Friday, November 30, 2012


What is ALEC?
ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that.
Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve "model" bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.)
Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a "unique," "unparalleled" and "unmatched" organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.
Who funds ALEC?
More than 98% of ALEC's revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations.
Is it nonpartisan as claimed?
ALEC describes itself as a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The facts show that it currently has one Democrat out of 104 legislators in leadership positions. ALEC members, speakers, alumni, and award winners are a "who's who" of the extreme right. ALEC has given awards to: Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, George H.W. Bush, Charles and David Koch, Richard de Vos, Tommy Thompson, Gov. John Kasich, Gov. Rick Perry, Congressman Mark Foley (intern sex scandal), and Congressman Billy Tauzin. ALEC alumni include: Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Congressman Joe Wilson, (who called President Obama a "liar" during the State of the Union address), former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, former House Speaker Tom DeLay, Andrew Card, Donald Rumsfeld (1985 Chair of ALEC's Business Policy Board), Governor Scott Walker, Governor Jan Brewer, and more. Featured speakers have included: Milton Friedman, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, Dan Quayle, George Allen, Jessie Helms, Pete Coors, Governor Mitch Daniels and more.
Is it lobbying?
In most ordinary people's view, handing bills to legislators so they can introduce them is the very definition of lobbying. ALEC says "no lobbying takes place." The current chairman of ALEC's corporate board is W. Preston Baldwin III, until recently a lobbyist and the Vice President of State Government Affairs at UST Inc., a tobacco firm now owned by Altria/Phillip Morris USA. Altria is advancing a very short, specific bill to change the way moist tobacco products (such as fruit flavored "snus") are taxed-- to make it cheaper and more attractive to young tobacco users according to health experts. In fact, 20 of the 24 corporate representatives on ALEC's "Private Enterprise Board" are lobbyists representing major firms such as Koch Industries, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Wal-Mart and Johnson and Johnson.



Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian Photographic Images
The North American Indian by Edward S. Curtis is one of the most significant and controversial representations of traditional American Indian culture ever produced. Issued in a limited edition from 1907-1930, the publication continues to exert a major influence on the image of Indians in popular culture. Curtis said he wanted to document "the old time Indian, his dress, his ceremonies, his life and manners." In over 2000 photogravure plates and narrative, Curtis portrayed the traditional customs and lifeways of eighty Indian tribes. The twenty volumes, each with an accompanying portfolio, are organized by tribes and culture areas encompassing the Great Plains, Great Basin, Plateau Region, Southwest, California, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. Featured here are all of the published photogravure images including over 1500 illustrations bound in the text volumes, along with over 700 portfolio plates.
"Bears Belly - Arikara"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012



The new mayor of Montreal, Michael Applebaum, in his office at Montreal City Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012.  Photograph by: John Kenney , The Gazette

MONTREAL — When he was sworn in as Montreal's 42nd mayor, Michael Applebaum portrayed himself as a bridge-builder who will heal political divisions and restore confidence in a city tainted by corruption allegations.

"Today, I promise you sincerely to erase this stain upon our city," Applebaum said at his swearing-in ceremony this month.

But on his home turf in Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, reviews are mixed about whether Applebaum, a former shoe salesman who got into municipal politics in 1994 to save the outdoor skating rink across the street from his house on Earnscliffe Ave., is the man to rally rival factions and clean house at city hall.

The city's first anglophone mayor in a century, and the first Jewish mayor in history, Applebaum is the unifying figure Montreal needs to usher in a new era of open government, La Presse columnist Lysiane Gagnon wrote Saturday. A Léger Marketing survey for The Gazette and Le Devoir found that 53 per cent of Montrealers — including 69 per cent of anglophones and allophones — approve of the interim mayor.

For some local residents, Applebaum is the hardworking borough mayor responsible for a $15-million sports centre on Monkland and Benny Aves. that opened last year. A CLSC is under construction across the street and work crews will break ground for a long-promised library and cultural centre next spring.

"I believe (Applebaum) will try his best," Susan Mott, a watercolour artist and dog-walker in N.D.G. "It's a big job he's got in front of him."

But for others, Applebaum is a fiercely partisan politician who rides roughshod over opponents and came under fire for working as a real-estate agent while presiding over the borough's closed-door zoning committee from 2002 to 2009. He gave up his real-estate licence and quit the Comité consultatif d'urbanisme (CCU) when he was named to the city's executive committee.

Acrimonious disputes over the closing of the Fraser-Hickson Library in 2007 and the future of the Empress Theatre have left many residents of N.D.G. — a neighbourhood with a long tradition of community activism — with a bitter taste.

"The Michael Applebaum we know is not the Michael Applebaum of collaboration and bi-partisanship," said Jason Hughes, a co-ordinator at Coop la Maison verte and long-time community organizer in N.D.G. who was on the volunteer board of the Empress Cultural Centre.

Hughes is among those in Applebaum's district who are surprised by his sudden ascension to Montreal's top job — and by his rebranding as a reformer dedicated to reaching across party lines.

"It seems to be a great change of heart," said Warren Allmand, who served as a Union Montreal councillor under Applebaum from 2005-2009 and was a long-time Liberal Member of Parliament for N.D.G.

Applebaum's promise of a more open, responsive city administration is a turnaround from his partisan approach to politics in the past, Allmand said.

Allmand said Applebaum consistently opposed his efforts to make the borough administration more democratic. For example, he said, Applebaum rejected Allmand's proposals to provide documents to citizens and the municipal opposition, and to open meetings of the local zoning committee to the public.

Allmand also criticized Applebaum's harsh treatment of N.D.G. councillor Peter McQueen of Projet Montréal, the lone opposition councillor on the six-member borough council.

