Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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The leap manifesto

In this dark age of dead ends, here is a bold, urgent initiative.

Leap manifesto

The leap manifesto offers real grounds for real hope.  Not the fast-food Hope marketed by cynical politicians, but the real thing, deeply transformative, built by all of us with open eyes, compassion, imagination, and yes, hard work.

Please leap in.  And pass it on.

 


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First, do no harm

“I have seen what happens when standards of decency, human rights and ethics are thrown out in a wave of totalitarian or government zeal.” Steven Reisner, member of the Council, American Psychological Association, and co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology.

Torture, Guantanamo

A shining moment: On Friday, August 7 in Toronto, Canada, the American Psychological Association voted to bar its 80,000 members from any further collaboration in ‘national security interrogations,’ ie torture by the American government and its agencies.

This historic shift was hard won, after a decade of grassroots organizing to counter APA executive deceit and collusion with the CIA.

Details here, in three short videos from Democracy Now!

A report on collusion between the CIA and the former executive of the APA, is here.

For a provocative critique of psychological/psychiatric abuse of power, see Bold ScientistsAn excerpt is here.  Scroll down to chapter 7, ODD.


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The right to know

A new blog from Scientists for the Right to Know confronts an insidious threat to Canadian democracy.Scientists for the Right to Know, protest

The current regime in Ottawa acts on the premise that the less we citizens know, the easier we are to   manage. They don’t need objective evidence to make policy with impact on every aspect of life, only guile and brute force.

The resulting assault on the public right to know, here and internationally, takes many devious forms, detailed here.

Scientists for the Right to Know arises in direct response to this ominous assault.  “Please join us,” they invite, “in the fight to maintain Canada as a country in which policies are based on scientific knowledge, not uninformed ideology.”

The new SRK blog is here.  Full disclosure: Recently they published a piece by me, Questions need to be asked.  In any case, judging by the several posts they’ve put up so far, this looks to be a valuable voice – collection of voices – in defence of knowledge and democracy.

Others: Evidence for Democracy, and Write2Know.


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Bees and honest scientists: under attack

Honey bee, WesternHoney bee, Western.  Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

Bees keep us alive.  They and other insects pollinate two-thirds of all food crops.  No pollination, no food crops.

Bees and other pollinators are in great peril, their populations in sharp decline worldwide. A growing body of evidence identifies neonicotinoids, chemical pesticides that impair the neurological systems of insects, as a key factor in the decline.

Some of these chemicals are already banned or restricted in several European countries.  Yet neonicotinoids remain the most widely used pesticides on earth, generating enormous profits.

Scientists gather and interpret data to make the necessary links between neonicotinoids and bee collapse.  But in Canada and the USA scientists whose findings conflict with the corporate agenda are under escalating attack.  Currently in the US:

“Your words are changed, your papers are censored or edited, or you are not allowed to submit them at all.” – a senior scientist at the US Department of Agriculture Research Service.

“Censorship and harassment poison good science and good policy.” – Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Details here.

Follow the Honey, a report from Friends of the Earth, exposes how agrochemical corporations obscure links between their chemicals and pollinator decline, and block government regulation.  Read it here.

For more on the battle for honest science, have a look inside Bold Scientists.


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Frack off!

With remarkable foresight, in March an NDP member of the Ontario legislature, Peter Tabuns, introduced a bill (proposed law) to ban fracking in Ontario.  (Fracking = hydraulic fracturing of the earth’s crust for gas and oil.)

With remarkable stupidity, the ruling Liberal government immediately denied any need for such a bill. There is no fracking yet in Ontario, said Natural Resources Minister Bill Mauro, so there is no need for a ban.  More detail here.

Fracking cartoonWithout a ban, the door stays wide open. Wherever the door is open, oil and gas corporations walk right in and start drilling. And wherever frackers drill, disaster follows.   Ask people on what’s left of the ground in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, the Dakotas, south England…

Fracking consumes and poisons millions of litres of fresh water – for every well. The drillers inject a toxic brew of chemicals under high pressure to smash underground shale and force oil and gas to the surface. Fracking operations leak vast quantities of methane, a devastating greenhouse gas. They also set off earthquake epidemics where such incidents have been rare.  And then there are the pipelines to transport the gas/oil to refineries and ports, and with pipelines, spills and explosions.

Result: Immense profit for a few, incalculable harm for the rest of us and the earth.

Worldwide, as soon as people become informed about fracking, resistance grows rapidly, and people have won government bans and moratoria in many municipalities, provinces, states and countries. Check here for an up-to-date list.

Meanwhile in Ontario, the door – our door, by the way – remains wide open.

In a 2014 poll, 75% of Ontarians supported a moratorium on fracking.  As Peter Tabuns understands, the time to close the door is now, before it’s too late.

The bill to ban fracking is scheduled to come to a vote on May 7, a week from now.  Send a message to Premier Wynne, via a new email campaign from the Council of Canadians: Ban fracking in Ontario. Close the door now.

The underground story on fracking and the growing resistance is here, inside Bold Scientists.  Scroll down to chapter 10, The unsolved problem.


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Stolen children: Crime and immunity in El Salvador

In March 2015 a US immigration court ruled that Gen. Eugenio Vides Casanova, 77, can be deported from the United States to El Salvador, because “he participated in or concealed torture and murder by his troops” during the 1980 – 1992 war.  He is likely to appeal the ruling.
El_Salvador_disappeared
According to a UN commission of inquiry, over 75,000 people were killed during the war, more than 90% by the Salvadoran army and allied paramilitary forces, and 1000s of children disappeared. Some have been found in mass graves, but the vast majority simply vanished.

However, even if Vides Casanova returns to El Salvador, he could still avoid prosecution there. The country’s 1993 Amnesty Act guarantees immunity from prosecution to perpetrators of human rights crimes during the 12 years of military repression.  As long as this law remains in force, it denies any possibility of justice for victims and their families.

In the last fifteen years, similar laws shielding war criminals from prosecution have been overturned in Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, and Guatemala, and partially in Chile. But in El Salvador, a succession of governments have failed to repeal the amnesty law. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has demanded several times that it be repealed, and Amnesty International continues to urge the same.

As it has always done, the Salvadoran military apparatus refuses to open its records, and no government has yet been willing to force it to do so. Lack of public access to these records not only shields perpetrators from justice, it also complicates greatly the work of Pro-Búsqueda (‘for the search’), a small Salvadoran grassroots organization run by the families of children who disappeared during the war.  Many of the children, it turns out, were kidnapped by soldiers and given or sold into adoption, primarily in North America and Europe.  Since 1993, Pro-Búsqueda’s mission has been to find them, and where possible to reunite them with their families of origin.  Continue reading


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Panic in the Palace

Update on that Wednesday protest in Belleville:

C51 protestors, Belleville

Conservative MP’s office calls police on C-51 protesters for singing and being “noisy”.

Best comment, from Gary Magwood: “Daryl’s office called the police because we were ‘disruptive’, we were ‘noisy,’ and – here’s the best part – we were distracting the office staff from attending to constituents’ concerns. Now don’t you love that for double-speak? Aren’t we constituents?”

Which is exactly why so many Canadians regard Bill C-51 and its authoritarian authors as a threat to national security.

After participating in the Belleville protest, I reported having mixed feelings, even doubts, about its value.

Now I have none.