New website/blog: the view from where I live

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Maybe you’ve noticed, it’s been quiet around here for awhile.  Or maybe it’s been so quiet, you didn’t notice.

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The reason:  Recently I launched a new website and blog.  It’s here: http://michaelriordon.com/.

With creative help from Jess Posgate, finally it pulls together into one tidy place a maze of websites and blogs that have built up over the years, representing a range of my interests and work.

As the new site’s subtitle suggests – “the view from where I live” – it will still represent my work, but now it’s spectrum is broader, especially on the blog.  As you’ll see, I hope.

This morning, for example, I put up a post about tomorrow’s crucial referendum in Greece.  The blog is here: http://michaelriordon.com/blog/.

Stop by for a visit.

 

 

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Stolen children: Crime and immunity in El Salvador

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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.

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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 The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has demanded several times that it be repealed, and Amnesty International continues to urge the same.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.

Ester Alvarenga, coordinator of Pro-Búsqueda explains why access to military records is so vital: “The soldiers who took children know perfectly well what they did with them, and who they gave them to. All our investigations show how the children were taken; you can follow their tracks to a certain point, but only the army can say what comes after. Some soldiers never gave the children to a public or private institution but adopted these children themselves. These are the most difficult ones to trace.”

On April 14, 2015, Amnesty International issued this statement: “The Amnesty Law of El Salvador is not in conformity with international law, and is an affront to the thousands of victims of human rights abuses and their families. It is time to repeal it and allow all cases of torture, rape, killings and enforced disappearances committed during the conflict of the 1980s to be investigated, and all those suspected of being criminally responsible to be brought to justice.”

More detail on the Vides Casanova case here.

For the Pro-Búsqueda story, including the use of DNA analysis to connect disappeared children with their families of origin, see Bold Scientists. Read an excerpt here. Scroll down to chapter 5, Stolen children.

Panic in the Palace

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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.

 

 

 

Went to a protest today

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Against what: A new federal bill, C-51, which smooths the road toward a police state in Canada. The bill is currently winding its way through Parliament.

C 51 protest

Photo: Canadian Press

After protests across the country and from many sources, the ruling Conservative regime has made a show of amending the bill.  Like paint slapped on a rotting house, the proposed changes will have minimal impact on the bill’s nightmarish potential.

So, today’s protest.

Where: At the Belleville constituency office of Daryl Kramp, the local Member of Parliament. He’s a Conservative, ie a Northern Republican, and he’s chairing the committee currently sliding the bill through Parliament. Kramp was absent from the Belleville office today, being rather busy in Ottawa.

Who: 40 – 50 people from the area who are alarmed enough by what they’ve learned about this bill to protest it in public. The rally was called on short notice, in response to the proposed ‘amendments.’

After a few decades protesting a panorama of injustices, bigotry, stupidity, greed, crimes against the earth, abuse of power, state terror and such, at today’s protest I experienced a familiar mix of reactions:

I believe it’s crucial to be here, to inform the powerful that some of us see through their lies, and care enough to resist their schemes to the extent that we can. On the other hand, knowing how power is constructed, I suspect our resistance is too little, too late. On the other hand, it’s crucial that we be here. On the other hand…

This mix, and the gradual shedding of illusions over years, eventually led me to stop going to protests like this one.  But then I was grateful that some people took the trouble to organize it, and that other people bothered to show up on a bright spring afternoon in the middle of a week. But then I know well enough that the real decisions are made far from here, in cabinet rooms and board rooms, by sociopaths in suits, over lunch.

Even so, how can I justify staying home in my comfortable, safe little cave, pretending that I accomplish anything that matters simply by writing?  And who knows what effect each of these acts of resistance might have?  The arrogant managers would have us believe they are oblivious to our protests, and nothing we do will make any difference.  But when they lie about practically everything else, why not about this, too?  Wouldn’t things be that much worse if we left them to their own devices?

It’s a dilemma.

What do you think?

 

 

Life & death in Monsantoland

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Two recent events in Monsanto-land tell it all:

Lobbyist claims Monsanto pesticide safe to drink, bolts when offered a glass. (It’s caught on a gem of a video, embedded in the story). Raw Story, 27 March 2015.

Monsanto demands World Health Organization retract report on Roundup link to cancer.  EcoWatch, 26 March 2015.

For a good dose of sanity on GMOs, hunger, and post-oil farming, check out Ann Clark, plant physiologist and farmer, in Bold ScientistsRead an excerpt here.

Meantime, pass this on.  And have a nice day.