"I may not agree with everything Peter says but I don't think you treat a minority member of the borough council like that. They were too hard and too oppressive," he said of his fellow Union Montreal councillors.

Last month, the borough laid a complaint against McQueen with the province's Municipal Affairs Department for speaking to a local Caisse populaire about the plan to redevelop the Empress Theatre, where the Caisse would be a major tenant under a redevelopment plan.

But Applebaum branded critics as a small but vocal minority.

"It's always the same five or six or seven people," he said. "Those are people who have always been my political opponents at election time."

He said his achievements over 18 years, including $36 million in new or planned facilities at Benny Farm, have garnered broad-based support.

"I will never have 100-per-cent support from everybody," he said.

"But if you take a look at the numbers of votes that I receive, you would see very clearly that I have the great majority of support from the community," he said.

Raised in Saint-Laurent, Applebaum was a quiet student who faded into the background at Sir Winston Churchill High School, recalled classmate Stuart Nulman. "He was the person we least expected to run for student council, let alone run for mayor of Montreal," Nulman said.

Applebaum dropped out of his studies in commerce at Dawson College to work in the family business, a discount shoe store on Notre Dame St. W. founded by his grandfather in 1913. He is fond of saying he quit CEGEP because one of his teachers was habitually late.

"He basically grew up in the shoe store," said former city councillor Jeremy Searle, who served on council with Applebaum when the pair were the only two candidates elected under the banner of the now-defunct Montrealers Party in 1994.

Searle recalled the poorly heated shop, stocked with seconds and factory samples, where Applebaum toiled from age 13.

"It was a cutthroat business and they were best at being cutthroat," he said.

A workaholic who favours conservative suits, Applebaum lambasted the waste of taxpayers' money when in opposition. He once tracked down a blue-collar worker hiding in a luncheonette all day while earning $21 an hour.

Applebaum became an independent and jumped to two other parties before becoming one of the first city councillors to support Gérald Tremblay in 2000. Tremblay named him borough president when he took power in 2002.

He has an uncanny ability to pick the winning side, Searle said.

"Sometimes he makes almost instantaneous decisions," said Snowdon councillor and Applebaum ally Marvin Rotrand. "He seems to have an ability to look at the heart of the problem, cut through the foliage and say, 'This is what needs to be done.' "

But Applebaum disappointed many N.D.G. residents when he allowed the Fraser-Hickson Library to close in 2007. The private, non-profit institute, founded in 1885, had provided free library services to generations of N.D.G. residents and was a vibrant community centre.

Despite two petitions of 11,000 and 13,000 names, the spacious library on Kensington Ave. was sold when the borough refused to extend funding.

"There was just a feeling of hostility," Raj Ramtuhol, a software developer and former member of the Friends of the Fraser-Hickson, said of Applebaum's attitude toward efforts to save the library.

Applebaum claimed that it would be cheaper to build a new library than renovate the Fraser-Hickson's airy stone building, constructed in 1959. A city study had tagged the cost of renovating the library at $4 million.

"You would think 13,000 signatures might sway most politicians," said Ramtuhol, noting that the district still sorely lacks library services. The borough plans to build a $21-million library and cultural centre at the Benny Ave. site.

"It really took away the spirit of civic duty I felt I had," Ramtuhol said. "Even today, a lot of people feel like that."

Hughes described Applebaum's relations with local citizens trying to revive the Empress Theatre in similar terms.

"It was a rancorous relationship," he said.

Rather than working hand-in-hand with citizens' groups, Applebaum pitted non-profit organizations against each other by setting up a contest for proposals for the 1927 Egyptian-style landmark on Sherbrooke St., which closed in 1992.

"It's not about what's best for the neighbourhood and working collaboratively. It was about politics," Hughes said.

"There was so much energy and brains around the table to do something collaborative with each other," he said.

The thin-skinned Applebaum often lashed out at borough residents who asked questions he perceived as critical, Allmand said.

"He would often reject them out of hand simply because he perceived it to be an attack on him or an attempt to dislodge him from power, that these were people who were trying to take his place or they were from an opposition party," he said.

"I used to say to him, 'Michael, it would be better if instead of reacting to these suggestions, even if you see them as your perceived enemies, it's better if you say we'll take them under consideration,' " Allmand said.

During a public question period in 2008, Applebaum threatened to sue Margaret Rumscheidt, a terminal cancer patient who asked him whether he would give up his real-estate practice since he presided over the borough's zoning committee.

"If somebody is going to come out and attack my integrity, then of course I will defend myself," Applebaum said in an interview.

But Hughes said that despite the antagonistic atmosphere that has often prevailed in the borough in the past, he hopes Applebaum makes good on his promise of bipartisan co-operation and open government.

"I believe in my heart people can change," he said.

"He is a doer. If he can put that energy toward working with people and really building bridges and looking at a new way of doing things, then I wish him all the luck in the world. But I need to see it. I need to see the action."

Feelings are mixed about Applebaum


Member of Parliament, Marlene Jennings, stated at two public meetings in Montreal, "Mrs. Carter's rights were violated three times."
Mayor Michael Applebaum refused to take any action. He would not listen. He would not investigate. He has his own agenda and he treats the ordinary people who come to him for help and for answers with contempt. Anything Michael Applebaum does, he does for the show, the photo op, another step toward his goal. I have no doubt, he intends to be Prime Minister of Canada and anyone who disagrees with him is in his way.
We, the people of the community of NDG, were witnesses.
Michael Applebaum treated Margaret Rumschiedt with contempt, - threatened her with a law suit for questioning him - even though we could all see from her appearance that she was very sick This brave citizen gave the last of her life's energy to come to the council meeting and speak for the people. 
Michael Applebaum treated the esteemed Warren Allmand with contempt - but Warren, the consummate professional gentleman, would never say so.
Michael Applebaum has always treated Peter McQueen with contempt.
Michael Applebaum does not tolerate anyone who questions his authority. He has to silence all opposition, all free speech.
I am a 76 year old Montreal Journalist, widow, cancer patient, and - thanks to the Montreal Police - I am a crime victim.
I came before Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay and borough mayor, Michael Applebaum, at different times, pleading for a proper investigation of the Montreal Police and the criminals who robbed and destroyed my family and my health. My appeals were met with contempt. I was brushed off. 
Michael Applebaum is a cut-throat politician. He caters to the rich and powerful. All his smiles and photo ops will not blind intelligent voters. A leopard does not change its spots.
Former Montreal city councillor, Jeremy Searle is quoted in the Montreal Gazette, November 28, 2012 -

