Gang-rape in Afghanistan

Below is a report from the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan’s website.  It makes me physically ill to read it, so do not take the link if you do not want to know about the gang-rape of a woman in Badakhshan and the treatment of her children, who were witnesses to the event.

Is it this vilification of women and children — this terrorism — that we are reconstructing in Afghanistan?  It seems to me that Canadian participation in this pseudo war on terror has made the situation for the women of that country even worse than before.

Bring our troops home!

Behind the burqas

Thanks to Louise Dulude for bringing this to my attention.  It's an excellent article.

Afghanistan: Behind the burqas

by Tamar Dressler

“I know what they tell you in the West about the situation here,” Sahar Saab sighs despairingly. Saab, an activist with the women’s movement RAWA which operates almost underground in Afghanistan, adds, “They tell you women’s circumstances have improved greatly, but in reality there is no improvement. In the capital, Kabul, and in a few more cities, women even work in government offices, but their numbers are very few, and many dangers still ambush women in the cities. And in the suburbs? For their own safety, women continue to wear burqas. Almost daily, we hear of kidnappings, rape, murder, suicide and disappearance in areas still ruled by the Taliban or the Northern Alliance, and we know there are many more incidents not reported.”

Thus, in fluent English and a businesslike tone, free of criticism or attempts to shake up her listener with horror stories of the type of incidents the movement is trying to eradicate, Saab tells of the lives of women for whom leaving the house is a luxury.

“Officially the situation is better since the international forces arrived, but most of the new laws have not been assimilated. The condition of civilians, especially women and children, has deteriorated. In areas ruled by religious extremists, most women feel only a change for the worse. In the past five years, for example, the number of female suicides has increased significantly. If our situation is so improved – why the increase? We pay the full price of war and poverty.”

Three decades of underground activity

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), founded in Afghanistan in 1977 by a group of educated women led by Meena Keshwar-Kamal, fights for women’s rights, for their assimilation into the political system and the establishment of a democratic regime based on secular principles.

To read the rest of this article, go to:,2506,L-3332234,00.html

Women of Mexico

Check out womanpower at Infoshop!  Feminist photographer Rochelle Gause has posted some absolutely amazing photos taken at the Womens March in Oaxaca on November 19th.  She has also posted an excellent essay about what has happened and is happening in Oaxaca at Infoshop News.

How the Movement Began

Seventy percent of the 3.5 million people who live in the state of Oaxaca are indigenous. Over half live in abject poverty, 35 percent do not have piped water in their homes. You can’t spend a day in Oaxaca City without seeing poor native women with barefoot children in tow who have come from the surrounding villages to try and make money selling gum and cigarettes. Many of the rural communities are empty of men who have fled to the states to try and make money filling the low pay, harsh labor jobs the U.S. economy depends on. The Mexican constitution demands that all children have the same access to education. And yet today in Oaxaca the average person spends only 5.6 years in school, two years less than the national average. The conditions in the rural schools are extremely poor, with a lack of basic infrastructure. Children often come to school hungry, barefoot and are without desks, books and pencils. For the past 26 years Section 22 of the National Union of Education Workers has held an annual statewide strike. Some of the demands this year included raises, basic supplies and breakfast for the students. Each year the teachers camp out in the main square of Oaxaca city until an adequate compromise is reached. This year things played out a little different. At 4:30 am on June 14th while teachers and their families were sleeping, 3000 police raided the encampment, a helicopter fired teargas from the sky, cops beat people, burnt their belongings leaving over 100 people injured. The teachers resisted with sticks and rocks, reclaiming the square later the same day. And they have remained ever since.

For additional information, try the following:

"People before profit" (understanding Oaxaca & US economic imperialism)

NAFTA & women in Mexico

"Women Will Not Give Up" (their role in Oaxaca & Palestine)

(also, a nice resource with continuing coverage on women in Oaxaca is

The Problem With Nuclear (Part II)

Here’s the second in the series, The Problem with Nuclear, by Dr. Bill Adamson, retired faculty member, University of Saskatchewan.


