Friday Magazine – Volume 15 – Issue 19

Friday Magazine – Volume 15 – Issue 19 11/05/12

Friday May 11, 2012 -Corresponding- to 20 Jumaida Al-Akhirah, 1433 H
–Year: 15 Vol: 15 Issue: 19–


By CIC Staff writer – Special to the CIC Friday Magazine – May 9, 2012

Wahida C. Valiante MSW – CIC’s past national President and founding Chair of Islamic History Month Canada – has been named by the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) as the winner of the organization’s 2012 Excellence in Health Equity Award.

The presentation will take place in Toronto this Saturday May 12, 2012 at the annual South Asian Heritage Month Gala, “Our Stories, Our Histories,” celebrating South Asian Heritage Month.

Wahida, a longtime family therapist and counselor, was chosen for her career-long dedication to social justice initiatives and advocacy, particularly within Muslim and other minority communities in Canada. A graduate of the University of Toronto, she is a published author of numerous papers, reports, editorials, essays, studies and lectures on the South Asian family, South Asian Women, Domestic Violence and Social Work interventions, and Family Dynamics in a multicultural society.

She recently published “A Mosaic of Thoughts,” a topical anthology covering a wide spectrum of social justice and inter-cultural issues in Canada; she is currently working on a professional resource text aimed at therapeutic professionals who work with Muslim clients and patients.

She is a past member of the South Asian Consultative Committee of the Toronto Metropolitan Police Services; a past board member of the Griffin Centre and the Coalition of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA); a past member of the multicultural advisory committee for Community Health Care Services of Scarborough, and a past member of the Child Poverty Campaign, 2000. She was also a founding member of the task force for the Shirly Samaroo House for Battered Women and a former member of the advisory committee of the Barbara Schlifer Clinic for the training of Cultural Interpreters for victims of domestic violence.

Wahida expressed appreciation for the CASSA honours, saying: “As South Asian Canadians we must remember that there is strength in unity regardless of our diversity, and as a past board member of CASSA, I take great pride in knowing that CASSA has maintained that motto as a strong voice on behalf of agencies serving South Asians.”

For more information about CASSA and its work, visit


By Karlos Zurutuza – Information Clearing House – April 15, 2012

FALLUJAH, Iraq – At Fallujah hospital officials cannot offer any statistics on children born with birth defects; there are just too many, and parents don’t want to talk.
“Families bury their newborn babies after they die without telling anyone,” says hospital spokesman Nadim al-Hadidi. “It’s all too shameful for them. We recorded 672 cases in January but we know there were many more.” He projects pictures on a wall at his office: they show children born with no brain, no eyes, or with intestines outside of their bodies.

Facing an image of a child born without limbs, Hadidi says parents’ feelings usually range between shame and guilt. “They think it’s their fault, that there’s something wrong with them. And it doesn’t help at all when some elder tells them it’s been ‘God’s punishment’.”

The pictures are difficult to look at; and, those responsible for them have closed their eyes.

“In 2004 the Americans tested all kinds of chemicals and explosive devices on us: thermobaric weapons, white phosphorous, depleted uranium … we have all been laboratory mice for them,” continues Hadidi.

The months following the 2003 invasion of Iraq saw persistent demonstrations against the occupation forces. But it wasn’t until 2004 when Fallujah, a city by the Euphrates River to the west of Baghdad, saw its worst.

On Mar. 31 of that year, images of the dismembered bodies of four mercenaries from the U.S. group Blackwater hanging from a bridge circulated around the world. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, but the local civilian population paid the price for Operation Phantom Fury that followed. According to the Pentagon, this was the biggest urban battle since Hue (Vietnam, 1968).

The first crackdown came in April 2004, with the worst coming in November of that year. Random house-to-house checks gave way to intense night bombings. The Americans said they used white phosphorus “to illuminate targets at night.” But a group of Italian journalists soon gave documentary evidence that white phosphorus was just another of the banned weapons used against Iraqi civilians. The total number of victims is still unknown. In fact, many of them are not born yet.