"He ( Michael Applebaum) basically grew up in the shoe store," said former city councillor Jeremy Searle, who served on council with Applebaum when the pair were the only two candidates elected under the banner of the now-defunct Montrealers Party in 1994. Searle recalled the poorly heated shop, stocked with seconds and factory samples, where Applebaum toiled from age 13. "It was a cutthroat business and they were best at being cutthroat," he said.

Kubla Khan builds monuments to his own glory. The poor, the elderly, the handicapped and those who are devoted to justice and refuse to be diverted are treated with contempt. Applebaum calls us "mere splinters."
Yes, we few who are devoted to justice are a thorn in Michael Applebaum's side. We call attention to his true intentions and he and his friends resent it.
Since Montreal City Hall chooses to ignore these crime, I must fight on alone for what has been stolen from me and my family by Dawn McSweeney - with the help of the Montreal Police.
At the same time, the world is watching Montreal City Hall. More than 63,000 people around the world have read my reports.
I will not accept money or any kind of "compensation".
I will not be deterred. I will fight to  my last breath.
I am offering a $5000. reward. 
Detailed reports at -
Phyllis Carter
November 28, 2012
I have been pleading for justice in my case day and night for sixteen years, since the moment I was attacked in my home and called 911!
The police I hoped would come and rescue me, helped the thief instead.
My family was torn apart, my health has been destroyed. I am now fighting bone cancer and I am still fighting for justice !
The crimes of Dawn McSweeney and those she boastfully calls her "partners in crime" on her own blog - have cost me sixteen years of my life - everything I worked for all my life, everything left to me by my beloved husband.
Member of Parliament, Marlene Jennings, stated at two public meetings in Montreal, "Mrs. Carter's rights were violated three times."
But the police have repeatedly refused to take appropriate legal action against the criminals or to recover our precious stolen belongings. That made it easy for the criminals to steal everything my father had worked for all his life - his home and all his savings. They went on to rob my father's heirs - his children and grandchildren - named in his own will. 
Michael Applebaum refused to take any action. He would not listen. He would not investigate. He always has his own agenda and he treats ordinary people who come to him for answers and for help with contempt.
The criminals have made several attempts to silence me. and still, I am fighting for what is my own and for everything these thieves took from my family.
I will answer any questions. I will take a polygraph test. I will never stop fighting for what is my own as long as I still have breath in me.
My Father, George Rubin, President,
Metropolitan News Agency,
1248 Peel Street,
Montreal, Canada

Our dad was on the job night and day in every kind of weather for thirty seven years, serving people from all over the world. In 2005, a stranger named Kenneth Gregoire Prud'homme made a will in our mother's name and when she died in 2007, Prud'homme, Dawn McSweeney and Debbie McSweeney took everything my father had worked for all his life. Prud'homme eliminated all the children and grandchildren specifically named in our father's own will. Detailed reports describe clearly the crimes of Dawn McSweeney and those she calls her "partners in crime" on her own blog.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Weep for our world,
Full of gluttony and cruelty.
And then,


People who do bad things
Get a lot of attention from the media,
And often,
A lot of money.
Those who commit crimes
Get all the benefits and perks
And all the rights and protection.
So -
Why bother to do good ?
Because after you die,
You get all the goodies !
So  -
Why waste time living ?
That is the way of Society today.
Being a decent person
Is lonely work.


Leap for Life, Leap of Death

275 girls started to collect their belongings as they were leaving work at 4:45 PM on Saturday. Within twenty minutes some of girls' charred bodies were lined up along the East Side of Greene Street. Those girls who flung themselves from the ninth floor were merely covered with tarpaulins where they hit the concrete. The Bellevue morgue was overrun with bodies and a makeshift morgue was set up on the adjoining pier on the East River. Hundred's of parents and family members came to identify their lost loved ones. 146 employees of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company were dead the night of March 25, 1911. The horror of their deaths led to numerous changes in occupational safety standards that currently ensure the safety of workers today.

At the time of the fire the only safety measures available for the workers were 27 buckets of water and a fire escape that would collapse when people tried to use them. Most of the doors were locked and those that were not locked only opened inwards and were effectively held shut by the onrush of workers escaping the fire. As the clothing materials feed the fire workers tried to escape anyway they could. 25 passengers flung themselves down the elevator shaft trying to escape the fire. Their bodies rained blood and coins down onto the employees who made it into the elevator cars. Engine Company 72 and 33 were the first on the scene. To add to the already bleak situation the water streams from their hoses could only reach the 7th floor. Their ladders could only reach between the 6th and 7th floor. 19 bodies were found charred against the locked doors. 25 bodies were found huddled in a cloakroom. These deaths, although horrible, was not what changed the feelings toward government regulation. Upon finding that they could not use the doors to escape and the fire burning at their clothes and hair, the girls of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, aged mostly between 13 and 23 years of age, jumped 9 stories to their death. One after another the girls jumped to their deaths on the concrete over one hundred of feet below. Sometimes the girls jumped three and four at a time. On lookers watched in horror as body after body fell to the earth. "Thud -- dead; thud -- dead; thud -- dead; thud -- dead. Sixty-two thud -- deads. I call them that, because the sound and the thought of death came to me each time, at the same instant," said United Press reporter William Shephard. The bodies of teenage girls lined the street below. Blankets that would-be rescuers used ripped at the weight and the speed the bodies were falling. Fire Department blankets were ripped when multiple girls tried to jump into the same blanket. Some girls tried to jump to the ladders that could not reach the ninth floor. None reached the ladders. The fire escape in the rear of the building collapsed and trapped the employees even more.


