Friday, January 28, 2005

Kimberly-Clark is clearcutting the boreal forest

Kimberly-Clark, the largest manufacturer of tissue products in the world, is wiping away ancient forests in Canada to create toilet paper and facial tissue. Kimberly-Clark produces 3.7 million tonnes of tissue products annually including the well-known Kleenex brand of toilet paper, facial tissue, and napkins. Unfortunately, in North America, less than 19% of the pulp that Kimberly-Clark uses for its disposable tissue products comes from recycled sources. Much of the remaining pulp comes from ancient forests like the Canadian Boreal. In fact, most of Kimberly-Clark’s tissue products available in local grocery stores are made from 100% virgin tree fibre.

The Boreal forest is paying the price to create products that are used once and then thrown away or flushed down the toilet.

The forests of Alberta’s Rocky Mountain Foothills, home to threatened caribou herds, are being clearcut to provide Kimberly-Clark with pulp. Forests in other provinces, including Ontario’s 2.3 million hectare Kenogami Forest, are also being logged to supply inexpensive pulp.

Take action now at to stop Kimberly-Clark from clearcutting ancient boreal forests to create disposable tissue.

Greenpeace Canada and allies (like Wildcanada - Timothy) across Canada and the United States have recently launched a public campaign to stop Kimberly-Clark’s destruction of ancient forests. These groups do not believe that ancient forests, like the Boreal forest, should be destroyed to create disposable paper products. The Boreal forest, the largest ancient forest left in North America, is a 10,000 year old wilderness and home to billions of migrating birds and species at risk including grizzly bear, woodland caribou and wolverine.

The good news is that alternatives to Kimberly-Clark products exist. In fact, ancient forest friendly tissue products are already being sold in stores across North America. Tissue products containing high amounts of recycled fibre are of similar quality as virgin tree fibre products. As the demand for ancient forest friendly tissue products increases, the availability of these products will also continue to expand.

Demand that Kimberly-Clark:

• Stop destroying ancient forests like Canada’s Boreal.

• Maximize the use of recycled fibre in their tissue products.

• Stop producing tissue products made solely of virgin tree fibre.

To learn more about ancient forests and Kimberly-Clark visit

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

“Never doubt that a small group of

thoughtful committed citizens can change

the world: indeed it’s the only thing that

ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Please take a moment to sign this petition:

To: United Nations General Assembly

We, the undersigned, urge you, the members and officers of the United Nations General Assembly, to pass a resolution against and to use all of your diplomatic and political powers to prevent an attack on the sovereign nation of Iran by the United States of America and/or her allies.


The Undersigned

Click here to sign petition:

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Actions at SNC-Lavalin

Over 60 people aged three weeks to their mid-70s joined in a Martin Luther King Day nonviolent action at the Toronto headquarters of SNC-Lavalin, parent company of SNC-TEC, the Quebec-based company which is producing hundreds of millions of bullets for U.S. occupation forces in Iraq.

Almost all Toronto media failed to see why they should haul themselves out to the Etobicoke offices of SNC-Lavalin to do some King Day story about Canadian complicity in American and British war crimes (preferring, as the Toronto Star chose, to do a story about police officers, their guns and night sticks strapped to their belts, addressing school children about King's message of peace, love, and nonviolent conflict resolution!)

But the media absence did not dampen the determination of a group which included a Korean war veteran, WWII veteran, individuals who have in the past few years been on peacemaking missions in Iraq and Palestine, Colombia and Chiapas, and a former Toronto MP who answered the 1965 call from Dr. King to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

Members of Homes not Bombs, Christian Peacemaker Teams, The Coalition Against War and Racism, The June 30th Organizing Committee (which focuses on Canadian corporate complicity) and the "We Could Use More Waves" affinity group gathered at the Etobicoke facility, where an open letter had been sent the week before seeking an urgent meeting to discuss disentangling SNC-Lavalin from complicity in war crimes (see letter at )

About 15 police officers and assorted private security roamed the grounds keeping watch as the demonstration began with long-time Science for Peace activist Jon Valleau reading out hundreds of names of Iraqis murdered by the war and occupation forces, while others hung dripping blood money from bare tree branches and affixed copies of the Nuremberg Principles and graphic full-colour images of war casualties.