Abdulkadir Alrawi, a doctor at Fallujah hospital, is just back from examining a tragic new case. “This girl was born with Dandy Walker syndrome. Her brain is split in two and I doubt she’ll survive.” As he speaks, the lights go off again in the whole hospital. “We lack the most basic infrastructure; how do they want us to cope with an emergency like this?”

According to a July 2010 study by the Swiss International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “increases in cancer, leukemia and infant mortality and perturbations of the normal human population birth sex ratio in Fallujah are significantly greater than those reported for the survivors of the A-Bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.”

Researchers found a 38-fold increase in leukemia (compared to 17-fold in post-war Japan). Reputable analysts like Noam Chomsky have labelled such conclusions as “immensely more embarrassing than the Wikileaks…”

Samira Alaani, chief doctor at Fallujah hospital, collaborated in a study with the World Health Organization that found unusually large amounts of uranium and mercury in the hair roots of those affected – evidence that could link the use of prohibited weapons to increased congenital birth defects in Fallujah.

Other than the white phosphorus, many point to depleted uranium (DU), a radioactive element which significantly increases the penetration capacity of shells. DU is believed to have a life of 4.5 billion years, and has been labelled the “silent murderer that never stops killing.” Several international organizations have called on NATO to investigate whether DU was also used during the Libyan war.

This month, the Iraqi Health Ministry is collaborating with the World Health Organization to launch its first-ever study on congenital malformations in the districts of Baghdad, Anbar, Thi Qar, Suleimania, Diala and Basra.

Sandwiched between the borders of Iran and Kuwait, Basra sits above massive oil reserves. The population in this southernmost province has seen more combat than any other region: the war with Iran in the 1980s, the Gulf War in 1991, and the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. A study by the University of Baghdad pointed out that cases of birth defects had increased tenfold in Basra two years before the invasion in 2003. The trend is still on the rise.

Basra Children’s Hospital, which specializes in pediatric oncology (cancer study), opened in 2010. Funded with U.S. capital, the facility was initiated by former U.S. first lady Laura Bush, but like the hospital in Fallujah, this supposedly state-of-the-art facility lacks basic equipment.

“The X-ray machine spent over a year-and-a-half stored at Basra due to an administrative dispute over who should pay port fees. Our children would die as they waited for radiotherapy treatment that did not come,” says Laith Shakr Al-Sailhi, father of a sick boy and director of the Children’s Cancer Association of Iraq. “The waiting list for treatment in Baghdad is endless and time is never on the side of the patients,” he adds. “Besides, these children’s diseases also lead to economic ruin of their families … Families are flocking to Tehran for their children to be treated. Many of them are sleeping in the streets because they can’t afford to pay a hotel room.”

(This article was edited and abridged for the CIC Friday Magazine.)


By Ratna Omidvar – Globe and Mail – May 8, 2012

The Canadian immigration landscape is shifting beneath our feet – but when the dust settles, where will Canada be?

Some proposed changes, such as dealing with the immigration backlog, are long overdue. Other changes may also be necessary, but others will generate a series of unintended consequences for the makeup of Canada’s multicultural society. It is these consequences that should concern us.

Our Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has spoken highly of the Australian immigration model with its strict language requirements. Similarly, good language proficiency is also essential in our own labour market. Raising the language competency bar, however, may trigger increased immigration from English-speaking countries at the cost of applicants from emerging economic superpowers, such as China, India, Russia and Brazil.

Additionally, other administrative changes, such as closing visa offices in Bangladesh, Iran and elsewhere, will further force a shift in source countries. Recent media reports show that numbers of immigrants from China, India, the Philippines and Pakistan applying for permanent residency in Canada fell drastically in 2011.

