Category Archives: activism

Central Park Hosts Bed-In For World Peace

The World March for Peace and Nonviolence is holding a bed-in on August 16 for world peace. The celebration is the 40th anniversary of Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s famous bed-in.
The August event is a tribute to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s cause for world peace. The event will take place at the Cherry Hill Fountain in Central Park at 1 PM. A “Peace Bed” will be in place for musicians and those in attendance to express their thoughts on peace and violence the same way Lennon and Ono did 40 years ago. Yoko Ono has endorsed the project.

Yoko Ono sent this message to the organizers, “Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world. Power works in mysterious ways. You don’t have to do much. Visualise the domino effect. And just start thinking PEACE. The message will circulate faster than you think. It’s Time For Action. The Action is PEACE. Spread the word. Spread PEACE.“

Press representative for World Peace March Nicole Myers told Digital Journal that a new peace song will be recorded live at the event. We Want Peace on Earth will be performed by Mark Lesseraux. The song will be in a special double CD of peace songs being produced by Sony, Myers said. “The new song was written and dedicated to the World March for Peace,” said Myers. Myers was very excited about the event and the upcoming global march for peace. She said that there will be music at the Central Park event. The World March will be held in seven continents starting October 2 in New Zealand. It will go around the world ending on January 2, 2010 in Argentina. If you’re in New York City on August 16 check out this special and timely event.

The Peace Corps launches YouTube channel

Jody K. Olsen, the acting director of the Peace Corps, has announced that they have their own YouTube channel. The agency is also on Twitter and has a newly designed website.

The Peace Corps channel launched with 45 videos about the agency and their current projects around the world. It also has videos that deal with the history of the organization, founded by President John F. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver.

“The YouTube channel is an excellent resource for anyone considering Peace Corps service to better understand what Peace Corps service is really like on the ground,” said acting Director Olsen.

During the first week the Peace Corps channel had about 1,000 viewers.

Doctors Give Tips For Protesters Safety

Doctors in Iran are warning protesters on conditions from arrest and chemical weapons to stay as safe and healthy as possible. The advice is practical, simple and perhaps something that readers may need to tuck away.
These are some tips if you are planning on attending a protest that has the possibility of becoming violent.

In case you are handcuffed with plastic handcuffs flex your muslces as much as possible to make extra space inside the cuffs. Alert the authorities if you feel pain, numbness or tingling. Those are signals that long-term nerve damage may be occurring.

If you are on medication or have a medical condition make sure you have a note from your doctor on the importance of your medical needs. If it is possible carry your medication on your person so that you will have it with you. Give copies of the doctor’s note to the police, any legal representation and medical personnel.

It is possible that chemical weapons could be used during a protest. If you believe that this is a possible danger wear a waterproof outer layer of clothing with tight cuffs and collar. The most natural materials will soak up chemicals. Before attending the event cleanse with non oil-based soaps to prevent chemical weapons from sticking to your skin. Do not use any type of oil on your skin, this can include perfume, lotion, deodorant and many sunscreens.

Do not shave for at least a day in advance of the event. When you shave your pores are opened and that makes chemical weapons more effective.

Do not wear tampons as they absorb chemical weapons.

Do not wear contact lenses. Chemical weapons can in severe cases causes the lenses to melt.

If you do not have a gas mask carry a bandanna soaked in apple cider vinegar or lime juice with you in a sealed bag and carry swimming goggles.

If you are caught in a chemical attack you can blow your nose, rinse out your mouth, cough and spit. Do not rub your eyes or swallow. If you are wearing contacts take they out as soon as your fingers are clean.

Pepper spray is the most common chemical used by authorities. The pain will last for about fifteen minutes before it starts to fade away.

Tear gas is another common chemical that is used during protests. It can take up to five seconds for the chemical to take effect.

If there is an attack call out for those around you to walk and not run to avoid trampling.

Getting Ready For Toronto’s Pride Week

Every year Toronto hosts Pride Week during June. This year will be bigger than ever with an additional $300,000 from the Government of Ontario to help with the planning. The event this year will be held June 19-28.

