Saturday, October 31, 2015

Listen: "The struggle over Jihad"

"The struggle over Jihad": Listen to Naheed Mustafa’s well researched 54-minute documentary on CBC. She looks at the origins of jihad, how it's been transformed into a narrowly defined call to fight -- and what can be done to reclaim it. http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/the-struggle-over-jihad-1.3228757

Friday, October 30, 2015

Offshoring the Economy: Why the US is on the Road to the Third World

Dr Paul Craig Roberts  writes:

'Incompetent economic studies by careless economists, such as Michael Porter at Harvard and Matthew Slaughter at Dartmouth, concluded that the gift of vast numbers of US high productivity, high value-added jobs to foreign countries was a great benefit to the US economy.

In articles and books I challenged this absurd conclusion, and all of the economic evidence proves that I am correct. The promised better jobs that the “New Economy” would create to replace the jobs gifted to foreigners have never appeared. Instead, the economy creates lowly-paid part-time jobs, such as waitresses, bartenders, retail clerks, and ambulatory health care services, while full-time jobs with benefits continue to shrink as a percentage of total jobs.

These part-time jobs do not provide enough income to form a household. Consequently, as a Federal Reserve study reports, “Nationally, nearly half of 25-year-olds lived with their parents in 2012-2013, up from just over 25% in 1999.”

When half of 25-year olds cannot form households, the market for houses and home furnishings collapses.
Finance is the only sector of the US economy that is growing. "

FULL ARTICLE HERE.......

On Saturday Nov 14th join the "Gotta Go" campaign to promote an accessible network of public toilets in Ottawa.

The event promises to be a day of fun with lots of games, contests, songs and skits, but is highlighting a very important and overlooked issue. Please support and promote this very important initiative. For more information, please visit www.ottawapublictoilets.ca


Thursday, October 29, 2015

National Security and Human Rights Report Released


International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

Ottawa, 29 October 2015 - Critical areas where the Canadian government needs to demonstrate commitment to upholding human rights in national security policies and activities were outlined today in a report on the anniversary of the October 2014 "Arar +10" conference.

Convened at the University of Ottawa on October 29, 2014 by Amnesty International and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, along with the university's Human Rights Research and Education Centre and Centre for International Policy Studies, "Arar +10" reviewed the state of national security and human rights in Canada a decade after a public inquiry was established to investigate the rendition to Syria and torture of Canadian citizen Maher Arar.

From a range of panels key recommendations emerged. 

National security policy, law and practice must meet Canada's international human rights obligations.

Redress, including an apology and compensation, should be provided to Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati, Muayyed Nureddin, Abousfian Abdelrazik, Benamar Benatta and Omar Khadr.

Increased review and oversight of national security activities is required and legislation should promote integration among review bodies. Robust parliamentary oversight is a necessity.

Ensuring due process for individuals suspected of being threats to national security prompted a number of recommendations. These included refraining from extending a class privilege over CSIS human informants, eliminating the restrictions on communication about confidential evidence between individuals named in security certificates and special advocates, and repealing the revocation of citizenship powers under the Citizenship Act.

In the area of immigration, measures need to be taken to ensure that individuals appearing before the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board know and are able to meet the case against them.

The pervasive problem of exclusion, stereotyping and scapegoating of Canadian Muslims needs to be addressed by, among other things, encouraging and multiplying the joint efforts of diverse actors from different sectors of society, notably community leaders and organizations.

Ensuring rigorous corroboration of information leaked to the media before it is made public, with ethics counselors providing advice to reporters if there is any uncertainty about publication, as irresponsible and inaccurate reporting on national security activities can have a negative impact on individuals and human rights.

The conference's recommendations are particularly timely as the new federal government prepares to introduce legal and other reforms reversing or revising national security and citizenship laws and practices. 

Read the full report here:

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Monia Mazigh
National Coordinator
613-241-5298 ext. 1

Anne Dagenais Guertin
Communications and Research Coordinator
613-241-5298 ext. 2

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Australia: Damning evidence of officials’ involvement in transnational crime


29 October 2015 -- Amnesty International


Transparency and accountability to the public is vital to making sure that governments live up to the principles and values they claim to uphold, such as tackling crime and protecting the lives of those seeking asylum.

Transparency and accountability to the public is vital to making sure that governments live up to the principles and values they claim to uphold, such as tackling crime and protecting the lives of those seeking asylum.

However, new evidence gathered by Amnesty International suggests that Australia’s secretive maritime border control operations now resemble a lawless venture with evidence of criminal activity by government officials, including pay-offs to boat crews and abusive treatment of women, men and children seeking asylum.

Through interviews with asylum-seekers, a boat crew and Indonesian police, a new report – By hook or by crook – exposes evidence that, in May 2015, Australian officials working as part of Operation Sovereign Borders paid USD 32,000 to six crew who had been taking 65 people seeking asylum to New Zealand and told them to take the people to Indonesia instead. The Australians also provided maps showing the crew where to land in Indonesia.

Witness testimonies backed by video footage reveal how the intervention by Australian officials endangered the lives of the people seeking asylum by transferring them to different boats that did not have enough fuel, and how the incident fits into a wider pattern of abusive so-called “turnbacks” or “pushbacks” of boats.

The report also raises questions about whether Australian officials paid money to the crew of another boat turned back in July.

“Australia has, for months, denied that it paid for people smuggling, but our report provides detailed evidence pointing to a very different set of events,” said Anna Shea, Refugee Researcher at Amnesty International.

“All of the available evidence points to Australian officials having committed a transnational crime by, in effect, directing a people-smuggling operation, paying a boat crew and then instructing them on exactly what to do and where to land in Indonesia. People-smuggling is a crime usually associated with private individuals, not governments – but here we have strong evidence that Australian officials are not just involved, but directing operations.