Secrecy and Subsidies

              One of the reasons that a nuclear reactor has not been constructed in
America for 30 years is the economics. Nuclear generation is not a self-sustaining industry and does not pay for itself. Uranium mining and nuclear generation began in the secrecy of wartime. The federal government supported uranium mining and provided exports of uranium for the Manhattan Project, and the production of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. (1)

Following this wartime episode, President Eisenhower advocated the “Atoms for Peace” program. In reality it proved a camouflage for the continuation of preparing nuclear weapons by the USA, which resulted in stockpiles of 10,000 Nuclear missiles.(2)

It also initiated a rush by several countries into nuclear generation of power which has resulted in about 430 reactors around the globe. There was great enthusiasm involved.  This was a time when it was heralded by Lewis Strauss that nuclear electricity would be “too cheap to meter.” This proved to be an illusion.

The Federal Government of Canada proceeded to grant subsidies to      Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) for its experimentation and
research projects (Chalk River experimental reactors and laboratories,     and the Pinawa deep rock experimental cavern), and for the   development of the CANDU reactors. Over the years, the AECL was   funded by subsidies quietly approved by Cabinet, which were not  debated or approved by Parliament. It has been calculated that these  subsidies from 1953 to 2002, have totaled $17.5 billion dollars. (3)

Capital Investments
These nuclear reactors are huge, complex machines, which include
massive shielding for the nuclear fission, complicated controls
and robotic equipment, and safety switches and devices. And for cooling purposes, most of the Canadian  CANDU’s were built near the Great Lakes. For instance, reactors at Darlington, Ontario were estimated to take 3 years and $6 billion dollars to build. In reality, they required 12 years and $17 billion to construct. These huge figures are difficult for the average citizen to comprehend.

With the prospect of electricity shortages in the future, Ontario is now proposing to spend $40 billion dollars to build two new reactors at Darlington, and to refurbish half a dozen old reactors, for example:
Pickering A-unit 4- restart–   $1.4 billion
-restart four units–$ 4 billion
Bruce A plants—refurbish units 1 & 2– $4.25 billion (4)
In addition, in 1997, a $1.5 billion loan was issued to the Chinese government so that it could buy a couple of CANDU reactors on a turnkey basis. (5)

Capital  Debt
Ontario’s 20 CANDU’s  were purchased in a nuclear buying spree in the 1960’s and 1970’s by  Ontario Hydro. As a result, the construction of these reactors racked up $38 billion in debt. In 1999, when the provincial government separated Ontario Hydro into five different sections, and distributed some of the $38 billion debt among them, it left $19.4 billion of so-called “stranded debt.” This is a new feature in fiscal accounting! Subsequently, every electrical bill in Ontario contains a “Debt Retirement Charge” (DRC). For a bi-monthly average of 1,800 kilowatts of electricity per household, that comes to $81 per year. (6)
How long do you think it will  take to pay off $19.4 billion? And now Ontario is going to add new debt for its $40 billion worth of proposals for the future!

In 1956, Maurice Strong, then the chairman of Ontario Hydro, said that
“The utility’s existing reactors have proved to be a poor financial investment. The 20 reactors have cost a total $30.8 billion, but they will only produce $18 billion worth of electricity during their lifetime.” He also added, “I believe that nuclear energy, like any other source of energy, need to stand on its own economically… A merger is feasible, and there should not be a continuing need for government subsidy.” (7)

Regarding the spending spree in the USA on nuclear reactors, the first generation of atomic reactors were labeled an “economic debacle,” one that caused electric rates to soar in every part of the nation.  The famous Forbes Magazine made the statement that, “The failure of the U.S. nuclear program ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale.” (8)

A recent article in Business Week states that although President Bush and the Utilities are proposing a new round of nuclear plants in the USA, Wall Street is skeptical about investing in a nuclear renaissance. “While smart money is placing multibillion dollar bets on ethanol, wind power, and solar, it is not throwing buckets of cash at nukes.” Bob Simon, staff director of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is quoted as saying, “The real obstacle isn’t the Sierra Club but the 28-year old analysts on Wall Street.” (9)

Nuclear energy is not economical. It is poor business. If President Bush proceeds with his proposals, it sounds like it will be with government subsidies again, that is, money from the taxpayers, not from corporate investors.

