Friday, December 05, 2008


Dear Chairman,

Please do everything within your power to guarantee that Mr. Abdushukur Qurban is not tortured or ill-treated while he remains in custody. Mr. Qurban ought to have access to his family, legal assistance of his choice and any necessary medical treatment.

You must make a clear distinction between activities which involve the peaceful exercise of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and those that would be internationally recognized as criminal acts. As such, you must either charge Mr. Qurban with an internationally recognizable criminal offence or release him. Please ensure that everyone in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is able to exercise their fundamental human rights regardless of race, religion or political opinion.

I hope that, in the near future, the independent expression of Uighur ethnic, cultural or religious identity will be free from oppression.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

The Human Health Effects of B. t. and Starlink

I gathered this information a few years ago, but yesterday's questions have prompted me to post this all for public consumption, as it were:
From 2001 until 2004, a US subsidiary of the Swiss firm Syngenta allowed American farmers to plant 15,000 hectares of corn, or maize, that had been modified with an unapproved version of the B. t. gene (see Nature 434, 423; 2005).

Small batches of the unapproved seed were also exported to Europe. After Nature revealed this mistake, Syngenta claimed that there was no significant difference between the approved genetically modified corn, called Bt11, and the corn that had been inadvertently released, called Bt10. Only later did the company admit that Bt10 differs from Bt11 in that it contains an additional gene that confers resistance to the antibiotic ampicillin (see Nature 434, 548; 2005), a difference that most experts agree is of some significance. Even Monsanto says: “Rats fed B. t. corn developed kidney inflammation, altered blood cell counts and organ lesions. These and other changes suggested possible allergies, infections, toxins, anemia or blood pressure problems.”

StarLink corn was a product of the Aventis Corporation. It contained Cry9c, a B. t. protein that is heat stable and can not be excluded as an allergen. [Cry9c (MW of 68 kDa) shows some characteristics of known food allergens and relative resistance to gastric proteolytic degradation and to heat and acid treatment. It is probably a glycoprotein. It induces a positive IgE response in the Brown Norway rat and is a high IgE responder on intraperitoneal and oral sensitization (in contrast to the related Cry1Ab5 protein). It may be found intact in the bloodstream after oral feeding in a rat model.] It was approved by the EPA as a pesticide when produced for sale as an animal feed. In September 2000, it contaminated the human food supply.

Upon dry milling, the Cry9c content is reduced by 40 percent. Additional processing, such as alkaline cooking, decreases the protein content to 0.1 to 0.2 percent of the original Cry9c protein (FIFRA SAP, 2000b). This suggests a further reduction in allergenic potency; however, protein denaturation by heat or partial proteolysis may uncover new allergenic epitopes [An epitope is the part of a foreign organism or its proteins that is being recognized by the immune system and targeted by antibodies, cytotoxic T cells or both] (FIFRA SAP, 2000; Hefle, 1996 in Kuiper et al. 2001).
There was no way to easily determine if consumption of this genetically engineered protein was resulting in allergic reactions in humans. Fifty-one people reported signs and symptoms that varied from gastrointestinal illness to anaphylactic shock. These reports were entered into the FDA’s adverse events reporting system (Bucchini & Goldman 2002).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed a case definition that included: a suspected anaphylactic reaction that occurred within 1 hr of product consumption, dizziness, weakness or loss of consciousness; any of the following dermatological or oropharyngeal symptoms that occurred within 12 hr of product consumption, hives, rash, pruritus, oropharyngeal tingling or swelling; any of the following gastrointestinal symptoms that occurred within 12 hr of product consumption, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping (only experienced by one individual). These symptoms were not explained by any preexisting medical conditions.

Twenty-eight of the 51 reports were consistent with the case definition (Bernstein et al. 2005). A serological test for antibodies specific to acute hypersensitivity was considered to be the safest way to evaluate whether any of these people were indeed sensitive to the genetically modified protein in StarLink. The FDA developed an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test that found no IgE [Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is the least abundant antibody subclass, i.e., isotype, capable of triggering the most powerful immune reactions. Proteins that bind IgE from people with allergies are likely to be allergens.] antibody reactivity to Cry9c in any of the serum samples. The U.S. EPA SAP reviewed these data in 2001 and concluded that the technical approach for the detection of Cry9c protein and antigen-specific [For those of us not practicing the black art, an antigen is a foreign substance, e.g., a toxin, which induces an immune response in the body, esp. the production of antibodies.] IgEs is limited and cannot resolve the issue of the presence or absence of Cry9c-specific IgE in the serum of individuals reporting adverse reactions after eating corn (Bucchini & Goldman 2002).

Raybourne et al. (2003) came to the conclusion that, “while the results do not support the likely occurrence of allergic reactions to Cry9c, such reactions cannot be ruled out, nor can the possibility that sera might react with unique glycosylated epitopes of Cry9c that might be expressed in the corn plant/seed.”

The FDA’s IgE-specific ELISA did not include the StarLink-derived Cry9c protein, but the recombinant Cry9c expressed in E. coli as an antigen. It is possible that epitopes present on Cry9c in maize may not be present in the non-glycosylated E. coli-derived protein. A specific goat serum against Cry9c was included in the ELISA, as there was no human serum available that contained the IgE antibody to Cry9c. The result is that the possibility of lack of specificity for human anti-Cry9c IgE cannot be entirely dismissed (CDC 2001b and CDC 2001c in Kuiper et al. 2001).

Literature Cited:
Bucchini, L., Goldman., L. 2002. Starlink corn: a risk analysis. Environmental Health Perspectives 110(1): 5-13
Kuiper, H., G. Kleter, H. Noteborn and E. Kok. 2001. Assessment of the food safety issues related to genetically modified foods. The Plant Journal 27(6): 503-528

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Honourable Governor General,

I care deeply about the ecosystems and people in Canada, which is why I am contacting you tonight. I must ask you to please allow the proposed coalition government to form. Please do not prorogue parliament.

