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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

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Political Palestinian Hip Hop is rocking... Israelis?

Amazing. This video documentary speaks to meaningful hope and the value of hip hop as a mechanism for peaceful change. Israeli youth learning about the Palestinian struggle for peace and justice... through the premier form of American-African urban poetry. All these years, many people have called hip hop "revolutionary." At last, that potential is realised. Glad to know that the work of PE, BDP, Talib Kweli, Mos Def and others in the movement is growing across the world.

Also check out Palestinian-American hip hopper Iron Sheik. He's got terrific rhymes on his site including "Neo-Con Luv Song." Great to know the real hip hop never died... and maybe is undergoing a rebirth. And The Philistines, another fine Palestinian-American hip hop crew.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

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Is Sweet Home Chicago another Abu Ghraib?

"In Chicago, victims of police abuse are asking the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to investigate their claims that the Chicago police routinely beat and tortured African Americans to get confessions. Nearly 140 different victims have alleged abuse and torture at the hands of the Chicago police over the past few decades."
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Will COYOTE KINGS be named the best Alberta novel?

It's reader-choice, my friends. If you go to the website of the Edmonton Public Library, you can vote for your favourite novel by an Albertan author or about Alberta. Choose whatever you like, of course. I'm happy to report that The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad is in the lead.

If you decide to vote for my yarn, please note the exact spelling: as it stands, Coyote Kings is listed in three separate places because of slight differences in the spelling of the title.

Thanks for your support!
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Kofi Annan: "Africa Cannot Develop, Prosper, Or Be Truly Free On an Empty Stomach"

"After returning from a visit to drought-stricken, locust-devastated Niger, where the people are struggling to recover from widespead malnutrition, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for better early warning about potential emergencies, more focus on prevention, the strengthening of regional institutions and a 'look in the mirror instead of pointing fingers.'

"In an opinion piece carried in The Financial Times and Le Monde newspapers, Mr. Annan also called for help for some 20 million Africans who are at risk of similar severe hunger and food insecurity."

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Somalia: Blackhawks down, Profits UP

"Relative peace has returned to Somalia, and so have the businessmen eyeing its oil, gas and mineral deposits. This follows a painstaking peace deal that was facilitated by Kenya, and which included hosting the Somali Government in Nairobi for one year.

"The price of peace has been enormous for Kenya, which had to foot a huge bill, not to mention hosting thousands of Somalia's displaced people. As happened in Sudan - which Kenya also helped bring back on the path of peace - business opportunities are opening up in Somalia, but Kenyan businesspeople have yet to take note.

"Besides lucrative oil or mineral deals, Somalia's reconstruction process will involve paving roads and rehabilitating buildings destroyed in the 14-year civil war."

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Africast Launches America's First Pan-African Movie Channel

"Africast Television Network has launched [the] first Pan-African movie channel [for the United States] offering popular African movies, dramas and documentaries as subscription video on demand at its Website, www.africast.tv."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

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Today's BAMBOOZLED Award goes to T.O. City Councillor Michael "Racial Profiler" Thompson

"A Toronto city councillor is floating a controversial idea on curbing gun violence in the city. Michael Thompson says police should be allowed to 'target' young black men at random as part of a crackdown on guns.

"Mr. Thompson, who is black, said a large percentage of the guns being used and a large number of people being killed are in the black community, so there is a need to target people in the community."

My thanks to Sister E-Beth for the idea for this award.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

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Where's the sympathy for Palestinians forced out of THEIR homes?

Speaking of the removal of Israeli colonists from Palestinian land, I've recently come back from a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon where I witnessed the effects of REAL dispossession (unlike the colonists who are being relocated to very comfortable housing elsewhere courtesy of US taxpayers, housing that most people in Watts, Harlem, the Appalachians or any First Nations reservation could never dream of occupying). And no Palestinian has ever been compensated for their tragic losses, whereas a "majority of the Jewish settlers have accepted a compensation package - in between $150,000 to $400,000."

Some Palestinian seniors (I almost called these dispossessed people senior "citizens") I saw in the camp are still holding onto the keys of their homes seized and/or destroyed sixty years ago. Corporate media in North America creates the impression that Palestinians don't have rights, and they don't have pain--which is why they refuse to show us either.

