Sunday, June 27, 2010

toronto: beyond a police state

A Facebook friend wrote recently - "Reports from B Channel News Reporter in downtown Toronto that the area is 'beyond a police state'. Over 500 arrests in the past 24 hours. Journalists being arrested for filming. Some folks hospitalized."

i'd rather live all my lifetimes in a dumpster and die hungry than receive one penny's pay for being a goon cop. good to know they're fighting for democracy in afghanistan, eh?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

this is what happens when bp spills coffee

i'm feelin' sorry for myself

It’s been six years and almost two months since I hit the pavement off my bike after being unable to avoid a van door that opened into my path. In those six plus years I’ve had regular chiropractic adjustments from a guy who shares my love for the wild earth, massage therapy from a free-spirited motorcycle riding RMT who loves to garden, and I’ve attended weekly Iyengar yoga classes with highly trained instructors plus I've completed a few intensive yoga workshops. I eat organic local and vegan, and supplement with calcium and vitamins when I feel it’s necessary.

All indications suggest that my back is strong and healthy, including some computer generated chiropractic images.

Maybe it’s connected to the seemingly perpetual heavy metal detox I began years ago after a kind and gentle dentist rescued my mouth from all the crap that had been poured into it previously. I dunno, but for whatever reason my lower back lumbar region, the precise area where I landed on the pavement all those years ago, has decided to remind me what it feels like after a serious bike crash. I’ve spent much of the past six years healing it, quite successfully, but the past 24 hours I’ve been flat on my back, or in gentle restorative yoga poses, watching silly movies like Open Season 2 and A Mighty Wind and wondering if this is some cruel joke from the universe, and trying not to think about all the summer fun events I’m missing.

It’s like the universe (I don’t happen to believe in “God,” rather I ascribe to the reality of evolutionary science which suggests we are all co-creators, collectively influencing the evolutionary process) is saying “ha – you thought you were such a fit 49 year old, well get a load of this.” As if my mid life crisis, inspired primarily from a close examination of the global mess we’re collectively stuck with thanks to a small handful of greedy and selfish capitalistas, isn’t enough to deal with.

The universe has a delightful sense of humour and one day, when it doesn't hurt to move, I'll share in it again.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Atomic Café

from Angela Bischoff

Not a moment too soon, THE ATOMIC CAFE is back to provide us with a much-needed release of comic energy. A dark comedy in the truest sense, this timeless classic took the nation by storm when it first debuted in 1982. The film recounts a defining period of 20th century history and serves as a chilling and often hilarious reminder of cold-war era paranoia in the United States--artfully presented through a collage of newsreel footage, government archives, military training films, and fifties music. Profoundly shocking and perversely topical, THE ATOMIC CAFE craftily captures a panicked nation, offering a fascinating and witty account of life during the atomic age and resulting cold war, when fall-out shelters, duck-and-cover drills, and government propaganda were all a part of our social consciousness. Regarded by critics as a nuclear Reefer Madness and likened to Stanley Kubricks Dr. Strangelove, this profoundly shocking and highly amusing film is a stunner, a gripping account of an unforgettable era and an indisputable must-see for all Americans.

Click here for Google Video

Sunday, June 20, 2010

the big FOUR NINE

It’s been a pleasant, informal birthday weekend – the big FOUR NINE. Egads, who’d ever thought that I, or anyone else on this war-torn and toxic endangered planet, would live this long?!! It’s the last year of my life, really, because what is there after this?! Decidedly too old to be considered good for much of anything, but too young still to be eligible for any significant discounts or special care. The next 15 years are some kind of nether-region, spoken of only in hushed tones … the official “mid life,” the twilight of years, the slow steady march towards OLD AGE and, inevitably, DEATH.

With that in mind I drank copiously from the sangria bowl Friday night, my right by birth and by the fact of my contributing the wine for it. I genuinely wished all my fellow party-goers, as they arrived, a “Happy Birthday” which confused them on many levels: firstly because it wasn’t a party I had called or organized, this wasn’t my house and these weren’t my guests (and I didn’t know them well), secondly because it wasn’t a birthday party at all but rather a slide show from the host’s recent pilgrimage along the Santiago trail in Northern Spain. My friend’s guests graciously indulged me with a boisterous “Happy Birthday” in return, and even a song, and they were, I’m sure, pleased that I didn’t attempt to narcissistically draw attention away from the slideshow presentation (though I had reminded them of my “special” day often enough).

