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Archive for July, 2011

While Doug Ford may prefer to see his neighbourhood streets filled with waste-producing, commercialized Tim Hortons franchises, there are still those of us who would prefer the presence of public, local branch libraries. With Toronto Mayor Rob Ford hanging on the words of his brother, the city of Toronto is now faced with the threat of privitization of libraries.

With the recent win of the Conservatives and of Rob Ford, Canadian cities are now faced with a cost-cutting agenda that has and will continue to target public and social services. The budget-slashing plan has now turned to review the Toronto Public Library, which will impact Toronto communities significantly:

“How could a private company make a profit running a free service that is funded by taxpayers?

The mandate of the private operator would be to reduce the level of public funding that now supports our libraries. At the same time, they need to make a profit. There is an inevitable conflict here which signals bad news for all library users, from children to seniors.  First, local branches of the Toronto Public Library would almost certainly be closed. Library users would see higher user fees, fewer books and less access to the information and other vital services our public libraries offer for little or no cost as hours of operation are limited. The cuts to library staff that have been going on for years will be accelerated.

It’s also bad news for our city. We would lose a powerful educational and cultural force that opens books and opens minds, taking from Toronto a public service that all other great cities jealously guard.”

For more information, check out Project Rescue.

Check out the Reality Check page, and listen to the comments made by Doug Ford.

Don’t forget to sign the petition!

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The Facts:

Guatemala

  • January 17, 2007: Eleven Mayan Q’eqchi’ women were gang-raped by mining company security personnel, police and military during a forced eviction of families in the Lote Ocho community. The evictions were being carried out by Toronto-based HudBay Minerals Inc. and HMI Nickel Inc., based on the Fenix mining project plans. Rosa Elbria Ich Choc, Margarita Caal Caal, and nine other women from the Lote Ocho community are suing HudBay Minerals Inc. and HMI Nickel Inc. for negligence and carelessness causing physical and psychological harm (Caal v. HudBay). Have a listen to the story as told by Rosa Elbria Ich Choc, as she stands on the remains of her home.

  • September 27, 2009: Adolfo Ich Chamán, President of the Community of La Uníon,  a respected Mayan Q’eqchi’ community leader, a school teacher and father, was brutally beaten and shot in the head by private security forces employed by the Fenix mining project. Chaman was an outspoken critic of the harms caused by Canadian mining activities in the Lote Ocho community.

The Big Picture:

There has been an ongoing land conflict between local communities and international mining companies. During Guatemala’s civil war, 200,000 people were killed, 83% of which were Aboriginal Mayan people (clearly these were acts of genocide aimed at eliminating the Maya). Q’eqchi’ people, living in communities such as Lote Ocho, were driven off their land, and upon returning to what was once theirs, discovered the government had negotiated the sale of their land to mining corporations. In 2006, the International Labour Organization of the United Nations, ruled that Guatemala had indeed breached international law when they granted Fenix mining privileges without first consulting the local Mayan people.

The Implications:

Forced evictions. Destruction of property. Violence. Rape. Racism. Murder. Violations of human rights. This situation is highly reminiscent of colonization stories. And yet we remain blind to these facts. It doesn’t help that Toronto-based media does not prioritize reporting on these events. We like to think that colonization is a thing of the past, but it is still very present.

What Can We Do?:

1. Educate Ourselves
Check out the official site for more information on the lawsuits. Post links to your social media pages and spread the word. It is clear from this map, ‘Trouble at Canadian mining sites around the world’, that this is not an isoalted incident, and that international mining corporations need to hold their employees more accountable for their actions.

2. Join + Participate
The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability welcomes participation of environmental and human rights NGOs, faith groups, labour unions, and research and solidarity groups.

3. Donate
Click here to donate as little as $5 through PayPal.

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What once started with a few broomsticks, magic wands, and three small, yet truly iconic children, has grown into something undoubtably larger-than-life.

July 15, the release of the final and highly-anticipated installment of the Harry Potter series.

I attended the midnight showing with friends, and arrived to our theatre a solid 5 hours prior to our showtime of 12:01 am. Wouldn’t you know it, there were already line-ups of people up and down the hallways of the theatre, young people decked out in Hogwart’s robes, still others dressed as distinct characters (Dumbledore, Umbridge, Snape and Bellatrix), and the always hated ‘seat savers’ guarding prime movie-watching seats for friends.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was perfect. It had everything: action, adventure, humour, tension, sadness, and joy. Fans got to see the long-awaited Hermione-Ron kiss, the horror of losing one half of the Weasley-twin-duo, the untold secrets of Snape, the bravery of Harry, the final fall of Voldemort, and the triumph of good over evil. Plus the glimpse of Harry and the gang 19-years in the future was so much fun!

A perfect ending to a perfect series.

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It started with strong-smelling cleaning products and eucalyptus oil. Then grew to include coffee, bananas and perfume. It even got to the fainter-smelling flowers and rain. Yes folks, just last week my nose was pleasantly surprized on about 5 different occassions where it was full-on smelling! FULL-ON! Mind you, these episodes lasted only about 3-4 minutes, but for those few moments I was on cloud 9.

Did you know that before now, if you held a cup of coffee under my nose and my eyes were closed, the best description I would be able to give would be: “It’s hot…”

People really take their sense of smell for granted. It’s actually astonishing how many times a day someone says to me: “Here, smell this”, to which I smile, take a whiff (being a good sport), and then remind them that I could be smelling a rotting corpse and not know it. It is easy to see how losing your eyesight or sense of hearing would affect your life, but nobody really stops to think about what it would mean not to be able to smell.

When food goes bad, if it isn’t visually obvious, you tend to smell it, yes? If you’ve left the stove on and something is burning, you would smell the smoke/burning smell. If there is a fire in the house, you might wake to the smell of smoke. Plus, smells are strongly connected to memory-retrieval.

Perhaps I’m admitting to being an overly-sensitive wuss here, but being able to smell the rain — the damp, cool, earthy smell of rain — kinda got me a little teary-eyed. Okay a lot teary-eyed. It was almost like those Claritin commercials, where the fuzzy, muted picture of the world suddenly becomes clear.

Why a picture of Owen Wilson's nose? Well for one, when you type 'nose' into google image search, he is one of the first images to pop up. And second, his nose is just too cool.

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