September 23, 2009

Why did the NDP concede the high ground to the Liberals?
By James Laxer
| September 20, 2009
For three quarters of a century Canadian social democrats have been working to make their movement and party into a major political force in Canada, a force that can actually compete effectively for power in Ottawa.
Never have the conditions for the NDP to move to major party status been more favourable than they are today. (Don’t quote polls to me. They’ve been all over the place, and pre-election polls aren’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.)
The Harper government is wretchedly unpopular with a majority of Canadians. It is hanging on to its right-wing base, but cannot grow beyond that. The Liberals are led by a man whose instinctual response to every issue is to turn to the right. A believer in the benign character of the American Empire, he’s done this for years on Afghanistan. He did it on the coalition when he walked away from the chance to install a progressive government last January with himself at the helm. And over the past year, he’s repeatedly failed to come up with sweeping new ideas to cope with the economic crisis and to offer a platform that addresses the needs of Canadians. When he walked away from the coalition and supported the Harper government in return for the issuing of a few report cards, Ignatieff made it evident that he offers Canadians nothing new.
Meanwhile, over the past year, Jack Layton grew in political stature. His role in launching the coalition was masterful. It was Ignatieff who abandoned this progressive initiative not Jack Layton. As the months went by the NDP was making itself the real alternative to Stephen Harper. It was the right approach and it was working. (It’s true that a much more public assault on the failed economics of neo-liberalism would have helped.)
The move this week to vote confidence in the government was wrong-headed. The NDP has abandoned the high ground to the Liberals on the central question of who is leading the fight against the Harper government. From now on, the Liberals will vote against the government at every turn in parliament, and the NDP will have to prop up the Conservatives until the changes to EI it favours are passed into law. (Gilles Duceppe has announced that the Conservatives won’t be able to count on him for future votes.)
By the time the next opportunity to defeat the government comes along in the winter or spring, the Ignatieff Liberals will be rhetorically entrenched on the high ground — substantively they offer nothing — while the NDP is reduced to a minor player whose job is to sustain the Harperites who loath social democrats.
The coming months are going to be difficult ones for Canadian families and communities as the rate of unemployment rises and the bite of the economic crisis is more deeply felt.
The Harper government is set to lose the next election. Had the NDP stuck to its role as the unwavering opponent of the Conservatives, the party could have gained enormously. More important, the party could have offered the country the prospect of real change.


Unfortunately, technical problems prevented us from airing an on-air interview with May Yan, director of the University of Waterloo bookstore, and her staff. Sincerest apologies! However, we had Dr Leslie Howsam, in the studio and her expertise is the history of the book. We covered the Expresso Book Machine, one of which is located at the University of Waterloo. You can hear the interview here

Also, to see the Expresso Book Machine in action, view a video here

In the studio: Dr Leslie Howsam is a historian of the book and of print culture, with research interests focusing on Britain from the eighteenth to the twentieth century.
She is one of the leading scholars in Canada in this field, and currently serves as President of the Canadian Association for the Study of Book Culture/Association canadienne pour l’étude de l’histoire du livre.
and Vice-President of the International Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing.



G20 Third Day of Protests

Sunday: March for Jobs

Monday: “Organizing the global struggle for jobs & workers rights”
workshop at the Tent City

Occupants of the Bail Out the People Movement Tent City will be marching from Freedom Corner (the intersection of Centre Avenue and Crawford Street) to the Mellon Corporation Headquarters (500 Grant Street) at 4:30 to demand a national moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. Participants in the march will include homeless and unemployed people from across the U.S., trade union activists, community organizers and local residents.

The Tent City kicked off Sunday with a spirited March for Jobs, with more than 1,000 protesters marching through the streets of Pittsburgh in the first G-20-related demonstration. Carrying hundreds of placards bearing the image of Dr. Martin Luther King, and slogans such as “Fight for the right to a job,” the long march was enthusiastically greeted on the streets of Pittsburgh by Sunday worshipers getting out of church, many of whom joined the march.

Rev. Thomas E. Smith, pastor of Monumental Baptist Church and one of the organizers of the march, told the rally, “We must tell the G-20 leaders that we reject the notion of a jobless recovery. An economic recovery that leaves unemployment in the double digits adds insult to injury to all who have lost their jobs and their homes during this terrible economic crisis, both in this country and around the world.”

Buses of protesters came from New York, Rhode Island, Detroit, Cleveland, and other places. Vans and cars and caravans came from literally every part of the country, as far away as Boston, Florida and Los Angeles. Joining the many who came from out of town were a large turnout of Pittsburgh residents, especially those who live in the historic African-American section of Pittsburgh called the Hill district, where the march was mounted from.

The end of the march was Freedom Corner, near downtown Pittsburgh, where there is a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders and activists. Amongst the many speakers at Sunday’s rally were: Pam Africa, International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; Nellie Bailey, Harlem Tenants Council; Rakhee Devastali, Feminist Students United, UNC-Chapel Hill; Oscar Hernandez, participant in the 11-month Stella D’Oro bakery strike in New York City;Sandra Hines, Mich. Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions; Larry Holmes, Bail Out the People Movement; John Parker, Bail Out the People Movement activist, who brought a van of people from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh; Fred Redmond, vice-president, United Steelworkers; Lynne Stewart, civil rights attorney, target of government repression; Brenda Stokely and Jennifer Jones, NYC Coalition in Solidarity with Katrina/Rita Survivors; Clarence Thomas, ILWU Local 10, San Francisco and Million Worker March Movement; Victor Toro, an immigrant facing deportation with the May 1st Coalition for Immigrant and Workers Rights; Rosemary Williams, homeowner fighting foreclosure in Minnesota; and Rev. Bruce Wright, Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign.

After the march and rally, hundreds of protesters returned to the rally’s beginning point, Monumental Baptist Church in the Hill district, and began to prepare their tents to prepare to live in a tent city dedicated to the unemployed of the world that will stand next to the church for the entire week of the G-20 summit.

The tent city is full of tents and hundreds of residents. Organizers expect the population of the tent city to grow as the opening of the G-20summit grows closer. Throughout all three days of the Tent City, local Pittsburgh residents have been coming by to donate food and water and to express their support for the demand for a real jobs program.

A full schedule of the various forums and teach-ins that will take place at the tent city each day is available online at

Support the March for Jobs & Tent City in Pittsburgh – Donate here.


Media Coverage


Eighty-six days after he was summarily kidnapped and forced out of the country by the military, and on his third attempt to return, ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya appeared at the Brazilian embassy in the capital city of Tegucigalpa on Monday morning. Hondurans flooded into the streets to support his return, to which the coup regime responded by instituting a curfew. When thousands of Hondurans refused to adhere to return to their homes, the regime resorted to brute force.
Produced by Jesse Freeston.
View the video report here.

Óscar Estrada is a filmmaker and radio producer from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. He works with the organization Arte Acción, and has written several screenplays for narrative films and documentaries. Oscar splits his time between Honduras and the U.S., where he is an associate producer for May I Speak Freely Media, a project that produces media on human rights issues in Honduras.
You can find Óscar’s updates on the Honduran coup on Adrienne Pine’s website.

Sandra Cuffe is an independent journalist and photographer from Montréal, Canada. She contributes regularly to The Dominion magazine in Canada, and Latin American political newsletter, Upside Down World.
You can find her photos from Honduras here.



Abousfian Abdelrazik & Project Fly Home Montreal in Windsor Oct. 7

Mr. Abdelrazik and members of Project Fly Home are on a national speaking tour and will address a meeting hosted by Windsor Peace Coalition and the Unitarian Universalists of Windsor Region
at the University of Windsor on October 7th. A poster for the event is attached. Everyone is welcome.

Time: 7:00 pm., Wednesday October 7
Place: Oak Room, Vanier Hall, University of Windsor (Wyandotte and Huron Church)
Abousfian Abdelrazik, recently returned from 6 years of forced exile
in Sudan, will be on tour across Quebec and eastern Canada, from the
24th of September to the 17th of October, accompanied by members of
Project Fly Home.