Saturday I felt the gratitude of having living parents – for both the fact that they’re still alive, and selfishly so I could revel in the youth of my comparative years. We dined veganishly at the Lotus Pond with two friends also managing their own birthday crises, and then I sat on the lawn with my elder parents at the Beacon Hill bandshell watching talented dancers from various ethnic traditions, much younger than any of us, doing things we’d never now accomplish.

Some things transcend time and ethnicity, like “people watching,” which we did as we later sipped tea on the balcony of the Cook Village Moka House. And then my mom recognized a woman they knew years ago when they were still ball-room dancing, and sprinted like a young gazelle down the street to catch up with her.

I thought about what really matters in this world – like family, and friends, and the memories we create and share. I thought about how fortunate I am to be able to sit, in relative safety, at an outdoor café on a pleasantly warm summer afternoon, without the worry of armed militia interrupting my day, or massive oil sludge yet tarnishing our shores (though realizing it’s only a matter of time until perhaps both those scenarios play out in my own backyard).

Sunday I attended Quaker meeting and sat quietly meditating, and reading Lee Hall’s new book On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth in preparation for our radio chat Thursday. I admire and respect Lee’s ability to write clearly, and with simple sensibility. The non-human creatures of this planet deserve the right to live and thrive On Their Own Terms – not as human commodities, or even dependents. How can we evolve society to realize and reflect this? And of course Lee’s premise that being vegan is a fine starting place to think, theorize, and act, if we truly believe that no species ought to hold dominion over another.

I chatted with a few Quakers after the (relatively) silent hour ended – one who had written a page and a half longhand to Stephen Harper’s office denouncing the Israeli attack on peaceful civilians. Another who remembered feeling the discomfort of racism in Israel when he travelled alongside his black skinned wife there in the 70s. I spoke with Pedro, who organizes weekly Pasifika television shows that air on Shaw cable, and Pashta whose focus is to help the dying and their families find peace and solace. I was tempted to stay for the “Soup and Stories” hour but, uncertain of what the “food” comprised and having not brought anything to share, I returned to my little apartment space and wrote these words instead.

Happy Birthday to you, whenever and wherever you are. I hope your special day is peaceful too.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

lest we forget -- january, 2009, gaza

Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor in Gaza, tells Sky News that the number of civilians injured and killed in Gaza proves that Israel is deliberately attacking the population.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

aboard the mavi marmara .... some folks were able to smuggle out video, the israelis stole most of it

G8/G20 Toronto June 26 & 27th

as always, i'll continue to advocate peaceful non-violent resistance. it was a peaceful wall of resistance, not smashed windows, that shut down the wto in seattle in 1999. they have bigger weapons, bigger media, agents provocateurs .... we cannot win a violent revolution. that said, they sure piss me off and i do understand the anger ....

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gulf oil well disaster could mean explosive profits for Halliburton

The oil well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico could be a well-timed and profitable accident for Halliburton, the global oil company with the famous connection to former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. Just eight days before the uber-Valdez accident, Houston-based Halliburton acquired Boots & Coots Services, also based in Houston, in a $240 million cash and stock deal.

Boots & Coots, which uses the graphic of a burning oil well to represent the ampersand in its name, specializes in "pressure control and well intervention services." In other words, when an oil well explodes, Boots & Coots can step in and help remedy the problem. In a release, Jerry Winchester, Boots & Coots president and CEO, says "Combining the resources of both companies creates the premier intervention company across the globe.”

Read the full article here

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Habonim Dror Camp Miriam, Gabriola Island, BC

i'm here at camp miriam for a national campus/community (ncra) conference.

