You can tune in to The ShakeUp here. Just look for the Wednesday noon time slot.

From the Real News Network: Paul Jay in conversation with William Engdahl:

Why is the USA in Afghanistan?

F William Engdahl is an economist and author and the writer of the best selling book “A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order.” Mr Engdhahl has written on issues of energy, politics and economics for more than 30 years, beginning with the first oil shock in the early 1970s. Mr. Engdahl contributes regularly to a number of publications including Asia Times Online, Asia, Inc, Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Foresight magazine; Freitag and ZeitFragen newspapers in Germany and Switzerland respectively. He is based in Germany. View clip here.


By Murray Dobbin

Stephen Harper is clearly not moved by Canada’s rapidly decaying reputation regarding its appalling position of climate change. In a Bloomberg story I have not seen reported anywhere in the Canadian media, Harper told the South Korean National Assembly that he will “…use Canada’s co-chairmanship of next year’s Group of 20 countries meeting to urge members to put economic recovery before efforts to protect the environment.”

This is a blatant violation of the role that Canada has been given to co-chair the first meeting of the G20 as a body acknowledged as the effective replacement of the G8. Canada is now not only a rogue country on climate change but is headed by a rogue prime minister — stating openly that he will abuse his power as a co-chair to do everything he can to derail climate change action and protect the deadly tar sands of Alberta from any effort to slow down its development.

Harper’s speech in South Korea’s happened the same day that a U.S. report, published in the prestigious, peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, claimed that Alberta’s monitoring of the tar sands was completely inadequate and vastly underestimated the pollution of the environment saying that “..estimated airborne emissions of PACs [polycyclic aromatic compounds] from the industry’s activities as amounting to a major oil spill each year if they were in a single place.”

Based on its own independent monitoring of rivers, the study’s authors openly contradict the Alberta government’s claims that the pollution in the Athabasca and other rivers is due to naturally occurring hydrocarbon compounds. The study states: “At sites in the oil sands area where nearby land has not been disturbed, PAC levels in rivers are similar to what is found in remote Canadian Arctic waterways, but in areas most affected by extraction activity, they rise by 10 to nearly 50-fold, reaching amounts within the range of harm to aquatic life.”

None of this will phase Harper or the Alberta government (which has already dismissed the report) given that they inhabit what one of George Bush’s advisors called the “faith-based world” as opposed to the “reality-based” world of the scientists they detest.

But perhaps we could persuade Harper to stay home from Copenhagen where he can only do more damage. If we invited him to something he would actually like to attend, maybe he would cancel his trip. Something like:

“You are formally invited to attend a Memorial Dinner honouring Milton Friedman to be held on December 14. The gathering will include your friends and allies from the National Citizens Coalition, the Fraser Institute, and the oil industry. We would like you to address the assembled guests on the remarks you made in 1997 (quoted in the Toronto Star, April 6 1997) that conservatives “work to dismantle the remaining elements of the interventionist state…” If you could link this to your views on obstructing government action on climate change, this would be of particular interest to our audience.”


“We would like you to attend the formal opening of a private health care clinic on December 15. We would appreciate it if you could cut the ribbon opening this private, for-profit clinic and make a few remarks on how it fulfills the dream of the organization you once headed up – the National Citizens’ Coalition, that was founded by Colin M. Brown to turn back public Medicare.”

Murray Dobbin is a guest senior contributing editor for Murray has been a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for 40 years. A board member and researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, he has written five studies for the centre including examinations of charter schools, and “Ten Tax Myths.” Murray has been a columnist for the Financial Post and Winnipeg Free Press and contributes guest editorials to the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and other Canadian dailies. He writes a regular “State of the Nation” column for the on-line journal which is published simultaneously on His blog is


The Real News Network  Exclusive: Honduran elections exposed

Honduran coup regime’s claims of more than 60% participation in free and fair election revealed as fraud

“There is wide agreement that last week’s presidential election in Honduras…” begins an editorial in Saturday’s New York Times, “…was clean and fair.” The editorial gives no hint as to whom all these people are that are in agreement, except for the ‘official’ data from the same regime that overthrew the elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, at gunpoint. The Times joins governments, commentators and editorial pages around the world that have fallen victim to the ‘official’ coup data. But, as this video shows, the proof of the fraud was sitting out in the open the whole time.

Produced by Jesse Freeston, on location in Honduras.


Mexican Activist Murdered for Opposing Canadian Mining Company – Killing Sparks Protest at Canadian Embassy in Mexico City

Dec 03 2009

The night of November 27th, Mariano Abarca Roblero, an activist against mining in Chicomuselo, Chiapas, was murdered. Mr. Abarca was an important member of the community who had suffered threats, prison and violence due to his opposition to the mining activities of Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration.

At 10 am EST on Thursday December 3, four busloads of community members from Chiapas will arrive at the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City to protest the murder of the local activist. The 130 people will travel more than 1000 km overnight from Chiapas to protest the Canadian government’s failure to regulate the international operations Canadian-based mining companies. The protest is being endorsed by the Council of Canadians and MiningWatch.

“We know that it is truly necessary to do something. If it is possible to give our life, we must. We must demonstrate we are willing to defend our mother earth with our actions and we will continue to do it,” said Abarca before his death. “If anything happens to me I blame the Canadian mining company Blackfire.”

The protesters and supporting organizations are calling on the governments of Chiapas and Mexico to take urgent measures to investigate this assassination, protect the rights of all other community activists who have opposed the mining practices of Blackfire Exploration, and suspend the company’s mining permits in Chiapas. The protest and supporting organizations are also calling on the Canadian government to enact legislation to hold Canadian extractive companies accountable for human rights and environmental impacts of their mining practices around the world.

Abarca, a member of the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA) maintained a constant struggle against the Canadian transnational Blackfire Exploration, which focuses on mining barite, gold and antimony. From June, Abarca had an encampment in the municipal capital with other members of REMA demanding the departure of the Canadian mining company.

