November 22, 2009

news over the past while, of interest to youth-long title I know.

  • WINNIPEG- At the steps of the legislature, members of the University of Manitoba's Campus Conservatives tried to block Canadian Federation of Students members from marching up the steps during November 5th's Day of Action. Tried is the keyword. The counter protest was swamped by students in the CFS lead action.

  • GOD'S RIVER, MANITOBA- September 16th. Students hold classes in a tent after the school building failed to meet the fire code. Teachers made the most of the situation however by adding such traditional teaching such as fishing, bannock making to the curriculum. The school has since been fixed, but the incident brings to attention the seriousness of the lack of proper funding in northern, and reservation schools. Not to mention government bureaucracy. Government building plans requiring paved parking lots in a fly in community is but one example of such red tape.

  • WINNIPEG- Manitoba Justice held a forum in early October telling people in Winnipeg's North End to report sex workers to the authorities. Rational for this is that many sex workers in an area will be an indicator of a drug house nearby. Reports will therefore help shut down such drug houses. Residents at the forum however had other ideas. Some asked why the laws cannot be updated and a red light district set up. "At least they'd know what's happening, and it's not out in the open," said Marie, a resident who did not want her last name used. It was reported that some bail conditions for sex workers barred them from entering certain zones, including in some cases Sage House, a place for people who are trying to leave the sex trade.

  • BRANDON, MANITOBA- Too Much Macho? In September police in Brandon, Manitoba laid charges against people involved in a bare knuckle fight club called "Brandon Beat Down" after a fighter was sent to hospital with a ruptured spleen. The group was modelled after the movie and book fight club. In the movie a line goes "the first rule of fight club is, you do not talk about fight club." However a video was posted to YouTube and police took note and the video was pulled. When youth self organise, they go all out it seems. Maybe it's time for funding more recreation programs for youth. First budget item: boxing gloves.

  • WINNIPEG- In September, 29 year old Geraldine Beardy from Garden Hill First Nation was beaten into a coma for trying to shoplift a $1.49 can of meat from a store in Winnipeg. When confronted, she was told to leave the store. After this, she was bludgeoned with a bat. The store's owner has been charged with assault after the death of the victim. Vigilantism is a suspected motive in the attack. Protecting property rights has really gone overboard.

  • WINNIPEG- City Council approved new garbage carts designed to automate trash collection, reducing the need for workers. After the so called "semi-privatization" of the water and waste department, these new bins are to have RFID chip technology to track bins and many predict, impose new user fees for waste collection. Good for the environment. Bad for the poor. Bad for clean streets.

  • NEW DELHI, INDIA- In November, Authorities in New Delhi, India have released 25 child workers/slaves from a factory sweat shop. In a story that reads like Pinocchio and the puppet master, the children were enslaved after their parents were tricked into sending them to the city to attend school. The children, with ages between 8 and 14, were forced to make toys and were often beaten for poor work, given rations of two meals a day and forced to sleep in the factory.