Pride Toronto says that the yearly event supports 650 jobs, brings in $18 million in government tax revenue and has a positive $100 million in direct economic impact.

The full-time staff starts planning the next year’s week the minute the non-stop action ends each June. Since the small planned picnic 30 years ago Pride Week has grown by leaps and bounds says Grant Ramsay, media contact for Pride Toronto. The event is now international with people flowing into Toronto from all over the world.

“The work with all of the communities, not just the queer community is one of the most positive changes with Pride Week. We now can offer tourist packages that help the tourism in Toronto which is new. Also working with the government is a very positive change. Government officials are now a part of the week which in the past didn’t happen. That is very positive,” Ramsay told Digital Journal.

This year’s International Grand Marshal will be 33-years-old and transgender, Victor Mukasa. Mukasa is from Africa and has played an important role in the African Trans movement At a LGBTI event in 2007 in Nairobi he initiated the Nairobi Trans Declaration 2007. In 2008 he conducted the first Trans strategic workshop in Cape Town, South Africa, which brought together trans activists from Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

Mukasa took the Ugandan Government to court in 2006 after his home was raided, documents relating to his human rights work in Uganda were confiscated and his Kenyan friend was arrested. The case was ruled in his and his friend’s favor last December.

“Pride Toronto has become a huge, diverse and multicultural event with great entertainment that draws people from far and wide,” said Tracey Sandilands, Executive Director Pride Toronto. “With over 50% of Torontonians not born in Canada and over 100 languages spoken, Pride Toronto looks forward to continuing it’s growth and outreach into these communities.”

Pride Week is for everyone, families included. There are special areas set up just for children. Mr. Ramsay said that it is absolutely a family event. There is something for every age group.

I, myself have taken my youngest son to the event and can attest that he enjoyed the children’s area in past years. There were craft activities and just plan fun.Some of the special features of this year’s Pride Week include Deborah Cox, Divine Brown, The Cliks, and a live in concert of 80s icons ABC, Wang Chung, Heaven 17 and Cutting Crew performing on Sunday June 28.There have been nine video artists commissioned to produce video for this year’s theme “Can’t Stop. Won’t Stop.”

Grant Ramsay of Pride Toronto told Digital Journal that the theme each year comes from the community. There is a call for the community to come up with a theme. The suggestions are then taken to a community meeting and voted on.Pride Toronto is the not-for-profit organization that hosts Pride Week. The purpose of Pride Week is to to celebrate the history, courage, diversity and future of Toronto’s LGBTTIQQ2S communities (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Two-Spirited).

Car Wash Event To Donate To Help Car Wash Employees

Demi Moore’s standing behind the CLEAN (Community-Labor-Environmental Action Network) Carwash Campaign. The non-profit group is committed to improving the lives of working families in great Los Angeles. This project is to benefit car wash workers.
Car wash employees are often paid less than minimal wage and rely on tips to make ends met. The campaign is working jointly with the Carwash Workers Organizing Committee (CWOC) of the United Steelworkers to raise the standard of living for car wash workers and to address basic workplace safety issues.

According to their website CLEAN is committed to:

* Supporting the right of car wash workers to organize a union and bargain collectively.
* Improving working conditions and ensuring that car wash employers meet labor standards and abide by fair workplace practices.
* Demanding environmental clean up to ensure that waste water from car washes does not contaminate our rivers or oceans.

This campaign will not only help the workers but the environment as well. Professional car washes can contain toxic chemicals such as ammonium bifluoride and hydrofluoric acid that if not properly managed can be leaked into the environment. These toxins have been shown to cause kidney damage, increased cancer risk, and developmental delays.

The workers in professional car washes often work 60 hours a week with no overtime pay. Some make as little as $180 a week. They often work without the protective gear that costs as little as $3 enabling chemicals to seep into their bodies.

If you want to help out and are in the LA area the event is taking place on Tuesday afternoon.