The tour is sponsored nationally by the Canadian
Labour Congress
(CLC), Council of Canadians, Council on
American-Islamic Relations – Canada
(CAIRCAN), International Civil
Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), and the National Campus and
Community Radio Association

Abousfian Abdelrazik, like Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, Muayyed
Nureddin and Maher Arar, is another victim of a racist national
security agenda that has gained so much ground in Canada over the past

On the recommendation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service
(CSIS), Abdelrazik was jailed and imprisoned while on a visit to Sudan
in 2003. Never charged, Abdelrazik was beaten, threatened and tortured
during two periods of detention. In this context, he was questioned by

Prevented by the Canadian government from returning home to Canada, he
went public with his story and took refuge in the Canadian Embassy in
Khartoum, where he remained for more than one year.

It took a groundswell from people across Canada, as well as legal action,
to finally bring about his return and reunion with his children in
Montreal on June 27, 2009.

After six harrowing years in exile, Abdelrazik is home — but his
struggle is not over. In 2006, without his knowledge and with no
opportunity to respond, Abdelrazik’s name was placed on the UN’s “1267
List”. This Kafka-esque list imposes a travel ban and total asset
freeze on listed individuals. Canadian regulations implementing the
1267 List prohibit anyone from providing Abdelrazik with any material
aid – including salary, loans of any amount, food or clothing.

On tour with Project Fly Home, Abdelrazik will speak about his
experiences and his on-going struggle for justice, as he seeks to
re-establish a normal life in Canada. These community gatherings will
be a chance to hear his story, as well as an opportunity to strategize
together about how to make real changes to the structures which allow
this to happen.


About Project Fly Home (an initiative of the People’s Commission Network):
go to
Local Hosts : or


Cinema Politica UWindsor and its Partners Present:

A Documentary Film by Academy Award Nominee Leslie Iwerks

At the heart of the multi-billion dollar Tar Sands oil industry in Alberta, a doctor’s career is jeopardized as he fights for the lives of the aboriginal people living and dying of rare cancers downstream from one of the most polluting oil operations in the world.

With a presentation by:

Tony Clarke,

Director of the Polaris Institute

Thursday, September 24th

7 p.m. Erie Hall 1120 University of Windsor Campus

Free Admission Open to the Public Donations accepted

Tony Clarke is the founder and director of the Polaris Institute in Ottawa, an organization dedicated to developing tools and strategies for civic action on major public policy issues, including energy security, water rights and free trade. He holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago, is a critically acclaimed book author, and is the recipient of Sweden’s Right Livelihood Award, the “alternative Nobel Prize.” Among his most recent books is Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water, with Maude Barlow.

The Shakeup Wednesday Sept. 16, 2009

Music featured on the program:

Raygun Cowboys

“Devil on my Mind”

“Dead King’s Rise”

Rick Taylor: Clown River

“Ocean Avenue”

The new UWindsor Chapter of Cinema Politica is pleased to announce its inaugural screening, Myths For Profit, on Canadian foreign policy, Thursday September 17, 7 pm, in 1120 EH. Yves Engler, author of The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, will make a presentation and take questions. Admission is free and open to the public.

Cinema Politica UWindsor Presents:

A Documentary Film by Amy Miller of Montreal

‘MYTHS FOR PROFIT’ is a dramatic, exposé documentary which explores ‘Canada’s role in Industries of War and Peace’. What are the motives and who gains by promoting misconceptions about our foreign policy. Only by breaking down these myths can we hope to understand how these systems of power operate, and help empower people across Canada to change them.

With a presentation by:

Yves Engler,

Author of The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy

Thursday, September 17th

7 p.m. Erie Hall 1120 University of Windsor Campus

Free Admission Open to the Public Donations accepted

In association with: The Council of Canadians, Windsor Essex, Windsor Peace Coalition, OPIRG Windsor

Dr. James Winter,
Professor of Communication, Media & Film,
University of Windsor,
Ontario Canada

Commentary: Paul Chislett
It’s hard to not overstate the dire straits this country is in. The electoral system doesn’t meet the needs of a multi-party political reality, the country is gripped by a warmongering and racist government, and the corporate and political elites control the media and when there will be an election – or not. As if this all were not enough, the working class in this country has no consciousness of its own potential and power. This sad state of affairs doesn’t need to be. There are many good reasons to bring down the Harper regime: the war in Afghanistan, the Tar Sands, racist actions toward immigrants and Canadian citizes who were born in other countries.

Jack Layton and the NDP is failing to stand up for the working class. The party is on the slow march to extinction and the working class in this country had better be ready to become a political force or else the liberal/conservative coalition will continue, the slaughter in Afghanistan will continue and the country and its assets will be further stripped down and sold off – just look at Nortel and the fight former employees are in for their pensions. The war in Afghanistan should be the number one election issue. The billions the Harper government is pouring into the Afghan mess should be an affront to every citizen. As well, that billions in “stimulus” money is made available to capitalists who may hire some people at minimum wage with no benefits, should be called for what it is: corporate welfare. The scraps Harper is making available in EI as a toss to Layton is outrageous political manipulation that anyone can see through. The working class of this country need direct income support, a public pension plan, publicly funded tuition, and a real worker created plan to transition from an industrial/consumer spending economy to ne which produces what people actually need in a way that doesn’t destroy the planet.

Come on Jack! Leaders lead so show us you can or get out of our way!

Separatists + socialists + coalition = Framing 101
Harper scores, everyone else loses when he sets the terms for debate. (And don’t even think about a trade elephant.)
Dateline: Tuesday, September 15, 2009
by Ish Theilheimer
Once again, Stephen Harper has shown he is a champion at framing the debate.
It wasn’t just the now-infamous Sault Ste. Marie speech where Harper twinned “separatists and socialists” as the real threat in a coalition government. Some people speculate that Conservatives, not a Liberal, were responsible for leaking the video, because it gets their message out so effectively.
Harper has used the “separatists and socialists” line repeatedly in public for months, so it clearly isn’t the case that he’s trying to keep his contempt for the Bloc secret from Quebeckers. This reality weakens the theory the video was leaked.

Layton is taking a hammering from commentators about playing footsie with the Harperites after lambasting the Liberals for the same sin.
The Prime Minister has played the Liberal leader like a hungry fish-pond yearling. First Harper goaded Ignatieff into risky threats, which the neophyte leader made without covering his flank. Then, Harper got Ignatieff to repeat Harper’s own frame, over and over, in denying accusations.
Last week, Ignatieff was thrown off message by reporters’ questions at a news conference on EI asking whether he would support a coalition. Ignatieff took the bait and went on at length about his dislike of coalitions, sort of like Richard Nixon’s famous “I am not a crook” speech. He should have ducked the questions and stayed on course with EI.
Michael Ignatieff has shown questionable political judgement on more than one occasion. Buying into Harper’s anti-separatist line is a good example. The Liberals need Quebec more than anyone. If Ignatieff cannot make the distinction between Quebec separatism and nationalism — and help other anglo Canadians do so — he has no more hope than Harper there.
Most of all, if Ignatieff continues to discuss Harper’s issues in Harper’s terms, he has no hope of changing the subject to whatever it is that’s on his mind — which hasn’t, to date, been all that clear.
The NDP’s Jack Layton has his own framing issues. Last week, he referred to an election as a “head-butting exercise”, thereby feeding into the conservative frame that all politicians are bad. And Layton is the person who is really on the hot seat now.
On Monday, Layton indicated in a terse two-paragraph intervention — with no questions taken — that he is likely to let the Conservatives govern a while in exchange for the extremely modest concessions Harper has made on employment insurance. The Conservatives’ EI proposals are worth little. They don’t help many of the groups most hurt by the economic crisis — young workers, immigrants and women.
If Layton lets Harper govern much longer, there’s no end to the odious legislation and pork barrel appointments the Harperites can be expected to ram through. The odious Colombia trade treaty springs to mind
So it’s time for Layton to do some fast framing. At the moment, he’s taking a terrible hammering from commentors (and the Liberals) about playing footsie with the Conservatives after repeatedly blasting the Liberals for the same sin.
Lacking an undertaking from Harper to stick to less controversial measures — hardly likely — the NDP should get ready for battle ASAP and come up with a resounding battle cry that sounds more like a vision and an urgent call to action and less like a strategic message.
Without belabouring the coalition theme, which Straight Goods has been hammering since before almost anyone, Layton urgently needs to talk about his vision for Canada and Canadians. The details of this vision need to be framed as preconditions — not merely coalition bullet points — for cooperation with other parties in the next government. And he needs to get out there and sell his message to the public.
For example, Layton could say: “We encourage other parties, and all Canadians, to join our fight for nothing less than survival of life as we know it in Canada and on Planet Earth. We’ve got to make polluters and resource users pay for their damage and change wasteful ways. We have to crack down on greedy speculation and usury, hanky panky with workers’ pensions, and the sell-off of Canadian resources. We need win/win trade arrangements, not stacked decks. We must put money into human infrastructure — training, education, health care. We must truly commit to fairness and equality for all. This is a Canadian agenda for survival.”
Compare that kind of speech to what the NDP have been saying lately: “Elect more of us so we can make Parliament work, hold the other parties to account, etc…” A real call to arms might motivate more people to get talking and actually go to the polls and vote.
Motivating people is not easy in a news environment dominated by the polling horse race, but if the NDP could frame an election that was really about issues and ideas — instead of “head-butting” — that would be a good start.
p.s. Another note on framing, for the NDP, which is still fighting to stop the proposed trade deal with Colombia: Fighting the deal on basis of human rights abuses, historic and current, in a far-away place may not be nearly as effective as going back to basics. Deals like NAFTA or the original 1988 trade deal between Canada and the USA are intended to bolster corporate rights. They have proven as bad for Canadian workers and our sytem of government as the NDP – and the Liberals, back in 1988 – predicted. (Now the Liberals refer to this sort of opposition as “ideological.” It’s fine to rally opposition to the Colombia deal on the basis of rights abuses and atrocities in Colombia, but what Canadians will care more about is what these deals have done to their own way of life. And although the government calls it “free trade,” NDPers and trade unionists are ill-advised to ever use use those two words in combination. Don’t even think about this particular elephant, please, as George Lakoff might advise.
Ish Theilheimer has been Publisher of the leading, and oldest, independent Canadian online newsmagazine,, since founding it in September 1999. He is also Managing Editor of He lives wth his wife Kathy in Golden Lake, ON, in the Ottawa Valley.
Americas Program Special Report
FASINPAT: A Factory that Belongs to the People
Marie Trigona | September 3, 2009
Americas Program, Center for International Policy (CIP)