"Habonim Dror Camp Miriam, Gabriola Island, BC ... Camp Miriam is part of Habonim Dror, a youth movement which has 6 other camps in North America, and sister camps in 15 countries around the world."

here's what they say on their website ( about it:

Camp Miriam is a non-profit organization which has been operated by the Habonim Dror Labour Zionist Youth since 1948. Our philosophy is inspired by the ideology of Habonim Dror. We emphasize fun, sharing, inclusiveness, creativity, and responsiblity to the community. Each child is respected for his/her own unique traits and abilities. Campers come away from Camp Miriam with heightened self-esteem and a new Miriam family of friends.

here's what the moldy smelling bunk rooms look like (and other photos from our journey to get here). hopefully the other camps are in better shape (maybe they ran out of money for upgrades/cleaning?)

Local Activist Returns to Hero’s Welcome

Local Activist Kevin Neish arrived at Victoria International Airport Saturday night to a hero’s welcome after a 13 hour journey from Turkey.

Neish was one of over 600 people held in an Israeli prison for several days after the flotilla of aid ships they were traveling on were boarded and attacked by Israeli commandos.

The Israeli Defence Forces claim that the activists on board the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara had laid an ambush for Israeli soldiers; an accusation that those aboard the ships vigorously deny, claiming that they were acting in self defense.

Neish, who was on the Mavi Marmara when the IDF boarded, reiterates that defense, claiming that the slain aid workers he saw had been shot in the head at point blank range.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Victoria resident and long-time peace activist Kevin Neish shows smuggled photos from Gaza flotilla

For immediate release - June 6, 2010

Contact Steve Neish 250-478-3245
Kevin Neish 250-595-3991
Zoe Blunt 250-813-3569

Some of the photographs taken by Kevin Neish and smuggled out of Israel were published today on the Turkish news site Hurriyet, along with similar photos taken by his shipmates. Kevin will make a statement, discuss the photos, and answer questions Monday starting at 10:30 am at the Velox Rugby Club, 3957 Gordon Head Road just North of McKenzie St near UVic. Friends and family will be on hand and may also give interviews.

MP Denise Savoie is expected to pass along a comment on Canada's lack of response to the Israeli attack on the humanitarian convoy in international waters last Monday.

The photos show humanitarian aid workers leading captured commandos below decks, removing his weapons and treating his cuts. The commandos were released unharmed.

View the photographs here

Additional photos and a video here


Saturday, June 5, 2010


in case you're not familar with rachel corrie ....


For More Information, please contact:
Free Gaza Cyprus: Greta Berlin or Mary Hughes
tel: +357 99 187275 or +357 96 383 809, < >
Free Gaza Ireland: Niamh Moloughney
tel: +353 (0)85 7747257 or +353 (0)91 472279, < >
Perdana Global Peace Organisation, Malaysia: Ram Karthigasu
tel: +60 1222 70159, < >

(Off the Gaza coast, 5 JUNE) - Just before 9am GMT this morning, the Israeli military forcibly siezed the Irish-owned humanitarian relief ship, the MV Rachel Corrie, from delivering over 1000 tons of medical and construction supplies to besieged Gaza. For the second time in less then a week, Israeli naval commandos stormed an unarmed aid ship, brutally taking its passengers hostage and towing the ship toward Ashdod port in Southern Israel. It is not yet known whether any of the Rachel Corrie's passengers were killed or injured during the attack, but they are believed to be unharmed.

The Corrie carried 11 passengers and 9 crew from 5 different countires, mostly Ireland and Malaysia. The passengers included Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, Parit Member of the Malaysian Parliament Mohd Nizar Zakaria, and former UN Assistant Secretary General, Denis Halliday.  Nine international human rights workers were killed on Monday when Israeli commandos violently stormed the Turkish aid ship, Mavi Marmara and five other unarmed boats taking supplies to Gaza. Prior to being taken hostage by Israeli forces, Derek Graham, an Irish coordinator with the Free Gaza Movement, stated that: "Despite what happened on the Mavi Marmara earlier this week, we are not afraid.

The 1200-ton cargo ship was purchased through a special fund set up by former Malaysian Prime Minister and Perdana Global Peace Organisation (PGPO) chairman Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. The ship was named after an American human rights worker, killed in 2003 when she was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip. Its cargo included hundreds of tons of medical equipment and cement, as well as paper from the people of Norway, donated to UN-run schools in Gaza.

