Saturday June 30th join the thousands who will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Vancouver’s famous Walk for Peace. The day kick off at Kits Beach at 12 noon for a 1:00 pm walk across the Burrard Street Bridge to the Sunset Beach entertainment stage in the West End. In 1982, against the escalating nuclear arms race, many diverse groups came together to create Vancouver’s first Walk for Peace. 35,000 people gathered that first year, growing to 65,000 the following year and 100,000 in 1984. Now, in 2012, join us as we make history again with the special 30th Anniversary Walk for Peace!
2012 Walk for Peace: June 30th •
A short history
• The year was 1982. Against the backdrop of the escalating nuclear arms race, 168 different groups cooperated to create Vancouver’s first Walk For Peace; 35,000 people gathered that first year, followed by 65,000 in 1983 and by 1984 we were 100,000 strong. We came together at Kitsilano Beach and formed a river of people that poured over Burrard Bridge to a concert stage at Sunset Beach. It was magnificent.
This is 2012 and the times are different. Politicians, technology and the global landscape have all changed. People feel a different kind of angst and there is an urge to connect in person to feel our shared spirit for peace. Thirty-years-ago, before cell phones, personal computers and the internet, people started talking and meeting to co-create their vision of a more peaceful world, beginning with where they lived, in their own communities. My family lived in Kitsilano, across from Kits Beach in an old house, which is no longer there. When I volunteered to coordinate that first year in 1982 my first child was just two years old and I was 32 earning my livelihood doing carpentry renovations. I called up friends and invited them to gather with their friends at our place for a meeting to organize a peace walk.
I knew people liked to walk in Vancouver. Many had walked on behalf of whales, the environment and myriad important causes so I figured they would walk for peace. One day, my friend Rick Testa and I brainstormed a new name for such an event and the simple term Walk for Peace was born. Each meeting progressively grew in numbers and by the second gathering my living room had become too small. We were prompted to move to the SPEC building at 6th and Maple, which we also outgrew so we began to host our meetings in larger church spaces and union halls. What had started as an inspiration flourished and grew into the largest peace events in Canada’s history… and it was happening right in our own backyards. The initial vision had been embraced by people of all religions, cultures and races. We were truly finding common ground for peace.
Soon, our networking efforts grew into168 different groups and organizations, all united by a desire for peace in our world. There were educators, environmentalists, labour organizations, lawyers, engineers, feminists, religious groups, students, grandparents, war veterans, politicians, mayors, mothers, fathers, musicians, actors, bird watchers, gardeners … the bandwidth for peace just opened up. The success of our first Walk for Peace in Vancouver was a total surprise and inspired cities from Victoria to Toronto and Halifax to host their own Walks for Peace in subsequent years.
2012 Walk for Peace welcomes sponsors and volunteers
Initial organizational meetings for the 30th anniversary Walk for Peace have been held from noon to 2 PM Saturdays at the Centre for Peace on West 16th at Burrard. (The #33 bus stops there.). We are looking for additional meeting places, volunteers and sponsors related to this event. If you or your organization would like to endorse or help sponsor the 30th anniversary of the Walk for Peace, please contact Alastair Gregor or Joseph Roberts at 604-733-2215. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for supporting the Walk for Peace.
It’s time to declare peace on people, places and the planet
• by Geoff Olson •
“War!” Edwin Starr roared in the 1969 Motown protest song of the same name, “What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!” Yet from the evidence of everyday speech, you might get the impression it must be good for something. North American social programs, foreign policy, medical research, business communications and sports talk are riddled with explicit references to war.
War on Crime. War on Poverty. War on Homelessness. War on Drugs. War on Gangs. War on Terror. War on Human Trafficking. War on Cancer. War on Obesity. For decades, pressing social policy initiatives have name-checked humanity’s most destructive collective habit.
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover kicked off the semantic ball in 1930 with his “War on Crime.” Rather than target organized crime networks, Hoover’s G-Men went after lone criminals such as John Dillinger and “Baby Face” Nelson. Strangely, the FBI’s most infamous cross-dresser denied the very existence of the Mafia for decades. By the late sixties, the war morphed into something else entirely, with the FBI spying on tens of thousands of “radicals” in universities, antiwar organizations and social justice groups.
The militaristic meme lay dormant until 1964 when President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the “War On Poverty” in his first State of the Union speech. (Johnson’s program produced real results, although the poverty rate in the US has not fallen for over 30 years.) Richard Milhous Nixon followed in 1971 by announcing the “War on Drugs,” a globe-girdling campaign of prohibition, foreign military aid and paramilitary intervention. Nations around the world suddenly found their diplomatic and trade relations with the US bundled together with the prosecution and apprehension of their domestic drug traffickers and users.
Modern business communications are riddled with military references, including the past campaigns of long-dead warriors. Uncounted numbers of MBA graduates and middle managers have flipped through Sun Tzu’s The Art of War or the Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun in an effort at self-advancement in the workplace. The battlefield rhetoric seeps from conference rooms, best-selling books, motivational posters and corporate retreats. An effective CEO “lays siege” to competitors, through “trench warfare,” “surgical strikes,” “carpet bombing” or “guerrilla warfare.” In this zero-sum-game language, success is always measured by someone else’s failure.
