Thursday, December 31, 2009

Joan Russow, Ph.D. - Global Compliance Research Project -


2009/12/31

Harper to prorogue Parliament: He is not Impeded by Democracy

How long will Canadians be prepared for the sake of avoiding an election to allow an unethical government which has engaged in fraudulent practices, and evasive techniques, and unscrupulous actions, govern. How much longer will a compliant Governor General support such practices, techniques and action? The Governor General erred twice in dissolving and proroguing Parliament, (under Article VI) of her Letters Patent. Now she must correctly use her residual powers under Article V – to remove Harper from office, and call upon the Opposition Parties to govern.

GOVERNOR GENERAL MISUSED TWO OF HER POWERS UNDER ARTICLE VI

THE GOVERNOR GENERAL, UNDER ARTICLE VI, HAS CORRECTLY PERFORMED HER ROLE OF SUMMONING, BUT INCORRECTLY PERFORMED HER RESIDUAL ROLE OF DISSOLVING AND PROROGUING PARLIAMENT;VI. ³AND WE DO FURTHER AUTHORIZE AND EMPOWER OUR GOVERNOR GENERAL TO EXERCISE ALL POWERS LAWFULLY BELONGING TO US IN RESPECT OF SUMMONING, PROROGUING OR DISSOLVING THE PARLIAMENT OF CANADA.²


No other country, other than established dictatorships, would tolerate Harper's abuse of power; in the 2006 election, he fraudulently engaged in an in-and-out funding scheme that was in violation of the Elections Act; When he and his party were called to account before the Parliamentary Committee on Ethics, he advised the 67 elected representatives that were involved in the scheme not to appear, and then stepped down as Prime Minister and called upon the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and grant an election, Consequently the Parliamentary Ethics Committee was dissolved. When faced with a non-confidence vote, he called upon the compliant Governor General to prorogue Parliament which she did, even when there was an opportunity to call upon a coalition representing the majority of elected representatives to govern. Now to evade a full investigation he wants to prorogue Parliament and bring about the dissolution of the committee investigating Canada's complicity in the violation of the Convention Against Torture.

Not only has he demonstrated the fundamental constitutional flaws in Canada but he has also caused Canada to become an international pariah; from his failure to adopt in 2007 the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to his abyssmal record on the issue of climate change.

GOVERNOR GENERAL MUST CORRECTLY USE HER RESIDUAL POWERS UNDER ARTICLE V OF HER LETTERS PATENT.

It is now time to exercise correctly her residual power under Article V.

V.>²AND WE DO FURTHER AUTHORIZE AND EMPOWER OUR GOVERNOR GENERAL, SO FAR AS WE LAWFULLY MAY, UPON SUFFICIENT CAUSE TO HIM APPEARING, TO REMOVE FROM HIS OFFICE, OR TO SUSPEND FROM THE EXERCISE OF THE SAME, ANY PERSON EXERCISING ANY OFFICE WITHIN CANADA, UNDER OR BY VIRTUE OF ANY COMMISSION OR WARRANT GRANTED, OR WHICH MAY BE GRANTED, BY US IN OUR NAME OR UNDER OUR AUTHORITY.<³

There is sufficient cause - gross negligence - to remove Harper from office. At Copenhagen, Canada was finally on the map; it was clear in the Table 1 of Annex Commitments in the so-called Copenhagen Accord that Canada had used the 2006 base line, for emissions reductions, which amounted to little more than 3% below 1990 levels,. In addition, the minority Canadian Government did not even have the courage to face the international media; it held cubbyhole press conferences which were carefully orchestrated. The Conservative Government was known everywhere for the tar sands and their continued obstructionism during the negotiations. Now if Parliament is prorogued even the minimal C 311 bill on climate change will be off the agenda.

At the COP 15 Conference, Harper, as Prime Minister, under the Canadian Constitution can enter into a legally binding agreement. At COP 15, he ignored all the new emerging scientific evidence that was presented, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) about the consequences from climate change being increasingly more serious than anticipated in the IPCC 2007 report which was based on 2004 and 2005 data. Even though at several times his minority government had been urged by the other opposition parties to agree to a commitment by Canada to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below 1990 levels, he refused to change his announced commitment to 20% below 2006 levels (3% below 1990) levels.

His failure to act responsibly on the urgent issue of climate change demonstrated gross negligence. In fact, Bill Rees, in his article "Is Canada Guilty of Climate Negligence?” refers to the applicable sections in Criminal Law which could indicate that Canada could be guilty of negligence. Canadian common law provides useful guidance. Environmental negligence suits focus on compensation for loss caused by unreasonable conduct that damages legally protected interests. Unreasonable conduct means doing something that a prudent or reasonable person would not do, or failing to do something that a reasonable person would do. The plaintiff must establish certain key elements of the tort‹ cause in fact and proximate cause, damages, legal duty, and breach of the standard of care. Note that fault may be found even in the case of unintended harm if it stems from unreasonable conduct. The Criminal Code (Section 219) is even clearer that lack of intent to harm is no defence if damage results from conscious acts performed in careless disregard for others: ³Everyone is criminally negligent who (a) in doing anything, or (b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do, shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons² (where Ĺ’duty¹ means a duty imposed by law). Significantly, Section 222(5)(b) states that ³a person commits homicide when, directly or indirectly, by any means, he causes the death of a human being, by being negligent (emphasis added).²

TIME FOR THE GOVERNOR GENERAL TO INVOKE ARTICLE V AND REMOVE HARPER FROM OFFICE How long will Canadians be prepared for the sake of avoiding an election to allow an unethical government which has engaged in fraudulent practices, and evasive techniques, and unscrupulous actions, govern. How much longer will a compliant Governor General support such practices, techniques and actions?

