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'Shocked and disoriented' by corruption in Brazil

“When there is such an overwhelming disaster and you see yourself as part of this disaster, you begin to question your whole life. Why so many years of sacrifice and struggle?” Congressman Fernando Gabeira expresses the feelings of many petistas — members or supporters of the Brazilian Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) — when they heard that the party they built or supported as an instrument of democratic, ethical politics, was governing on the basis of systematic corruption.

The Brazilian left is in a state of profound shock and confusion.


'Dissent on Trial' given a human rights award

On December 9, 2005, the eve of International Human Rights day, the Carole Geller Human Rights Award was awarded to Dissent on Trial, a group formed as a result of the mass arrest of 243 people who were participating in a protest against the World Trade Organization (WTO) mini-Ministerial meeting in Montreal on June 28, 2003.

The arrests have been criticized for being a deliberate assault on human rights.


U.S.-style war fighting will cost Canada dearly

It is arguably the most important issue facing Canada, but it was notdiscussed at all during the election. It is consuming billions of taxpayers'dollars, it dramatically increases the risk of a terrorist attack in Canada,and it has already claimed several Canadian lives.

The issue is the dramatic transformation of the Canadian military from a UNpeacekeeping force into a U.S. war-fighting force.

The Canadian government has been rapidly building up the military andforging new Canada-U.S.


Will Nova Scotia Greens be up to green challenge?

Does Nova Scotia need a new political party? Some environmentalists think so. A founding convention for a Nova Scotia Green Party was recently held. Participants agreed to an organizational structure and selected a leader, Nicholas Wright, a business and law student in Halifax.

There is no question that environmental issues need to be brought to the forefront of political agendas.


Court of Appeal to hear U.S. refugee cases

“Our children did not enlist to commit war crimes and crimes againsthumanity,” said Cindy Sheehan, the prominent American anti-war activist whotoured Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa earlier this month. Sheehan,who lost her own son Specialist Casey Sheehan, in Iraq in April, 2004, rose toprominence last year when she camped out at President George Bush's Texasranch, demanding answers about the war.

Sheehan called on the Canadian government to welcome war resisters as refugees.


Resistance ferocious in war of world's big issue

Now that the summer doldrums are upon us, when politicians and other shakers of the news go on holiday, it's a good time to ask what the big issue is. Is it Sunday shopping? Gas regulation? Health care? The economy? The war on terror?

Let me answer by saying that I went to see Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, last week.


Growing older, working longer

As the baby boomers get closer to retirement, it's becoming clear that many will have to abandon their dreams of “freedom 55.” Some of them will be lucky if they reach their “freedom” goal by the time they're 65. Many will have to go on working as they grow older. It's the new face of retirement — and it's not just that many people will have failed to save enough to finance a retirement.

Governments around the world are now trying to persuade people to postpone their retirement and go on working to ease pressure on pension plans.


A promise made, a promise broken

One year ago, in the midst of a heated federal election campaign, Stephen Harper promised in writing to improve the situation of women's rights in Canada. A year later, the work of women's and human rights groups is threatened and under attack.

Across the country, 12 Status of Women Canada offices are scheduled to close April 1. These offices have played a significant role in funding community initiatives and research. In Newfoundland and Labrador, women have given the Harper government an “F” for their efforts when it comes to women.


Too guilty to fly, too innocent to charge?

As the Canadian government forges ahead with its cleverly named Passenger Protect Program, the timing could not be better to seriously reconsider what is for all intents and purposes a no-fly list.

The attention to the issue of watch lists generated by the struggles of Maher Arar (the Canadian citizen detained by Americans and shipped off to torture and interrogation in Syria) to clear his name should make us all sit back and reflect.


Zen and the art of social justice

In the late 1970s, Horacio Morales founded The National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The organizationâe(TM)s primary goal was to overthrow the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. A few years later, Morales was arrested and taken to a jungle prison near a military rifle range. He was confined to a small concrete cell and, over the din of gunfire, subjected to electro-shock torture.

But each Friday, a kind-hearted Canadian woman ventured to the prison, alone, to visit Morales and the other prisoners, and she taught him the art of Zen meditation.


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