“In the two incidents documented by Amnesty International, Border Force and Navy officials also put the lives of dozens of people at risk by forcing them onto poorly equipped vessels. When it comes to its treatment of those seeking asylum, Australia is becoming a lawless state.”

May 2015 incident

Since this incident was first reported in the media, Australian government officials have repeatedly denied paying people-smugglers and have claimed the border patrols were responding to a boat in distress at sea.

However, the crew members of the boat – interviewed by Amnesty International in Indonesia in August where they are currently in police custody – as well as the passengers, whom Amnesty International also interviewed, all say the boat was not in trouble and that they never made a distress call.

Australian border control officials initially approached the boat on 17 May 2015, and then again on 22 May. Most of the passengers– including a pregnant woman, two seven-year-olds and an infant – boarded a Border Force vessel after being told they could bathe there. Once aboard Australian officials held the people in two hot, overcrowded cells for almost a week. Some were denied medical care or access to their own medication.

On the original boat, the six crew claim that Australian officials gave them a total of 32,000 USD. At least one person seeking asylum witnessed the transaction and gave his testimony to Amnesty International. Indonesian police confirmed to Amnesty International that they found this amount of money on the crew when they arrested them on arrival in the country.

Amnesty International’s investigation is based on interviews with the 62 adults seeking asylum, the six crew members and Indonesian officials. The organization has also accessed crucial documentary evidence, including photos and a video taken by the passengers themselves during their journey. Indonesian police also showed an Amnesty International researcher the money they confiscated from the six crew - in crisp US 100 dollar bills.

On 31 May Australian officials forced the crew and people seeking asylum onto two different and smaller boats, and the crew were given instructions to go to Rote Island in Indonesia as well as a map showing landing sites. The two boats had little fuel and one ran out of fuel while at sea. The terrified passengers were forced to do a dangerous mid-sea transfer onto the remaining boat and were eventually rescued by Indonesian locals after hitting a reef.

The July incident

By hook or by crook documents another case of possible payment by Australian officials to a boat crew to smuggle people to Indonesia in July 2015. This case, unlike the May 2015 incident, has not received widespread media coverage. In this case Australian officials again appear to have directed the crew of a boat to take people to Rote Island in Indonesia. Passengers who were on the boat told Amnesty International that they were intercepted by the Australian Navy and Border Force on 25 July, and then put onto a new boat on 1 August. By this time the boat crew had two new bags that the passengers had not seen before. When the passengers became suspicious and threatened to open the bags the Australians repeatedly told them not to.

These incidents took place in the context of Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB), a military-led border control operation launched in 2013 to stop anyone – including refugees and people seeking asylum – from reaching Australia irregularly by boat.

Amnesty International is calling for a Royal Commission into Operation Sovereign Borders, to investigate and report on allegations of criminal and unlawful acts committed by Australian government officials.

Despite persistent government claims that OSB is designed to “save life at sea,” Amnesty International and many others have documented an alarming pattern of abusive and illegal pushbacks by the Australian authorities.

Other people seeking asylum in Indonesia told Amnesty International how they had been involved in pushbacks at sea by Australian officials, who they said used verbal and physical abuse against those on board boats.

Such turnbacks violate the principle of non-refoulement, which says refugees cannot be sent back to countries where they are at risk, and also deny people the right to have their asylum claims assessed.

“Operation Sovereign Borders, far from saving lives, has become synonymous with abuse of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Australia must once and for all start taking its international obligations towards refugees seriously. All people seeking asylum deserve to have their claims fairly dealt with. And instead of continuing with turnbacks Australia must engage in effective dialogue to improve regional protections for vulnerable populations in the Asia-Pacific region, and expand safe and legal routes for people to reach safety,” said Anna Shea.

BACKGROUND

The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Convention) sets out states’ legal obligations to cooperate to prevent and combat transnational organized crime. The Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (Smuggling Protocol), which supplements the Convention, requires states to prevent and combat the smuggling of migrants and protect the rights of smuggled persons. Australia has ratified both the Convention and the Smuggling Protocol. The Smuggling Protocol requires that signatories criminalize the smuggling of migrants, which is defined as “the procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident”.

People-smuggling is a transnational crime, though people who are smuggled are not criminals, and international law forbids states from penalizing asylum-seekers solely for the manner of their entry into a country.

Under the Smuggling Protocol, the modes of commission – in other words, the ways in which someone can be found responsible – of a smuggling offence include committing an offence, attempting to commit an offence, participating as an accomplice in an offence, and organizing or directing others to commit an offence.

The evidence collected by Amnesty International about the events of May 2015 indicates that on or about 24 May Australian officials appear to have organized or directed the crew to commit a people-smuggling offence. It was under Australian officials’ instruction and with their material assistance (including two boats, fuel, maps and GPS) that the offence of smuggling people into Indonesia took place. The mode of entry into Indonesia that, according to the crew, the Australian officials directed them to follow – landing at identified points in Rote Island rather than presenting themselves to Indonesian border officials and complying with procedures for entry by boat to Indonesia – amounts to illegal entry within the terms of the Smuggling Protocol. The 32,000 USD constitutes a financial benefit to the crew to procure the illegal entry. The Australian officials who paid the crew and instructed them to land on Rote Island in May 2015 may also have participated as accomplices in the transnational crime of people-smuggling.

Shot woman: Israeli police alter story again


29 OCTOBER 2015 -- Jonathan Cook


The official Israeli story about Israa Abed – the Nazareth woman who was shot six times on Oct 9 by Israeli security forces as she stood motionless in a bus station – has changed so many times, it’s difficult to know what to believe any more. By a small miracle she survived the shooting.

I raised many questions about this incident, based on two videos taken by bystanders, in a post on the day she was shot. That post, including the videos, is available here.