According to Denis Halliday: "We are the only Gaza-bound aid ship left out here. We’re determined to deliver our cargo.” The Rachel Corrie had been part of the Freedom Flotilla, a 40-nation effort to break through Israel's illegal blockade, before being forced to drop off late last week due to suspicious mechanical problems.

The attack on the Rachel Corrie may spell trouble for Israel's relationship with Ireland. The Irish government had formally requested Israel allow the ship to reach Gaza. On 1 June, the Irish parliament also passed an all-party motion condemning Israel's use of military force against civilian aid ships, and demanding "an end to the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza."

Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire summed up the hopes of this joint Irish-Malaysian effort to overcome Israel’s cruel blockade by saying: "We are inspired by the people of Gaza whose courage, love and joy in welcoming us, even in the midst of such suffering gives us all hope. They represent the very best of humanity, and we are all privileged to be given the opportunity to support them in their nonviolent struggle for human dignity, and freedom. This trip will again highlight Israel’s criminal blockade and illegal occupation. In a demonstration of the power of global citizen action, we hope to awaken the conscience of all."

Passengers aboard the Rachel Corrie include:
Ahmed Faizal bin Azumu, human rights worker, Malaysia
Matthias Chang, attorney, author & human rights worker, Malaysia
Derek Graham, Free Gaza Ireland
Jenny Graham, Free Gaza Ireland
Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General, Ireland
Mohd Jufri Bin Mohd Judin, journalist, Malaysia
Shamsul Akmar Musa Kamal, PGPO representative, Malaysia
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Ireland
Abdul Halim Bin Mohamed, journalist, Malaysia
Fiona Thompson, film-maker, Ireland
The Hon. Mohd Nizar Zakaria, Parit Member of Parliament, Malaysia

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Kevin Neish safely out of Israel, witnessed horrors on Mavi Marmara

from Zoe Blunt

Victoria peace activist Kevin Neish reports he barely escaped with his life when Israeli armed forces attacked a humanitarian aid flotilla in international waters on Monday morning.

Neish was aboard the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish vessel that was stormed by Israeli commandos in a brutal raid on unarmed civilians bringing medical supplies, school supplies, and construction materials to Gaza. He said he and other passengers had transferred from the Challenger II after it began taking on water in the Mediterranean on Friday.

Neish watched in horror as Israeli soldiers gunned down civilians from helicopters as the raid began, and he saw the bloody bodies of at least nine people killed on the Mavi Marmara. He flatly rejects allegations that people on the ship were armed or that they attacked the soldiers. A videotape produced by the IDF purports to show activists hitting the soldiers with sticks and stones, but its legitimacy is in question.

The Israelis kidnapped some 600 people bringing humanitarian aid to
Gaza, and held them in prison for two and a half days. Neish
witnessed the Israelis savagely beating Turkish activists. He said he
was "brutalized" by the officers, who left him and other passengers
tied up for 25 hours. His arms are deeply bruised by the plastic
handcuffs. His captors menaced him with assault rifles and attack
dogs.and repeatedly threatened to kill him. They would not allow Neish
or the other prisoners to sleep while they were in custody.

Neish was deported late Wednesday night and flown to Istanbul with the
last of the prisoners. His captors kept most of his belongings,
including his cell phone, identification, credit cards, and all his
cash. The Israelis returned only his passport and a few items of clothing.

Calling from the Istanbul airport on Wednesday night, Neish said a
crowd of 25,000 met the plane carrying the released prisoners and the
bodies of the nine Turks killed by the Israelis He said he is
considering staying in Turkey to attend the funerals of his former
shipmates, and he has not finalized his plans to return to Victoria.

Advocates for an end to the three-year-long Israeli blockade of Gaza
are calling on Canada to condemn Israel's kidnapping and murder of
peace activists. They are demanding an end to the occupation of Gaza
and renewed access to food, medical supplies, and the necessities of
life for the people of Gaza. The blockade has starved and impoverished
thousands of Palestinians in the occupied territory.

A demonstration is planned in Victoria this Saturday, June 5 at 11 am.
Details to follow.