BACKGROUND TO 2006 FRAUDULENT ELECTION EXPENSES Background from 2008 and the dissolution of the Ethics Committee because the Governor General granted Harper an election Dysfunctional Parliament: Harper must step down Harper¹s rationale for calling the election was that Parliament was dysfunctional. He deemed that Parliament was dysfunctional because the three opposition parties representing over 66% of the electorate disagreed with his policies. He had presumed that he would be successful in obtaining a majority and thus his policies would then be implemented. While he increased the number of Conservative members he failed to attain a majority government, and thus the Parliament is still dysfunctional. If the dysfunctionality of a minority government was the reason for going to the polls then when he obtained another minority government – equally dysfunctional>- he should have stepped down and called upon the Governor General to form a Coalition Government. But he didn¹t. Why?

Was there another reason for calling a quick election? Was it that with an election there would be the dissolution of the Parliamentary Ethics Committee that was investigating the Conservative violation of the Elections Act in the 2006 election? Serious questions arise about the condoning of potentially fraudulent election practices, the reneging of responsibility by the Governor General; the disregarding, by the media, of this issue during the election; and the legitimacy of Harper speaking on behalf of Canada with less than 40% support of the population..

DELIBERATIONS OF THE PARLIAMENTARY ETHICS COMMITTEE IN THE HEARINGS IN AUGUST, 2008

There is not doubt that the public interest would certainly be served by exposing the fraudulent practice used by the Conservatives in the 2006 election. On August 14, 2008, at the Parliamentary Committee it was revealed that there is sufficient evidence that this practice occurred and that the practice was condoned by the Conservative Party. One Conservative witness even referred to the scheme as being a creative fund-raising scheme benefiting in the long- range the Conservative Party. The success of the case against the Conservatives depends on the willingness of the Conservative candidates to be forthright, and given that many of them have refused to even honour summons issued by the Parliamentary Committee. [although presumably a summons from the Public Prosecution might not be as easy to disregard].

WITNESSES: Chantal Proulx and Don Beardall from the Office of the Public Prosecution of Canada

PAT MARTIN from the NDP raised a serious question about the potential that the case before the Office of the Public Prosecution might not even be resolved before the next election (either before, in 2008, or on the fixed election date in 2009), and that the Conservatives could even adopt the same in<–and<–out funding scheme in the next election. In response to his question, the witnesses from the Office of the Public Prosecutor indicated that there was no guarantee that the case would be heard before the next election.

CONSERVATIVES TRANSFERRED NOT JUST FUNDS BUT EXPENSES WITNESS: Mark Mayrand, Chief Electoral Officer In response to questions asked by various opposition members, Mark Mayrand confirmed that the transfer of funds from the Central Campaign to the Riding Associations, is permitted. What is not permitted is the transfer of expenses of the local candidates campaign. When asked if he had determined if this practice had occurred with other parties during the 2006 election, Marc Mayrand responded: No.

CONSERVATIVES EXCEEDED THEIR NATIONAL SPENDING LIMITS BY TRANSFERRING FUNDS TO THE RIDING ASSOCIATIONS. It was pointed out by a Committee member that by passing on expenses to local ridings the Conservative National Election Campaign superseded its national spending limits by 1.3 million. It was also noted that political parties benefit in a number of way such as issuing tax receipts for donations with tax benefits of up to 76%, paying $1.75 per vote, and providing rebates, of 60% of election expenses, for candidates receiving 10% of the vote. Marc Mayrand indicated that in cases where the expenses were under investigation, rebates had not been made. This point was not clear; it is possible that rebates were made before the investigation was undertaken, and it was not clear whether or not an investigation would result in the re-imbursement of the rebate.

CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATES AND OFFICIAL AGENTS WERE WILLING TO SIGN A FALSE EXPENSE FORM Official agents and candidates both sign off and attest that the expenses occurred in the local campaign and at fair market value. Both the Conservative candidates and their agents who are under investigation apparently signed the required documents even though they knew that the expenses were not incurred locally by their campaigns.

CONSERVATIVE PARTY DID NOT COMPLY WITH THE ADVERTISING REQUIREMENTS OF FAIR MARKET VALUE It was pointed out that in three adjacent ridings in Toronto, the same ads were recorded, by the Conservative candidates, as costing a different amount. The implications of this is that the expenses were accounted for in relation to the range of spending limits for the candidates.

CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATES PROBABLY WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THE NATIONAL ADS WOULD HAVE BENEFITED THE LOCAL CANDIDATES. Richard Nadeau, Bloc MP, made the distinction between pooling of resources to collectively benefit the candidates, and the practice of in-and-out national campaign ads. Marc Mayrand responded that ³it must be sure that it benefits the candidates² and that ³I am not satisfied that all the expenses claimed were of benefit to the candidates.²

CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATES AND AGENTS WERE NOT APPRISED OF THE REGULATION UNDER THE ELECTIONS ACT

Ricard Nadeau also raised the issue of the need for proper training of candidates and their agents so that this Conservative practice would never happen again. He proposed that Elections Canada should do this across the country. Marc Mayrand responded that we hold training sessions regularly throughout the country. He cited the problem of late selection of agents at election time, and that the agents are already overwhelmed. He neglected to mention that there are meetings, of representatives of the registered parties at the Elections Canada office in Ottawa, and that this issue could be raised at that time and all party riding headquarters apprised of the regulation related to expenses.

CONSERVATIVES MIGHT BE EMBROILED IN ALL LEVELS OF TAX EVASION BECAUSE OF THE SCHEME

Marcel Proulx raised the issue of discrepancy in provincial taxes and that the taxes were not applied before the assessment of GST. This might indicate a problem with the invoices submitted by Retail Media, the agent acting for the National Conservative Ad Campaign.