The Occupied Territories, of course, were (are) reservations inside a colony/settler-state, like Wounded Knee, Lubicon Lake, Kahnesetake or (until recently) Kwazulu-Natal. During the current pull-out from the illegal occupation (and relocating the occupiers of illegally-constructed colonial housing), we're seeing a great deal of coverage of how sad the folks are who are losing their plantation manors.

What's less reported--indeed, what's obliterated from popular memory and in North America from our textbooks--is the misery of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have been tricked, forced or hunted out of their homes and off their ancestral land for decades and decades.

Add into this the exploitation by Israeli colonists of Palestinian labour, labourers often paid at less than minimum wage (which like in the American South or in South Africa allows the Elect to live in luxury while the peasants sweat and starve) as described on this morning's Democracy Now! by crusading Israeli journalist Amira Hass, and you have a portrait of cruelty and indifference to suffering that is truly sickening.



The Palestinian refugee camp at Saida, southern Lebanon. Not a field full of tents or sod houses, but a neighbourhood devastated by invasion and civil war. Generations of stateless refugees without rights to education, work or movement have been born here.

Electrical "safety" for the hundred thousand or so people crowded into this five-square kilometre refugee camp.



Availability of clean water and adequate sewage for refugees remains a major health problem in the camp.


Housing in the camp. Imagine living in such conditions not for months, but for generations? Your children and their children in a world five square kilometres big?



Education for children, especially for girls, is insufficient. Even if Palestinian refugees had full rights to work in Lebanon (let alone in their homeland), they'd have access only to the worst jobs.

Monday, August 15, 2005

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SLAVERY IN BRAZIL

Knight Ridder's Kevin G. Hall writes: "Jose Silva came to the Macauba Ranch in Brazil's eastern Amazon hoping to earn a few hundred dollars clearing jungle. Two years later, he was $800 in debt and terrified that if he tried to leave the ranch, Gilmar the field boss would pull out his .38 revolver and kill him.

"'I would cry alone at night in my hammock and ask God to help me escape. I felt like a slave," he told Knight Ridder. Silva was a modern slave, working with 46 other men and a boy to clear jungle with machetes, chain saws and tractors from sunup to sundown in the tropical heat, seven days a week, for no money. He and the others got one meal a day of rice, beans and a little chicken or beef, which they were made to eat standing up to discourage resting. There were no toilets or latrines at the workers' camp, only bushes.

"Rat feces flecked the sacks of rice in the camp's storehouse. Flies covered raw meat hung on clotheslines in the tropical heat. Workers got no medical attention, even though one of them shivered with malaria, a disease spread by the Amazon's ubiquitous mosquitoes. Brazil abolished slavery in 1888. Earlier this year, however, the government acknowledged to the United Nations that at least 25,000 Brazilians work under 'conditions analogous to slavery.' The top anti-slavery official in Brasilia, the capital, puts the number of modern slaves at 50,000.

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Beauty in Aswan

Church towers, minaret-style

Gazebo on the corniche (riverbank)

View from a restaurant on the corniche

Graceful feluccas sail the Nile in an image only slightly altered over the millennia

The west bank of the Nile
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Freedom for Gaza? Or the next phase of misery?

For a fascinating debate--and at times truly miserable--check out Democracy Now!'s discussion with an American-Israeli settler, a representative from the Palestinan Center for Human Rights, a journalist who's been speaking in Gaza with occupying soldiers and settlers, and Ali Abunimah, founder of Electronic Intifada. You can watch or listen here.
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Poor Bush—why won’t grieving mother let him get on with his life?

Disgraceful. Selfish mother Cyndi Sheehan. She's so self-absorbed that the simple loss of her son in an illegal act of international aggression, mass-murder and racketeering has made her go to the unreasonable, obsessive lengths of trying to speak with her own president.

Bush has replied, and quite reasonably, "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life." For crying out loud, that hysterical soccer-mourner was stopping him from a bike ride, a Little League game, lunch, napping, fishing and "reading."

For Whitehouse.org's take on it, read here.

Friday, August 12, 2005

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Who needs imperialists when we're oppressing and killing our own people?

The shame of our continent, without a doubt. Who needs imperialists when we're oppressing and killing our own people? Disgusting. Counter-revolutionary. And evil.

"Women suffer from violence in every society. In few places, however, is the abuse more entrenched, and accepted, than in sub-Saharan Africa. One in three Nigerian women reported having been physically abused by a male partner, according to the latest study, conducted in 1993....