“A man deeply involved in the protest against the Canadian mining company Blackfire has been murdered outside his home,” said Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “This tragic outcome can be traced directly to the Harper government’s refusal to end the impunity currently enjoyed by Canadian mining companies.”


For more information:

* Claudia Campero (in México), Blue Planet Project: 52 55 3015 6366, claucampero(at)
* Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada: (613) 569-3439, jamie(at)
* Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians: (613) 795-8685, dpenner(at)

ACTION BY Mining Watch Canada:
Bill C-300 – Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas Corporations in Developing Countries

Aug 18 2009

Bill C-300, An Act Respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas Corporations in Developing Countries, represents the best chance we have as Canadians to assure that Canadian extractive companies follow human rights and environmental best practices when they operate overseas. It also represents our best chance to assure the accountability of our government to us, as taxpayers and citizens, by assuring that government financial and political support will not be provided to companies that breach human rights and environmental standards.

Show your support for Bill C-300.

Write to your MP and ask your MP to support Bill C-300. Sample letters below.

Bill C-300 is a private members bill introduced by Liberal MP John McKay on February 9, 2009. Bill C-300 implements a number of key recommendations from the March 2007 Final Report of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Roundtables.The recommendations reflect the consensus of a multi-stakeholder advisory group that had representatives from industry and civil society groups including MiningWatch Canada.

In March 2009 the Canadian Government announced their response to the Roundtables’ final report. The Government’s response is woefully inadequate as it contains no effective complaints mechanism and no possibility of sanctions for companies not complying with voluntary guidelines.

Bill C-300 remedies these flaws. On April 22, 2009 Bill C-300 narrowly passed a vote in the House of Commons and is now being debated in the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. The voting record can be viewed here.
Bill C-300

* Would regulate the relationship between Canadian government agencies (Export Development Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and the Canadian Pension Plan) and Canadian extractive companies operating in developing countries.
* Would create eligibility criteria (“guidelines that articulate corporate accountability standards”) for political and financial support that is provided to Canadian extractive companies by Export Development Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and the Canadian Pension Plan.
* Would require that “guidelines that articulate corporate accountability standards” include the International Finance Corporation Performance Standards, related guidance notes, and Environmental Health and Safety General Guidelines; the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights; “human rights provisions that ensure corporations operate in a manner that is consistent with international human rights standards; and any other standard consistent with international human rights standards.”
* Would create a complaints mechanism where complaints are filed with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. If accepted, the complaint would lead to an investigation of a company’s compliance with the guidelines and a public report on findings within eight months of receipt of the complaint. A company may become ineligible for government support for as long as it is out of compliance with the guidelines.


1. Follow this link to find your local MPs riding office and contact info (you can send your letter by e-mail).

2. See sample letter below. Add your own personal experiences, concerns, comments or observations to the letter if you like.

3. Mail, fax or email the letter to your MP

It is very important that you copy Kevin Sorenson, the Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, John McKay, who tabled Bill C-300, and Angela Crandall, the clerk of the committee, so that all committee members will receive a copy of your letter and know your opinion.

Because of his influential position within the Liberal Party and his poor track record on C-300 we think that MP Bob Rae deserves some special attention. If you are in his riding please see the second sample letter specific to him.


Name of your local MP

Address of your local MP

Dear Mr./Ms. ____________:


As your constituent, I am writing to let you know that I strongly support Bill C-300, an Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries, which will be taken up again when parliament resumes in the fall.I am writing to urge you to cast your vote in favour of this bill.

As a Canadian, I am appalled by regular reports that Canadian mining, oil and gas companies are involved in human rights and environmental violations around the world and by the fact that these companies often receive the direct support of the Canadian Government. The current government’s response to these concerns, which have been raised by many Canadians, is its “Building the Canadian Advantage” strategy. This voluntary approach is inadequate.

Bill C-300 responds to the need for a stronger regulatory framework to hold Canadian mining, oil and gas companies accountable, in Canada, for human rights and environmental violations overseas. Bill C-300 has garnered a huge amount of support across the country. It is supported by Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability (CNCA), an organization which includes Amnesty International Canada, the United Church of Canada, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, Friends of the Earth, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund, the Canadian Labour Congress, KAIROS Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, MiningWatch Canada and many other organizations. Bill C-300 has my support as well.

As my elected MP, I urge you to stand firm for environmental and human rights by supporting Bill C-300.

I would like to thank you for your attention to this matter and look forward to hearing from you regarding your support for Bill C-300.

Yours truly,

Your name

Your address, telephone or email address

Kevin Sorenson, Chair, Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development,
John MacKay, MP. Liberal Party of Canada,
Angela Crandall, Clerk, Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development,
Bob Rae

Bob Rae has a very disappointing record on Bill C-300!

* He abstained when Bill C-300 came up for a vote in the house on April 22, 2009.
* He was cynical and unsupportive during the first committee hearing on Bill C-300 on May 25, 2009,

If you are a constituent in Bob Rae’s riding, let Bob Rae know you support Bill C-300 and will be listening to his statements in committee and watching how he votes on the Bill.

See sample letter below.


Bob Rae, MP
514 Parliament Street
Toronto, Ontario
M4X 1P4

Dear Mr. Rae:


As your constituent, I am writing to let you know that I strongly support Bill C-300, an Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries, which will be taken up again when parliament resumes in the fall. I am writing to urge you to cast your vote in favour of this bill. I have been very disappointed to find that you did not vote in favour of Bill C-300 when it came up for a vote in the house on April 22nd and I was also disturbed by your lack of support for of the Bill in the committee hearing of May 25th.

You cannot sit on the fence on this one.

I want to see your active support for Bill C-300.

As a Canadian, I am appalled by regular reports that Canadian mining, oil and gas companies are involved in human rights and environmental violations around the world and by the fact that these companies often receive the direct support of the Canadian Government.