Decommissioning  Mysteries
The details above are about the construction and operation of nuclear reactors. No estimates are even available for the decommissioning of these plants. These costs have not been factored into the equation. After 20-30 years these reactors become worn out and unsafe. The pipes corrode and become brittle, the valves deteriorate, the electronics become worn.

After years of nuclear fission, they are tremendously radioactive. They will need to be dismantled by robotic means, and buried deep in the earth. No one has properly estimated the costs, or calculated how they are to be paid. That will be another legacy that we leave to our children and our grandchildren! (10)

We do know that the costs will be extreme. For instance, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation (a nuclear weapons plant) near Yakima, Washington, some seven miles from the Columbia River, has a dangerous collection of nuclear wastes. A vitrification plant is being proposed and planned for dealing with these wastes. In 2000 the estimated cost of construction was $4.3 billion, then in May of 2006 it was $11.55 billion, and in September of 2006 it was $12.2 billion.(11)
This was for radioactive wastes, not the highly radioactive machinery and core of nuclear reactors.

Economics of Alternative Sources of Energy
It appears that when the issue of “climate change” came to the attention of people, that it was real and already here, out of alarm and fear there was a stampede to the nuclear option by some people, and by some environmentalists.

However, there are alternative options and alternative economies available for our energy needs in the future. Germany and Denmark have made significant strides in the use of windpower especially, as well as other renewables. It is interesting to learn also that in Germany the windpower facilities are producing 14,000 megawatts (MW),nearly two-thirds of Ontario Power Generation’s entire capacity, including nuclear reactors, coal plants, and Niagara Falls. These decentralized forms of renewable sources of energy also create more jobs in local communities.(12)

Denmark is now producing 3000 megawatts or 20% of the nation’s
electrical needs with windpower. (13)  In California they have brought the cost of windpower down to 4 cents per kilowatt. (14)  The National Energy Board of Canada says that windpower, now costs between $50 and $100 per megawatt/hour (MW/h), and expects that it will be down to $40 per MW/h by 2020. (15)

Fortunately, Saskatchewan has developed wind farms, the Cypress Wind Facility near Gull Lake (16 turbines for a capacity of 22 megawatts), and the Centennial Wind Facility near Rushlake Creek
(83 turbines for a capacity of 150MW), enough to supply 73,000 homes or 5% of the province’s total production.

Alberta also has large windfields at Pincher Creek (100 turbines),Cowley Ridge (72 turbines), Castle River(60 turbines) and six small windfarms. The Federal Government will invest  $900 million in wind projects over the next five years, with the goal of adding 4000MW to Canada’s wind energy capacity. (16)

The Global Wind Energy Council announced that our Canadian wind-generating capacity reached the 1000 MW mark in June, and hopes to reach 9000 MW by 2015. Currently, wind turbines generate 59,000 megawatts globally, enough to power 18 million households. Worlwide revenues jumped from $11 billion (US) in 2004, to $25 billion (US) in 2005. (17)

Moreover, close to 40 million households worldwide now heat their
water with solar panels. Solar panels now cover more than 400,000 rooftops in Japan, Germany, and the United States.(18) Space and time are insufficient here to review the economics of many other additional sources of energy.

The economic features of nuclear power are unsatisfactory. The industry cannot survive on its own without government subsidies. This gives no incentive for private and corporate investors. David Freeman, former head of the California Power Authority, and head of two municipal utilities, stated: “Nuclear power had its chance and failed.
You need huge subsidies before anyone will even talk about it.” (19)

Endnotes—Sources of Information

(1) Robert Bothwell, Eldorado: Canada’s Natural Uranium Co. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, c1984.
Robert Bothwell, Nuclear: The History of Atomic Energy of Canada,
Ltd., Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988.

(2) Dr. Ronald McCoy, “A Question of Survival,” Interrnational                                                  Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Vancouver, June 26, 2006.  Also, Helen Caldicott, Nuclear Power Is Not The Answer,
New Press, 2006, p. 138.

(3)Dave H. Martin, “Canadian Nuclear Subsidies: Fifty Years of Futile
Funding,” Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout,January 2003.
Also, Henry Koza, Globe and Mail, Jan. 27, 2006.