The War on Everything cajoles us into believing we must continually battle against the forces of darkness, which swirl from a competitor’s brand to a terrorist’s laptop to the cargo hold of a Columbian jet to the DNA of a malignant tumour. There is no room for peace, which is the incidental byproduct of war’s tribal bonding.
The mainstream media plays its part, too. Every December – the month supposedly dedicated to peace on Earth – commentators on Fox News revive their talk about a supposed “War on Christmas,” conducted by the nations’ multiculturalists. In Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford declared a “War on Graffiti” and now fulminates about an urban “War on Cars.”
Our leaders in politics, industry and communications appear to be hooked – semantically, at least – on sticking white hats and black hats on every other aspect of our lives.
In professional sports, especially football, the language of war is so blatant we hardly even recognize it as such. Years ago, comedian George Carlin contrasted baseball, “a nineteenth-century pastoral game,” with football, “a twentieth-century technological struggle.” Carlin mused, “In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz… With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line. In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! – I hope I’ll be safe at home!”
In 2009, the NFL announced it was cooling its overuse of military-speak in its promotional materials. However, old habits die hard. Later that year, the NFL reinvited Gen. David H. Petraeus, the head of the Central Command, to make the Super Bowl’s opening coin toss, and had the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform a pregame flyover at Raymond James Stadium. The flyovers are now fixtures in the yearly rituals. (Five Navy F-18 strike fighters flew over Cowboys Stadium to open Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas.)
“From fighter jet flyovers to military performances at halftime shows, the National Football League and U.S. military have shared more than 40 years of Super Bowl history,” notes the official homepage of the United States Army. Little wonder that World War II general and US President Dwight D. Eisenhower allegedly said, “The true mission of American sports is to prepare young people for war.”
American entertainers are regular tapped for football’s mass programming. The performance by pop singer Madonna at the Super Bowl XLV halftime show underlined the nation’s resurgent triumphalism. The parading Roman centurions, swordsmen and predatory bird imagery gave her live gig a gung-ho makeover. When she performed Like a Prayer gospel-style with Cee Lo Green and a formation of black-robed singers, it looked like a cross between a black mass, Mad Max’s Beyond Thunderdome and a very confused episode of Glee. In a chthonic closer at the ground zero of US gladiatorialism, Madge disappeared with a puff of smoke into a hole in the ground, as the words “World Peace” glittered across the stage in a thousand points of light.
The military and professional football trade terms like bacteriophages exchanging genes: Nixon called a Vietnam bombing campaign “Operation Linebacker” while Manitoba is home to the “Winnipeg Blue Bombers.” With that in mind, we shouldn’t think our Canadian Football League is any less war-minded than its American counterpart. Consider the pomp and circumstance that surrounded the transport of the Grey Cup trophy in 2007. In its voyage to the host city of Toronto, the CFL’s Holy Grail was “given the VIP treatment,” according to CBC anchorman Peter Mansbridge. Bagpipes ushered the gleaming fetish object out of its home at the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and into a waiting limousine. The broadcast cut to a shot of the Cup reclining in the limo’s back seat, travelling Trump-style through the streets of Hamilton.
The trophy then had a police escort to the Ivor Wynne Stadium where it was picked up by police helicopter, flown to a nearby airport and transferred to a Canadian forces helicopter. The Canadian navy entered the picture to escort the Cup across a lake and hand it off to the Canadian army, which transported it in a military convoy to Toronto City Hall. All three armed services played fealty to the Cup, which finished its journey in, yes folks… a tank.
If you think the connection between pigskin and epaulettes couldn’t possibly get any tighter, think again. The skies of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other nations are patrolled by death-dealing drones: unmanned, camera-equipped Predators and Reapers. This has resulted in a flood of raw battlefield surveillance video and more work for US forces in distinguishing friend from foe while sidestepping the messy PR problem of obliterated wedding parties. The solution, according to a report the New York Times, is television sports production trucks.
Picking up on the story, ESPN notes, “Football broadcasters have long benefited from specialized software that allows them to quickly organize and utilize real-time video information – think instant replays, player-specific highlights, infographics – and the U.S. Air Force is installing a $500 million computer system that works in similar fashion. Military analysts reportedly spent time inside broadcast vans outside NFL stadiums, studying how TV crews tagged Tom Brady.”
Targeted assassinations of insurgents in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and throughout the mideast are routinely performed by joystick from command posts in the American Southwest. The gap between virtual killing and killing virtually is closing; some years back, the Pentagon released the source code for soldiers’ virtual training exercises to commercial games developers. When it comes to the CIA’s remotely piloted drone attacks and digital media, who knows? Perhaps one day there will be “an app for that.”
The War on Everything never seems to attain final victory, which is just over an endlessly retreating horizon. The War on Terror has only multiplied enemies abroad while curtailing civil liberties at home. The War on Drugs often comes bundled with the War on Terror, which has strengthened narcotrafficking networks at the expense of the public purse and resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent bystanders in Latin America while sweeping millions of minor drug offenders into a widening US prison-industrial complex. The drug war is now regarded as an abject failure by many policy experts, judicial figures, retired politicians and law enforcement officials.
Ironically, while all the above-mentioned programs are still going gangbusters, Lyndon Johnson’s laudatory War on Poverty has not advanced any further since the sixties – presumably because the enemy was too subtle or devious to engage for long.
