SfP Bulletin March 1997
Full text version of all articles from PDF edition is also available.
The Soviet Union and its “threat” to invade Western Europe have both disappeared. Yet NATO retains a policy of battlefield nuclear weapons use and first strike preparedness, in contravention both of common morality and the ICJ judgements. In 1982 Leonid Brezhnev declared that the USSR would not be the first to use nuclear weapons. Gorbachev made this a centrepiece of his policy of rapprochement. We never reciprocated — which led indirectly to Gorbachev’s fall, the final disintegration of the Soviet state and the subsequent cruelties of the futile war in Chechnya. That blood is on our hands too.
Instead of a Soviet invasion of the West, we have a NATO “invasion” of Eastern Europe. So Russia, its conventional forces humiliated by the Chechen guerrillas, is now prepared to strike first (Globe and Mail, Feb. 12/97). Ivan Rybkin, secretary of the Russian Security Council, stated on Tuesday (Feb. 11/97): “If an aggressor starts a war with conventional weapons, we may respond with nuclear ones” — a new policy from the Russian Ministry of Defence. And Russia’s missile forces have also suffered financial and maintenance problems — increasing the chances of a bad mistake in a crisis.
What is Canada doing? Lloyd Axworthy’s web page asks us to consider Canada’s response to the ICJ judgement against nuclear weapons. This web page is already regarded as dangerous in some NATO quarters (read the US and UK) and I’m fleetingly pleased to be living in such a radical country — and with a foreign minister talking with (Fidel pace Holly Ackerman, Peace Magazine, Jan/Feb. 1997) … but Canada did not demur from the December NATO announcement that nuclear weapons policies would be preserved unchanged. And in the UN we have voted against a ‘time-bound’ agreement for nuclear disarmament. What can Science for Peace do?
Lloyd Axworthy has asked the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Bill Graham, to examine the problems. Science For Peace has asked to appear before it. The committee issued a bland statement, delaying the start of deliberations and narrowing the focus. Will we get an opportunity to testify before the federal election? I doubt it. Will frustration in the Russian armed forces continue to build up? I presume so. Will Chretien and Axworthy abandon the Mackenzie King style (cf. the Scott quote) in their second term? Don’t hold your breath. But try to think of new ways to influence them.
“He skilfully avoided what was wrong without saying what was right, and never let his on the one hand know what his on the other hand was doing” W.L.M.K. (F.R. Scott)
On October 4th and 5th, a conference on clearing and banning anti-personnel land mines (APMs) was held in Ottawa, under the auspices of External Affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy. Representatives from NGOs and the UN gathered from around the world.
Belgium was the first country to institute a total ban on land mines, and Norway and Switzerland have followed it in outlawing the stockpiling, manufacture, use, transport and sale of APMs. Now they’re encouraging other nations to do the same. Most APMs come from Russia and China. Even if these nations refuse to dispose of their stockpiles, the international community could force them to stop their export. In a treaty to ban land mines, we must also ban the “parts thereof”. Some undeveloped countries have explosives, but lack the trigger device that makes the mine explode. These are often made in western countries, and must be outlawed.
An estimated 10 million mines are now lying in wait to main or kill in Asia (Cambodia, Afghanistan), Africa (Angola, Mozambique, Somalia), Europe (former Yugoslavia), the Middle East (Iraq, Kurdistan), and South America. More are produced or stolen from stockpiles every month. A mine may cost only three to five dollars, a price affordable to any criminal. Not only are people killed or mutilated by APMs, they also starve when they lose the use of their means of livelihood, their agricultural land.
Silvija Jaksic writes in the July/August issue of Peace Magazine: “Most land mines have been rendered even more volatile by a thousand days of constant exposure to blistering temperatures and the sun.” Bedouins fall victim to mines planted in Egypt during World War II, and children in Laos are maimed or killed by one of the thousands of mines planted by the American army during the Vietnam War. Despite the millions of dollars spent on developing weapons, few western governments are willing to pay for clearing the mines they laid in developing countries.