(4) Gordon Edwards, “Following the Path Backward,” pp. 2, 31
Nuclear Engineering News, October 17, 2005.
Murray Campbell, Globe and Mail, October 2006, p. A7
Eric Reguly, “Nuke Nightmare,” The Report on Business.Globe and
Mail, Sept. 5, 2003.  <>         l

(5) Henry Koza, Globe and Mail, Jan. 27, 2006

(6) Elaine Dewar, Canadian Geographic Magazine, May/June 2005,
Vol. 125, No. 3.
Also, Kimberley Noble, “Power Crunch,” MacLeans, April 23, 2001.

(7) Paul Kaihla, “A Troubled Nuclear Family,” MacLeans, Aug. 7,
1995 ,pp. 24-26

(8) Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), Tacoma Park
Washington, Newsletter, Summer 2006.

(9) Adam Aston, “Nuclear Power’s Missing Fuel,” Business Week,
June 29, 2006. Also, Richard Blackwell, “Caught in the Winds of
Change,” Globe and Mail, October 20. 2006, p. B5

(10) “Nuclear Power Dossier:Decommissioning,” <Ecologistonline>
Jan. 6, 2006.

(11) Shannon Dininny, Associated Press, <>
Sept. 8, 2006.
Also, Ralph Vertabedien, ”Errors,Costs Stall Nuclear Waste
Projects,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 4, 2006.

(12) “German Renewables  Producing More Power than Nukes,”
Bundasverband Wind Energic,new energy, Germany: No. 5,
Oct. 2005 (p.9-10)   <;
Also, John Loric, “Clean Energy: Just How Close Are We”?
University of Toronto Magazine, Summer 2005, pp19-25.

(13) National Geographic Magazine, August 2005, p. 19.

(14) Danylo Hawaliahka, “Still Blowin’ in the Wind,” Interview with
Lester Brown, founder of World Watch Institute, MacLeans, May
17, 2004, p. 42.

(15) Paul Hanley, “Some green energy sources can be
competitive,” Saskatoon Star Phoenix, March 28, 2006, p. C4.

(16) Natural Resources Canada News Room, March 16, 2005.
< releases/2005/200512_
e.htm>  Also, Saskatoon Sunday Sun, Jan. 15, 2006,p.30

(17) John Loric, “Out of thin air: scenes from the birth of an
Industry,” Report on Business, The Globe and Mail, November
2006, p.75.

(18) Paul Hanley, “Renewable Energy Investment Soars,”
Saskatoon Star Phoenix, Jan. 3, 2006, p.B2. Also, Richard
Blackwell, “Caught in the winds of change,” Globe and Mail,
Oct. 20, 2006, p. B5

(19) Elizabeth McCarthy, “Experts Say Nukes Create Greenhouse
Impacts.” California Energy Circuit, Nov. 15, 2005 (News
Archives). National Policy Research Institute (NPRI).


The Canada Council for the Arts named the prize winners for the 2006 Governor General’s Literary Awards.  The prize for poetry went to John Pass.  Congrats!

John Pass, Madeira Park (BC), for Stumbling in the Bloom
(Oolichan Books; distributed by University of Toronto Press) (ISBN 0-88982-201-8)

John PassJohh Pass


John Pass, born in Sheffield, England, has lived in Canada since 1953. He has a BA in English from UBC (1969) and teaches at Capilano College. He has written 14 books; his poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies in Canada and abroad. He has won the CIVA Canada Poetry Prize (1988), the Gillian Lowndes Award (2001) and an award from the League of Canadian Poets. The Hour’s Acropolis was short listed for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (1992); Water Stair was also shortlisted for the Livesay Prize (2001) and the Governor General’s Literary Award (2000). John Pass lives in Madeira Park, B.C.

Jury’s comment

John Pass’s poems are luminous meditations engaging us in form and style with emotion, spirit and thought. Stumbling in the Bloom approaches the world’s beauty with awe and tenderness, celebrating all that engulfs and eludes us.

–> Download a high resolution image of the book cover.
–> Download a high resolution image of the author. (Photo : Keith Shaw)

NDP Colonialism in Northern SK

More taxpayer money will oh-so discreetly subsidize the wealthy resource industries — especially uranium mining companies — in our North.  It will also mean the narrow development of a labour force or labour force training imposed on desperate northern communities thereby limiting opportunities for northerners.

This NDP government seems to be creating its own slave labour force to work in uranium mining.

