Thursday, February 17, 2005

The 240 million tonne challenge

The Kyoto Protocol, ratified by Canada in December 2002 became law yesterday. This may be very beneficial for the whole planet. 141 countries around the world have pledged to work together to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses.

But the government of Canada has yet to put forward an effective, coherent plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

If Canadian greenhouse gas emissions continue as usual, emissions will rise to 810 million tonnes per year by 2010 - 30% above the country's legally binding Kyoto target of 570 Mt, leaving a 240 million tonne/yr gap. The government has called on individual citizens to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions by one tonne per year - 20% of the average individual emissions.

But the largest polluters haven't been asked to do their part. So far, the government of Canada has relied mainly on voluntary measures that have been largely ignored by big business. Half of greenhouse gas emissions are from large industrial polluters, but the government is reportedly reducing their reduction target from 55 to 45 million tonnes per year - about 10 % of expected industrial emissions. The government may also back off on its commitment to improve the fuel efficiency of new vehicles by 25 percent by 2010.

That is why the people in Canada have to ask the elected officials to take The 240 Million Tonne Challenge.

Click on the following links to visit the Greenpeace Canada website to send a free fax to your Member of Parliament:
support the 240 Million Tonne Challenge>>
Learn more about the Kyoto Protocol>>

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Lubicon Solidarity

(copied and pasted from The Friends of Grassy Narrows, February 9th)

Outaouais Lubicon Solidarity (OLS) is launching a new protest campaign today to push the Canadian government to negotiate a just settlement of Lubicon Lake Indian Nation land rights and finally end this long-standing Canadian human rights tragedy.

The Lubicon Lake Indian Nation, a First Nation of approximately 500 people living in northern Alberta, retain their Aboriginal and treaty rights to their traditional lands. Negotiations with the federal and provincial governments have so far failed to resolve their outstanding land rights. Meanwhile over $13 billion in oil and gas has been taken from their Traditional Territory. The United Nations, Amnesty International and the World Council of Churches have all called on Canada to resolve this dispute.

Starting today, every time the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board approves a new oil or gas well or pipeline for development in Lubicon Traditional Territory, supporters of a Lubicon settlement will send e-mail messages and letters to the Minister of Indian Affairs Andy Scott, local Members of Parliament and Alberta Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Pearl Calahesan telling them that yet another development has been authorized on Lubicon Territory prior to resolving the land rights in the area and urging them to resolve this injustice through negotiations now. The group expects to generate thousands of letters supporting a Lubicon settlement.

In 2002 there were already over 1,700 oil or gas well sites in Lubicon Traditional Territory and countless miles of pipelines connecting those to the market. Last year alone another 77 oil and gas wells and 75 pipelines were approved within Lubicon Traditional Territory.

Already eleven wells and eight pipelines have been approved since the beginning of this year. Some of these involve primary oil sands development within 3 miles of the proposed Lubicon reserve lands. The campaign will continue until March 12, 2005.

OLS is a non-profit, volunteer group that supports the Lubicon Nation's land rights struggle.
For more information, contact: Ed Bianchi at (613) 235-9956 or

Background: The Lubicon Lake Indian Nation

The Lubicon Lake Indian Nation, an Indigenous nation of approximately 500 people living in northern Alberta, have never surrendered their rights to their traditional lands. The Lubicon were simply overlooked when a treaty was negotiated with other Indigenous peoples in the region in 1899. A reserve promised to them forty years later was never established. Since the mid-1980s, negotiations with the federal and provincial governments have repeatedly broken down. Meanwhile, the Lubicon say that their health, their way of life and their culture itself are being steadily destroyed by resource extraction to which they've never consented.

As Amnesty International said in a recent report, "It's now been more than 100 years since the Lubicon were overlooked in the Alberta treaty process, more than 60 years they were first promised recognition of a secure landbase, more than a quarter century since the first negotiations began with the federal government, and more than a decade since the United Nations called on Canada to stop the violation of the Lubicons' human rights. To say that justice is overdue is an understatement."

Oil and gas exploitation goes on.

While the Lubicon Nation tries to negotiate a settlement of Lubicon land rights with the federal and Alberta governments, the Alberta government's Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) authorizes more and more oil and gas wells and pipelines within Lubicon Traditional Territory. In 2002 there were already over 1,700 oil or gas well sites in Lubicon Traditional Territory and countless miles of pipelines connecting those to market. Last year alone another 77 oil and gas wells and 75 pipelines were approved within Lubicon Traditional Territory. Already eleven wells and eight pipelines have been approved since the beginning of this year. Some of these involve oil sands development within 3 miles of the proposed Lubicon reserve lands.

