Thursday, September 27, 2007

They are going to shoot

Voices from cyberspace: how Burma's bloggers are bearing witness to the unfolding revolution
Published: 27 September 2007

Dawn 109,Rangoon

A lot of rumours are flying around Yangon [Ran goon]. I am getting awfully paranoid. The military has been ordered to shoot. I heard... that "they have been ordered to shoot." Even now, a co-worker is saying: "They are going to shoot." I just saw with my own eyes that more than 500 monks... have marched on Bo Gyoke Aung Sand Road. There were other people too, walking along the side, holding hands, holding Buddhist flags, singing and clapping hands. They were chanting: "To the uncountable living beings living in uncountable universes to the east, May they be free of danger, May they be free of anger, May they be free of sufferings, andMay their hearts be calm and peaceful. May there be peace on earth."

Kto Hike

All over Rangoon, thousands of people are marching on foot, some on bikes, from 26th Street to 33rd Street. Soldiers in police uniforms are using tear gas bombs, officers are shouting orders to fire just above peoples' heads. Guns are firing continuously. Students from Main University Road are now marching towards 80th Street. On 26 September, a Buddhist monk was beaten to death by plain-clothed thugs while he was praying at the Shwe Dagon Pagoda in the centre of Rangoon. The dead body was carried back to the Sadu Monastery in Kyee Myindine. My part-time duty is working on Emergency YGH... at about 2 pm, 5 patients were coming to our Emergency... for gun shot wounds... 1 patient died on spot on arriving at hospital... 4 r still bad in Diagnosis... The patient's attendant said he was not in d line of protest... they were chatting and watching d protest line and sitting on Cafe Bar near Shawe Dagon Pagoda... Government military car was crossing to d protest line and randomly shot all of them...

Sein Khaloke

Buddhist monks are chanting: "All humans be free from killing and torturing, Our compassion and love spread all over country" and "Peace on earth".

Mya, Rangoon

A monk who took part in the protests came to us and told us about his experiences. He said: "We are not afraid, we haven't committed a crime, we just say prayers and take part in the protests. We haven't accepted money from onlookers although they offered us a lot. We just accept water. People clapped, smiled and cheered us." The monk seemed very happy, excited and proud. But I'm worried for them. They care for us and we pray for them not to get harmed.

Mg Khar, Rangoon

The current situation can lead to civil war because the junta still holds the power and the opposition might use this opportunity to launch an armed struggle. We want things to change peacefully, not through a civil war. But if there's no way to avoid the armed struggle, the people will choose it and the conditions in our poor country may become worse. International pressure, including from China and Russia, is very important for the future of Burma at this moment.

Soe Soe, Mandalay

I am not sure where these protests are going to lead, but I am sure it's not at a good sign. Many people are expecting a great change soon. I am not sure if the monks will be joined by students, workers, or even soldiers. We are very insecure because we don't know what the government is planning. There is some news in the government-controlled newspapers that the monks are trying to agitate the public. This can be a big excuse for them to start attacking the monks. I hope there won't be any bloodbath this time like there was in 1988.

Kyi Kyi, Rangoon

I am really sorry for our country and our people because we are under the control of the wicked junta. We haven't got arms, we wish for peace, a better future and democracy. We are hoping that the UN Security Council will put a pressure on the junta. We are so afraid.

David, Rangoon

Now the junta is reducing the internet connection bandwidth and we have to wait for a long time to see a page. Security forces block the route of demonstrations. Yesterday, the junta told people in Rangoon and Mandalay not to leave their houses from 9pm to 5am. I think if the junta decides, they will cut off communication.

Thila, Rangoon

Riot police and soldiers are beating monks and protesters at the east gate of Shwedagon Pagoda. They are starting a crackdown by all means. Regardless of this, just after noon, about 1,000 monks from a nearby monastery started a march to Shwedagon Pagoda.

Yi, Rangoon

I saw a truck full of police with guns, which looked like AK47. The military junta has been making us miserable for nearly two decades.

Eyewitness, Rangoon

Riot police started to chase the monks and beat them up. Then about 200 were hauled off onto the trucks and driven away. About 80 monks were taken away.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

the revolution

will now be frenetic

what to make of this

Much transpires in Caledonia of late.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Canada tried to "bribe" African countries to reject U.N. decleration on indigenous rights: CanWest

Last week, after the African countries announced their support for the revised document, a senior official with the African Indigenous Caucus accused Canada of having tried to use aid as a bribe to keep them on side.

"By approaching Africa, which had so many problems, and trying to use aid as a tool, Canada was committing a crime," said Joseph Ole Simel, caucus co-ordinator, according to UN note-takers.

Stonechild murdered over gun deal?

Stonechild killed over gun deal, hearing told
Darren Bernhardt
CanWest News Service

SASKATOON -- The notorious freezing death of Neil Stonechild 17 years ago was a murder calculated to keep him from testifying at a trial, and had nothing to do with police, a commission hearing was told Wednesday.

A career criminal, known as X to protect his identity, told the Saskatchewan Police Commission in Saskatoon that a gun deal gone bad led to Stonechild's murder by a man against whom he was scheduled to testify.

A second man set to testify about the ill-fated deal was shot dead four months later, X added.

"I never ever heard anything about the cops. If they took him to a field and kicked the shit out of him, there'd be somebody making a fuss about it (in the prison system)," he said.

The first time he heard of possible police involvement was "on the news" when the story broke in early 2000, said X.

The 34-year-old is in a federal penitentiary and appeared Wednesday handcuffed on the stand. His former cell mate was the person against whom Stonechild, 17, and the other man were to testify, he claimed. The cell mate, known as AA, either performed the killings himself or ordered them after learning the men "ratted him out," said X.

"He (Stonechild) was taken out of town and beat up. That's what I heard. He (AA) basically said all rats should be dead and they got what they deserved," said X. "And he said Neil was lucky that's all he got."

Asked what that meant, X replied: "Freezing to death rather than a bullet to the head."

Back in the 1990s in Saskatoon, AA and his brother and their friends were feared by everyone, said X, who worked for them by delivering drugs, kicking in doors to collect on debts, "protecting hookers and holding guns to people's heads," he said.

"It was known by everyone that if you went against (AA and his brother), you paid the price," he said, adding, "I'm risking my life by sitting here now."

He learned of AA's link to Stonechild in 1996 but never went to police out of fear of retribution. His family begged him not to testify Wednesday but X said he's no longer afraid of AA.

"I've tooken (taken) my licks. I'm at the same calibre now," he said.

Climate change nothing special: 500 scientists

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new analysis of peer-reviewed literature reveals that more than 500 scientists have published evidence refuting at least one element of current man-made global warming scares. More than 300 of the scientists found evidence that 1) a natural moderate 1,500-year climate cycle has produced more than a dozen global warmings similar to ours since the last Ice Age and/or that 2) our Modern Warming is linked strongly to variations in the sun's irradiance. "This data and the list of scientists make a mockery of recent claims that a scientific consensus blames humans as the primary cause of global temperature increases since 1850," said Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Dennis Avery.

Other researchers found evidence that 3) sea levels are failing to rise importantly; 4) that our storms and droughts are becoming fewer and milder with this warming as they did during previous global warmings; 5) that human deaths will be reduced with warming because cold kills twice as many people as heat; and 6) that corals, trees, birds, mammals, and butterflies are adapting well to the routine reality of changing climate.

Despite being published in such journals such as Science, Nature and Geophysical Review Letters, these scientists have gotten little media attention. "Not all of these researchers would describe themselves as global warming skeptics," said Avery, "but the evidence in their studies is there for all to see."

The names were compiled by Avery and climate physicist S. Fred Singer, the co-authors of the new book Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, mainly from the peer-reviewed studies cited in their book. The researchers' specialties include tree rings, sea levels, stalagmites, lichens, pollen, plankton, insects, public health, Chinese history and astrophysics.

"We have had a Greenhouse Theory with no evidence to support it-except a moderate warming turned into a scare by computer models whose results have never been verified with real-world events," said co-author Singer. "On the other hand, we have compelling evidence of a real-world climate cycle averaging 1470 years (plus or minus 500) running through the last million years of history. The climate cycle has above all been moderate, and the trees, bears, birds, and humans have quietly adapted."

"Two thousand years of published human histories say that the warm periods were good for people," says Avery. "It was the harsh, unstable Dark Ages and Little Ice Age that brought bigger storms, untimely frost, widespread famine and plagues of disease." "There may have been a consensus of guesses among climate model-builders," says Singer. "However, the models only reflect the warming, not its cause." He noted that about 70 percent of the earth's post-1850 warming came before 1940, and thus was probably not caused by human-emitted greenhouse gases. The net post-1940 warming totals only a tiny 0.2 degrees C.