The workers at Argentina’s largest worker-controlled factory are celebrating a definitive legal solution to a nine-year struggle for the right to work and workers’ self-determination. The provincial legislature of Neuquén voted in favor of expropriating the Zanon ceramics factory giving the workers’ cooperative FASINPAT the right to manage the plant definitively. Since the workers occupied Zanon in 2001, they have successfully set up a system of workers’ management, created jobs, duplicated production of ceramics, supported community projects, and spearheaded a network of over 200 recuperated enterprises. Zanon, renamed FASINPAT or Factory Without a Boss, can now continue production without threat of eviction from their factory.

Zanon Belongs to the People, Support the Workers.
Zanon, still Latin America’s largest ceramics manufacturer, is located in the Patagonian province of Neuquén, a region with rich working class traditions, history, and mystique surrounding the red desert, rich forests, and crystalline lakes. The workers officially declared the factory under worker control in October 2001 following a lockout of the factory bosses.
In Argentina, more than 13,000 people work in occupied factories and businesses, otherwise known as recuperated enterprises. The sites, which number more than 200, range from hotels, to ceramics factories, to balloon manufacturers, to suit factories, to printing shops, and transport companies, as well as many other trades. Most of the occupations occurred following the nation’s 2001 economic crisis when unemployment rates soared above 25% and poverty levels hovered over 50%. Zanon, as one of the largest and foremost factory occupations, became a symbol for millions of workers who lost their jobs during the worst economic crisis in Argentina’s history, in which thousands of factories shut down. The cooperative has proved that factories can produce without a boss.
Legal Victory
At a little past midnight on August 13, the legislature, controlled by the right-wing party the Popular Movement of Neuquén (MPN), voted for the law to expropriate the Zanon ceramics factory. The expropriation law passed 26 votes in favor and nine votes against the bill. Thousands of supporters from other workers’ organizations, human rights groups, and social movements, along with entire families and students, joined the workers as they waited outside the provincial legislature in the capital city of Neuquén. Many activists from Buenos Aires travelled 619 miles to Neuquén to support FASINPAT’s fight for the expropriation law, including workers from the worker-run Brukman suit factory, occupied Hotel BAUEN, rank-and-file union representatives from the subway system, and public hospital employees.
“When we found out that they were going to vote, we called our supporters. About 3,500 people participated in the protest including social movements, human rights organizations, teachers, unionists,” said Jorge Bermuda, a veteran worker at the factory in an interview with the CIP Americas Program in Buenos Aires. Despite strong Patagonian desert winds, hundreds waited for the final legislative decision, huddled around bonfires. As the legislation voted, supporters watched from a screen transmitting outside the government building. Onlookers gathered in awe and immediately joined in to celebrate with the workers without bosses. Burly ceramists in their beige work clothes and blue jackets with the embroidered FASINPAT logo embraced each other in tears and joy, releasing the grief and happiness of the long struggle for control of the factory.
“This is incredible, we are so happy. The expropriation is an act of justice,” said Alejandro Lopez the general secretary of the Ceramists Union, overwhelmed by the emotion of the victory. “We don’t forget the people who supported us in our hardest moments, or the 100,000 people who signed the petition supporting our bill.”
The workers credited the community’s support for making the objective of expropriation become a reality. “The vote wasn’t only the victory of the 470 workers at Zanon, or the original 150 who took over the plant, but the victory of an entire community that gave their support,” said Bermuda. During the debate on the bill, deputy representatives took note of the fact that over half the population supports the factory expropriation in hands of the workers.
Aside from a political victory, the expropriation of the Zanon plant sets a legal precedent for terms of legislation in favor of other workers’ cooperatives that have taken control of businesses closed down by their owners. The bill voted in Neuquén is the first expropriation without reimbursement by workers; the state will pay privileged creditors Luis Zanon’s debt of 22 million pesos (around $7 million). The main creditors include the World Bank, which gave a loan of $20 million to Luis Zanon for the construction of the plant, and Italian company SACMY, which produces state-of-the-art ceramics manufacturing machinery and is owed $5 million. These interests were pressuring Argentina’s judicial system to auction off the plant to pay off the debts.
Although previous expropriation bills have passed locally, no expropriation law has made it to vote on the national level, meaning workers’ cooperatives must assume the debt left by the previous business firm. In return for this agreement, FASINPAT agreed to sell materials to the province at cost.
The Zanon workers argued that the government should not pay Luis Zanon’s debts, saying that courts have proven that the creditors participated in the fraudulent bankruptcy of the plant in 2001 because the credits went directly to the owner Luis Zanon and not to investments into the factory.
“If someone should pay, Luis Zanon should pay, who is being charged with tax evasion,” said Omar Villablanca from FASINPAT. The FASINPAT collective presented a previous expropriation bill, from which the current law passed was adopted, that would have cancelled the debt to creditors. More than 100,000 people signed the petition to get this bill passed.
Roots of Zanon

Union of ceramic workers and employees of Neuquén. Photo: Obreros de Zanon.
The massive factory, spanning several city blocks, was built in an isolated industrial park along Route 7, a highway leading into the capital city of Neuquén. The Zanon ceramics plant was inaugurated in 1980, three years before the nation came out of the nightmare of the dictatorship that ruled the nation with terror from 1976-1983. Officers from the military dictatorship and Italian diplomats presided over the ceremony, which included blessings from a Monsignor of the Catholic Church. Luis Zanon, or Luigi, thanked the military government “for the atmosphere of security and tranquility that the Armed Forces have provided since they took charge on March 24, 1976.” That fateful date in 1976 marked the beginning of one of the bloodiest eras for Argentina, in which the military terrorized the nation and forcefully disappeared 30,000 workers, activists, and students.
Conditions inside Zanon previous to the workers’ occupation led to an average of 25-30 accidents per month and one fatality per year. In the years of Zanon’s production, 14 workers died inside the factory. Former management enforced rules to divide workers and prevent communication among ceramists as a way of controlling union organizing independent from company interests. Many workers recount how they had to organize clandestinely to win control of the union.
Carlos Villamonte participated in the efforts to win rank-and-file union seats, organizing secretly in the late 90s. “It was very difficult to win back the internal union at the factory because we had to do it clandestinely. The company had a very repressive system. They didn’t let you in another sector, talk with fellow workers, or even use the bathroom freely. Many times we had to communicate by passing notes under the tables in the cafeteria or walking through each sector making secret times and places to meet. We found ways to evade the bosses’ and bureaucratic union’s control.” One such way was forming a ceramists’ soccer team. Between practices, games, and tournaments, workers were able to strategize how to win shop-floor union representation.
After the rank-and-file workers’ union movement at the factory won control of the ceramists union in 1998, the struggle culminated with a bosses’ lockout in 2001. The workers were fired and the factory closed down—still owed severance pay and millions in unpaid salaries. This led to a workers’ protest camp outside the plant. While the workers were camping outside the factory, a court ruled that the employees could sell off remaining stock. After the stock ran out, on March 2, 2002, the workers’ assembly voted to start up production without a boss. Many at the plant believe that the rank-and-file workers’ movement gaining control of the union catapulted the fired workers into occupying the factory and starting up production after the company closed the doors.
Future of Autogestión
Autogestión obrera—workers’ self-management—implies that a community or group makes its own decisions, especially those decisions that fit into the process of production and planning. One of the major feats of Zanon was putting into production a massive beast of a factory with an organization based on equality and democracy without trained professional managers, punitive systems, or hierarchical organization.