Only a parliament in session can pass a money bill. Please do not muzzle the parliament at this time of economic crisis, when their action is necessary.

Mr. Harper does not have the confidence of the house. His decisions have been based on self-interest.

I believe that a coalition government would work well for this country.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dow vs Canada

[2,4-D isn't just a cosmetic pesticide, it's a monoculture lifestyle. Such enormous volumes of 2,4-D have drenched the North American landscape that it has acted as a selection pressure in the Darwinian sense. For my M.Sc. I studied a plant whose populations in North America, Eastern Europe, etc., have largely developed resistance to 2,4-D. Resistance to 2,4-D has combined with resistances to some other groups of herbicides. Some characteristics of these plants change, when the plants are herbicide-resistant mutants, e.g., the soil temperature at which they emerge in the spring.]

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The New Underground Railroad

By Doug Ireland

A new organization, the Iranian Queer Railroad, has just been launched, modeled on the 19th century Underground Railroad that used various routes and safe houses to bring American slaves to freedom in Canada. Now, the courageous young Iranian queer organizer Arsham Parsi is doing the same thing to get persecuted LGBTers out of Iran, temporarily find them refuge in neighboring countries - especiallyTurkey - and help them find their way through the redoubtable maze of international asylum procedures until the UN High Commissioner for Refugees grants them official refugee status and so, at long last,they can only then be admitted to a gay friendly country and gain legal asylum status as refugees from sexual persecution. There are hundreds of these gay, lesbian, and transgendered Iranians languishing in stateless limbo in squalid conditions and homophobic cultural surroundings who need to be saved. To read more, click on:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Omar Khadr and Barriere Lake

Omar Khadr
[although I'm including other links in this post, I think Omar Khadr is the most important issue going on in Canada at this time. I am reminded of The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.]

Barriere Lake
Demands, and a list of groups that have endorsed them:
Photos of the current blockade:
A quick visual introduction to the community:
More information on how to support the Barriere Lake Algonquins:

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

GAY! October schedule of events

The schedule of events, along with descriptions of the events, speakers, panelists, DJs, etc. is available here:

Check it out. See you there. Invite all your friends, because the events are open to EVERYBODY.

Friday, September 26, 2008



Dear Chief Adviser,

Rang Lai Mro, the imprisoned head of a community of indigenous Mro people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, has a serious heart condition that requires medical attention. Rang Lai Mro is also the head of a local NGO, Mrochet, that works to improve the facilities available to the Mro people in the region. Please allow Rang Lai Mro to receive immediately the appropriate medical attention in a hospital equipped to provide specialist treatment for his condition.

I am particularly concerned, that he has been beaten by army officers in custody at the local army headquarters (Bandarban Cantonment) and is at risk of further torture.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ivan is not Kader

I am very ashamed. After the protest today, while waiting for the Macdonald campus shuttle, I explained that I had just been to a protest. I said this to an esteemed lecturer, who I believe is the director of the Agricultural program at McGill's Macdonald Campus. Granted, I had woken up very early. And had nothing to eat or drink. But for some reason I used the name of Abdelkader instead of Ivan. God help me: Ivan Apaolaza Sancho is not Abdelkader Belaouni.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Subject: release Oundo George and Kiiza

Your Excellency,

Please release Oundo George and Kiiza immediately. They are currently detained without charge at Nabweru Police Post and have not been brought before a court within the constitutional limit of 48 hours. They are prisoners of conscience, who have been arrested solely for their gender identity. I am very affected by the trouble that they are in, my thoughts are with them.

I am concerned for the health of Oundo George. He is a diabetic and requires urgent medical attention for his condition.

Please tell me that Oundo George and Kiiza will not be tortured or ill-treated, and that they will be given prompt access to their families and lawyers. The Ugandan government must end the police harassment and wrongful detention of LGBT human rights defenders.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008



Dear Mr. Francisco Villagran de Leon,

I am emailing you tonight due to my concern with regards to the August 7th murder, in Colotenango, Guatemala, of Antonio Morales. Mr. Morales was active in the struggle for the rights of Mayan people, the defense of natural resources, respect for community referendums, and (an issue most dear to my heart) resistance to open-pit mining. I hope you will instigate immediately an investigation into the death of Mr. Morales. Furthermore, I must ask you to listen to the wishes of Mayan communities: for autonomy, self-determination, and an end to large-scale mining (such as the Canadian-owned Marlin mine in San Marcos) and hydro-electric dam projects.

In the meantime, please enact your powers to protect the life of human rights lawyer Amilcar Pop, and the lives of the members of the Asociación Chrisitiana de Jóvenes. They are in danger.

Furthermore, please take what action you can to pressure Canadian extractive industries to follow the recommendations of the report on the National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries.

In the memory of Antonio Morales,

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cheraq 43

(Iranian Queer magazine) is available on-line with some articles in English [!!!] and Persian.

Friday, July 18, 2008

To the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi:

This letter particularly concerns the cases of Mohammad and Ali with file number B051747780. Mohammad and Ali were recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2006 and 2007, respectively. UNHCR forwarded their case to you for quick processing, noting that this case should be treated as high priority. Mohammad and Ali completed interviews and health checkups in July, 2007. A whole year has passed and they are still waiting for your Embassy to complete their processes.

You must be aware of the perils that queer refugees in particular face in India. The Indian penal code calls for punishment of homosexuals and the Indian society is homophobic. Because of this, refugees like Mohammad and Ali deal with escalated risks. Confronting these risks often leads to mental health problems and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. It is essential that such individuals resettle in a country deemed safe and appropriate for homosexuals, such as Canada, as quickly as possible.

Especially at this time of imminent volatility, I support queer Iranians, and urge that you expedite Mohammad and Ali's case, because they are suffering in New Delhi and Mohammad's mental health is especially deteriorating. He has been medicated by a UNHCR psychiatrist for seven months. I am concerned about their emotional states in India, and urge you to bring them relief from their unhealthy situation. Due to the exigent circumstances especially facing queer refugees, I urge you to assist Mohammad and Ali, and help them resettle in Canada promptly.