Let’s turn now to the War on Cancer. A global network of private laboratories, drug companies, university departments and foundations have been focused for decades on finding a magic bullet or armoury of weapons that will supposedly destroy this cellular scourge once and for all. Like many other public policy wars, it has shown only incremental wins, as cancer rates continue to climb in industrialized countries. However, the war has also generated massive profits for the pharmaceutical-industrial complex and helped create a planetary gulag for rats, cats, pigs, monkeys, apes and other laboratory animals.
Scientists know cancer is largely a lifestyle disease, with genomic triggers in the environment. Many of its forms are associated with diet, stress, environmental toxins and radiation. Yet relatively little money has gone into preventative health measures; such investment in funds and public policy would soon collide with powerful industrial interests. This particular war, along with the feel-good “Pink Ribbon” and “Fuck Cancer” campaigns, can never succeed because the ends and means are completely backwards. We will never defeat cancer by staging after-the-fact attacks on an environmental symptom or by promoting think-positive bumpf for its victims. We will only reduce its cellular dominion by reaching peace with the planet – and that means defying the holy scripture of the balance sheet.
“War! What is it good for?” Unfortunately, Edwin Starr was dead wrong with his musical response: “Absolutely nothing!” It appears many modern wars are never meant to reach any definitive conclusion, if we go by the statements of political leaders and military commanders. In 2007, Senator John McCain said US forces might be in Iraq for “a hundred years.” Canada’s defence minister in 2006, Gordon O’Connor, observed, “It is impossible to defeat the Taliban militarily” in Afghanistan, a line echoed by British Brig.-Gen. Mark Carleton-Smith, who told the Daily Mail that an “absolute military victory in Afghanistan is impossible.” Canada’s former Chief of the Defence Staff General Rick Hillier was even more explicit in a statement reported in the Toronto Star in 2006: “That’s never been the strategy – to defeat them [the Taliban] militarily.”
In 1991, two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Washington policy journal Foreign Affairs quoted Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “I’m running out of demons, I’m running out of villains. I’m down to Castro and Kim Il Sung.” Ten years later, the War on Terror would tap a new pipeline of endlessly renewable enemies.
Both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have outlasted World War II in length and the talk of troop withdrawal by the US and Canada often fails to mention that private security forces have outnumbered the coalition’s armed forces for years and will continue to do so. The Global War on Terror – rebranded by the Pentagon in 2009 as “Overseas Contingency Operations” – is moving on under President Obama, “one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades,” according to the New York Times. The winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize has presided over drone attacks in at least six countries, and has added four undeclared wars to his predecessor’s record: Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
As George Orwell wrote in his novel 1984, “In accordance with the principles of double-think, it does not matter if the war is not real. For when it is, victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won, but it is meant to be continuous.” In the spirit of 1984’s Newspeak, there is no “Ministry of War” in AngloAmerican nations, only a “Department of Defence.”
War is the dark side of economist Joseph Schumpeter’s sunny vision of capitalism’s “creative destruction.” It is a cross-generational, mass spiritual affliction with its roots in the material world of energy and resources. It is, to put it in simpler terms, business conducted by other means. That was true long before George Bush Sr.’s Gulf War and his son’s “Shock and Awe” sequel. In 1933, US general Smedley Butler reminisced how he had spent 33 years in active military service as a member of America’s “most agile military force,” the Marine Corps. “I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”
When Lewis Carroll wrote, “Tweedledum and Tweedledee agreed to have a battle,” he was telling us mortal enemies are codependent; they need one another to define themselves. Zen philosopher Alan Watts connected this to the “game of black and white,” his description for a comic book worldview we learn at a young age. As we grow into adulthood, most of us learn the world is mostly a complicated spectrum of greys. Others remain stuck in the game of black and white their entire lives and some of them are rewarded handsomely for promoting this Manichean worldview.
Like the Great Oz, The War on Everything offers the audience impressive theatrical façades, even though behind the curtains it’s mostly timid technocrats, working the gears and pulleys for society’s plutocrats. Hypnotized by the brilliant spectacle, the Munchkins – young men and women – are forever marching off to battle under suspect banners. Most have no inkling the War on Everything is rarely about anticipated peace. It’s usually about indefinite conflict.
Words shape the reality we perceive and their thoughtful use can go a long way towards breaking what visionary poet William Blake called “mind-forged manacles.” Or as the old sixties expression put it, “Free your mind and your ass will follow.” We can start by rejecting war as a verbal placeholder for policy initiatives, while verbally declaring peace on people, places and things – starting with our very own hearts and minds. Perhaps the day will come when we can celebrate a final victory over war itself.
iphoto © Gavril Margittai
Global Elders’ mission is to aid humanity
by Lorraine Sims •
Despite all of the ghastliness in the world, human beings are made for goodness. The ones that are held in high regard are not militarily powerful, nor even economically prosperous. They have a commitment to try and make the world a better place. – – Desmond Tutu
In 1999, Peter Gabriel had a brilliant idea. Yes, Peter Gabriel, former lead singer for the rock band Genesis.