A further 2,300 hectares of land within Lubicon Territory were leased to oil and gas companies by the Provincial government since the start of this year. Those lease sales netted over $800,000 for provincial coffers in one day, all from Lubicon lands.

The Lubicon Nation estimates that over $13 billion in oil and gas resources have been taken from Lubicon Traditional Territory since oil and gas exploitation was begun in earnest 26 years ago. From that, the Alberta government receives - by conservative estimates - somewhere around 20% in royalties.

The Lubicon people, for their part, have received no royalties, no taxes, and no financial compensation for what oil and gas development has done to their traditional economy and way of life. At most the Lubicon people have received some seasonal employment building leases and rights of way for developments they neither control nor approve.

For more information, please visit

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Two stories about Ward Churchill

Story #1
by Charlie Brennan, Rocky Mountain News
February 1, 2005

Embattled University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill resigned his chairmanship of the school's ethnic studies program Monday.

"I don't think it is appropriate that under these conditions, that I represent my department," said Churchill, who added that he has recently received numerous "credible" death threats.

"It's not in the interests of the department that they be synonymous with me," he said.

By resigning 2 1/2 years into his three-year appointment, Churchill said, he will lose the $18,000 that department chairs are paid, but still collect the $90,000 he receives as a tenured professor.

"The truth is, I never wanted the job in the first place and was sort of drafted into it," he said. (Sour grapes? - Timothy) "I'm not especially reluctant to do this, because it kind of gets in the way of my work.

"I welcome the opportunity to get back to being a faculty member, and doing my research and writing. That has all suffered, as a result of the demands of the chair's position, so there's no real regrets."

Today, Churchill will teach his first class since controversy erupted last week concerning his now-infamous essay concerning the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

It doesn't look to be a routine day. The CU College Republicans are planning a four-hour protest outside the University Memorial Center, highlighting their petition drive asking President Betsy Hoffman to fire Churchill.

The group will also present fliers to students arriving for Churchill's 12:30 p.m. class in the American Indian Studies program, "Indian/Government Conflicts."

The fliers will inform students about Churchill's 9/11 commentary.

Conflict has been a close companion lately for Churchill, who is also a prominent member of the American Indian Movement of Colorado.

Numerous Hamilton College students, alumni and Sept. 11 victims' family members are outraged over Churchill's scheduled appearance this Thursday evening on a panel at the small liberal arts college in Clinton, N.Y.

That event, a discussion on "The Limits of Dissent," has been moved to the campus field house, which seats 2,000 people - about 10 times the capacity of the originally planned venue.

Churchill is being taken to task at Hamilton, at CU, and on airwaves from coast to coast for a 2001 essay, since published in book form, voicing the opinion that the U.S. invited the Sept. 11 attacks through a long history of violent domination of other cultures.

That essay, authored the same day as the terrorist attacks, cited the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children in the wake of U.N. sanctions placed on Iraq after the first Gulf War as a reason why Americans should not have been surprised to be targeted.

Particularly offensive to many was Churchill's reference to people killed at the World Trade Center as "little Eichmanns," an allusion to Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann, a chief facilitator of Hitler's Final Solution.

His planned participation in the Hamilton panel discussion has triggered more than 1,000 e-mails and hundreds of phone calls to school administrators.

School President Joan Hinde Stewart sent out an all-campus general announcement Sunday night.

While she said "rhetoric that blames the victims of this vicious attack for their fate is deplorable," Stewart declined to withdraw Churchill's invitation, which was extended last summer.

"Were the college to withdraw the invitation simply on the grounds that he has said offensive things, we would be abandoning a principle on which this college and indeed this republic are founded," Stewart stated.

Jonathan Rick, a junior from Short Hills, N.J., majoring in government at Hamilton, said it would be "silly" to attempt to generalize about the opinions of the approximately 1,750 students at Hamilton.

But Rick, who founded an Internet discussion group for Hamilton students, faculty and alumni, pointed out that a petition drive is under way on campus, sponsored by the Coalition for Social Justice, supporting the college's efforts to expose students to a "diverse range" of ideas.

"This speaks volumes about the college," Rick said. "We're not apathetic, as so often we're accused of being.

"We are intelligent, we are diverse. And unquestionably, on Thursday, we will have the chance to show the power of democracy."

Churchill said he has received numerous death threats in recent days. They won't dissuade him from appearing at Hamilton - or anywhere else - to talk about his views.

"I like breathing, so it gives me pause, but I gotta do it," Churchill said. The threats are "part of the turf, and the whole point (of the threats) is to intimidate people into shutting up. . . . I guess that might be the one thing I have in common with (assassinated Denver radio talk show host) Alan Berg. I didn't agree with the man on much of anything, but I did admire the fact that he would not back off."

CU officials late Monday acknowledged Churchill's resignation as department chairman. Interim Chancellor Phil DiStefano issued a statement endorsing Churchill's decision to step down.