Your timely, informed and sensitive treatment of this case will be much appreciated.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

To United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees-Ankara:

This letter particularly concerns the cases of Reza and Kamal with file numbers 385-06C03012 and 385-06C03015, respectively. Reza and Kamal completed their legal interviews on September 6, 2007, and are currently waiting for the commissioner's decision.

I support queer Iranians, and urge the acceptance of their applications for refugee status, as there is every reason to suppose that their lives may depend upon it. I am concerned about their physical and emotional states in Turkey, and urge you to bring them relief from the hard living conditions, which include unsanitary housing, lack of medical supplies and life expenses. Reza and Kamal are particularly affected because Kamal is seriously ill and needs urgent medical assistance.

I realize you have many refugee applicants that you must respond to. However, due to the exigent circumstances especially facing queer refugees, I urge you to assist Reza and Kamal, and grant them refugee status as soon as possible.

Your timely, informed and sensitive treatment of this case will be much appreciated.

Sincerely and Respectfully,
Timothy Schwinghamer

Tuesday, July 08, 2008



Dear Prime Minister,

I am contacting you today with hope that you will stop any removal or deportation proceedings against James Corey Glass. Mr. Glass is a conscientious objector, who seeks to be a refugee to Canada, but is due for deportation on July 10th, 2008.

The US law recognizes the right to conscientious objection only on grounds of opposition to war in any form, and so, Mr. Glass was unable to apply for conscientious objector status because his objection was solely to the Iraq war.

According to a statement outlining his position, he had concerns about the legality of the war before he was deployed to Iraq. While serving there, he developed further serious objections to the war, including what he saw as the abusive treatment of civilians by US forces, and the military system's failure to address these abuses. He said he had reported his concerns to his superiors and asked to be relieved of duty. His request was denied but he was given two weeks' leave. He refused to return to his unit and went absent without leave in February 2006. So, while Mr. Glass went absent without leave, it appears that he took reasonable steps to secure his release from military obligations and asked to be relieved of duty.

I will consider Mr. Glass to be a prisoner of conscience if he is jailed on his return to the USA.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

You may have heard that Italy plans to fingerprint Roma children...

[... my Mom called me, up in arms, the other day with the news. But, between you and me, isn't the UK already fingerprinting Roma children? In a perfect world, in my imagination, the Prime Minister of Canada would make a statement to the international community about the criminalization of children, and he would open the doors of Canadian immigration to any Roma people who want to fly here, to escape racist policies in Europe. Anyway, here's a link:]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I am contacting you to request your intervention to guarantee the safety of Geoff Horner and all members of the Santa Maria Yaviche community, in the Northern mountain range of Oaxaca. Today, it disappointed me to learn that the repressive practices of the government against the peoples and communities of Oaxaca have not ceased. I am very concerned for their collective safety and well being.

The government, along with paramilitaries from the Regional Council of Farmers and Urban Workers of Tuxtepec, and the National Action and the Democratic Revolution political parties, pretend to impose illegitimate authority through violence. This pretension is against the will of the people and the traditional customs of the community, under which Yaviche elects its authorities and representatives.

The people of Santa Maria Yaviche are expecting to be invaded by the police today, June 18th 2008. Fear weighs heavily in all inhabitants of Santa Maria Yaviche, who remember clearly how on October 16th 2003, the same paramilitaries of CROCUT murdered one person and injured nine other members and sympathizers of the Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca “Ricardo Flores Magon”.

I am concerned for members of the community, and for the physical well being and safety of Geoff Horner, who is a fellow Canadian citizen. Mr. Horner is a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. He is currently in Santa Maria Yaviche conducting research on the community’s traditional customs as part of an international seminar to be held in the last week of June in Oaxaca City, where he is the coordinator and scheduled to speak about traditional customs in rural Oaxaca.

Please take whatever actions you can to protect these people.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I refuse to carry out any action against my conscience and...

... will, forced on me by persons or institutions, may they be civilian or military, local or universal.


Dear Minister,

I am contacting you with the hope that you will ensure that conscientious objector Mehmet Bal is not subjected to ill-treatment or torture. Please exert your power to protect Mr. Bal from attacks and intimidation by other prisoners. Please ensure that Mr. Bal has access to independent and appropriate medical examination and treatment.

You must instigate an impartial investigation into the claims that Mr. Bal was ill-treated by military personnel and imprisoned soldiers on the orders of a senior military officer at Hasdal Military Prison.

I believe that you must put an end to the prosecutions of conscientious objectors, and I hope that you will release Mr. Bal immediately.

Sincerely and Respectfully,


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Earth Liberation Prisoners List

Tre Arrow
Grant Barnes
Nathan Block
Marco Camenisch
Jeffrey Luers
Eric McDavid
Daniel McGowan
Joyanna Zacher
Constantino Ragusa
Julio Villanueva
Ibai Ederra

[this information is from It is by no means complete. I'de like to see a list of indigenous forest defenders in Canadian jails.]

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Two letters

[Okay, so I can't always post every letter I send to government and companies about the environment, etc. In any case, here are two of today's letters.]

To:,,,,, mfacundo@minjus.gob

Dear Sir,

Three police officers at the Casa Grande District National Police Station of Ascope County raped Luís Alberto Rojas Marín. While it may be said that they raped him because he is a homosexual, it is also true that they raped him because they are sadistic and violent men.

In any case, the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity specify that, "Everyone is entitled to enjoy all human rights without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation" and that states should, "adopt appropriate legislative and other measures to prohibit and eliminate discrimination in the public and private spheres on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity" (Principle 2).

So, you must condemn publicly the rape of Luís Alberto Rojas Marín, making it clear that such violent crimes will not be tolerated. Do everything within your power to ensure that all citizens are respected and protected.