FASINPAT wokers celebrate the passing of the law to expropriate the Zanon ceramics
factory. Photo: Obreros de Zanon.
The FASINPAT collective grew from 250 workers to 470. They began by producing 5,000 sq. meters of ceramics a month when they first occupied the plant in 2001. They soon managed to increase their production to 14,000 sq. meters a month. By 2008, FASINPAT produced 400,000 sq. meters a month, a record for worker control at the factory.
Although they continue to have the capacity to produce at those levels, demand has dropped lately, leading to the decision to adjust production levels. “In 2009, because of the crisis, we’ve dropped production to 250,000 sq. meters a month,” explains Bermuda, who participates in technical planning at the plant.
Due to the crisis and slumping construction industry in the region, sales of ceramics have dropped by 40%. Unlike, their capitalist counterparts, the FASINPAT worker enterprise has taken on the task of cutting costs, not personnel. “We now have the legal aspect resolved, now we have to resolve production and fight for energy subsidies,” said Omar Villablanca, a young worker at Zanon who was recently voted general secretary of the provincial-wide ceramists union. He visited Buenos Aires shortly after the victory to provide support for workers on strike at the Terrabusi cookie corporation who are fighting against lay-offs and voluntary pay cuts. “Factories that shut down are generally the result of a management that doesn’t want to invest a peso of profits toward saving jobs.”
A major challenge now to worker-run factories will be to devise production plans to respond to uncertain markets. Zanon’s legalized status will allow the workers to focus on production and implementing technology. But they don’t plan to eliminate their worker training programs. The factory assembly, which is the decision-making body at the plant, has voted to start up a primary school and high school for workers who weren’t able to finish schooling. More than half of the workers at Zanon do not have their high school degrees. “We are working to train our workers. Primary and secondary school are one aspect. The next step would be to prepare a few compañeros to go to university for engineering, or whatever they would like to study.”
In a 2004 article on Zanon, researcher on Latin American social movements Raúl Zibechi wrote, “The ex-Zanon workers hope that the Argentine government will decide to recognize their status and let them continue to operate under their own control.” Many experts researching the role of the government and its persistent refusal to recognize that Argentina’s 200 recuperated enterprises had created over 10,000 jobs, predicted that a definitive legal solution would take years, and it did. As a writer who has followed the development of workers’ self-management at Zanon, I also shared the disbelief, joy, and emotion at the good news.
In over nine years of legal battles and uncertainty, the workers running Zanon were able to create more than 200 jobs; build health clinics and homes for families in need; donate ceramics to hundreds of cultural centers, libraries, and community projects; support strike funds for workers fighting for better working conditions; build a network of social movements; devise a democratic assembly and coordinating system within the factory that replaced hierarchy; not to mention successfully run a factory that the previous owner wanted to close for good, imagine what they can do now.
At Zanon, workers constantly use the slogan: “Zanon es del pueblo” or Zanon belongs to the people. The workers have gone to great efforts to ensure that the community benefits from worker control at the factory.
“I feel as if the law is our contribution to the working class, it’s our grain of sand for workers to recuperate hopes that they can change things,” said Raul Godoy, a worker and steadfast activist from the factory. While other recuperated enterprises are fighting eviction threats and other legal challenges, they can now look to the FASINPAT collective as a beacon of success. And other workers who are facing firings will be more inspired to follow the example of the Zanon workers of running their own factories and putting them at the service of the people.
Marie Trigona is a journalist based in Argentina and writes regularly for the Americas Program ( She can be reached at mtrigona(a)
To reprint this article, please contact The opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the CIP Americas Program or the Center for International Policy.

For More Information
Another World is Possible: The Ceramics of Zanon
Recuperated Enterprises in Argentina: Reversing the Logic of Capitalism
Argentine Social Movements: Taking Matters into Their Own Hands


New Music on CJAM

73 A Day To Remember Homesick Victory
476 Anti-Pop Consortium Flourescent Black Big Dada
67 Anvil *
This Is Thirteen VH1 Classics
77 Arise And Ruin *
Night Storms Hailfire Victory
722 Baaba Maal Television Palm
583 Ben Spencer’s Funeral *
Saboteurs ind
581 Big Rude Jake *
Quicksand ind
584 Bloodshot Bill *
Git High Tonite! Transistor 66
863 Boredoms Super Roots 10 Thrill Jockey
800 Brandi Disterheft *
Second Side Justin Time
580 Chislers, The *
Traction ind
58 Codes In The Clouds Paper Canyon Erased Tapes
69 Corpus Christi The Darker Shades Of White Victory
60 Cougar Patriot Counter
41 Cousins *
Out On Town Youth Club
477 Crown City Rockers The Day After Forever Gold Dust
68 Darkest Hour The Eternal Return Victory
42 Die Mannequin *
Fino Plus Bleed Warner
65 Dying Fetus Descend Into Depravity Relapse
74 Emmure Felony Victory
50 Ettes, The The Ettes Take Root
66 Every Time I Die New Junk Aesthetic Epitaph
76 Farewell To Freeway *
Only Time Will Tell Victory
372 Forgotten Arm, The Fights The Devil For Control Of The Universe ind
373 Joakim Milky Ways !K7
56 Jody Glenham *
Focus Pull ind
52 Julie Fader *
Outside In Hand-Drawn Dracula
585 Julie Peel Near The Sun American Laundromat
719 Kailash Kher & Kailasa Yatra (Nomadic Souls) Cumbancha
475 Kid Cudi Man On The Moon: The End Of Day Universal
59 Le Loup Family Hardly Art
376 Lusine A Certain Distance Ghostly International
582 Marigolds, The *
That’s The State I’m In ind
49 Mum Sing Along To Songs You Don’t Know Euphono
55 Nightwood *
Carta Marina ind
371 Off The International Radar *
Hot Lips Hand-Drawn Dracula
75 Otep Smash The Control Machine Victory
48 Owen New Leaves Polyvinyl
54 Pens Hey Friend! What You Doing De Stijl
47 Port O’Brien Threadbare tbd
61 Quixote Quixote ind
51 Rifles, The Great Escape Nettwerk
720 Sarazino Ya Foy! Cumbancha
865 Science Fiction Corporation Dance With Action B-Music
64 Shudder To Think Live From Home Team Love
57 Sidewalks, The *
Better Late Than Never Sandbar
374 Signer Next We Bring You The Fire Carpark
63 Slaraffenland We’re On Your Side Hometapes
46 Soulsavers Broken Columbia
43 Action, The *
Complete Punk Recordings 1977-1978 Sudden Death
70 Autumn Offering, The
Requiem Victory
44 Spores, The *
News Weather And Spores Sudden Death
375 U.S.E. Loveworld ind
478 US3 Stop. Think. Run ind
864 Vampires Of Dartmoore, The Dracula’s Music Cabinet B-Music
53 Vivian Girls Everything Goes Wrong In The Red
721 Waitiki 7, The Adventures In Paradise Pass Out
479 Wax Tailor In The Mood For Life Le Plan
71 Within The Ruins Creature Victory
72 Wretched The Exodus Of Autonomy Victory
62 York Redoubt *
York Dedoubt Noyes

CJAM’s move to 99.1 FM has been confirmed for October 6th, 2009!!!

