From the inbox, courtesy Ellen Gould and the Council of Canadians.
Rick Sawa, Council of Canadians
From the inbox, courtesy Ellen Gould and the Council of Canadians.
Rick Sawa, Council of Canadians
THE MINOR ART OF SELF-DEFENSELandscape was never a subject matter, it was a technique, A method of measure, a scaffold for structuring. I stole its silences, I stepped to its hue and cry.Language was always the subject matter, the idea of God The ghost that over my little world Hovered, my mouthpiece for meaning, my claw and bright beak…
I’d love to hear what others think of this concept of landscape as technique.
http://www.counterpunch.org/susskind02232007.html February 23, 2007 Armed, Trained and Funded by the US Iraqi Police Commit Rapes By YIFAT SUSSKIND The international news media is flooded with images of a woman in a pink headscarf recounting a shattering experience of rape by members of the Iraqi National Police. Most of the coverage has focused on her taboo-breaking decision to speak publicly about the assault, but has ignored the context for understanding-and combating-sexual violence by Iraqi security forces. As Iraqi women's organizations have documented, sexualized torture is a routine horror in Iraqi jails. While this woman may be the first Iraqi rape survivor to appear on television, she is hardly the first to accuse the Iraqi National Police of sexual assault. At least nine Iraqi organizations (including Women's Will, Occupation Watch, the Women's Rights Association , the Iraqi League, the Iraqi National Association of Human Rights, the Human Rights' Voice of Freedom, the Association of Muslim Scholars, the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Iraqi National Media and Culture Organization) as well as Amnesty International, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq, and the Brussels Tribunal have documented the sexualized torture of Iraqi women while in police custody. And as this case attests, sexual violence is woven into the fabric of the civil war now raging across Iraq. According to Iraqi human rights advocate and writer Haifa Zangana, the first question asked of female detainees in Iraq is, "Are you Sunni or Shia?" The second is, "Are you a virgin?" Next week, MADRE, an international women's human rights organization, will release a report that documents the widespread use of rape and other forms of torture against women detainees in Iraq by US and Iraqi forces.* The report includes testimonies of numerous rape survivors, collected by the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI). Since November 2005, OWFI has conducted a Women's Prison Watch project and has found that, "Torture and rape are common procedure of investigation in police stations run by the militias affiliated with the government, mostly the Mahdi and Badr militias," according to their summer 2006 report. These are the same sectarian Shiite militias that are prosecuting Iraq's civil war, the same militias that stepped into the power vacuum created by the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and the same militias that have been systematically attacking women in their bid to establish an Islamist theocracy. Since 2003, the political leadership of these militias has been handed control of the Iraqi state by the US, while the militants themselves have waged a campaign of assassinations, rapes, abductions, beheadings, acid attacks, and public beatings targeting women-particularly women who pose a challenge to the project of turning Iraq into a theocracy. As the occupying power in Iraq, the US was obligated under the Hague and Geneva Conventions to provide security to Iraqi civilians, including protection from gender-based violence. But the US military, preoccupied with battling the Iraqi insurgency, simply ignored the reign of terror that Islamist militias have imposed on women. By early 2005, as the "cakewalk" envisioned by US war planners devolved into the quagmire that has become the Iraq War, the US began to cultivate Shiite militias to help battle the Sunni-led insurgency. According to Newsweek, the plan was dubbed the "Salvador Option," recalling the Reagan Administration's use of militias to bolster right-wing regimes in 1980s Central America. But by late 2005, once the Iraqi militias had become notorious as thugs and sectarian death squads, we stopped hearing so much about the military training that these groups had received under the command of Colonel James Steele during John Negroponte's stint as US Ambassador to Iraq. Neither have we heard about how the US allowed the government it installed in Baghdad to hand control of the country's security forces to the militias. Today, the Mahdi Army controls the police forces of Baghdad and Basra , Iraq's two largest cities. The Badr Brigade is headquartered in Iraq's Ministry of Interior, which directs the country's national police, intelligence, and paramilitary units. And the United Nations special investigator on torture is reporting that torture in Iraq is worse now than under Saddam Hussein. It's no surprise that we're hearing allegations of rape against the Iraqi National Police, considering who trained them. DynCorp, the private contractor that the Bush Administration hired to prepare Iraq's new police force for duty, has an ugly record of violence against women. The company was contracted by the federal government in the 1990s to train police in the Balkans. DynCorp employees were found to have systematically committed sex crimes against women, including "owning" young women as slaves. One DynCorp site supervisor videotaped himself raping two women. Despite strong evidence against them, the contractors never faced criminal charges and are back on the federal payroll. Contrary to its rhetoric and its international legal obligations, the Bush Administration has refused to protect women's rights in Iraq. In fact, it has decisively traded women's rights for cooperation from the Islamists it has helped boost to power. Torture of women by police recruits armed, trained, and funded with US tax dollars is one symptom of this broader crisis. *Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-based Violence and the US War in Iraq will be available at www.MADRE.org after March 6, 2007. For more information about the report, please contact MADRE at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.627.0444. Yifat Susskind is communications director of MADRE, an international women's human rights organization. She is the author of a book on US foreign policy and women's human rights and a report on US culpability for violence against women in Iraq, both forthcoming. A shorter version of this article originally ran on TomPaine.com.
