Canada’s Deadly Secret

Finally, the true story of Saskatchewan’s uranium will be out there for all to read, thanks to dedicated no-nukes activist, Jim Harding. Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System, has been a long time coming and chronicles 30 years of intense struggle. It comes at a time when the nuclear industry is trying to make a comeback: a uranium refinery proposed for SK, nuclear plants for the AB oilfields, and Bush’s global nuclear pact which would force us to accept nuclear wastes from abroad.

Helen Caldicott, who wrote the Foreward to Jim’s book, says,

“Harding exposes the role the government played in perpetuating nuclear propaganda through the disinformation of campaigns of its covert Uranium Secretariat and penetration of the public education curriculum…He also explores the deadly corporate planning processes that reveal the growing partnership between the oil and nuclear industries.” Harding “unveils the dark side of nuclear politics in his home province, which bears the distinction of of being the largest uranium-producing region in the world and he challenges us to explore how Canada has consistently been complicit and instrumental in the expansion of the global nuclear system.”

Jim is a retired professor of environmental and justice studies. He is a founding member of the Regina Group for a Non-Nuclear Society and International Uranium Congress and was director of research for Prairie Justice Research at the University of Regina, where he headed up the Uranium Inquiries Project. Jim also acted as Prairie Corresponent for Nuclear Free Press and consultant to the NFB award-winning film Uranium.

Fernwood, a non-profit publisher, cannot compete with the nuclear industry’s expensive PR, but we can build grass-roots networks here and abroad to counter the pro-nuke propaganda. If you can help to organize a reading in your area, post here, and I’ll let Jim know.

Upcoming SK Book Launches

1. Sat. Sept. 29th, PCTC, Fort Qu’Appelle, 7:00 p.m. (as part of the KAIROS Prairie Conference).

2. Tuesday Oct. 16th, McNally Saskatoon Bookstore, 7 p.m.

3. Sun. Oct. 28th, Regina Exchange, 7 p.m. (as part of a Non-Nuclear Benefit).

4. Sun. Nov. 11th, Regina Unitarian Hall, morning service (still to be confirmed).

Who’s renting the busses?

Well, I guess Dubya is flexing some muscle over PM Steve these days.

And, apparently, it’s all because of Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians, the ones some radio personality around here is writing off as an extremist radicals. Now, I don’t know about you, but from my recollection of Maude Barlow the last time she was through here, she’s a pretty tame duck. And she tends to talk a lot of sense, most particularly on water and globalization, I had thought.

Now there’s this issue of North American Union aka Security & Prosperity Partnership aka deep integration. The idea’s been around for a long time, just not so brilliantly orchestrated or articulated. We’ve had “structural adjustment,” the Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA, just a few bits of the language global economics and capitalist ideology have thrown our way as they continue in their lust for more, their disgusting and immoral misuse of resources and promotion of rampant consumerism.

And PM Steve is priming Canadians to accept it while big business works behind the scenes to quietly make it happen. PMS (and a PM or two or more before him) also kowtows yet again to the President of the United States of America, allows the US Army to dictate security in our country! Again, I don’t know about you, but I know I don’t like it when a mucky-muck from another country, most particularly an aggressively violent other country is “protected” by a 25 km security perimeter from seeing what Canadians really think of him and his policies. I mean, is he worried that Maude might kill him? Now that is laughable!

What really gets my goat though is when friends of the mucky-mucks have the complete and utter stupidity to issue a challenge, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen:

“You can be sure it [security] will be pretty strong. I wouldn’t advise anyone to try to get through the 25 kilometres.”

Yet again, I do not know about you, but when I get challenges or threats sent my way by anyone, I get persnickedy. So, I’d like to try breaching the security area. I would. I hope some fine Canadian or group of Canadians charters a bus or organizes a train full of Canadians to get me and a whole lot of others to bring attention to this undemocratic and unethical attack on human rights and human security.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll write the letter The Council of Canadians are asking for (see below). And I’ll talk to a shwack of folks, too. If enough of us make noise, we might just succeed in getting that meeting cancelled. If not, I will see you on the bus or train.

 

INTEGRATE THIS! Teach-In

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ACTION ALERT: Stop SPP talks, consult with Canadians now July 12, 2007Dear activists,As reported on the front-page of the Ottawa Citizen and in numerous other media reports, “Police have derailed plans for a public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership that was to take place six kilometres from where the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will gather next month for a summit.” (See Ottawa Citizen Police nix meeting near world leaders, July 12, 2007)The news report states, “The forum was scheduled for August 19, the day before Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon are due to start two days of meetings on the security partnership, a controversial initiative aimed at more closely aligning the three countries in a variety of areas.”

