Friday, October 14, 2011

"Canadian cities brace for Occupy Wall Street’s weekend shift across the border"

Canadian cities brace for Occupy Wall Street’s weekend shift across the border

Toronto and other major cities are bracing for the Canadian echo of the Occupy Wall Street protest this weekend.
Thousands of people have been camped out in New York's financial district for a week, staging marches to protest the growing gap between America's super rich and the harried middle and working classes. Hundreds have been arrested.
The movement, sparked by an idea inVancouver-based Adbusters magazine last summer, has since spread to dozens of American cities and now is migrating north. Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Regina and even sleepy Charlottetown are scheduled to see protests on Saturday.
Toronto will be the main focal point of the Canadian effort. Protesters are expected to converge at King and York Streets in the heart of Canada's finance and investment centre Saturday morning.
The group OccupyTO's website raises the spectre of a New York-style long-term action rather than a one-day protest.
"OccupyTO is a movement that will start on October 15th, 2011 that intends to show our solidarity with the Occupy Wall St. movement and stand in unity with the rest of the world to seek and work towards drastic changes to economic systems that are destroying our economy, social fiber, and environment," it says in a statement.
Toronto police have said little publicly other than they're prepared for the protest. The city and police service are still dealing with the fallout from the G20 summit protests, where hundreds were corralled and arrested after so-called Black Bloc militants trashed downtown businesses and police cruisers and some officers have been accused of assault.
The Toronto Sun reported "hard-core U.S. protesters" hoping to take part in the Toronto action will be stopped at the border.
"Our primary goal is that of public safety and facilitating a peaceful protest," Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash told the Sun.
"Despite the organizers' best intentions, some are concerned anarchist protesters from the Black Bloc and other groups could co-opt the protest and turn it into yet another G20-style standoff between police and protesters," according to
Protest supporter Thomas Zaugg told Inside Toronto organizers don't want to confront police.
"We have a peaceful message that's non-violent and in keeping with the message of Occupy Wall Street," he said.
An online petition is calling for police restraint.
"Perhaps, if the Occupy Toronto actions go well, the rift between Toronto and its police that opened as a result of the 2010 G20 meeting can begin to heal," the CBC reported.
The Occupy Toronto Market Exchange Facebook page stresses the protest's non-violent nature.
Vancouver, which has barely recovered from last spring's Stanley Cup riot, is likely to be the next biggest protest site this weekend.
The city's downtown art gallery, the traditional site of demonstrations, will be the main venue, the CBC reported. Activists have reportedly said they'll occupy the site for several weeks.
Organizers say they want to create a welcoming space to address the economic issues that sparked the movement.
"We are also committed to safeguarding our collective well-being — including safety from interpersonal violence and any potential police violence," the organizers said on their website.
Vancouver's Downtown Business Improvement Association has warned members to clear their display windows.
"This is not business as usual," spokesman Charles Gauthier told CTV News. "We don't expect anything to go wrong but unfortunately there could be a criminal element that could take advantage of this."
The Vancouver Police Department said it has talked to "self-identified organizers" and its planning for the weekend protest is continuing despite not knowing how many will show up.
"Legal protests and demonstrations in Vancouver are welcome, and people are free to gather in any public space as long as their actions are legal," said Const. Jana McGuinness.
In Calgary, protesters have already set up camp at St. Patrick's Island, near downtown. The city said it will assess the camp daily to ensure there are no health or safety concerns.
(AFP Photo)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Canada should arrest George W. Bush when he visits next week: Amnesty"

OTTAWA - "Amnesty International wants the federal government to arrest former U.S. president George W. Bush when he visits British Columbia next week.
The rights body said both Canadian and international law require Canada to detain Bush and investigate him for war crimes and torture.
"It is incumbent upon Canadian officials to investigate, arrest and prosecute former president Bush for torture when he arrives in Canada a week tomorrow," said Alex Neve, Amnesty Canada's secretary general.
Bush and former president Bill Clinton are scheduled to attend an economic conference in Surrey, B.C. next week.
Neve said many will argue that arresting Bush is unrealistic because the United States is a close and powerful ally or that the crisis after 9-11 required extraordinary measures.
"None of those arguments justify inaction under international law," he said.
Neve conceded that arresting a former president would likely cause tension with the United States, but "taking a principled step merits that sort of strain."
Neve said Bush admitted in his memoirs that he authorized the use of torture against terror suspects.
American authorities used a variety of torture methods, including water boarding, beatings and sleep deprivation, Neve said. The Bush administration used euphemisms such as "enhanced interrogation techniques," but these methods constituted torture.
"All of this was authorized and condoned and put in place through his own repeated decisions."
Neve said the international arm of Amnesty sent a lengthy brief to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson outlining the government's responsibilities under international law and urging him to act.
"This is something the entire global movement stands behind," Neve said.
Nicholson's office did not respond to a call for comment on Amnesty's demand."


