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Voices of dissent: International Festival of Poetry of Resistance

Arnold Itwaru, one of the poets performing at International Festival of Poetry of Resistance in Toronto. Photo: Chisato Fukuyama

From Aime Cesaire and Pablo Neruda to Mahmoud Darwish and Wislawa Szymborska, poets throughout the world have raised their voices in protest against injustice in all its forms.

And poets, artists, musicians and social activists will gather in various Toronto venues later this month to celebrate the boundless capacity of verse to resist oppression and create links among diverse communities. The International Festival of Poetry of Resistance (From September 16 to 20) will feature readings, roundtable discussions, musical performances and a special "festivalito" for children.

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Israelis risk jail to smuggle Palestinians

Nearly 600 Israelis have signed up for a campaign of civil disobedience, vowing to risk jail to smuggle Palestinian women and children into Israel for a brief taste of life outside the occupied West Bank.

The Israelis say they have been inspired by the example of Ilana Hammerman, a writer who is threatened with prosecution after publishing an article in which she admitted breaking the law to bring three Palestinian teenagers into Israel for a day out.

Ms. Hammerman said she wanted to give the young women, who had never left the West Bank, "some fun" and a chance to see the Mediterranean for the first time.

Her story has shocked many Israelis and led to a police investigation after right-wing groups called for her to be tried for security offences.

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Newfoundland: Some tourists buy post cards, others buy houses

An old house for sale in Bonvista. The Wall Street Journal, among others, is touting Newfoundland as a place to buy a holiday home. Photo: Emily Urquhart

The late summer sun sets on Bonavista Bay while a crowd gathers on the back deck of a home in Red Cliff, which is more a collection of houses than a town. There's an artist from Toronto at the party, as well as a St. John's-based filmmaker, and a couple from Holland who recently purchased a house down the road. Talk is highbrow and the drink of choice is gin and tonic. Even the weather is civilized. It's not your typical outport Newfoundland scene, or at least it doesn't fit the decades-old stereotype. But these days, at least in summer, this cosmopolitan mix is becoming the norm.

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On the 5th anniversary of Katrina the displacement continues

The Ninth Ward of New Orleans in May, 2009. Photo: CGehlen/Flickr

Poet Sunni Patterson  is one of New Orleans's most beloved artists. She has performed in nearly every venue in the city, toured the U.S., and frequently appears on television and radio, from Democracy Now to Def Poetry Jam. When she performs her poems in local venues, half the crowd recites the words along with her. But, like many who grew up there, she was forced to move away from the city she loves. She left as part of a wave of displacement that began with Hurricane Katrina and still continues to this day. While hers is just one story, it is emblematic of the situation of many African-Americans from New Orleans, who no longer feel welcomed in the city they were born in.

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Climate change, capitalism and war produce disaster in Pakistan

Aug. 9, 2010: People wade through flooded streets in Charsadda, Pakistan. Photo: U.K. Department of International  Development/Flickr

The massive floods in Pakistan that affect 20 million people are far from a random "natural disaster." Rather, they are a predictable result of global warming, capitalist development, and US-backed war.

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Money flows uphill: An update from Cité Soleil

Haitians in Cité Soleil queue for food after the earthquake, in January 2010. Photo: The United Nations

We are organizing a fair trade enterprise connecting Canadian consumers and Haitian workers. Joegodson lives in Port-au-Prince; Paul in Montreal. Without pretence or illusions about our influence on global affairs, we believe our work is the most moral response to the current crises that face all of us. However, we must be careful. To establish this business, it seems most prudent to promote it as a straight-up exploitation of Haitian workers. If we acknowledge that our enterprise is a co-operative and that Haitians enter as something other than labourers valued at $3 a day, we will have corporate interests, three states, and their thugs on our backs. [A few very poor young men of Cite Soleil that the sweatshop owners buy to foment chaos are characterized in our culture as thugs.

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Seven myths about the Tamil refugees

Surviving a dangerous three-month ocean journey, 492 Tamil refugees -- including around 60 women and 55 children -- arrived in B.C. after fleeing war and persecution in Sri Lanka. When the ship the MV Sun Sea first neared Esquimault on Vancouver Island, the territories of the Songhees First Nation, it was immediately boarded by the Canadian armed forces, border services, and RCMP.

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Canadian gold mine plan stirs anger in Central America

Canadian gold mining explorations in Central America might be close to expanding with a new project potentially going ahead in Costa Rica.

Industrias Infinito S.A., owned by the Calgary-based Infinito Gold Ltd., is a mine company that is trying to win a legal battle with the new Costa Rican government to push for the Crucitas project in the small community of Las Crucitas, north of the border of Nicaragua.

Laura Chinchilla, Costa Rica's new president, revised the contract that former president Óscar Arias signed with the Canadian firm months before reaching the end of his presidential term.

But Chinchilla is under pressure from environmental groups, such as "Ni una Mina más" translated as "Not a single mine," to put a stop to the project.

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The struggle for education in Haiti

A photo in SOPUDEP's school office of a kindergarten student who died in the earthquake.  Affectionately known as "Préval" because of a family connection to the country's president, she was one of 28 students who died. All photos: Darren Ell

Following the Jan. 12 earthquake, 1,263 out of 4,716 schools in western Haiti were destroyed and another 2,541 were damaged; 376,000 students were out of school and an unknown number of teachers and students were dead or wounded. 

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Theatre in a quiet place can make a big noise

Poland’s Teatr Węgajty, whose founders cite Emerson and Whitman as influences, blends tradition and experimentation to address social issues in a rural, grassroots setting.

The small village of Węgajty, hidden amongst the forests of Poland's Lake District, unknown to anyone who does not deliberately seek it out, is home to one of that culturally rich country's most socially engaged experimental theatre companies.

Experimental theatre? In the middle of cow country? For Wacław and Erdmute Sobaszek, co-founders of the Teatr Węgajty Fieldwork Project, there is no better setting.

"This is a collective effort," explains Wacław. "What makes us different from other theatre companies is that instead of putting on a show for people, we work with people. The whole community gets involved."

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