The government needs a complete and total re-adjustment.  It is so far removed from the grassroots of the province’s people.  Were none of them at the peace conference last month?  This initiative might sound good in news bites and campaign literature, but scratch the surface and you will see it as another nail in the coffin of the SK NDP.  Only fools increase investments in oil and gas and uranium mining when the environment is one of the biggest issues of the day!

It’ll be sad to live through the death of another NDP government in SK but I guess nothing was learned in the defeat to Devine’s Tories back in the day…


News Release

November 22, 2006

Advanced Education and Employment – 841


As part of the Province's $52.6 million training announcement, another 650
citizens in northern Saskatchewan will have an opportunity to receive the
training they need.

In total, 2,584 new opportunities have been created in Saskatchewan.

"The Government of Saskatchewan is delivering on its promise to expand
training opportunities to meet the demands of our province's vibrant and
growing industries and businesses," Premier Lorne Calvert said. "These
opportunities provide young people in every corner of the province with an
even brighter future – and more opportunities to learn, grow and prosper right
here at home."

The total training investment in northern Saskatchewan is $4.5 million and
will provide for training opportunities in the following programs this year
(with 10-20 training opportunities per program):

• Basic Education: 12 programs in various locations including Pelican Narrows,
Deschambault, Sandy Bay, Turnor Lake, Jans Bay/Cole Bay, Stony Rapids,
Weyakwin, Grandmothers Bay and Hall Lake;

• Academic Prep – Practical Nursing: 1 program in Pelican Narrows;

• Trades Preparation: 1 program in La Loche;

• Truck Driver Training: 3 programs in Creighton, Buffalo Narrows and La

• Heavy Equipment Operator: 4 to 6 programs in Pinehouse, Southend and at
least one in each of the Western, Eastern, Central and Athabasca regions;

• Diamond Drill Helper: 5 programs in Northern bush camp (location dependent
on industry);

• Diamond Drill/Oil Field Safety: 9 programs in various locations in the
Athabasca, Central and Eastern regions;

• Oil Field Safety: 3 programs in La Loche and Canoe Lake;

• Mineral Exploration: 3 programs in northern mine sites;

• Underground Mining: 1 program in McArthur River; and

• Slasher Certification: 4 programs in La Loche and Dillon, other locations to
be determined.

"By providing 650 training opportunities in the Northern region, including
trades, health care and adult basic education, we're creating the
opportunities our young people need where they need them," Advanced Education
and Employment Minister Pat Atkinson said. "We're drawing a direct path
between the learner and the job, and creating the training opportunities
necessary to bring the two together."

"Northlands College works closely with business, labour and government in
helping build the economy of northern Saskatchewan," Northlands College CEO
Bill McLaughlin said. "The northern economy continues to grow and with that
growth comes an increase in employment opportunities and an ever-increasing
need for a larger skilled labour force. This new investment will contribute
directly to the development of a skilled northern labour force to address
current and emerging demand.

The $52.6 million total represents the greatest investment in training in the
Province's history.


For More Information, Contact:
Christopher Jones-Bonk Advanced Education and Employment Regina Phone: 306-798-3106 Bill McLaughlin Northlands College Air Ronge Phone: 306-425-4273

Plutonium business

Below is a link to a free, downloadable book, The Plutonium Business and the Spread of the Bomb. by Walt Patterson as well as speeches by Patterson.

Walt Patterson, The Plutonium Business +

Once again please excuse this impersonal note. You might like to know
that, thanks to the good offices of Paul Leventhal of the Nuclear
Control Institute in Washington, DC, which holds the copyright, we have
now added the complete text of my book The Plutonium Business and the
Spread of the Bomb to our website archive Walt Patterson On Energy,
<> . You can find the free download at

My most recent speech, at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London on
9 October, was entitled ‘Energy Policy Is Infrastructure Policy’. You
can find it at

<> .

Best wishes – Cheers – Walt Patterson

Walt Patterson
Associate Fellow Chatham House
Little Rushmoor
High Bois Lane
Chesham Bois
Amersham Bucks HP66DQ
Tel. +44 (0) 1494 726748
Mobile +44 (0) 7971 840036
Email <>
Website: Walt Patterson On Energy <>