At midnight on Monday October 5th CJAM will cease broadcasting at 91.5 FM and begin the installation of a new antenna.  We expect to be off the air for a few days, so later that week CJAM will begin a new era of community radio at 99.1 FM.  The only thing changing is the frequency, CJAM will continue to broadcast the unique blend of hyper-local alternative radio that you’ve come to expect from Windsor-Detroit’s only community radio station.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The ShakeUp

September 09, 2009

CJAM 91.5 Windsor, Ontario


Music on the show:

Artist: Slow Down, Molasses CD: I’m an Old Believer

Track 7: I’m an Old Believer

Artist: Michael Jerome Browne

CD: This Beautiful Mess

Track 4: This War Will End


Michael Moore’s ‘Capitalism’ Flick Rips into Crimes of Wall Street

By Xan Brooks, The Guardian. Posted September 9, 2009.

Moore’s latest documentary drew tumultuous applause at the Venice film festival, suggesting that the veteran tub-thumper has lost none of his power to whip up a response.

The bankrobbers caught on camera at the start of Capitalism: A Love Story are a forlorn and feeble bunch. We see a bedraggled old man in a Hawaiian shirt, and what looks to be a 12-year-old boy wearing a balaclava. For all their flailing efforts, they’ve got nothing on the real crooks: the banking CEOs who recently absconded with $700bn of public money, no strings attached. That’s what’s known as a clean getaway.

Michael Moore‘s latest documentary drew tumultuous applause at the Venice film festival, suggesting that the veteran tub-thumper has lost none of his power to whip up a response. If the film finally lacks the clean, hard punch provided by the record-breaking Fahrenheit 9/11, that can only be because the crime scene is so vast and the culprits so numerous.

Undeterred, Moore jabs his finger at everyone from Reagan to Bush Jr, Hank Paulson to Alan Greenspan. He drags the viewer through a thicket of insurance scams, sub-prime bubbles and derivative trading so wilfully obfuscatory that even the experts can’t explain how it works.

The big villain, of course, is capitalism itself, which the film paints as a wily old philanderer intent on lining the pockets of the few at the expense of the many. America, enthuses a leaked Citibank report, is now a modern-day “plutonomy” where the top 1% of the population control 95% of the wealth. Does Barack Obama’s election spell an end to all this? The director has his doubts, pointing out that Goldman Sachs – depicted here as the principal agent of wickedness – was the largest private contributor to the Obama campaign.

Capitalism: A Love Story is by turns crude and sentimental, impassioned and invigorating. It posits a simple moral universe inhabited by good little guys and evil big ones, yet the basic thrust of its argument proves hard to resist.

Crucially, Moore (or at least his researchers) has done a fine job in ferreting out the human stories behind the headlines. None of these is so horrifyingly absurd as the tale of the privatised youth detention centre in Pennsylvania, run with the help of a crooked local judge who railroaded kids through his court for a cut of the profits. Some 6,500 children were later found to have been wrongly convicted for such minor infractions as smoking pot and “throwing a piece of steak at my mom’s boyfriend”. The subsequent bill for their incarceration went directly to the taxpayer.

Moore’s conclusion? That capitalism is both un-Christian and un-American, an evil that deserves not regulation but elimination. No doubt he had concluded all this anyway, well in advance of making the film, but no matter. There is something energising – even moving – about the sight of him setting out to prove it all over again. Like some shambling Columbo, he amasses the evidence, takes witness statements from the victims and then starts doorstepping the guilty parties.

“I need some advice!” Moore shouts to some hastening Wall Street trader who has just left his office. “Don’t make any more movies!” the man shoots back. Moore chuckles at that, but the last laugh is his. This, more than any other, is the movie they will wish he had never embarked on.


Iraqi shoe thrower Muntazer al-Zaidi innundated with offers and gifts

Muntazer al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at George Bush, will be set free on 14 September. Martin Chulov meets the family of a man who who became a symbol of resistance to the US Link to this video

As his size 10s spun through the air towards George W Bush, Muntazer al-Zaidi – the man the world now knows as the shoe-thrower – was bracing for an American bullet.

“He thought the secret service was going to shoot him,” says Zaidi’s younger brother, Maitham. “He expected that, and he was not afraid to die.”

Zaidi’s actions during the former US president’s swansong visit to Iraq last December have not stopped reverberating in the nine months since.

Next Monday, when the journalist walks out of prison, his 10 raging seconds, which came to define his country’s last six miserable years, are set to take on a new life even more dramatic than the opening act.

Across Iraq and in every corner of the Arab world, Zaidi is being feted. The 20 words or so he spat at Bush – “This is your farewell kiss, you dog. This is for the widows and orphans of Iraq” – have been immortalised, and in many cases memorised.

Pictures of the president ducking have been etched onto walls across Baghdad, made into T-shirts in Egypt, and appeared in children’s games in Turkey.

Zaidi has won the adulation of millions, who believe his act of defiance did what their leaders had been too cowed to do.

Iraq has been short of heroes since the dark days of Saddam Hussein, and many civilians are bestowing greatness on the figure that finally took the fight to an overlord.

“He is a David and Goliath figure,” said Salah al-Janabi, a white goods salesman in downtown Baghdad. “When the history books are written, they will look back on this episode with great acclaim. Al-Zaidi’s shoes were his slingshot.”

From his prison cell, Zaidi has a sense of the gathering fuss, but not the full extent of the benefactors and patrons preparing for his release.

A new four-bedroom home has been built by his former boss. A new car – and the promise of many more – awaits.

Pledges of harems, money and healthcare are pouring in to his employers, the al-Baghdadia television channel.

“One Iraqi who lived in Morocco called to offer to send his daughter to be Muntazer’s wife,” said editor Abdul Hamid al-Saij.

“Another called from Saudi offering $10m for his shoes, and another called from Morocco offering a gold-saddled horse.

“After the event, we had callers from Palestine and many women asking to marry him, but we didn’t take their names. Many of their reactions were emotional. We will see what happens when he is freed.”

From the West Bank town of Nablus, Ahmed Jouda saw the incident on television news and felt so moved that he called together his relatives for a meeting in a nearby reception hall.

Jouda, 75, a farmer and head of a large extended family, convinced his relatives to contribute tens of thousands of dollars to support Zaidi’s legal case.

Jouda himself decided to sell half his herd of goats; another man asked if he might offer a young woman from his family as a bride. Jouda said he would, if Zaidi was interested.

“I said we are willing to present him with a bride loaded with gold,” said Jouda. “We are people of our word. If he decided to marry one of our daughters we would respect what we said.

“We are compassionate and supportive to the Iraqi people for what they have gone through.

“We are people who have tasted the bitterness, sorrow and agony of occupation too. What he did, he did for all the Arabs, not just the Iraqis, because Bush was the reason behind the problems of all the Arab world.”

Zaidi’s brother insists that no one put Muntazer up to such an act. But he revealed that Muntazer had told him he had pre-scripted at least one line ahead of the fateful press conference.

From the roof of his brother’s new home, Maitham al-Zaidi said: “He always thought he would die as a martyr, either by al-Qaida or the Americans. More than once he was kidnapped by insurgents. He was surprised that Bush’s guards didn’t shoot him on the spot.”

Muntazer al-Zaidi has told Maitham, and another brother, Vergam, that he is planning to open an orphanage when he leaves prison and will not work again as a journalist.

“He doesn’t want his work to be a circus,” said Vergam. “Every time he asked someone a difficult question they would have responded by asking whether he was going to throw his shoes at them.”

Muntazer has alleged that after his actions he was tortured by government officials. Medical reports say he has lost at least one tooth and has two broken ribs and a broken foot that have not healed properly.

“He will stay in Iraq, but first he has to leave the country to get his health fixed,” said Vergam.

In the run-up to his release, Maitham has a sense of the reception awaiting his brother.

“I feel like Michael Jackson at the moment. Everywhere I go, people are taking pictures of me and asking for my photo. If they do that for me, what will they do for Muntazer himself?”



SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2009 – 11:00 A.M.
(Woodward & Adams at Grand Circus Park)

After  the meeting, we will caravan Davis’ home for a “Stop Foreclosure Rally” at East English Village, Detroit (S. of I-94, between Outer Drive & The people of Michigan are suffering from an economic disaster comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930s.  The “official” unemployment rate is over 15%, the highest rate of any state, and the highest since statistics have been kept, with real unemployment closer to 25%.  Foreclosures and evictions continue in huge numbers everyday.  Utility shut-offs have led to families dying, and will be a total catastrophe as winter approaches.  Schools are shutting.  Services are being slashed.  Workers are having their wages cuts and union contracts broken.  Pensions are being eliminated through bankruptcy.

A declaration of a State of Emergency gives the government the authority to take whatever measures are necessary to insure that the survival of the people, not the corporations, comes first.  For example, during the 1930s, the Michigan legislature declared a State of Economic Emergency and put a 5-year moratorium (halt) on all foreclosures.  This moratorium was upheld by the Michigan Supreme Court based on the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Home Building & Loan Ass’n v. Blaisdell.

For the past two and a half years we have asked Governor Granholm to declare a State of Economic Emergency in Michigan, but she has refused to do so, stating that “the bankers would never go along with it.”

It’s time for the people to declare a State of Economic Emergency and plan actions to guarantee our fundamental rights to housing, utilities, education, basic services and jobs in accordance with the law.  We will develop a strategy to implement:

  • Moratorium on foreclosures, evictions, and utility shut-offs
  • An end to school closings and cuts in education
  • Guaranteed health care and basic social services for poor and working people
  • Defending union contracts and workers’ rights to living wages and pensions
  • Ending plant and office closings and lay-offs and guaranteeing the right to a job consistent with the Full Employment Act


For more info, call: 313-887-4344 ● Email:


International Issues

Real News Network

Lia Tarachansky speaks to Fatou Bensouda, the Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) about the Palestinian Authority’s appeal to join the group of nations over which the court has jurisdiction. Bensouda says that before the ICC can investigate the perpetration of war crimes during Israel’s recent attack on Gaza, the court would have to rule on whether it has jurisdiction in the Palestinian Territories. For that, there would have to be clear borders identified, a task the UN would have to take on. Once the court rules on jurisdiction it would be able to prosecute anyone who committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide within the territory, even if (such as in the case of Israel) the perpetrator is not part of the International Court.


Fatou Bensouda was elected in 2004 to the post of Deputy Prosecutor by the Assembly of State Parties of the International Criminal Court. She is in charge of the Prosecution Division of the Office of the Prosecutor. Prior to joining the International Criminal Court, Bensouda served as the Senior Legal Advisor and Head of The Legal Advisory Unit at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Before that, she was the Minister of Justice of The Gambia.


The Environment

The following article wasn’t read on air because I was running out of time! I mentioned it would be here for you to take a look at.

The road to Copenhagen going off the cliff

By Am Johal

| September 8, 2009

Global environmental policy-making is about as credible as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. We are basically going to have to wait a lifetime or for hell to freeze over for anything productive to happen.

Unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of time as a civilization. That is why this is the most important debate in the world today. Four or five year election cycles don’t allow for the kind of forward thinking that is required to solve such a complex global issue. Political culture has not adapted to the gravity of the times.

A 24 hours news cycle does not have the capacity to look ahead or embark on a dialogue of strategic planning. Academics are disconnected from the practices of social change and sheltered from society in academic institutions, rarely intervening in the public sphere. Without breaking out of that paradigm and old ways of thinking, we are heading full speed in to a brick wall. We have yet to figure out a way to grow the economy while reducing carbon emissions in this country. Is there a political party that doesn’t support growing the economy?

The methods of mass education and democratic deliberation are failing us in an unprecedented manner, particularly the negligence of mass media in ignoring this issue for too long. The environmental movement and political leaders of every stripe have turned the debate about emission targets in to a cryptic game of inside baseball and utilized a language which alienates a vast majority of the public.

Can anyone tell me what reductions of 25 or 50 per cent actually mean? How does that translate in to policy on the ground and how it does it affect the personal economic and social lives of citizens and communities? How do we mitigate the alienation that comes with change particularly in rural communities?

Without connecting with people in a real dialogue, an obscure scientific, political, media and academic game is being played, while citizens are once again left to be spectators. As Neil Postman would say, we are amusing ourselves to death. We are like inoperative citizens in a phantom society where almost half of us don’t even vote.

With so much at stake, the contamination of the public sphere by political parties and bureaucrats, mediated through the narrow confines of a conservative media frame, threatens to prolong our civilization’s need to completely rewrite the rules of the game, rather than simply kick the climate change ball a little further. We are caught up in the jargon, rather than acting to inspire or motivate the kind of changes that we need to make.

Politically, we have fetishized the environment and fighting climate change in to a meaningless term, a feel good aphorism for the age. Some times when those dolphins jump in to the air while Louis Armstrong sings, “It’s a wonderful world” during movie trailers that promote recycling, it does truly make me feel good inside. But it doesn’t change the fact that we are in complete crisis as a civilization.

The state of the world is, in reality, getting much worse. Things are really, really, really bad. And things are going to get even worse.

On the eve of a major international climate change conference, Canada and other industrialized countries are once again failing to grasp the urgency of the situation. Canada is heading into the United Nations’ Copenhagen gathering in December with a promise to reduce emissions by a paltry 20 per cent below 2006 levels by 2020. It has also vowed to reduce 60 to 70 per cent by 2050. Despite an international economic collapse and a once in a lifetime opportunity to remake the economic system, middle powers like Canada are simply following American foreign policy — to set agreements with major developing powers like China, India, Brazil and Indonesia rather than international targets.

Though there should be a nuanced approach in understanding the differences of developed and developing countries in setting climate policies and increasing the economic benefits to a greater number of people, advocacy organizations have yet again put the focus on international conferences such as Copenhagen as the guiding light to world environmental emancipation — unfortunately, it will prove to be misguided as much as it is well intentioned.

With or without the Harper government, Canada’s emission targets are unrealistic without a complete overhaul of federal, provincial and municipal policies that will limit economic growth. Signing global agreements without any enforcement mechanisms is nothing more than taking part in an act of bureaucratic inertia.

Reducing emissions is just one part of a broader overhaul that is necessary — we have created an international post-war economic system and a population bubble which has been perpetuating itself since the end of the Second World War. We have not invested rapidly in research and development with ecological goals in mind. Without significant government investment in R and D and the ability to commercialize such investments rapidly, the change will be too slow. Without billions of dollars in investment in urban centers for rapid transit immediately, reductions will continue to be out of reach. The federal government should be spurring on such investments by providing half of the capital costs to provinces.

Furthermore, none of these regional, national or international agreements deal with the very real crisis of world population. Though two bloody world wars led to the eventual development of the Bretton-Woods system, its very successes have relied on growth and economic indicators that have never placed a value on environmental protection. To kickstart changes, we need the equivalent of a Green ‘Marshall Plan’ with a complete redefinition of the role of the World Bank and the entire economic system. There will also be challenges, as many of these abrupt policy changes will be rightly viewed as neo-colonial in their nature and approach.

We need to understand the root causes of how we got here in the first place. We have known about the crisis of climate change for a long time. In 1957, Charles David Keeling began taking measurements annually of carbon dioxide emissions in Mauno Loa, Hawaii. Those measurements are the single longest recorded measurement of carbon dioxide emissions in the world. Keeling’s work was referenced in Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth.’ Keeling’s son Ralph continues his work today at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego.

Just after the 50th Anniversary of the Mauna Loa record, Ralph Keeling, who now studies the impact of rising CO2 emissions on oxygen levels, said in an interview:

We are treading new ground in this from a global warming perspective as a civilisation in new ways. The nature of the threat – which is that we will see negative consequences, mostly decades or more in the future – is the kind of threat which has historically been ignored by human civilisations.

Human nature tends to focus on the immediate and assume that something 10 years down the road can be dealt with later. What people are being asked to do and reduce the impact and make some sacrifices now that might pay off decades in the future, I think it takes a really deep understanding of the problem in a way to even consider that. We’re not quite there yet, quite honestly, as a civilisation.

We’re going to need graphic images of damage where people see suffering and feel it in their own experiences. We are being called upon to reinvent our game – civilisation as a whole, I mean, and it is a troubling thing for people to contemplate doing… The pace is pathetically slow. It takes really aggressive government action like the Manhattan Project or the Marshall Plan at a global scale, a really international one, to make this happen in a comprehensive way. It’s a better way to make big changes sooner.”

