Entries from May 2009

» Film Club Contest!
» Film Club Contest!
» Bird is the Word: Ghost Bird
» How to tell imperfect stories: Reporter
» Since when did we divorce the right answer from an honest answer?
» Queerly Canadian #11: Have I become a professional lesbian?
» Eco chamber #4: Fighting for the Fry
» Jackpot! An interview with Filmmaker Alan Black
» Hot Docs launches with docs in crisis

Entries from April 2009

» ThisAbility #25: Love Connection
» Film Club Contest!
» Eco Chamber #3 - Earth Day Special: A movement, not a day
» ThisAbility #24: Domesticity with a Disability
» In the age of Facebook, campaigns need to grow up already
» Eco Chamber #2: Countdown to Copenhagen
» Queerly Canadian #10: Teach them well, let them lead the way
» Eco Chamber #1: Past and future at the far end of the world
» ThisAbility #23: House Call
» Queerly Canadian #9: House-proud?
» ThisAbility #22 Are We There Yet?

Entries from March 2009

» ThisAbility #21: Faking it
» 20 years on, the ocean still runs black
» My so called life without tv
» How to fix your favourite drink
» Intern with This: deadline is April 1!
» Queerly Canadian #8: Sick of talking about gay marriage
» Star puts the heat on nanny business profiteers
» Reflections on Christian Lander one year later
» ThisAbility #20 Cash that Really is Cold and Hard
» What's in your fridge?
» ICC indictment of al-Bashir provokes aid worker kidnappings
» Cory Doctorow reminds the internet that labour matters
» Thank yous and photos from our redesign launch party
» ThisAbility #19 Buyer Beware
» I'm From Away
» TV Free #1: I Want My MTV or any TV. Please!
» International Women's Day 2009
» Party update: Cross-Canada Cupcake Craze
» Queerly Canadian #7: LGBT Blog Roundup
» Bring it on, Spring! Seedy saturday events gaining ground
» ThisAbility # 18: Breaking Bad and Breaking Barriers

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Previous Entries

» 12 Years of Revolution in Nepal
» Segregation or inclusion?
» Guerilla tree planting, mocking Ahmadinejad, inadvertantly funny headline and Goo goo ga joob
» Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten
» 4th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week
» From pages of a magazine to the jailhouse: Gay men in Senegal
» Weekend links: Bikes can do anything, chopstick accessories, Mom, where do blog posts go?

February 27, 2008

Algonquin leader faces six months in Ontario jail

Posted by tania at 10:33 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bob Lovelace, an ex-chief and negotiator for Ardoch Algonquin First Nations, is facing six months in prison and was fined $25,000 for participating in an ongoing protest over uranium exploration on Algonquin land, in and around Sharbot Lake, Ontario. He was charged with contempt of court.

The protest was in response to a license the Ontario government granted Frontenac Ventures, giving them permission to proceed with exploratory drilling on land that is part of a 25-year-old land claim. That First Nations communities said that they had not been notified by the government or the mining company about the plans.

Amnesty International released a press release last week expressing their concern with the sentencing of Lovelace and stated that the Ontario government "is ignoring it's own legal obligations without any accountability."

Lovelace, the fifty-nine year-old professor at Queen's University and Sir Sandford Fleming Community College, is serving his six-months at Central East Correctional Facility in Lindsay. AAFN co-Chief and professor at Trent University, Paula Sherman, was also sentenced to six months in prison and fined $15,000. However, the single mother of three has agreed to stop her protest to avoid incarceration.

An additional fine of $10,000 was placed on the AAFN community, even though they are a federally unrecognized community and do not receive government funding.

More entries on: From the intern desk

February 24, 2008

North America's pollution problems, Ottawa's copyright slip-up, Don't mess with Texas students

Posted by ron at 01:12 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation has created an amazing map that plots out some of this continent's environmental hotspots. The map has tons of layers and features and a cartography junkie could spend a lot of time with it. Canada looks pretty healthy, that is if you don't look at Alberta. Sigh.

The Harper government is trying to play hardball with copyright reform, but before they make it illegal to download, shared CDs, or enact whatever draconian ideas they've got cooked up, maybe they should follow their own rules first.