The old land mines were made from steel, which can be located with metal detectors. But the new plastic mines contain less than a nickel’s weight of metal. A brave soul must go out into the field to find these mines, usually without protection. They lie on their stomach, poking with a little stick in the ground, sideways. If they feel something hard, they dig with a scoop, or their bare hands around the object. Unearthed mines are de-activated by inserting a metal wire through an opening. An accidental poke to the top of the mine will make it explode, leaving them dead or crippled for life.
I once found myself in a land mine field in Europe, shortly after World War II. Never in my life have I prayed so literally, “God, guide my every step.” I thought, if I step on a mine, then anyone who comes to rescue me might step on one too, and would be wounded or killed. I remember the fear. That was only once, but people in other countries, now, have to live with this fear all their lives.
For more information on the International Campaign, contact Tom Davis at Science for Peace (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Mines Action Canada, #208 — 145 Spruce Street, Ottawa, ON, K1R 6P1.
Science for Peace invites you to join us for a tour of a, first of its kind, environmentally responsible, house. At 3 pm, Sat. March 15. We will be guided through a 1,700 sq. ft. semi-detached, 3-bedroom, dwelling with 4 floors of living space on an infill lot in the Riverdale neighbourhood of Toronto. The house is not hooked up to water, sewage, hydro, or gas. Instead, rainwater is collected, filtered, purified, and stored for drinking and washing. It is then recycled for use in the tub, washing machine, shower and toilet. Water consumption is expected to be 120 litres per day for a family of 3, considerably better than the current average of 1,050 litres per day.
Rooftop solar panels generate electrical energy which can be stored for future use. Heating bills are expected to be less than $80 per year. For the best in indoor air quality, construction materials were selected on the basis of giving off few chemicals and vapours.
The future resident, and driving force behind the house, is Rolf Paloheimo, owner of Creative Communities. The unlikely sponsors of this project are Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp., City of Toronto Pub. Health Dept., Ont. Min. of Environment & Energy, Ont. Hydro, and Toronto Hydro.
We invite you to come and see it for yourself! Call SfP ASAP at 978-3606, to reserve your space on the tour. The house is located at 150 Sparkhall Ave., east of Broadview, south of Danforth.
A Documentary on New Technology at the University of Toronto
By Dominick Jenkins email@example.com
Recently, I wrote a Science for Peace documentary on technology and unemployment. Since then, most of the filming has taken place and the final form of the documentary is beginning to emerge. The interviews have been extraordinarily good, I think because we are addressing a topic that is of burning concern to a great many people, and which has not yet been properly discussed. We are also looking to see whether the sound track of the interviews might be used for a radio documentary, perhaps for the CBC Ideas program.
Briefly, the outline of the documentary is as follows. Traditionally universities have been elite institutions. They have been the places where the elite reproduces itself. They have been centres for the expropriation of knowledge from populations, and the use of that knowledge to dominate and exploit those populations. Dominated and exploited groups have, however, been successful in gaining entrance to the university and partially democratizing it. The question is whether globalization, and introduction of new technologies, will further or reverse, the democratization of the university?
To examine this question, the documentary looks into the introduction of new technology in the University of Toronto library system. It interviews professional librarians, library workers, intellectual workers at the University of Toronto who represent the aspirations of subordinated groups, and scientists and technologists in Science for Peace who are concerned about the direction of science and technology in our society.
As we have been interviewing graduate students, Science for Peace members, librarians, library workers, experts on technology, and others, it has become clear that, besides trying to produce a catalyst for discussion and change, the central concern of the documentary is to build bridges which introduce to each other the different groups. Groups who are thinking about how to negotiate the dilemmas presented by the rapid introduction of new technology at the University of Toronto.
We are now starting to edit the interviews. To do this we have a small grant of $300 from the Hart House Film Club, but we need a bit more. So if you would like to support this project, we would be grateful for any financial help. A suggested contribution is $10-$25, or more! Cheques should be made out to Science for Peace, and earmarked for “Documentary”
The Science for Peace Board is pleased to announce that Prof. Anatol Rapoport has accepted the position of honourary life president of SfP.* He will be attending the AGM on Sat. May 17 to accept this position, and to say a few words.