The historic evidence of the natural cycle includes the 5000-year record of Nile floods, 1st-century Roman wine production in Britain, and thousands of museum paintings that portrayed sunnier skies during the Medieval Warming and more cloudiness during the Little Ice Age. The physical evidence comes from oxygen isotopes, beryllium ions, tiny sea and pollen fossils, and ancient tree rings. The evidence recovered from ice cores, sea and lake sediments, cave stalagmites and glaciers has been analyzed by electron microscopes, satellites, and computers. Temperatures during the Medieval Warming Period on California's Whitewing Mountain must have been 3.2 degrees warmer than today, says Constance Millar of the U.S. Forest Service, based on her study of seven species of relict trees that grew above today's tree line.

Singer emphasized, "Humans have known since the invention of the telescope that the earth's climate variations were linked to the sunspot cycle, but we had not understood how. Recent experiments have demonstrated that more or fewer cosmic rays hitting the earth create more or fewer of the low, cooling clouds that deflect solar heat back into space-amplifying small variations in the intensity of the sun.

Avery and Singer noted that there are hundreds of additional peer-reviewed studies that have found cycle evidence, and that they will publish additional researchers' names and studies. They also noted that their book was funded by Wallace O. Sellers, a Hudson board member, without any corporate contributions

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

one of Canada's greatest poets


John Newlove

I. In this cold room
I remember the smell of manure
on men's heavy clothes as good,
the smell of horses.

It is a romantic world
to readers of journeys
to the Northern Ocean-

especially if their houses are heated
to some degree, Samuel.

Hearne, your camp must have smelled
like hell whenever you settled down
for a few days of rest and journal-work:

hell smeared with human manure,
hell half-full of raw hides,
hell of sweat, Indians, stale fat,
meat-hell, fear-hell, hell of cold.

2. One child is back from the doctor's while
the other one wanders about in dirty pants
and I think of Samuel Hearne and the land -

puffy children coughing as I think,
crying, sick-faced,
vomit stirring in grey blankets
from room to room.

It is Christmastime
the cold flesh shines.
No praise in merely enduring.

3. Samuel Hearne did more
in the land (like all the rest
full of rocks and hilly country,
many very extensive tracts of land,
tittimeg, pike and barble,

and the islands:
the islands, many
of them abound

as well as the main
land does
with dwarf woods,

chiefly pine
in some parts intermixed
with latch and birch) than endure.

The Indians killed twelve deer.
It was impossible to describe
the intenseness of the cold.

4. And, Samuel Hearne,
I have almost begun to talk

as if you wanted to be
gallant, as if you went
through that land for a book -

as if you were not SAM, wanting
to know, to do a job.

5. There was that Eskimo girl
at Bloody Fall, at your feet,

Samuel Hearne, with two spears in her,
you helpless before your helpers,

and she twisted about them like
an eel, dying, never to know.

Omar Khadr

The Unending Torture of Omar Khadr

JEFF TIETZ / Rolling Stone 24aug2007

He was a child of jihad, a teenage soldier in bin Laden's army. Captured on the battlefield when he was only fifteen, he has been held at Guantanamo Bay for the past four years — subjected to unspeakable abuse sanctioned by the president himself Jeff Tietz

In July 2002, a Special Forces unit in southeast Afghanistan received intelligence that a group of Al Qaeda fighters was operating out of a mud-brick compound in Ab Khail, a small hill town near the Pakistani border. The Taliban regime had fallen seven months earlier, but the rough border regions had not yet been secured. When the soldiers arrived at the compound, they looked through a crack in the door and saw five men armed with assault rifles sitting inside. The soldiers called for the men to surrender. The men refused. The soldiers sent Pashto translators into the compound to negotiate. The men promptly slaughtered the translators. The American soldiers called in air support and laid siege to the compound, bombing and strafing it until it was flat and silent. They walked into the ruins. They had not gotten far when a wounded fighter, concealed behind a broken wall, threw a grenade, killing Special Forces Sgt. Christopher Speer. The soldiers immediately shot the fighter three times in the chest, and he collapsed. When the soldiers got close, they saw that he was just a boy. Fifteen years old and slightly built, he could have passed for thirteen. He was bleeding heavily from his wounds, but he was — unbelievably — alive. The soldiers stood over him.

"Kill me," he murmured, in fluent English. "Please, just kill me."

His name was Omar Khadr. Born into a fundamentalist Muslim family in Toronto, he had been prepared for jihad since he was a small boy. His parents, who were Egyptian and Palestinian, had raised him to believe that religious martyrdom was the highest achievement he could aspire to. In the Khadr family, suicide bombers were spoken of with great respect. According to U.S intelligence, Omar's father used charities as front groups to raise and launder money for Al Qaeda. Omar's formal military training — bombmaking, assault-rifle marksmanship, combat tactics — before he turned twelve. For nearly a year before the Ab Khail siege, according to the U.S. government, Omar and his father and brothers had fought with the Taliban against American and Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan. Before that, they had been living in Jalalabad, with Osama bin Laden. Omar spent much of his adolescence in Al Qaeda compounds.


Curious Fisk article

Robert Fisk: Even I question the 'truth' about 9/11
Published: 25 August 2007

Each time I lecture abroad on the Middle East, there is always someone in the audience – just one – whom I call the "raver". Apologies here to all the men and women who come to my talks with bright and pertinent questions – often quite humbling ones for me as a journalist – and which show that they understand the Middle East tragedy a lot better than the journalists who report it. But the "raver" is real. He has turned up in corporeal form in Stockholm and in Oxford, in Sao Paulo and in Yerevan, in Cairo, in Los Angeles and, in female form, in Barcelona. No matter the country, there will always be a "raver".

His – or her – question goes like this. Why, if you believe you're a free journalist, don't you report what you really know about 9/11? Why don't you tell the truth – that the Bush administration (or the CIA or Mossad, you name it) blew up the twin towers? Why don't you reveal the secrets behind 9/11? The assumption in each case is that Fisk knows – that Fisk has an absolute concrete, copper-bottomed fact-filled desk containing final proof of what "all the world knows" (that usually is the phrase) – who destroyed the twin towers. Sometimes the "raver" is clearly distressed. One man in Cork screamed his question at me, and then – the moment I suggested that his version of the plot was a bit odd – left the hall, shouting abuse and kicking over chairs.

Usually, I have tried to tell the "truth"; that while there are unanswered questions about 9/11, I am the Middle East correspondent of The Independent, not the conspiracy correspondent; that I have quite enough real plots on my hands in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Iran, the Gulf, etc, to worry about imaginary ones in Manhattan. My final argument – a clincher, in my view – is that the Bush administration has screwed up everything – militarily, politically diplomatically – it has tried to do in the Middle East; so how on earth could it successfully bring off the international crimes against humanity in the United States on 11 September 2001?

Well, I still hold to that view. Any military which can claim – as the Americans did two days ago – that al-Qa'ida is on the run is not capable of carrying out anything on the scale of 9/11. "We disrupted al-Qa'ida, causing them to run," Colonel David Sutherland said of the preposterously code-named "Operation Lightning Hammer" in Iraq's Diyala province. "Their fear of facing our forces proves the terrorists know there is no safe haven for them." And more of the same, all of it untrue.

Within hours, al-Qa'ida attacked Baquba in battalion strength and slaughtered all the local sheikhs who had thrown in their hand with the Americans. It reminds me of Vietnam, the war which George Bush watched from the skies over Texas – which may account for why he this week mixed up the end of the Vietnam war with the genocide in a different country called Cambodia, whose population was eventually rescued by the same Vietnamese whom Mr Bush's more courageous colleagues had been fighting all along.

But – here we go. I am increasingly troubled at the inconsistencies in the official narrative of 9/11. It's not just the obvious non sequiturs: where are the aircraft parts (engines, etc) from the attack on the Pentagon? Why have the officials involved in the United 93 flight (which crashed in Pennsylvania) been muzzled? Why did flight 93's debris spread over miles when it was supposed to have crashed in one piece in a field? Again, I'm not talking about the crazed "research" of David Icke's Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster – which should send any sane man back to reading the telephone directory.

I am talking about scientific issues. If it is true, for example, that kerosene burns at 820C under optimum conditions, how come the steel beams of the twin towers – whose melting point is supposed to be about 1,480C – would snap through at the same time? (They collapsed in 8.1 and 10 seconds.) What about the third tower – the so-called World Trade Centre Building 7 (or the Salmon Brothers Building) – which collapsed in 6.6 seconds in its own footprint at 5.20pm on 11 September? Why did it so neatly fall to the ground when no aircraft had hit it? The American National Institute of Standards and Technology was instructed to analyse the cause of the destruction of all three buildings. They have not yet reported on WTC 7. Two prominent American professors of mechanical engineering – very definitely not in the "raver" bracket – are now legally challenging the terms of reference of this final report on the grounds that it could be "fraudulent or deceptive".