Israa is one of Israel’s 1.6 million Palestinian citizens. She lives in Israel, not the occupied territories.

Let’s be clear: the main reason the police have repeatedly revised their account of the events of Oct 9 is because the visual evidence has conclusively refuted their claims. They have been forced to back-pedal.

Without the video, Israa would have been charged with, and probably convicted of, terrorism offences. In line with threats from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, she would also have risked being stripped of her citizenship.

Originally the police said they “neutralised” Israa after she pulled out a knife and stabbed a security guard at the bus station in the city of Afula. When it was clear no one had been injured, the story changed: she had tried without success to stab the guard.

Then it was reported that the police had shot Israa not because of an attempted attack but because she behaved in a threatening manner towards other people at the bus station.

Now, in the latest version, the police say she did not intend to stab anyone. In the video footage, reports the Haaretz newspaper, she can be seen “standing next to a young ultra-Orthodox man without trying to hurt him”.

Instead, the police say she was depressed and / or mentally unstable and pulled out a knife because she wanted to “induce” the security forces to shoot her.

Pause for a second as you digest that argument. According to the police, Israa went to the bus station with the intention of pulling out a knife but not harming anyone, knowing that doing so would be enough to get her shot and maybe killed. And why would she think that? Because she looks Arab (she wears a headscarf), and, like most Palestinian citizens, understands that in any confrontation with the security services that is reason enough for the police to shoot without justifiable cause.

Even more disconcertingly, the Israeli police seem to agree that Israa’s assumptions were warranted.

Further, the claim that Israa wanted to be shot is pretty convenient for the four security staff who, even according to the official account, fired their weapons at a woman who posed absolutely no threat to anyone at the bus station.

Might they be disciplined, or, more properly, punished, for shooting a woman six times for no reason at all? Apparently not. They have been investigated and it has been decided that “there is no reason to take disciplinary measures against them, given the extenuating circumstances of the incident”. One might well ask: what were those “extenuating circumstances”?

Finally, the police are still claiming that Israa pulled out a knife. Given their series of bogus claims till now, there is no reason to assume even this part of their story to be true.

As I noted in my previous post, a video taken seconds after Israa was shot, when she is lying on the ground, appears to show a pair of sunglasses next to her. A man in jeans and T-shirt goes over to her, ignored by police, and kicks away the sunglasses. Who is that man and why is he interfering with evidence? No one seems to be asking these questions, so we are unlikely to get any answers.


Conditional Permanent Residence: Failure in policy and in practice

Media release from Canadian Council for Refugees -

28 October 2015

Three years after the introduction of Conditional Permanent Residence for some sponsored spouses, the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) concludes that the measure has increased the vulnerability of many sponsored newcomers, particularly victims of domestic violence. The CCR bases its conclusion on consultation with over 140 organizations across Canada.

“Conditional Permanent Residence is bad for women,” said Loly Rico, CCR President. “It gives more power to abusive sponsors and makes it harder for newcomer women to leave an unhealthy relationship.”

Under the Conditional Permanent Residence rules, some sponsored spouses risk being stripped of their permanent residence and deported from Canada if they separate from their spouse within two years of receiving permanent residence. The rules include an exception for cases of abuse or neglect. Many organizations, including the CCR, had expressed concerns about the rules and questioned the effectiveness of the exception.

To investigate the impacts of Conditional Permanent Residence, the CCR reached out to over 140 settlement organizations, legal clinics, and women’s shelters across the country. The key findings are:

· Many organizations do not fully understand the implications of Conditional Permanent Residence and many are unaware of, or have wrong information about, the exception for victims of abuse or neglect.

· There are many practical and administrative barriers to accessing the exception, causing significant stress among those affected, and leading some to remain in abusive situations rather than apply for the exception.

· It is difficult to access the exception without the support of an advocate – a front-line worker or a lawyer. Many newcomers are isolated and do not have this crucial support.

· The process of applying for the exception has sometimes resulted in retraumatization, due to reported lack of sensitivity training of CIC officials, and long delays in processing.

“We have encountered many difficulties in assisting women trying to apply for the exception: the CIC procedure is unclear, officials are difficult to get a hold of and some seem to lack basic training on gender violence. Women are often retraumatized by the experience”, said Rathika Vasavithasan of the Barbra Schlifer Clinic.

“In addition to unacceptably trapping people in abusive relationships, this measure has created a huge waste of resources, with front-line workers and lawyers spending time supporting victims of abuse to contact CIC, gather evidence, and follow up throughout the process”, stated Deepa Mathoo of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, adding: “Conditional permanent residence is unnecessary and harmful.”

The CCR welcomes the incoming government’s commitment to repealing Conditional Permanent Residence and looks forward to the early fulfilment of this Liberal campaign promise in order to eliminate this unnecessary and harmful measure that disproportionately affects women.

For more information, see Conditional Permanent Residence: Failure in Policy and Practice at http://ccrweb.ca/en/conditional-permanent-residence-report-2015

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Contact:

Colleen French, Communication Coordinator, Canadian Council for Refugees, 514-277-7223, ext. 1, 514-602-2098 (cell), cfrench@ccrweb.ca
-- 

Canada wide migrant worker coalition calls on Trudeau to MoVE for Real Change.


Media Release -- October 28, 2015

Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights - Canada

IMMIGRANT WORKERS CENTRE
4755 Van Horne
Montreal, Quebec

Newly launched Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights - Canada calls for end to discrimination against migrant workers.