CONSERVATIVE MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE CONTINUALLY RAISE ISSUES RELATED TO PROCESS, RATHER THAN RECOGNIZING THAT IT IS CLEAR THAT THE CONSERVATIVES DID ENGAGE IN A WIDESPREAD WAY IN AT LEAST 67 RIDINGS, THAT THIS PRACTICE WAS AGAINST THE ELECTIONS ACT, AND THAT THE CONSERVATIVES BENEFITED UNFAIRLY IN THE 2006 ELECTION FROM THIS PRA

lookin' for stephen ....

i found this on the new facebook page: "let's perogy stephen harper." if this woman can't find him, nobody can!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Copenhagen FAILED !!! and i feel fine.

photo: lemon lavender tofu cheesecake, and imbibements.

They say this is a particularly magical time of year, and I believe it. For example today, for a brief moment in time, there were ABSOLUTELY NO dirty dishes in the kitchen.

It was an incredible sight, and one I reported to my flat-mate with as decisive a manner as I could muster. "At this moment in time," I informed him, "there are no dirty dishes in the kitchen."

It's not that I had done all his dishes (I just don't do that), rather he had cleaned his and shortly thereafter I had chosen to clean mine, leaving an immaculately clean and clear countertop. In a two bedroom apartment kitchen, a clean kitchen countertop is indeed a magical moment.

I made my announcement, and left him to the technological frustrations he was attempting to resolve (Hal Sisson's previous broadcast transferrence from audio tape to mp3), returning to my own apartment space where, much to my dismay, I found an abandoned rice bowl leftover from lunch. AACKKK!!! I exclaimed. Reluctantly, and with much despair, I carried the wayward bowl into the kitchen, placed it on the counter, moved again to my friend's door and announced "The moment has now passed. There is now a dirty dish on the countertop."

Magical moments aside, there's something to be said for friendship and good flat-mate relationships.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

People say "Copenhagen Failed." It's like a mantra. But I believe that Copenhagen, like today's small kitchen countertop miracle, offered a moment of magical transcendence. No, I would never burn the fuel necessary to join 100,000 people to rally in the streets and risk unnecessary arrest for no apparent reason but, somewhere deep inside me, I do appreciate that others did. At the same time, I'm disappointed that they missed their magical moment!!!

Here's what I wish had happened in Copenhagen. I wish the 100,000+ had signed their own freakin' accord. Why wait for "the big guys?" They're never gonna do it, and we all know that. Leave them to their limosine-riding, diamonds and jewels, meat intensive lifestyles and JUST GET ON WITH IT! If only the good grassroots people in Copenhagen had signed their own agreement, then they'd have something to hold up to the world, to show those "leaders" how it's done.

And in the spirit of appreciating this particular moment in history, I present -- The Ultimate "I Don't Fucking Care" Pledge to Global Climate Change - Resolutions for 2010. Feel free to sign on yerselves ....

I Pledge To :

1. Buy another SUV. One of them "environmentally friendly" ones. Maybe even a Hybrid. Same amount of requisite earth based metal components, plus a need to replace the battery every few years. And its silence can scare the crap out of, not to mention kill, unsuspecting pedestrians and cyclists alike. Unfortunately, there's not quite so much dependency on oil and gas, though the roads and highways and byways will be maintained, as always, for the Mighty Automobile. When purchasing gas, always buy the cheapest crap available. (Reminder to self: buy more Exxon stock to compensate for the loss in revenue).

2. Use more plastic, to compensate for the lost oil usage. (See item #1). This includes, but is not limited to: buying EVERYTHING NEW so there's ALWAYS lots of packaging. Keep "forgetting" to bring my own plastic bags to the grocery store, especially when re-fuelling from the bulk section. Especially look for new stuff with styrofoam packaging included, and then send it to the landfill rather than seeking out the local plastics recycling project. In fact, burn down the plastics recycling project, or bankrupt it and run it out of town.

3. While driving the brand new SUV, talk on newest model of Cell Phone made from precious metal only found in environmentally sensitive areas of Africa, harvested by children. Whenever possible, Idle. Idle, rev engine, Idle. Be a Stud and Idle.

4. Definitely keep Eating Dead Animals. Maybe talk about the possibility of "reducing" my consumption to, say, 16 meat infused meals a day rather than the requisite 21, but absolutely keep the conversation away from the notion of giving up meat entirely. Continue to buy soaps, shampoos, face paint, wine, beer, vitamins, and clothing that carries trace amounts of dead animals, thereby ensuring that the oppression of non-human beings, and the flagrant use of agricultural land and oil resources for their short painful lives, and their ultimate destruction, continues indefinitely. Laugh like a raving lunatic while pondering the immense power awarded to this cannibalistic lifestyle choide -- MWAHAHAHAHAHA. I am humanoid, the Centre of All the Universe, and All Creatures shall Surrender to my Will.

5. Drink lots and lots of coffee. Every Day. More on the Weekends. Continue to be completely addicted to it and, while passing the increasing amounts of homeless beggers, make a mental note that they're likely addicts of a more vociferous variety, and yell at them to "Get A Job." To appease my pain in the ass activist friends, drink Fair Trade Coffee and pretend that it's actually possible for 7 billion people to justify their habit AND save the earth. Completely ignore the idea that people might grow food on land they're exploiting for export crops, or that My Daily Habit makes any difference. NEVER carry a travel mug.

6. Wipe my hands, my ass, and blow my nose into whatever piece of Dead Forest presents itself. Never, ever, consider carrying a handkerchief (that's soooo 19th century). When I'm bleeding, plug myself up with a chlorine infested bit of absorbancy. Later, discard same into the local landfill.

7. Create lots and lots of GARBAGE. Don't bother sorting into compost, plastics, paper, and metal. That's definitely Too Much Trouble. Throw everything into the same bin and leave it on the curb for someone to make it Magically Disappear.

8. Live in the Largest Possible Space, on a piece of Clear Cut Ancient Rainforest, and leave all the lights on always. Never consider taking in a boarder, because All Poor People are Scum. Expand my personal space to occupy more than I really need or deserve, then spend a lot of time convincing myself otherwise. Use every possible chlorine based toxic cleaning product to keep it sparkling. Do Not, for any reason, consider changing One Iota of my lifestyle for the greater good. Just Take. Take, Take, Take. I'm Worth It. I Deserve It. And, darn it, People Like Me.