This Department of Foreign Affairs, Industry and International Trade (DFAIT) — Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Peace Building consultation was held at the Pearson Building in Ottawa on Feb. 7, 1997, from 9am to 5pm. It was chaired by Ruth Archibald of DFAIT, with opening remarks by the Hon. Christine Stewart (Secretary of State for Latin America — Africa), and Ernie Regehr (Project Ploughshares). Thematic discussions, with wide participation by many of the NGO representatives present, concerned “Conflict Prevention — Building Trust” and “Post-Conflict Reconstruction — Reintegration of War-Affected Populations”. A synthesis review of these discussions were presented, very ably prepared on the spot, by Tim Draimin of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC). Draimin pinpointed the tensions, gaps, opportunities, coordination strategies, and processes coming from the participant’s field experiences and recommendations. The afternoon was spend in three parallel workshops: on Central Africa (focus on Rwanda-Zaire), on Central America (focus on Guatemala), and Southeast Asia (focus on Cambodia). The closing session discussed follow-up, e.g. regular (at least annual) consultations like this one. The conference was worthwhile. We can only hope that some of the recommendations will be implemented, which is never sure.
Science for Peace is currently organizing an international conference on “The Lessons of Yugoslavia”, to occur in March. The purpose is to use the Balkan breakdown as a prototype case in examining how we might avoid future conflicts involving ethnic or religious tensions, or failing that how to deal with them. The speakers come from a wide range of experience and thinking; many of them are from the former Yugoslavia. Support for this conference has come from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and from the Blumenfeld Fund. The conference will be dedicated to the memory of George and Alison Ignatieff. George is well-remembered at a past president of Science for Peace, and before that had been the Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia.
Tickets to the conference can be obtained in two ways. Invited participants may pre-register for a fee of $125. They will be guaranteed reserved seating in all events, summaries of prepared papers, as well as lunches and refreshments during the coffee breaks. Admission to half-day sessions will also be offered, depending on the availability of seating space, to members of the academic community, peace and humanitarian organizations, at $25 per session (morning or afternoon). Those attending on a sessional basis will be able to buy their own refreshments in adjacent coffee shops and cafeterias. There is also an evening panel discussion that is open to the public. Friday March 21. The topic of discussion is “What Killed Yugoslavia?”.
Cheques can be made out to Science for Peace, and mailed to the Science for Peace office. For further information please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
A few of those from elsewhere, who have applied to attend the conference would appreciate being “billeted”, in order to reduce the costs. If any members in Toronto would be willing to offer such a billet, it would be very helpful. And the people involved will tend to be quite interesting. Please contact John Valleau at 905-729-3675, email@example.com
A conference in Toronto, March 15-18
This conference is scheduled immediately before the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association. It is closely related to the Yugoslavia Conference.
“The Media and Early Warning” is a special event of the conference. It is scheduled for Sunday March 16, 7-9 pm, at the Westin Harbour Castle. Further information is available from Suzanne Schmeidl tel: 416-736-5883 fax: 416-736-5837 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Derek Paul and Shirley Farlinger
A new book in the Dundurn series of Science for Peace was released in February. It’s full title is “Good Taxes: the Case for Taxing Foreign Currency Exchange and Other Financial Transactions”. It is written by Alex Michalos, political scientist at the University of Northern British Columbia. Many of you will remember Alex’s previous book published by Science for Peace: “Militarism and the Quality of Life”. He is also author of a dozen or more other books, as well as many articles.
“Good Taxes” discusses more thoroughly than I have seen elsewhere the merits of a tiny percentage tax on foreign currency exchange, and on financial transactions such as stock and bond purchases. Many people are unaware that a tax of 0.005% on foreign currency exchange would generate over $300 billion (US) per annum, if applied worldwide on all such transactions. The proceeds of such a tax could, if distributed to the nations collecting it, eliminate the need for the GST in Canada, and bring other equivalent benefits elsewhere. Benefits to the UN and contributions to reducing poverty are also possibilities arising from such a modest tax.
The retail price of “Good Taxes” is $9.00 per copy. However, there is a 40% discount to Science for Peace members. If you are interested in this book, please make cheques payable to “Science for Peace Publications”, for mail out orders please include $2 for the first book, and 50 cents for each additional book ordered.