Many people were outraged at the tragedy. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire helped to solidify support for workers' unions like the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. The owners, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, were tried for manslaughter but were acquitted in 1914. Though most people were disgusted with what had happened, there were no regulations in effect that would have saved lives.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 still remains one of the most vivid and horrid tragedies that changed American Labor Unions and labor laws. The fire had come only five years after Upton Sinclair published his book The Jungle, which detailed the plight of the workers at a meat packer's plant. But instead of reforming the working conditions most people wanted to reform the health and safety regulations on food. The tragic death of 146 girls, whose average age was 19, was needed before the politicians and the people saw for the need to regulate safety in the workplace.

Pauline Cuoio Pepe was a nineteen-year-old sewing machine operator and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. "It was all nice young Jewish girls who were engaged to be married. You should see the diamonds and everything. Those were the ones who threw themselves from the window," Pepe told a Manhattan historian. "What the hell did they close the door for? What did the think we were going out with? What are we gonna do, steal a shirtwaist? Who the heck wanted a shirtwaist?" asked Pepe. The New York legislature created a commission called The Factory Commission of 1911. Senator Robert F. Wagner, Alfred E. Smith and Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, headed the commission. One of the most significant results of this commission was the creation of the Fire Prevention division as part of the Fire Department. Restrictions were made to prevent fires from happening and to prevent the blockage of escape routes.


Pauline Cuoio Pepe recounted that the workers didn't even use the regular doors to leave the factory. "...we never went out the front door. We always went one by one out the back. There was a man there searching, because the people were afraid we would take something, so that door was always locked." Even the doors that were not locked were of no use to the workers. The doors in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory only opened inward. When the girls tried to escape through the doors, the girls in front could not open the doors because of all of the girls pushing from behind. If the door opened outward, the onrush of girls would have opened the door. The factories would be required to make all doors open outward in factories. At the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, some of the doors were locked. Usually the doors were locked so that clothing could not be stolen through unwatched doors. When the girls tried to escape through the locked doors, the fire consumed them. All doors were to remain unlocked during business hours in accordance with new regulations. Sprinkler systems must be installed if a company employs more than 25 people above ground level. The girls of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company only had 27 buckets of water to save themselves from the fire. Today there are many laws that govern the condition of workplaces. Among those regulations are implemented to let people out during a fire. Multiple fire exits, unblocked fire doors, and clear pathways to exits are all required. Firefighting equipment must be maintained in the building. Fire sprinklers for higher floors and portable fire extinguishers. Education for employees is a must. All employees are to be trained on the proper use of a fire extinguisher as well as escape routes and fire drills. Emergency evacuation plans are also required in writing and posted. Written fire prevention plans must also be available. All areas that are fire hazards or that contain equipment of chemicals that could start fires must be maintained and controlled and all times. The United States Department of Labor classified this set of standards as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 would change the regulation by government of business. Before the fire government had mostly stayed away from business feeling it had no power to legislate it. After the fire government could not avoid instituting laws to protect the workers. Once the New York legislature enacted safety laws, other states in the US followed suit. Workers also began to look toward unions to voice their concerns over safety and pay. Samuel Gompers of the AFL had won a lot of trust and admiration by sitting in on The Factory Commission of 1911. The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union also won support and led a march of 100,000 to tell the New York legislature to move into action. Unfortunately not everyone had learned their history. March 25, 1990, on the 79th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, the Happy Land Social Club fire in the Bronx, New York killed 87 people. Most of the people killed were not workers but customers. There was no sprinkler system, fire alarms, nor exits. The windows had iron bars on them leaving only one door to escape the inferno. On September 3, 1991 in Hamlet North Carolina 25 workers died at a poultry factory. The exits were ill marked, blocked or padlocked. The doors were padlocked to prevent theft. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire remains as a turning point in US history. Countless state and federal laws were enacted because of this incident. Unions gained numerous new workers who wanted someone to fight for their safety. Now employers in the US have a clear set of guidelines that they need to follow to ensure the safety of their employees.
On February 23, 2006, a factory fire at the KTS Textile Factory in city of Chittagong
Bangladesh, claimed the lives of 63 trapped garment workers,


A fire that broke out in a 12-storey building housing four different garment factories in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, has been almost brought under control, police say.

There were no reports of deaths in Monday's blaze in the suburb of Uttara, but eight workers were injured due to heavy smoke, Abu Nayeem Mohammad Shahidullah, fire brigade director-general, told Reuters news agency.

The fire occurred just days after a similar incident killed 110 textile workers in a different facility in the city.

Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque, reporting from the scene of Monday's fire, said many workers coming out of the building were angry because the fire happened just two days after the deadly blaze.

"These are workers who make clothes for the world's leading brands, so it's expected that they should have international standards in these factories," he said. "But since 2006, 600 factory workers have died in fires like this one."

He said the new fire happened in a densely populated area and that had helped workers escape.

"They made their way up to the top floor and jumped out onto nearby buildings," he said.

Workers protesting

Separately, thousands of garment workers staged protests demanding better protection after the deadly inferno on Saturday night.