Frederic Castonguay, the municipality of Papineauville’s general manager, “confirmed he had been called by Mr. Guy Cote (of the Quebec provincial police), who told him that the police and U.S. army need the community centre as a base of operations for summit security.” Despite the fact that the Council of Canadians had paid its $100 deposit for the space, Mr. Castonguay said the police, “didn’t want us to rent it to anyone because they need the room there to put equipment and special vehicles. There was no choice.”

The Council of Canadians in coalition with other organizations, including the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Common Frontiers-Canada and the Quebec Network on Continental Integration, had planned to hold a public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership in the nearby community with Maude Barlow and a panel of writers, academics and parliamentarians. This public forum was intended to promote broader public awareness and citizen engagement on this important issue. An alternate location for the public forum is now being sought.

Linda McQuaig wrote recently in the Toronto Star, “Given the centrality of (national security and energy, as well as trade), one would have thought that any changes – especially changes that would make Canada more like the U.S. – should involve wide consultation with the Canadian people. But exactly the opposite is happening. The public has been completely shut out of the SPP process…No public consultations have been planned for Montebello. Indeed, security measures will ensure the leaders hear as little as possible from the people.”

For more information on the Council of Canadians campaign against the Security and Prosperity Partnership, along with a wide range of analysis and background materials on this issue, please go to IntegrateThis.ca.

THE DEMAND
Activists are encouraged to send their own version of the following message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper at pm@pm.gc.ca or click here to send a letter using the form on our website
:

Prime Minister Harper,

As a member of the Council of Canadians, I am calling on you to stop talks on the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, including the upcoming leaders summit this August 20-21 in Montebello, and to consult with Canadians on this critical issue.

I was outraged to read that a public forum near Montebello with writers, academics and parliamentarians wanting to speak on this issue was blocked because the police and U.S. army wanted the community centre it was to be held at as a base of operations for summit security.

I am opposed to the SPP, which includes the no-fly list (the SPP states, “Develop comparable standards and procedures…for passenger screening”); pesticide residues (it says, “Work to resolve differences in pesticide maximum residue limits that may be barriers to trade…”); the tar sands (it calls for, “Greater economic production from the oil sands”); and civil rights (it calls for, “sharing of terrorist watch list data and the establishment of appropriate linkages between Canada, the United States and Mexico.”)

I also believe that the North American Competitiveness Council should be disbanded. Corporations such as Manulife Financial, Home Depot and Wal-Mart should not be shaping economic policy between Canada and the United States.

I urge you to keep the promise you made in your Throne Speech that “significant international treaties will be submitted for votes in Parliament.” I believe that the Security and Prosperity Partnership should be subject to public hearings, as well as brought to the House of Commons for a full debate and vote.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
<your name>

For more information about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, visit IntegrateThis.ca. We’ll post new information about the Montebello summit as it becomes available. Visit often for up-to-the-minute updates

With thanks to the good women and men at BnR and to The Council of Canadians for the links.

Iraq Unmasks the American State

Interesting analysis, this, courtesy The Business of Emotions.  Long, but well worth the read.

I was particularly interested in these points about “America’s emotional and moral malaise” before the writer launches into how the Iraq Resistance shows the American State for what it is.

America’s Emotional and Moral Malaise
The explanation of Bush’s hold on the United States developed in The Business of Emotions over the past few years, can be summarized thus:

1. Without authentic emotions, the vital connection between thinking and feeling is lost and the ability to act, morally and politically, for oneself and for others, is compromised…

2. People who lack emotional authenticity are incapable of recognizing its absence in others…

3. People who lack authentic emotions are susceptible to the predations of emotional marketers…

4. Thinking without feeling, talking without meaning…

Thanks to

Dispelling the myths

International “Nuclear Power Fact File” Poster Campaign

Check out the posters.  (You can click on the arrows to move through the series.)

Print, post, and otherwise share them around. Dispel the myths lies that global capital likes to promote about nuclear power. 

Oh, and here’s one I adapted a while back.

Nuclear Power is a Dead End
Uranium will only last a few decades – what then?

Nuclear power – like the wasteful consumption of finite reserves of fossil fuels – is at a dead end. This is because the uranium, which is needed to operate nuclear power stations, is a scarce resource. “Fast breeder” reactors, with which it was hoped to stretch out the reserves for some time, have proven to be a failure on technical and commercial grounds. In just a few decades the nuclear power industry’s fuel reserves will run out.  Since oil and natural gas reserves will be used up in the foreseeable future, as well as uranium reserves, the human race can only meet its long-term energy needs by using forms of renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency.

