20 November 2012

Nigeria and Sudan, lashes and lies

 Nigeria: jail all gays
and those who hide them

Nigeria's National Assembly has backed new anti-gay legislation.
Photo by Shiraz Chakera.
Nigeria’s lawmakers have approved plans to jail people for being gay and even imprison people who don’t report homosexuals they know about to the police.
The west African nation already makes gay sex illegal and even punishable by the death penalty in the north part of the country but the new legislation goes much further.
Under the proposed law that has passed both the Senate and, this week, the House of Representatives there would be a crackdown on LGBT people which could lead to a witch-hunt.
Openly gay people would be imprisoned whether or not they have sex and LGBT organizations would be criminalized.
Anyone who knows somebody who is gay would have to tell the authorities or they could go to jail for five years.
Gay marriage would be punished by 14 years prison for the couple and 10 for anyone else involved in the ceremony. Even wedding guests could be jailed.
And ‘any person who directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationships’ would get a 10-year sentence.
The Nigerian House of Representatives approved the bill, already voted through the Senate, on a second reading this week.
Speaking about same-sex marriage during the debate, house majority leader Mulikat Adeola-Akande said: ‘It is alien to our society and culture and it must not be imported. Religion abhors it and our culture has no place for it.’
And minority leader Femi Gbajabiamila also backed the bill saying gay marriage ‘is both illegal and immoral’.
But Nigerian gay activist and Gay Star News contributor Bisi Alimi said this was really about politicians trying to gain popular support in the highly religious country.
He said: ‘Nigerian LGBT community has never asked for marriage so there is no basis to ask for an anti same-sex marriage bill. This is just a voting winning political agenda.
The bill is now being reviewed on a clause-by-clause basis. After that stage it will return for a final vote in parliament before being signed by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Experts have told GSN that Jonathan is a weak president unlikely to veto the legislation. However, even if he does veto, the Senate and House of Representatives can still vote again to push the legislation through.
Despite this, the legislation may not actually be in the long-term interests of the country’s political leaders. Some have suggested the bill may be used by unscrupulous politicians to smear their opponents by accusing them of being gay, and therefore destroying their careers.
The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIER) in Nigeria has condemned the proposed law.
Olumide Makanjuola, director of programs, said: ‘It is unfortunate that the argument presented by the legislature is invalid, illogical and unethical in democratic politics.
‘Nigeria is secular state and still remains as such. Therefore, religion should have no stake in law making in the country. Unfortunately, this is what we get!
‘This is unfortunate modern day democracy, where equity and justice is non-negotiable. It is unacceptable for the state to interfere in privacy of lives that pose no threat to statehood.’
TIER is among those worried the bill could stop or damage the work of organizations fighting AIDS in the country.
They have called on the National Human Rights Commission to intervene by raising concerns with legislators.
Nigeria’s move comes as Uganda also presses ahead with it’s own Kill The Gay’s Bill. While the two laws do have some similarities, Nigeria’s move towards this legislation actually predates Uganda’s from 2006.
However it may be the Uganda parliament’s pledge to push their bill through as ‘a Christmas present’ for its supporters has encouraged Nigeria to think its proposals will have support on the other side of Africa.
Gay Star News