9. Squeeze some extra life outta whatever old and decrepit eggs remain, and have lots and lots of Children. Every Sperm Is, indeed, Special! Encourage all fertilized eggs to grow up, become Good Capitalist Consumers, and have lots of their own offspring to "ensure the continuation of the species." Each will be clad in hundreds upon thousands upon millions of disposable diapers. Each will demand, and be provided with, many oil-based plastic soothers, toys, feeding implements, all made by child labour in a far away country. For those fertilized eggs, justify owning an oil-fuelled motorized vehicle or three, steering it occasionally into the drive-through window at a fast food restaurant of your choosing, participate in all the capitalist holidays including Easter Eggs, Thanksgiving Dead Birds, Hallowe'en child labour Chocolates, and other Dental Conspiracies as they present themselves.

10. Pretend that It Would Make Absolutely No Difference if I were to change my personal habits/addictions and that really what's going on is that the Corporate Government World has to legislate change before anything will happen. Essentially, I Ain't Gonna Do Nothing Different until someone tells me I gotta.

HAPPY NEW YEAR ..... bah humbug.

Cuba Xmas-New Years Images - Havana Times.org

Cuba Xmas-New Years Images - Havana Times.org

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Starhawk's currently in Egypt, part of the Gaza Freedom March, with world citizens from many nations, trying to get into Gaza to show support and solidarity with whatever remains of the Palestinians. Starhawk was born into a Jewish family, but most know her as Pagan. She's blogging regularly ....

So, back to yesterday. I never made it over to the French Embassy, where the French contingent has been encamped, surrounded now by the Egyptian police and not allowed to leave although people have been allowed to pass in food and water. Our encampment in front of the World Trade Center (yep, that’s what it’s called!) that houses the UN was actually a lively and spirited demonstration, with women dancing and an Italian clown parading and the student contingent playing with a gigantic Palestinian flag. Personally, I was fighting my Bad Attitude comprised of exhaustion, low blood sugar, unresolved grief and a recent loss in hearing that upped the volume of tinnitus in my left ear so that even a quiet conversation sounds like echoes in a wind tunnel and a loud demonstration is like the whole world just got tuned to a place halfway between stations on the radio. I was asking myself that dangerous question, “Don’t I have a real life somewhere and shouldn’t I be there, now, living it?” I’d brought my battered old doumbek but didn’t really feel like playing it, until two guitarists, an accordionist and another drummer joined a group of Italians singing “Bella Ciao.” It’s just not possible to stay in an evil mood when Italians are singing “Bella Ciao.”



So I went looking for something useful to do. The police had us surrounded and blocked in, and lines of people were standing in front of them, face to face, to keep them from pushing in the barricades further. In some sense all these confrontations are about space—political space to protest, spaces of freedom in which the people of Gaza might actually live their own lives. Right, I remembered, that was the reason I was there and not back home happily trying to unclog a blocked-up hydroelectric system in the pouring rain, We had created a micro-Gaza right there in the plaza, and again, that is the point of nonviolent action—to dramatize an invisible wrong and make it visible, put in the face of the world so it can’t be ignored.

Lisa was in the middle of the crowd running a spokescouncil meeting that she’d somehow pulled together. She has an amazing ability to work a crowd in the midst of clamor and chaos and somehow bring them all to some point of clarity. Plus she has a naturally loud voice and can make herself heard. Between the roaring gale going on in my left ear and my naturally soft voice being even more so due to the horrible air exacerbating my asthma, I just didn’t feel like that was the place I could do much. If the Goddess in her infinite wisdom had gifted me with a loud voice, not to mention making me slim and glamorous, I could have ruled the world. But she didn’t, so I just have to muddle along as best I can.



Before we came on the march, I’d been in contact with members of the Interfaith delegation about doing trainings for the marchers. No opportunity had yet arisen to do anything of the sort, but I went to check in with them. While we were talking, some kafuffle took place over at the line with the police. A cop hit a woman in the face, we were told. So we went over—but by then, other people had stepped up. One of the white-haired women from the Michigan Peace Team was walking up and down the line talking to the blank eyed officers in fine nonviolent style. Some of the Italians were being, well, Italian—loud and expressive, but basically, things were calm. But we brought up some more people to hold a line, facing the cops. I resisted joining it—I’m a Gemini, an air sign, I like to stay loose at these things and float around. But then a devastatingly handsome young man held out his hand to me and I couldn’t resist. So I ended up in front of these hard-eyed Egyptian security guys, with the grim expressions that reminded me that these are the folks the CIA gets to do their real torturing for them. But honestly, I was bored. So bored that I decided to make use of the time, if possible, to improve my Arabic. From my time in the ISM I had learned a few useful phrases: ‘thank you’, ‘please’, ‘tea without sugar’ and ‘Tank!’ Actually the first Arabic phrase I learned was ‘Fi jesh?’ which means, roughly, “Is the Army up ahead?” As opposed to a time in my life when I was much younger, and the first German phrase I ever learned was “I am really horny.” Ah, but that’s another story..

But knowing I was coming on this trip, I had downloaded some language-learning programs and listened to them long enough to learn to count to ten and to say, “I would like to eat something.” No doubt a useful phrase. I smiled at grim cop in front of me, held up one finger, and said, “Wehed?” His eyes locked on mine. I held up two. “Efnayim?” He ventured a smile, nodded encouragingly, and said “Taletha.” “Arbah” I replied, holding up four, and before I knew it the entire line of cops within earshot were grinning and nodding encouragement as I counted to ten, then patiently instructing me on to eleven, twelve, thirteen…There’s a music to the Arabic numbers that is quite hypnotic, and before I knew it I was up to a hundred, with my team cheering me on. Then we started over again, and over. They were all gazing at me with fond, paternal eyes, like a father looks at a promising child, and they stopped looking to me like potential torturers and started looking more like sweet young men doing a job that wasn’t really their choice to begin with.