"'It is like it is a normal thing for women to be treated by their husbands as punching bags," Obong Rita Akpan, until last month Nigeria's minister for women's affairs, said in an interview here. "The Nigerian man thinks that a woman is his inferior. Right from childhood, right from infancy, the boy is preferred to the girl. Even when they marry out of love, they still think the woman is below them and they do whatever they want.'

"In Zambia, nearly half of women surveyed said a male partner had beaten them, according to a 2004 study financed by the United States - the highest percentage of nine developing nations surveyed on three continents.

"In South Africa, researchers for the Medical Research Council estimated last year that a male partner kills a girlfriend or spouse every six hours - the highest mortality rate from domestic violence ever reported, they say. In Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, domestic violence accounts for more than 6 in 10 murder cases in court, a United Nations report concluded last year.

"Yet most women remain silent about the abuse, women's rights organizations say. A World Health Organization study has found that while more than a third of Namibian women reported enduring physical or sexual abuse by a male partner, often resulting in injury, six in seven victims had either kept it to themselves or confided only in a friend or relative."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

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Release of Suspects in the 1994 Genocide Angers Survivors

"Rwandan genocide survivors issued on Monday a collective complaint to the government about its decision on 29 July to release tens of thousands of inmates, many of whom had confessed to taking part in the 1994 genocide."
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The Mauritanian military coup, oil and us

"So, of course, the soldiers will NOT return to barracks. Yes, they will hand over power to themselves, like all military despots do in Africa: Togo's Eyadema, Sudan's El Bashir, Gambia's Jammeh, Central African Republic's Bokassa, Uganda's Museveni. The list is long. All those soldiers who seized power with the now outmoded excuse of saving the country, only to stay on and become more corrupt, more ruthless and more deserving of condemnation than the despots they removed.

"The story is all too familiar for elaboration. Suffice it to say that if the African Union, the United States and European Union want to stop the occurrence of military coups on the continent, they have to stop the prevalence of the conditions that cause military coups in Africa. They have to help the people of this beleaguered continent end the ugly specter of never-ending sultanism, one-man rule."
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The politics behind sports, the greed behind ownership

''The next time someone complains about the 'greediness' of pro athletes, tell them if they are that bent out of shape about someone's undeserved wealth, they should make a detour to the upper deck and boo outside the owner's box.''

Monday, August 08, 2005

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Latin America gets its own Al-Jazeera: Thank Venezuela

Last year I heard a speech by Tariq Ali suggesting that Latin America desperately needs its own Al Jazeera. Ali jokingly suggesting it could be named “TV Bolivar” or something like that.

Thanks to Venezuela’s Congress and its president, Hugo Chávez, Ali’s anti-imperialist/pro-democracy wish has come true.

According to the executives of Telesur, the station to be launched in cooperation with Argentina, Cuba and Uruguay, the station will combine Latin American and Caribbean news and programming to counter the enormous weight of elite- and corporate-US media.

The US Congress has vowed to destroy Telesur’s aims before Telesur even launches, financing yet another American government propaganda station, joining its anti-Castro Radio and TV Marti (beamed illegally into Cuban airspace) and its Arabic language satellite TV news station, which according to Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman is “being produced in a studio--Grace Digital Media--controlled by fundamentalist Christians who are rabidly pro-Israel. That's grace as in ‘by the grace of God.’”

Venezuelanalysis.com quotes Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez as saying “It is a preposterous imperialist idea that should not surprise us because we know what the U.S. government is capable of.... There is nothing more dangerous than a desperate giant.”
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We're back, we're safe, we're jet-lagged

E-TOWN--My wife and I are back from our honeymoon. Amazing experiences overseas, from the ancient pyramids of Afrikan Egypt to the modern Palestinan refugee camps of Asian Lebanon, which have made permanent impressions on us.

We've met astounding people in our journey, and over the next little while I'll share audio and images with you of some especially noteworthy moments, from Nubian and Scandinavian folk songs on the Nile to the music of Palestinian refugee youths at their "graduation" ceremony from a summer camp teaching them first aid and drama to traditional Lebanese--get this--extemporaneous, sung, political poems by our cab driver.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

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Sudan, land of sorrow and woe

Whatever one thinks or thought of John Garang, former SPML/A leader and the late VP of Sudan, he was indispensible to the evolution of peace in Sudan. And now--and apparently it really was an accident--he's dead. For early reactions and analysis, read and/or hear/watch Democracy Now! and read what All Africa.com have to say.