urge the Government of Canada to speak out against the 
vicious legislation being enacted in Uganda and Nigeria
Sudan: gay teen sex to blame for AIDS
Khartoum, Sudan blames gays for spreading AIDS through school teen sex
Teenagers sodomising younger boys at school is apparently the ‘reason’ for the rapid rise of HIV cases in Sudan’s youth, according to a report broadcasted by the country’s Blue Nile TV.
The report featured a medical doctor employed by Sudan ministry of health who stated that ‘sodomy has had an alarming growth in the education system’ and that senior students force younger to have sex with them in school toilets, ‘spreading the AIDS epidemic’.
Sudan is gripped in a state of moral panic created by the report, which was broadcast last week.
Opposition leaders blasted the government for creating an education system that ‘promotes’ homosexuality and AIDS.
One critic alleged that as the government recently changed primary education from six to eight grades, the increased age differences ‘encouraged older teenage homosexuals’ to take advantage of younger students. This, according to the journalist is the main reason for the infection rates.
The journalist, Mohammad Ali Taha Shaiqi of the Drafur based opposition group, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), claimed he requested the government to address and change this ‘error’ in the education system but it had been refused.
He stated that the refusal of his request ‘proves’ the government is aware and in fact ‘promoting homosexual practices’ in schools which in turns 'spreads AIDS and destruction'.
Speaking with GSN, Mohammad, chair of Rainbow Sudan, the country’s main LGBT rights group said: ’One of the real problems that causes infection with the HIV virus is the lack of sexual education in schools.
‘Ignorance, more than anything else, is responsible for viral transmission, it has nothing to do homosexuality or age differences.
‘If the government and political opposition are serious about tackling Sudan’s growing HIV infection rates, then safer sex education is the key.'
32 year-old Mohammad explains the context: ‘Two months ago police broke into a bar and arrested several people for drinking alcohol including one foreign national.
‘Then there was the attack on the weapon factory, which promoted discussion how the Islamic government is losing its control of the country.
‘The president, as a reaction, declared the application of Shari’a law in Khartoum [the country's capital], and the calls for more freedom and rights voiced in the parliament just went down the drain.
‘I guess now we are being used to kick around in an attempt to confuse and win public opinion by both sides.
‘And yet nothing will be done about HIV infection, which many examples show benefits from the lack of education, ignorance and homophobia that both the government and its critics champion.’
Sudan is one of the strictest countries in the world which criminalize homosexuality. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal and, according to Article 148, capital punishment applies to a man or woman engaging in such acts.
Punishments also include lashes and imprisonment.
Even without that, being out can have serious social and economic consequences - it typically means a loss of jobs prospects, ostracisation from family and community, even murder by so called 'honour killings'.
Gay Star News
urge the Government of Canada to speak out against the 
vicious legislation being enacted in Uganda and Nigeria

related links:
 Canada-Nigeria Relations (Gov. of Canada)
  •  " ...Canada provided support to the 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections... also an ongoing project (until 2015) to support the long-term electoral cycle, which included the 2011 Presidential and Gubernatorial elections. In September 2010, Canada sponsored technical assistance to Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission... "
  • " ...At roughly $2.7 billion in two-way merchandise trade for 2011, the commercial relationship with Nigeria is Canada’s largest in sub-Saharan Africa... "
 Canada-South Africa Relations (Gov. of Canada)
  • " ...Between 1984/85 and 2009/10, CIDA disbursed C$325.12 million through its various delivery channels for development activities in South Africa."
 Sudan and South Sudan (Canadian International Development Agency)
  • 2010 - 2011 'disbursments' $98.4 million
Canada - Uganda Relations (Gov. of Canada)
  • ~ approximately $350 million in assistance for humanitarian assistance, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants through the World Bank; support to Canadian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and support to UNICEF focussing on primary education in the northern areas of the country.
Related posts on stormidae:  
Uganda and South Africa, hate revisited  
welcome to Uganda: death penalty for “serial" gays 
corrective rape: how South Arfica 'cures' lesbians 

19 November 2012

Uganda and South Africa, hate revisited

" ...Referring to the law as a ‘Christmas gift’ to the population, she spoke of ‘the serious threat’ posed by homosexuals...

‘Aggravated homosexuality’ is defined as gay acts committed by parents or authority figures, HIV-positive people, pedophiles and repeat offenders. If convicted, they will face the death penalty.

The ‘offense of homosexuality’ includes same-sex sexual acts or being in a gay relationship, and will be prosecuted by life imprisonment... "

Uganda to officially pass ‘Kill The Gays’ bill

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has said 2009's
Anti-Homosexuality Bill will become law by the end of 2012
Uganda parliamentary speaker Rebecca Kadaga has said the country's Kill The Gays bill will officially be passed by the end of 2012.
Uganda will officially pass the ‘Kill The Gays’ bill at the end of this year despite international criticism.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said the anti-gay bill will become law by December since most Ugandans ‘are demanding it’.
Referring to the law as a ‘Christmas gift’ to the population,  she spoke of ‘the serious threat’ posed by homosexuals.
The law will broaden the criminalization of same-sex relationships by dividing homosexuality into two categories; aggravated homosexuality and the offense of homosexuality.
‘Aggravated homosexuality’ is defined as gay acts committed by parents or authority figures, HIV-positive people, pedophiles and repeat offenders. If convicted, they will face the death penalty.
The ‘offense of homosexuality’ includes same-sex sexual acts or being in a gay relationship, and will be prosecuted by life imprisonment.
Originally put to government in 2009, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill had been temporarily shelved because of international criticism.
Several European countries have threatened to cut aid to Uganda if it passes, with the UK government warning Uganda it would face severe reductions in financial help.
US President Barack Obama has described it as ‘odious’, and Canadian politician John Baird has said it is ‘vile, abhorrent, and offends decency’.
Uganda lawmaker Atim Ogwal Cecilia Barbara has even suggested there should be a continent-wide ban on homosexuality, saying all African gay people should be jailed for life.
Gay rights activist David Kato was murdered in Uganda in January 2011 shortly after a local newspaper published images of him and other gay people under a headline urging readers to ‘hang them.’
Despite this, Uganda’s LGBT community held a weekend of gay pride events this summer.
According to a 2010 survey by The Pew Research Center, homosexuality is morally unacceptable to 89% of Ugandans.
Gay Star News