Nuclear Power is a Con Trick
Nuclear energy is dispensable for power supply

In order to claim more importance for nuclear power, the nuclear industry repeatedly overstates nuclear energy’s share of electricity generation. If one examines closely what contribution nuclear energy makes to total worldwide energy consumption, it becomes evident that nuclear power is of practically no significance for mankind’s energy needs. In 2001, nuclear electricity supplied only 2.3 percent of worldwide energy needs. Renewable energy’s contribution to world energy supply is already significantly greater. The human race can easily do without nuclear power’s marginal contribution. The risks of nuclear accidents, production of highly radioactive waste and the costs necessary for its disposal, bear no rational relationship to the slight short-term gain in energy that nuclear power provides. Nuclear power is both hazardous and superfluous.

Nuclear Power Gambles with our Lives
Risk of Worst-Case Scenario Nuclear Incident in Europe: 16 Percent

An accident could happen in any power station as a result of technical defect or human error, releasing large quantities of radioactivity into the environment. According to the official “German Nuclear Power Station Risk Study – Phase B”, a German nuclear power station in operation over some 40 years has a 0.1 percent probability of a worst-case scenario nuclear incident. In the European Union there are more than 150 operational nuclear power stations. The probability of a worst-case scenario nuclear incident is around 16% in Europe. That equates to the chances of throwing a 6 with the first cast of the dice. Worldwide there are some 440 operational nuclear power stations. The probability of a major worst-case scenario incident within the next 40 years is in the region of 40 percent. As the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl shows, a major worst-case scenario nuclear incident can be expected to cause several thousand fatalities.

Nuclear Power is a Waste
No one wants such a legacy

Every nuclear power station converts uranium fuel rods through nuclear fission into highly radioactive nuclear waste. Nuclear waste constitutes a life-threatening hazard because of its radioactive emissions. People, animals and plants need to therefore be shielded from it for several hundreds of thousands of years. Nuclear power stations have been in operation for some 50 years but to date no one knows how nuclear waste can ultimately be stored. Worldwide there is not one safe and secure disposal option for the highly radioactive waste produced by nuclear power stations In the short period of time that nuclear power has been used, it is leaving behind – in the shape of the resultant nuclear waste – a dead hand of historical dimensions for the Earth. If prehistoric man had already had nuclear power stations we would even today still be having to maintain a watch over his waste.

Nuclear Power is a Bomb Factory
Nuclear power promotes proliferation of nuclear weapons

Those countries which have developed and built nuclear bombs in recent decades began with a civil nuclear program. However, these civil programs were often only a cover for their military interests and provided them with access to the technologies and know-how for the design of nuclear bombs. This fact shows that the export and further proliferation of nuclear technology significantly increases the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Nuclear Power Cannot Save the Climate
Climate change can only be prevented by using renewables

The nuclear industry concedes that coal, oil and gas cannot be replaced by nuclear power. In order to replace a mere 10 percent of fossil energy in the year 2050 by means of nuclear power, up to 1000 new nuclear power stations would have to be built (at the moment there are about 440 nuclear power stations worldwide). Construction of these plants would – if ever realised – take several decades. Existing uranium reserves would then be rapidly exhausted. Even the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) admits that nuclear energy could not be expanded swiftly enough to stop climate change. The solution is quite different: various world energy scenarios show that the climate problem can only be solved by the use of renewable forms of energy in conjunction with efficient and economical energy technologies.

Nuclear Power Makes Less Jobs
Jobs? Wind power beats nuclear!

Nuclear power is capital intensive while renewable forms of energy are labour (job) intensive. For example, in Germany in 2002 some 30,000 people were employed in the nuclear industry. On the other hand, more than 53,000 people are presently employed in the German wind power industry alone. Overall, the renewable energies industry in Germany has already secured 120,000 jobs despite its as yet only small share of power generation. Further expansion of renewable energies is adding new jobs on a daily basis. Millions of new jobs could be created worldwide within the space of a few years by expanding the use of renewable forms of energy.

Alternatives to Nuclear Energy
100% of energy from sun, wind, water and biomass

In 2002, the German parliament presented an energy scenario according to which the entire German energy supply requirement could be achieved through the use of renewable forms of energy. If that is possible in Germany – a country with a small geographical area, high population and energy density and a high standard of living – it is possible anywhere. Meanwhile even the energy industry concedes that, by the year 2050, more energy could be provided from renewable sources worldwide than mankind is using today. The energy needs of this earth can be met through a mix of solar thermal power plants and solar electricity stations, wind farms, hydroelectric power stations and the various uses of biomass. In order to restrict growth of the energy requirement, economical energy technologies must come into play. Added to this, the rapid expansion of a world solar energy industry is an important step towards preventing wars over scarce resources such as oil, gas and uranium.

Shut down nuclear power plants.

Iraqi Refugees Forced into Prostitution

I guess oil is soooo important that women and girls lives don’t really matter to GWB & Co…

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2701324.ece
The Independent on Sunday ~~ June 24, 2007
‘50,000 Iraqi refugees’ forced into prostitution
Women and girls, many alarmingly young, who fled the chaos at home are
being further betrayed after reaching ‘safety’ in Syria
By Nihal Hassan in Damascus

It’s Monday night in a dingy club on the outskirts of the Syrian
capital. Two dozen girls are moving half-heartedly on the dance floor,
lit up by flashing disco lights.