If you are a writer and you want a good place to retreat, check out the Saskatchewan Writers / Artists Colony, held each winter and summer at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, SK and each fall in a northern location. It is a spectacular time of quiet retreat and of fun with other writers and artists from across the country. Highly recommended!
Dear Relations to the South,
I know it wasn’t long ago that your nation suffered a terrible blow. To many of you, it was a wake-up call. To others of you, it seemed a logical consequence to the century long aggression and empire-building in which your government has been engaged. No matter, it was a blow. And that blow instilled fear in the American nation. That fear allowed for the election and re-election of George W. Bush, currently the leader of the most vicious nation on earth.
Today, on AlterNet, I read an article written by an American, part of which said,
there seems to be a special viciousness that accompanies the current assault on human rights, in this country and in the world. We have had repressive governments before, but none has legislated the end of habeas corpus, nor openly supported torture, nor declared the possibility of war without end. No government has so casually ignored the will of the people, affirmed the right of the president to ignore the Constitution, even to set aside laws passed by Congress.
The time is right, then, for a national campaign calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
This is true. The time is right. Your country needs you. The world needs you. We need you to reverse the tide of viciousness the likes of which the world has not seen since Hitler. Calling for cross-country impeachment hearings on Bush and Cheney is a brilliant idea. I am certain that countries around the world, especially those negatively impacted by your brutal foreign and trade policies, would provide you with unlimited support for these actions. But most importantly, you would be a people better able to control your own destiny, rather than to have it controlled by a not very bright man guided by a dogma deeply rooted in sexism, racism, and oppression of all sorts.
And so, dear friends, I encourage you to proceed with the organization of these hearings. Push the Democrats to take real leadership. Insist they work to make a difference for the good of the world, not for might and greed. I beg of you, do it now!
The world is watching. And waiting, ever-so patiently.
Your Canadian Sister
Another from the Inbox, this time it’s a call for solidarity in a lawsuit against a magazine that carried a feminist’s article which criticized an anti-feminist men’s group.
From: Barbara Legault <email@example.com>
Date: February 4, 2007 7:39:44 PM EST (CA)
Subject: Call for solidarity: Lawsuit against leftist magazine and feminist activist
Dear friends, feminists and pro-feminists organizers and allies,
You will find below and attached a public declaration and call for solidarity concerning a lawsuit filled against A Babord! magazine and myself for an article that I wrote on antifeminism. I also attached the original article translated into English. Please spread the word.
If you would like a copy of the declaration and article in French, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Please distribute widely!
Public Declaration and Call for Solidarity
Barbara Legault and À Babord! magazine are being sued for libel by
Andy Srougi, coordinator of Fathers4Justice – Québec
Montréal, January 28, 2007 – Activist Barbara Legault and À bâbord ! magazine are being sued for libel by Andy Srougi, a member of the group Fathers4Justice. “Mr. Srougi […] attracted public attention last year when he climbed the Jacques-Cartier bridge.” (La Presse, December 7, 2006). Mr. Srougi is accusing Barbara Legault of having “uttered hateful comments” about him in her article “Des hommes contre le féminisme” (men against feminism), published in the October/November 2006 issue of À bâbord ! magazine (see the attached article).
In his motion, Mr. Srougi claims that Ms. Legault wrote “libellous, false and hateful comments […] that damaged [his] reputation and caused him emotional distress that has led to painful physical consequences, prevented him from sleeping, and caused headaches and enormous stress.” The libel suit can be consulted in French on the Internet site www.papataime.com, coordinated by Mr. Srougi.
Mr. Srougi, who calls himself a “men’s rights activist,” is demanding $20,000 for mental suffering as a result of libel and $4,000 in exemplary damages. In fact, in the article in question, Ms. Legault pointed out that masculinists are increasingly turning to the courts to challenge feminist organizations and activists.