South African lesbian soccer player brutally murdered
Sihle Skotshi, a 19 year-old lesbian from South Africa was brutally murdered
According to Ndumie Funda, director of Luleki Sizwe, an organization that assists young lesbian victims of so called ‘corrective rape’ a young South African lesbian was murdered by a group of gangsters.
Sihle Skotshi, was a soccer player who was only 19 years-old when she was murdered.
Skotshi was one of the girls in the group assited by the Luleki Sizwe organization.
The attack occurred on the 9 November at Cosovo an informal settlement in Phillipi, a township of Cape Town.
According to an eye witness interviewed by Funda, Skotshi along with two of her women friends left a tavern where they were drinking to pick up more money at home of one of the girls.
Upon arriving five or more men confronted and started cursing them saying: ‘Ayo ndawo yenu le, yindawo yamaVura’ (this is not your place, it is amavura’s place) (Amavura is the gang that is known and feared in the area).
The men attacked them, and pulled out a mini spear stabbing Skotshi in the chest.
One of her friends attempted to intervene and got stabbed in her arm, whilst the other friend ran for help.
Skotshi was hospitalized but died shortly after. According to the report Skotshi told her friend before she died: ‘Please apologize for me to my mother, and I love you all’.
The two young women had to return home to the township where the attack too place, fearing further attacks.
Skotshi’s brutal murder is the latest in a spate of killings and ‘corrective rapes’ targeting lesbians in South Africa.
Skotshi was described by Funda 'a friendly young woman to those who knew her; she was a soccer player and has recently matriculated and was working and saving money to study further'.
Last month 6 lesbians were brutally attacked and beaten at a petrol in Cape Town.
While in August this year a lesbian was raped and murdered in Kwa Zulu Natal.
In July a lesbian mother was brutally raped and murdered at her home in Polo Park, Mokopane.
Many LGBT people, particularly those who live in the townships, suffer death threats, violence and daily abuse.
According to activists of those most at risk are lesbians, transgender and asylum seekers from neighbouring African countries.
Many South African lesbians living in townships have been reported to having been subjected to so called ‘corrective’ rape, where attempts to ‘cure’ lesbians by raping them.
Despite having a relatively progressive pro-LGBT rights constitution, South Africa is witnessing a growing problem of homophobic violence which affects the poor and black LGBT communities disproportionall.  White LGBT South Africans, however, seem to remain relatively safe.
Lesbian human rights campaigner Melanie Nathan claimed the Traditional Leaders political organization were to blame for the recent violence against South African lesbians, in a comment piece for Gay Star News.
Gay Star News

Related posts on stormidae: 
welcome to Uganda: death penalty for “serial" gays
corrective rape: how South Arfica 'cures' lesbians

1 November 2012

random science 13: Experimental Lakes Area and the Conservative attack on science

more Rick Mercer on YouTube
Experimental Lakes Area website

from care2: "The Harper Government is trying to shut down a unique and world-renowned environmental research centre in western Ontario.

The Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), sparsely populated with 58 small lakes and their drainage basins, has served as a facility for experimental and long-term ecosystem research since the 1960s. Because it's largely unaffected by human and industrial activity, it provides a natural laboratory for the study of physical, chemical and biological effects on the environment.

ELA is the one place in the world where the effects of mercury poisoning on a natural ecosystem could be tested, thus providing evidence needed to convince at least American regulators to finally force removal of mercury from coal-fired power plant emissions, which can save billions in annual health costs.

Canada, however, has not acted on this evidence, and the proposed funding cut would silence ELA for good.