What implications will these changes have for Canada’s future? One unintended consequence relates to second-generation immigrants. Research shows that the children of immigrants have higher rates of postsecondary education than those of non-immigrant Canadians. What’s more, those born to parents from Africa, China and other Asian countries attend university and college at far higher rates than non-immigrant Canadians and those born to parents from Anglophone countries.

By discarding prospective immigrants already in the queue as a means to reduce backlogs, Canada has chosen efficiency over fairness. By moving to “super visas” and away from permanent residency for immigrants’ parents and grandparents, we choose transience over inclusion. When employers select foreign workers who will become future citizens through economic convenience, we choose head-hunting over nation-building. When we raise the bar on language, we choose homogeneity over diversity. And finally, when we say to employers, “Pay temporary foreign workers less than you might pay Canadians,” we choose exploitation over fairness.

Immigration policy touches almost every aspect of Canadian life and is too important to be treated in a piecemeal manner. It determines who our neighbours are, who we sit with on the bus, and who our children go to school with. It goes to the very heart of who we are as a people.

To simply maintain our population and standard of living, we need hundreds of thousands of new immigrants each year. To compete with global cities such as New York, London and Hong Kong, our cities must grow substantially and sustainably. Immigration can never be the only solution, but we ignore immigration and its accompanying diversity at our peril. Canada’s success as a multicultural society is an essential and defining part of our international brand.

We need to include all Canadians in this discussion – in Parliament, in committee rooms, at chambers of commerce and industry associations, labour unions, resident associations, local and provincial governments, not-for-profits, faith groups, think tanks, academics, and in our communities. Together we must answer the questions: Why do we have immigration? How should we do it? How do we achieve our short- and long-term goals?

Let’s have this discussion. Our future prosperity depends on it.

* * *

To find out what immigration looks like in your community, see interactive solutions to Canada’s immigration problems, and share your own story, click here:

(Ratna Omidvar is president of the Maytree Foundation. This article was edited and abridged for the CIC Friday Magazine.)


By Adrian Blomfield – The Telegraph – May 7, 2012

Ehud Barak, Israel’s increasingly hawkish defence minister, recently approved an intelligence recommendation to demolish the houses of Hakim and Ajmad Awad, cousins from the Palestinian village of Awarta.

That decision, first of its kind in nearly seven years, will render the wives and children of both men homeless. Israeli authorities abandoned the once-common practice of punitive demolitions in 2005 after facing heavy international criticism.

The two Palestinians are serving life sentences for the murders of Ehud and Ruth Fogel, as well as three of their six children, in the West Bank settlement of Itamar in March, 2011. They included a three-month-old infant and a four-year-old boy, both stabbed to death in a frenzied attack that horrified Israel.

The recommendation to resurrect the home-razing policy was made by Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, which justified the move on grounds that the families of the two men had destroyed evidence relevant to the case. The agency said it would also discourage “potential terrorists” from mounting similar attacks, a sentiment echoed by Yaakov Perry, the agency’s former head. “This is one of the most brutal terrorist attacks ever and the Shin Bet thinks that the demolition is a punitive step that may deter other terrorists from carrying out such tragic crimes,” he said.

But human rights groups have condemned the decision, which still has to be ratified by legal advisers to the Israeli government. “The perpetrators have already been arrested and convicted,” said Jeff Halper, head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. “If they demolish the houses this is a case of collective punishment which is illegal under both Israeli and international law, as it is against the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

The decision also attracted criticism from within the Israeli Defence Forces. Opponents warned that it could be interpreted as an act of vengeance that would increase tensions in the West Bank, which has been largely peaceful in recent months.

With Israelis poised to go to the polls in September, other critics accused Barak of blatant electioneering, suggesting that he had succumbed to pressure from the settler lobby. Halper noted that with so many months elapsed since the cousins were convicted, the return of the home-razing punishment indicates that Barak is acting primarily for political gain. “It is political logic, as we are getting close to elections and the settler lobby has more clout now…”

(This article was edited and slightly abridged for the CIC Friday Magazine.)


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Retrieved from: Real News Network – May 4, 2012

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