Journalistically, there were many odd things about 9/11. Initial reports of reporters that they heard "explosions" in the towers – which could well have been the beams cracking – are easy to dismiss. Less so the report that the body of a female air crew member was found in a Manhattan street with her hands bound. OK, so let's claim that was just hearsay reporting at the time, just as the CIA's list of Arab suicide-hijackers, which included three men who were – and still are – very much alive and living in the Middle East, was an initial intelligence error.

But what about the weird letter allegedly written by Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian hijacker-murderer with the spooky face, whose "Islamic" advice to his gruesome comrades – released by the CIA – mystified every Muslim friend I know in the Middle East? Atta mentioned his family – which no Muslim, however ill-taught, would be likely to include in such a prayer. He reminds his comrades-in-murder to say the first Muslim prayer of the day and then goes on to quote from it. But no Muslim would need such a reminder – let alone expect the text of the "Fajr" prayer to be included in Atta's letter.

Let me repeat. I am not a conspiracy theorist. Spare me the ravers. Spare me the plots. But like everyone else, I would like to know the full story of 9/11, not least because it was the trigger for the whole lunatic, meretricious "war on terror" which has led us to disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan and in much of the Middle East. Bush's happily departed adviser Karl Rove once said that "we're an empire now – we create our own reality". True? At least tell us. It would stop people kicking over chairs.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

All that is alive merely evaporates

Russia unveils its ‘vacuum bomb'


September 11, 2007 at 5:21 PM EDT

MOSCOW — Russia has tested the world's most powerful vacuum bomb, an explosive device unleashing a destructive shockwave with the power of a nuclear weapon, the military said on Tuesday.

The bomb is the latest in a series of new Russian weapons and policy moves unveiled as President Vladimir Putin tries to reassert Moscow's role on the international stage.

"Test results of the new airborne weapon have shown that its efficiency and power is commensurate with a nuclear weapon," Alexander Rukshin, Russian deputy armed forces chief of staff, told Russia's ORT First Channel television.

"You will now see it in action, the bomb which has no match in the world is being tested at a military site," the state-controlled channel said. It showed a Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber dropping the bomb over a testing ground. A large explosion followed.

Pictures followed of what looked like a flattened multi-storeyed block of flats, surrounded by scorched soil and boulders.

"The defence ministry stresses this military invention does not contradict a single international treaty. Russia is not unleashing a new arms race," the channel said.

Such devices generally detonate in two stages. First a small blast disperses a main load of explosive material into a cloud, which then either spontaneously ignites in air or is set off by a second charge.

This explosion generates a pressure wave that reaches much further than that from a conventional explosive. The consumption of gases in the blast also generates a partial vacuum that can compound damage and injuries caused by the explosion itself.

"The main destruction is inflicted by an ultrasonic shockwave and an incredibly high temperature," the report said. "All that is alive merely evaporates."

"At the same time, I want to stress that the action of this weapon does not contaminate the environment, in contrast to a nuclear one," Mr. Rukshin said.

Poetry is...

By Poet Stephen Brockwell

I hesitate to start with definitions, but it’s fair that you understand what I mean when I talk about poems, poets, and poetics. Many take these terms for granted, but the residual math student in my brain can’t resist searching for useful, stab-in-the-dark definitions of these terms. For the sake of inclusiveness (which will be of value later), I think of a poem as a gathering of gestures that a spectator (visual) or audience (auditory) – reader, viewer, listener – experiences as “poetic.” The Greek root of the word poesis suggests making or creating, but I prefer the implied reciprocity of gathering. A poem is never simply made up, never created from nothing; it is always assembled, put together from parts. This is, of course, true at many levels – the simplest, sound and word, are the subjects of this session; the increasingly elaborate gatherings, and gatherings of gatherings, we’ll think about later: line, sentence, utterance, trope, form, poem.

But let’s return to the gestures. I’ve said that I want to be inclusive – I want to include visual poetry, dance, painting, architecture. It may seem too inclusive to use the word gesture for the raw material of poems. But I don’t believe it would be wise to draw sharp distinctions at this point. Do we want to demand, for example, that a tone poem should simply be called a symphony? Do we want to insist that the calligraphic script of traditional haiku serves only as ornament? Do we want to draw a fixed boundary between poetry and song, and thus excise medieval ballads and Shakespeare’s songs from our repertoire of poems? I don’t think we learn much by drawing such boundaries without first thinking about what might be lost if we do.

A gathering of gestures is poetic if it holds certain aesthetic properties that would be absent if the gestures were gathered differently, or if they were presented by themselves. Let me point out that this notion of a poem hearkens back to Aristotle’s definition of tragedy. In The Poetics, Aristotle defined tragedy as an imitation of an action that is serious, complete and of a certain magnitude. Some might say that a work of art is poetic if it is whole, indivisible, and integral, or that it should be open, ambiguous, and inventive. The important point is this: the pleasure in a gathering of gestures depends on the spectator or audience. Poetry is ultimately subjective – no single human can authoritatively pass unequivocal judgments on a poem or a body of work. Besides, passing judgment is not the poet’s primary function; passing judgment is a secondary function as the poem’s first reader.

Poetics is the articulation of particular arts of gathering gestures. I like the sound of that, but I think it’s insufficient. It invites the lurking difficulty in this terminological exercise. What’s art?

I think of the poet as nothing but the poem’s first listener or reader, the person who for the first time takes up the gathering, beholds it, re-gathers it and takes it up again.

Poetry begins in the body as sound. The abdomen, diaphragm and lungs propel the breath; the larynx and vocal chords vibrate; the pharynx, oral, and nasal cavities resonate; the lips, tongue and palate articulate – wind, string and percussion in a single blood-and-bone box. Our subtle and elastic vocal apparatus is capable of a greater diversity of sound than any other acoustic instrument that I can think of (if you think of an acoustic instrument that can produce a wider diversity of sounds than the mouth in full flight, tell me). We have taught, or been taught by, our bones, tendons, cartilage, muscles, nerves and neurons to distinguish between ah and eh?, bah! and be, and to make art from such distinctions and their playful variations. The private reader who rides a bus, book-in-lap, whose swinging irises signal their immersion in a text, partakes of the sound of poetry even in silence. I would leave it to a neurologist to prove the following intuition: the act of reading stimulates the same parts of the nervous system that produce and recognize speech.

The first act that fastened sound to a thing, an action or a state of mind is almost certainly lost to us, which is too bad because it was the first mighty good poem. It's easy enough to think of the obvious: a cry of pain or pleasure becomes a sign for pain or pleasure; a … The fundamentals of an interesting poem would have found expression in the first utterances (if there was a big bang of language) – stimulating, memorable, contagiously repeatable sound, a mind-grabbing trope, speech: a poem.

Visual representation of sound ... think of the pictographic quality of hieroglyphics and oriental characters.

Tangible versus intelligible: a dog finds dirt tangible because it can put it in its mouth; it cannot make dirt intelligible. Is language necessary for intelligibility?

At the atomic level of sound, a poet needs to walk with his tongue in stop-motion through the spaces between one sound and another, between vowels in a diphthong, between the consonants in “diphthong”, and between syllables in a word. See Fenolossa on time and transitive verbs. See Ormsby on "Poetry as Isotope."

A poet is the kind of person who will, in the course of an hour or two, hunt for the longest, richest single syllable for the pure pleasure of feeling the sound in the mouth in the same way that a baby squishes applesauce in its fingers: blenched, droughts, fraught, strains, stretched, straights, strengths. A poet – and a decent reader of poetry – must enjoy the sound and taste of these words. Let me clarify what I mean by the taste of a word: I mean its mouth-feel, its physical presence in the mouth, its effect on the tongue over the only apparently brief moment of its existence between other words.

Word as act; word as thing. Certain words seem to resemble what they signify. The word stretch, for example, takes a long time to say. I've heard that the Dutch word for stretch has the same properties. Plato's dialog Cratylus concerns this topic. Cratylus believes that words were once much closer to things in themselves. Hermogenes believes that words are nothing but conventional associations between sounds and things that are established by agreement. I'm of the opinion that many poets are willful cratylists - they want to believe that poems invoke directly what they refer to. Some do; I have no doubt about it. By the way, this goes well beyond simple onomatopoeia. See Genette on Valery (and Cratylus).

Even if poets must accept the conventional nature of language, I think they do so grudgingly. A good poet compresses the distance between signifier and signified to a point, a white dwarf star that shines, out of view, like the phosphorus at the bottom of the sea in A. M. Klein's “Portrait of the Poet as Landscape.”

Things to consider for the workshop:

Carefully choose a single syllable word that you find particularly beautiful, ugly, sonorous or discordant. Describe the physical properties of the word in clear and simple language. Write a brief critique of the word; explain why you find the word heavy, light, gorgeous or gaudy.

Bp Nichol's “Drum and a Wheel” depends for its effect on an asymmetrical moving frame. Pick a simple phrase and put it through a similar procedure.