Tell Canada to keep the ELA Research Centre Open!"

related posts: random science 10: Harper vs Science

27 October 2012

because prayer worked so well in Texas

from: Winnipeg Free Press, October 24, 2012

Devon Clunis used an interview with a Winnipeg-based Christian newsmagazine to tell Winnipeggers he isn't going to be your typical chief of police.
It was no secret Clunis had been a chaplain with the Winnipeg Police Service for 14 years, but he made national headlines with his comments about harnessing the power of prayer to fight violent crime in the city.
"What would happen if we all just truly -- I'm talking about all religious stripes here -- started praying for the peace of this city and then actually started putting some action behind that?" Clunis is quoted in an Oct. 11 story in ChristianWeek. "I believe something phenomenal is going to happen in our city."
Clunis opened up even further, saying he believes God had a role in his climb up the ranks of the police service over the past 25 years. Clunis told the magazine while he didn't ask God to make him police chief, he did pray to become a successful leader who treats people with dignity and respect.
"God still cares, He's still involved in our lives," Clunis is quoted as saying. "And I believe without a shadow of a doubt, the only reason that I am in this position is because God is involved in it. Without a shadow of a doubt."...
read the full article"Winnipeg Free Press


prayer in action last year, in Texas...

April 2011:
“Now, therefore, I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas.”

August 2011:
"... In the four months since Perry’s request for divine intervention, his state has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Nearly all of Texas is now in “extreme or exceptional” drought, as classified by federal meteorologists, the worst in Texas history... Lakes have disappeared. Creeks are phantoms, the caked bottoms littered with rotting, dead fish.... "
source: New York Times

and in Oklahoma...

July 2011: 
"... In response to Oklahoma’s record drought and heat wave, Gov. Mary Fallin (R-OK) called for a statewide day of prayer on Sunday to pray for rain. For 47 straight days, temperatures in Oklahoma City have been above 90 degrees. Most of the state is in extreme to exceptional drought. There have been over 140 wildfires in the state.... She also told her constituents that if enough pray, God will come to their rescue...  “I think if we have a lot of people praying, it moves the heart of God,” Fallin told CBS News... "
source: Think Progress

August 2012:
"... Oklahoma continues to get scorched by extreme heat and drought. The entire state is now in extreme drought, and more than 70% of the state is in severe drought (or worse), up from 50% just a week ago... According to Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, July was the 23rd month out of the last 28 to come in warmer than statewide averages... "
source: Think Progress

21 October 2012

Salmo Stories: a new book by Larry Jacobsen

Join Larry Jacobsen at the launch party for his new book Salmo Stories
11.30 Saturday November 3rd at the Wilson Centre, Port Coquitlam map
(Available at many BC libraries or for under $40 from the author)

review by: Greg Nesteroff - Nelson Star, September 12, 2012 
Did you ever hear about the housewife who tried to kidnap a Golden Gloves contender at gunpoint just to liven up her party?
Or about Canada Bill Feeney, who lived outdoors while cruising timber at 30°F below?
They’re just a couple of the characters in Salmo Stories: Memories of a Place in the Kootenays, a new history book being launched this week by author and former resident Larry Jacobsen.
It’s really several books in one, for it reprints Rollie Mifflin’s long out-of-print memoir The Early Salmo Story in its entirety, and includes a previously unpublished manuscript by Cliff McIntosh, who arrived around 1904 and kept a journal.
Stumbling across the latter was sheer luck, according to Jacobsen.
“I went into a coffee house in Salmo and a guy had this photocopy of a photocopy he picked up at a garage sale,” he says. “A lot of the print was very difficult to read. But with a lot of hard work I managed to turn it into a readable manuscript.”
McIntosh, whom Jacobsen calls a “precocious youngster,” played piano at local dances as a teen. He left Salmo in 1920 and died in 1986, but not before completing an autobiography, which few have seen. Jacobsen tracked down McIntosh’s sisters in Williams Lake, who gave him permission to use the material...
Jacobson further drew on family stories collected by the Salmo museum and supplemented them with over 100 interviews to paint a picture of the community from the 1890s to 1960s. (It took him almost three years and close to 3,000 hours.)
The accounts vary in style, but while Jacobsen edited them for space and readability, he tried to preserve each person’s voice. “I introduce each storyteller and my connection to them,” he says. “Apart from that I get out of the way.”
They’re presented roughly in chronological order of each family’s arrival, beginning with the above-mentioned Feeney, who showed up in 1892, even before construction of the Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway put Salmo on the map.
What struck Jacobsen most was how tough people had to be to survive in the wilderness.
“Self-sufficient would be the best term,” he says. “It came through over and over again. I think some of it is genetic.”...
read the entire review at the Nelson Star

^^Larry Jacobsen, October 2012, Port Coquitlam

also by Larry Jacobsen:

14 October 2012

but the bullies keep winning: Amanda Todd Nov. 27, 1996 - Oct. 10, 2012

Amanda Todd, a Port Coquitlam area teenager who posted a video on YouTube last month about being cyber-bullied, was found dead Wednesday night... Authorities believe she committed suicide.