It occurred to Peter that, in traditional societies – North American First Nations, African indigenous peoples, Pacific Islands’ natives – the people had village elders to resolve conflict and to guide the people forward. Now that we live in a global village, we also need our global elders to resolve conflict and guide the people forward. Peter took his stroke of genius to his friend Richard Branson who supported Peter in bringing life to the idea. They approached Nelson Mandela to head the organization, which became known as The Elders.This global initiative began in 2007 with a group of senior statespeople from around the world, whose purpose is to seek new approaches to global issues, bring an end to human suffering and bring hope and wisdom back into the world.
The following are some excerpts from the speech by Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, at the announcement of The Elders, Johannesburg, South Africa, July 18, 2007:
“In traditional societies, it was the Elders of the village who were trusted to resolve conflict and provide wise guidance. Today, we live in a global village, yet we don’t have our global elders to lead and inspire.
I am very humbled and honoured to announce a new initiative to provide much-needed global leadership: The Elders, an effort led by the esteemed group of leaders who meet here today.
This group, dear friends, is one that has an understanding of the essential interdependence of all of us human beings.
It is a beginning and we look for a glorious tomorrow when we will discover that we are actually members of one family, the human family, God’s family. It is ultimately the goodness, and laughter, and joy and caring and compassion – those are what we want to convey in the end.”
Never before has such a powerful group of leaders come together, free from political, economic or military pressures. The only agenda of The Elders is that of humanity. And their only purpose is to ease human suffering in three essential areas:
- Offering a catalyst for the peaceful resolution of conflict.
- Seeking new approaches to seemingly intractable global issues.
- Sharing wisdom: reaching out to the next generation of leaders. Listening worldwide.
Chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Elders include:
- Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, now Honorary Elder.
- Desmond Tutu, former Archbishop of South Africa.
- Graca Machel, International advocate for women’s and children’s rights, former freedmon fighter, and first Education Minister of Mozambique.
- Mary Robinson, former Prime Minister of Ireland and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
- Martti, former President of Finland, Nobel Laureate, Peace Negotiator.
- Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Nobel Peace Laureate, Initiator of the U.N. Millennium Goals.
- Ela Bhatt, Founder, Self Employed Women’s Association, Founder of India’s first Women’s Bank, Member of Parliament.
- Lakhdar Brahimi, former Algerian freedom fighter, U.N. Diplomat, Peace Negotiator
- Gro Brundtland, former President of Norway.
- Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States, Nobel Peace Laureate.
- Fernando H. Cardoso, former President of Brazil.
- Aung San Sui Kyi, Burmese pro-democracy activist. An honorary seat was held for Sui Kyi while she was held under house arrest for 20 years.
Since its inception, Kofi Annan and Sui Kyi have taken a leave of absence, in order to fulfill other national and international duties
The Elders’ beliefs
- The Elders represent an independent voice, not bound by the interests of any nation, government or institution.
- The Elders are committed to promoting the shared interests of humanity, and the universal human rights we all share.
- They believe that in any conflict, it is important to listen to everyone – no matter how unpalatable or unpopular this may be.
- They aim to act boldly, speaking difficult truths and tackling taboos.
- They don’t claim to have all the answers, and stress that every individual can make a difference and create positive change in their society.
To learn more about this inspiring group, please visit www.theelders.org
Lorraine Sims is a Vancouver-based activist, writer and leadership coach. She is currently writing a book about how each of us can contribute to world peace. www.lorrainesims.com
This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. – Dalai Lama
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix
Be the peace you want to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi
Get active in creating peace
by Dheera Nithyananda
All the best teachings from business, sports and spirituality tell us to “be proactive” in creating the future we want and not to slip into idleness or laziness in our creativity. Keeping focused on proactivity is how Richard Branson, Michael Jordan and the Dalai Lama have shaped their worlds. We can do the same.
Common Ground’s entire history is about keeping the flame of dynamic future thinking and action in full force and this initiative is no exception.
Join the Walk for Peace and shape your world into greater peace.
Another initiative with the same focus is Minute 4 Peace. We can each spare a minute or more of meditation for peace each day and when we do, the research shows us that violent crime rates drop.
Each minute of meditation reduces violent crime cost by $0.20. The website www.minute4peace.org tracks your contributions, and since starting a month ago has recorded 10 million minutes from people in over 50 countries, reducing crime by 1,500 violent crimes. Please join us as we aim for seven billion minutes, one for each person on the planet, by 12.12.12.
Dheera Nithyananda is the first person to lead expeditions to the three extremes: Everest and the North and South Poles. He teaches leadership and meditation.
by Myriam Dinim
I dedicate my photographs and this writing to June Black, who for years stood in front of the library in downtown Vancouver, on behalf of peace, collecting signatures to stop the Vietnam War.
My involvement with the peace movement really started when I met Joseph Roberts. Our life as a duo was made all the more powerful by the simple fact we were anti-nuclear and peace activists together.
In 1981 we participated in the Anti Nuclear Day of Protest, Choose Survival that only drew a small crowd, may be 200 or 300. Next year in 1982, with the prior organizers no longer around, we took a new, positive approach. To inspire more Vancouverites to join, we needed to move beyond the anger associated with protesting. We worked with our friend Rick Testa, a brilliant copywriter, to find the best words for our fresh movement, and birthed the name Walk for Peace. What a delight when 35,000 people gathered at Kits Beach in front of our house in 1982 to walk from Kits over Burrard Street Bridge to Sunset Beach where a stage full of musicians and speakers inspired us all!
