues in Basra, where this ordnance was used in 1991, report a sevenfold increase in childhood cancer and a sevenfold increase in gross congenital abnormalities,” she wrote in her book, “Nuclear Power is not the Answer”(The New Press).
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Torture and Obama's Spare Change

Some Thoughts About Torture. And Mr. Obama.
by William Blum
Okay, at least some things are settled. When George W. Bush said "The United States does not torture", everyone now knows it was crapaganda. And when Barack Obama, a month into his presidency, said "The United States does not torture"1, it likewise had all the credibility of a 19th century treaty between the US government and the American Indians.

When Obama and his followers say, as they do repeatedly, that he has "banned torture", this is a statement they have no right to make. The executive orders concerning torture leave loopholes, such as being applicable only "in any armed conflict"2 What about in a "counter-terrorism" environment?
And the new administration has not categorically banned the outsourcing of torture, such as renditions, the sole purpose of which is to kidnap people and send them to a country to be tortured. Moreover, what do we know of all the CIA secret prisons, the gulag extending from Poland to the island of Diego Garcia? How many of them are still open and abusing and torturing prisoners, keeping them in total isolation and in indefinite detention? Total isolation by itself is torture; not knowing when, if ever, you will be released is torture. And the non-secret prisons? Has Guantanamo ended all its forms of torture? There's reason to doubt that.3 And what do we know of what's happening now in Abu Ghraib and Bagram?

And when Obama says "I don't believe that anybody is above the law", and then acts in precisely the opposite fashion, despite overwhelming evidence of criminal torture — such as the recently leaked report of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Bush Justice Department "torture memos" — it's enough to break the heart of any of his fans who possess more than a minimum of intellect and conscience. It should be noted that a Gallup Poll of April 24/25 showed that 66% of Democrats favored an "investigation into harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects". If the word "torture" had been used in the question, the figure would undoubtedly have been higher.
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WTF Langford? Turning Farms to Condos for Fun and Profit

Langford's latest land-use f--- up
by WTF Langford?
Vote in our survey! Comments welcome!

In case anyone needed evidence that the land-use process in Langford has devolved into bizarre, unintentionally-hilarious lunacy, here's People's Exhibit #217: the Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Developers have turned their covetous eyes to the farmlands of the Happy Valley, where they foresee a future of subdivisions, cheap condos and mega-dollar signs. But farmland is protected by the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve, and there are lots of rules about taking farmland out of the reserve to build condos and other crap. (This is a good thing; otherwise we'd be importing all our food from Brazil.)
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