In that incident, fire engulfed a garment factory with no emergency exits that employed more than 1,000 workers. Some of the workers jumped from the eight-storey building where they made clothes for major global retailers.

Workers managed to escape by jumping
onto nearby buildings from the roof
 [Nicolas Haque/Al Jazeera]

Ahead of the first of a series of mass funerals for the victims, survivors of the blaze joined several thousand colleagues to block a road and march in the manufacturing hub of Ashulia.

"Workers from several factories have left work and joined the protest. They want exemplary punishment for Tazreen's owners," said Dhaka police chief Habibur Rahman, referring to a plant near the capital where the blaze broke out.

Police said Ashulia's more than 500 factories who make apparel for top global retailers such as Walmart, H&M and Tesco declared a wild-cat "holiday", fearing that the protests could worsen and turn into large-scale unrest.

The protestors chanted a series of slogans, including a demand for Tazreen's bosses to be brought to justice.

Local police chief Badrul Alam said officers had opened a murder investigation as a result of criminal negligence.

"We won't spare anyone," Alam promised as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced a day of mourning for the dead. All factories will also be closed on Tuesday.

Investigators suspect that a short circuit caused Saturday night's fire, according to Major Mohammad Mahbub, fire department operations director.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said it would stand by the victims' families and offered 100,000 takas ($1,250) to each of the families of the dead.

The association's acting president, Siddiqur Rahman, said on a late-night talk show early on Monday that Tazreen's owner was to meet group representatives later in the day.

"We will discuss what other things we can do for the families of the dead," he said on Rtv, a private television station. "We are worried about what has happened. We hope to discuss everything in detail in that meeting."

Bangladesh has about 4,000 garment factories, many without proper safety measures. The country annually earns about $20bn from exports of garment products, mainly to the US and Europe.


Monday, November 26, 2012



Attacked: Malala Yousafzai was shot on her way home from school
United: Women hold banners demanding education rights during a protest in Islamabad


Lawyers for Big Tobacco want expert witness barred from Canadian trial

MONTREAL - Lawyers for three of Canada's largest tobacco firms are attacking the credibility of a prominent witness in a massive class-action lawsuit against the industry.

Robert Proctor is a historian from California's Stanford University who has published extensively on the tobacco industry in books and academic papers.

He was called to testify on behalf of the plaintiffs behind a landmark $27 billion lawsuit that pits an estimated 1.8 million Quebecers against three major tobacco manufacturers.

The case is described as the biggest class-action lawsuit in Canadian history.

Proctor doesn't counch his words when describing what conclusions he draws about the tobacco industry from his research.

He has described tobacco companies as liars, cockroaches and cancer mongers and says cigarettes should be abolished.

Lawyers for the tobacco firms say this points to a clear bias on Proctor's part and are calling into question his expertise and credibility when it comes to the practices of the tobacco industry in Canada and Quebec.

They don't want the court to accept Proctor as an expert witness.

Proctor is a well-known figure in the anti-tobacco movement and has testified at 30 trials over the years. He admits that he has earned more than $1 million for doing so.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


November 25, 2012
Hearing the moderates on the Doha Debates calling for Muslims to reject extremists is encouraging. I believe all people want to live in peace, but it is the fanatics who tear us apart. When people believe they can act in God's place and decide to kill those who disagree with them, we must recognize that they are a menace to all good people.
Silence implies consent. Let us hear the masses of Muslims speaking out for an end to hatred and bigotry.


For those who are not familiar with the Masons: The Masons include doctors, lawyers, judges, politicians, CEO's. It is a powerful, world-wide organization. The Shriners are the highest level of free masonry. They do wonderful work through their hospitals -but a wink, a certain handshake and court cases are decided and most people never know how it happened.

Phyllis Carter
 I ve been in business,  says Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum,  and it doesn t matter if you steal a dollar or you steal $100,000. You re not allowed to take a penny.  (PETER McCABE FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
'I've been in business,' says Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum, 'and it doesn't matter if you steal a dollar or you steal $100,000. You're not allowed to take a penny.' (PETER McCABE FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)


Michael Applebaum:

Montreal's unconventional choice for mayor

Michael Applebaum has the corner office at Montreal City Hall. The view from his grand mayor's chambers takes in the stately squares and greystones of Old Montreal, a swath of the city's storied history.

Now, he is earning his own particular place in it. This month, Mr. Applebaum became the first anglophone in a century, the first Jewish person ever – and likely the only unicyclist and hypnotist – to ascend to the mayor's chair. In a province known for its often fractious language politics, his victory is seen as a symbolic one for a non-francophone.

Mr. Applebaum narrowly won a vote by his peers to take over from Gérald Tremblay, who stepped down under pressure. And the new mayor faces a giant task: restoring trust in a city shaken by the drip-drip revelations of corruption, until general elections are held in November, 2013. (This week, he began that process by forming a coalition of all municipal parties on the executive committee.)

"When I decided to run for mayor of Montreal, I felt that it was necessary," he said in an interview this week. "We've got to put the city back in a proper direction."

Mr. Applebaum comes with business experience honed through jobs ranging from shoe salesman and jean-store owner to property manager and realtor. During his private-sector days, he adhered to the rule that a dollar found on the floor should be returned to the company – a credo that Montrealers, cheated out of millions of their taxes, should find reassuring.

Also reassuring, to those who say the mayor's French isn't up to snuff, is that he is studying his verbs.

Every day, Mr. Applebaum says, he's reviewing the French verb-conjugating Bible known as the Bescherelle, which he keeps in an adjoining office. He's still at the verb être – to be – which is always a good place to start.

From here, he has a year to show he can deliver on his clean-up promises in a city weary of scandal.