The current government’s response to these concerns, which have been raised by many Canadians, is its “Building the Canadian Advantage” strategy. This voluntary approach is inadequate.

Bill C-300 responds to the need for a stronger regulatory framework to hold Canadian mining, oil and gas companies accountable, in Canada, for human rights and environmental violations overseas. Bill C-300 has garnered a huge amount of support across the country. It is supported by Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability (CNCA), an organization which includes Amnesty International Canada, the United Church of Canada, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, Friends of the Earth, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund, the Canadian Labour Congress, KAIROS/Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, MiningWatch Canada and many other organizations. Bill C-300 has my support as well.

As my elected MP, I urge you to stand firm for environmental and human rights by supporting Bill C-300.I would like to thank you for your attention to this matter and look forward to hearing from you regarding your support for Bill C-300.

Yours truly,

Your name

Your address, telephone or email address

Kevin Sorenson, Chair, Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development,
John MacKay, MP. Liberal Party of Canada,
Angela Crandall, Clerk, Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development,


The B u l l e t

Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 281
December 2, 2009

Canadian Government Rocked by Accusations of
Abuse, Torture of Afghan Prisoners

Roger Annis

The Canadian government’s war effort in Afghanistan has been shaken by new accusations that Afghans detained by Canadian forces were tortured and abused. The charges were made by Richard Colvin, a highly placed diplomat in the Canadian embassy in Kabul during 2005-07, the years when Canada escalated its military role in Afghanistan.

Colvin testified on November 18 before the Canadian Parliament’s Standing Committee on National Defense that he had sent more than 15 reports to his political superiors and the military high command warning that Canadian forces were complicit in the abuse and torture of Afghans it had detained. He said the practice of handing detainees over to Afghan authorities and then turning a blind eye to their treatment not only violated international law, but would also do incalculable damage to Canada’s role in the Afghan war and its reputation among the Afghan people.

“Instead of winning hearts and minds, we caused Kandaharis to fear foreigners,” he said. “Canada’s detainee practices alienated us from the population and strengthened the insurgency.” Colvin told the committee that virtually all of the scores of Afghans detained by Canadians from 2005-07 were ending up in torture dungeons. Many were not even connected to fighters resisting the foreign military occupation.

“Many were just local people – farmers, truck drivers, tailors, peasants – random human beings in the wrong place at the wrong time. In other words, we detained and handed over for severe torture a lot of innocent people.”

His account echoes concerns expressed at the time by Human Rights Watch, the Independent Afghanistan Human Rights Commission, and others. Even the U.S. State Department in 2006 described continuing evidence of “torture, extrajudicial killings, poor prison conditions, official impunity, prolonged pretrial detention” and other human rights violations at Afghan prisons and detention centers.

Afghan Member of Parliament Malalai Joya confirms Colvin’s account. During a speaking tour across Canada to promote her new book, A Woman Among Warlords, Joya told CBC news on November 24, “What he has been saying is what I’ve heard from my people.” She says that many of the victims are women and children, and many of those suffered sexual assault. “It’s not new for our people.”
Denial and Cover-Up

Torture allegations against Canadian forces first surfaced in early 2007 in the national daily Globe and Mail and elsewhere. At the time, the Canadian government and military denied the accusations, but local and international human rights organizations confirmed them. Even the International Committee of the Red Cross, always reluctant to enter into political controversy, denied Ottawa’s claim that Red Cross officials were watching over the conditions of prisoners and could protect them from abuse.

So the government tried a new tack: in May 2007 it announced a deal with Afghan authorities to prevent future torture and abuse, and promising to monitor prisoner treatment closely. (Of note, Canada’s expressed concern about prisoner abuse only applied to detainees turned over by Canadian soldiers).

Colvin’s testimony challenges the effectiveness of that deal. He says Canadian military record keeping was notoriously bad and that a regime of “internal censorship” was imposed on the diplomatic and military mission. Following the 2007 revelations, his superiors discouraged written correspondence as well as any public statements on the deteriorating political and military situation in Afghanistan.
Government, Generals Hit Back

The response of the government and military to Colvin’s testimony has deepened the crisis. In brief, their strategy has been to deny and attack. Defense Minister Peter MacKay, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and other government representatives flooded Parliament and the press with the message that Colvin’s testimony is unreliable and unsubstantiated.

Three of Canada’s top generals who were in command in Afghanistan from 2005-07 also challenged Colvin’s credibility when they appeared before the Standing Committee on November 25. Former chief of defense staff Rick Hillier called Colvin’s accusations “ludicrous.”

Hillier led the Canadian military when it expanded its military role in Afghanistan in November 2005, famously declaring that Canada’s role would be to “kill detestable murderers and scumbags.” In 2006, he described the mission: “We are the Canadian forces, and our job is to be able to kill people.”

The general’s testimony implicitly acknowledged Colvin’s claim that innocent Afghans were being rounded up. He said it was near to impossible for Canadian troops to distinguish Afghans who are “farmers by day and Taliban by night.”
Lawsuit Challenges Government

Colvin’s testimony might never have taken place if not for a lawsuit initiated by Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association in February 2007. The suit argued that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms must apply to Canada’s prisoner and detainee policy in Afghanistan.

Federal courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada in May, 2009, rejected the suit but the courts did note that Canadian forces in Afghanistan are obliged to obey international law, including the Geneva Conventions on warfare.

The suit succeeded in exposing many documents pertaining to military and diplomatic operations.

The two litigants also initiated a formal complaint to the Military Police Complaints Commission. That process also has pried loose more information, but the government and military have successfully stalled the MPCC’s work, including recently firing its head when his term expired.

There are now calls, including from the opposition New Democratic Party, for a public judicial inquiry into Colvin’s revelations and other torture allegations. The government has resisted, citing concerns over “national security” and the confidentiality of information. The government has also refused to give the Standing Committee such documentation as e-mail and written reports from Colvin that would corroborate or disprove his testimony and the government’s and military’s rebuttals.
A Public Inquiry?