Think about Rimbaud's “Voyelles”. Pick a few of your favorite consonants and write a few lines for each.

bp Nichol's "Cycle #22"
Peter Van Toorn's translation of Rimbaud's Voyelles
Rimbaud's Voyelles
Eric Ormsby's essay "Poetry as Isotope"
Ernest Fenolossa "The Chinese Character as a Medium for Poetry"
Gerard Genette's "Valery and the Poetics of Language"
Louis Zukofsky's "Peri Poietikes"
George Johnston's "Shadowy"

Weston on the dance of the seven veils

Lifting veil on voting
Elections Canada enforcing changes Conservatives passed

As Canadians mark the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Stephen Harper is apparently mad as hell over Islam's veiled voters, and isn't going to take it anymore.

What got the otherwise fun-loving PM fired up was a press release from Elections Canada stating veiled Muslim women will be able to vote in the coming federal byelections in Quebec.

Naturally, driver's licences and other photo ID used by most voters to confirm their identity at the polling booth are of little value with only a pair of eyes behind a Muslim niqab.

Instead, a Muslim woman not wanting to unveil can now qualify to vote by producing a second piece of non-photo identification approved by Elections Canada.

Alternatively, she would be entitled to a ballot if both she and another registered constituent in the same riding swore out affidavits.

The same rules will apply to all future federal elections.

"I profoundly disagree with the decision," Harper reportedly said at the end of his recent meetings with Pacific Rim leaders in Australia.

"I have to say that it concerns me greatly because the role of Elections Canada is not to make its own laws, it's to put in place the laws that Parliament has passed. So I hope they'll reconsider this decision."

Otherwise, the PM warned, "Parliament will have to consider what actions it's going to take to make sure that it's intentions are put into place."


All of which sparked much heated controversy in other political quarters (and some truly lamentable journalism).

Quebec Premier Jean Charest wholeheartedly agreed with the PM, calling the matter a "bad decision."

Lawrence Cannon, the federal transport minister from Quebec, said: "Political correctness has superceded common sense. These are the kinds of things ordinary people don't understand."

One of the reasons ordinary folk might be confused is that most of the aforementioned commentary from Harper et al is at best misinformed.

Elections Canada didn't "decide" anything new.

In response to inquiries from reporters covering the federal byelections, the agency simply reiterated the government's "statutory requirements regarding the identification of electors wearing face coverings."

Far from the federal electoral office "making its own laws," as the PM claims, it is simply enforcing changes to the Elections Act passed by Harper's own government last year.

Those changes were based on hearings and an extensive report last year by a parliamentary committee which, in turn, was reviewing the 2005 recommendations of the then-chief electoral officer.

After all that, parliamentarians decided in their collective wisdom that the best way to deal with the veiled voter issue was to find other ways for Muslim women to vote.

If the prime minister "profoundly" disagreed with that decision, as he now says, he forgot to mention it at the time his government was passing the legislation.

The other problem legislators have recognized is there really isn't much of a problem.

More than 80,000 Canadians voted in the last election by mail-in ballot, no facial recognition required.

As numerous Muslim groups have been quick to point out in the past few days of controversy, there are maybe 50 women in all of Quebec who wear the eyes-only niqab.

And all of them, we are told, are used to showing their faces at banks and other places that require official identification.

Lift the veil on this issue and the problem is entirely in the eyes of beholders.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

When the revolution starts to go off the rails

September 5, 2007
Caracas Journal
A Culture of Naming That Even a Law May Not Tame

CARACAS, Venezuela, Sept. 4 — Goodbye, Tutankamen del Sol.

So long, Hengelberth, Maolenin, Kerbert Krishnamerk, Githanjaly, Yornaichel, Nixon and Yurbiladyberth. The prolifically inventive world of Venezuelan baby names may be coming to an end.

If electoral officials here get their way, a bill introduced last week would prohibit Venezuelan parents from bestowing those names — and many, many others — on their children.

The measure would not be retroactive. But it would limit parents of newborns to a list of 100 names established by the government, with exemptions for Indians and foreigners, and it is already facing skepticism in the halls of the National Assembly.

“I need to know how they would define those 100 names,” said Jhonny Owee Milano Rodríguez, a congressman representing Cojedes State. “For example, why not 120? This seems arbitrary to me.”

Mr. Milano, 55, said his first name, Jhonny, spelled as such, was inspired by the international ambience of the oil town in eastern Venezuela where he was born. Owee, he said, was erroneously entered in the birth registry instead of Oved.

The bill’s ambition, according to a draft submitted to municipal offices here for review, is to “preserve the equilibrium and integral development of the child” by preventing parents from giving newborns names that expose them to ridicule or are “extravagant or hard to pronounce in the official language,” Spanish.

The bill also aims to prevent names that “generate doubts” about the bearer’s gender.

Some of Mr. Milano’s colleagues in the National Assembly, which is controlled by supporters of President Hugo Chávez, include Iroshima Jennifer Bravo Quevedo, Earle José Herrera Silva and Grace Nagarith Lucena Rosendy. Legislators need to approve the bill before it becomes law.

Whimsical names can also be found in other Latin American countries. Honduras has first names like Ronald Reagan, Transfiguración and Compañía Holandesa (Dutch Company), according to the newspaper El Heraldo. In Panama, local news media this year reported name-change efforts by an Esthewoldo, a Kairovan and a Max Donald.

But Venezuela’s naming tradition rivals or exceeds that of its neighbors, many people here say. Some first names in Venezuela include Haynhect, Olmelibey, Yan Karll and Udemixon, according to a list compiled by the novelist Roberto Echeto.

Other names here easily roll off the tongue in English, like Kennedy or John Wayne, or in Russian, like Pavel or Ilich, reflecting influences from the cold war era.

Municipal clerks’ offices, where parents register their children, have become forums for debating the possible restrictions.

“The children of my cousins are named Keiserlin, Jeiserlin, Keifel, Yurubi, Arol Kiling,” said Leidy Marrero, 29, a budget analyst. Ms. Marrero named her newborn daughter Mariángela, combining María and Ángela.

“It’s a question of taste,” she said in an interview at the clerk’s office in the San Bernardino district of Caracas, explaining her opposition to the measure. “It is a parent’s right.”

Some parents exercise that right more liberally than others.

Software searches of the voter registry find more than 60 people of voting age with the first name Hitler, including Hitler Adonys Rodríguez Crespo; eight Hochiminhs, among them Hochiminh Jesús Delgado Sierra; and six Eisenhowers, including Dwight Eisenhower Rojas Barboza.

Unusual names in Venezuela are often grist for awe or humor, but the issue is also politicized, given President Chávez’s gusto for renaming things, with critics of the bill claiming it would enhance his government’s naming authority in a realm where the fancy of parents still holds sway.

One of the president’s first moves was to change the country’s name from Republic of Venezuela to Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Part of Avenida Páez here has been renamed Avenida Teheran in a nod to Iran. The currency, the bolívar, is to be called the “bolívar fuerte,” or strong bolívar, starting next year.

In an editorial, the newspaper El Nacional described the measure as “malicious.”

The authorities may yet bend to public will. Germán Yépez, an official with the National Electoral Council, said the measure originated after children were given names like Superman and Batman. Still, he said in comments broadcast on radio, he welcomed “this type of positive reaction and suggestions.”

Not everyone denounces the bill. Temutchin del Espíritu Santo Rojas Fernández, 25, a computer programmer, explained that his first name was inspired by the birth name of Genghis Khan, often spelled Temujin in English. He said he frequently had to correct the spelling of his name on official documents.

And in Venezuela, where the tax authorities require name and national identity number for every purchase needing a receipt, pronouncing and spelling out Temutchin del Espíritu Santo can get tiring, Mr. Rojas Fernández said. “With a name this complicated, you lose time,” he said.

“It also creates social problems,” he continued. “When interacting with others, not everyone can pronounce your name. I have to pronounce my name five times and spell it twice.”

José Orozco contributed reporting.

The word "Exclusive"

just doesn't mean the same thing anymore.

Veil removal not required for fed vote

Thu, 2007-09-06 01:36.

John Elston
(Reporting by Brian Lilley, CFRB Ottawa Bureau Chief)

It was an explosive issue during the last provincial election in Quebec, now it is back. Elections Canada is ruling that Muslim women will not have to remove their veils in order to vote during the September 17th by-elections in Quebec.

A new federal law, which received royal assent in June of this year, will require Canadians to prove their identity before casting a ballot. Voters will be asked for government issued photo-id before being allowed to vote. Those without the required id can provide two other pieces of acceptable identification or have another voter in the district vouch for them.

While Muslim women will be asked for photo-id such as a driver's license, they will not be required to remove their veil. A spokesman for Elections Canada tells CFRB that women may choose to remove the veil but if they opt not to, they can simply provide a second piece of identification in addition to the driver's license. Women who choose not to unveil will also be given the opportunity to swear an oath and have another voter vouch for them, but Elections Canada says two veiled individuals will not be allowed to vouch for each other.