A police officer who had been at the Homes not Bombs Remembrance Day gathering last November (see story at re-introduced himself to the group, dispensing with the usual "who's in charge?" question by simply laying out the "ground rules" for the day as he saw them, telling us we were not to trespass on the property and that today's protest was to be peaceful. Apparently, he must have seen our nonviolence guidelines!

But today was Martin Luther King Day, surely not a day to be obedient to the orders of arbitrary authority, so his property parameters were promptly ignored as demonstrators made use of the grassy area and trees, and set up shop at both vehicular entrances to read out the endless lists of names of those murdered.

While some employees ventured out for lunch, most stayed inside on this brutally cold day, as we shivered in sub-zero temperatures accentuated by a breeze off Lake Ontario.

About 12:15 pm, the west entrance was completely blocked as the group re-created a roadside-check massacre as it might occur in Iraq. Murray Lumley of Christian Peacemaker Teams and Homes not Bombs set the scene, describing how in many instances a simple misunderstanding has led to tragic consequences. The west entrance to the parking lot was blocked as an individual dressed as an American soldier whipped out a replica machine gun and began "gunning down" those standing around. Their bodies were chalked in outline as stage blood was splattered around them.

Police who normally might have jumped to clear the area seemed stunned at the sudden, hastily organized die-in, and remained in their cars, not even willing to go through the motions of getting out and preparing an order for people to move.

The group then created a human transformation machine, a tunnel-like mechanism whereby first the soldier and then others went through the human machine, entering with guns and bullets and coming out with transformed items such as peace irons, bicycles, and flowers.

David Milne of Christian Peacemaker Teams then spoke powerfully through a megaphone about his three trips to Iraq, of the people he has met and lived with, and of those who have been killed for the crime of simply being in their homes at a time when U.S. forces have entered firing first and asking questions later. His testimony was a powerful one, and he issued a challenge to SNC-Lavalin to divest itself of SNC or, better yet, to transform the institution into something which does not produce the weapons of terror and mass murder.

Matthew Behrens of Homes not Bombs addressed the police and SNC-Lavalin employees peering out from their office windows, informing them of their rights and responsibilities under Canadian and international law, with specific reference to the Nuremberg Principles. He explained a group trained in nonviolence would now attempt to enter the building to conduct an urgent teach-in with the aim of securing a commitment from SNC-Lavalin to divest itself of its bullet-maker.

As Esther Kern read out some speeches from Martin Luther King, a group of "urgent-teach-in" folks who had agreed prior to the action that they would push things to the point of risking arrest gathered in the driveway and began walking towards the front doors. Police, calling out that we were trespassing, massed at the entrance.

In one of those magical moments, the incessant police warnings about trespassing were ignored not only by the small group which had originally planned to be in a civilly disobedient position but by most of the crowd, which gathered behind the teach-in affinity group.

Police told us that we were not welcome, that SNC was not interested in dialogue, and that we should remove ourselves. The group refused to budge.

"Why are you hiding? What are you afraid of? We have no weapons, we have no guns, we have no bullets!" Milne called out in a thundering voice that, without amplification, could likely be heard in the deepest recesses
of the office complex. "I have been in Iraq, that is why I am here, I have seen what happens when you profit off these bullets!" he cried out, his emotional plea clearly affecting the front line of officers and some employees peering through the glass doors.

Police continued their refusal to allow anyone in, and, after pushing us back at a number of intervals, stood silently, trying not to look into our eyes as we held pictures of those who have been maimed and killed and copies of the Nuremberg Principles. Maggie Panter, Kirsten Romaine, Barney Barningham and Ed Babb began writing out the Nuremberg principles on the ground in front of the officers while others chalked slogans on the front walk. A picture of a police officer sternly observing the chalked slogan "SNC Kills" is available at the Hamilton indymedia site at

Further demonstration shots will shortly be available at, where you click on the Journalism link to find photos of numerous demonstrations taken by the wonderful photographer John Bonnar. They will also be at, taken by veteran chronicler of Canadian social movements David Smiley.