This is not the first time Mr. Srougi has used the courts against feminists and their allies, as well as against various government agencies and politicians. La Presse reported on November 9, 2006 that “exasperated by Fathers4Justice’s ‘abusive’ tactics, the Barreau du Québec went to Superior Court to have the organization and its main spokesperson, Andy Srougi, declared vexatious litigants. The Webster’s Dictionary defines vexatious in a legal context as “legal actions instituted without sufficient grounds and serving only to cause annoyance to the defendant.”
Mr. Srougi recently told La Presse, “The board of directors of F4J has decided to launch lawsuits against any organization or individual who attempts to libel F4J. […] We now have a paid lawyer on board. Other persons cited in À bâbord ! are going to sue the publication. Expect many, many more lawsuits in 2007, especially against radical feminist groups.” (André Noël, La Presse, December 7, 2006).
Legal Defence: A Call for Solidarity
Barbara Legault and all those working for À bâbord !, an independent, bimonthly magazine that receives no subsidies and is produced entirely by volunteers, are calling for solidarity from groups and individuals concerned about this lawsuit.
We believe that Andy Srougi’s actions go far beyond the scope of the present lawsuit, since he has also filed complaints against other feminist and pro-feminist groups and individuals with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, among others. We do not believe that À bâbord ! and its writer are the true targets of the libel allegations; the real target is the feminist analyses contained in the article, ideas that are supported and promoted by the women’s movement and its allies in Québec.
This legal action is, above all, political, because the lawsuit targets freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Masculinism is the focus of a lot of attention, debate and serious concern within the women’s movement. The publication of the article “Des hommes contre le féminisme” is simply one contribution to an ongoing debate. If Mr. Srougi is successful in his lawsuit against Barbara Legault and À bâbord !, there could be serious repercussions for the capacity of feminists and independent publications to publish analyses and opinion and to contribute to a legitimate and crucial public debate on masculinism. Moreover, a victory by Mr. Srougi would seriously threaten the very existence of À bâbord ! magazine.
Creation of a Legal Defence Fund
We are calling on your solidarity to create a legal defence fund that will enable us to defend ourselves against Andy Srougi’s legal offensive. Lawyers Pierre-Louis Fortin-Legris and François Cyr of the firm Ouellet, Nadon & associés, will try to keep the fees and costs associated with the defence as low as possible, however a minimum of $4,000 will be incurred by the suit.
All contributions are welcome, from small donations to more substantial sums from union and community organizations. Please make your cheques payable to “A Bâbord!”, indicate “legal defence” on your donation and send it to:
À bâbord !
To the attention of: Claude Rioux / Legal Defence
P.O. Box 67, Station C
Montréal, Québec H2L 4S7
If Andy Srougi loses this case and is required to pay the legal fees, any donations received will be returned to the groups and individuals concerned. We also appreciate any other form of support and solidarity—do not hesitate to write to us. The first court hearing of the legal proceedings will take place on February 15, 2007 in Montreal. We will keep you informed of any developments in this case. We are grateful for your contributions and support.
In solidarity and in struggle,
Barbara Legault and the À bâbord Collective!
– 30 –
Document 2 Public Declaration and Call for Solidarity
From the Inbox:
For immediate dissemination February 6, 2006 ACJC Condemns Creation of pro-Israel Caucus The Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians, a national umbrella organization of progressive Jewish groups and individuals, has condemned the creation of a parliamentary "Israel Allies Caucus" by the Harper Conservative government. The establishment of the new pro-Israel lobby will be officially announced in Ottawa on Tuesday in the presence of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canadian and Israeli parliamentarians, including MK Benny Elon (National Union-National Religious Party) MK Orit Noked (Labor) and MK Ran Cohen (Meretz), as well as members of the Canadian-Israel Friendship League. "This move is just another sign of the Harper government¹s complete contempt for the Canadian public," said Jason Kunin. "It is not in the interest of most Canadians, and certainly not in the interest of most Jews." Indeed, a recent Globe and Mail Strategic Counsel poll, showed an overwhelming majority of Canadians 77 percent favoured a neutral foreign policy in the Middle East, and a plurality of Canadians 45 percent disagreed with the Harper government¹s favouring of Israel. In Québec, 61 percent disagreed with Canada¹s recent foreign policy tilt towards Israel. Jewish interests both in Israel and Canada are best served by peace and the Canadian government throws away its opportunity to be part of any peace process when it portrays itself as a pro-Israel lobbyist on the international scene." "The creation of this caucus will only further discredit Canada in the eyes of the international community," Jason Kunin insists. "It