DATE: 2007.04.10

Muslims face unveiling Tory bill in Senate would require voters to show government-issued ID

Veiled Muslim women might be forced to show their faces at the voting booth if a government bill quietly making its way through the Senate becomes law, says Canada's new chief electoral officer.

The bill, which has passed through the House and is being studied by a Senate committee, would require voters to show government-issued photo ID at the polls.


Marc Mayrand says the bill, if passed, would plop the controversial issue of the veil, which created a stir during the recent Quebec election, on the lap of Elections Canada.

"If it passes, it will have to be addressed," Mayrand tells Sun Media. "We have to review the situation."

The bill also allows for alternative identification authorized by Elections Canada. Those without identification can have someone else registered in the same polling division vouch for them by swearing an oath.

The Muslim Canadian Congress sees no problem with the bill.

"We believe that no one who covers their face should be allowed to vote," says congress founder Tarek Fatah.

"If men came up wearing masks, they would not be allowed to vote, so why should women covering their faces be allowed to vote?" he asks.

Fatah says Muslim groups causing a stir over the issue of veils at the voting booth want to increase hostilities between the Muslim community and the rest of Canada.

The NDP has opposed the legislation, dubbing it "a Big Brother bill" because it promises to hand personal information over to political parties and candidates.

Public outrage forced Quebec's electoral officer to reverse a decision that allowed Muslim women to wear the niqab at the voting booth.


Marcel Blanchet received calls from voters threatening to disrupt the election by wearing masks and Halloween costumes to polling stations.

Mayrand says Blanchet faced an "exceptional situation" that could have spun "out of control."

Voters are currently not required to show photo ID during federal elections.

Under the bill, Elections Canada would be required to create lifetime identifying numbers for the more than 22 million voters. Birth dates would also be included on permanent voters' lists, updated yearly and available to parties and candidates.

Federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddard has raised concerns about including birth dates on voters' lists

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

On the Road turns 50

Where have you gone Jack Kerouac?

Today is the 50th anniversary of On the Road
The purity of the road. The white line in the middle of the highway unrolled and hugged our left front tire as if glued to our groove.
In no time at all we were back on the main highway and that night I saw the entire state of Nebraska unroll before my eyes. A hundred and ten miles an hour straight through, an arrow road, sleeping towns, no traffic, and the Union Pacific streamliner falling behind us in the moonlight. I wasn't frightened at all that night; it was perfectly legitimate to go 110 and talk and have all the Nebraska towns--Ogallala, Gotehnburg, Kearney, Grand Island, Columbus--unroll with dreamlike rapidity as we roared ahead and talked. It was a magnificent car; it could hold the road like a boat holds on water. Gradual curves were its singing ease. 'Ah, man, what a dreamboat,' sighed Dean. 'Think if you and I had a car like this what we could do. Do you know there's a road that goes down Mexico and all the way to Panama?--and maybe all the way to the bottom of South America where the Indians are seven feet tall and eat cocaine on the mountainside? Yes! You and I, Sal, we'd dig the whole world with a car like this because, man, the road must eventually lead to the whole world. Ain't nowhere else it can go--right? Oh, and are we going to cut around old Chi with this thing! Think of it, Sal, I've never been to Chicago in all my life, never stopped.'
'We'd come in there like gangsters in this Cadillac!'
So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.

When I killed a seagull in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut

The trigger pulled and nothing happened but the guy I was with laughed and said I had to cock it, like in the movies, and then I felt the power. The gun exploded in my arms. The seagulls continued to circle char snared on nets left bare by the Hudson Bay tide. I aimed again, eye up the thick barrel of the shotgun following the corkscrew flight path of one seagull as it descended and ascended.

It burst like a small firework of feathers and dropped into tall grass rimming the shore. It lay like a contorted angel, one wing a mangled blood bone feather mess. A small thread of red traced a path from its eye down its soft neck and its beak opened once. I was told to crush its skull with a large stone.

I had swallowed the tequila worm earlier in a shack owned by NHL player Jordin Tootoo’s parents that sat a few kilometers from Rankin Inlet down a dirt road kept smooth by men in pick-up trucks with a tire tied to the tailgate through tundra that flowed over the edge of the world.

Nunavut falling apart

A former colleague at Sun Media has an interesting story today that quotes from an internal Indian Affairs document that says Nunavut is falling apart:

"Nunavut faces a particular governance and human capacity challenge," the report reads. "Urgent social issues threaten to seriously hinder development and governance and to leave a generation behind."

Sounds a bit alarming, but then Nunavut has been on financial life support from the beginning and its well-known social problems are legion. But are things seriously coming apart? Inuit were relocated to the far north, as in the case of Resolute in 1955, to assert Canadian sovereignty so it is still in the interest of Ottawa to ensure Nunavut thrives.

The story also says that: "Enhanced surveillance with space-based satellites, new measures to drive economic development and fast-tracked settlements of Native land claims are included in a sweeping Arctic sovereignty plan that could be launched with a "major reference" in this fall's Speech from the Throne."

I wonder what Native land claims the government is referring to? Nunavut was the product of a massive land claim deal.

This don't look so hot for Harper and co.

So the Naumetz and Mcgregor hit parade continues....

Fine print made ads legitimate, Tories say
National party commercials tagged as candidate messages

Tim Naumetz and Glen Mcgregor
The Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The federal Conservative party
presented television commercials produced for its national campaign in the 2006 election as advertising for local candidates by tacking fine-print lists of candidates and ridings to the end of the ads.

The costs of the ads, broadcast in Quebec and Ontario, are part of the $1.2 million worth of advertising that has sparked a court battle between Elections Canada and the Conservative party and led to a brewing political storm over allegations the party exceeded its total campaign spending limit.

The ads, some of which invoked the Liberal sponsorship scandal by stating they were paid for with "clean money," are also the subject of an examination by federal Elections Commissioner William Corbett. His investigators began looking into the spending after Conservative candidates attempted to claim reimbursements for the costs as part of their local campaigns.

One commercial, among eight TV ads and two radio spots obtained by the Citizen from Elections Canada, features a group of Canadians in a diner watching a TV with images of Paul Martin, Justice John Gomery and former public works minister David Dingwall. The ad became familiar to voters across the country and featured Judge Gomery's quote about a "culture of entitlement" in the sponsorship scandal.

The ad also features Mr. Dingwall's equally-infamous quote, "I'm entitled to my entitlements," made during a Commons inquiry into his expense account as president of the Royal Canadian Mint.

The only reference to local Conservative candidates comes at the end of the ad, which says, in small lettering, that it was authorized and paid for by the official agents in seven electoral districts in the Greater Toronto Area. The candidates are not named. The name of one of the ridings, Vaughan, is misspelled as "Vaughn."

The dispute between Elections Canada and the party hinges on whether the ads were intended to promote local candidates, or whether they were part of the national campaign.

A Citizen review of campaign spending for all parties in the election found that the Conservative party transferred large sums of money, up to $50,000, to more than 50 candidate campaigns, primarily in Quebec and Ontario.

The Tories set up an intricate system for the candidates to use the money to pay the party for radio, TV and other advertising. Under orders from party headquarters, official agents for the candidates involved were required to fax signed copies of bank transfer instructions to the party, which a party financial officer later used to instruct the candidates' banks to forward payments for the ads.

Several candidates told the Citizen the process was intended to allow them to claim 60 per cent of the advertising expenses in rebates from Elections Canada.

The scheme also might have allowed the party to spend money on advertising outside its $18.3-million overall campaign limit by channelling the costs through the ridings. The party ended the campaign $270,000 under its legal limit.

Elections Canada has rejected the rebate claims from candidates, saying they have produced no evidence they actually contracted the advertising themselves and that local ads are intended to benefit individual candidates.

The party says the ads are legitimate expenses incurred by their candidates because they carry the fine print identifying the official agents of the campaigns that the party says funded them.

"Our tag lines are clearly identified," said Conservative party spokesman Ryan Sparrow. "These ads were paid for by local campaigns, and that's our party's position."

But Elections Canada says the tag lines listing the official agents are "not relevant" in determining whether the ads are legitimate expenses for the candidates.

"Under the Canada Elections Act, for costs to be claimed as an election expense by a candidate, the property or service for which the cost was incurred must be used to directly promote or oppose a candidate during an election period," said Elections Canada spokesman Serge Fleylel.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bush for president

Another day of furrowed brows in PMO press office

McGregor and Naumetz strike again. This one is a sizzler. And, in other news, the Canadian political system gets a sudden overhaul while you slept.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

In other news

Maybe we should pay more attention to this?

Could this

stalemate continue until after the provincial election?

What a difference

a day makes. Twenty-four little hours.