As the Harper government prepares to introduce tougher new copyright rules, the Conservative party is being accused of using the theme song from the reality TV show The Apprentice without permission of the record company that owns it.

At a press conference on Sunday, the Conservatives presented an election-style attack video about the alleged costs of St├ęphane Dion's spending promises, set to the musical refrain of "money, money, money, money, mo-ney."

Pissed off at being gerrymandered out of early voting, these Texas students marched en masse to a polling station seven miles away blocking the highway for a long time. Now, if they can just get those frightening Diebold machines thrown into a lake somewhere....

Finally, Yann Martel's Life of Pi is an early favourite for the Booker of Bookers. Another Canadian, Michael Ondaatje (for The English Patient) is also a favourite. Go Canadian lit go!

More entries on:

February 22, 2008

New China's catch-22

Posted by derek at 01:33 PM ET | Comments (1)

alexandramossflickr china.jpg

For the past twenty years, the Chinese state has been luring foreign capital to their country with the promise of cheap wages, abundant natural resources, good infrastructure, and a massive internal market. The hope is that the flows of foreign cash will spur development that will vault China into developed-country-status by 2050.

The problem, as the Chinese government is finding out, is that capital has no loyalty. As the Globe and Mail reports in a story today, China is facing an influx of foreign goods made in even lower-cost countries like Indonesia and Vietnam. China is also losing some of its garment factories to places like Bangladesh. It's an example of how capital works on a global scale - zipping here and there, setting down roots wherever it can get the greatest profit, and then moving on to the next big score.

It presents an interesting catch-22 for the Chinese-inspired development model. The strategy promises to lift countries out of third-world status, but the very character of the development necessitates their continuing poverty.


More entries on: Economics | From the intern desk | Global politics

February 19, 2008

Moving environmentalism forward

Posted by mason at 11:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

Two things that have come through my life recently have me thinking about problems and solutions. The first is an incredibly well-presented online video and website called The Story of Stuff. In it, activist Annie Leonard describes her years-long investigation of the lifetime of consumer goods: where they come from, how they get in our homes and what happens when we trash them. The video is about 20 minutes long and worth a look. Its design is simple and elegant and features clever animations and plain, urgent language.

But something about it makes me feel uncomfortable. It's 19 minutes and 30 seconds about the problem at hand and roughly 30 seconds about hope for change. It appears to be aimed at the average consumer, but its educational tone comes across as a bit pedantic. It encourages viewers to stay on the site and click around for information and stories about positive change, and that's probably where the real use of the site comes in, but I expect only a small percentage of viewers take the time to stick with it -- especially if they approach the topic as skeptics.

Contrast this with a talk I went to last night by Chris Turner, journalist and author of the book The Geography of Hope: A Guided Tour of the World We Need. Through a photo slideshow and Q&A session, Turner outlined some of the amazing strides being made in sustainable living in places like Germany, Denmark, New Mexico and Thailand. Concrete examples of new ways to live, with an emphasis on renewable energy, reducing consumption and recycling. He mentioned a new wave of environmentalism, moving beyond doom-and-gloom predictions and concentrating on what is possible with the technology and willpower we already possess.

In my mind, this is the best way to reach the constituencies of people who remain doubtful about the urgency of climate change or the problems with the free market system. Enough warnings. Those who will listen to the warnings have already heard, and those who will not need a new kind of motivation for change. By getting the word out -- and Turner mentioned an activist he knows who consults for Wal-Mart, and the importance of spreading our messages through the mainstream, commercial media -- we are best positioned to inspire change in others.

More entries on: Activism | Generally Interesting | Human rights | Planet Earth

February 17, 2008

Oceans in rough shape, schools for social justice, the copyright battle over Harry Potter, looking back at Wired

Posted by ron at 01:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

Scientists have released this map of the world's oceans and it doesn't look good.

Human activity has left a mark on nearly every square kilometer of sea, severely compromising ecosystems in more than 40% of waters.

The Nation has got this great article on how a few alternative schools in the U.S. are working at merging social justice and education.