" ...People are on her Youtube video right now asking for the pictures, saying things like “dumb bitch deserved it”, “rot in hell slut”, and “this world is not for the weak”, and generally exposing themselves as the sorts of bullying shitheels this internet is so desperate to protect under the rubric of “free speech”... " Jason Thibeault on Lousy Canuck, October 13, 2012 

sources/further reading:
Lousy Canuck
Huffington Post
Vancouver Sun

11 October 2012

Canada-China Investment Treaty

 (from: Green Party of Canada, October 11, 2012)

What Has Harper Done? 

On September 9th, Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed an agreement with China, the Canada-China Investment Treaty. The agreement was kept from the Canadian public and Parliament until September 26th, 2012, when it was quietly made public, tabled in the House of Commons. No press release. No technical briefing. The deal is set for automatic approval. No vote or debate will take place in the House. Once tabled in the House, the clock started ticking. 21 sitting days from September 26 (October 31), this treaty will bind Canada.

Red Carpet for China
So what is the Canada-China Investment Treaty? Simply put, it is the most significant trade agreement signed by Canada since NAFTA. Only this time our “partner” is the communist government in Beijing, an authoritarian regime with an appalling record on human rights –and it isn’t getting better. This deal requires that Chinese government-owned companies be treated exactly the same as Canadian companies operating in Canada. Once in force, it lasts a minimum of 15 years. If a future government wants to get out of it, a one year notice is required – and even once the treaty is cancelled, any existing Chinese operations in Canada are guaranteed another 15 years of the treaty’s benefits.

We at the Green Party of Canada believe there are many flaws in that agreement. And we think Canadians should know about them:


1. Open bar for Chinese state-owned enterprises

The Canada-China Investment Treaty means easier takeovers of Canadian assets, especially in the resource sector. In the context of the possible takeover of Nexen by the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), it is crucial that we collectively pause to consider the wisdom of granting Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) such an easy access to our natural resources.


2. The right for China to claim damages over Canadian laws

The Canada-China Investment Treaty allows Chinese companies (including state-owned enterprises) to sue the Government of Canada over decisions that can limit or reduce their expectation of profits. In treaty language, this is called “tantamount to expropriation.”  China can claim damages against Canada for decisions at the municipal, provincial, territorial or federal level.  Even decisions of our courts can give rise to damages. The damage claims start with six months of diplomatic negotiation. If that fails, damage claims move to arbitration – behind closed doors.


4. Secret hearings

The Canada-China Investment Treaty would allow Chinese investors to sue Canada outside of Canadian courts. Special arbitrators would take the decisions. These arbitrators, unlike judges, do not have secure tenures or set salaries. Their decision cannot be subject to judicial review. And the arbitrations are to be secret. Even the fact they are happening is to be secret.


5. Right to be heard

Only the federal government is allowed to take part in the arbitration process. Provincial governments or Canadian companies, even if their interests are affected, do not have the right to voice their concerns during the arbitration process.


6. China’s obsession for secrecy

The Canada-China Investment Agreement makes Chinese lawsuits secret . At any time, we will not know if we are being sued and who will decide the case. We will not know what our government is saying on our behalf. We will not know if Canada has been ordered to change government decisions. This is a complete U-turn for Canada who has always insisted on complete openness in investor-state arbitration, for example when signing the Canada-US-Mexico free trade deal.


7. Restrictions on our use of our own resources

The Canada-China Investment Treaty requires that if, in the future, Canada wants to conserve natural resources (fisheries, water, oil, uranium, forests --  everything is covered), and reduce Chinese access to these resources, we are only allowed to do so to the extent we limit our own use of those natural resources.

23 September 2012

random sounds 47: Psy (강남스타일)

GANGNAM STYLE (강남스타일) on iTunes

Psy's You Tube chanel notes: "... PSY is finally coming back with his 6th album 'PSY6甲'! The album's weighty title song 'Gangnam Style'... is characterized by its strongly addictive beats and lyrics, and is thus certain to penetrate the foundations of modern philosophy."