This standoff was followed by a walk around the building's perimeter so that all who work there could see us, with flyers placed on the windshields of the hundreds of cars. We tried the back entrance, and were able to address some workers in the smoking area, but they refused to look at us or engage in dialogue.

"We know you are good people, but the problem now is not the clamour of the bad people but the appalling silence of the good people, just as Martin Luther King explained," someone called out. "You have families, just like the people of Iraq have families. We are all part of one another."

Towards 1 pm, the group decided to close up the rally after one more attempt at entry through the front doors. Seeing we were getting nowhere, we committed to coming back again, singing We Shall Overcome with the final verse, "We'll be back again", and we will (likely during the March days of protest against the occupation).

Rabea Murtaza gathered folks together and asked us to imagine the kind of world where SNC-Lavalin was transformed. "What would YOU like to see the company producing instead of bullets?" she called out, to which
many answers returned, everything from ping pong balls and breastfeeding pillows to "a building that's easier to get into!"

As on many days, today was about choices. The people inside SNC-Lavalin have choices. They can enter a dialogue on ending complicity in war crimes or, if they are afraid to do anything publicly, they can quietly divest themselves of company stock. The police officers too have choices; they can follow the Nuremberg Principles and, rather than acting as an agent for power and privilege, stand aside and let us in, or they can violate the law, as they did today, knowing of war crimes being committed but preventing us from taking positive action to stop them.

But to see the faces of the police was to see conflicted emotions; some looked at the ground, others were clearly holding back some major emotion, especially having heard the first-hand testimonies from Iraq and the wonderful words of Martin Luther King.

Some officers appeared shocked, when, at the conclusion of the demo, we went and shook their hands, wishing them a happy King Day and assuring them that we would be back and that perhaps, next time, they would have a better understanding of the law as well and allow us in, the same hope we shared for SNC-Lavalin.

The demonstration owed major thanks to all participants who braved the freezing cold, to the great folks from the Ontario Common Front Legal Collective, who arranged back-up support and stayed close to the demo at every stage, and the individuals from a variety of groups and cities (London, Burlington, Hamilton, Dundas, Durham, Kitchener, Belleville) who made the journey in to join the protest.

Among those present were the steadfast Burlington/Oakville duo of Gail Lorimer and Doris Cassidy, who continue to maintain a vigil at Burlington's Wescam, a major military manufacturer (targetting equipment) owned by Pentagon powerhouse L-3 Communications (they plan an anti-war gathering there for Friday, May 13, 3 pm, mark your calendars!)

Also present were folks who have been involved in the campaign to stop the militarization of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), including the indefatigable Ivona Vujica, who coordinates People Against the Militarization of OISE (PAMO, about which you can find more information at .

On January 11, some 60-70 people gathered outside OISE, braving miserable weather to hand out flyers and hear discussions about why OISE and all universities in Canada should cut their ties to the military and war corporations.

Last fall, Atlantis Systems, a war simulation and training corporation, announced a partnership with OISE that also involves Canada's War Dept., Toronto junior public schools and Hamilton Health Sciences.

The demonstration raised important questions about the role of any research conducted by OISE: are Toronto school children being observed with the aim of making training for war more efficient and deadly? Why is a Hamilton hospital part of a research project of great interest to a military corporation? What are the guidelines for research contracts and sharing of research? What role does OISE research play in simulation and training projects which lead to improved "kill ratios and bombs-on-target" metrics, things which were discussed at a major simulation conference Atlantis attended in December, 2004?

The contract has spurred a great deal of debate in the University of Toronto community, and People Against the Militarization of OISE are committed to continuing the work to cancel this contract and end the militarization of OISE and educational institutions across Canada.