The main opposition party in the Parliament, the Liberals, would probably find a public inquiry very uncomfortable and even damaging. After all, it was a Liberal Party government that led Canada into an escalation of the war in Afghanistan in November 2005, and its support for the war has not wavered since it was voted out of office in January 2006. The Liberals’ leader, Michael Ignatieff, not only supports the war in Afghanistan, but has also supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq and defended the use of torture against enemies of the U.S. empire.

In 2003 Ignatieff, then teaching at Harvard University, published Empire Lite: Nation-Building in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, in which he argued that the United States was a “humanitarian empire” dedicated to human rights and democracy. The book provided intellectual justification for the Bush administration’s use of torture and targeted assassination.

Canada’s military and political leaders are also concerned. A public inquiry could expose them to charges of war crimes. Retired Lieutenant-General Michel Gauthier, who headed oversees deployment for the Canadian military in 2006 and 2007, voiced this concern when he told the Standing Committee on November 25:

“As we were sitting at home watching television, my wife and I were mortified to hear a member of this committee appear on a national news network, name me and three others by name, and state as fact that we had either been negligent or that we had lied – effectively branding us war criminals.”

Two war crimes experts – Payan Akhavan, a professor of international law at McGill University and former prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal at the World Court in The Hague, and Errol Mendes, a professor of constitutional and international law at the University of Ottawa – told CBC Radio’s The Current on November 24 that Canada’s political and military leaders have good reason to be concerned.

There is a precedent for a public inquiry into the Afghanistan war, and it does not bode well for its success or utility. In 1993, the elite paratroop regiment of the Canadian military was accused of human rights atrocities in Somalia, including torture and summary execution of ordinary citizens. The regiment was ultimately disbanded. A public inquiry into its conduct, established in 1994, was summarily cancelled by Liberal Party Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in 1997.

One of the commissioners of that inquiry was Peter Desbarats, a former Dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Western Ontario. He wrote a book on his experience, Somalia Cover-up: A Commissioner’s Journal. Commenting on the Colvin revelations and fallout on The Current on November 20, Desbarats said, “We haven’t learned anything from Somalia … this is another Somalia-style cover-up.”

Desbarats says he doesn’t have a lot of confidence that a public inquiry will end up any differently than the one that he was part of, and pointed to the only appropriate solution to this political scandal: “We should get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible before it does some real damage to us.”

That’s also the view of Graeme Smith, a correspondent with the Globe and Mail and Canada’s most experienced journalist in Afghanistan. Writing on the news website The Mark on November 12, he said:

“Making the country better doesn’t necessarily require fighting the insurgents – in many cases, it requires working with them.

“Our soldiers have bravely followed orders in Kandahar. But they’re being swept aside by a tidal wave of U.S. forces, and this surge is likely doomed to bring the same results as previous surges. Canada should withdraw its battle group, and push its allies toward peace talks.”

Richard Colvin’s testimony adds a layer of complication onto an Afghanistan situation that is already difficult for the Canadian government. Its U.S. ally is poised for a significant escalation of the war, including as many as 40,000 additional troops, and an expansion of the war into Pakistan.

The Harper government, meanwhile, is saddled with a 2008 parliamentary resolution, adopted for domestic political purposes, that calls for an end to Canada’s military role in Kandahar by 2011, though it implicitly leaves open the possibility of military deployment to elsewhere in the country. The resolution also commits Canada to “a policy of greater transparency with respect to its policy on the taking of and transferring of detainees including a commitment to report on the results of reviews or inspections of Afghan prisons undertaken by Canadian officials.” (For background, see Escalation of Afghanistan War: Canada Faces a Fateful Decision, November 18, 2009.)

The latest torture revelations will make it all the more difficult for the Conservative Party government, or a Liberal Party government that might replace it, to sell the Canadian public on any delay or reversal of the 2011 withdrawal commitment.

While a public inquiry into the latest revelations may expose more scandal, it is no substitute for building a sustained anti-war movement that fights for an end to the interlocked wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine. Only such a movement can end these reckless and predatory wars and help create the political conditions needed to end the regimes of permanent war that now rule in all the major capitalist countries of the world. •

Roger Annis is an aerospace worker in Vancouver. He can be reached at rogerannis[at] For ongoing news and reports of the situation in Afghanistan, follow the blog of the Vancouver anti-war coalition, This article originally published by Socialist Voice.



Obama Receives his Nobel Peace Prize December 10

Demonstrate December 10 to say WAR IS NOT PEACE!
On December 10, just days after announcing his decision to escalate the war of aggression against Afghanistan and Pakistan by sending 30,000 more troops on top of the 21,000 he already added since taking office, U.S. War President Barack Obama will be in Oslo, Norway to receive the 2009 Nobel Prize for Peace.

Windsor Peace Coalition will be demonstrating on Thursday December 10 across from the entrance to Ambassador Bridge (Wyandotte St. West) to protest the conferring of the Nobel Peace Prize on the Commander in Chief of the U.S. military.

It is by his deeds that Obama, like anyone else, must be judged, regardless of his words.

You are invited to join us December 10 – Human Rights Day – from 4 to 5 pm. on Wyandotte Street across from the Ambassador Bridge entrance, to say:

No to disinformation!

War is not Peace!

U.S. and all foreign occupiers and mercenaries, out of Iraq and Afghanistan now!

Hands off Pakistan!

December 2, 2009

Today we featured an interview with Yves Engler regarding the Honduran ‘elections’. “Yves Engler is a Montréal activist and author. He has published three books, The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, Playing Left Wing: From Rink Rat to Student Radical and (with Anthony Fenton)Canada in Haiti: Waging War on The Poor Majority” (Frenwood Publishing).