"While Professor Churchill has the constitutional right to express his political views, his essay on 9/11 has outraged and appalled us and the general public," DiStefano said.

The CU Board of Regents has called a special meeting to discuss Churchill on Thursday.

"If they're meeting to talk about what to do in terms of institutional damage control, and to define the institution's position on this, then I have no objection," Churchill said. "They're doing their job."

Story #2
by Ward Churchill
January 31, 2005

In the last few days there has been widespread and grossly inaccurate media coverage concerning my analysis of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, coverage that has resulted in defamation of my character and threats against my life. What I actually said has been lost, indeed turned into the opposite of itself, and I hope the following facts will be reported at least to the same extent that the fabrications have been.

* The piece circulating on the internet was developed into a book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens. Most of the book is a detailed chronology of U.S. military interventions since 1776 and U.S. violations of international law since World War II. My point is that we cannot allow the U.S. government, acting in our name, to engage in massive violations of international law and fundamental human rights and not expect to reap the consequences.

* I am not a "defender"of the September 11 attacks, but simply pointing out that if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned. I have never said that people "should" engage in armed attacks on the United States, but that such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful U.S. policy. As Martin Luther King, quoting Robert F. Kennedy, said, "Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable."

* This is not to say that I advocate violence; as a U.S. soldier in Vietnam I witnessed and participated in more violence than I ever wish to see. What I am saying is that if we want an end to violence, especially that perpetrated against civilians, we must take the responsibility for halting the slaughter perpetrated by the United
States around the world. My feelings are reflected in Dr. King's April 1967 Riverside speech, where, when asked about the wave of urban rebellions in U.S. cities, he said, "I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed . . . without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government."

* In 1996 Madeleine Albright, then Ambassador to the UN and soon to be U.S. Secretary of State, did not dispute that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of economic sanctions, but stated on national television that "we" had decided it was "worth the cost." I mourn the victims of the September 11 attacks, just as I mourn the deaths of those Iraqi children, the more than 3 million people killed in the war in Indochina, those who died in the U.S. invasions of Grenada, Panama and elsewhere in Central America, the victims of the transatlantic slave
trade, and the indigenous peoples still subjected to genocidal policies. If we respond with callous disregard to the deaths of others, we can only expect equal callousness to American deaths.

* Finally, I have never characterized all the September 11 victims as "Nazis." What I said was that the "technocrats of empire" working in the World Trade Center were the equivalent of "little Eichmanns." Adolf
Eichmann was not charged with direct killing but with ensuring the smooth running of the infrastructure that enabled the Nazi genocide. Similarly, German industrialists were legitimately targeted by the Allies.

* It is not disputed that the Pentagon was a military target, or that a CIA office was situated in the World Trade Center. Following the logic by which U.S. Defense Department spokespersons have consistently sought to justify target selection in places like Baghdad, this placement of an element of the American "command and control infrastructure" in an ostensibly civilian facility converted the Trade Center itself into a "legitimate" target. Again following U.S. military doctrine, as announced in briefing after briefing, those who did not work for the CIA but were nonetheless killed in the attack amounted to no more than "collateral damage." If the U.S. public is prepared to accept these "standards" when the are routinely applied to other people, they should be not be surprised when the same standards are applied to them.

* It should be emphasized that I applied the "little Eichmanns" characterization only to those described as "technicians." Thus, it was obviously not directed to the children, janitors, food service workers, firemen and random passers-by killed in the 9-1-1 attack. According to Pentagon logic, were simply part of the collateral damage. Ugly? Yes. Hurtful? Yes. And that's my point. It's no less ugly, painful or dehumanizing a description when applied to Iraqis, Palestinians, or anyone else. If we ourselves do not want to be treated in this fashion, we must refuse to allow others to be similarly devalued and dehumanized in our name.

* The bottom line of my argument is that the best and perhaps only way to prevent 9-1-1-style attacks on the U.S. is for American citizens to compel their government to comply with the rule of law. The lesson of Nuremberg is that this is not only our right, but our obligation. To the extent we shirk this responsibility, we, like the "Good Germans" of the 1930s and '40s, are complicit in its actions and have no legitimate basis for complaint when we suffer the consequences. This, of course, includes me, personally, as well as my family, no less than anyone else.

* These points are clearly stated and documented in my book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens, which recently won Honorary Mention for the Gustavus Myer Human Rights Award. for best writing on human rights.
Some people will, of course, disagree with my analysis, but it presents questions that must be addressed in academic and public debate if we are to find a real solution to the violence that pervades today's world. The gross distortions of what I actually said can only be viewed as an attempt to distract the public from the real issues at hand and to further stifle freedom of speech and academic debate in this country.