Sincerely and Respectfully,




Dear Mr. Pavel Pustovoy,

Emanuel Zeltser was detained for possessing forged documents when he flew in to Belarus on 12 March. Mr. Zeltser is being held in a state security services detention facility in Minsk. His health is failing, he has lost weight, is very weak, and has difficulty walking and talking. He has been beaten two or three times while in custody, and he has been denied the medicine he needs to treat his diabetes and arthritis.

Please take whatever action you can to ensure that Mr. Zeltser receives immediately the medication his doctor has prescribed, which his lawyer brought to the detention facility. Please do everything you can to ensure that he is protected from further torture and other ill-treatment.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Article for People's Global Action zine

The rural Community of Upper Leitches Creek (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia) is a string of homes along a long, winding road through the forest on the Hill of Boisdale. Upper Leitches Creek is being made uninhabitable due to two open-surface gravel mines. One is operated by Alva Construction Ltd., a mainland-based company.

The people of Upper Leitches Creek and our allies have said “no” to Alva’s activity, via letters, a petition, and a partial road blockade. However, Nova Scotia Premier Rodney Macdonald’s government has completely disregarded us. Take note that the Premier receives campaign contributions from Pioneer Coal, another mining company. The Cape Breton Post estimated a project lifespan of 20 years. We know our MLA met with the minister & the MLA hoped to have the entire cabinet see the Point Aconi presentation.

There is a total lack of regulatory control over the natural resource industry on Cape Breton Island. In a purportedly democratic country such as Canada, the interests of a private company (whose owners live far away on mainland Nova Scotia) should not outweigh the interests of the immediate community.

Environmentally-friendly techniques are not within the repertoire of industrial mining. Alva Construction has hollowed out a vast pit, where there used to be a grove of enormous old pine trees, which my forefathers treasured. The residents of Upper Leitches Creek are gravely concerned for the safety of their water supply. We do not want heavy metal runoff to poison the ancient and socially valuable wells and streams where fish live, and unique wild biotypes of heritage herbs grow. Alva's operation encroaches on the habitat of endangered lynx, wetlands where endangered miniature white orchids grow, and the old-growth forest in the backlands. The boreal (or brown-capped) chickadee, barred owls, bald eagles, partridges, deer, wolves, ermines, silver foxes, and innumerable forest birds and small mammals, all depend on the forest and creeks.

To add insult to injury, Riverside Development Limited applied to operate an aggregate quarry on Highway #223 next to the former Levatte's Construction Gravel Pit. The particular size of the proposed operation allows it to escape full environmental scrutiny and accountability. The area also drains into George's River and the ecologically significant (and purportedly protected) Bras D'Or. It is understandable that frustration and blatant disregard for the legitimate concerns of residents cause many in Cape Breton to believe the only avenue left is direct action.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Two letters

[I have rediscovered the value of posting my various letters to politicians, newspapers, etc. So, here you are. I have included some informational links where appropriate.]

Letter #1
Dear Dalton McGuinty,
I have just been informed that SWAT teams are amassing around the Tyendinaga Mohawk reclaimation site. I am emailing you to ask that you please honour the Tyendinaga Mohawk land, and call off the OPP. Please do not risk these precious people's lives for a gravel pit the government has already acknowledged is on Mohawk land! In this regard, please release all the prisoners associated with the Tyendinaga reclaimation.
Sincerely and Respectfully,

Letter #2
Dear Secretary,
I am emailing you to express my concern for the safety of all Los Llanos state prisoners who belong to or support La Voz de los Llanos. According to the Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, the members of La Voz de los Llanos have suffered ill-treatment and harassment on several occasions. I hope that the members of La Voz de los Llanos will be given immediate access to all the medical care they may require. Please do whatever is in your power to guarantee the safety of those at risk. Please bring about an impartial and prompt investigation into the reported beatings and ill-treatment suffered by the group.
Sincerely and Respectfully,

Friday, April 18, 2008

Letter to the Chronicle Herald

Although I’m writing to you from Montreal, my home is in Upper Leitches Creek, Cape Breton. I am writing with regards to Laura Fraser’s article ‘Citizens vs. strip mining: 'Civil disobedience only option left'. There is no question in my mind, since the premier receives campaign contributions from Pioneer Coal, he has forgotten and ignored the well-being of the island. If Cape Breton is to have any future at all, there must be a moratorium on open and near surface mining, a.k.a. strip mining.
Countless letters, from all over, have protested the destruction of the Cape Breton forests and hills, but the government is in the pocket of a few mainland-based natural resource profiteers.
Compared to monkey wrenching, civil disobedience is a less dangerous way to protect the environment and communities of Cape Breton from unregulated destruction. I agree with Elizabeth May's comments.

Timothy Schwinghamer, PhD candidate, McGill University

Thursday, April 17, 2008


A march for immigrant justice, and against poverty, racism & racial profiling

SUNDAY, MAY 4th, 12:30pm
Starting Point: Corner of Victoria & Van Hornein COTE-DES-NEIGES
(metro Plamondon, Van Horne exit)
This is a child-friendly demonstration.
Food and drinks will be available.
There will be vehicles on-hand for those with reduced mobility.

As part of a National Day of Action for immigrant rights, Solidarity Across Borders is again taking to the streets, with our allies, to demand justice and dignity for all migrants. In opposition to deportations and detentions, we demand STATUS FOR ALL! There is no such thing as an "illegal" human being, only illegitimate laws and governments. Daily, we resist deportations and detentions, we fight for justice in the workplace, we demand safe and secure housing, and we oppose racism and racial profiling. In contrast to the xenophobia promoted by the false"reasonable accommodation" debate in Quebec, we take to the streets to celebrate our collective struggles for justice and dignity in all its diversity and strength. This year, we march through the streets of Cote-des-Neiges, a predominantly poor, working class and immigrant neighbourhood. Our march will mark the culmination of "Mayworks!", a festival of working class and immigrant culture, organized by the Immigrant Workers Center (IWC). Our march is also part of the Mayday tradition, as we celebrate the struggles of working people locally and throughout the world. Join us - with your friends, family, co-workers and neighbours - on Sunday, May 4, and add your voice and presence to the growing numbers of people in Montreal and beyond who are demanding "STATUS FOR ALL!"