Date: Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Time: 2:00pm – 4:00pm

Location: Vermont Hand Wash
Street: 1666 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA

Tristan Anderson Fighting For His Life After Israeli Attack

*warning video is very graphic

Tristan Anderson’s parents are demanding that a full investigation be launched by Israel on why their son is fighting for his life.
On March 13 Anderson was shot in the head with a tear gas canister round at a Arab-Jewish demonstration at the West Bank village of Ni’lin. The American peace activist was with three or four other activists when the attack took place. The canister that was fired has a range of more than 400 metres. It was fired from a mere 60 metres at Mr. Anderson. Those with him at the time say that he was not involved with the main protest.

Tristan was shot by the new tear-gas canisters that can be shot up to 500m. I ran over as I saw someone had been shot, while the Israeli forces continued to fire tear-gas at us. When an ambulance came, the Israeli soldiers refused to allow the ambulance through the checkpoint just outside the village. After 5 minutes of arguing with the soldiers, the ambulance passed.

Teah Lunqvist (Sweden) – International Solidarity Movement

Anderson is lucky to be alive at all. The canister caused a multiple fracture to his skull, severe injury to the frontal lobe of his brain, and a collapsed eye socket. Anderson has already underwent three operations. One of those surgeries involved removal of portions of his frontal lobe. He remains in critical condition in a medically induced coma at Israeli hospital Tel Hashomer.

Nancy Anderson, mother of the 37-year-old man, flew from California with her husband Michael to be with her child.

The Independent

“We want the Israeli government to publicly take full responsibility for the shooting of our son,” she said.

“I don’t carry any negative feelings towards the soldier who shot our son. All I feel is love for Tristan and fear for his recovery.”

Anderson works seasonally with a trade union in Oakland, California setting up conventions. This was his first time to Israel where he was vacationing with his girlfriend.

In the past Anderson has taken part in peace demonstrations in Iraq before the US invasion in 2003, and in El Salvador and Guatemala. At the time of the incident Anderson was involved with the International Solidarity Movement, a group that brings internationals to the Palestine to support nonviolent resistance against the Occupation. In the past when international figures are present the military is less likely to use lethal force against unarmed protesters.

Michael Anderson said that his son was curious about the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to the Guardian:

“Tristan has always been interested in how societies that go through conflict are able to resolve their issues,” said his father. “He came to understand for himself what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was about. It is ironic that the country in which he was shot is a democracy where it is supposed to be a duty for everyone to follow their conscience. We want to know the truth of what happened and we want justice for our son.”

According to Jonathon Pollack, an activist with the Israeli “Anarchists against the Wall” organisation, the incident took place about a kilometer away after demonstrators had started to leave. In the early portions of the protest it is true stones were thrown but Anderson was not among those being aggressive.

The Israeli military has said that some 400 rioters had thrown a “a massive number of rocks” at the troops. They also state that the protesters threw firebombs and directed burning tyres at the forces. They went on to say that during 2008 73 personnel were injured at or near Ni’lin.

The Guardian

“Israel regrets that the Israeli and foreign nationals co-operate with violent rioters against the building of the security fence, whose purpose is saving the lives of Israeli citizens,” it said. “As such, any Israeli, Palestinian, or foreign national who illegally participates in a violent demonstration takes upon himself the risk of personal harm during the dispersal of these disturbances.”

Press TV says that Israel has offered no sympathy for the Anderson family and in fact have blamed Anderson for participating in the demonstrations as the cause of his injuries.

Attorney Michael Sfard,
working for the Anderson family understands that it is doubtful that an investigation will yield a result. He stated that 90 to 92 percent of all launched investigations do not have a result in Israel. Since 2000 only four out of 110-120 court cases have lead to an indictment. Only one lead to a conviction. That conviction was an Arab-Israeli soldier who killed British peace activist Tom Hurndall in Gaza.

