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Archive for March 2009

Karzai sends Women's Rights back to the Stone Age

Two short weeks ago, in a speech on International Women’s Day, President Hamid Karzai gave a rousing speech on the need to fight the specter of the institutionalized marginalization, violence, and rape that Afghani women faced during the reign of the Taliban.

In a speech commemorating International Women’s Day on Sunday, President Hamid Karzai challenged Afghan religious leaders to denounce violence against women and reject traditional practices that treat women as property.

“The forced marriages, the selling of women these are against Islam,” Karzai told some 600 women gathered in a high school auditorium in the capital, Kabul.

How quickly things change. Seems Mr. Karzai’s not so sure he’s got the coalition build to support him in the upcoming Presidential election. So, what’s the answer, here? Why, some very disgusting electioneering- by signing the Shiite Personal Status Law.

Why I Still Hope

(Proudly cross-posted at OC Progressive and C4O Democrats)

Right after the last election, I was devastated. I thought we had won, but instead I lost my fundamental rights and felt like garbage. I didn’t know what do to next.

So what did this po’ lil’ queer kid do to start recovering what H8 stole away? I joined the impact. I put love into action. I didn’t let homophobes like Rick Warren take my hope away. I looked back, then started thinking ahead. And lately, I’ve been waiting for our day of justice.

So what now? It’s time to move on. It’s time to start kicking some radical right ass and secure equality for all once and for all!

Gay Men and Women to be Executed in Iraq

So, for the last six years, we have poured out in Iraq our national treasure, including the tax dollars of gay men and women, their families, and their friends for what?  It would seem that we have done so to assist the Iraqi government execute Iraqi gay men and women.  Reports say that many gay persons are among the 128 persons awaiting execution in Iraq.  These gay persons are to be executed for the “crime” of homosexuality and that Iraq intends to start these executions in “batches of 20” starting in this next week.

Image Courtesy Gays Without Borders

Violence against all the gay community has intensified sharply since late 2005, when Iraq’s leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, issued a fatwa (religious decree) which declared that gays and lesbians should be “killed in the worst, most severe way.”

Canadian Disgrace: Migrant Nannies & Caregivers.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

Migrant nannies and caregivers in Canada are falling through the cracks of numerous federal and provincial government departments. In a recent series of stories the Toronto Star exposes unscrupulous and unregulated recruiters who exploit nannies and other domestic caregivers by luring them to Canada with false promises of nonexistent jobs, charging extortionary fees and confiscating their passports.  

A recent editorial asks:

You have to wonder: If there were fly-by-night recruiters scamming prospective construction workers or oil rig roughnecks from overseas, would the government be ignoring these rogue agencies while merely punishing the illegal labourers?

I’d bet no.

But what if those foreign workers were women, whether from the West Indies or the Philippines, who disappear into middle-to- upper class homes for minimum wages and maximum hours as nannies and domestic workers?

Today, according to documents obtained by Brazao and Cribb, Canada Border Services Agency officials actually acknowledge that there is “ongoing fraud and misrepresentation,” but the federal government is doing nothing.

Nothing.

So vulnerable women, isolated and frightened, are forced to give up their passports and their pitiful wages to some 20 Toronto-area agencies and individuals suspected of abuse and fraud until those illegal fees are paid off.

Meanwhile, their families back home starve.

That’s if the victims aren’t deported, burdened by crushing debt.

And yet the practice continues, right under our noses.

Is this the government’s solution to the daycare crisis in this country?

To date, most of the foreign caregivers in Canada are from the Philippines. While the Filipino consulates try to help abused workers, they are powerless to enforce Canadian labour laws and standards.

Tears flowed down her cheeks, but Maribel Beato didn’t let go of the microphone. “My employer cared more about the dog than me,” said Beato, a nanny who had a horrific experience with a North York family last year.

The family dog bit her three times but she wasn’t allowed to seek medical help, she said.

When she decided to quit eight months later, the employer wanted her to sign a paper that said the family wasn’t responsible for the dog attacks. “I was told I won’t get the record of employment or T4 if I didn’t.”

She didn’t get the papers.

Ontario’s lack of regulation of nanny recruiters contrasts dramatically with Manitoba’s tough stance against fraudulent agencies. Legislation set to take effect April 1 in Manitoba bans agencies from charging placement fees to foreign nannies, beefs up enforcement and requires every agency to be licensed by the province.