for more info about how you can help support the march. The poster for the May 4 Status for All march is linked at:

Organized by Solidarity Across Borders, in collaboration with the Immigrant Workers Center(IWC) and Mayworks!*

Endorsed and supported by:
The"Accommodate This!" Campaign * Les Apatrides Anonymes * L'Association deslocataires de Villeray (ALV) * Bloquez l'empire Montréal * Le Centre desfemmes d'ici et d'ailleurs * Center for Philippine Concerns * Le CollectifOpposé à la brutalité policière (COBP) * Le Comité pour les droits humainsen Amérique latine (CDHAL) * Le Comité des sans-emploi Montréal-centre * Committee in support of Abdelkader Belaouni * La Coalition Justice pour AdilCharkaoui * La Coalition Justice pour Anas * DIRA Bibliothèque Anarchiste * Ici La Otra Montréal * Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee * Lamour Workers Support Committee * March 8th Committee of Women of Diverse Origins * Midnight Kitchen * No One Is Illegal-Montreal * People's Global Action Bloc (Montréal & Ottawa) * La Pointe Libertaire * PINAY (The Filipina Women's Organization of Montreal) * Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC)* Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG Concordia & McGill)*Q-Team Montréal * Les Sorcières * South Asian Women's Community Center (SAWCC) * STELLA Sex Workers Organization * Tadamon! Montréal * Tamil Elders Association of Quebec * Tamil Women's Association of Quebec * Union Localede Montréal - NEFAC


For background to previous migrant justice marches in Montreal (2003-2007), visit:

We encourage your group and organization to endorse the May 4 "STATUS FORALL" demonstration, and to mobilize within your networks. If you endorse the demonstration, please let us know at or514-848-7583. We also encourage you to announce the demonstration on your e-mail lists, blogs and websites, and at your meetings and events. If you would like to invite someone from Solidarity Across Borders to address your group, please get in touch! We can offer presentations about issues concerning migration, poverty and racism, ranging from 10 minutes to full 2-hour workshops. If you need flyers and posters to mobilize within your networks, you canvisit QPIRG-Concordia (1500 de Maisonneuve Ouest, #204, métro Guy-Concordia,tel: 514-848-7583) or the Immigrant Workers Center (6420 Victoria, #9, métroPlamondon, tel: 514-342-2111). We also have promotional materials in Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog, Tamil, Farsi, Russian and other languages; get in touch to access these materials.

We encourage you to get involved in the organizing of the May 4 "STATUS FORALL" march and demonstration. We have an active OUTREACH committee that is meeting people door-to-door in the Cote-des-Neiges area, as well as actively flyering and postering throughout Montreal. As well, we have an ART committee that will be creating images and banners to carry our message during the demonstration. To get involved, e-mail or phone 514-848-7583. You can also meet us face-to-face at our weekly meetings at the Immigrant Worker's Center (6420 Victoria, #9, métro Plamondon), on MONDAY, APRIL 21 and MONDAY, APRIL 28 at 6:30pm. We also encourage you to join us at our next COMMUNITY DINNER this FRIDAY, APRIL 18 at 6:30pm at the Cote-des-Neiges Community Center (5347 cheminCôte-des-Neiges, métro Côte-des Neiges). There will be tasty food, music, films and good company, as we together share our struggles of resistance andsurvival.

The Status for All March will include several contingents in support of immigrant justice that will also highlight issues supported by SolidarityAcross Borders. Confirmed contingents include: The

RED UMBRELLA Bloc: The red umbrella symbolizes opposition to violence against sex workers, including migrant sex workers. Organized by Stella, a sex workers' support and justice organization, by and for sex workers. Info:

The PINK Bloc: The pink bloc is a contingent made up of queer-trans-allies marching as members of, and in solidarity with, migrant communities. We are committed to understanding systems of power and domination as interlinked. We're coming out, in pink, to denounce all oppressions, and demand status for all!! Folks are invited to wear pink and join the pink bloc! Organized by Q-Team. Info:

JUSTICE FOR ADIL Bloc: The Justice For Adil Bloc will highlight oppositionto racial profiling, Islamophobia secret trials and two-tiered justice. Organized by the Justice for Adil Charkaoui Coalition. Info:

JUSTICE FOR KADER Bloc: Kader Belaouni, a refugee claimant originally from Algeria, has been in sanctuary in the Saint-Gabriel's Church in Point-St-Charles for more than two years. Kader can't attend the Status forAll demonstration, but his supporters will, marching together as part of the Justice for Kader Bloc. Organized by the Committee to Support Abdelkader Belaouni. Info:

The PALESTINE SOLIDARITY Bloc: In opposition to Israeli apartheid, in support of Palestinian refugees, and in defence of the right of return of all Palestinians to their homeland, we will march together as part of the Palestine Solidarity Bloc. Organized by Tadamon! Montreal.

The Status for All March is the culmination of Mayworks, a festival of working class and immigrant culture, based in Cote-des-Neiges, taking place between April 25 to May 4. The full Mayworks! program is linked at:

Immigrant rights are workers rights! No borders, no nations, stop the deportations!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Below is a letter written by my mother to The Honourable Mark Parent

[I encourage you all to read and copy the letter below into an email or snail mail. Send your own copy to the Minister of the Environment, "The Honourable" Mr. Parent, who is infamous for comments made to mining industry executives, i.e., that they need not report their polluting effluents. Send copies to any decision-maker who you think may listen to the desperate cry of our community. Cape Bretoners are suffering terribly, now more than ever, from a lack of real democracy. N.B. my mother did not include the units after "3.9" and I've left it as such here, please edit that for your own letter, as you see fit. Also, you'll notice near the end of the letter, a reference to a dubious "right." That may need editing too. Keep in mind that environmentally-friendly technique is not within the repertoire of industrial mining. For more information about the ongoing extractive destruction of my home by natural resource profiteers, please click the label below the letter.]