ThinkFirst Canada and Aviva Canada Working To Stop TBI In Kids

In Canada minors make up 17 percent of the population yet they account for 30 percent of traumatic brain injuries. On March 24 ThinkFirst Canada and Aviva Canada will be hosting an event to educate students how to not become a statistic.
On March 24 Dr. Charles Tator along with ThinkFirst Canada and Aviva Canada will be hosting an event to help educate elementary students on how to prevent brain and spinal cord injuries.

Injuries that kill or cause serious lingering injuries are almost always preventable. In fact some statistics show that 95% of those injuries could have been prevented. ThinkFirst’s goal is to change the numbers up so that those 95% are at a zero percentage.

ThinkFirst began in 1992 when Dr. Charles Tater envisioned a future free of traumatic brain and spinal injuries among children and youth. Using education as a means to change behaviours about risk taking ThinkFirst is working to achieve this goal.

Every year 390 children die and 25,500 are sent to hospital because of injuries. Many of the 100 people that die as a result of a bicycle accident are under the age of 15. When a bike helmet is worn 85% of the time head and brain injuries can be prevented.

Dr. Tator is a Professor in the Department of Surgery at The University of Toronto. He has worked at some of Toronto’s best hospitals as part of their Neurosurgical Staff including The Toronto Western Hospital where from 1985-1988 he was Neurosurgeon-in-Chief. He then moved on to a ten year term as Chairman of the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto in 1989.

This year ThinkFirst and Aviva Canada will be expanding a program begun called Aviva Brain Day. Last year the program set for grade 5 and 6 students reached almost 6000 elementary students in more than 200 classrooms in 9 cities across Canada.

One of the programs that ThinkFirst has worked on is getting more sports helmets on the heads of kids. From Thunder Bay to Windor more than 4500 helmets have been handed out with with MHP-ThinkFirst Ontario Safe Sport Helmet Initiative. The final phase of this program will be handing out more than 6,000 vouchers for helmets to Ontarian children in need. By contacting your local Public Health Unit parents can find out if they qualify for a voucher.

In 2006 Aviva chose ThinkFirst Foundation Canada as its first signature charity.

Brain damage in children is difficult at times to measure. With adults there are records such as prior academic records, I.Q. scores, and job histories that give a clue to how well a person functioned. With children there often aren’t tools to gauge.

Because of their age some neurological deficits that result from head trauma aren’t manifested until years later. Consider frontal lobe functions which develop later in a child’s growth. These functions control social interactions and interpersonal skills. These skills don’t come into play until school age.

Recent studies have shown that a child’s skull is only 1/8 as strong as an adults making the young more vulnerable to injuries. For this reason alone prevention is key.

Actor Ron Silver Dead At 62 From Cancer

Actor and activist Ron Silver died Sunday at the age of 62 from cancer. He had been battling esophageal cancer for two years.
Silver died at his home with his family around him Sunday morning.

Silver will be remembered not only for his acting skills but also for his work as a champion of free speech and artists rights.

Born in Manhattan on July 2, 1946 he studied acting at Herbert Berghof Studio after graduating from St. John’s University with a Master’s degree in Asian studies.

Reuters reports:

“Ron Silver died peacefully in his sleep with his family around him early Sunday morning,” said Robin Bronk, executive director of the Creative Coalition, which Silver helped found.

He was a staunch supporter of Bill Clinton, Rudolph W. Giuliani and President George W. Bush.

He is survived by his parents, who live in Manhattan; another brother, Keith, of Stamford, Conn.; a son, Adam, of Los Angeles; and a daughter, Alexandra, of Manhattan.

Laura Archer-What An Angel Heart Looks Like

Laura Archer viewed her life in Africa as an eye opening experience when interviewed last August by the Montreal Gazette. She may be free tonight after being a hostage for two days in Darfur where the nurse works with Doctors Without Borders.
Laura Archer, 31, and two other foreign workers were taken by gunpoint on Wednesday at a North Darfur medical clinic.

In an interview last summer with Enterprise magazine she revealed that a horrible car crash on Highway I-40 from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2002 was her wake-up call. She decided that she wanted her life to mean something.