20 September 2012

so it begins: Harper's attack on reproductive rights

from LeadNow, September 2012:

In just 48 hours, our MPs will debate a Conservative motion that the Canadian Medical Association, representing 70,000 doctors, is calling a ‘backdoor’ attempt to criminalize abortion.[1,2]

In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the abortion provision of the Criminal Code was unconstitutional. But this week, Parliament will be debating a motion that would threaten our reproductive rights - and the rights of our friends, daughters, mothers, sisters, and partners.[3,4,5]

Prime Minister Harper has chosen to allow this motion to go forward to a free vote in Parliament, so every MP must decide whether or not they will stand up for the rights that women and our allies have been fighting to protect for decades. 

We need a huge public outcry to show our MPs that Canadians will not tolerate this covert attack on women’s rights.

Twenty-four years ago, Supreme Court Justice Wilson stated that governments in a democratic society must never interfere with a woman’s right to choose: “The decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision and in a free and democratic society the conscience of the individual must be paramount to that of the state.” – Supreme Court Justice Wilson[3]

The motion seeks to undermine the Supreme Court’s ruling by reopening the debate on the legal definition of a human being under the Criminal Code. High-profile members of Harper’s caucus have stated that the real goal of the motion is to attack women’s rights: “The ultimate intention of this motion is to restrict abortions at some development stage in Canada.” – Conservative Party whip, Gordon O'Connor[6]

This tactic has been used in the United States in a slow and relentless campaign to criminalize women’s reproductive rights and fan the flames of their culture war. Prime Minister Harper has publicly stated that he does not want to reopen this debate. Yet, while he exerts complete control over his own party, he has still chosen to let this covert attack on women’s rights go to a free vote that will test how Canadians react and open the door to attempts to criminalize abortion. 

If enough of us speak out and contact our MPs right now, we can make sure this motion is decisively defeated and send a clear message that Canadians will defend our reproductive rights.


  1. Tory MP concedes ‘abortion’ bill lacks support (Globe and Mail)
  2. Doctors call on Ottawa to reject ‘backdoor’ attempt to recriminalize abortion (Globe and Mail)
  3. R. v. Morgentaler, 1988 (Supreme Court of Canada)
  4. Facing little support, MP says he’ll stand up for rights of unborn children ‘as long as I have breath’ (Calgary Herald)
  5. For the full text of Stephen Woodworth MP’s motion, M-312, see:
  6. MPs denounce motion to study when life begins (CBC)

Further Reading:

Canadian Medical Association votes against reopening abortion debate (Postmedia News)
Protesters picket MP’s office over definition of life controversy (Kitchener-Waterloo Record)
Harper may have to watch his back(bench) (Globe and Mail)
Counter Arguments Against Motion M-312 (Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada)
The Right to Reproductive and Sexual Health (United Nations)

14 September 2012

...about oil tankers

from Dogwood Initiative, Sept. 13, 2012

"The Union of B.C. Municipalities is voting for a third straight year on a resolution related to oil pipeline and tanker proposals.

And this year’s resolution takes the cake.

Sponsored by the municipality of Saanich, Resolution A8 recognises that:

“A crude oil spill would have devastating and long lasting effects on British Columbia’s unique and diverse coast, which provides critical marine habitat and marine resources that sustain the social, cultural, environmental and economic health of coastal and First Nations communities”.

It calls on the Union of B.C. Municipalities to:

“Oppose projects that would lead to the expansion of oil tanker traffic through B.C.’s coastal waters…and urge the Premier of British Columbia, the Leader of the Official Opposition and members of the Legislative Assembly to use whatever legislative and administrative means that are available to stop [this] expansion of oil tanker traffic.”

...This would be the strongest statement in defence of our coast ever passed collectively by B.C.’s local governments. It would signal opposition not only to Enbridge and Kinder Morgan's proposals, but any other project folks in the oil patch can dream up to bring more crude oil tankers through B.C. waters.

You can help pass this motion... Please don't demand, just say "It would be awesome if you did this." The more love and support our local politicians receive to support this resolution the higher the chance it will actually pass.

That's it. One important step and you help make history. "
Click this link to ask your local mayor and councillors to support Resolution A8

updates: This afternoon I sent an email to my local Mayor and council, and almost instantly received a reply from Port Coquitlam City Councillor Brad West:
>(Storm 2012-09-14, at 3:56 PM)

Dear Mayor Moore and the City Councillors of Port Coquitlam,

The municipality of Saanich has put forward a resolution (A8) for consideration at the upcoming Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention. The resolution articulates a position that many British Columbian's -myself included -support.