The Honourable Mark Parent
Department of Environment & Labour
5151 Terminal Road, 6th. Floor
Halifax NS B3J 2T8

Dear Mr. Parent,

My family & I wish to express our opposition to the application of Riverside Development Limited to operate an aggregate quarry on Highway #223 next to the former Levatte's Construction Gravel Pit.

It is amazing that such an undertaking would even be considered a reasonable development. The fact that it will be 3.9 means this size operation will escape full environmental scrutiny & accountability. I am very sure that the three families in very close proximity have very legitimate concerns regarding the potential harm to every aspect of their water supply. These precious waterways are the streams which constitute George's River, and flow into the Bras D'Or.

This area has more than enough heavy trucks, moving far too quickly, with a history of uncovered loads. We have endured truck traffic coming through our community before 6 a. m. We have given up trying to walk on the Upper Leitche's Creek Road. The little fishing brook is no longer a place where the little ones ride their bikes & sit by the water's edge. The little wooden bridge has been smashed & damaged so many times the Highway Dept. has to keep returning and pound in the side boards.

Any of these accusations can be verified if you check with the vehicle compliance officer for the area or the Dept of Highways. Or for the drive of a lifetime - just take a run up the length of the Upper Leitche's Creek Road. A road so bad that even federal members of the government have written concern over the condition. Now even more trucks will travel the other side - the upgraded side - lucky them. Let's see how long the asphalt stands up over there.

The real problem - the true problem is the reckless attitude of destruction. Sometimes I feel these people hate the countryside & every living plant, tree, animal, bird & person on it.

The days of destructive, extractive industry has to end. We, the people of Cape Breton, pay the price for this lack of responsible stewardship. We only have the right to endure this on-going destruction - in it's many forms. We have the heartbreak of watching the lands around us (many of us here know the story of those lands as it pertains to our people from Scotland) destroyed. There is no mercy for the earth & no consideration for the people who would like to remain on it.

I am reminded of the words of Henry David Thoreau upon watching a woodsman fell a beloved forest: THANK GOD THEY CANNOT CUT DOWN THE CLOUDS.


Sandra Schwinghamer & David Brown
Timothy Schwinghamer

[Here's the email I sent him: Dear Mark Parent, / For the community of Upper Leitches Creek to survive, a mining moratorium on the Hill of Boisdale (Cape Breton Island, NS) is required. The people of Upper Leitches Creek are suffering from the continued heavy truck traffic on the thin and poorly maintained Upper Leitches Creek Road. The forests there on the Hill of Boisdale have become eerily quiet, while the various gravel extracting companies blast, with illegal volume, during thunderstorms (to obscure their activities). The disturbance of everyday life is horrible and relentless. Animals and people alike have little option but to flee. / Upper Leitches Creek used to be a quiet forest retreat! / The people of Upper Leitches Creek are proud people, of Scottish extraction for the most part. I must point out to you that they have suffered enormous monetary losses as a result of the rubber-stamped, effectively unregulated, near and open surface gravel extraction in the area. Their property values have declined precipitously, and their necessary expenses due to repairs owing to the ruined road - and shivering houses - are more than these people can handle, as they are what is known as "working poor". The whole surrounding area has become miserable for those too old or wounded to move. / The situation in Upper Leitches Creek has become a human rights issue, as well as an issue of environmental rights, as the fact that endangered orchids populate the forest here has been entirely disregarded. The government has for too long disregarded this community. / When will you begin to think, Mark? When will you use your position, as such power ought to be employed? Soon, I hope. I hope you will put a moratorium on all mining in Upper Leitches Creek very soon.]

Sunday, March 30, 2008

What I think about biofuels & a couple of key links

I am for biofuels. I believe that perennial biofuel crops, such as timothy, willow, switchgrass, or nitrogen-fixing alder can be grown either as part of a long-term crop rotation, which includes turning the field into a pasture as part of the rotation, or as members of a polyculture.

Both of these scenarios would be enacted upon small fields, and the agricultural systems would be ideally organic, biodynamic, and cradle-to-cradle. I hope other environmental and social justice activists will cease their monolithic resistance to biofuels. We/they have been treating the issue as if it is a binary choice between crops & biofuels. (However there is no doubt in my mind that the choice between forest and agriculture is binary & we ought to choose forest, every time.) They seem to be unfamiliar with the real and excellent technique of long-term crop rotation for the management of agriculture.

That said, here's a recently published report, in it I find a warning about what could happen if we continue to allow industry to appropriate biofuel agriculture.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ulrich Beck

Here is the link to an Ulrich Beck lecture, in which can be found such little gems as: "Global risk has the power to tear away the facades of organised irresponsibility."

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Emails between the Citizens Liason Committee and Mayor Morgan

[This post will be of particular interest to Cape Bretoners. As usual my own comments can be seen in green on the original blog page for this note.]

I thought you might like to read a correspondence between Paul MacDougall, the only confirmed member of the Citizens Liason Committee, and Mayor Morgan. The Mayor and Council had requested a meeting with the CLC, and sent a letter to Mr. MacDougall, since he is the only publicly known member. It's a real eye opener as to why concerns of citizens are not being heard... Take care...

