Wednesday, April 29, 2009

people to government: haven't you learned anything about stopping genocide?

"City-wide rally and march: May 9

End the killing in Sri Lanka!
Stop the genocide now!

Rally & march
Saturday, May 9
United States Consulate
360 University Avenue

TTC: St. Patrick or Osgoode

The Government of Sri Lanka has unilaterally abandoned the internationally mediated ceasefire, and is killing civilians in an intense war on the Tamil minority. Since January, more than 6,000 people have been killed, over 10,000 wounded, and hundreds of thousands internally displaced.

The international community has not stopped this massacre. Join us to demand an end to the killing in Sri Lanka.

Organized by
Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario
Canadian Peace Alliance
Toronto Coalition to Stop the War

For more information or to endorse, please contact the Canadian Peace Alliance:
Phone: 416-588-5555

Event on facebook:

The Canadian Peace Alliance has produced a solidarity statement, calling for an end to the attacks on the Tamil people. If your group would like to endorse this statement, please e-mail

Stop the attacks on the Tamil people
Solidarity statement by the Canadian Peace Alliance

The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has unilaterally abandoned the internationally mediated ceasefire agreement and has engaged in aerial bombings and artillery shelling of civilians in an intense war on the Tamil minority in the country. This war, which has killed as many as 70,000 Tamil civilians, has become more brutal. In 2008 alone, thousands of civilians were killed.

According to former UN Human Rights Commissioner, Louise Arbour, "The most fundamental rights of people to be secure in their persons and homes are being violated almost daily... There is an urgent need for the international community to monitor the unfolding human rights situation, as these are not merely ceasefire violations, but grave breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law." She went on to say that the "weakness of the rule of law and prevalence of impunity is alarming."

This devastating war has internally displaced over 500,000 Tamils, and the Government of Sri Lanka has expelled all local and international NGOs from the war-affected areas in the North. They have also placed an economic embargo on all food, medicine, fuel and other essential items reaching the civilians in the affected areas, creating a humanitarian disaster.

The Government of Sri Lanka has banned all reporters from the affected areas and has led a campaign of persecution against journalists. Reporters Without Borders has expressed outrage at the Sri Lankan government after they censored the BBC World Service reporters in the country and after the murder of prominent editor of the Sunday Times, Lasantha Wickrematunga. Wickrematunga, in his last editorial, published after his death, said he knew that he was being targeted by the government: "When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me," he wrote. The lack of access to international monitors is making it impossible to know exactly how many innocent civilians are being killed.

We call on the government of Canada to:
» Condemn the Government of Sri Lanka and call for an end to all attacks on Tamils
» Call on the Government of Sri Lanka to immediately allow international aid organizations and NGOs to bring emergency assistance to the civilians affected and to support the internally displaced Tamils
» Call on the Government of Sri Lanka to support the right to a free press and allow journalists into the affected areas

We also call upon the United Nations to condemn the Sri Lankan government's human rights violations and apply pressure on the Sri Lankan government to stop its genocidal war on the Tamil people.

Statement online:
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5) Contact your Member of Parliament

The Canadian Peace Alliance has produced a sample letter that you can send to your Member of Parliament. Download the letter here:

Please copy the letter and circulate to family, friends, co-workers, etc. Remember that no postage is required to send a letter to your Member of Parliament. Just mail your letter to the following address, and it's free of charge:

Member of Paliament (add your MP's name)
House of Commons
Parliament Buildings
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
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6) Write letters to the editor

Please take a moment to send a short letter to the editor in response to any articles you see in the media about the situation of Tamils in Sri Lanka or about the ongoing solidarity protests in Toronto and elsewhere.

Even if your letter isn't published, it sends a message to the editorial board that this is an important issue and that support is growing for the Tamil cause.

Please keep your letters short (under 200 words) and concise.""
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Friday, April 24, 2009

this is actually disgusting.

apparently this is "news":

these people, anyone who reads this and thinks its news, the star for writing and publishing this, all of us... we should be fucking ashamed of ourselves.

this is NOT news.