In the meantime, as peace groups prepare for international days of action against the occupation in Iraq this March, they certainly have a few more places to focus on as we resist the roots of war right here at home. It is far too easy for Canadians (from politicians on down) to feel smug about what is going on in Iraq and say, "we are not part of it," since Bush makes such an easy target for people's anti-war sentiment. But the bigger challenge is to expose and end the hundreds of ways in which Canada directly participates in these war crimes.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Tsunami relief beyond the International Monetary Fund's and World Bank's agenda

Via Campesina

EMERGENCY: Please donate to Via Campesina Tsunami relief and
reconstruction fund

Via Campesina launches initiative to raise funds for self-help by affected

Please support fisherfolk and peasant communities in their own relief and
reconstruction from the Tsunami disaster

Via Campesina ( - the global alliance of
peasant, family farmer, farm worker, indigenous and landless peoples
organizations, and other rural movements - calls for solidarity with the
millions of people affected by the tsunami disaster and is launching a
global fundraising campaign to channel assistance to affected communities
of fisherfolk and peasants, for their own relief and reconstruction
efforts, through grassroots organizations.
We ask for your donation for direct emergency support to provide basic
needs of food, clean drinking water, shelter and health care to affected
fisherfolk and peasant families, as well as to help us initiate the long
term work of reconstructing our own communities and rebuilding our

Make a secure on-line credit card donation now by clicking on:

The relief philosophy of Via Campesina is that our communities should
participate actively and be the key actors in the re-construction process,
and that our fisherfolk and peasant organizations should play a key
mobilizing and supporting role.Via Campesina wants to give our communities
and organizations the political support they need in this process, and to
help get the funds we need for reconstruction. The funds raised in this
campaign will be used to strengthen local communities as the key actors in
this process.

The success of local, self-organized, civil society disaster relief
efforts in previous disasters in Latin America, Asia, and Africa,
contrasted with government inefficiency and top-down, demobilizing
programs, has often marked a key stage in the empowerment and growth of
large, popular, grassroots, civil society social movements by which
previously marginalized people take control of their own lives. Let us
work together at this time, and let us do so in ways that help build
self-sufficiency, grassroots organization, and peoples power for the

In addition to the millions who have been displaced or affected, many
tens of thousands have lost their homes and fishing equipment or farming
tools. Fisherfolk have lost their boats, and the land of peasant families
has been contaminated, their crops destroyed and their farm animals
lost.Your donation will help us get back on our feet.

Examples of actions already underway:

- In Indonesia, the National Federation of Indonesian Peasant
Organizations (FSPI), a member of Via Campesina, together with a
number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), has created a civil
society relief team that is now working in Aceh (with an estimated 25,000
dead and many times more missing and/or homeless) and in North Sumatra
(5,000 dead) provinces to distribute supplies, and to carry out search and
rescue missions for missing people. The situation is dramatic, and at the
moment (30 Dec) there is no direct communication with many areas.

- In Sri Lanka, perhaps the country worst hit by the tsunamis, the
National Organization of Fisherfolk (NAFSO) has sent 5 teams to
affected areas for relief work and help communities start the task of
reconstruction. They have organized fact finding missions and are now
defining how to cope with the urgent relief needs while communities plan
and begin to carry the medium term work of rehabilitation.


1. If you are in Europe, you can deposit funds in the following account:

Account number: 3035 0022 4202 2005 5606
Beneficiary: Via Campesina-Honduras
IBAN code: ES23 3035 0022 4202 2005 5606
Bank: Caja Laboral
Bank address:Calle 8 de enero, Guernika, Pais Basco (Basque Country)
Tel: +34 94 625 0098
Fax: +34 94 625 6662

Please send an email alerting us of your donation to: nico.verhagen at

2.If you are in the United States (and/or have US dollar denominated
checks or money orders), and want to donate by mail:

Please make your check out to "Via Campesina/CENSA" and mail it to:

CENSA/Via Campesina
2288 Fulton Street, suite 103
Berkeley, CA 94704 USA

3. If you want to make a bank wire transfer for the relief campaign, you
can wire funds to:
NOTE: the funds must be transferred to the First Union Bank in the
USA, where the Banco Grupo El Ahorro Hondureño (BGA) has an account. In
the communication with the transfer you have to put in the data of the

a. Data of the final Beneficiary Bank
- Bank: Banco Grupo El Ahorro Hondureño (BGA)
- Name of Beneficiary: Pedro Rafael Alegria, Maria Concepción
Betanco, Via Campesina
- Account Number at BGA: 107 108 6292
- Telephone: ( 504 ) 235-9915 and 239-4679
- Country and City: Honduras, Tegucigalpa M.D.C.

b. Data of the Bank in the USA
- Bank: First Union Bank (now called Wachovia)
- ABA Code 026005092
- Swift Code B/C: PNBP US 3N NYC
- Account Number: 2000192001436
- Name: Banco Grupo El Ahorro Hondureño (BGA)
Please send an email alerting us of your donation to:
viacampesina at

4. If you want to make a bank wire transfer for relief specifically in
Indonesia, you can wire funds to:
Bank: Standard Chartered Bank
Swift Bank Code: SCB LIDJ XAXXX
Address of Bank: Jl. Imam Bonjol No. 17 North Sumatera,
Indonesia. Account number : 047-1-005467-2
Name of Payee : Sintesa (Yayasan Sinar Tani Indonesia)

Please send an email to alert us of your donation to: ilubis at

Via Campesina (

Friday, January 07, 2005

Call and fax Minister Sgro today

Taking advantage of closed courts and limited scheduling, Immigration Canada is attempting to slip past counsel and supporters of Mohamed Ahmed Yakub over the holidays. On January 11th, 2005, Immigration will try to rip Mohamed from his wife and four sons, to deport him to a dangerous and uncertain fate in Somalia. It will be the third attempt in recent weeks to send him back to a country he has not seen since he and his family fled the civil war in 1989.

Immigration is trying to remove Mohamed from his life and community of the past 15 years in Toronto, despite a pending Federal Court review of a decision stating that Mohamed faces no risk upon return to Somalia and a pending Humanitarian and Compassionate/ Sponsorship Application which has not yet been considered.

Mohamed is married with four sons, the youngest of whom, Canadian-born Fahd, is only 9 years old. Mohamed's wife and his three eldest sons have all long since been granted refugee status and are Canadian citizens. If deported, Mohamed is at great risk, as he does not identify with his clan membership in a society where such affinity is critical to survival. His lack of any family or community ties leaves him vulnerable to inter-clan violence. Mohamed would also be forced to leave his sons without the only father they have ever known and his wife to raise their children completely on her own.

Mr. Tabit, Director of Midaynta, a Somali agency in Toronto, has implored the Minister to allow Mohamed to remain in Canada with his family, stating that it would "avoid another mother-led family to struggle with four teenage boys in a society that has made this an on-going burden to many of our families" and would be consistent with the Minister's commitment to family reunification.

Mohamed is facing deportation to a country still so unstable and poverty-stricken that the Canadian government is currently considering re-imposing a moratorium on deportations to Somalia, which had previously been in effect.

"The part of Somalia where I came from is an independent republic, and the government of this republic has not been part of the peace talks. In the north, where I am from, there is very high levels of violence still, the refugee camps are terrible and I have no where to live or anyone that I know, " says Mohamed.

Immigration Canada's first attempt to deport Mohamed took place during the recent strike of PSAC employees, meaning Jeff Rafique - the Expulsions Officer responsible for Mohamed's deportation - was available to make arrangements to tear Mohamed from his family, but not to respond to OCAP and Mohamed's lawyer's requests for a stay of deportation. The Officer's reply was conveniently sent so close to Mohamed's removal date that the only option was to seek an emergency stay at Federal Court. Now Rafique has made a similar move, scheduling the deportation for one day after the Federal Court reopens in the New Year.

Initially, Mohamed's deportation was to land him in Mogadishu, Somalia. Countless international bodies, from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to the UK Home Office, explicitly "warn against" deporting Somali nationals to parts of the country where they do not come from. Mogadishu is in the south of Somalia, and the dominant clan is the Hawiye clan. Mohamed, however, comes from Burao, Somaliland, which is in the north, and is a member of the Issaq clan. When issuing the deportation notice, the Enforcement Officer provided no proof of travel documents to Mohamed. Somali citizens have long been unable to obtain passports, and it is well-documented by Amnesty International that returning refugees who lack proof of identity face great risk, given the widespread frequency of clashes between warring clans in Somalia.