The battle is raging over Harry Potter. Should fans and other writers be allowed to riff on the Potterverse? Lawyers from Lawrence Lessig's Fair Use Project think so and argue that an iron-grip on creatity actually harms the arts.

Finally, Wired magazine turns 15, and this blogger takes a look back at the first issue. Ah, the halycon days before broadband and wireless.

More entries on: Weekend Links

February 13, 2008

12 Years of Revolution in Nepal

Posted by derek at 11:35 AM ET | Comments (1)


Today marks the 12th anniversary of the initiation of the revolution in Nepal. Led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the revolution, called a "People's War" by its proponents, began with sporadic actions in Nepal's isolated rural areas in 1996 and now sees the rebels controlling 80% of the country. Mystifyingly ignored by North American media, the revolution in Nepal may have wide-ranging repercussions in a region already marked by turmoil.

The CPN(M)'s rapid advance is largely due to their winning over much of Nepal's poverty-stricken rural population - support won by relying on a program of wiping out national, caste, and gender discrimination as well as by implementing land reforms. That, together with a highly unorthodox strategy the Nepalese Maoists call "Prachanda Path" named after their Party Chairman, has placed the maobadi on the verge of country-wide power in the land-locked Himalayan country.

A peace agreement, signed in November 2006, is currently being respected, but things show signs of heating up. The Maoists have just re-activated their rural governments that were dissolved when the peace agreement was signed, and a new showdown seems set for April when elections for a new Constituent Assembly will take place.


More entries on: From the intern desk | Global politics | Resistance

February 12, 2008

Segregation or inclusion?

Posted by tania at 10:31 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The recent decision by the Toronto District School Board to open Canada's first black-focused school is being called, by some, a step towards segregation. Though Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty did not use the words himself, he stated that he is disappointed with the board's decision and that Queen's Park will not fund Afrocentric schools. His reasoning: a black-focused school is not in demand and "the best way for us to educate our children is to bring them together so they can come together, learn together and grow together."

In a perfect world, this may be possible. But the reality is that there is a 40% drop out/push out rate in Toronto among black youth and the proponents of this initiative are members of the black community, who are responding to the marginalization of their youth by the current school system.

George Dei, a professor of sociology and equity studies at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT), describes it best. "There is a meaningful difference, however, between forced segregation and separation by choice." He argues, that while segregation attempts to exclude blacks from society, black-focused schools are an attempt to help minority youth have a chance at education.

More entries on: From the intern desk

February 10, 2008

Guerilla tree planting, mocking Ahmadinejad, inadvertantly funny headline and Goo goo ga joob

Posted by ron at 05:28 PM ET | Comments (1)

Before we start this week's links, a little note. George Murray, editor of Bookninja, a blog I love and check frequently, just wrote to say that some jerk hacked into his blog and did some serious damage.

Someone somehow got in to the site, created a new admin account and disabled all our anti-spam software, which allowed the site to be flooded with porn and casino spam....

I am looking for help. If any of you are, or know, a power user for php or WordPress and can help me get things sorted out, please email me here or at the editors@bookninja.com address.

We hope there's a very hot place in hell for this malicious little hacker. One with a very slow internet connection and lots and lots of spam.

On to the links!

A group in the Netherlands has this how-to-guide to guerrilla tree planting. The group is trying to raise awareness of illegal logging.

The Onion spoofs the Friars' Club tradition of roasting celebrities. In the Onion's crosshairs is everyone's favourite gay-bashing, holocaust denying world leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The joke is a bit prurient but this is a pretty funny headline.

Finally, U.S. environmentalists want to get the pacific walrus listed as an endangered animal. Like its friend the polar bear, the walrus' habitat is also being threatened by rapidly declining polar ice.

More entries on: Weekend Links

February 06, 2008

Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten

Posted by derek at 01:35 PM ET | Comments (0)


Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten, a recently-released film about the Clash front man who died in 2002, opens with a young and fierce looking Strummer in the recording studio. Headphones on, he starts spitting out the lyrics to White Riot: "An' everybody's doing / just what they're told to / an' nobody wants / to go to jail! / white riot - I wanna riot! / white riot - a riot of our own!" After a few verses acapella, the soundtrack slams in. The effect is jarring and exhilarating, kind of like hearing the Clash for the very first time.