What is interesting is that there was a consensus that human beings caused climate change since the 1970s. Unfortunately, the knowledge translation of that science took until well in to the 21st Century for it to become a popularly held belief. At the policy level, we are still a decade away before substantive changes will be introduced largely due to this lag. Greenwashing is a popular tactic – utilizing public relations methods to oversell the environmental benefits of corporate and government policies.

Rio and Kyoto were great to kickstart a dialogue, but very little was accomplished in reality. The same high expectations of Copenhagen, which will see all the celebrity endorsements, endless supply of political leaders, musicians and NGO’s posturing to save the planet, the reality is that it will be another ineffective intervention if history plays itself out — the public, unfortunately, isn’t there yet and the media have done a deplorable job of explaining the urgency of the situation.

As a civilization, we have not yet figured out a way to truly make this a global issue that affects everyone and requires unprecedented sacrifices about reducing consumption and changing lifestyles. It is a global issue and it does affect everyone, but that belief is not widely held on a global scale despite Al Gore’s power point presentation. It also doesn’t help when venerable organizations like the David Suzuki Foundation, which has been credible on so many issues before, are providing environmental spin for environmentally dubious projects like the 2010 Olympic Games — a bloated, carbon-spewing environmental culprit if there ever was one.

Until we popularize the breathtaking urgency of the science, there is nothing in the history of civilization to suggest that we have the capacity to make the breadth of changes that we need to as quickly as we need to before irreparable harm occurs. Neither the Obama Administration or the Harper government are capable of pulling off what is neccessary.

For Obama, with the realpolitic of American foreign policy and its diminished capacity in the new multi-polar world with Russia, China, India, the EU and Brazil rising in stature, the reality of attempting to assert American interests requires a disproportionate reliance on oil — the highest per capita need in the world.

Investments in clean energy and new technologies may take ten to twenty years to take a significant percentage of energy market share.

There is also the sobering reality of the future. The world population will increase from 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion by 2050. Since 1970, temperature changes have increased dramatically — the most since human civilization began. From 1750 to today, the temperature has increased 0.8 degrees celsius. If we continue on this path, the temperature will increase between 3-5 degrees celsius by 2100.

Major climate catastrophes and world wars over access to resources would certainly start before that – likely by 2050. The loss of species is already starting to happen, but will magnify within decades both due to weather and the impact of increases in human population. Economic catastrophes such as the pine beetle epidemic, forest fires or Hurricane Katrina will magnify. There will be mass flooding and increased competition for resources. Countries like Bangladesh will be going through internal upheavals.

Our carrying capacity is already overstretched in the world — adding an additional 2.5 billion people by 2050 will have unforeseen implications in a warming world. Access to clean water will be a global emergency. The loss of Arctic sea ice will result in methane being released in to the atmosphere, further accelerating climate change. Disease and epidemics will be more prevalent in a populated world.

The amount of carbon in the atmosphere has increased from 280 ppm to 384 ppm since 1950. It will increase by a further 100 ppm by 2050. Increases of this nature would take millions of years to occur on their own.

If we really want to avoid mass catastrophe by mid-century, governments need to invest billions in wind power, nuclear power, solar power and mass transit. Mass investments need to happen in the developing world. We also need to completely rewrite our economic framework so zero growth and population maintenance is at the heart of every nation-state’s policy framework. Consumption should be taxed, carbon should be taxed and road tolls should be utilized.

Personal energy consumption should also be measured and individuals should pay for their usage at higher rates. Everything needs to be on the table if we are going to actually make real changes.

As well, how can all of these changes be implemented in a short time frame without creating mass poverty and social unrest?

Whether it’s a conference in Copenhagen, federal politics or provincial, without citizen engagement and popular education, we will continue moving towards the cliff of climate change at an ever faster pace.

We cannot solve the crisis of climate change based on a world order, systems of decision-making and rules of the game that were developed after the Second World War. Only the collective trauma of crisis, graphic images and mass deaths have moved the world to change its international order so abruptly and so systematically before. Until we all have some sense of fear, some responsibility to intervene, some hope for making the hard choices that are necessary, our future will simply consist of varying shades of suffering.

Am Johal is a rabble columnist and the founder and Chair of the Impact on Communities Coalition.

Am Johal

Vancouver Am Johal is an independent writer whose work has appeared in Seven Oaks Magazine, Znet, Georgia Straight, Electronic Intifada, Arena Magazine, and many others. Am is presently working in the office of Jenny Kwan, MLA for Vancouver-Mt.Pleasant. He completed a Master of Economics specializing in European and International Studies at the Institute for Social and European Studies and Corvinus University in Hungary and has undergraduate degrees in Commerce and Human Kinetics. While working on the Vancouver Agreement, Am was involved with the expansion of health services in the Downtown Eastside. He was Ministerial Assistant to the Minister of Transportation and Highways and the Minister of Community Development, Cooperatives and Volunteers, and has served on the board of directors of many organizations including Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, Impact on Community Coalition, Civil Society Development Project, Urban Solutions Institute, the Or Gallery, Reach Community Health Centre, Urban Ink Theatre and Dream City’s Housing Committee. In 2003-2004, Am led an international campaign against Israel’s Citizenship Law while working in the area of human rights with the Mossawa Center. He has been a board member of the Coalition of Progressive Electors and is currently a board member of Vision Vancouver. In June 2008, he will be an intern at the UN office of Inter Press Service in New York. He lives right in front of the Chinatown Gate in Vancouver.


Bubbling methane, and other warnings

Earth’s Arctic fridge defrosting, with dire results.

Dateline: Monday, September 07, 2009

by Stephen Leahy for InterPress Service

GENEVA, September 2, 2009 (IPS) — The rapidly warming Arctic region is destabilising Earth’s climate in ways science is just beginning to comprehend.

The entire world is being affected, and without urgent action to cut emissions, a too-warm Arctic could trigger catastrophic, irreversible climate change, top scientists say in a report released Wednesday in Geneva.

“It is crucial to know the full consequences of the Arctic warming, and this is an unprecedented review of the latest science,” said Martin Sommerkorn, an Arctic researcher and senior climate change advisor to World Wildlife Fund International.

A warmer Arctic will likely emit large volumes of carbon and methane that are currently stored in the frozen soils called permafrost.

“Simply put, if we do not keep the Arctic cold enough, people across the world will suffer the effects,” Sommerkorn told IPS.

Sea level rise of more than one metre, flooding affecting one quarter of the world’s population, and extreme global weather changes are on the way at the current pace of unchecked carbon emissions, the “Arctic Climate Feedbacks: Global Implications” report warns.

A warming Arctic has far wider and more serious consequences than previously believed based on the latest science of the past three years, including the very recent research from International Polar Year 2008-2009.

“There is a large potential that a warming Arctic will make climate change far worse,” said Sommerkorn, who acted as editor of the report written by 10 of the world’s leading climate scientists.

The planet’s cold polar regions are crucial drivers of Earth’s weather and climate. Over the past 40 years, the Arctic has begun to thaw, with warmer temperatures that are rising at twice the rate as anywhere else in the world. Every summer, the frozen Arctic Ocean thaws more and more and may be ice-free in less than a decade.

So what happens when one of Earth’s freezers switches into defrost? Like closing an open window in winter, those closest will notice the biggest difference, but even those much further away will be affected. The report projects changing temperature and precipitation patterns in Europe and North America, affecting agriculture, forestry and water supplies.

“Droughts may be worse in California, and the U.S. Southwest. Winters could be wetter in the Mediterranean but drier in Scandinavia based on a continued warming of the Arctic,” said Sommerkorn, who is based in Oslo, Norway.

More alarming is the likelihood that a warmer Arctic will emit large volumes of carbon and methane that are currently stored in the frozen soils called permafrost and that contain as much as three times the carbon currently in the atmosphere.

Levels of atmospheric methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, have been increasing for the past two years, and it is suggested that the increase comes from warming permafrost.

The report shows that the top two to three metres of permafrost across the entire Arctic region will very likely thaw by the year 2100. The amount of carbon and methane that could be released is unknown but will be more than enough to push temperatures far higher than any previous estimates.

“We are already observing permafrost melting in many parts of the Arctic,” he said.

Worse still is the potential release of some of the enormous deposits of methane hydrates — frozen natural gas — under the Arctic Ocean. In very cold or high-pressure environments, individual methane molecules get trapped in ice-like cages of frozen water. When the seas warm, the ice cages fizzle and decompose, releasing the trapped methane.