From: Paul MacDougall []
Sent: Monday, January 21, 2008 5:27 PM
To: John W. Morgan
Subject: CLC Point Aconi surface mining operation

Mr. Morgan: It has resently come to my attention that either the c-a-s-m group or yourself and council were wondering if the clc would consider holding a public meeting sometime in the near furture. The questions that were E-mailed to me , read , as follows: Question # 1: Will the clc consider having a public meeting in the future? { Basically to inform what is going on at the site , how water is handled, what tests, frequency of blasts ETC.} Question # 2 Are any of the unknown members considering releasing their names? Mr. mayor , these questions were forwarded to me by Inspector Brad langil of the DOEL. Sydney. I did respond to him on this issue , but not at the lenght i am responding to you. He was not at liberty to reveal the name of the person or persons that put forth the questions . After seeing the last council meeting and reviewing the c-a-s-m website I can assume that it came from one or the other. I have choosen you to respond to on these questions and with respect as to who you show this E-mail to i really do not care. The answer to the first question is NO! To explain the reasoning for this answer allow me to point out some facts to you Mr. mayor. Fact: From the outset of the formation of the clc we have been relentlessly attacked by members of the c-a-s-m group . My co-chair was observing one of their protests at the site and was immediately recognized and was verbally abused so bad he felt for his safety and had to leave. After which one Richard Collis publicly called for a boycot of his place of employment. Fact: Some council members decided to jump into the fray and were making a few comments before we even got started on the job at hand. Fact: At a meeting I had with miister Parent, I was asked if there was room for another clc member so the minister could offer it to c-a-s-m to put one of their members on the committee. To the best of my knowledge they refused. Fact: Over the last two years they have escalated their process of attacking us, for example, I still have the bill for the vandalism done to the company vechicle i drive, I still have the two-inch screw nails that were thrown in my driveway putting both myself and my family and friends at risk. Fact : A contact number has been in place for one year now and there has been no effort on the oppositions part to make any kind of contact with me in a civilized fashion. Fact : The attacks in the media by the likes of Leroy Peach, Richard Collis, Sharon MacLeod and Kevin Sacary { Council} and a few more I could name has reached the point of being slanderous. { But that is for my legal council to determine} Fact : To Date It has been Pioneer Coal who has been following all the rules as layed out by our government with no devations at all to the conditions put on them. [No conditions] That info comes from making the effort to work with the company and the Gov. depts. involved in this. If you know it or not they are a contributor to the economy of the CBRM mr. mayor. I ask you sir , are these the actions of reasonable . rationable people? I think not! I Can go on Mr. mayor but I would be all day at this and with the few facts that I have given you I think you can understand why at this point in time I refuse to have a public meeting with either c-a-s-m or council. By the way Mr. mayor there are thirty + local people working there to date in very good paying jobs for the next seven to ten years. What will you say to them if and when the opposition puts them out of work? They are tax payers and supporters of the economy of the CBRM also. What about Pioneer coal itself , are they not paying taxes in the CBRM , are they not supportting local businesses in the area of supply and services, have they not been complying with the rules and regulations as layed out by our departments in government. Mr. Mayor a man of your caliber should be paying more attention to this and lookat it from all sides instead of just one. To conclude sir there will be no public meeting that I will attend until such time the the council and the c-a-s-m has a severe attitude change toward this CLC. Question #2 : After what you have read above sir do you blame those people for wanting to remain anonymous. The anonymity issue is not really an issue in my eyes. It is just their way of trying to find somebody else to harass and it will not work. These people have given their time and effort in this process to try and look out for their friends and neighbors and for that they would be harassed and abused . I for one refuse to expose them to what I personally have been threw. I look forward to your responce to this E-mail { If any } and if you would like to discuss it further in a one on one , feel free to contact me. With Respect: Paul MacDougall Chairman CLC Point Aconi Surface mine opertion

Letter from Mayor to Paul MacDougall‏:
Mr. MacDougall: Thank you for your e-mail in response to the questions posed during the most recent meeting of CBRM Council. I note your commentary that you do not oppose distribution of the e-mail to the individuals referenced in it and, thus, I have forwarded your comments to the individuals concerned. From my perspective, I want to emphasize my perception that the overwhelming majority of the citizens of this region oppose strip mining of coal due to the environmental impacts which have been well-detailed. I am concerned that the secret committee may be providing a false impression to government officials that the community supports the actions of Pioneer Coal. I hope your committee will make it clear to the Minister that the municipal government and the citizens of this region oppose the actions of Pioneer Coal and also oppose any expansion of the coal strip mining operation to other locations within our region. I have noted that the provincial government discontinued similar operations in Digby in response to community opposition. It is regrettable that the provincial government does not respond to the wishes of the citizens of this region to have their environment protected in a similar manner. I do want to thank you for taking the time to respond to the inquiries during our Council meeting and I hope your committee will clearly communicate the opposition of the residents of this region to the strip mine during your meetings with the Minister of Environment and Labour. Mayor John W. Morgan Cape Breton Regional Municipality

Friday, February 01, 2008

A question and a note

White House Press Release: As he noted in his State of the Union address, the President will be hosting the North American Leaders’ Summit on April 21-22 in New Orleans. This fourth meeting of North American leaders since 2005 will continue our work on Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) initiatives. It will also serve as an opportunity for the three leaders todiscuss hemispheric and global issues of importance to North America.


Does the White House Press Release mean there will be no protest in Montreal on February 16th?

And now for something completely different:
A new report from the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) estimates that "between 300 and 700 New Brunswickers die every year [from]... illnesses caused by pollution, pesticides or contamination of food and water." The report is based on research by Simon Fraser University Professor David Boyd and University of Alberta Medical Professor Stephen Genius who determined that "between 10,000 and 25,000 [Canadians] die from environmental factors annually." The study used World Health Organization factor-analysis and Canadian health statistics to estimate that environmental illnesses cost the country as much as $251 million between 1999 and 2003. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, "researchers are finding that... exposure to pesticides and toxic substances play an increasingly significant role in the incidence of disease." CCNB has asked the Provincial Legislative Committee on Wellness to establish a Wellness Plan that will "ban cosmetic use of pesticides and foster public awareness about the role environmental factors can play in wellness."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

People must empower themselves, not wait for government

by Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front

[I have long been a fan of Zabalaza, largely due to the fact that it was in one of their publications that I first came across the notion of organizing to unionize natural resource industry workers, as a tactic to slow environmental destruction. Unfortunately, it's a tactic which can't be used on Cape Breton Island to stop open/near surface mining, a.k.a. strip mining. Below is a statement with regards to situations in South Africa. It's far, far away, but Zabalaza's language could be used honestly by Cape Bretoners. Furthermore, this specific issue should catch the attention of everybody concerned by the use of food crops for biofuel, etc. - Tim]