One consuming flame

The combatants collided like thunderbolts and all was one consuming flame
Frederich Holderlin, Hyperion

I first walked into Centre Block on Parliament Hill in 2004, the first autumn of the Martin minority government and the neo-gothic spires rang with the shouts of partisan war. The ground beneath my feet shifted on the hour, the half hour and sometimes every minute. The plotters in the backrooms played the game like teenagers around a Risk board. One moment blue moved in from Europe to crush red in Africa but orange moved its pieces to strike blue's remnants in Europe from Iceland. The dice clattered like snare drums in a military parade as the pundits debated the exact measurements of each leader's body bag.

This time, however, it appears the frenzy of those days will be eclipsed by the mad cacophony that will shake the limestone walls of power and the dust from opening skirmishes already clouds the reddening horizon. The parties will fight like starving dogs for the bits of percentage points still scattered around the bowl of voter intentions for that is all that is up for grabs

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Perception out there


INVADED WED. AUG. 29TH. Brothers, Sisters, Friends, Allies,

Supporters, and Environmentalists needed!

MNN. August 28, 2007. Judge Gordon Thompson has ordered the

Algonquins who are blocking access to a proposed uranium mine

north of Sharbot Lake to leave immediately. The people have been

told to expect the police on Wednesday, August 29th. All supporters

are asked to come to the site to help maintain the peace. This is only

the beginning of things to come under the conservative regime with

the help of the liberals at Queen’s Park Toronto. The Bush

administration in Washington DC needs uranium for their military

industrial schemes.

(The rest)

In my thoughts


Best Journalism of the summer

This, I think, is the third story they have unleashed on this topic. Brilliant. Two of the best in the biz....

Election watchdog 'examining' disputed Tory ad expenses
Elections Canada referred case to commissioner

Tim Naumetz and Glen McGregor
The Ottawa Citizen

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Federal election watchdog William Corbett is "examining" disputed advertising expenses claimed by Conservative candidates in the last election.

Elections Canada confirmed yesterday that it referred the issue last April to Mr. Corbett, who as Commissioner of Canada Elections has the power to pass on cases to prosecutors.

"The Chief Electoral Officer has asked the Commissioner of Canada Elections to examine the circumstances surrounding the media-buy program," said Serge Fleylel, an Elections Canada spokesman.

Mr. Corbett's involvement indicates the potentially serious nature of the dispute between Elections Canada and the Conservatives over $1 million in advertising costs its candidates paid the party, after the party transferred the money to them.

Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc says the decision to send the case to the commissioner raises the stakes for the Conservatives.

"For a whole file to be referred to the commissioner, separate and apart from the normal Elections Canada bureaucracy, kicks it up to another level," he said.

Violations of the Elections Act that Mr. Corbett enforces are subject to fines and imprisonment.

There could also be political consequences for the Conservatives if it were proved they broke the rules during an election campaign they ran largely on ethics.

The Conservative party would not comment on Mr. Corbett's involvement. The party says it is in full compliance with the Elections Act.

The month after Mr. Corbett was asked to examine the media buy, 34 official agents for Tory candidates took Elections Canada to Federal Court. They are challenging Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand's refusal to approve some candidate claims for radio and television advertising from the 2006 campaign.

If the court upholds Mr. Mayrand's decision, the party could be forced to list the cost of the advertising under its national campaign, pushing it over its allowed expense limit, in violation of the Elections Act.

Elections Canada disallowed some Conservative candidates from claiming the advertising expenses, saying the candidates failed to provide "clear evidence" that they incurred the advertising costs.

"The need for such evidence became imperative when doubts arose as to whether the expense was incurred by the candidates and whether these candidates and their agents had in fact contracted for the purchase of the advertising," wrote Barbara McIsaac, lawyer for Elections Canada, in a letter filed in Federal Court.

The ads were funded through what some officials referred to as an "in-and-out," whereby the party transferred money to candidates who bought the ads, Ms. McIsaac wrote.

Transfers from political parties to candidates are common among all parties and legal, the Conservative party says.

The "regional" ads in question promoted the candidates who paid for them, as indicated by the "tag lines" that referred to their official agents, the party says. Payments were processed via the party as an "administrative convenience," the party says.

A letter to Elections Canada from the media placement agency that handled the Tory ads says the 2005-06 campaign media buy for the party was divided into four sections: party ads for Quebec, ads for the rest of Canada, and two separate buys for participating candidates inside and outside Quebec.

"Appropriate invoices reflecting goods and services rendered were separately issued to participating Conservative candidates and to the registered party based on the four segments identified," said the letter from Retail Media, the company the Tories used. The letter is part of the court record.

Several Conservative candidates have separately told Elections Canada and the Citizen that they believed the money they paid was for national campaign advertising.

Yesterday, one former Conservative candidate said he was surprised to learn that his official agent was among the 34 named as applicants in the Federal Court case.

Gary Caldwell, who ran an unsuccessful campaign in the Sherbrooke, Que.-area riding of Compton-Stanstead, said he did not know his riding was involved in the litigation.

"I assumed we weren't in that because I never authorized that," he said. He said he was content with Elections Canada's decision to disallow the expense claim for ads he bought through the party and had considered the matter closed.

In an amended financial statement, the expense was listed instead as an amount not included in campaign expenses and became ineligible for the 60-per- cent rebate Elections Canada pays for allowed costs.

"It is rather a strange position that we find ourselves in," Mr. Caldwell said. "Technically, I'm contesting it and verbally I'm saying we're not."

Mr. Caldwell is running as candidate for the Green party in the next federal election. He said he left the Conservatives because he was dissatisfied with the government's efforts on environmental issues and with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's failure to strengthen the role of MPs in the House of Commons.

The Conservatives say candidates were not consulted about the case because the ads were bought by their official agents.

Once approved by a judge, the name of Mr. Caldwell's agent and several others will be dropped from the case.

Lawyers for both sides have agreed to let the names of only two agents stand in the case. In the election, the agents represented losing Conservative candidates in Dartmouth, N. S., and London, Ont.

Whatever decision the court makes in those cases will likely set a precedent for the other candidates' returns.
© The Ottawa Citizen 2007

Who moves next?

Algonquin on 'red alert' after order to end blockade
The Ottawa Citizen
Tue 28 Aug 2007
Page: C1 / FRONT
Section: City
Byline: Ciara Byrne
Source: The Ottawa Citizen

An order demanding the Algonquin community quit its blockade at Sharbot Lake immediately has put members on "red alert."

"We're filling this place up," said Paula Sherman, co-chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, who said she's surprised the events have turned sour so quickly. The community now awaits a possible confrontation in what they said they hoped would be a peaceful protest.

Since June, the Ardoch community and Shabot Obaadjiwan Algonquin First Nation have been battling Frontenac Ventures over a proposed uranium mine. The company's plans to drill core samples ended when the First Nations people moved in and blocked the area on June 28.

Last Thursday, Christopher Reid, a lawyer for the Ardoch, said his clients had pulled out of the case, in which Frontenac sought a permanent injunction to remove the blockade.

A judge said the Algonquins should remove all signs and vehicles, but he did not mention removal of the protesters.

Then last night, Mr. Reid received notification from Justice Gordon Thomson of the Ontario Superior court of an interim injunction. The injunction stated that any representative or supporters would have to leave immediately. It also stated that Frontenac would have "unfettered and unobstructed access" to the property.

The OPP had expressed reluctance to get involved. But the injunction gives them authority to arrest and remove any person who contravenes the order.

"This is the result of what happened in the court after we left," said Mr. Reid. "As far as the Ardoch are concerned, there's no change."

Ms. Sherman added: "The bottom line is we won't be leaving here. We will continue to secure this entire area. People have already begun to flood in here when the news went out."

Ms. Sherman said the court was warned the increasingly tense situation could turn ugly.

"We said if this was to transpire and to escalate, hundreds of people would pour into this site and that's exactly what's happening."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fight night

The Ottawa Sun
© Copyright 2006, Sun Media Corporation
AT THE LAC LEAMY CASINO Sunday, February 26, 2006
Tag: 0603261222Edition: Final
Section: News Length: 88 linePage: 7