Some Background

Statement on the TML Daily:  On December 1, Canada’s Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), Peter Kent, issued a disgraceful statement congratulating “the people of Honduras on the country’s presidential and legislative elections last Sunday.”

“Canada congratulates the Honduran people for the relatively peaceful and orderly manner in which the country’s elections were conducted,” a press release says. Admitting that the elections “were not monitored by international organizations such as the Organization of American States,” Kent dismisses the significance of this fact. Through sleight of hand he declares an altogether spurious method for legitimization of an election by elements which would never pass muster under any conceivable legitimate circumstances. “We are encouraged by reports from civil society organizations that there was a strong turnout for the elections, that they appear to have been run freely and fairly, and that there was no major violence,” Kent says. He totally ignores verdicts rendered by President Zelaya and the Honduran resistance. Why such a prejudice against the people of Honduras, Mr. Kent?

The stand of the government of Stephen Harper is revealing the lengths it is willing to go to establish a new self-serving definition of democracy — a new kind of totalitarian democracy. Just because it controls the levers of power in Canada at a time there is no viable opposition to replace it does not mean Canadians will tolerate this totalitarian notion of democracy. Peter Kent’s undisguised promotion of the U.S. agenda for Honduras is disgraceful as well. Here is what he says:

“The election results make it more important than ever for the parties to refocus their attention on implementing the Tegucigalpa-San José Accord. We call for strong political leadership on the part of Porfirio Lobo in forming a government of national unity to help Honduras move out of this lengthy political impasse and enable a speedy return to democratic rule and constitutional order.

“Canada calls on all Honduran stakeholders, including all branches of government, the private sector and civil society, to work together in a spirit of constructive reconciliation.”

According to the Real News Network, “[o]n June 28, 2009, the elected President of Honduras, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, was removed from office. The day was significant because it was to be the first day that all the people of Honduras would be asked their opinion by the government. They were to vote on whether or not they wished to see a question on the upcoming general election ballot regarding re-writing the country’s constitution, a document which severely limits public participation. Five months later, the election is going ahead, but Mel Zelaya is pinned in the Brazilian embassy and the resistance movement that rose up by the hundreds of thousands in the days following the coup is almost invisible after more than 4,000 documented human rights abuses including: assassination, rape, torture, illegal detention, and repeated attacks on anti-coup media outlets. The regime is looking to renew itself through Sunday’s elections, and is preparing to lock the country down militarily in order to do so. But while the movement is not as visible as it was before, this report shows that it is very much alive in the minds of the capital’s inhabitants who are boycotting the elections.”

Click on link to hear the complete program including the feature Interview with Yves Engler: 68-The_Shake_Up-20091202-1200-t1259755200


More Program Stuff

Obama’s Goldilocks plan for Afghanistan

By James Laxer

|December 1, 2009

Barack Obama got mired in Afghanistan during his campaign for the presidency in 2008. To fend off attacks on him from Hillary Clinton and John McCain that depicted him as a geo-strategic lightweight, Obama talked tough about Afghanistan. To lend credence to his criticism of the U.S. conflict in Iraq, Obama said the war the Americans really had to win was in Afghanistan. To show how unflinching he could be, Obama said he would be prepared to launch attacks on Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, along the Afghan border, even if the government of Pakistan withheld permission for this.

Now, following two months of lengthy consultations with his national security advisers in the Situation Room, the president has come up with his plan to handle the so-called “forgotten” war.

With West Point as his backdrop — the academy from which such legendary figures as Robert E. Lee and Dwight D. Eisenhower graduated — Obama announced what is being depicted as an “extended surge” which will see an additional 30,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan. By the end of May 2010, the American force in that country will total nearly 100,000.

The goal of the surge is to downgrade the Taliban insurgency to the point where a trained and expanded Afghan military can handle the job. By July 2011, Obama pledged, the United States will begin to pull its troops out of Afghanistan.

While the president did not claim that the fight was to transform the Kabul regime into a democracy, he did lay down some performance targets, in the areas of good governance and the fight to rid the country of corruption, that he says that Afghan President Hamid Karzai must meet.

What leaps out of Obama’s speech is that this is not so much a plan to achieve victory in Afghanistan as a scheme to ensure the political health of the U.S. president. It is a Goldilocks plan, not too hot, not too cold, not too big, not too small.

While the planned surge is not as massive as General Stanley A. McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, wanted it to be, it is big enough to fend off Republican critics who are all-too-ready to accuse Obama of endangering American security by risking defeat in Afghanistan. By holding the line at 30,000 troops — additional cost, 30 billion dollars a year instead of 40 billion if McChrystal had had his way — Obama shows that he’s concerned about keeping Washington’s deficit manageable. By announcing a firm date for the beginning of the troop withdrawal, the president is trying to placate Democrats who believe that the war is unwinnable, that America has had enough of war, and the government should spend to combat poverty and homelessness in the United States, instead of wasting money and lives on a forlorn crusade in Central Asia.

The more you look at Obama’s plan, the more evident it is that the White House strategy is designed to suit the American political agenda at home, not the geo-strategic realities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The surge should have its maximum effect by the summer of 2010, just in time to hold off the Republicans in the midterm elections in the autumn of that year. The withdrawal of troops is to begin in July 2011, perfect timing as Obama seeks the re-nomination of his party and the ardent support of Democrats for the presidential election of 2012.

Does anyone in Obama’s inner circle actually believe that the plan will transform Afghanistan into a country that lives under the rule of law, with an effective non-corrupt central government, and a regime that respects the rights of women? Do any of them expect the Afghan army to become an effective fighting force? Probably not.

This porridge is being served up for the American people, not for the people of Afghanistan. Canadians, who have seen their soldiers suffer the highest casualties, per capita, of any NATO country in this war, should avoid this delicacy, and any temptation to continue our mission beyond 2011.