Further, the Manitoba legislation portends that nanny recruiters must be members in good standing of a Canadian law society, the Chambre des notaires du Qu├ębec or the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants. Names of all licensed recruiters and agencies will be posted on a provincial website so families can be sure they’re dealing with a legitimate operator.

Provincial Labour Minister Peter Fonseca has repeatedly avoided this issue however. Confronted by opposition MPPs in the Legislature, he passed the buck onto the federal government. When reminded by reporters that other provinces have begun to ban recruitment fees for foreign workers, Fonseca grudgingly agreed to contact Manitoba’s labour ministry to learn more about its planned April 1 crackdown.

A member of Fonesca’s own Liberal caucus, Mike Colle, has upstaged him by introducing a private member’s bill that, like Manitoba, bans fees paid by workers (which are also illegal in the Philippines).

“The exploitation of vulnerable foreign workers by unscrupulous recruiters cries out for government intervention,” said Colle when introducing the bill this week. It’s a cry that Fonseca and his labour ministry, set up 90 years ago to protect workers, have shut out for too long.

Meanwhile Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney recently acknowledged the problem and is looking to “blacklist” unscrupulous nanny recruitment agencies that exploit foreign caregivers in an attempt to put them out of business.  Kenney added that the move is among a series of reforms he is considering to the federal Live-in Caregiver program.

It is an outrage that these injustices continue to take place and that both the federal and provincial governments have turned a blind eye to exploitation and abuse.

Overnight Open Thread and News Digest

News courtesy of Fark.com!

Difficulty: Gov. Palin has to pick a Democrat to fill a Senate seat. Solution: Pick a Legislative Aide who was a registered Republican until a few weeks ago, and switched for the position.

Cornyn: “If Al Franken is seated as a Senator, then (Republicans) will start World War III”, stomp feet, cry.

John Murtha (D-Abscam): “If I’m corrupt, it’s because I take care of my district.” Well, I guess that makes it OK, then.

What’s on your mind? Check out the Daily Tubes from Hollede in the thread below!

Fargo

By the end of last week, residents of the city of Fargo thought disaster had been averted. The dikes are currently holding and the Red Rive has gone down a bit. Basically, they have been in a holding pattern for several days.

But all of that is about to change. North and South Dakota (and Minnesota, where I live) are expecting up to 14 inches of snow today and tomorrow. Understand that the Red River of the North flows north. It begins near Whapeton South Dakota and ends in Winnipeg Manitoba. And four large cities lies in the path between. Fargo and Moorhead have a combined population of approximately 125,000 people and Grand Forks and East Grand Forks have populations of about 50,000.

President Obama, what's wrong with our money?

I proudly voted for President Obama, but I must admit, there are times I question whether or not this was appropriate. A case in point comes this morning, as I was perusing the news wire, and came across this report from New York Magazine:

New presidents are allotted $100,000 to overhaul the White House residence and the Oval Office… But the First Couple isn’t spending that money. They “are not using public funds or accepting donations of goods for redecorating their private quarters,” says Camille Johnston, director of communications for the First Lady. Nor is the couple, who reported $4.2 million in household income in 2007 tax returns, using money from the White House Historical Association, a privately funded foundation that paid for a $74,000 set of china shortly before Laura Bush left town.

Mr. President, this is exactly where people start thinking you’re a hoity-toity, liberal elitist! What’s wrong with our money, Mr. President? By God, if Joe Biden says it’s patriotic to pay taxes, then you’re essentially questioning our patriotism! I mean, what’s wrong with Cowboys and Indians wallpaper in the Lincoln bedroom? And why would you discount public funds, sir- are you planning on putting in Kenyan cultural art pieces? Perhaps a large portrait of Che Guevara? Something you wouldn’t want the general populace to know?

Mr. President, please come to your senses.

Thank you.

I Just Don't Know About This One

The Detroit Free Press discusses how President Obama has asked GM’s CEO, Rick Waggoner, to resign as an apparent precondition of further bailout funds.  I’m a tad uneasy about this move.  Don’t get me wrong, I see the sense of it.  If they want more of our money we can damned well call some of the shots.  I dig, I dig.  I just don’t know if I like the road this takes us down…

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In other words….TEH RULZ.

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