"Shopping became a no-holds-barred contact sport yesterday morning at the H&M Eaton Centre store as normally civilized shoppers turned into aggressive combatants, fighting tooth and lacquered nail for designs from the Matthew Williamson collection – the latest collaboration between the Swedish retailer and a brand-name designer.As the collection was unveiled at the same hour worldwide, the Star clocked the mayhem in Toronto, from the angry hair pulling to the nasty name calling as frenzied consumers went to battle over chiffon and sequins."

Monday, April 20, 2009

the best patio in toronto?

the other day we had a problem. we were all 'what what, where did this sunshine come from" and we realized that it was the first actual afternoon patio beer day.

there's always that one day that you think is a patio day, so you go and sit on a patio until the clouds roll over and you have to haul your freezing ass inside.

this was no such day. this was real sunshine.

but then there's that conversation about which patio to go to and we all know that patio selection is a sensitive and complicated process. you have to try to guess where everyone else is going to go so that you don't have to wait in line, you need to pick a perpetually sunny spot so that you're not in the shade, and you want cheapness to the max.

our solution?
six lakeport cans, two big gulp cups, and trinity bellwoods park.

for less than $13 we got:
- optimal sunshine
- sweet release from the confines of chairs and the freedom to sprawl
- a glance at summertime hipster mating rituals
- the musical stylings of a drunk man sittin on the bench, making up his own song

all in all, we think this summer is going to be a frugal park party- tell the (bar) man to shove it, because the best patio in toronto is clearly your local park.

not so organic after all? we been hot tricked!

andrea whitfill wrote this article for alternet about the different 'alternative' organic products on the market and how they're actually owned by ginormous corporations.

obviously big corporations are going to cash in on the organic/alternative trend but it's interesting to think how blindly we just accept these products without tracking down this kind of information.

people might argue that it doesn't matter if large corporations own these brands as long as the ingredients don't change--buying 'organic' is still beneficial even if it is from a corporation, right?

wrong. most of these corporations have disgusting track records in regards to their environmental, farming, and labour practises. dean foods, for instance, supplies wal-mart with the majority of their 'organic' or soy products but have been accused in the past of setting up production in places where there are no standards for such products--basically they slap an organic label on something but don't have to prove it.

the national director of the organic consumers association says that "what's important to keep in mind is that these big corporations are getting into organics not because they have doubts about their prior business practices or doubts about chemical, industrial agriculture, they're getting in because they want to make a lot of money -- they want to make it fast."

maybe if these companies were actually abiding by the practices that we claim to be dedicated to when we buy these products, maybe if they replaced their traditional products with these alternatives, maybe if they paid their employees well and didn't union-bust, maybe if they didn't continue to pump toxic chemicals into the environment, maybe if they didn't dodge health and safety standards, maybe if they even did one of these things then it would be alright to continue buying these products.

they don't. my tom's of maine love affair is over!!

burt's bees:
owned by clorox. burt's bees wasn't developed by clorox, but the bleach company bought it in october, 2007 for over nine hundred million dollars.
clorox is also behind products like liquid-plumr, pine-sol and armor all.

tom's of maine:
owned by colgate-palmolive (other products include ajax and speedstick)

stoneyfield dairy:
danone has a majority holding

horizon organic milk:
owned by dean foods.

silk soy products:
owned by dean foods.

owned by coca-cola.

r.w knudsen and santa cruz organic:
owned by smuckers.

kashi cereals:
owned by kellogg's.

actually, this is way more believable

i found this over at saturday morning breakfast cereal:

Friday, April 17, 2009

maybe rethink the "morality of the country" bit

i stumbled upon this article about the magic of children's books, about the function of reading as a child, etc etc.

and yes, i agree. reading is important and potentially awesome however, the article lost me at this point when the author cites Megan Kelso, who has apparently written children's books:

"They're such moral books," Kelso says of the Little House series. "There's so much in them about how a good family should be, how communities help each other, the pioneer spirit, and the morality of the country." 1

errr... is she talking about the little house on the prairie books? because they're kind of racist.

i don't know, maybe we just have different ideas of what "moral" means here.

so in the book when laura asks her 'ma' why she doesn't "like Indians" and ma replies "i just don't like them; and don't like your fingers laura" is the moral part the part about not liking Indians or not licking your dirty fingers?

when laura sits by and listens to her ma and mrs. scott talk about the genocide of indians and theft of their land by the settlers and mrs. scott calls this "common sense and justice" because the indians are "wild animals" who "roam around over this country" and that "treaties or no treaties...the land belongs to folks that'll farm it" that's moral?

or maybe kelso's favorite moral lesson from the book is when mrs. scott says(in front of laura) that "the only good indian is a dead indian"?

i don't know, it just seems like a bad idea to ignore this kind of racist and imperalist shit in children's books and pretend that it's somehow neutralized by the magic awesomeness of reading.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"radical prof refuses to give out grades"

this was recently published in the YU Free Press, it's also published at the university of toronto Strand:

""I don't grade. I don't give any requirements, including attendance, in my course," says York professor David Noble. "The reason is simple: all my students are adults."

He has just begun a joint lecture with fellow unorthodox prof Denis Rancourt, who has been suspended from the University of Ottawa and barred from the campus after a number of disputes with the university about his teaching methods, and it is already clear that the reason is a good deal more complex than that.

"Grades create an environment of terror, fear, [and] intimidation, and therefore subvert the possibility of education," continues Noble. He thinks other professors participate in the system so they can shift their anxiety about public speaking onto their students.

The social sciences professor believes that the pressure of having your performance judged makes real education "impossible," because the desire to learn must come from within.

"No one can teach anyone else. That's a myth. It's a scam. It's a con. People can only teach themselves," says Noble. But "these institutions are not about education," he explains. "That's just branding. . . .They're about the reproduction of subordination.""


""Grades foster the presumption of inequality. We're not equal - some get As and some get Cs," says Noble.

"I start with the presumption of equality: We're all of equal intelligence. Some of us excel at some things, other excel at others."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

speaking of offensive cartoons...

this comic entitled "baby vigilante" by taelor branco and a.i. kupi was published in the excalibur(which, incidentally, was not torn out of its racks and throw in the garbage) on march 11, 2009.

did i find it totally offensive? of course.
pretty much everyone i showed the comic to was offended or disturbed by it, but we didn't decide to take it into our hands to make sure noone could read it.

what recession? what attack on freedom of speech? what impending global catastrophe? all i see is this adorable little robot!

this, is a tweenbot, the brainchild/project of artist kacie kinzer:

"Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal."

to read about the artistic purposes of this adorable robot, you can go to kinzer's website:

probably you just want to watch the video though:

would somebody please get this man a new job?

this week yorku president mamdouh shoukri proved, for what seems to be the millionth time, that he is absolutely incapable of even taking superficial steps towards pretending to be a university president.

on april 6, 2009 two students decided to be all like 'hey, we don't like what this paper publishes' and proceed to remove and throw into the garabage over ONE THOUSAND copies of the newest YU Free Press issue.

this kind of thing happens all of the time at york, but what doesn't happen all of the time is the paper-trashing culprits being caught on video and identified.

clip# 1:

clip # 2:

clip# 3:

the two dudes in the video are aaron rosenberg and mark(mo) levin, two york university students who are also members of the campus based israel advocacy group hasbara fellowships.
the two, after having been caught, said that they had every right to destroy the paper because the YU Free Press publishes "views, opinions, and in this particular instance cartoon images that are "anti-semitic" in nature."