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

US withholds $200m in Palestinian aid

The bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN launched by Mahmoud Abbas has led to pro-Israeli politicians in the US to take action.

The US politicians are using legislative efforts to delay the delivery of $200m in economic aid - earmarked for food, healthcare and infrastructure projects - to Palestinians.

This has drawn sharp criticism by Barack Obama, the US President's, administration. Palestinian officials are calling the decision "counter productive to [Middle East] peace efforts".

Al Jazeera's Kimberly Halkett reports from Washington


Monday, October 3, 2011

"Wall Street protests spread in U.S. and Canada"

Wall Street protests spread in U.S. and Canada

Over 700 arrested in New York in campaign inspired by Adbusters

Demonstrators rally outside One Police Plaza during a march by protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement last week in New York City.

Demonstrators rally outside One Police Plaza during a march by protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement last week in New York City.

Photograph by: Mario Tama, Getty Images, Vancouver Sun; With A File From Postmedia News

Protests in New York against the global financial system are spreading to cities across the United States and Canada, taking their lead from American activists who began the Occupy Wall Street campaign on Sept. 17.
More than 700 people were arrested in New York on the weekend, where protests have entered their third week and inspired similar demonstrations by thousands of people in Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle.
The movement was sparked in part by Vancouver-based Adbusters Media Foundation, which urged people to occupy Wall Street to protest inherent inequalities in the global economic system.
As of Sunday, hundreds of Twitter and Facebook users were planning to occupy the Vancouver Art Gallery, Toronto's Bay Street and protest in other Canadian cities beginning Oct. 15.
"I knew as soon as I saw the first uprising in Tunisia it was going to pick up," said Min Reyes, one of the organizers of the Vancouver demonstration. "Our system is very unsustainable and it was only a matter of time for that movement to come to Canada and Vancouver."
About 30 people are organizing a general assembly for Oct. 8, where a committee will be formed and a broader consensus reached on the aims of the protests at the art gallery, said Reyes.
"There might be some activists with more organizing experience, but the nature of the movement is leaderless," Reyes said. "It all [happened] on Twitter and Facebook ... it was an organic thing.
"We are not anarchist, we are just everyday Canadians - students, lawyers, people from everyday life."
In July, the anti-consumerist Adbusters Media Foundation and its award-winning magazine Adbusters first called on its followers or "culture jammers" to take aim at Wall Street on Sept. 17, Constitution Day in America.
The activist hacking collective known as Anonymous took up the charge and began urging people to join the movement.
"We're the people who catalyzed this thing, but we're not the people who are running it," said Adbusters co-founder Kalle Lasn. "The people on the streets who have the guts to sleep out there night after night, those are the people who are really driving it."
Lasn said he thinks the movement will continue to spread globally and could peak at the beginning of November, when G20 leaders meet in France. There, protesters may demand a "Robin Hood" tax on financial transactions.
"The people of the world will rise up and say we want to have a one-per-cent tax on all financial transactions and we want to have a say on where that money's spent," Lasn said.
He predicts the protests in Canada will be more subdued because of the Canadian economy's relative strength, but, he cautioned, young Canadians are "just as vulnerable and just as worried about their future" as their American counterparts.
As for the birthplace of Adbusters and Greenpeace, Lasn said Vancouver could play an important role in the increasingly global movement.
"If there's going to be a Tahrir [Square] moment it's going to happen right here in Vancouver," Lasn said. "Underneath the sunny facade, Vancouver has a really revolutionary spirit about it."
Online organizers of Vancouver's "indefinite occupation" are telling activists to bring their tents and sleeping bags on Oct. 15. A Facebook page for the event has more than 1,100 registered attendees.
Meanwhile, more than 3,500 people had "liked" the Toronto chapter's Facebook page by Sunday evening and hundreds are expected to meet in the heart of Toronto's financial district, at the intersection of Bay and King streets, on Oct. 15. There they will prepare for a march two days later as the Toronto Stock Exchange opens that Monday.
Canadian protests are also being arranged in Calgary, Victoria, Ottawa, Montreal, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, according to another website, Occupy Together.
Organizers have asked activists to bring tarps, thermal blankets, sleeping bags, first aid kits and electrical generators to prepare for what could be a weeks-long stakeout akin the actions of protesters in the U.S.
The Occupy Together website notes that other rallies have been planned around the world, from around the United States into Mexico and dozens of European countries.