Many meetings happened in our living room and most of us sat on the floor, with a few chairs for the elders among us. I produced a newsletter at my dining room table and most of our networking to get people involved took place on one phone: our home phone, there were no cell phones or internet then. Interviews with the French network were done by phone or in my backyard at Cornwall and Yew, sometimes while breastfeeding my baby.
Rafe Mair once interviewed my daughter who was nine years old at the time and he was amazed at how she handled his questions.
It felt good to raise awareness and to educate ourselves through meeting people like Sister Rosalie Bertell and Dr. Helen Caldicott. Ask anybody who did the first few walks from 1982 to 1984 and they will have their own special stories.
So come and join us on Saturday, June 30th in Kitsilano to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Walk for Peace. Guaranteed you will have your own stories to tell the next generation.
Note: Myriam Dinim supplied most of the photo for this special walk for Peace edition.
Military spending at highest levels since WWII
There are now plans to expand Canadian military bases around the world. And the military is fast becoming a central thread in the fabric of society. We need to stop this new Canadian militarism.
The Canada First Defence Strategy is the Conservatives’ blueprint for military spending, which already totals $480 billion. But some costs are already way over budget, including the proposed purchase of F35 fighter jets and the construction of new Canadian warships. This could push military spending over half a trillion dollars.
|Veterans Against Nuclear Arms at Walk for Peace|
Spending money on weapons will not create security. Real security is only possible when the people of the world can meet their basic needs.
Sadly, the Conservatives are increasing funding for things we need the least, while decreasing funding for the things we need the most.
Prime Minister Harper plans to expand the reach of Canadian forces overseas. Canada already has agreements to establish bases in Jamaica, Kuwait and Germany.
It is planning bases for Singapore, South Korea, Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania.
This expansion would give Mr. Harper the power to embroil Canada in the affairs of sovereign states and would redefine Canada as an aggressive military power.
The new Canadian militarism also includes dramatically raising the military’s profile in more aspects of Canadian life. In the last few years, Canada Day celebrations have been dominated by military displays and recruitment drives.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has agreed that all citizenship ceremonies must include a military speaker, in order to promote military service as the highest form of citizenship.
The new citizenship handbook, Discover Canada, emphasizes Canada’s involvement in wars abroad and heaps praise on the country’s military history.
We believe that money earmarked for military spending must be reallocated to social and environmental programs: to protect jobs and pensions, preserve public healthcare and education and create a green economy. We oppose any attempts by the government to expand Canadian militarism abroad or to entrench it in Canadian society.
Adapted from a Declaration of the Canadian Peace Alliance (email@example.com) Reprinted from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom newsletter Peace Lines, March 2012. WILPF was founded in 1915, The Hague.
The Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal
Here are a few of the principles in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal adopted by the International Law Commission of the United Nations, 1950. You can see why certain heads of state have chosen to pretend that International Law does not pertain to them:
Principle III The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.
Principle IV The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.
Principle V Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.
Crimes Against Peace: Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned …
Take a seat at the big table
by David Tracey
• Food is a delight, a wonder, a blessing, a need and a problem as big as the world. One billion people don’t have enough to eat, according to the UN World Food Programme, and hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. At the same time, another one billion people are eating too much so we now have a global epidemic in obesity.
You don’t have to look around the globe to find a broken food system. Here at home, 900,000 Canadians must visit food banks every month just to get by. When the United Nations’ leading food expert visited last month to report on how food issues affect people even in a country like Canada, the government response was stunning. Rather than thank Olivier De Schutter for pointing out some major problems and recommending a national right-to-food plan, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq called him “ill informed and patronizing” because he didn’t know the real food issue in northern Canada was “fighting environmentalists.”
What to do? Plant the seeds of a brighter food future. Here’s the good thing about food politics: just as it affects everyone, everyone has a role in making it better. It takes a big table when you invite people together to talk about food. Farmers, nutritionists, activists, teachers, producers, distributors, recyclers and others are joining together in communities throughout North America to discuss alternatives to the industrial food system.
Their efforts typically target local issues, which is as it should be, but because many of our food system problems are the result of institutional forces making decisions far from our own neighbourhoods, it’s vital that local groups combine their efforts and work together. Here in BC, we have the BC Food Systems Network which holds its 2012 Gathering July 5-8 on Gambier Island (open to all). The BCFSN is a province-wide grassroots organization bringing people from diverse areas and backgrounds together to share knowledge, strategies, success stories and, of course, food.
The Gathering, held every year since 1999, is like a family reunion that turns up relatives you never knew you had. Even those immersed in the struggle for food democracy can be surprised and energized to see the depth and breadth of work going on throughout the province.
Because the network operates on the principle that we – meaning all of us – are the experts, the Gathering is not a convention of celebrity speakers and corporate sponsors. Instead, members share what they’re doing and what they’ve learned. This could be through seed-saving workshops, discussions on creating community gardens and round-table talks on best strategies for non-profit groups to attract donors.
With a federal government showing all the smarts of a schoolyard bully and growing pressures from the food industry – did you hear about the application to sell a GMO apple or the BC government’s move to make it illegal to even talk about reportable diseases in animals destined for human consumption? – the theme for this year’s Gathering couldn’t be more timely: “Reclaiming Our Food System: Policy and Practice.” For more information on the Gathering, visit the BCFSN website at fooddemocracy.org.
