Monthly Archives: April 2010

‘Downstream’ Aboriginal Activists Blast the Tar Sands: Nova Scotians Asked to Take Action

"People are dying in my community of rare cancers," Jada Voyageur of Fort Chipewyan told a crowd at a rally on Sunday.

By Jane KirbyBen Sichel, writing for the Halifax Media Co-Op, a project of the Dominion News Cooperative.

More than 100 people came to St. Andrew’s Church on Coburg Rd. Tuesday night to hear two young Aboriginal activists describe the Alberta Tar Sands’ effects on their communities.

“It takes three to five barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil from the tar sands”, explains Jada Voyageur of Fort Chipewyan, a Cree and Dene community near the Sands where residents are experiencing severe health and environmental problems. “ You can just imagine what they are taking out, and worse, what they are putting back into our water system.”

Residents of Fort Chipewyan have found high levels of arsenic, mercury and other toxic chemicals in their water supply that have leaked from tailings ponds downstream. The fish and game that First Nations communities rely upon for their food supply have also been contaminated.

“These are the kinds of fish that my people are finding all the time” says Voyageur, showing an image of a diseased-looking and deformed fish. “And they say there’s no impact”. Read the rest of this entry

Dawkins, Hitchens and Arresting the Pope

In the wake of the latest revelation by abuses by the Roman Catholic Church, again with cases of child abuse and molestation by priests, but this time mostly in the British Isles, several well known atheists, secularists and all-around opponents of religion from the U.K., including Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (henceforth called Ditchkens), have called for the arrest of the Pope during his upcoming trip to the isles. Ditchkens have even gone so far as to consult lawyers over the matter. Notable in this is that while Ditchkens is no friend of the left, many British leftists have jumped on board with this campaign. However, is this really something that leftists should support? Two British radical bloggers, Liam Mac Uaid and Bristol Red have taken up this discussion.

Presented below are both their articles on the discussion. As usual, posting these articles does not imply endorsement.

Let’s Not Arrest the Pope by Liam Mac Uaid

The largest May Day related workers’ event in this neck of the woods is not going to be organised by a union branch, Respect, the Labour Party or the SWP. Our Lady of the Assumption is having a special Popemass to celebrate the migrant workers who live in the parish. It will be pretty well attended. Feel free to chastise them for their ideological backwardness but the hard fact is that they get more out of their membership of the Catholic Church than any other organisation they could choose to join.

It would make for an interesting spectacle if a few of the liberal and left secularists demanding the arrest of Pope Benedict tried to rustle up support for their campaign among some of the most exploited workers in London. Read the rest of this entry

Big & Small Apartheids: The Meaning of a Jewish State

By Jonathan Cook. He is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

Originally posted on his ZNet page. Below is the text of a talk delivered to the fifth Bilin international conference for Palestinian popular resistance, held in the West Bank village of Bilin on April 21

Israel’s apologists are very excited about the idea that Israel has been singled out for special scrutiny and criticism. I wish to argue, however, that in most discussions of Israel it actually gets off extremely lightly: that many features of the Israeli polity would be considered exceptional or extraordinary in any other democratic state.

That is not surprising because, as I will argue, Israel is neither a liberal democracy nor even a “Jewish and democratic state”, as its supporters claim. It is an apartheid state, not only in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza, but also inside Israel proper. Today, in the occupied territories, the apartheid nature of Israeli rule is irrefutable — if little mentioned by Western politicians or the media. But inside Israel itself, it is largely veiled and hidden. My purpose today is to try to remove the veil a little.

I say “a little”, because I would need far more than the time allotted to me to do justice to this topic. There are, for example, some 30 laws that explicitly discriminate between Jews and non-Jews — another way of referring to the fifth of the Israeli population who are Palestinian and supposedly enjoy full citizenship. There are also many other Israeli laws and administrative practices that lead to an outcome of ethnic-based segregation even if they do not make such discrimination explicit. Read the rest of this entry