Canada - Migrant worker groups from across Canada are launching a historic coalition to call on Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to end the discriminatory practice of tying migrant workers to specific employers and transition towards permanent immigration status upon arrival for migrant workers. The Coalition for Migrant Workers Rights - Canada (CMWRC), is a coalition of organizations representing Canadian born and migrant worker groups from coast to coast to coast, aimed at improving work conditions for all workers. CMWRC is launching MoVE – a campaign for Mobility, Voice and Equality for Migrant Workers to call on Prime Minister Trudeau to keep his campaign promises to undo the harm done by the Harper government and to move towards a single-tier immigration system based on permanency and family reunification to ensure decent work for all.

Low-waged Temporary Foreign Workers, Caregivers and Seasonal Agricultural Workers come to Canada on work permits that restrict them to working for the specific employer listed on their permit. Changing employers is extremely difficult which allows bad bosses to lower salaries and work conditions. This creates pressure to reduce salaries and erode work conditions for all workers. A first step to ending this downward cycle is to untie the permits so workers have the ‘mobility’ to leave employers who exploit them. Next steps must move to reorient the system to secure, permanent immigration that protects ‘voice’ and ‘equality’ for workers.

“We are the only workers who are tied to employers, and can’t change jobs. We come here without immigration status and that puts us at a disadvantage. That’s not fair to us, it’s not fair to Canadian workers and it’s not fair to employers,” says G.T., a seasonal agricultural worker. “Mr. Trudeau has promised real change, and an immigration system that welcomes and values all of us and that means untied work permits and immigration status upon landing.”

“Over the past decade, deep changes were made to Canada’s immigration system that bring migrant workers into the country with temporary status under conditions that predictably leave them vulnerable to exploitation by employers and recruiters,” says labour and human rights lawyer Fay Faraday. “Tied work permits, mandatory removal after four years and lack of pathways to permanent status drive real precariousness for migrant workers. There is an opportunity now for a fresh start to rebuild the system on principles of security, decent work and permanence.” 

MoVE Demands

● Regulatory changes to make it easier for migrant workers to move between jobs thereby improving working and living conditions for Canadian born and migrant workers. Specifically:

○ Transition from tied work permits to open work permits

○ Remove limits on work permits and restrictions on Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) including a 4-year time limit on workers ability to stay.

● Permanent resident immigration status upon arrival for migrant workers.

WHO: Founding members of CMWRC:

● Cooper Institute (PEI)

● Migrant Workers Alliance for Change*

● Migrante Canada

● Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture (Okanagan Valley)

● Temporary Foreign Workers Association in Quebec

● Temporary Foreign Workers Coalition in Alberta

● Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregiver Rights (Vancouver)

*Migrant Workers Alliance for Change includes Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (Toronto), Asian Community Aids Services (Ontario), Caregivers Action Centre (Ontario), Fuerza Puwersa (Guelph), Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario, Justicia for Migrant Workers (Ontario), KAIROS Canada, Legal Assistance of Windsor, Migrante Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Social Planning Toronto, UNIFOR (Canada), South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, United Food and Commercial Workers (Canada), Workers United and the Workers’ Action Centre (Toronto).

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Media Contacts:

Montreal – Enrique LLanes, Temporary Foreign Workers Association, 514-342-2111 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Appeals Court allows lawsuit against NYPD’s spying on Muslims to proceed

By Isaac Finn 

27 October 2015 (source wsws.org

A civil rights lawsuit accusing the New York Police Department (NYPD) of spying on Muslims in New York and New Jersey based on their religion in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 will go forward based on a decision last week by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. Overturning an earlier decision by the Federal District Court of New Jersey, the appeals court allowed the plaintiffs, six Muslim men and women, along with religious organizations and two Muslim-owned businesses, to pursue their case.

Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy group for defending civil rights, initially filed the lawsuit, Hassan v. City of New York, after the Associated Press published a Pulitzer-prize winning series that exposed the NYPD’s extensive surveillance of Muslim communities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and Center for Constitutional Rights later joined the suit.

The lawsuit was filed in response to the extensive spying carried out by the NYPD’s now-disbanded Demographics Unit, which sent plainclothes police officers to record conversations and habits of Muslims at mosques, cultural centers, and Muslim-frequented businesses.

The plaintiffs requested an injunction prohibiting the NYPD from targeting them for unconstitutional spying, and mandating that all information gathered on them be destroyed. They also sought compensation for damages caused by the NYPD’s spying.

In 2012, a federal district court dismissed the lawsuit at the request of New York City. The plaintiffs responded by appealing the decision.

The New York City mayoral administration of Bill de Blasio—during this process—defended the NYPD’s actions, and requested that the Court of Appeals dismiss the case. In a legal brief filed last year, city lawyers claimed that the plaintiffs had not “suffered any concrete and particularized injury.” The lawyers also claimed that any harm suffered by the plaintiffs was the result of the Associated Press revealing the existence of the spying program, instead of the acts carried out by the program.

The Court of Appeals rejected the argument by the de Blasio administration, and agreed that the plaintiffs should be able proceed with their case.

Judge Thomas L. Ambro, writing the opinion for the three-judge appeals panel, compared the case to various acts of discrimination by law enforcement throughout US history. Ambro stated: “What occurs here in one guise is not new. We have been down similar roads before. Jewish-Americans during the Red Scare, African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement, and Japanese-Americans during World War II are examples that readily spring to mind.”

Farhaj Hassan, the lead plaintiff in the case, told the media that he was grateful for the court’s decision. He said, “The court recognized our claim that the NYPD is violating our basic rights as Americans and were wrong to do so,” he said. “No one should ever be spied on and treated like a suspect simply because of his or her faith.”

The Court of Appeals decision, however, only allows the case to be sent back to the district court for further proceedings. While it is unclear how the court will rule on this case, the past three years—since the case was initially filed—have seen a continued attack on democratic rights by the NYPD.