David Tracey is the author of several books including Urban Agriculture: Ideas and Designs for the New Food Revolution. He is on the board of the BC Food Systems Network.
by Jim Fetzer
• Here are four stories that didn’t make the mainstream news. They range from some you will find easy to believe to some you’ll find incredible.
If you want to know more about the fabrication of 9/11 and you’re tired of the lies we’ve been told or want new independent information, you’ll want to attend The Vancouver Hearings, June 15-17 at the Denman Theatre, 1737 Comox Street in Vancouver.
Story 1: The “collapse” that wasn’t a collapse
Videos show Flight 175 completely entering the South Tower before it explodes, when that should have happened on contact. Would you believe that Pilots for 9/11 Truth has studied air/ground communications and discovered that Flight 175 was in the air but over Pittsburgh at the time?
Did you know the fires in the towers did not burn hot enough nor long enough to cause steel to weaken, much less melt? Have you noticed those buildings are blowing apart in every direction rather than falling to the ground – that they did not collapse?
Story 2: The first death of Saddam Hussein
How about the hanging of Saddam Hussein? You probably saw it on television. It was widely broadcast at the time. But Saddam Hussein, his two sons and about 60 members of his general staff were killed on April 7, 2003.
Chris Wachter, a B-1 bomber pilot, took them out with 2 JDAM bombs at a restaurant on the outskirts of Baghdad. He was lionized when he returned to his base, put on CNN, awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and honoured by The Rev. Robert Schiller at The Crystal Cathedral on May 25, 2003.
The following day, he was flown back to Langley, VA, home of the CIA, and told that, while they admired his flying skill, “officially,” Saddam had gotten away. Killing the leader of a foreign nation had been made illegal by executive orders from three presidents: Reagan, Carter and Ford. So they put one of his doubles in a spider hole, “found him” and then tried him and hung him on December 30, 2006. Almost no one noticed the difference.
Story 3: The second death of Osama bin Laden
Everyone knows that Barack Obama took out Osama bin Laden during that daring raid on his compound in Pakistan, right? There was a famous photograph of Obama, Biden and Hillary watching as it went down.
However, Leon Panetta, Director of the CIA, explained there had been no coverage for the first 20-25 minutes and these assaults only take five minutes or less. Osama bin Laden actually died of medical complications on December 15, 2001 and was buried in an unmarked grave.
Scholars for 9/11 Truth published editorial about it. David Ray Griffin wrote a book on it, Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive? Nicholas Kollerstrom wrote his article, “Osama bin Laden: 1957-2001.”
Story 4: What didn’t happen at the Pentagon
The official account claims a Boeing 757 hit the Pentagon, but there’s no massive pile of debris, no wings, no tail, bodies, seats or luggage. Not even its massive engines were recovered from the building even though they are virtually indestructible – they weren’t there.
The plane is supposed to have skimmed the ground at 500 mph and taken out a series of lampposts en route to its target. But “ground effect” makes that impossible and those lampposts would have ripped off the wing and exploded the jet fuel stored inside it.
It didn’t happen. And the only photo the Pentagon has provided shows a plane that is far too small to have been Flight 77.
Jim Fetzer is a former Marine Corps officer, the founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and a journalist for Veterans Today. He has written dozens of articles on subjects like 9/11 and JFK.
SCIENCE MATTERS by David Suzuki
• Canada would be a different place without our 80,000 registered charities dedicated to everything from health to economic policy to the environment. Recent efforts by the federal government and its backers in media and industry front groups like Ethical Oil to demonize and silence legitimate organizations ignore the important role charities play in Canada. That’s why environmental and other organizations are joining with Canadians for “Black Out Speak Out” (blackoutspeakout.ca or silenceonparle.ca en), launched on May 7 and culminating in a website blackout June 4.
Canadians understand the value of charitable organizations. Close to 85 percent of us over 15 years of age donate to charities every year. Often, it’s to help people in other parts of the world. According to Charity Village, Canadians gave $20 million… within four days of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. For supporting worthy causes, Canadians are entitled to a small tax break.
Canadians also know our spectacular natural environment is crucial to our national identity, health, and survival and that we can’t always count on governments and industry to look out for its interests. And so they give their time, money and voices… The David Suzuki Foundation relies on Canadians for close to 94 percent of its funding. Canadians also expect transparency and results, which is why our funding and spending information is public.
With the help of many Canadians, we’ve enjoyed many successes… [so] we’re astounded by the increasing efforts to stifle so many people and organizations that devote countless hours to ensuring that Canada remains a stellar example of an open and democratic country with strong social values and a clean and healthy environment.
If we are committed to these ideals, it follows we should also value freedom of speech on matters of national interest. It’s fair to place limits on the extent and types of work organizations with charitable status can do. It’s fair to ask questions about donations and what, if any, influence they may have on activities. But it is unacceptable to try to silence people with smear tactics designed to discredit them and deny their funding.
If our leaders want to pin all their hopes and our future on a twinned pipeline through Alberta and BC to ship raw tar sands bitumen to China, then Canadians at least deserve a proper conversation about it. We’ve seen recent signs of hope, with the Alberta government calling for a national energy strategy, for example, and with people in the media and elsewhere questioning the wisdom of employing an omnibus budget act to gut environmental laws and attack charitable organizations.
