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The Afghan War diary data -- an initial look

The Wikileaks dossier allows us to map where thousands of deaths have occurred in the war, and the evidence points to many failures by the NATO forces and the horrible price Afghanis have paid.

An initial look at the first 76,000 records in the "Afghan War Diary" leaked by Wikileaks yields some important information, much of which has been known or suspected by analysts for years. Given the sheer size of the database, there is a great deal more to be learned, but here are some initial findings.

Casualty data

The first impression is one of an extremely lopsided war, like all wars of occupation, where occupied casualties are vastly higher than those by the occupier.


$10 million not enough to restore justice and dignity for Indigenous women in Canada

After 600 Aboriginal women and girls go missing or are found murdered in Canada, the federal government decides to throw-a-bone and give $10 million dollars. In March, the Canadian Minister of Justice budgeted $10 million over two years to address the issue of murdered and missing women in Canada, however, they have yet to figure out how to use the money.


American war resister wins another victory in federal court

U.S. war resister Jeremy Hinzman has won the right to appeal his deportation order, setting the stage for a new immigration review process for all those Iraq- and Afghanistan-assigned American soldiers who came to Canada as conscientious objectors.

The Federal Court of Appeals ruled in a unanimous three-judge decision on July 6 that the immigration officer in charge of Hinzman's refugee case in 2008 was in error to deny his application for permanent residence status because she didn't take into account his pacifist religious beliefs


Civil disobedience considered by prison farm protesters

Is Stephen Harper ready to face more angry citizens so soon after his G20 fiasco in Toronto? Certainly, the venue will be different -- a smaller city -- and there will be no international spotlight, but it might be unpleasant just the same.

I'm talking about the large number of Kingstonians of all ages who have signed up to help stop the government from selling and removing the dairy herd, established a century ago, from the property of the Frontenac Institution prison farm. It's one of six prison farms slated for closure by the Harper government -- and a clear majority of citizens want it to stay.


Americans must take financial reform into their own hands

With the passage of [America's] financial reform bill, giant banks see a golden opportunity to finally put the financial crisis, along with their culpability for wrecking our economy, in the rearview mirror.

"We are very pleased to have this certainty and closure," declared Steve Bartlett when the House-Senate conference committee had finished negotiating. Bartlett is the president of the Financial Services Roundtable, a powerful big bank lobbying group that would like nothing more than to make this legislation the one and only policy response to the banking system's catastrophic failure.

It's up to all of us to make sure that it is not.


Monsanto 'charity' comes to Haitian farmers

Despite the inexcusable stalling and siphoning off of aid to Haiti six months after the devastating earthquake, the people of Haiti are currently fighting the charity of one overly eager corporation: Monsanto. In a seemingly generous offer, the corporation donated over 470 tons of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to be distributed through USAID and the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture. The only problem is that Monsanto and USAID are determined to solve a problem that doesn't exist.


Canada supports an undemocratic post-coup Honduras

Presidents Porfirio Lobo of Honduras (left) and Álvaro Colom of Guatemala (right) at the World Coffee Conference in February 2010.  Photo: Gobierno de Guatemala/Flickr

One year ago last week, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya woke up with a gun pointed at his head, was forced onto a plane by the military, and expelled from the country. Many fear that Central America's first coup in more than 15 years could mean the resumption of a painful era of dictatorships, military coups and civil wars. In a remarkable display of unanimity, the world promptly condemned the democratic interruption, with denunciations reverberating from the United States to Cuba, and resolutions emanating from the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS). Not a single country recognized the coup regime.


Community, 'relationship framework' and implications for activism

What is community?

It was a question I got asked a lot when I worked for a community arts organization. My first reaction was to scare up definitions in the literature and offer them to the questioner. In the-ball-is-in your-court fashion, I'd invite them to choose whatever definition(s) suited their purposes. Later, I began to answer that question by noting that there were many concepts of "community" and we, as an organization, didn't impose definitions. That still seems a sufficient answer but I've now come to consider the concept of community through a Relationship framework.



University of Toronto plan decimates languages, humanities programs

A radical consolidation proposal has been announced at the University of Toronto -- programs to be disbanded, minimalized or merged. One casualty is the comparative literature centre founded by Canadian icon Northrop Frye. Photo: szasukephotography/Flickr

The University of Toronto's Faculty of Arts and Sciences has unveiled a sweeping plan to merge several academic departments and eliminate others, including the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies and the Centre for Ethics. Simultaneously, the Centre for Comparative Literature is to be reduced to a collaborative program unable to grant degrees.


Calgary Stampede says it is stamping out animal deaths

It is too early to tell whether this year's rodeo will result in animal deaths, but activists are already protesting outside Stampede grounds. Photo: Michael Kwan/Flickr

While it is too early to tell whether this year's Calgary Stampede will result in any animal deaths, activists are already protesting outside Stampede grounds, urging the public to boycott the corporations that sponsor the 10-day event, which begins today.

They have cause. Since 1986, 59 animals at the Calgary Stampede have died or been euthanized. Of that number, 51 have been horses.


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