Some people thought they would never see a person named Applebaum reach Montreal's highest office. But you were elected by a city council that includes sovereigntists and political rivals. What does that say?

The council voted for me as an individual, knowing very clearly that I'm an anglophone, that I'm Jewish. Montreal is a multicultural city where we live in harmony. People of all languages are able to get along. We are not judged on language but more on our merits.

You were first elected in 1994 and joined the city's influential inner circle, the executive committee, in 2009. Until this month, you were its chairman. Why didn't you spot signs of wrongdoing, evidence of graft and bribery at city hall?

As elected officials, we are not experts in every field and we must have the proper people to guide us and give us the appropriate answers. In the end, unfortunately, there have been, it looks like, people that used their positions to give us inappropriate information and explanations. You cannot expect an elected official to be able to understand all the specific details in a bid process.

Reports show corruption drove up the cost of public construction projects in Montreal by 30 to 40 per cent. Prominent media commentator Mario Dumont, once leader of Quebec's official opposition, said you could be counted on not to overpay because members of the Jewish community "have a pretty good reputation when it comes to paying too much." Was that ethnic stereotyping?

I heard about what he said. I cannot hide my background. I come from the business world. It does not bother me. I am who I am.

Several people have commented on your imperfect and heavily accented French, and for a while it looked like it would be an impediment to your rise to the mayor's job. Do you feel your French is adequate to represent the metropolis of a French-speaking province?

I would always like to improve my French. Are people satisfied? French people realize that I'm an anglophone and I do my best in the French language. I make mistakes.

You spent a year in French immersion in Grade 7 that you qualify as a "disaster," and returned to English schooling the following year. What went wrong

I never expected to go into politics. My objective was to become a very wealthy individual in business. So schooling for me was not a priority.

You also went to CEGEP (two-year college in Quebec) after high school but didn't graduate.

I quit because the teacher in commerce was coming late. I told him very clearly that if you come late one more time, you have nothing to teach me, because in business you must be on time and I expect you to be here on time. He showed up one day, he was late again. I got up and said, "You cannot make people wait like this, I'm gone."

What is your vision for Montreal?

Montreal is an incredible city. It's very vibrant, it has all of its different quartiers, it has everything to offer when it comes to food and nightlife and tourism, and business opportunities. The city is growing when you look at the investments in housing, construction, hospitals and all of that.

What is the city's greatest problem

The blemishes of collusion and corruption. And the mistrust that people have, rightfully so, of the administration and the functionaries of the city.

I've been in business, and it doesn't matter if you steal a dollar or you steal $100,000. You're not allowed to take a penny.

I've always said to my employees that if you find a dollar on the floor in this business, it's not yours, it's the business's money.

You have to turn it in.

You've promised to recover money "stolen" from taxpayers by corrupt officials. How?

We will do everything we can to seize that money. We will also seize any property possible, and take legal action against anybody or any company that has stolen money or did collusion or corruption.

What are some of the more surprising things that Montrealers don't know about you?

When I was a kid, I used to love motocross bikes. I used to love skateboarding. I used to unicycle. You know why I got a unicycle? When I was 13, 14, I had a two-wheel bike and it got stolen. And I was very upset and I said, "I'm going to get something that no one can ride so no one is going to want to steal it."

I've also taken courses and I graduated in hypnotherapy, which I don't practise, but if you want, I can show you tapes of me hypnotizing people and making them bark, or sing like Michael Jackson.

You also became a Shriner when the city of Montreal was successfully campaigning to keep the Shriner's Hospital in the city in the mid-2000s.

I have a fez. All the Shriners know me. I'm very proud to be a Shriner. They do incredible work.

People see your election as a symbolic breakthrough for Quebec's anglophone minority. How do you feel about that?

If people feel that I represent something for them, then I'm honoured. But I'm a simple kind of fella. I go home, I have a wife, I have kids, I take out the garbage, I do the laundry, I do the shopping. Yes, there's a lot on my shoulders. But I haven't changed over the years.

You've called your 89-year-old father, Moishe, a role model to you. You started working at his shoe store part-time at age 13.

The first thing he did when I got there, he hands me a broom. He says, "Any business you go into, you've got to learn it from the bottom up." My father taught me hard work. He also taught me to deal with people on the level. We'd go to a factory and he'd say hello to everybody. I said, "Why do you say hello to the guy in shipping, the guy on the machine?" He says, "Michael, you do not know who you're speaking to. The fellow on that machine, in two years you may find out that this guy, you walk into a factory, and he owns it."

Maybe you're the guy on the machine. No one saw your move to the mayor's office coming.

I've been very often underestimated. But that only becomes more of a challenge for me.

This interview has been edited and condensed.


In this article published in The British Telegraph, Nigel Brown, Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, says the Free Masons do not use secret handshakes.
A close member of my late husband's family was a high level Mason - 32nd degree, I believe - and back in the 1970s, Cliff showed me the handshake.
He also told me that the lower levels of Masons don't have a clue about what goes on in the chambers of the elite members. You could be a Free Mason all your life and be totally in the dark about what goes on among the top members.
While ordinary Masons go about their wonderful work, healing sick children and taking part in fun parades, the ones who hold the real power determine our lives in many ways and we never realize they are there pulling the strings and making the earth shaking decisions.
Phyllis Carter

Handshakes and trouser legs – secrets of the Freemasons

As a report says the Freemasons are still relevant, its Grand Secretary reveals all about the group's eccentric traditions.

The man from UGLE: Nigel Brown in London s Art Deco Freemasons  Hall - Handshakes and trouser legs   secrets of the Freemasons
The man from UGLE: Nigel Brown in London's Art Deco Freemasons' Hall  Photo: Andrew Crowley

Damn it! You are given a rare opportunity to greet one of England's most senior Freemasons and, in your eagerness to ingratiate yourself, you forget to clock the handshake. Was there a subtle application of pressure on the index knuckle? Or something in the grip, perhaps?