As a voting resident of Port Coquitlam I urge you to support the resolution.

regards... (Storm)"

>(Brad West 2012-09-14 at 3:57 PM subject Resolution A8 and oil tanker traffic)

"Thanks for your email. I feel strongly about this issue as well and will be supporting the resolution.

Thanks again, Brad West"

Councillor Darrell Penner, a founding member of Hyde Creek Streamkeepers, was also quick with his reply:

> (Darrell Penner 2012 09 14 at 6:41 PM subject Resolution A8 and oil tanker traffic)

"Hi yes I am going to support Res A8 thanks for you comments.

 Darrell Penner"

update two: September 20, 2012 No reply from the Mayor or other councillors. 

7 September 2012

in the nursery: Micropoecilia picta 'red'


 ^^glorious but difficult, M. picta is not a beginners fish. Warm, very hard, very clean water plus minimum 20 gallon aquarium, live foods and dense plant cover with many breaks in line-of-sight are necessary to maintain this species. 
The mating behaviour of males is fascinating if relentless, even for a livebearer. Males are very aggressive towards other males and in their pursuit of females; females aggressively maintain their own hierarchy. 

some shots of adults here

3 September 2012

swords into plough shears

^^Cameroon Fan shrimp (Atya gabonensis) have forsaken their claws for filter-feeding filiments
^^fan shrimp require strong water flow, climbing surfaces and extra hiding spots
^^individuals will Jockey for the best flow areas. Like other members of the family, 
Cameroon fan shrimp larvae require brackish to full salt water to survive. 
Crustaforum has a good thread on breeding similar shrimp here.

 ^^ephemeral after the molt, it takes a few days for the colours to manifest
 ^^Cameroon fan shrimp, centre surrounded by: a cherry shrimp, viviparous snail, and assassin snail.

further reading:
Aspects of the Biology of the Gabon Shrimp Atya gabonensis, Giebel 1875 in the Cross River, Nigeria

27 August 2012

Russia and the new Dark Age

100 year ban on Gay Pride events:

"Moscow is not Sodom... I will not allow perverts to bring the wrath of God onto our city… I want our children to live in a country where a sin that so awfully distorts human nature is not preached in schools.”
 Dmitry Tsarionov, Orthodox Christian anti-gay protester

  “It’s a matter of grave concern that Moscow’s municipal government has again marginalised the city’s gay community... It’s another sign of the dire situation for Russia’s 8.5 million lesbian, gay and bisexual people, whose human rights are routinely abused by the government and police...”
Stonewall International Officer Jasmine O’Connor

"I've Only Just BegunFacebook page

Pussy Riot:

"... The next day three members of Pussy Riot would be convicted of felony hooliganism and sentenced to two years in penal colonies—for a protest they staged inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior on Feb. 21. The cathedral had been virtually empty during the morning hours, and the protest lasted all of 40 seconds before the women were removed by security. But church staff members testified during the trial that they were deeply traumatized by observing the young women in brightly colored dresses and balaclavas lip-sync to a recording of what Pussy Riot calls its punk prayer: “Mother of God, cast Putin out... ”
Masha Gessen , The Daily Beast

" ...Political observers say the decision to imprison the girls was the result of a deal struck between Putin and the church, without much involvement by the Kremlin's administration. And for Putin, of course, there is not much political cost in punishing critics who are already despised by a large part of the population. At the beginning of the trial, nearly half those polled said a punishment of two to seven years in prison was appropriate.  .. "
Anna Nemtsova, The Daily Beast

 "I am not afraid of you. I am not afraid of you and I am not afraid of the thinly 
 veneered deceit of your verdict at this 'so-called' trial. My truth lives with me.
 I believe that honesty, free-speaking and the thirst for truth will make us all a 
little freer. We will see this come to pass." 
Marina Alyokhina, from closing statement at the Pussy Riot "hooliganism" trial.
fixed: October 14, 2012

the petitions:

from: Amnesty International

"Last Friday, Russian authorities sentenced Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolonnikova to two years in a penal colony for exercising their right to Freedom of Expression.

Authorities charged the women with hooliganism on grounds of "hatred, planned and committed by a group of people." Expert legal opinions accepted that although the action may have been offensive to some, there was no evidence that the women had aimed at inciting hatred.

Say what you will about Pussy Riot: this may not be your kind of music. Some people find their shows offensive. But it doesn't change the facts: Since March, these young women have been in jail and kept from their families, including small children, and they now face two years imprisonment - all because of a peaceful protest song that lasted less than a minute. Even if the performance was calculated to shock and cause offense, the activists left the Cathedral when requested and caused no damage.