James Laxer is regularly asked to comment on current national and global issues by the Canadian media and frequently writes columns in major newspapers and periodicals.  In 1969, he was one of the founders of the Waffle Group, Canada’s largest New Left political movement. In 1971, at the age of 29, he ran second for the national leadership of the New Democratic Party.  In the mid 1970s, James Laxer was a leading crusader against the power of multi national petroleum companies. His books, speeches and television appearances helped lead to the creation of a nationally owned oil company, Petro Canada, established to counter the power of companies like Exxon in Canada.

The lazy king of Consumerland

The backbone of capitalism is a docile public.

Dateline: Monday, November 30, 2009

by Charles Gordon

As Christmas approaches, noisily on our television sets and brightly in the coloured lights of the premature celebrators in the neighbourhood, it’s a good time to consider the state of the force that brings it all to us — capitalism, in other words.

We know, because we have been told often, that in our free enterprise system the consumer is king. Anything that the producers and owners do is in our name, and if we don’t approve, it fails.

We know that, and yet we see all around us examples of things capitalism has brought to us that we don’t want and things capitalism has taken away from us that we do want and nothing much seems to stop it.

If we are kings, the kingdom doesn’t seem to working all that well for us. And whose fault is that? Well, usually when things go wrong in the kingdom, you blame the king.

Consider some of the recent goings-on in the kingdom. Last month, CHUM Radio of Toronto decided to shake up some of its stations, including stations in Ottawa and Vancouver. In Vancouver an all-news station became an all-sports station. In Ottawa, about a dozen people were fired from two stations owned by CHUM. Victims included such popular hosts as rabbi and a former Canadian Football League star.

Was there an outcry? Did people rise up and demand the reinstatement of the fired radio personalities? Did they threaten to boycott CFRA and the Team 1200 until their favourite broadcasters were rehired? No. You can find a grumbles online in reader comments at the end of news stories, but that’s about it.

It’s sad, but as consumers we are way too used to it. Radio stations change formats all the time and the people put up with it. Today’s country station is tomorrow’s soft rock station; today’s all-news is tomorrow’s all-sports.

The urban legend is that the new format, fully computerized and ready to roll, arrives on a hard drive somebody brought as carry-on on the plane from Los Angeles. People say oh well. Some of them may change the station but the station itself only changes when the owners decide it’s time. Then all-news becomes classic rock and tough if you don’t like it.

Something similar has been afoot, as you know, at the CBC, which has become, in outlook, one of our most capitalistic enterprises. The national news was simultaneously jazzed up and dumbed down in a shift that brought about a ton of comment, if online contributions could be weighed.

It was quite an experience to read the comments on the CBC’s website, hundreds of them, overwhelmingly negative, impressively articulate. The near-unanimous view was that viewers loved the CBC, loved Peter Mansbridge, but hated what the CBC was forcing Mansbridge and his fellow-journalists to do, namely stand up, do inane chatter and fluffy stories.

CBC’s response was that they expected all that but that people would get used to it. In other words, people will say oh well and continue watching.

In a perfect kingdom, those people would vote with their feet — or, more properly, their thumbs, changing the channel to watch news somewhere else. A chastened CBC would return to the traditional journalistic practices that have won it such a loyal audience. It would once again be run for grown-ups by grown-ups.

We’ll see. The crucial question is whether the viewers can keep the pressure on — and the history is not encouraging.

The backbone of capitalism is a docile public. For every consumer uprising against New Coke there are thousands of instances where the consumer said oh well and accepted some new product that worsened his life.

There might be a little squawk at first. TV sports fans, the most energetic variety of couch potatoes, muttered when their NHL and NBA games began migrating up the dial, shifted in that direction by cable and specialty channel operators eager to force viewers onto digital packages.

Viewers hated it when the Toronto Raptors game was suddenly on Channel 846, while the sports station the regular cable package showed poker. But what were they going to do? Go without the games?

Uh-uh. No principle is worth that. So they ceased muttering after the shortest time and bought the digital package, bringing hundreds of unwanted channels into their house, not to mention added expense and extra remote controls to lose under the chesterfield, and settled back to enjoy the game.

Consumer docility has brought us graver consequences than this in the world of sports. The infamous designated hitter rule was brought into effect in 1973, allowing a specialist to bat in place of the pitcher. This meant that the pitcher was no longer expected to be an all-around athlete and would instead become something like a football player. The pitcher was a thrower only, the designated hitter was a batter only and soon baseball would bring in another specialist to kick the extra point.

The rule change was unpopular enough that it was adopted by only one of the two major leagues, but fans did not boycott the adopting league, the American League. They said oh well and kept coming to the ballpark.

They continued to say oh well decades later when confronted by evidence that some the most cherished baseball records were being broken by players who pumped up their muscles with drugs.

In a world where the consumer was really king, as he is constantly told that he is, baseball would have been brought to its knees by public outrage and forced to rebuild, returning the game to its purer self.

It didn’t happen. It doesn’t happen in our neighbourhoods, where developers and city politicians have destroyed local businesses and eliminated green space in order to inflict big box stores on the kingdom. Does the king complain? Yes, he complains about all the traffic caused by people flocking to the stores.

It doesn’t happen in the airports of the world, where passengers flock to the check-in despite having been subjected to decades of worsening service, increasing discomfort and frequent humiliation. If the consumer is still king, the king is a lazy king, slow to anger, reluctant to stir and easily distracted by shiny objects. Look around. It’s your kingdom. What are you going to do about it?

Charles Gordon is a humour columnist, who occasionally lapses into serious commentary on politics or music. Gordon is married, with two grown children. He is the author of six books with his latest, Still at the Cottage, being published in 2006. All his books are published by McClelland and Stewart. Gordon has written for National Lampoon, Canadian Forum, Cottage Life and Maclean’s. He has won three National Magazine Awards and been nominated three times for the Stephen Leacock Medal. In his spare time, Gordon plays jazz trumpet and cheers for the Senators.