ZACF on the recent Young Communist League (YCL) Statement on the Unjustifiable Increase of Bread. --- "We call on government to empower our people, especially through community cooperatives with the necessary inputs for bread production, namely land, tractors and seeds to plough wheat." - this was the demand made by the Young Communist League (YCL) in their recent Statement on the Unjustifiable Increase of Bread. --- The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) agrees with the YCL that "This increase will have negative consequences on the majority of our people, especially the working class and the poor youth who rely on bread as a source of living." We support the YCL and Cosatu in defying this price increase. We regard the vast and repeated increases in the bread price, and in the prices of maize meal, other grains and food in general, as a direct attack by capitalist profiteers on the very survival of workers and the poor. An attack against which workers and the poor need to defend themselves. But the YCL does not seem to recognise the inherent contradiction in its statement. The YCL stated its concern "that government is not protecting our people and allows the capitalist market to undermine our struggle of building sustainable livelihoods as a results of excessive prices of bread and other basic commodities", but they are missing the point. If government did anything other than protect market interests, the YCL would have reason for concern. But that is not the case; the government is protecting the interests of the market at the expense of the people it is supposed to serve. This is what us anarchist communists have been saying all along, and this is where we differ with the state socialists. Government cannot, and will not protect the people from the capitalist market, as the very purpose for government is to protect the capitalists, or capitalism, from the people. Government, by its very nature, disempowers people by controlling and regulating their lives, limiting their freedom to move and live as they please and by making decisions that affect people's lives without first consulting them. By acting on our behalf, and denying us the opportunity to act for ourselves, governments - of all colours and ideological leanings - undermine our ability for individual and collective empowerment. Meaningful and lasting empowerment cannot come from anywhere other than through the self-organised and self-managed activity and mobilisation of the people themselves, of a people in search and in struggle of a better life for all. Whatever workers and the poor have won from the bosses or the government: higher wages, shorter hours, electricity, water, houses, lower rent, the defeat of the apartheid regime, they have won in struggle, not because the government decided out of a sense of responsibility or the goodness of its heart to give us these things. If we want bread, we must fight for bread. As a result of our struggles or otherwise, the government might back a community cooperative, as the YCL suggests, by providing it with the "necessary inputs for bread production, namely land, tractors and seeds to plough wheat". But if we just rely on the government and do not continue the struggle, what is likely to happen is that those people will be expected to operate their cooperative according to market values, and sell their produce on the market instead of feeding themselves and their community. Government might subsidise a few small cooperatives, the participants in which might have access to a better life, but the government will never socialise all the "necessary inputs for bread production", and so the vast majority of the people, those in urban areas for example, will not benefit from these symbolic acts of empowerment. If we do win support for co-operatives, or cheaper bread, or even free bread, we must carry on the fight. As long as the government and capitalists are in place, whatever we force them to give us, they can still try to take back. For anarchist communists the only way to empowerment, and the only way for people to protect themselves from the capitalist market is to organise collectively to rid the world of that market; a market that tramples on the needs and rights of the many to satisfy the profits of the few. We hold that people must collectively organise themselves, across all the industries of the land - both urban and rural - in every school and in every township, to take control of the "necessary inputs of bread production" and the necessary inputs to satisfy all our needs, and place them under the collective ownership and control of the people. No government, whether socialist or not, can ever do this as the sole reason for existence of government is to protect the rich from the poor, and so it is up to the people themselves to create a better life for all. To create a free socialism, without bosses or politicians. Let us wait no longer for government to act, let us act ourselves. The anarchist revolutionary Emma Goldman once said "If they don't give you bread, take bread." Today we take bread; tomorrow we take the farms, the factories, the railways, the roads, the ships, everything that we ourselves built, that was taken from us, that we need to run our own lives. Onward to the collective appropriation of all the necessary inputs for a better life for all. You cannot empower people, people must empower themselves.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Regarding the SPP, I have made notes in the past, they can be found by:

  • entering "SPP" into the little box on the top left of my blog's page, and clicking on the "search blog" button.
  • clicking on the "Security and Prosperity Partnership" label below this blog entry.

The Canadian Action Party's petition is accessible here, and here's the handout version. If you're on facebook, and a member of the Montreal facebook network, you can join the Montrealers Against the North American Union. The facebook group has links to videos and literature, but I haven't screened those, yet.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Net energy of cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass

[This is very significant! N.B. While I am excited by the science, I in no way sympathize with their endorsement of the so-called "Green Revolution." The Green Revolution refers to the development of dwarf high-yielding varieties of crops grown in conjunction with fertilizers and pesticides.]

Net energy of cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass
M. R. Schmer, K. P. Vogel, R. B. Mitchell, and R. K. Perrin

Perennial herbaceous plants such as switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) are being evaluated as cellulosic bioenergy crops. Two major concerns have been the net energy efficiency and economic feasibility of switchgrass and similar crops. All previous energy analyses have been based on data from research plots (<5m^2) and estimated inputs. We managed switchgrass as a biomass energy crop in field trials of 3–9 ha (1 ha=10,000m^2) on marginal cropland on 10 farms across a wide precipitation and temperature gradient in the midcontinental U.S. to determine net energy and economic costs based on known farm inputs and harvested yields. In this report, we summarize the agricultural energy input costs, biomass yield, estimated ethanol output, greenhouse gas emissions, and net energy results. Annual biomass yields of established fields averaged 5.2 -11.1 Mg/ha with a resulting average estimated net energy yield (NEY) of 60 GJ/ha/y. Switchgrass produced 540% more renewable than nonrenewable energy consumed. Switchgrass monocultures managed for high yield produced 93% more biomass yield and an equivalent estimated NEY than previous estimates from human-made prairies that received low agricultural inputs. Estimated average greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cellulosic ethanol derived from switchgrass were 94% lower than estimated GHG from gasoline. This is a baseline study that represents the genetic material and agronomic technology available for switchgrass production in 2000 and 2001, when the fields were planted. Improved genetics and agronomics may further enhance energy sustainability and biofuel yield of switchgrass.