Then they switched shifts, and I had to start all over again. But damn if it didn’t work just the same way with the new guard. The truth is, the personal sympathies of these guys are already with us, mostly. They aren’t subject to the same political pressures as Mubarak. The young ones in uniform are conscripts, just doing their time.

Ah—but I’m running out if I want to get to the French Embassy, the American Embassy where I’m told people are being detained, to go support the hunger strikers who will be vigiling at 2 pm—including Hedy Epstein, an 88 year old holocaust survivor, and start planning for tomorrow when we have decided to march toward Gaza if we have to leave from right here in Cairo. Let me just say that by the end of the day, after some food and some shifts in the organizing, I felt good again. Glad to be here, glad to be part of this, hopeful that whether or not we get to Gaza we will succeed in our true aim—to focus the world’s attention again on Gaza, on the illegal state of siege the Israeli’s are perpetuating there, on those who died and on the shattered homes and infrastructure which cannot be rebuilt because Israel will not let in supplies. I’ll do my best to keep writing and posting, but now off to do a bit of living.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Globalizing Healthcare - Exporting healthcare to Africa


By Tom Fawthrop in Cienfuegos, Cuba
(photo from me ... the ELAM - Latin American School of Medicine - graduating ceremony of 2009. Cuba accepts applicants from poor neighbourhoods all over the world, including the USA.)

In universities across Cuba, the next generation of African doctors is being trained on scholarships that may prove more valuable than any foreign aid package to their continent.

When they graduate, the doctors will return home to treat patients in some of Africa's poorest countries, equipped with some of the best medical training in the world.

Their education and training will not have cost them anything, and many say they plan to use their skills to help those too poor to pay for treatment.

"I am from a very poor family in Eastern Cape," says Sydney Mankale Moroasale, a South African medical student currently studying at Cienfuegos University in Cuba.

"People all around me were suffering. I said to myself 'Why couldn't I be the one to help them?' It was my dream to be a doctor."

A further 125 South African medical students study alongside Moroasale at Cienfuegos, while another 224 are enrolled in other Cuban universities. None of them would have been able to study medicine at all had it not been for the scholarship programmes.

A total of 286 African doctors have graduated from Cuba since the first batch in 2005.

After the 1959 revolution, Fidel Castro, the former Cuban president, pioneered the creation of a dynamic and comprehensive public health system which has been praised by the World Health Organization for providing free healthcare to all its citizens.

Even doctors working in countries ideologically opposed to communist Cuba admit that the system works.

"It is internationally known that medical standards are very high in Cuba, and medical training is very good," says Dr Arachu Castro, a Spanish specialist in social medicine at the Harvard Medical School.

*Community-based approach*

Some South African doctors, mostly those working in the private sector, have questioned medical standards in Cuba, but in the main, public health experts have defended the island's medical achievements - particularly its focus on primary healthcare.

Dr Julio Padron Gonzalez, who runs the foreign student medical programme at Cienfugos University, explains why this is so important.

"The medical curriculum is patient-centred and orientated toward the family doctor and community health," he says. "Ninety per cent of health problems can be dealt with at the level of primary healthcare."

This approach has impressed many of the students studying on the programme.

Johanne Mkhabele is a South African student specialising in HIV/Aids prevention and treatment.

"We have to learn from Cuba how to involve the whole community in preventing HIV/Aids, and not just leave it to the health workers," he says. "Everybody has to be involved."

Reversing the brain drain

Dr Julio Padron says primary healthcare is a key part of the students' education*In recent years, South Africa has watched thousands of doctors leave the country in search of higher salaries in the West. The problem is not unique to South Africa - many African countries face a similar brain drain.

Cuba has bucked the trend of poaching doctors from Africa, and its efforts to give, rather than take, doctors from the continent has impressed the African countries who benefit.

"I don't know of any other country in the world that has 30,000 foreign students. Cuba has demonstrated you don't have to be wealthy to help other nations," says Segun Bamigbetan Baju, the Nigerian ambassador to Havana.

"Cuba is a developing country making great sacrifices and denying itself so many things to help Africans," he adds.

Since the 1970s, Cuba's programme to reverse the brain drain has seen 17,000 professionals, including doctors, return to African countries. More than 50 per cent returned to practise medicine and nursing.

In addition, Cuba has pioneered co-operation in establishing new medical schools in Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau.

The students say it is not only the intense focus on primary healthcare that they would not pick up in a South African medical school.

One of the first year subjects is medical philosophy and ethics, a course which stresses a commitment to patients, health as a human right and the moral obligation of doctors to provide services to the rural poor.

So what lies behind Cuba's commitment to training African doctors?

"We are showing an example that it is possible to do things in a different way, even though we don't have many resources," says Clara Esther Gomez, a lecturer at the medical school at Cienfugos.

Globalising healthcare

Cuban doctors and medical professors refer to their international mission as 'Globalising Healthcare'. But in a globalised world, what is to stop some of the new doctors following their home-grown counterparts to the West to search for lucrative careers?

"I assure you with my life that no doctor trained in Cuba, once he starts practising back home, will ever leave the country," South African student Moroasale says emphatically when asked.

Of far greater concern is how far Cuban graduates can apply the community-based approach once they are integrated into a very different kind of health system back home.

Moroasale is determined to make a difference. "I am going to offer every patient what they need without checking first what they have in their pocket," he says.

But Gomez admits it may be tough for some of their graduates to deal with the medical establishment at home.

"The entrenched doctors in South Africa will not readily accept the Cuban-trained doctors and treating patients without payment," she says.