  • BRANDON, MANITOBA-Four Filipino workers in Brandon, Manitoba have been subjected to mistreatment while working at the local Wendy's restaurant. Imelda Campecino, Alan Acar, Glen Syping, and Mercedes Comia paid $3000 to a employment agency and $1700 each in airfare to go to Saskatchewan. The workers were told that the expenses to the agency and airfares would be reimbursed. After arriving in a restaurant in that province, they were told there was no work and sent to Brandon. ( The laws regarding foreign workers are more lax in Saskatchewan* ). The Brandon eatery happened to be owned by the same Trotter family that owned the Saskatchewan business. The four workers were docked $600 a month to live in a house owned by their boss, for a whopping $2400 a month. The going rate for a comparable house was $1200 plus utilities. They were threatened with being sent back to the Philippines regularly. At one point passports were briefly withheld according to a Brandon comrade's discussion with the workers. Alan Acar injured his wrist at work, and had to pay for the medical treatment himself. When he missed his shift due to his time off for medical treatment, he was fired. The other three workers refused to return to work after the fourth was canned. According to the CBC report, Barb Bakker, a Saskatchewan-based manager of the Trotters' business, threatened the four with eviction as well as cancellation of their work permits and even arrest. Communists, labour activists and local politicians soon heard of the situation. Protests were to have taken place during the Manitoba Federation of Labour's convention in Brandon but were postponed until the story broke on the CBC television news . An NDP MLA's office secured another job for the workers in Thompson, Manitoba to clear up any legal limbo due to the shadiness of the previous work situation. A protest did occur latter at the Brandon Wendy's and this protest marked a serious rift in the Brandon labour council executive and activist sections. Some on the council were for and some against the action. The Manitoba Department of Labour has taken action in the case, helping recover money for unauthorized deductions and unpaid wages, holiday, overtime, and vacation pay. The franchise owner, Jordan Trotter, has since reimbursed the airfare. Another success story for foreign worker and immigration programs. For bosses.
* After a case involving crazy high recruitment fees and Maple Leaf Workers in Brandon, Manitoba has outlawed such fees and toughened laws a little. It is thought that Saskatchewan is now used as a back door to circumvent such laws in Manitoba.
  • SELKIRK, MANITOBA-The RCMP in Selkirk, Manitoba defended it's use of torture against a 16 year old girl in a cell in 2007 (the incident was reported in the People's Voice). The police say that the girl, who was drunk, shoved an officer and then, was tasered and fitted with a spit mask. The girl claims that four officers held her down while tasering her three times. Scars on her thigh tell the story. Taser use against kids is not all that rare. In Ontario, a 14 year old girl in Sioux Lookout afflicted with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was tasered by police while in custody.

  • SYDNEY, NOVA SCOTIA-September 29. Soldier Matthew Wilcox was sentenced to 2 years in prison for shooting another soldier in a tent in Afghanistan. The soldier has recurring nightmares and shows signs of post-tramatic stress disorder.

  • BRANDON, MANITOBA-At Brandon University, the new "Afghanistan Mission Memorial Award" was announced, giving free tuition to children of slain soldiers. Very macabre. Of course there are strings. To be eligible to receive the award, a student must have graduated from high school and have started the first year of study before the age of 21 and is good only for a first degree. What? Having your parents die for your education isn't good enough? How many hoops are there to jump through? It looks like a public relations stunt since only a handful of students would qualify. Losing a parent is a high price to pay.

  • PINE FALLS, MANITOBA- Town residents walked the picket line alongside locked out workers. Business owners said that the lock out at the Tembec paper mill was hurting small businesses. The lock out started on August 31. Tembec Inc. wants a 35 per cent cut in wages and benefits. The lock out drags on well into November and still continues. 70 workers and their families have left the town in search of work. A food bank, the USW/COPE Family Resource Centre has been set up for the workers. Bannock and soup from the nearby First Nation was sent. A worker explains a common feeling about the tough times during the lockout: "Personally I find it embarrassing, disappointing and frustrating. I've been a working man since I was 17 years old. Pride is a big thing. I can't believe I need charity." Funny that everyone is giving this Christmas except the Tembec mill owners. Want to be more generous than millionaires? donate to the resource centre or help out. Contact Bouvier at 367-2323 or Bruneau at 367-8989, or e-mail usw31375 (AT) It should be noted that Tembec's pine falls mill had previously shut down its de-inking plant citing the low cost of pulp wood making it more profitable to use logs over recycled paper.
  • OTTAWA- Protesters took democracy into their own hands during the Oct.26th question period in the House of Commons and were arrested and removed with force because of it. The protest was about climate change and government's inaction. Six protesters were arrested. 120 more were kicked out of the house. mentioned: "Veteran parliamentarians said they could not recall a protest in the House of Commons that had ever involved so many people or which seemed as well-orchestrated." If you care about public affairs they arrest you. But if you are apathetic, keep to yourself, and don't question, well you are the model citizen.
  • UNITED KINGDOM-The war over copyright continued in the United Kingdom as Microsoft zapped the Xbox Live service to owners of modified Xbox 360 consoles. The consoles are able to play pirated games. While the modified consoles still work as stand alone units, they are unable to connect to Xbox Live. Only unmodified units still have that capability. So far.

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