The de Blasio administration’s decision to disband the NYPD’s Demographics Unit—also known as the Zone Assessment Unit—last year, was followed by the city releasing a statement that admitted, “Much of the same information previously gathered by the Zone Assessment Unit may be obtained through direct outreach by the NYPD to the communities concerned.”

The NYPD under de Blasio-appointee Police Commissioner William Bratton has only changed tactics. The “community policing” program, now being implemented in New York City, relies on cultivating informants in order to collect intelligence. This strategy has been encouraged by the Obama administration nationally.

In addition, a variety of Muslim community groups and civil liberties organizations, such as the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Arab-American Association of New York, have raised concerns over the mayor’s recent decision to join the newly formed Strong Cities Network (SCN), an international coalition of municipalities dedicated to “countering extremism.” The SCN is sponsored in the US by the Department of Homeland Security.

Prior to de Blasio’s announcement to join the SCN, these organizations sent a letter comparing the SCN with other programs developed by the Department of Homeland Security under the name of “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE). The letter noted that CVE programs implemented in other cities have targeted Muslim communities and stigmatized Muslims by encouraging teachers and civil servants to report on “suspicious activity” of Muslims they work with.

De Blasio has also defended the NYPD excessive use of force, while claiming to respect civil liberties. After Staten Island resident Eric Garner died on July 17, 2014, as a result of being placed in a chokehold by police, de Blasio vowed that he would veto any law that would prosecute officers for using chokeholds.

Despite this, the mayor frequently cites his decision to reduce stop-and-frisk, a policy in which police regularly search working class youth without cause, often in predominantly black and Hispanic communities, as an example of reforming the NYPD.

His administration announced earlier this year that the city would hire 1,300 new officers, 300 of whom would be part of a special, heavily armed counterterrorism team. In a press conference, Commissioner Bratton let slip that the special unit would be used to deal with situations such as the protests against police brutality that swept the city last December after a grand jury refused to indict the cop that killed Garner.

Regardless of the decision on the latest case filed against the city, it is clear that de Blasio and the NYPD will continue to use and expand police-state methods in order to defend the city’s wealthy elite from the working population, which is growing increasingly infuriated by massive inequality and unending war.

CISSA-ACSEI Press Release on Prime Minister Designate Trudeau's response to the Syrian refugee crisis


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Prime Minister Designate Justin Trudeau's response to the Syrian refugee crisis is to be applauded but two months is insufficient to adequately support and settle 25,000 additional Syrian government assisted refugees says a national umbrella association of immigrant and refugee serving organizations.

October 27, 2015 VANCOUVER, BC  (CISSA-ACSEI)

"Prime Minister Designate Justin Trudeau's response to the Syrian refugee crisis by resettling 25,000 additional government assisted refugees to Canada is to be applauded but more time is needed to adequately settle and support these additional refugees," says Chris Friesen, Chair, The Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance- Alliance canadienne du secteur de l'établissement des immigrants (CISSA-ACSEI). "Let us keep to the UNHCR appeal and time frame for additional resettlement spaces spread over 2015 and 2016."

CISSA-ACSEI member agencies supports the need for additional 25,000 government assisted refugees in response to the Syrian refugee crisis in addition to private or community sponsorship initiatives but we need more time to put in place necessary program infrastructure, enhancements of system capacity and addressing current challenges in order to adequately support this proposed large refugee relocation movement to Canada. We urge the Prime Minister Designate Justin Trudeau to consider:

extending the time frame of resettling 25,000 Syrian government assisted refugees to the end of Dec 2016. This is in line with the last special appeal for resettlement spaces made by the UNHCR High Commissioner Guterres who in February 2014 asked resettlement states including Canada for an additional 100,000 resettlement spaces over a two year period - 2015 and 2016;

expanding the governments' definition for government assisted refugee families to include extended family members including grandparents, uncle, aunts, nephews and nieces and expedite all outstanding extended family reunification cases by Dec 31, 2015;

allowing Syrians in Canada to reunite with internally displaced family members still in Syria. This would mean offering permanent resettlement directly from Syria to Canada or the issuance, on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, visitor visas for respite visits to Canada. This would help prevent Syrians with close ties to Canada to avoid making the perilous trip to neighbouring countries or to Europe as the civil war continues;

expediting the reunification of Syrian children from refugees who sought asylum in Canada and were approved by the Immigration and Refugee Board; eliminating the issuance of interest bearing transportation loans to government assisted refugees. Refugees having to pay their own one way travel to Canada is not in line with humanitarian immigration objectives;

investing additional resources and increasing the capacity to address current service gaps and service demands is needed for all refugees including Syrians such as, for example, settlement related short term trauma counselling support which does not currently exist although it is expected that two thirds (2/3rds) of Syrians will require some form of mental health intervention upon their arrival in Canada. In addition, we currently have existing 6-10+ month wait-lists for adult English language classes in cities where the majority of Syrian refugees would likely be destined in Canada; and,

implementing a national housing allowance top up to the existing resettlement income support assistance. Like other working poor Canadians and local residents on provincial income support, it is becoming increasingly difficulty to secure low cost rental housing on current shelter rates.

These considerations would not only address the UNHCR High Commissioner Antonio Guterres special resettlement appeal by Canada accepting twenty-five (25%) of the 100,000 resettlement spaces requested but also support expedited extended family reunification cases as a first priority. Having a longer time frame -- to the end of Dec 2016 would facilitate a more effective settlement and integration process into Canadian society while ensuring we have the necessary supports in place to properly address this widely supported bold measure.

For further information:
Contact: Chris Friesen, Chair, CISSA-ACSEI
Phone: 778 995 3009

Quick Facts about CISSA-ACSEI

The Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance- Alliance canadienne du secteur de l'établissement des immigrants  (CISSA-ACSEI) is a pan-Canadian Association formed to represent the immigrant settlement sector in Canada and to bring the sector¡¯s expertise to bear on public policies and programs for enhancing the settlement and integration of immigrants and refugees.