the cartoons in question were described by Levin: “There was an image there of what appeared to be a Gazan dressed up in [the] Holocaust pyjamas that [were] worn by the six million Jews that were murdered behind a barbed wire fence lying down, being killed,” Levin said. “There was another image in there, in the letters [spelling out the word Gaza] what appeared to be Gestapo shooting at Gazans while America and [Arabs] watched.”(1)

the cartoons were drawn by brazilian artist carlos latuff and, according to editorial collective member Ali Mustafa, "the images were provocative, and were intended to promote free speech. The images in question were drawn by Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff, who was interviewed by Mustafa in the March-April 2009 edition of the YU Free Press."(2)

so, instead of letting students at yorku read the cartoons and the accompanying interview and make up their minds about the content, these two guys decided that they would not only deny their fellow students this right but also deny the right to freedom of speech to the writers at the YU Free Press and to carlos latuff.

according to a YU Free Press release yesterday:
"The overall purpose of the YU Free Press since its inception has been to confront the glaring lack of media diversity on campus and, in doing so, provide a fundamental space for critical analysis and commentary of the news around us to a diverse community of students, faculty, and staff alike under an explicit social justice mandate – an effort that is fatally undermined when particular views that may be disagreeable to some of us are forcibly suppressed and debate about them effectively shut down."

speaking to the distinct political climate in which these actions are occuring, the press release continues:

"It is no coincidence that these actions have occured in the wake of banned Israeli Apartheid Week posters, denied entry into Canada of British member of parliament and longtime Palestine advocate George Galloway, and revoked funding for essential services to new Canadian immigrants from the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) simply because its president dared to criticize Israel during its latest military offensive in Gaza. Only within the wider context of these separate but not unrelated events can this latest affront to free speech rights in Canada and on our campuses be understood and seriously challenged."

president shoukri should immediately hold rosenberg and levin accountable. despite their reasoning, they had absolutely no right to destroy those papers so that students would be unable to read it.

the YU Free Press is asking that people email shoukri( and cc their letters to them( and they've even written a sample letter to make it easy:

sample letter:

President Shoukri,

I am outraged to learn that the latest issue of the YU Free Press, an alternative monthly newspaper at York, has been systematically emptied from its racks and thrown in the garbage by two individuals (students Aaron Rosenberg and Mo Levin) simply because they disagree with its subject matter or decided editorial slant. As President of York it is your responsibility to ensure that our campus upholds the fundamental principles of free speech and legitimate dissent, even regarding those views that you personally may happen to find objectionable and of a controversial nature. I urge you to do everything within the authority of your office to hold these two individuals accountable for their actions and ensure that meaningful measures are both implemented and enforced such that intolerance of this kind does not occur again without appropriate punishment. Please let me know what you are doing or plan to do in the immediate future to address these concerns. I hope to hear from you soon.



Monday, April 6, 2009

wait a second...

i hate to jump on this madonna adoption bandwagon, but doesn't it strike anyone else as strange that the only reason she was denied the adoption of the malawian child was because malawi has a policy that a child must be adopted by someone who has resided in the country for 18 months?


why doesn't she just move there?

on every news ticker its all "madonna leaves malwai teary eyed" "madonna leaves orphan in tears" etc etc.

if anyone can just pick up and move to a different country for 18 months it's madonna.

or maybe she can adopt a baby from a country that has no such rules!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

"jason kenny, you ain't no alexander the great"

if you haven't heard george galloway's speech yet, you should click HERE and listen to it.

galloway is right, by banning him from canada and trying to censor what he might say and what his audience might learn jason kenny has only increased the number of people who will go to great lengths to protect galloway's right to speak and their own right to listen.

it's amazing to me that jason kenny can do something so "not credible" and not even have to justify his decision. you can't censor with impunity, or at least you shouldn't able to.

as galloway puts it in his speech:

"are you too cowardly to face the public and defend your views and the way you are betraying all that was great about canada, all the values that canada represented in the world."

kenny is cowardly. unfortunately, even cowardly politicians have the power to do sneaky and regressive things unless the public calls them on it.

i think the public did call kenny on this one and the number of people who tuned in to watch galloway's speech via the internet proves that kenny's days of getting away with this bullshit are numbered.

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