"It will be a battle of ideas, but in this battle, humanity and health will win over money."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Why I Climbed the 200 ft Flagpole at the BC Legislature

by Ingmar Lee
photo by Chris Cook


I climbed the flagpole because I'm unhappily ashamed to be a 'Canadian.' Although I've never trended much towards any nationalist or patriotic proclivity, I'll admit to a slight twinge of pride of nation was when a former Prime Minister, in spite of overwhelming pressure, said 'fuck you' to GWB when he wanted Canada to join in with his attack, invasion, occupation, torture, rape and massacre of Iraq. But given our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper's recent cowardly, grudging and sneering performance at Copenhagen, I'm utterly embarrassed to be a member of this country. And to make matters worse, the drunken Premier of British Columbia, Gordon Campbell joined Harper in Denmark to offer his 'support.'

And to make matters even worse, Tzeporah Berman, CEO of ForestEthics Canada, which purports to work to protect BC forests and on other environmental issues, followed Campbell to Copenhagen to issue him an award for "Climate Leadership."

Gordon Campbell and Tzeporah Berman at Copenhagen

After nearly a decade of Gordon Campbell at the helm, the British Columbia environment has taken a horrific corporate shit-kicking. With our institutionally corrupt and gerrymandered excuse for democracy, and with giant transnational logging corporation's as his principal campaign financiers, Campbell has won successive majority governments by garnering on average, about 30% of the vote. And it is truly an embarrassment how cheap these corporations have been able to buy themselves a British Columbia government. The predictable result is that Campbell has presided over an unprecedented level of destruction in our forests. His very first act of government back in 2001 was to abolish the Ministry of Environment. Next, he immediately reinstated the Grizzly bear trophy hunt. His government oversaw a culling of Golden eagles, which they scapegoated for the logging-caused extinction of the Vancouver Island marmot. As Canada's 'Most Endangered Species' these marmots only survive in captive breeding laboratories now. Campbell gutted the provinces Forest Practices Code, and then attempted to privatize the public forests of BC, which comprise more than 90% of the provinces land mass.

Campbell is responsible for a massive proliferation of fish-farming on the Pacific coast which has resulted in an epidemic of sea lice which has infected and is killing off our wild salmon. He has expanded the development of oil and gas, even pushing for oil and gas development in the clear Pacific waters and no mining application has crossed his desk that he couldn't approve. Currently, he's plowing enormous new highway infrastructure through the Burns Bog and is champing at the bit to allow giant American energy corporations to install "Run of River" power infrastructure in what remains of the provinces final intact watersheds. The list of Gordon Campbell's voracious attacks on the British Columbia environment are far too many to cover in this essay, but his most egregious scheme of all is just now getting off the ground.

Premier Campbell is the lead proponent and champion of the proposed "Enbridge Nothern Gateway Pipeline" which is slated to deliver 'dirty oil' from the notorious Alberta Tar Sands, to the BC Central Coast. This 1100 km, 1 metre diametre pipeline will send half of Tar Sands daily production sluicing across our province, to be loaded onto more than 300 VLCC's, -Very Large Crude Carriers- every year. This will result in a veritable super-tanker traffic jam in the narrow fiords and amongst the rock-pile that is BC's Pacific coast and will guarantee horrific Exxon Valdez-scale oil disasters. A single accident will immediately destroy Campbell's only, albeit seriously greenwashed example of a semblance of wilderness conservation. This year, after a decade of secret, exclusive negotiations with several select environmental collaborators, Campbell announced, onstage with his ForestEthics collaborators, that he had reached an agreement to "protect" just 30% of a tract of relatively contiguous primaeval wilderness known as the 'Great Bear Rainforest.' The other 70% has been handed over to voracious logging corporations.

I've been focussing my efforts on battling the Gordon Campbell Pipeline for several years now, even as the US-based Enbridge Pipeline corporations PR machinations proceed apace across the province. Currently, the significant majority opposition to the pipeline is disorganized, and several so-called environmental organizations, including ForestEthics, are positioning themselves to lead the fight. These due-process oriented, charitable status-quarding organizations have already established themselves as collaborators with the Neocon Campbell government, and Campbell has now ensconced them, including Berman on a new "Green Energy Task Force." This task force has been set up to persuade the people of BC to allow wild rivers to be developed en masse by private American corporations for the purpose of providing "Green" power to the insatiable American market. Initially the ROR campaign, spearheaded by Campbell, and greenwashed by Berman, and bewilderingly, by Dr Andrew Weaver, -a noted BC climatologist who shared the IPCC Nobel Prize and who stumped blatantly for Campbell during this years election after his University of Victoria department received $94 million in funding from the Campbell regime- insulted the BC environmental community by equating anyone who questioned the private development of BC's wild rivers as being ignorant climate-change deniers. Now, in the new Campbell-appointed Task Force, they are trying a kinder, gentler approach.

The once-powerful and united BC Environmental Movement has been divided into an unbridgeable schism, -between Grass-roots activists who stand in the way of business as usual, (BAU) and well-funded environmental bureaucracies who work according to BAU. These BAU organizations, with ForestEthics as the worst example, have become shameless greenwashers of the BC government and the darlings of the corporate media.

When Tzeporah Berman wormed her way through 100,000 awakened climate-change activists whose favoured slogan was "System Change, Not Climate Change to present her award to one of the very worst climate-change troglodytes on the planet, she utterly forfeited any remaining credibility she and the Canadian branch of ForestEthics may have had as an environmental activists. This was the final straw that drove me up the flagpole. It is of paramount importance to the world that all the stops must be pulled out to shut down the planet-killing Alberta Tar Sands mega-project. It is a black/white issue that cannot be compromised. It is essential that the people of the world understand that the Premier of BC is busily forwarding and facilitating that horrific blight on the planet, and people must understand the greenwashing that is greasing its wheels. It must be shouted out loud and clear.