means condoning a brutal forty-year occupation of Palestinian civilians. It means condoning the illegal wall that is imprisoning them in enclosed ghettos. It means condoning the seizure of their land and water, the strangulation of their economy, and the daily military assaults against innocent civilians and makes life in the occupied territories a living hell." The ACJC believes it speaks for most Canadians, and for most Jews, in calling for a return to diplomacy and peacemaking. Many of the Israeli policies that would be uncritically supported by the creation of this new pro-Israel caucus are not even supported by many Israelis. The ACJC calls for the Canadian government to demand the dismantling of Israel¹s illegal "security wall," the end to military occupation of Palestinian lands, and a just resolution of the Palestinian refugee crisis. "Canada should support international law, period" said Jason Kunin. * * * * Media contacts Jason Kunin at email@example.com or Abraham Weizfeld (Administrative Secretary) at 514.284.66.42 / 514.833.29.74 cellular ------------------------------------------------------------------------ J'utilise la version gratuite de SPAMfighter pour utilisateurs privés. 45736 e-mails spam ont été bloqués jusqu'à maintenant. Les utilisateurs payant n'ont pas ce message dans leurs e-mails. Essayez SPAMfighter gratuitement maintenant! __._,_.___ Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians L¹Alliance de Canadiens juifs concernés ACJC ACJC2006@yahoo.ca ACJC2006firstname.lastname@example.org http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ACJC2006 News/nouvelles &discussion List/e: JUNITY-CANADAemail@example.com
The full piece by Laxer is also posted at Canadian Dimension. It’s 30 pages long but definitely worth the read.
Mission of Folly: Why Canada should bring its troops home from Afghanistan (James Laxer)
Canadian troops have been fighting in Afghanistan for over five years. This military mission has endured for longer than the First World War and the Korean conflict. If the mission continues for another year, it will exceed the Second World War in duration, to become the lengthiest war in which Canadians have ever fought. To date, 44 Canadians have died in Afghanistan. On a per capita basis, more Canadians have been killed during the mission, than has been the case for any of the other allied countries who have sent forces to Afghanistan.
The Harper government has presented the mission to Canadians as combining a military element with the provision of aid to the people of Afghanistan. In fact, in dollars spent, the mission has been ninety per cent military, and only ten per cent reconstruction aid.
The Chretien government propelled Canada into the Afghan War with little thought in the autumn of 2001. The mission has since been sustained and extended by the Martin and Harper governments. Despite the brief debate and vote on the issue in the House of Commons in May 2006, this country has had no authentic national debate on the Afghanistan mission.
In this 30,000 word long report, I have entered the debate not as an expert on Afghanistan, but as someone with considerable experience analyzing Canadian and American global policies. It is my belief that the Afghanistan mission is a tragic mistake for Canada. If prolonged, the mission will cost many more Canadian lives, without the achievement of the goals Canada and its allies have set for themselves in Afghanistan.
(This report will be published on-line on my blog, at http://www.jameslaxer.com, one chapter at a time, in February 2007. Then the report has a whole will be published there. The report will be available as well in PDF format. You are welcome to reproduce this report in whole or in part. I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapter 1: Canada Went to War in the Absence of an Authentic National Debate
According to this, from TomDispatch, our mission in Afghanistan is not a lot different from the USian one in Iraq. And, women are not better off as a result.
Tomgram: Ann Jones on the Nightmare of Afghan Women
This post can be found at http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=163092
Afghanistan remains the forgotten war and yet, in an eerie lockstep with Iraq, it seems to be following a distinctly Bush administration-style path toward “the gates of hell.” While almost all attention in Washington and the U.S. media has been focused on the President’s new “surge” plan in Iraq — is it for 21,000 or 50,000 American troops? Just how astronomical will the bills be? Just how strong will Congressional opposition prove? Just how bad, according to American intelligence, is the situation? — Afghanistan is experiencing its own quiet surge plan: more U.S. (and NATO) troops, more military aid, more reconstruction funds, more fighting, more casualties, heavier weaponry, more air power, more bad news, and predictions of worse to come.
skdadl’s hammer hit the head of the nail at Peace, Order & Good Government, Eh?
Updated 9:15PM CST to add this which contains a reference to the famed right-wing think tank that recently heaped praise on the Government of Saskatchewan for its “historic transformation of economic policy” and captured front page headlines in the Regina Leader Post as a result.
How interesting that they will now follow-up Tommy Douglas’ rolling over in his grave with
an independent report a pack of lies about Climate Change, funded by Exxon-Mobil.
Oh, this is worth a look, too.