Nigel Brown, Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, smiles indulgently. "We can do it once more, if you like."

Again, nothing. But that can't be right, can it?

"Number one, there is no Masonic handshake," he says. "I'm afraid my handshake is a perfectly normal one. Sorry to disappoint you. It is one of the great myths."

There are no handshakes?  

"There are no handshakes."

Really, really, really?

"Really, really, really."

Mr Brown has taken an oath not to disclose the signs used by Freemasons to recognise each other, so maybe he has to say this. But he sticks to his answer when pressed.

"The worry of this myth is that if I extend a handshake and the other person returns it, we would immediately be doing business to the detriment of someone else."

The Grand Secretary is here, in his office in the Freemasons' Hall in London, to discuss a report called The Future of Freemasonry, commissioned by his organisation. Prepared by a think-tank, the Social Issues Research Centre, it seeks to place the Craft in a modern context, shedding light on an organisation regarded by many as a secret society populated by the rich and powerful, and liable to you-scratch-my-back corruption. Or worse.

"None of the researchers were Masons," says Mr Brown. "Our aim was to show that we are relevant and transparent. Secrecy is one of the greatest myths, and our aim is to get rid of myths. I'm here to tell you that there are no secrets – that is probably the greatest secret."

This attack of Masonic glasnost comes as the Craft looks forward to its 300th birthday. It was in 1717 that, according to Mr Brown, a group of like-minded men got together in a coffee house and devised a non-sectarian, socially egalitarian forum in which men of integrity could fraternise, while avoiding the vexed issues of religion and politics. They took as their guiding metaphor the trade of stonemasonry, hence the symbols of Freemasonry – the square, compass and apron – and its three degrees of evolution, Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason.

The report is a rather woolly thing, drawing on interviews with Freemasons and others. Its main points are that there is a longing in men to belong, to bond with other men, to help others (Masons donate £30 million a year to charity) and to take part in ritual.

"We all take part in ritual in some form or another," says Mr Brown. "The ritual in our case is a series of one-act plays. You have to be a thespian to some degree, to learn your lines. Members enjoy it because it is a rare opportunity for public speaking. As people go up the ladder, there is a bigger role to learn."

To be a Freemason you have to be male (although women have established their own lodges), aged 21 and a believer in a "supreme being". So you can be a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim but not an atheist. One can apply but for most recruits it is the tap on the shoulder. The one-act plays, to use Mr Brown's description, are staged during initiation and progression to a higher degree.

"They are allegorical plays," explains Mr Brown. "You come into life with absolutely nothing, and that is what the initiation is about. The second play is about living a good life and the third is about preparing for the end of your life."

So why is a noose placed around the neck of the applicant?

"Yes, there is a noose, but it is depicting the umbilical cord, so when you are born the umbilical cord is cut. The initiate doesn't have to do anything at all. It's done beautifully. There are no surprises for the chap coming in, no tests. The beauty is that you feel you belong."

So why not allow the filming of an initiation?

"Out of context it would seem silly and would spoil it for people coming in. Like everything, there should be a bit of mystery, because it adds to the enjoyment. But you have my assurance: it is a beautiful ceremony and everyone feels comfortable."

Mr Brown attended school in southern Africa before taking a commission in the Grenadier Guards. Prior to taking up the role of full-time secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England – UGLE for short – he ran his own consultancy. He became a Mason in 1985 on the recommendation of a friend.

UGLE has 250,000 members around the world. The Grand Lodges of Scotland and Ireland administer some 150,000 members. There may be as many as six million globally – two million in the United States. Five British kings, including Edward VIII and George VI, have been "on the square", as were Winston Churchill, Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle. The Duke of Kent is the current Grand Master of UGLE, and his brother, Prince Michael of Kent, is a Mason. Yet, despite royal patronage, and the presence of Freemasons in the judiciary and the higher reaches of the City (there is a Bank of England Lodge) they deny being an underground arm of the Establishment.

"There have been masses of books written, the vast majority are complete rubbish," says Mr Brown. "The modern problem is the internet and conspiracy websites."

You find it all there: the Illuminati, Bilderberg, the all-seeing eye on the American one-dollar bill. Bill Clinton is supposed to be a 33rd-degree Mason, there being, according to conspiracists, a stair of secret degrees ascended only by the elite.

"Dan Brown mentions some super degree or something in his book but there is absolutely no truth in it at all," says Mr Brown. "There's nothing not known to the rank and file but if someone is very interested in Freemasonry, they can develop their knowledge."


"They can perfect their ritual."

Whatever that means. Mind you, they let Jim Davidson in, which suggests an eclectic membership, professionally if not politically. What about policeman? There are supposed to be loads of them in the Masons.

"We don't have a lot of policemen, actually," says Mr Brown. "This talk that you can hush up a crime or something is absolutely not the case. Any criminal record and you would be out straight away."

Driving without due care and attention?

"It's at that level that we would start asking if you should stay on."


"That might thin our ranks a bit."

What about one's private life?

"In my humble opinion it links to integrity. Infidelity would definitely be frowned upon but each case must be considered on its merits."


"Fine. The key thing is to get men of quality coming in. One rotten apple can spread to the whole basket."

When government departments and councils issued forms asking job applicants if they belonged to secret societies, specifically Freemasonry, UGLE fought successfully to have the wording changed on grounds of discrimination. But why the culture of secrecy?

"In the 1930s Freemasonry was relatively open but then as many as 200,000 Masons were put in the gas chambers by Hitler because he feared they were a secret power base.