Today, I have once again been charged with "mischief endangering life" a charge which could garner a lifetime prison sentence. This is the same charge I am already facing for another act of non-violent civil-disobedience which I committed earlier this year. I'm told it will cost me $50,000 to conduct a credible legal defence, -which of course, I could never afford. I have also been told that I do not qualify for legal aid, on account that I have no record of my recent employment history, which is basically odd jobs for cash. I live in BC's vast underground economy, largely because I believe that it is unethical to pay taxes to Gordon Campbell and Stephen Harper. I believe that I serve my community with my environmental work instead, and even if there had been a paper trail, my income is so far below the poverty line that I'd be exempt anyway. I do not expect justice before the Gordon Campbell kangaroo court, and I guess, for people like me, jail time is a rite of passage.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

HAPPY MERRY JOLLY !!!!


On Monday the sunlight begins, finally, to return to our dark and cold northern existence. Our ancestors monitored the sun’s movements carefully, realizing that their very lives depended on it. After they’d observed the lengthened days for a period of time, to be sure that the light was indeed returning, they held an enormous celebration.

Then one day the Churchiarchy declared that the day had nothing to do with the return of the light …. the day was in fact a recognition of poverty. It was about a little baby, born in a manger because the greedy ultra-rich wouldn’t offer its ragged and transient mother a place to give birth. The baby grew up to be a revolutionary who, like Che or Gandhi or Rosa Luxembourg or Martin Luther King Jr., was murdered because he dared to challenge the authorities and their abuse of power, their corrupt elite system that held the masses in poverty and despair.

The Churchiarchy was so very big and powerful that they not only stole the ancient story, they actually transformed it into a consumerist frenzy that celebrates elves in sweatshops enslaved to produce goods that they themselves cannot afford.

Last night I attended a Yule celebration organized by a Wiccan friend and held at the Quaker Friends meeting house. There aren’t many public rituals, most Wiccans are extremely private about their spirituality, their collective memories acknowledging that generations of agricultural peoples were burned as witches in previous centuries ….

So I felt a special sense of honour and gratitude and, as we were preparing for the ritual, being informed of the process whereby we’d recreate the physical death and rebirth, I thought about the deep significance of what I was about to enter into. We were encouraged to contemplate what we’d write or draw at the four directions, what we wanted to leave behind (death) and what we were willing to promise the earth in the new year (rebirth). We rehearsed the songs …. songs about the returning light, about honouring Gaia – the planet revolving around the sun, the one who gives us life.

When we were all ready, the ritual began. We were anointed with essential oils, we cast the circle of protection, and called to awaken the spirits of the four directions. We offered our fear pain anger despair resentment, other negative emotions, for transformation and moved through a symbolic death ourselves …. actually laying on the floor and being covered with a light cloth as the elder sang gently, easing our departure and inviting our return. When we were awakened into the creative chaos, we moved and danced to the beat of a drum, to the rhythm of our individual heartbeats, chanting OM, each listening to and expressing whatever energy we felt. As the creative energy settled, we again lay on the old wooden floor of the Quaker meeting house and this time we were covered with a white cloth. Our rebirth began … slowly, gently, again assisted by singing and chanting. We were invited to offer a word or drawing to depict our offerings to Gaia, to share how we would each work to protect her air, earth, water, and fire elements.

I realized that the desire for ritual is very deeply instilled within us. Every culture on earth has some form of ritualistic dance or music that reflects their relationship to the earth and creation. Some consume the body and blood of that poor little revolutionary baby. Some celebrate Abraham, the father of Israel, who travelled with his son for three days up a mountain believing that the Lord wanted the young lad sacrificed.

I thought about the power of the people, many of them, who insist that Christmas is about more than propping up the corporate elite. I thought about Charles Dickens’ story of Scrooge, about the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas, about Jimmy Stewart saving the people of Bedford from that nasty bank manager.

Our ritual, last night, metaphorically recreated the ancient cycle of death and rebirth. We ate cake and drank sparkling apple juice as a way to connect with and express our gratitude for the earth’s offerings. We promised to love, honour, and protect the beautiful Gaia from whom all gifts emerge.

And for this our ancestors were tortured, tormented, and burned. Generations of them, spanning nearly 300 years.

I promised not to birth any children, to continue living simply and travelling lightly.

After the ritual we feasted and talked and got to know each other better. It’s interesting to participate in such a powerful recreation of this most intense time of year with strangers. We knew, though, that by showing up at that place at that time for that purpose, we share an appreciation for the magnificence of life, the power of the universe.

And that’s a powerful connection.

Happy Solstice.

Monday, December 14, 2009

not all canadians are greedy tar sand scumbags

Did the Yes Men Punk Canada in Copenhagen?


by Jason Linkins

So, did you hear the one about Canada making a huge splash at the COP15 Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen by completely reversing its climate change policy and setting aggressive new carbon reduction targets?

Well, then you've heard about a high-concept prank, which seems to have been perpetrated by someone willing and capable of going to dizzying lengths to show policymakers what they should be doing to combat climate change.

the rest of the article is here

so don't

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

victory for the right to sleep !

click here for B Channel video coverage ...

From: Chris Johnson

just returned from Cathy and Irene's office. The appeal was dismissed, and it is indeed a violation of the charter to criminalize nightime sleeping.
This is a HUGE victory, but what's left to overcome is the law against daytime shelter.

Cathy recommends, and I concur, that the best option now is for the city to sit down and work out an agreement that respects the right of people to
shelter themselves. If the city continues to refuse to negotiate with us, then we have no choice but to seek more litigation, and given the way things have gone so far, our choices are very good.


Given the fact that this court drama has cost us the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, we absolutely do not want it to continue. What many of us have wanted all along to to sit down and negotiate with the city. If we can't have that we can't just give up either. This is about survival,and that is a strong motivator for those of us who fight to survive in this city day to day. It's an unstoppable force, as far as I'm concerned.

So we are getting together in a couple weeks to regroup, and we definitely have our work cut out for us. We have much to contribute to the planning that needs to happen. We will either have a place at the table, or we will be key consultants. There is much to talk about.

So congratulations to everyone who worked to keep this issue in the public eye. Despite all the work we still have to do, we've come a long way; further than anyone in this country ever has on this. Today was a victory, and the coming days hold more potential for turning this victory into true change.