BACKGROUNDER:

The current government assisted refugee annual target was set by the former government at between 5,800 and 6,500 individuals. Canada is currently on track to resettle over 6,900 government assisted refugees in 2015 prior to PM designate Justin Trudeau 25,000 Syrian refugee response;

Thirty five to forty percent (35-40%) of current government assisted refugee target are brought to Canada between September and December each year ¨C an already busy period for existing service providers that work with government assisted refugees;

There are thirty six (36) refugee reception centres across Canada that provide the initial transitional housing and first language resettlement services to all government assisted refugees;

Each government assisted refugee is provided with one year resettlement assistance (income support) that mirrors the provincial welfare rates where they are destined. The shelter allowance rate is insufficient to locate permanent rental housing;

Canada remains the only country in the world that provides government assisted refugees and privately sponsored refugees with an interest bearing transportation loan that is used to off-set the cost of transporting refugees from often refugee camps to their final destination in Canada. The cost of the refugees¡¯ overseas medical examination is also incorporated into these loans. These loans can be up to $10,000 or higher depending if there are adult children in the family. Ninety-one percent (91%) of all refugees repay the loans at considerable personal costs including often using their child tax credit cheque to do so thus reducing food and other necessitates. CISSA-ACSEI believes that the transportation loan program should be eliminated as it is does not align with Canada's humanitarian immigration objectives;

Federal governments and traditional resettlement states like Australia have for several years provided targeted funding for first language trauma support interventions as a key component to their humanitarian immigration program although like Canada health care is a provincial-state responsibility.

Under the previous government faith communities and other community sponsorship initiatives were increasingly being asked to undertake refugee resettlement on behalf of the Government of Canada instead of the government assisted refugee program. Private and/or community sponsorship initiatives although vitally important and unique in the world have always be seen as additionality to the government assisted refugee program;

In 2014 refugees accounted for 9% of overall immigration to Canada in comparison to 1980 when refugees accounted for 28% of all immigration.

Results of the 42nd Federal Election: The Electoral Coup and the Necessity for Democratic Renewal to Empower the People

Source: The Marxist-Leninist Weekly  -- Oct 28, 2015

The 42nd Parliament of Canada elected on October 19 is comprised of 338 members, 30 more than in the 41st Parliament elected in 2011. The majority Liberal government has 184 seats. Its leader, Justin Trudeau will be Prime Minister of the new government. The Liberals held 36 seats when Parliament was dissolved on August 2.

The Conservative Party has 99 seats and will form the Official Opposition. Their majority at the end of the 41st Parliament consisted of 162 seats. The New Democratic Party elected 44 Members of Parliament, down from 95 at the end of the last Parliament where it sat as the Official Opposition. The Bloc Québécois elected 10 MPs, up from two before Parliament dissolved. The Green Party elected one MP, its leader Elizabeth May.

The turnout of registered voters was 17,559,353 of 25,638,379 registered electors (68.49 per cent). By comparison, 2,838,773 more Canadians cast a ballot in this election than in the 2011 election.

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (MLPC) wrote in Renewal Update on the eve of the election:

"This election is all about how the ruling caste in Canada framed the choices and pushed for them. It is going for a Liberal majority. There is no doubt about that. It will be status quo on all the major portfolios with the expectation that the removal of the overt extremism of the Harper government will return everything to 'normal' whereby the rulers govern and the ruled are kept in check."

Following the election, the MLPC continues to hold this opinion. The MLPC intervened in this election as part of its work of mobilizing the working people to take up the work of becoming a political force in their own right so that they cannot be vulnerable to the depoliticization of the polity which the ruling circles are imposing. The aim of the monopolies on the political front is to have the electorate treated as niche markets just as they are on every front. The ruling class formulates the choices and the aim of an election campaign is to get the one which it thinks is the most suitable chosen. It was the method used to choose the Liberal leader in 2013.

The MLPC raised the need to provide Canada with an aim which defends the rights of the people. It also raised the need to renew the democratic process to empower the people. Our appeal to the working class, women and youth was to find a way of intervening in the election which kept the initiative in their hands and this could be done by voting their conscience, voting in a manner that made a statement that they oppose the neo-liberal anti-social offensive.

Now that the election is over, we hear the refrain that everyone should forget about politics and get on with their lives, or that the role of the working class and people now is to put extra-parliamentary pressure on the MPs and especially on the Liberal Party and "hold their feet to the fire." In this and other ways the people are to remain spectators of those who wield the political power.

The Liberals' promises indicate the new arrangements the ruling circles require in various spheres of life. The need emerges to study what they are and make sure the working people are able to defend their interests within the situation. Canadians cannot afford to harbour liberal illusions that the rights of all will be defended without their participation. To just say that the Liberals will maintain the same direction as the Conservatives but change their methods to "sunny ways" will not do. The situation today and the situation when Laurier was brought to power at the time of the Boer War and subsequently World War I are not similar, let alone the same. Analysis should always start from the present. References to the past are for purposes of providing a guide to action in the present which opens a path to progress. The pressure on thinking is such that one does not see what is there but what one thinks is there. It is this veil which imposes ignorance which must be lifted.

Canadians' desire for change is profound. They want the questions of the direction of the economy and the country, its sovereignty, questions of war and peace and all related matters dealt with in a manner which favours the people of this country and the peoples of the world. This points to the importance of not succumbing to the pressure that they should be spectators of what the Liberals decide to do and that their role is simply to hold the Liberals to their promises. The working class and people need to work out stands which ensure that Canadians are armed with a nation-building project of their own and which favour peace in the world.