She decided in 2004 that she wanted to learn about the world outside North America. She sold all of her things and bought a backpack boarding a plane. She was in Thailand when the tsunami struck. Seeing the little that was being done she flew to India and set up a make shift clinic on a beach near a village that has been hard hit by the tsunami. She lived there for three weeks.

She had found her calling.

The Toronto Star reports:

“Through this experience,” she wrote in the alumni magazine article, “the difference between being a tourist and a humanitarian became apparent to me – and I knew which I wanted to be.”

In 2005 Archer returned to Canada to apply to Doctors Without Borders and has never looked back.

Archer has worked in two other African locations in the Central African Republic and in Chad. Both nations take in thousands of refugees from the Darfur region. This is her fourth African mission in three years.

The National Post quotes the young nurse:

“People have asked me if my experiences in Africa have made me more cynical or perhaps jaded,” she said. “I don’t think so. I guess I’ve lost my rose-coloured glasses and now things — both positive and negative – are a bit more clear.”

When she’s at home Archer paints. Last August she was promoting an exhibit of her worked titled Facing Africa. She had 26 portraits of displaced people that she had painted while on the continent. She uses her art to tell the stories of those she encounters; child soldiers stung out on cocaine, pregnant women picking berries to survive.

Archer’s father in Charlottetown said he was still in shock that his daughter was kidnapped. Her boyfriend Carlos Beranquez was also stunned by the news that his girlfriend who has been in Darfur since October 2008 was taken.

Saraf Omra where the Doctors Without Borders clinic is located is one of the most dangerous areas of Darfur.

“She is well versed in the region,” said McHarg, who has herself worked as a nurse in Sudan. “She was working with Sudanese staff to provide basic health care . . . The needs are just amazing and when you’re there, doing the work, it’s so important. The people you meet are so lovely and knowing that such good people are facing such tragedy . . . I think our teams are really dedicated.”

The charity has faced other kidnappings in the past. They have all ended with success for the staff of the group.

Archer is due back to Canada in April.

The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs has been seeking confirmation that Archer and the others are free.

CBC reports:

“Canadian officials are in close contact with Médecins Sans Frontières, the UN, and Sudanese officials,” spokesman Daniel Barbarie said in an email, according to the Canadian Press. “We stand ready to provide consular assistance and support.”

The workers have reportedly been rescued yet the charity has yet to speak to them.

CBC also quotes with a spokesperson with Doctors Without Borders:

“We have not yet seen our colleagues, nor have we had the chance to speak with them since we heard that they were being released,” said spokeswoman Naomi Sutorius-Lavoie.

Prince William Says Mother’s Day Is A Day Of Emptiness For Him

Prince William admits Mother’s Day carries a sense of ’emptiness’ for him. William was just 16 when Princess Diana died along with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed after a Paris car accident.

Today the future king took the role of patron to The Child Bereavement Charity, which Diana supported.

Nine MSN reports:

“Losing a close family member is one of the hardest experiences that anyone can ever endure,” he said. “Never being able to say the word ‘mummy’ again in your life sounds like a small thing.

“However, for many, including me, it’s now really just a word – hollow and evoking only memories.

“I can therefore wholeheartedly relate to the Mother’s Day campaign as I too have felt – and still feel – the emptiness on such a day as Mother’s Day.”

The charity is launching a Mother’s Day campaign to remind people how hard Mother’s Day can be on children who have lost their mothers and mothers who have lost their children.

The prince has been training to become a search and rescue helicopter pilot in the Royal Air Force.

In Britain March 22 is Mother’s Day.

As William was reflecting on mother’s the news stands have been going crazy with speculations that he will wed Kate Middleton this summer.

The Daily Mail is reporting that the prince proposed to Kate around the time of her 27th birthday in January.

‘She is treated by the staff with the kind of deference reserved for members of the family,’ an insider said. ‘Everyone thinks she and William are a done deal.’