Wish I could tele-conference with Copenhagen ....

photo: Charles Campbell representing the Dogwood Initiative at Earth Day, late April, in one of the warmer parts of the northern country of Canada.

You are an elite group, able and willing to travel to Copenhagen for this conference. Lacking my own opportunity to participate (I guess there are no eco-geeks there who can set up an on-line conference ability?) I can only blog my thoughts on your process.

I have some very serious concerns. What I’m hearing is that everyone in the north owes everyone in the south a whole bunch of money.

Really? You think we all live in mansions with three cars in the driveway?

I realize there are those, in the “industrialized” world who enjoy all their creature comforts precisely because the poorer, less industrialized world is maintained as such with sweatshop labour and cheap exports. But many, in the “richer” nations, are not enjoying those luxuries. In Canada, this winter (and it’s friggin’ cold out there), anywhere between 200,000 and 300,000 homeless people are struggling to survive. These people die on a regular basis, unaccounted for, unreported. They are our “disappeared.”

When I learned, twenty years ago, that my lifestyle choices are directly connected to the quality of life of my brothers and sisters in poorer nations I began to make significant changes. There are others like me. Not enough, but there are some who live in poverty, with a vow of voluntary simplicity precisely because we care about the earth and all our relations. We do not work for corporations, we will not buy their products, we do not encourage them in any way.

Here in the “first world,” where we have unprecedented levels of child poverty and homelessness, our tax money is being stolen to pay for expensive Olympic games, unelected Senators, and irresponsible government officials. We’re seeing closures to hospitals and schools, an end to arts funding, and the destruction of indescribable ancient forests for an oil pipeline that will connect to tankers running up and down our coast for export purposes. Why in the world should we, who are barely managing to keep from freezing to death, be expected to give up more of our tax money?

I agree that those who created the climate crisis ought to be held responsible. But me, and my tax money, did not cause the climate crisis. I am an exemplary environmentalist. There are corporate elites and the ultra wealthy living in mansions in the desert, using way more resources than anyone is entitled to. Go after them for money!

Better yet, negotiate for equipment and technology rather than money. Ask corporations to donate equipment and expertise to build transportation systems in your land, ask them to provide wind turbines and solar panels, ask for agricultural specialists to help recreate your soil and establish permaculture systems like your ancestors used. While you’re at it, ask those corporate greed heads to do the same for us!

Money is not the answer. You can’t eat money. You can’t burn it to keep you warm. Well, you could, but it’s not a very efficient use of it.

Money is not the answer, and capitalism is not the solution.

Did you really believe that the world’s government and economic “leaders” were going to show up at your conference and endorse whatever the people demand? They all met in Geneva last week. Their economic policy has been secured. They don’t care about you and your COP 15 conference. The best you can do, having burned up all that fuel to get there, is network and figure out who the independent power producers are and what technology they’ve got and convince them to share a portion of it with those who can’t afford to buy it. Talk them into public or cooperative ownership, so we don’t have to watch them get rich and turn into future Enrons because they built their new energy house on a faulty capitalist foundation.

And think of all the extremely poor and homeless people in every country in the capitalist world who are victims of economic policy. We are, I think, willing to share expertise and materials to help you build something that will sustain you through the dramatic climate changes that will undoubtedly follow. But we, too, are victims of the corporate capitalist greed culture. They’re stealing our land, our resources, our children’s minds …. they’re creating more consumers and more consumerism. We are not them, and we don’t want you to become them either.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

peace on earth


To the benevolent energies in the universe: Is this some kind of joke?

I can’t believe I’m scheduled for a daily drive-a-dog-to-the-park as 30,000 more young people are ordered to kill and die for the oil pipeline, while other young folk have convinced themselves that participating in air travel to attend the Copenhagen Climate thing will actually make any difference.

How will I ever maintain my smug “I’m doing more to save the planet than you” attitude if word gets out about this driving the car thing ?!!


I’ll admit, it’s true – I think cars are awesome. They’re an incredible invention, offering much independent travel freedom. But, in an effort to make a small difference in this beautiful eco-world, I made the big sacrifice and sold my car in the early 90s, after becoming vegetarian and learning to buy food in bulk while re-using plastic bags. And sure, a decade later I became vegan and travelled only over ground via buses and trains, and yeah, I share an energy efficient two bedroom apartment, blow my nose into cloth napkins, wipe my washed hands on my jeans in public washrooms, and launder my cotton girl things. And blah blah blah buy local and organic, carry a mug, print double sided, think global act local ….

But maybe, despite all that, my promise to live true to my radicalized college values is fading? Maybe I’m compromising, settling into middle aged complacency? Am I fooling myself into thinking that, just because I’m now the proud owner of a groovy cool electric bike and soy milk making machine (two separate devices, though I hear that next year’s electric bikes will be equipped with soy latte technology), I can somehow feel good about the increase in my hydro bill? Am I just another of those green-washers, secretly hoping to make it to the end of my lifetime unscathed and leaving whatever mess to the next generation to contend with?

Because, if I really look at it, there’s those short plane rides between Mexico and Cuba I’ve taken the past couple of years, after hour upon hour of riding through the Excited States on a schoolbus, part of a humanitarian aid delivery to a small few of the millions of people affected by their foreign policy.

Higher electric bills, airplane rides to Cuba, and now this …. chauffering dogs to the forest for their daily walkies. Me and the Tar Sands, we’re national embarrassments.

But hey, it’s tough to stay on the enviro-track when people all over the world are excited because a global environmental meeting is scheduled to take place in Copenhagen, a few days AFTER the WTO meets in Geneva. Keep on occupying those federal offices, I say, keep on working the grass roots, keep on guilting hypocrites like me to get out of the car once in a while …. because the big guys’ economic plans will already be set in stone by the time their limos arrive at the cocktail party in Copenhagen.
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