For this reason the MLPC is organizing get-togethers across the country at places of work, in educational institutions, in neighbourhoods and amongst seniors to discuss the election results and the measures the new government takes.

What the Election of a Liberal Majority Is All About

In this election, the MLPC found that what bothered the people the most was the party system which keeps them marginalized so that they cannot control the decisions which affect their lives. They are not directly organized politically but are supposed to choose a political party to form the government with which they either have no connection or know virtually nothing about.

The people see an election as the one and only time they are to participate in taking a decision -- be the decision-makers so to speak. But the party system makes sure their participation in politics is reduced to that of spectators and voting cattle.

In this regard, the election of a majority Liberal government does not extinguish the desire of people nationwide for change. Two days before the election estimates and polls said 70 per cent of Canadians wanted a change from the Harper Conservative government and its neo-liberal direction. The program of the political and economic elite was how to control the change so that the working people do not occupy the space for change with their striving for a pro-social direction of the economy, politics and country. This is what the election of a Liberal majority is all about.

The electoral process has been adapted in such a manner that it enshrines a cartel party system which makes sure the people are marginalized. The controlled change of the ruling capitalist elite involved changing the cartel party in power without changing the direction of the economy or the content of foreign relations. This means that the framework of whatever the Liberals propose has to be looked at from the reference point of the aim it sets for the economy and foreign relations and whether this aim serves the needs of the people and the country and contributes to peaceful relations internationally.

The electoral process that brings parties to power is meant to manipulate and overwhelm the people's desire for a change from the neo-liberal direction. The electoral coup which created a Liberal majority has the main aim of consolidating the present neo-liberal direction of the economy and all things based on it. It is the latest one in a string of regional Liberal coups, such as the one in BC with the Clark Liberals, Ontario with the Wynne Liberals and the Couillard Liberals in Quebec. So too in the Atlantic provinces Liberal takeovers have been engineered systematically in the past few years. Those Liberal governments while promising change have pursued the neo-liberal direction without fail. The only blip on the radar was in Alberta where very specific circumstances prevailed and the working class mobilized itself to elect into government the Notley NDP.

The ruling elite fashioned the federal Trudeau Liberal coup in spite of significant competition for power within their ranks. The changing of the guard means lucrative positions will go to different party insiders. Changing of the cartel party in power also means that federal contracts and corporate subsidies will have to be negotiated with possibly different insiders gaining greater power and influence.

Trudeau has said a Liberal government will spend heavily on infrastructure, which means sorting out where the money will come from and lucrative contracts for private companies that have the necessary links. The ruling elite have turned governments into centres of private interests doling out public funds and power to those with close connections.

The overwhelming consideration for the current party-dominated electoral process is to mobilize the people to provide their desire for change with a program which brings it about. Curtailing people's empowerment allows monopoly right and narrow private interests to prevail over public right and the public interest.

Participation in politics essentially means participating in solving the problems facing the country. The ruling capitalist elite do not want to lose control over politics. They have developed the electoral system into one that reduces people's participation in politics to the choosing of a cartel political party that will control politics and deal with the country's affairs in ways that favour certain monopolies and their private interests.

The ruling class uses the party-dominated electoral process to make sure the people cannot go for their own empowerment and to hand over political control to this or that cartel political party. The party-dominated electoral system concentrates on this aim. The selection of candidates for the cartel parties serves this purpose. The promotion of the election as a contest amongst the cartel parties for power does as well. The incessant media coverage of the cartel parties, their leaders, and polling as to which party is ahead reinforces the view of politics as a contest amongst the cartel parties similar to a sporting event.

The policy objectives of the cartel parties are meant to strengthen the concept that a particular party will solve the country's problems. This allows cartel parties the leeway to do whatever the ruling elite want once in power with a mandate to govern while it reinforces the spectator role given to the people.

In this and other ways, the role of a modern political party is to mobilize and activate the human factor/social consciousness to participate directly in politics on a consistent basis to replace the party-dominated electoral system.

The Necessity for Democratic Renewal and the 
Independent Politics of the Working Class

The Liberal electoral coup proves once again the necessity for democratic renewal. The electoral coup will bring about changes which favour the ruling class and open avenues that the working people can occupy as they strengthen their independent politics and movement for people's empowerment. Resistance to neo-liberalism will expose the Trudeau Liberals as imposters of change but that is not an aim. The aim can only be to open society's path to progress to provide the rights of the people with a guarantee. The party in power has changed but opposition to the neo-liberal austerity agenda will soon pose the fundamental issue of how to keep fighting for the New.

The election showed the deep desire of Canadians for a pro-social change in the direction of the economy and country. The Liberal electoral coup will not extinguish that aspiration for change. The electoral coup has once again demonstrated the necessity for democratic renewal and especially for the working class to develop its independent politics. Only with its own thinking, theory, and practical politics can the working class overcome the manoeuvres of the ruling elite and bring into being democratic renewal, political empowerment of the people and a consistent pro-social direction for the economy and country with the power to restrict monopoly right and humanize the natural and social environment.

Our Future Lies in the Defence of the Rights of All!
All Out for the Renewal of the Political Process!

Al-Aqsa Mosque and Israel’s colonial bullying



Dr. Hatem Bazian -- October 28, 2015

The name of Hatem ibn Abdellah ibn Sa'ad at-Ta'iy is recorded in Arab history as being the most generous of the Arabs, and is often used as a basis of comparisons and associated with many proverbs. The phrase, “More generous than Hatem”, is the most commonly used maxim when a person acts generously. The actual meaning of the word Hatem, to be firm and decisive, has given way to the metaphorical and culturally specific meaning that everyone uses as a synonym for generous or generosity. Hatem’s fame and praiseworthy reputation was so widespread, that Prophet Muhammad wished to have met him and spoke positively of his generous character. More importantly, the Prophet ordered Hatem’s daughter to be freed when she became a war captive as a way to honor her father’s generous character he exhibited in pre-Islamic period. 