Put a match to the decomposing ice and voilà: Ice that literally burns.

Methane is already bubbling to the surface along the East Siberian coastal shelf, according to recent measurements. This very shallow water of less than 50 metres may be warming and releasing some of the frozen methane, although this has not been confirmed.

“What we do know is that globally methane levels have been rising in the last two or three years,” said Sommerkorn. However, the temperatures in East Siberia right now are very close to what will cause the hydrates to thaw.

“Less than half of one percent of what’s there could trigger abrupt temperature change,” he warned.

Last month, other researchers discovered 250 plumes of methane gas bubbling up from the sea floor to the west of the Svalbard archipelago north of Norway.

A big jump in global temperatures would undoubtedly trigger other climate feedbacks, likely pushing global warming onto an entirely new trajectory, he said.

“What this report makes evidently clear is that what happens in the Arctic affects the rest of the world,” said report co-author Mark Serreze, senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in the U.S. state of Colorado.

“The changes we are seeing are not entirely unexpected, they are just happening far sooner,” Serreze told IPS.

If the methane hydrates start to melt or large areas of permafrost “that will be very bad news for humanity”, he said.

“The world is a very small place and we have not been good stewards. Climate change is symptom of this poor stewardship,” he said. “The way we’re going right now, I’m not optimistic that we will avoid some kind of tipping point.”

This report signals the urgency for action, Sommerkorn says. And the action required is a global carbon emission peak between 2013- 2017 to keep global warming below 2 degrees and avoid dangerous climate change.

That means developed countries must reduce emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 compared their 1990 emissions and the developing world must reduce emissions by 30 percent from current levels.

“The scale of the reductions needed is an enormous challenge,” he acknowledged.

However, leaders should not hesitate because greening of society is also the way to solve the economic crisis and the path to a sustainable future, experts agree. The Copenhagen climate treaty to be negotiated this December must parallel the urgency of the science in this report.

Stephen Leahy is an environmental journalist based in Uxbridge, Ontario. His writing has been published in dozens of publications around the world including New Scientist, The London Sunday Times, Maclean’s Magazine, The Toronto Star, Wired News, Audubon, BBC Wildlife, and Canadian Geographic.

For the past few years he has been the science and environment correspondent for Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS), a wire service headquartered in Rome that covers global issues, and its Latin American affiliate, Tierramerica, located in Mexico City.

This article previously appeared on the InterPress Service wire.



September 3 2009 Program

Here is the line up with links to what we covered in the program:

The Shakeup

Sept. 3, 2009

Labour Day

Windsor Peace Coalition will be marching in the Windsor and District Labour Council’s annual Labour Day parade again this year.  Anyone who would like to join the contingent is welcome.  Just look for the coalition’s blue and yellow banner Monday September 7 in front of CAW Local 200/444 Union Hall (1855 Turner Road).

Marshalling starts on Turner Rd. at 9:00 am. The parade will start at 10 o’clock and head toward the Fogolar Furlan club (south on Walker, west on E.C. Row Service Road) where there will be speeches followed by entertainment, activities for children and refreshments all afternoon.

There should be periodic shuttle bus service back to Turner Road.


The Windsor Peace Coalition holds an anti-war information picket every Saturday 11 am. to noon – Ottawa Street across from Market Square.

August 31, 2009

Health care wars

From pro-single payer to anti-government plans, a report from a town hall in Virginia with Howard Dean Part I Part II

Three war criminals set to visit Canada next month

By Lawyers Against the War

| September 2, 2009

In October George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Dick Cheney — all accused of horrifying war crimes and crimes against humanity — plan to visit Canada. Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act each of these people if reported plans go ahead.

– G. W. Bush will be, on October 22, 2009 at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth in Montreal PQ to deliver a lunch-time speech at an invitation-only event organized by tinePUBLIC Inc

– Tony Blair will be the keynote speaker October 6, 2009 at the Surrey Regional Economic Summit, at the Sheraton Vancouver Guilford Hotel, Surrey B.C. Blair was invited by Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts.

– Dick Cheney is booked for a week of fishing at the Silver Hilton Lodge on the Babine River near Smithers, B.C. from October 8 to 15, 2009.

Canada’s legal duties

By ratifying the Convention against Torture and the Rome Statue for an International Court, Canada agreed not only to make the torture and other war crimes and crimes against humanity crimes under Canadian law but also to participate in acting effectively to prevent and punish these crimes wherever they occur. To ensure Canada’s ability to fulfill these duties, Parliament has:

– Passed laws enabling Canada to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity wherever the crimes occurred and whatever the nationality of the suspected perpetrators and the victims. (e.g. Criminal Code, torture provisions and the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act.) Under the Convention against Torture, when a person suspected of any involvement in torture enters Canada, Canada has a duty to either prosecute that person or extradite him to a state that is willing and able to prosecute.

– Passed laws to ensure that Canada will not allow people suspected of war crimes and/or crimes against humanity and/or gross human rights abuses to enter Canada or otherwise provide a safe haven, even temporarily, for people suspected of any involvement in carrying out or acquiescing to war crimes, crimes against humanity or other gross human rights abuses. (e.g. Immigration and Refugee Protection Act)

The Canadian Ministers responsible are not enforcing these laws. In spite of significant intelligent, peaceful protests, G.W. Bush was allowed entry into Canada in March and May 2009, and Colin Powell was allowed entry in June 2008.

Write to Members of Parliament asking that Canadian Border Services Agency issue a cross-Canada directive to all entry points ordering that G.W. Bush, Tony Blair and Dick Cheney be barred from Canada and, if found in Canada, be arrested and dealt with according to the law.

Generation Debt: Post-secondary students face more tuition increases

By Katherine Giroux-Bougard

| September 2, 2009

In the midst of a deep recession, families today are facing record job losses, soaring personal debt and economic hardship unheard of in generations.

With two-thirds of new jobs requiring at least two years of post-secondary education, investing in higher learning should be a no-brainer for governments. Despite the obvious importance of education and retraining, both federal and provincial governments have failed Canadians by allowing tuition fees and student debt to reach historic levels.

Tuition fees have grown to become the single largest expense for most university and college students, with average fees of almost $5,000 per year. The vast majority of students will face tuition fee increases when they return to school next week.

Canadian families are making extraordinary sacrifices to prepare themselves for an evolving workplace. Past decisions at the federal and provincial level are forcing students and their families to take on more education-related debt than any previous generation, all during a time when median earnings for the majority of families have been stagnant for the past 20 years.

The bottom line is that record high tuition fees and student debt combined with the highest student unemployment levels on record are putting post-secondary education out of reach of many Canadians.

On January 21, 2009 Canada marked a regrettable milestone when student loan monies owing to the federal government surpassed $13 billion. This figure does not include the $5-8 billion in provincial student loan debt nor billions of dollars in other personal debts including credit cards, lines of credit and family loans. This year alone, over 385,000 students will require loans from the federal government and the average student will have between $21,000 and $28,000 at the end of a four-year program.

Saddling a generation with billions of dollars in debt will have far reaching implications for Canada’s economy and socio-economic equality.High levels of student debt have a direct impact on a student’s ability to succeed. Being saddled with debt reduces the likelihood of continuing studies beyond a bachelor’s degree or college diploma and research has shown that, as student debt rises from $1,000 to $10,000 per year, completion rates for students dependent on loans plummet from 59 to 8 per cent.

Not only is debt responsible for lower levels of university and college completion, but also for causing stress related health problems. Students from low-income backgrounds are more likely to suffer from tension, anxiety and other stress related conditions.

As student loan repayment begins shortly after graduation, career decisions for many graduates are dictated by the ability to make monthly loan payments. Student loan obligations reduce the ability of new graduates to start a family, work in public service careers and build career-related volunteer experience.

During these hard economic times, funding high-quality, accessible post-secondary systems is one of the safest investments we can make, and it’s one that generates significant economic spin-offs and reinvestments.

Reducing both tuition fees and student debt is well within the federal government’s capacity. Access to post-secondary education is a proven means of breaking the cycle of poverty and is one of the most reliable determinants of a person’s quality of life.

Post-secondary education is a fundamental right and regardless of socioeconomic background and geographic location, every citizen should be afforded equality of access.

-Katherine Giroux-Bougard is the National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students.