They are dessed in tight jeans, low-cut tops and knee-high boots, but
the girls’ make-up can’t disguise the fact that most are in their
mid-teens. It’s a strange sight in a conservative Muslim country, but
this is the sex business, and it’s booming as a result of the war in Iraq.

Backstage, the manager sits in his leather chair, doing business. A
Saudi client is quoted $500 for one of the girls. Eventually he beats
it down to $300. Next door, in a dimly lit room, the next shift of
girls arrives, taking off the black all-covering abayasthey wear
outside and putting on lipstick and mascara.

To judge from the cars parked outside, the clients come from all over
the Gulf region – many are young Saudi men escaping from an even more
conservative moral climate. But the Syrian friend who has brought me
here tells me that 95 per cent of the girls are Iraqi.

Most are unwilling to talk, but Zahra, an attractive girl with a bare
midriff and tattoos, tells me she’s 16. She has been working in this
club since fleeing to Syria from Baghdad after the war. She doesn’t
like it, she says, “but what can we do? I hope things get better in
Iraq, because I miss it. I want to go back, but I have to look after
my sister”. Zahra points to a thin, pubescent girl with long black
hair, who seems to be dancing quite happily. Aged 13, Nadia started in
the club two months ago.

As the girls dance suggestively, allowing their breasts to brush
against each other, one winks at a customer. But these girls are not
just providing the floor show – they have paid to be here, and they
need to pick up a client, or they’ll lose money. If successful,
they’ll earn about $60, equivalent to a month’s wages in a factory.

There are more than a million Iraqi refugees in Syria, many are women
whose husbands or fathers have been killed. Banned from working
legally, they have few options outside the sex trade. No one knows how
many end up as prostitutes, but Hana Ibrahim, founder of the Iraqi
women’s group Women’s Will, puts the figure at 50,000.

I met Fatima in a block of flats operating informally as a brothel in
Saida Zainab, a run-down area with a large Iraqi population. Millions
of Shias go there every year, because of the shrine of the prophet
Mohamed’s granddaughter. “I came to Syria after my husband was killed,
leaving me with two children,” Fatima tells me. “My aunt asked me to
join her here, and my brothers pressured me to go.” She didn’t realise
the work her aunt did, and she would be forced to take up, until she arrived.

Fatima is in her mid-20s, but campaigners say the number of Iraqi
children working as prostitutes is high. Bassam al-Kadi of Syrian
Women Observatory says: “Some have been sexually abused in Iraq, but
others are being prostituted by fathers and uncles who bring them here
under the pretext of protecting them. They are virgins, and they are
brought here like an investment and exploited in a very ugly way.”

Further viewing: Nihal Hassan and Nima Elbagir’s report will appear on
‘More 4 News’ at 8pm tomorrow

Women, Peace & Security

Wanna talk Afghanistan? Remember, we were told that Canada was going into the Middle East to help the women. Well, if we’re still in there to give peace and security to the women of Afghanistan and their families, then I think everyone should read this and then read UNIFEM’s annotated version. If we’re not there to do that then whose peace and whose security are we working towards?

Lawyers Against the War Letter to ICC

An excerpt from Lawyers Against the War’s Letter to the International Criminal Court dated 25 April 2007

Re. War crimes and the transfer of detainees from Canadian custody in
Afghanistan

We write to draw your attention to possible war crimes committed with respect to the transfer of detainees from Canadian custody in Afghanistan. In
particular, we request that you open a preliminary examination under Article
15 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to determine
whether there are reasonable bases to investigate Mr. Gordon O’Connor, the
Canadian Minister of National Defence, and General Rick Hillier, the
Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff.

Specifically, we are concerned that Mr. O’Connor and General Hillier have:
1. Chosen to allow detainees to be transferred to the custody of Afghan
authorities despite an apparent risk of torture and other forms of abuse;
2. Chosen not to take reasonable and readily apparent steps to protect
detainees against torture and other forms of abuse—for instance, by
seeking a renegotiation of the December 2005 Canada-Afghanistan
Detainee Transfer Arrangement to bring it into line with pre-existing
Denmark-Afghanistan, UK-Afghanistan and Netherlands-Afghanistan
agreements, and now, following credible reports of the torture of
transferred detainees, by ceasing any further transfers.

Read the full letter here.

To My American Neighbours

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.

Sincerely,

Your Canadian Sister

Mission of Folly

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.troops out

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: jlaxer@yorku.ca.

Chapter 1: Canada Went to War in the Absence of an Authentic National Debate

The Nightmare of Afghan Women

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.