“Whomsoever believes in God and His messenger let him be generous to his guest,” is a well-known prophetic tradition. Generosity and honoring one’s guest has been so intertwined into various Islamic oriented cultures and societies, that one is hard pressed to separate the religious from the cultural since both became infused. Visitors to the Muslim and Arab world are often struck by the selfless acts of generosity and the extent that people will go to honor and take care of their guests despite being at times more deserving of the food or items presented on the occasions. Thus, the questions of why do Palestinians and Muslims not “share” the Al-Aqsa with Jews desiring to pray on the sacred site? 

The question is erroneously constructed, and in essence, positing the Palestinian Muslims as spiritually stingy and not forthcoming in sharing the sacred site with Jews. Critically, public discourses in the West never fail to assert the religious significance of the site to Judaism, which serve to indirectly imply a right to it and the land it sits upon. In this context, a spiritual significance or affinity to a location is intentionally amalgamated into a territorial claim, forwarded under conditions of colonial occupation.

The question is so problematic, but it does need to be unpacked and responded to in the current propaganda filled news cycle. At its core, sharing is a willful act undertaken without any coercion by an individual or a group for no other purpose than to express generosity of spirit toward an honorable and deserving recipient. 

Zionist settlers and those wanting to build the third temple are asking to share in what they are hoping to destroy. A bully ripping your lunch money in the schoolyard can hardly qualify as an act of sharing, despite the fact that often kids will let go of their valuables when threatened. Weekly, and sometimes daily, the racist settlers come into Al-Aqsa compound fully protected by the Israeli military demanding in a grotesque manner to share the area. Bullying the Palestinians to surrender their religious site, Al-Aqsa Mosque, under the rubric of sharing is an insult to generosity and its people. 

Entering into Al-Aqsa and demanding sharing after devouring 78% of Palestine’s lands outright in 1948, expelling 780,000, destroying 531 villages, occupying the rest in 1967, arresting, torturing and maiming thousands, stealing water, trees and air itself, then having the insolence to ask Palestinians to share! Sharing what and with whom-- the racist settlers? The same groups who dance and sing daily, kill the Arabs! The same groups who boast about “price tag” reprisals and see it as a religious act and obligation to do so! The same groups who burn trees and attack internationals daily! The same individuals and groups who come in the middle of the night to force Palestinians out of their homes in East Jerusalem!

You see, the Palestinians are a generous people, but are not fools who cannot tell the difference between a bullying colonial thief and an honorable trusted person of God. Palestinians have lived and existed in the heart of sacredness throughout their history, and are perceptive of the spiritual and material states of people passing through their land.

Zionism envisioned birthing a new and modern all-powerful Jewish person through seeking matrimony with the land in Palestine and constructing an exclusivist nationalist project but outside and in total disregard of the religious text. The physical domination of the sacred space is a prerequisite to complete the worldly and material project, and the Palestinians are in the way of its fulfillment. It is not sharing that is being asked, but another mega dispossession program focused on the sacred. Palestinians, who having experienced all types of dispossession and layered structures of oppression, find comfort in the sacred as a frontier to give them a sense of wholeness in the total absence of temporal meaning. Violating Al-Aqsa’s space by settlers is an attempt at ripping away the last refuge of the dispossessed Palestinians. And the response will not be an invite for the bully to steal more of the metaphorical spiritual lunch but resistance to it and affirming an anti-colonial epistemic.

Hatem Bazian, PhD is co-editor and founder of the Islamophobia Studies Journal and director of the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project, and a senior lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at University of California, Berkeley.

Mnar Muhawesh: War, Media, Propaganda: Muslims As ‘Other’ — A Personal Narrative Of Islamophobia

"But I found courage and catharsis in pursuing journalism to speak up not just for Palestinians, but for all people around the world who are suffering and who are being massacred in the name of power, money and greed, whether it be in Sudan, the Congo, Burma, Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic, China, Mexico and many more under-reported regions across the world." -- Mnar Muhawesh

Transcript here: http://www.mintpressnews.com/war-media-propaganda-muslims-as-other-a-personal-narrative-of-islamophobia/210680/

Step Change: Federal Policy Ideas Toward a Low-Carbon Canada


Oct 27, 2015

I’m pleased to share with you our latest report, published in partnership with the Mowat Centre.

With the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris next month, Step Change: Federal Policy Ideas Toward a Low-Carbon Canada comes at a crucial time with a new federal government leading Canada’s delegation.

The report’s message is clear: The federal government has a critical role to play in driving down greenhouse gas emissions beyond carbon pricing alone. Getting behind the package of seven policy measures outlined in the report will signal to the international community the seriousness of Canada’s commitment to taking action to tackle the climate crisis and transition toward a low-carbon economy.

It starts with you. You can read the report here and share it with your networks.

Rick Smtih
Executive Director
Broadbent Institute

Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities - Ottawa Dinner

To all of you who were unable to attend the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities - Ottawa (CAMD) dinner on Sunday, you missed a really great and well attended event.  Despite the fact that someone pulled the fire alarm, despite the fact that our sound system was not working properly and despite the fact our guest speaker cancelled in the last minute, everyone had a great time. These mishaps are seen as minor in comparison to those challenges faced by those who live with a disability on a daily basis or have family members who do so. People and families living with disabilities are used to daily challenges and are well aware that, for the most part, nothing comes easy. For many, just getting out of bed in the morning can be difficult. So faulty sound systems, fire alarms and cancelled speakers be damned, there are bigger challenges than this to face and we celebrate the beauty of life with all of its major an minor adversities.  

Shawn