The deportation itinerary issued by Immigration Canada was also extremely questionable. Significant documentation exists to suggest airline charter companies flying into Somalia from the UAE, such as the flight Mohamed was scheduled to take, use unsafe aircraft and are commonly run by the very same warlords who preside over the conflict within Somalia. The American, British and Canadian governments have of late attempted to sidestep the dire warnings of international human rights organizations against returning refugees to Somalia by flying people into neighbouring countries and dumping refugees without documentation or protection. Officer Jeff Rafique of the Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre, Immigration's local deportation hub, intends to put Mohamed on such a flight, followed by a bus route which the Officer hastily scribbled by hand onto Mohamed's removal order.

One day before the scheduled flight to northern Somalia, Mohamed and his lawyer will be in Federal Court to fight the final legal battle to stop Mohamed's family from being destroyed and his life thrown into great jeopardy.

Court will take place in the final hours before Mohamed faces boarding an airplane to be returned to a country he has not seen for 15 years, a highly unstable nation still gripped with violence, lawlessness and chaos -- one which has now also been thrown into even greater uncertainty after the recent devastating tsunami, leaving hundreds of Somali citizens dead and tens of thousands without shelter. He will land in Somalia without identity papers, money, family or any community contacts whatsoever.

On Monday, January 10th, Amina Sherazee will present compelling arguments to the Federal Court, the highest court division available to appeal decisions made by Immigration Canada, in which she will fight the refusal of Jeff Rafique, Expulsions Officer, to defer Mohamed's deportation until his PreRemoval Risk Assessment and/or Humanitarian and Compassionate/Spousal Sponsorship Application is heard.

It is crucial that we show the Court the evidence of the widespread support which has grown around Mohamed and his family, with letters coming in from faith, labour, community, student and activist networks. In Toronto and elsewhere, please keep up the pressure via phone and fax.

Judy Sgro, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada:
In Toronto, (416) 744-1882 (tel) (416) 952-1696 (fax)
In Ottawa, (613) 992-7744 (tel) (613) 947-8319 (fax)

When you call/fax, demand the following:
1) That Mohamed Ahmed Yakub's deportation scheduled for January 11th, 2005 be stayed.
2) That Mohamed's application for landing on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds be examined and that he be granted permanent resident status in Canada.

For more information, contact:
Amina Sherazee, Downtown Legal Services, 416.934.4561
Stefanie Gude, OCAP, at 416.925.6939
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, 10 Britain St. Toronto, ON M5A 1R6, 416-925-6939

Monday, January 03, 2005

EPA violates international treaty by allowing massive increase of methyl bromide pesticide use

Outgoing Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Leavitt will release regulations today allowing a 2 million pound increase in 2005 in the use of methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting and cancer-causing farm chemical, in violation of both an international treaty and the Clean Air Act. This new action follows several other decisions by the Bush administration to allow more use of the pesticide. "Catering to a handful of big chemical and agribusiness interests, the Bush administration is actually expanding the use of this dangerous, ozone-destroying chemical," said David Doniger, policy director of the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) Climate Center. "More methyl bromide means more ozone depletion and higher risks of skin cancer, cataracts, and immune diseases for millions of Americans." The EPA exemptions will allow agribusiness interests to use 19.7 million pounds of methyl bromide next year... More than three-quarters of the chemical will be used by two crops -- Florida tomatoes and California strawberries. The rules violate conditions that countries use up the available stockpile of methyl bromide before authorizing new production conditions the Bush administration agreed to in Montreal Protocol talks with 180 countries just last March. The Bush administration's move contrasts sharply with action this week by the European Union, which is dramatically cutting methyl bromide use across the continent, including the tomato- and strawberry-growing regions of Italy, Spain, and other southern European countries.