With continued suppression of those who speak out about the environment and women’s and human rights, along with muzzling government scientists and cuts to government scientific and environmental programs and departments, it’s clear we’re facing a growing campaign, in part backed by industrial interests, to silence opposition.
We expect and deserve better. That’s why we’re speaking out. Silence is not an option. We’re asking all Canadians to join us to help preserve two core national values: nature and democracy. Let’s keep Canada strong and free. Please visit the websites of your favourite environmental organizations on June 4 to add your voice.
Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation editorial and communications specialist Ian Hanington. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org
Millions Against Monsanto
• Finally, public opinion around the biotech industry’s contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We’re fighting back.
“If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.” – Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., Monsanto subsidiary, Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994
“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.” – Phil Angell, Monsanto communication director, New York Times, October 25, 1998
For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture, aided and abetted by indentured politicians and regulatory agencies, supermarket chains, and giant food processors.
This November, in a food fight that will largely determine the future of what we eat and what we grow, Monsanto will face its greatest challenge to date: a statewide citizens’ ballot initiative that will give Californians the opportunity to vote for their right to know whether the food they buy has GMOs.
A growing corps of food, health, and environmental activists – supported by the Millions against Monsanto and Occupy Monsanto Movements, and consumers and farmers across the nation – are boldly moving to implement mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods in California through a grassroots-powered citizens ballot initiative process that will bypass the agribusiness-dominated state legislature.
Passage of this initiative on November 6 will radically alter the balance of power in the marketplace, enabling millions of consumers to identify – and boycott – genetically engineered foods for the first time since 1994, when Monsanto’s first unlabeled, genetically-engineered dairy drug, recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), was forced on the US market,
This is not the first time Monsanto has been challenged by citizens’ initiatives or state and local legislative efforts. But this time, the momentum is in our favor.
In the past, GMO “right-to-know” activists have been outmaneuvered and outgunned by Monsanto and its minions in every state, except Vermont and Connecticut, where passing a labeling bill is still, at least theoretically, a long-shot. Monsanto recently threatened to sue the state of Vermont if legislators there pass a GMO labeling bill.
Efforts to pass GMO labeling laws at the federal level have gone nowhere, despite the fact that more than one million consumers have emailed “Just Label It” petitions to the FDA, demanding mandatory labeling. The FDA counted only 394 of the signatures claiming that the main petition was submitted as a single document, or docket, and therefore counted as only one signature.
The battle has been raging for decades. But this time, it’s different.
Behind this historic California initiative is a broad, growing and powerful health, environmental, and consumer coalition, which includes the Organic Consumers Association, Organic Consumers Fund, Food Democracy Now!, Mercola.com, Nature’s Path, Lundberg Family Farms, LabelGMOs.org, Eden Foods, Alliance for Natural Health, Dr. Bronner’s, United Farm Workers Union, American Public Health Association, Cornucopia Institute, Institute for Responsible Technology, Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, California Certified Organic Farmers, and scores of others.
This time, the industry faces informed – and alarmed – consumers who understand the danger of allowing out-of-control chemical and biotech companies like Monsanto, Dow, or Dupont – the very same corporations that have assaulted us with toxic pesticides and industrial chemicals, Agent Orange, carcinogenic food additives, PCBs, and now global warming – to dictate their food choices.
Why has it taken so long to get this far? How have Monsanto and its cohorts been able to grow and maintain market supremacy while force-feeding unlabeled “Frankenfoods” to the public for decades? By buying off politicians, bullying farmers and scientists, and keeping consumers in the dark.
Monsanto has sued over 150 farmers across the US and Canada (see Percy Schmeiser vs Monsanto, January 2004, Common Ground) and threatened thousands of others, for refusing to pay for “intellectual property theft” after their fields were contaminated by Monsanto’s patented genetically engineered crops.
The company has harassed and used the media to bully scientists who have exposed the public health and environmental hazards of genetically engineered foods and crops in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Europe. The renowned scientist Dr. Arpad Pusztai from the UK, was pressured and discredited for reporting on the dangers of genetic engineering until he was eventually fired from his job. The same thing happened to the UK’s Environmental Minister, Michael Meacher.
In a number of other cases, scientists such as Ignacio Chapela, have received death threats. Chapela also said he received death threats to his children from “a high government official” in Mexico after he showed contamination of native corn with Monsanto’s GMOs. Other scientists, most notably Andres Carrasco from Argentina, have been assaulted by thugs. Monsanto has even hired the notorious Blackwater mercenaries to spy on its opponents worldwide.
Why has Monsanto gone to such great lengths to thwart GMO labeling laws and initiatives? Because it understands the threat that truth-in-labeling poses for GMOs – and biotech industry profits. As soon as genetically engineered foods are labeled in the U.S., millions of consumers will read these labels and react. They’ll complain to grocery store managers and companies, they’ll talk to their family and friends. They’ll switch to foods that are organic or at least GMO-free. Once enough consumers complain about GE foods and food ingredients, stores will eventually stop selling them. Farmers will stop planting them.
In Europe, there are almost no genetically engineered crops, while here nearly 75% of all supermarket foods are GE-tainted. Why? Because Europe requires labeling of genetically engineered foods – and the US does not.