The European Court of Human Rights states that freedom of expression applies not only to inoffensive ideas, but "also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population".

Amnesty International now considers Pussy Riot to be Prisoners of Conscience, and we won't give up on them. Click here now to demand their immediate release."

from: AVAAZ

"Facing 2 years in jail for singing a song criticizing President Putin in a church, a member of Pussy Riot gestured to the court and said in her show-trial's closing statements, "Despite the fact that we are physically here, we are freer than everyone sitting across from us ... We can say anything we want..."

Russia is steadily slipping into the grip of a new autocracy -- clamping down on public protest, allegedly rigging elections, intimidating media, banning gay rights parades for 100 years, and even beating critics like chess master Garry Kasparov...

Last week’s trial is about far more than three women and their 40-second ‘punk prayer’. When tens of thousands flooded the streets to protest rigged elections, the government threw organisers into jail for weeks. And in June Parliament effectively outlawed dissent by raising the fine for unsanctioned protest by an astounding 150-fold, roughly the average Russian’s salary for a whole year.

Pussy Riot may be the most famous Russian dissidents right now, but their sentence is not the grossest injustice of Putin’s war on dissent. In 2009, anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered a massive tax fraud at the heart of Russia’s power dealers, died in jail -- without a trial, on shaky charges, and with medical attention repeatedly denied. 60 of Russia’s elite have been under scrutiny for the case and its cover-up, and the sanctions the European Parliament is proposing are on this inner circle.

International attention to Russia’s crackdown is cresting right now, and the ‘Magnitsky sanctions’ are the best way to put the heat on Putin and help create breathing room for the suffocating democracy movement.

The European Parliament is calling for an assets freeze and travel ban on Putin’s powerful inner circle who are accused of multiple crimes. (The AVAAZ) community is spread across every corner of the world -- if we can push the Europeans to act, it will not only hit Putin's circle hard, as many bank and have homes in Europe, but also counter his anti-Western propaganda, showing him that the whole world is willing to stand up for a free Russia.

What happens in Russia matters to us all. Russia has blocked international coordination on Syria and other urgent global issues, and a Russian autocracy threatens the world we all want, wherever we are. The Russian people face a serious challenge, but we know that people-powered movements are the best cure for corruption and iron-fisted governments -- and that international solidarity can help keep the flame of these movements alive. Let’s join together now to show Putin that the world will hold him to account and push for change until Russia is set free. 

Click ...to support the sanctions ... and give Europe's leaders a global public mandate to adopt the sanctions. "

Pink News 
Milkboys Blog
The Daily Beast
No Country For Women
Ms. Magazine
Business Insider

update (october 2012): One band member freed

17 August 2012

Raife Mair vs the Enbrige pipeline

Legendary BC broadcaster and former Minister of the Environment Raife Mair on the Enbridge pipeline:

The Canadian Encyclopedia: ``Bitumen is the heaviest, thickest form of PETROLEUM. The 2 largest-known sources of bitumen (in Alberta and Venezuela) each contain more petroleum than the entire proven conventional oil reserves of the Persian Gulf. Synthetic crude oil produced from bitumen accounts for about 28% of Canada's total oil production. Compared to conventional oil (obtained from traditional, easily accessible sources), however, synthetic crude from bitumen is expensive and complicated to produce... ``
Wiki bio
Common Sense Canadian

8 August 2012

tubular red

 ^^one of the Cleistocactus species, possibly C. hyalacanthus,
from the mountain regions of Argentina and Bolivia
^^this cactus likes dry winters and wet summers
^^Cleistocactus are pollinated chiefly by hummingbirds
^^only in it's 4th year and just 25 cm (10 inches) tall. Easy to propagate from cuttings, 
make sure to dry the cutting for a few days before planting.

4 August 2012

courting the Christian Right

As a Liberal MLA in the '90s, Cristy Clark marched with Youthquest! in a Vancouver Pride Parade. As Premier a dozen or so years later, she's affirming her faith on 100 Huntley Street, an aggressively anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-feminist, anti-liberal Christian talk show owned by the aggressively anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-feminist, anti-liberal Christian media company Crossroads Communication.
The relevance of Premier Clark's religious views is being debated elsewhere; what shocks is that the Premier thinks 100 Huntley is a good choice of venue for expressing those views.

Found on Calgary Herald