"When the Germans invaded the Channel Islands, the Freemasons' Hall was ransacked and members deported to camps. So people in Britain, fearing invasion, went underground."

Mr Brown sees religious belief as an indicator of integrity, of community-mindedness. The churches, though, do not return the compliment. The Roman Catholic Church still regards Freemasonry as a "grave sin" and the Church of England considers aspects to be "incompatible" with Christianity. Mr Brown denies absolutely that the Craft is a secret religion.

But there is something quasi-religious about Freemasonry. One only has to stand in the temple inside the wonderful, Art Deco Freemasons' Hall to feel its force. The symbolism is all around, silent and somehow intimidating. Above all, there is that all-seeing eye on the ceiling, beaming down on the white-gloved, aproned brethren.

One last chance to ask about arcane ritual. The rolled-up trouser leg. Now that has to be a joke, surely?

"During the initiation ceremony, for a moment, a very short time – and it only happens once in a person's life – a trouser leg is rolled up," admits Mr Brown.

What a relief! The Freemasons are dotty after all. The Great Architect is in his heaven and all's right with the world.


For the first time in history, the secrets of the privileged secret society member elites are being revealed to the public.

Members include highly accomplished leaders from a large variety of industrial, financial, social and political sectors. Many members have major professional accomplishments, academic accolades and worldwide reputations. Members share a desire to help other members share knowledge, connections, and expertise, and mentor those members who are serious about taking charge of their own destinies, achieving wealth, gaining financial freedom, experiencing dynamic health, and reaching high levels of overall emotional well-being.

Our private and exclusive fraternal organization is composed of approximately 30 past and present members of various secret societies such as the Bilderberg Group, Council on Foreign Relations, Yale Universities Skull and Bones, The Tri-Lateral Commission, The Bohemian Grove Club, The Brotherhood, and more.

These individuals however do not agree with the direction these elite groups are taking the world and are acting as a counter to them. They believe every human being should have free and equal access to any and all information.

Members share knowledge, connections, and expertise, and mentor people just like you

Who We Are

This private and exclusive fraternal organization was conceived by a group of individuals from around the world who are the highest ranking members of several private societies, associations, clubs, and groups whose membership has been exclusive to the privileged elite class of the world. This group includes members of:

The Brotherhood
The Bilderberg Group
The Council on Foreign Relations
The Freemasons
Yale University's Skull and Bones
The Illuminati
The Trilateral Commission
And several other elite international societies

The individuals who conceived and helped organize this private and exclusive fraternal organization are, and will always remain anonymous.

For the first time in human history, the highest ranking members of these "secret societies" have encouraged the formation of a new, private, member only group. A group that allows people who do not qualify to become members of the above listed societies to join together, and be exposed to the same secrets revealed and taught to members of those societies and clubs.

There is a New World Order forming that is designed to increase the gap between the wealthy and the average working man. This private organization does not agree with this movement of total control over individuals. We believe that EVERY person has the right to know the secrets of creating the life they want and enjoying freedom, pursuing happiness, and achieving all their dreams and desires. 

The Creed of our Fraternal organization is:

Every person on earth has the right to know all the knowledge available on planet earth
Every person on earth has the right to pursue happiness
Every person on earth has the right to be free to pursue his own dreams, goals, and desires
Every person on earth has the right to know ALL the methods of curing and preventing disease and have dynamic vibrant health
Every person on earth has the right to know how to use their mind to create and manifest in their lives whatever they choose
Every person on earth has the right to privacy from all governments and corporate entities
Every person on earth has the right to be happy, secure, safe, and fulfilled as a human being
Every person on earth has the same importance as every other person
Every person on earth can have, be or do anything they desire
The privileged elite class has NO right to hide the truth from the masses and keep them as virtual slaves
Freedom of speech, freedom to express ideas, opinions, and what individuals believe to be statements of fact even if it is against worldwide consensus should never be impeded

The individuals who encouraged the formation of our private membership organization include:

Former heads of governments (Prime Ministers/Presidents)
World Leaders
Some of the most powerful, influential, educated and successful people on earth

Our organization is where the average person can gain access to the same secret information that up until now has been the exclusive privilege of the elite class and only to members of the above societies and groups.

By allowing average people access to this secret knowledge, it is the hope of our group that:

Individual levels of personal responsibility will increase
More people will become empowered
Depression, powerlessness, poverty, hunger, and slavery will diminish and over time cease to exist
A worldwide global shift will occur where the masses will stop looking to government, or corporate entities to solve all problems
People will understand that they CAN change their situations and create any reality they desire
The world will go into an upward movement of prosperity, freedom, and peace for all to such a degree that mankind has never seen

The goal of the fraternal organization is to be the worldwide communication center that will spread previously secret and hidden knowledge; knowledge that had previously been used by the ruling classes to keep the world uninformed, full of fear, impoverished and enslaved.

In educating the world with this secret data, We hope to empower people to have, be or do everything and anything they desire. Ultimately the outcome of these efforts will be the following: Happiness will increase, fear will fall away, people will become more prosperous than ever before, poverty, slavery, and despair will begin to vanish from the planet and violence and wars will cease to exist on planet earth.

This private and exclusive fraternal organization provides its members with exclusive, confidential, never before released information regarding:

While subject-matter is diverse, some of the topics include:

Wealth creation
Asset protection
Raising money
Business opportunities
Relieving debt
The real Law of Attraction and how to apply it in your life
Emotional well-being
Overcoming fear and insecurities
Removing blocks from your life
How to feel in control of your life
How to create residual income known as a perpetual money-making machine
How to maintain an inner sense of calm and control despite whatever the outer conditions you are facing might be
Inside academic information on the unexplained and unidentified flying objects
Extraterrestrial Technologies and Devices exposed to members
Gambling systems
And a multitude of other topics.