At the Physics Department, University of Toronto, 60 St. George St.
The meeting will discuss major issues, beginning with forward-looking reports that are being solicited from the co-ordinators of the Working Groups of Science for Peace listed below. One of these Reports, from the Working Group on Energy, is already available, and it will give some idea of the format expected.
We shall then proceed to discuss other important issues and actions proposed by the participants. TO HAVE AN ISSUE PLACED ON THE AGENDA, write to Derek Paul at 122 Hilton Ave Toronto M5R 3E7, or email email@example.com
Please indicate your intention to attend the meeting by April 10, by contacting the above address or the Science for Peace office, so that the conference package can be mailed to you two weeks before the meeting. You are of course welcome to participate without giving prior notice. Funds are being sought to subsidize travel for members living far from Toronto. We are also prepared to seek overnight billets to assist those coming from out-of-town. There will be no charge for attendance at this meeting, though there may be a request for voluntary contributions.
Energy Working Group
Helmut Burkhart and Peter Shepherd firstname.lastname@example.org 416-979-5000 ext 7246 email@example.com 416-535-6706
ISSUES — Ontario’s Energy Future: establishing a vision of Ontario as an energy system innovator, a shining example for the other regions of the globe, by phasing out the use of nuclear power, and replacing it with increased efficiency, conservation, solar heat, solar electricity, and other locally feasible alternatives, with natural gas co-generation to fill the gaps where necessary.
ACTIONS — To get a research grant from the Power Worker’s Union, or other sources, to study the technical, economic, and ecological feasibility of the proposed vision. While supporting the campaigns for nuclear phaseout and stopping nuclear exports, the Science for Peace Energy Working Group should emphasize positive action by promoting solar energy and other alternatives, through publications and the popular media.
- Nov. 15/96 — Canada Reviews Nuclear-Weapons Policy.
- Dec. 6/96 — Trade Deals and Human Rights in Indonesia (East Timor).
- Dec. 10/96 — How to Survive an Occupying Army. By J. Sewell.
[A copy of any of these is available on request to the Science for Peace office]
- Two impressionistic journeys through war from a feminist perspective (a benefit performance for Women’s Groups in former Yugoslavia)
Thursday, March 13, at 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm at the National Film Board Theatre, 150 John Street
“A Balkan Journey: fragments from the other side of war” by Brenda Longfellow and “Black Kites” by Jo Andres
- “Asking Different Questions : Women and Science”
This film was released in the Fall. It was inspired by Ursula Franklin, and produced by Artemis in conjunction with the National Film Board. The film looks at how the increasing participation of women is transforming the fabric of science and technology. A group of SfP student members , with the assistance of faculty, plan to show the video/film to friends and colleagues. To obtain a video copy, call the NFB at 1-800-267-7710. Order # 9196053. Cost $26.95.
All members of Science for Peace should have a subscription to Peace Magazine, because this is now our regular vehicle for communication of ideas. Canadian subscriptions (including GST) are $17.50 /one year, and $ 30 /two years. There are 6 issues per year. Peace Magazine is located at 736 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2R4. Listed below are the articles that appeared in the Science for Peace section of Peace Magazine during 1996. Back issues are available from Peace Magazine.
- March/April 1997
- January/February 1997
- Vanunu: the Dam Breaks Israeli public opinion is beginning to pay heed to some of the implications of Mordechai Vanunu’s long imprisonment for drawing attention to the country’s nuclear weapons program. By Mordecai Briemberg.
- Will the Nobel Prize Help East Timor? East Timorese diplomat Jose Ramo Horta and Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo share the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize. Analysis by David Webster.
- Close Calls of the Nuclear Age We came close to a nuclear war several times, though few people realized it. Excerpts from a paper by David Morgan, selected and edited by Ron Shirtliff.
- Star Wars for Canada? The U.S. government is pushing for Canadian participation in its three new ballistic missile defence programs. Ann Denholm Crosby and Bill Robinson are revealing the news. By J.M. Dykstra.
- November/December 1996
- September/ October 1996
- July/August 1996
- May/June 1996
- March/April 1996
- January/February 1996