Left. Right. Left. Left. Right. Left.
Leather smacks leather. Grunt. Breathe.
In a small room off the back corridors of the Lac Leamy Casino theatre, super-lightweight World Boxing Council champion Hermann "Black Panther" Ngoudjo prepares for his title fight against a Chilean. The room was designed for tamer performers. The two mirrors, facing each other, are framed by light bulbs and the lack of ventilation allows for the smell of sweat to quickly dominate.
Left. Left. Right.
The boxing ring is a built extension to the usual stage where the play-by-play commentators for TVA watch and narrate the battle on canvas to half a million viewers in Quebec. Around 800 people gathered in the theatre to watch the fight card yesterday. Emerging from the fluorescently lit back corridors, the boxers are met by backstage dimness. A soft, cascading light falls from a small spotlight in the ceiling. The vaseline on Chilean Juan Carlos Alderete's face glistens, the pronounced cheek bones. He will enter first. The fog machine hums and Alderete's manager coughs. Antonio Bajas twirls a towel and complains about the smoke in Spanish.
Alderete, Mundo Hispanio WBC champion, enters the ring through a side doorway that leads between rows of tables, each with a number tag attached to a thin stick standing upright. Tin tubs with Bud beer bottles sit in the middle of the majority of tables peopled by mostly men, some women. There are a few who have been here since early afternoon; it is now early evening and bottles find the floor more frequently.
On the first table, the one next to the doorway, there is no beer. Here sits boxing legend Gaetan Hart, 52. A man once died as a result of a Hart punch.
Boxing has changed, he said.
"Too much technical, not enough fight, blood," said Hart, who lives in Hull. "In my time, I liked boxing so much I wanted to give people what they paid for."
Hart believes Canadian super-middleweight champ Jean Pascal, a 23-year-old boxer from Laval, Que., has the stuff.
"He is going to be a real world champion," said Hart, whose nose bears contours fashioned by leather bound fists. "He likes to put on a spectacle and that is what people want, a spectacle."
Pascal fought a 32-year-old from Tennessee nicknamed "Hurricane" whose manager was turned back at the border. Eric Howard made the trip to fight Pascal on a day's notice. He asked former world champ Otis Grant, the top contender for the WBC super-middleweight belt, to help out with the managerial duties.
Midway through the first round, a promoter with GYM pulled Grant out of the corner. Pascal and Grant fight for the same team. Grant could not help the enemy.
The fight ended on a technical knockout in the second round. It was a hollow victory for Pascal who was training to face former WBA light-middleweight champ Carl Daniels.
Fear kept Daniels at home, said Pascal.
"Last minute he pulled out, maybe he was scared," said Pascal. "Why not, I'm Jean Pascal."
Grant, 38, no longer fears death. Shortly after losing to boxing great Roy Jones Jr. in the 10th round, Grant was in a car accident that put him into a coma. Grant will get a title shot if he wins an upcoming April fight.
"I am doing it differently this time," said Grant, who started fighting at
11. "I got more aggressive, I think I am a lot smarter. I train a bit
different. I train a lot more scientifically."
But today, Grant is helping Ngoudjo prepare for his title defence and in the backroom he is fiddling with water bottles in a tin tub of ice. CCR is playing softly.
"Being too nervous is not good," said Ngoudjo, 26. "You lose control."
In the 12th round, Ngoudjo nails Alderete with a right hook. The fight ends in a TKO win for Ngoudjo. In the dressing room, Alderete is told by a boxing official he is suspended from boxing for a month based on the ring-side doctor's assessment and the likelihood of concussion.
Alderete, who holds the Chilean championship, walks into Ngoudjo's dressing and, after handing the champ a flag of his home town of Castro, says in Spanish he only trains a couple of hours a day. But Ngoudjo and his handlers don't understand Spanish. They think it could be an insult and turn to me asking anxiously, "what did he say? what did he say?"
I translate.
"I don't believe him," said Ngoudjo, after Alderete leaves.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Klan claims to be growing in Sask.
Veronica Rhodes
Saskatchewan News Network

REGINA -- Roughly 70 years ago, the Ku Klux Klan was one of the largest organizations in the province, with only the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool claiming more members.

Now, the controversial group aimed at asserting white pride claims to be once again growing in Saskatchewan.

Regina resident Christian Waters is a high-ranking officer with the Canadian branch of the Brotherhood of Klans (BOK), considered to be the largest Klan group in North America. Waters' membership with the group was confirmed in an e-mail and phone call by Jeremy Parker, imperial wizard of the Ohio-based BOK.

Waters, who writes under an alias on the group's website, claims that over the past two years, the BOK's membership in Saskatchewan has gone from one (himself) to roughly 250 members, and around 3,500 Canada-wide. Of the Saskatchewan members, he said that while there is a strong base in Regina, many live in rural areas.

"It is actually growing faster than I would have ever predicted it to, which in some ways is alarming to me because it shows there is a lot of people who are getting real tired of what is going on in Canada," he said in a face-to-face interview.

"As years have shown, the Klan has always surfaced in times of trouble, in times of people being very unhappy with their government, with what is going on around them."

Waters became a member of the group six years ago, after spending time chatting with other BOK members online. The group's concerns surround what its members deem as the "open door" immigration policy, which results in too many immigrants -- legal and illegal -- entering Canada and making it a "haven for terrorism," Waters said.

What the group sees as unfair advantages provided to First Nations people, such as what Waters calls "free" education, government grants and employment and education positions reserved solely for minorities, also raises the ire of members. The group wants a level playing field, which Waters believes doesn't exist.

"Through the multiculturalism of Canada, it seems the white race has been unfortunately the one race that has been shuffled underneath the carpet," he explains.

"I ask, where is our white pride days?"

Waters claims he doesn't have a problem with anyone who represents their race and culture with pride, but he says he does not always see that in the neighbourhood he lives in -- the Core area.

"Unfortunately it is the majority of one race that is making up the major majority of the problems with drug abuse and the penitentiary occupation in Saskatchewan. They say we're not doing enough for them, we're not giving them enough, we're not this and that. Myself, as a middle-aged white Christian man, I look at it and think, 'We've given them quite enough,' " he says.

Myke Agecoutay, tribal vice-chair of the File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council, says anyone who believes First Nations people receive any sort of special treatment is obviously not familiar with the social issues facing aboriginal people.

"We know our people live in Third World conditions. We know that our children have no food at home, our children don't make it to school, our parents don't have the proper life skills to raise their children. We know that reality is out there," he said.

Agecoutay admits to being alarmed at the apparent increase in KKK membership and that First Nations people are considered a concerning issue for the group.

"The traditional image of a KKK member is not that of a peaceful front. It has a history of being violent and full of hatred, so that is always going to stick in the minds of anybody who hears the word 'KKK' -- that this is a group filled with hatred and racial tendencies throughout everything they do," Agecoutay said.

Waters insists the BOK is a Christian-based organization that is not hate-based and does not tolerate violent or criminal acts. The BOK is not associated with skinhead or neo-Nazi groups, Waters said, adding that it is a "disgrace" to fly a Nazi flag.

"I take offence if someone calls me a racist because it is not racist to be in love with my race," he said.

But Waters acknowledges the KKK has a violent past around the time of the civil rights movement, a period he believes falls far away from the group's intentions when it was created in Tennessee in 1865 during the first era of the Klan.

"During the 1960s and the civil rights movement when unfortunately there was the lynchings of blacks and things like that, there was all sorts of groups popping up all over that would use the Klan's name but weren't necessarily functioning as the Klan . . . There were a few bad apples that has cost us over 40-some years of misconceptions in the world," Waters said.

Ron Bourgeault, a sociologist at the University of Regina, said he is not surprised to hear of a rising interest in the KKK in Saskatchewan.

"In fact, I'm wondering why it hasn't been sooner," he said.

Bourgeault suggests members of the group may be right-wing political supporters who have become disenchanted with the Conservative party, especially in rural areas.

"They see (the Conservatives) as gone too establishment, they no longer reflect their interests about Indians and immigrants and things like that. They would drift away and are probably being attracted to (Waters)," he said.

The KKK is known as the "invisible empire" because of the secrecy surrounding its members. Waters explains group members do have occasional private gatherings, but most of their interaction is through the Internet.

Waters says the group is considering holding a public rally, possibly as soon as this fall. If the rally was to be held, the imperial officers who would speak at the gathering would be cloaked in the white ceremonial robes and hoods, he said.

RCMP spokesperson Heather Russell said no inquiries or complaints have been received about the group and nothing on BOK Canada's website is considered illegal. If its members were to hold a public rally, it is expected the RCMP would monitor the event.

Bourgeault calls Waters "adventuristic," adding that such an overt gathering may only result in further alienating people, not picking up support.

"He's basically waving the flag and people will reject that. He's not going to win a lot of converts; he may pick up a few disenchanted people who aren't sophisticated," Bourgeault said.

"But people who . . . may complain and gripe and be politically incorrect about Indian people . . . will just turn around and say, 'These guys are too extreme.' They don't reflect what is going on in a lot of peoples' minds."

The Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism's Bob Hughes said views similar to those held by Waters have long been obvious in other people's attitudes, but may be growing in light of the increasing focus on immigrants and First Nations people.

"It's interesting that people have to hide around. Come on out if you're proud of what you believe in. Speak out. Have a public meeting," Hughes said.

In the U.S., the BOK promotes local political involvement for its members, which the Canadian branch may follow. Waters said the group plans to lobby government in the future regarding certain legislative changes, which may include tightening of immigration policies and stricter punishments for gun crimes and sexual offenders.

"We are going to prove to Canada and the Canadian people that we are going to achieve our agenda, but it is going to be through peaceful, law-abiding ways," he said.