November 25, 2009

According to the website of Women for Women International, “[s]ince [Zainab] Salbi founded Women for Women International in 1993, tens of thousands of women have joined a quiet but strong movement to help women survivors of war and civil strife to rebuild their lives. One by one, 93,000 women survivors of war have begun to contribute to the political and economic health of their societies. Ms. Salbi has dedicated her life to the belief that stronger women build stronger nations.” Ms. Salbi earned a Masters Degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2001, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Women’s Studies from George Mason University in 1996.

Zainab Salbi is the author of Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam and The Other Side of War: Women’s Stories of Survival & Hope.

Women for Change is a volunteer based organization.
Its objective is to raise awareness about the plight of women in war torn countries while advancing opportunity for women worldwide.

Women for Change was established in 2009 by Hiba Mehdi at the University of Windsor. Hiba was influenced by Zainab Salbi, the founder of Women for Women as such there is much collaboration between the two groups.

Women for Change will also be collaborating with humanitarian organizations on campus to raise awareness about the plight of women.
Each month an event will be held dedicated to a specific region. These events include: documentaries, lectures, fundraising dinners and discussions.

I asked Ms Salbi to describe the organization she founded. CLICK ‘PLAY’ BELOW TO HEAR INTERVIEW:

Also covered on the Program

End Torture
End the War

The testimony of Richard Colvin shows that the highest levels of the Conservative Government are complicit in war crimes. As many as 600 detainees, many of whom were just innocent bystanders, were handed over to Afghan law enforcement agencies by the Canadian forces. Torture by the Afghan police forces is  known to be widespread.

Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay are challenging the credibility of Colvin, saying that he is listening to “Taliban propaganda” Yet it is the Harper government that totally lacks credibility on this issue. It is hard to believe that they didn’t see multiple memos and reports from one of the top diplomats in Afghanistan. It would represent a radical departure from standard procedure for any government.

And even if the memos didn’t circulate to the political masters in the Conservative party, there were  countless reports from international agencies such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, School of Law of New York University, Center for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch which all said that torture of detainees was widespread. The Tories must have know this information or they showed a woeful lack of knowledge about their main foreign policy plank.

Once the issue of detainee torture hit the media in early 2007, the Harper Government  worked to both discredit the reports and to allay fears with a new detainee transfer agreement. That agreement has not stopped the torture of innocent Afghan civilians.

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission released a report in April 2009 that interviewed  people who had been detained by Afghan police and army. The results were staggering. According to their findings, 98.5% of detainees said that were tortured. They have concluded that torture “is a commonplace practice in  Afghanistan’s law enforcement institutions,” and add that “torture is also perpetrated by the parties to the armed conflict in Afghanistan, including the international security forces.”

According to Afghan MP Malalai Joya, “It is an open secret that this happens. The Canadian government is still supporting this.”

An inquiry into the torture of detainees is long overdue but given the obstructionist nature of the Conservatives, we are unlikely to get a full accounting of these scandalous revelations. Peter MacKay, who earlier this year called for a Parliamentary discussion on the future role of Canada in Afghanistan has decided to cancel that debate, likely because he fears any scrutiny on the torture issue. Complicity in war crimes is too serious an issue to be swept under the carpet. There must be a parliamentary debate on ending Canada’s complicity in the crime of the Afghan war.

Torture is part and parcel of this occupation and the so-called ‘war on terror.’ Right now, the U.S. is expanded the prison at Bagram Airbase in what Afghans are calling a ‘new Guantanamo.’ Only by ending this occupation can we ensure an end to Canadian complicity in torture. We need to bring the troops home immediately.

Canadian Peace Alliance

No to Torture, No to War
Virtual March on Parliament Hill
Call your MP, November 24, 25 and 26, 2009

Election fraud. Torture. Increasing civilian casualties.
If ever there was a time to ask the Afghan people what they want for their future that time is now.

Afghan MP Malalai Joya, “the bravest woman in Afghanistan”, has been speaking to audiences across Canada, to launch her new book, A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice. Today we write to ask for your help in ensuring she speaks to your elected representatives about the future of Afghanistan.

All Canadian MPs and Senators have been invited to a Parliamentary Roundtable on Afghanistan with Malalai Joya, at 11:30 am, November 26, 2009 in Ottawa. You can make sure your MP hears what this courageous woman has to say about Canadian policy on Afghanistan.

Will your MP listen? Join the virtual march on Parliament Hill to make sure they do, by phoning and emailing your MP on November 24 and 25.

What you can say to your MP

  • On November 26 will you be participating in the Parliamentary roundtable discussion with Afghan MP Malalai Joya?
  • Unlike the corrupt warlords and druglords in the Afghan parliament Malalai Joya actually represents widespread sentiment in Afghanistan (she had the second highest number of votes in Farah province)
  • She also represents the views of a majority of Canadians who want the troops to come home – not in 2011, but now. The majority of Afghans and Canadians want the troops to leave.
  • In 2007, she was undemocratically suspended from parliament, and threatened with sexual violence by members of that parliament on the pretext that she had insulted other MPs, while the warlords in the Afghan Parliament continue to enjoy impunity.
  • Malalai Joya has survived multiple assassination attempts for her views.
  • Malalai Joya has important policy ideas for concrete steps for building an independent and genuinely democratic Afghanistan.
  • Given the seriousness of the conflict in Afghanistan and its impacts on society here at home, Parliamentarians have an obligation to engage, learn, and understand.
  • If you are serious about democracy in Afghanistan, call for her immediate reinstatement to the Afghan Parliament

For further information about the abuse of detainees please see the Canadian Peace Alliance statement at the end of this e-mail.

Tell your MP to RSVP to: or 613-859-6996.
A full list of contact information for MP’s is available at

What else can you do?