At the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two summers ago, I saw a play called Being Joe Strummer. The play tells the story of two friends growing up together, being politicized by anti-fascist struggles, the rise of Thatcherism, and most of all, by The Clash. As they get older, they, like all of us, face many different pulls - towards a "secure" life, "realistic" politics and the like. But Joe Strummer's music is always there, acting as a powerful "bullshit detector" - buzzing them warnings about the lies they tell themselves to make their lives a little easier.

It's this kind of influence that makes The Future is Unwritten a gotta-see for all of Joe's fans. As the film shows, Strummer knew that to change the world, you had to live in it and engage with it, even if this meant a loss of some mythical "purity." Of course this engagement is fraught with dangers and pitfalls - As the man himself used to warn us, "he who fucks nuns will later join the church."

Recounting how the Clash eventually collapsed, sending Strummer into a self-described "wilderness period" before his redemptive return near the end of his life with the Mescalaros, The Future is Unwritten is a loving tribute to a man for whom art had to mean something, in this world, despite the messiness involved.


More entries on: Cultural industries | Film | From the intern desk

February 05, 2008

4th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week

Posted by tania at 12:23 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack


It's that time of the year again...Israeli Apartheid Week. Born on the campuses of Toronto in 2005, IAW has spread internationally, this year taking place in Palestine, South Africa, the UK, Norway, and in cities across Canada and the U.S.

The series of events are being held this week (February 3rd to 11th) in Canada, the U.S, and Palestine, and next week (February 11th to 18th) in South Africa and the U.K. The campaign, which includes workshops, lectures, films, demonstrations and cultural performances, is part of a broader international divestment campaign lead by over 170 civil society groups in Palestine, who issued a statement in July 2005 calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel.

More entries on: From the intern desk

From pages of a magazine to the jailhouse: Gay men in Senegal

Posted by shawnsyms at 08:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

Up to 20 men have been arrested in the African nation of Senegal because they are gay, according to yesterday's press release from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).

"Many consider Senegal to be one of the most progressive African countries on the issue of homosexuality," said Joel Nana, IGLHRC's Program Associate for West Africa. "The government has included a commitment to fighting HIV among men who have sex with men in its national AIDS response plan since 2005. That's why we found these arrests to be very distressing."

The arrests occurred last Sunday after a local magazine published pictures of a marriage ceremony between two Senegalese men (the wedding apparently took place over a year ago). After the publication, attendees who were identified were rounded up and arrested.

"Mass arrests of people simply because they are gay terrorize the entire community," said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC's executive director.

More entries on: LGBT

February 03, 2008

Weekend links: Bikes can do anything, chopstick accessories, Mom, where do blog posts go?

Posted by ron at 12:50 PM ET | Comments (0)

Environment Canada scientists have apparently been 'muzzled' by the Conservative government. Apparently, a couple of scientists have been saying things that caught managers and politicians by surprise.

t says all media queries must now be routed through the federal government, where "media relations will work with individual staff to decide how to best handle the call; this could include: Asking the program expert to respond with approved lines; having media relations respond; referring the call to the minister's office; referring the call to another department," the presentation says.

Google and Specialized came up with a contest that asked inventors to come up with their best pedal-powered machines. The results are pretty astounding. I'm a big fan of the water filtering bike.

We have real mixed feelings about this story. Remember Michael Vick, the footballer that got sent away for running a dog fighting operation and torturing some of the animals to death. A TV show will apparently be following the rehabilitation of some of the dogs. While we're happy that Vick's dogs might get a second chance at a nicer life, we're also a bit disturbed that the whole thing is being turned into fodder for TV. Sigh.

A group of Chinese crafters and environmentalists want you to stop using those disposable chopsticks! To convince you, they'll knit an ultra-adorable carrying case for your chopsticks. There's no reason why a savvy DIYer couldn't do this for other disposable utensils. Say no to plastic forks and knives?

Finally, for all of those kids who ask where do blog posts go once you hit publish, Wired has this infographic.

More entries on: Weekend Links

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