Friday, August 24, 2007

The Blue Apartments

(A continuation of an earlier post exploring how I ended up on the wrong end of a termination letter)

I am not sure if the blue apartments continue their existence in Kenora. They were the first place I looked for lodging when I moved to this small city by Lake of the Woods to work for the now defunct Kenora Enterprise weekly newspaper. The landlord took me to the basement and down a narrow, dimly lit hallway. Pipes lined the ceiling. The air moved like water in a lagoon. A baby cried through the walls, the television. A squat woman with glassy eyes stood in one doorway, her black hair hung like wet yarn to her shoulders. The landlord opened the door to the apartment advertised on the front door. It had no windows and smelled like years-old sweat.

Later I stood in the window of one the apartments, which was more of a simple room with a sink and no toilet. A 16 year-old from one of the northern fly in communities lived there and he was in the middle of a drug transaction with some friends. From the window I saw one of his friends leave the front door and walk to a building cross the street. A few minutes later another young man emerged from that building and disappeared around the corner. Not long after, while we chatted, there was a knock on the door. The drugs had arrived. "You wanna smoke" said one of the guys. The 16-year-old said he didn't do crack. Two others left. One came back, face and eyes blown behind tears.


Things began to go wrong for me at the Kenora Daily Miner and News during the Max Kakigamic case. I had move to the competing daily from the Enterprise three months after my arrival in Kenora. The editor of the Enterprise called me an "asshole" when I quit, taking a pay cut to work for the daily. Not long after he sold his newspaper to Sun Media-owned Bowes, which also owned the Miner and News.

I knew I had to soon find another job after the editor of the Miner received a call from Kenora police chief George Curtis urging him to remove me from the police beat. My editor complied and put me onto city hall. The phone call had been triggered by my confrontation with the lawyer representing the man accused of Kakigamic's murder. There was a publication ban on the trial. I had included every detail already published about the case in my coverage. The accused's lawyer did not like this. During one court hearing the lawyer asked the judge to repeat his publication ban order. I took this as a threat. I was the only reporter at the hearing. After the judge left I confronted the lawyer and challenged him to cite any story that even came close to breaching the ban. He said a story I had written describing the nightmares Kakigamic's mother was having about her son's killer was inflammatory against his client. Curtis had been on the stand that day and heard our argument and used it as an example of why his force wouldn't deal with me. I was a "loose cannon" he said.

There were two other reasons.

A Kenora police officer had drowned during a private dive and the Winnipeg Sun wanted the story. I wanted to work for the Sun. I had always romanticized the Sun tabloids. I pushed hard to get details. I went down to the police station to maybe talk to some of his colleagues. Curtis confronted me at the station, roared I was a scavenger and kicked me off the property.

The second came after the OPP investigated a false claim I had sifted through files at the OPP's courthouse office. I have no idea how this was sparked and I wasn't even aware of it until my editor informed me about it while he explained why I would be removed from the cops beat.

Mongering little shit disturbing asshole

While covering city hall I reported on a late 1990s city council motion restricting the use of pesticides on municipal property. I remembered there were little signs on the front lawn of the police station advising that the grass had been sprayed and wrote a story. Curtis phoned me. The moment I answered the phone he attacked. " You mongering little shit disturbing asshole." I would not call him names, I said. My editor heard this exchange, walked over and hung up the telephone. Curtis later phoned to apologize.

But the damage was done.

I will buy you flowers, someday

I have one regret from Kenora. Kakigamic's mother asked me to lay flowers at the place where her son was found beaten to death, the imprint of a heavy boot tattooed on his neck.

I never bought the flowers.

The Shawn Brant effect

Algonquins staying put: lawyer; Protesters threaten violence if attempts are made to remove them from uranium mine site

Frank Armstrong

Friday, August 24, 2007 - 00:00

Local News - Attempts to forcibly remove a group of Algonquins who are blocking access to a uranium exploration site near Sharbot Lake will be met with violence, one of the group's lawyers warned yesterday.

"If there's an attack on that camp by the OPP or anyone else, there are thousands of volunteers on short notice ready to pour into that site," Chris Reid, lawyer for the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, told a court in Kingston.

Native groups across North America are monitoring the situation and will join the Algonquins if there's any attempt to force them off the land, Reid said.

"If that happens, there will be violence, but it will not be started by our people," he said.

Members of the Algonquin and Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nations have been camped out since June at the entrance to an area of land between Clarendon Station and Mississippi Station that is being prospected for uranium by Frontenac Ventures.

The Algonquins say the land is theirs because, in 1873, the British government signed an agreement proclaiming land not sold to or surrendered to the Crown belongs to their native allies.

Because it's their land, the Algonquins say the provincial government shouldn't have given Frontenac Ventures the right to prospect there and should have consulted them first. They say they're afraid a uranium mine could destroy the local water table and that they won't budge until the provincial government talks to them.

Oakville-based Frontenac Ventures claims it will be in serious financial trouble if it can't soon continue its work. The company is suing the Algonquins for $77 million and has asked the court to remove the Algonquins from the land.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Gordon Thomson issued an order last week that appeared to demand an end to the native occupation, but the OPP refused to co-operate with that order and both Reid and Frontenac Ventures lawyer Neal Smitheman had trouble interpreting it.

Thomson pulled Reid, Smitheman and lawyers representing the OPP and the Ontario attorney general into court yesterday to clarify his order, but a half day of debate didn't shed much more light on his directions and sparked frustration on all sides.

"It dumbfounds me frankly that there's confusion here," Thomson said. "If we went down to the corner of Princess and King streets ... any member of the public would understand exactly."

For the first time in several days of court appearances, however, the lawyers seemed to agree with one another: None of them completely understood the order.

In it, Thomson asks the OPP to control access to the land with a combination lock.

It also says that all signs, vehicles, buildings and other material erected by the protesters must be removed.

The carefully worded 20-page document, says the order isn't intended to prevent "legitimate protest," except that which includes occupation or denial of access to the land.

"It is my view that the public interest requires that the courts do their best not to intervene unless and until there is no other resort available," Thomson writes.

The order was issued last week, but the Algonquins are still camped out on the site.

Frontenac Ventures staff went by the site on Saturday, the day after the deadline for the protesters to leave, but at least two protesters were still there along with three camping trailers, a number of tents, portable toilets, firewood and several flags.

Frontenac Ventures project manager Jamie Fairchild said outside the court that he brought a lock for the gate to the Sharbot Lake OPP detachment, but it was refused.

OPP lawyer Chris Diana told the court that the provincial police force doesn't want to play "gatekeeper" because it would appear as if they were taking sides on the issue.

"That would make it difficult for the OPP to defuse tensions," Diana said.

Because the OPP generally doesn't enforce civil orders, the police force would have to receive court authorization to remove the protesters before it could act, he said, citing the federal Courts of Justice Act.

"They need to know if they are authorized to remove the protesters and if the protesters are allowed to stay on the site," he said. "It appears the protesters will not leave voluntarily."

He added that the OPP were not requesting authorization.

Thomson suggested the protesters might have to move a few metres to put their camp firmly on Crown land and off of private property, but he said they wouldn't necessarily have to leave their camp.

On the other hand, all of their equipment does have to go, as described in the order, the judge said.

After the hearing, Smitheman told reporters outside the courthouse that he thought Thomson had ordered the Algonquins to abandon their blockade, but he found out yesterday that wasn't the case. He said he was "dumbfounded" by the judge's interpretation of the order yesterday.

"What he seems to have said in his order is that access to the property will be restricted, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the people who are occupying the property have to leave right away," Smitheman said.

If the protesters aren't forced to leave the site and the OPP end up locking the site, the protesters will be locked inside, he pointed out.

"What is clear, and his honour made this clear today, is that all the placards and the paraphernalia, vehicles and material are supposed to be removed, but Mr. Reid made it clear that's not going to happen either, so it's an unfortunate situation that we find ourselves in today."

Although a judge will begin hearing the application for a permanent injunction on Sept. 20, Smitheman said his clients don't know what to do from here on in.

"Even if we were to attempt to enforce that order, it still doesn't provide my client with access to the property to do the things that need to be done," he said.

It also doesn't give them an opportunity to sit down and resolve the situation, he said.

"We're not going to spend money and involve ourselves in a violent situation for nothing," he said.

Smitheman described yesterday as a "sad day" because it became apparent that the rule of law isn't going to be obeyed.

Reid insisted at the beginning of yesterday's hearing that his clients do respect the laws of Canada.

He pointed out that none of the Algonquin protesters or their non-native supporters had attended court for the first time and said they no longer want to participate.

"They mean no disrespect to the court at all. They respect Canadian law for the most part," he said. "They don't get much respect in return, but they said they can't be here and ... hear themselves and their elders described as criminals."

With the local Algonquins dropping out of the hearing, a 6,000-person group of Algonquins decided they should step in to represent the interests of this First Nation group regarding the affected land.

Bob Potts, the main negotiator representing a different Algonquin group that has been negotiating with the federal government since 1992 over a land claim that encompasses 14, 000 square miles of land, including the Parliament buildings and the City of Ottawa, made his first court appearance yesterday.