Donate your Facebook status.
On November 24, 25, and 26, change your Facebook status to: “2011 is too late, it is better that you withdraw your troops now. Stop wasting your taxpayers’ money and young lives killing to prop up drug lords and warlords.” – Afghan MP Malalai Joya.

If you agree, please donate your status and join our virtual march on Ottawa. Contact your MP today and demand they meet with Malalai Joya while she is in Ottawa. Visit for details.

The Parliamentary Roundtable on Afghanistan is hosted by the Canadian Peace Alliance and the Ottawa Peace Assembly
Canadian Peace Alliance:
Ottawa Peace Assembly:
Malalai Joya Defence Committee:

Dearborn, 21400 Michigan Ave, Dearborn Michigan.

TUESDAY, 11/24–Stand Up for Worker Rights

One of the seven workers at Andiamo Dearborn who is standing up for her right to a workplace that respects minimum wage and overtime laws and is free from discrimination was fired this morning!   We believe that this firing is in direct retaliation for Bertha’s involvement in organizing and standing up for her rights, including being named in the demand letter and participating in the protest on Friday night!**********************************************WE WILL TAKE LEGAL ACTION, BUT RIGHT NOW WE NEED TO TAKE ACTION IN THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION AND ON THE STREETS!!! WE NEED TO HOLD THE OWNERS OF ANDIAMO’S PUBLICLY ACCOUNTABLE!!!Please join us tomorrow,Tuesday November 24th at Andiamo Dearborn, 21400 Michigan Ave, Dearborn Michigan.  Please arrive by 6:45 pm. We will protest from 6:45 – 8 pm.  Here is a link to the map:

If you are planning on coming out to the protest, please fill out this link, will help us to make sure that we have a successful event.

**  In addition to coming out to the protest here are additional ways you can help! **

—  Forward this email to others who you think might be interested in coming to the protest!

—  Call your friends or talk with others who you think can come out tomorrow!  Make sure they fill out the link!


On November 5th, a group of nearly one-hundred restaurant workers and their supporters delivered a demand letter to Andiamo Dearborn on behalf of a group of seven white, black, latino, and middle eastern cooks, servers, and bussers.  The demand letter contained allegations of nonpayment of wages as well as race and gender discrimination.  The letter gave the company until November 19th to respond and clearly stated that any retaliation against the workers was strictly prohibited by federal law.

On November 19th the company did not respond.  On November 20th a protest was held outside the restaurant with 50 restaurant workers and their supporters.

Now, on the Monday morning of Thanksgiving week, when individuals are working hard to put food on the table for their families, the restaurant fires one of the restaurant workers named in the demand letter and who participated in the Friday protest!  Please join us on Tuesday’s protest!


ROC-Michigan is a non-profit, membership-based organization of restaurant workers dedicated to winning improved working conditions and opportunities for all restaurant workers across Southeast Michigan.  We are an affiliate of ROC-United, a national restaurant workers organization:  Over the last 5 years, ROC-United has won more than $5 million for exploited restaurant workers, as well as obtained improvements such as paid sick days, vacation days, and anti-discrimination policies, among others.

Thanks for your commitment to human rights and workplace justice!

Minsu Longiaru
Restaurant Opportunites Center of Michigan (ROC-MI)
2727 2nd Avenue, Suite 148
Detroit, MI 48201
313-962-5020 (phone)
313-962-5021 (fax)


War, Occupation and the Perils of ‘Democracy Training’ for Women in Iraq

Date: Nov 30, 2009
Time: 12 noon – 2 p.m.
Place: 162 Chrysler Hall South

Following the 2003 occupation of Iraq, the United States launched a comprehensive ‘democracy’
training program, targeting women in particular. This was part of the project of ‘regime change’ and
the implanting of a pro-American polity and civil society. My research, along with the emerging
literature on the practices of NGOs  in ‘post-war reconstruction’, paints a complex picture of the
relationship between imperialism, capitalism, colonialism and feminism.This paper will argue that
the existing body of literature on women’s NGOs and education does not identify the encroachment
of international organizations and state actors through various training activities as a manifestation
of the convergence of imperialism and colonial feminism.

Shahrzad Mojab

Shahrzad Mojab, Professor, is an academic-activist, specializing on educational policy studies;
gender, state, migration and diaspora; women, war, and learning; feminism and anti-racism
pedagogy and adult education in comparative and global perspectives. Her publications include
articles and book chapters which have appeared in international journals and are translated into
Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, French, German, and Swedish. She is the co-editor of Women of Iran:
A Subject bibliography and Two Decades of Iranian Women’s Studies in Exile: A Subject
Bibliography [in Farsi], both published by Iranian Women’s Studies Foundation. She is the editor
of the first scholarly collection on Kurdish women in the English language entitled, Women of A
Non-State Nation: The Kurds (2001 and second print in 2003). She co-edited Of Property and
Propriety: The Role of Gender and Class in Imperialism and Nationalism (2001), and Violence
in the Name of Honour: Theoretical and Political Challenges (2004).

Professor Mojab is the former Director of the Women and Gender Institute at the University of
Toronto (2003-2008).  She is also the past-President of the Canadian Association for the Studies
of Adult Education. She is the recipient of several awards. Notably, in 2009 she received the Ian
Martin Award for Social Justice for the Best Paper, University of Cambridge, UK. In 2008 she
received the Distinguished Contribution to Graduate Teaching Award at the University of Toronto.
In 2006 she was named Noted Scholar in the Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia.
Shahrzad was the first prize winner in the Women’s WORLD writing contest, Women’s Voices in
War Zones.

Lunch will be provided.

Co-sponsored by

Centre for Studies in Social Justice
Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology
Department of Political Science
Office of Faculty Recruitment and Retention

Centre for Studies in Social Justice
University of Windsor
Windsor, ON  Canada N9B 3P4
Tel: 519 253-3000 Ext. 2326