This is exactly why activists have launched the California Ballot Initiative. Passing mandatory GMO food labeling in just one large state, California, the eighth largest economy in the world, where there is tremendous opposition to GE foods as well as a multi-billion dollar organic food industry, will ultimately have the same impact as a national labeling law.
Once food manufacturers and supermarkets are forced to come clean and label genetically engineered products, they will likely remove all GE ingredients, to avoid the “skull and crossbones” effect, just like the food industry in the EU has done. In the wake of this development American farmers will convert millions of acres of GE crops to non-GMO or organic varieties.
Monsanto, the Farm Bureau, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association – under the guise of its front group, the so-called Coalition Against the Costly Food Law – are building up a massive war chest up to battle the California Ballot Initiative. They will literally spend millions to spread lies and disinformation that GMO foods and crops are perfectly safe – and that we need more, not less GMO food and biofuel crops in this era of climate change and growing population.
They will lie and say that GMO labels will be costly to the food industry and raise food prices. They will say that it is the job of the FDA to decide whether GMOs are labeled, not the states. Yet we already know that this battle will never be won in Washington DC, where Monsanto and Food Inc. lobbyists have politicians in their back pockets. It will only be won in places like California (or Vermont), vital centers of organic food and farming and anti-GMO sentiment, where 90% of the body politic, according to recent polls, support mandatory labeling.
It’s time to take back control over our food and farming system. It’s time to stand up to Monsanto and the Biotech Bullies.
Ronnie Cummins founded the Organic Consumers Association and wrote Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers. You can help by contacting organicconsumersfund.org
• After more than10 years, active research into the genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) pig called “Enviropig” is being abandoned. In late March, the hog industry group Ontario Pork decided to stop funding GM pig research at the University of Guelph and the university is now closing down its active research and ending its breeding program of GM pigs.
Scientists at the university began their research in 1995. In 1999, a team of three researchers in molecular and cellular biology, led by Dr. Cecil Forsberg, named their first GM pig “Wayne.” The university patented the technology in Canada, the US and China.
In a surprising announcement, Dr. Forsberg told the New York Times on April 3, “I had the feeling in seven or eight or nine years that transgenic animals probably would be acceptable. But I was wrong.” He added, “It’s time to stop the program until the rest of the world catches up.” Nonetheless, the GM pig is technologically irrelevant as well as socially unacceptable and is therefore unlikely to ever be commercially attractive. The pig was engineered with genetic material from a mouse and E-coli bacteria to produce less phosphorus in its feces. It could have become the first GM food animal in the world, but it was never needed and it was always controversial. Consumer backlash threatened the domestic and international markets for Canadian pork and with public awareness intensifying in Canada, Ontario Pork decided to remove its support.
The GM pig is an example of how genetic engineering is applied to solve problems that already have one or more solutions. There have always been many solutions to the problem of excessive waste from large hog farms. In addition to structural changes, there is the simple technological fix of a feed supplement that does exactly what the so-called “Enviropig” promised to do. The hog feed supplement (phytase) has increased in effectiveness over the years and is cost-neutral for farmers. Manitoba hog producers are using the supplement and manure management practices to meet new provincial phosphorus pollution regulations.
The University of Guelph never had a public mandate to bring the GM pig to market. Yet even in the face of deep social conflict over GM food animals and dubious commercial prospects, public funds were used to develop the GM pig and support the goal of commercialization. Additionally, public resources at Health Canada were spent reviewing the safety of this GM animal that no one wanted. In fact, the university has yet to officially withdraw its requests for approval from Health Canada and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
When the university decided to seek commercial interest in the GM pig, it stepped outside the traditional boundaries of university research and became a commercial actor in the biotech industry. The university became engaged in the global social conflict over genetic engineering. It also became party to secret decision-making about GM foods in Canada. By requesting approval from Health Canada, the university became a participant in our secret regulatory system. When the university asked Canadian regulators to assess the safety of the GM pig, it accepted a system that classified its data as “Confidential Business Information” and rather than releasing this information to the public, the university accepted this secrecy as legitimate.
The hard reality now is the 16 GM pigs housed at the university need to be euthanized and incinerated under careful biosafety procedures. This is a necessary step to ensure the end of “Enviropig.” The university will send the genetics for storage and as “sole owner and researcher,” it says it will “continue to have the responsibility to make appropriate decisions regarding future use of the technology.” This means the genes will stay on the shelf at a federal government facility in Saskatoon until the university decides otherwise. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network is asking the university to withdraw its applications for approval from Health Canada and the US FDA in order to finally leave the GM pig at rest.
Despite the demise of “Enviropig,” the first GM food animal could still be introduced because the small US company AquaBounty is seeking approval for its fast-growing GM Atlantic salmon. All polls show consumers do not want GM fish and the aquaculture industry itself says there is no market for it. However, the lack of democracy in genetic engineering means unwanted GM experiments can still be approved.
GM animals are neither commercially viable nor socially acceptable and yet they may still be released into our food system because there is no public participation or debate. There is no gatekeeper between the University of Guelph or AquaBounty and Health Canada. At the moment, there is no public arbitrator to intervene to stop GM food animals. There is only public protest. Find out more at www.cban.ca
Lucy Sharratt is the coordinator for the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) www.cban.ca