Tuesday, October 29, 2013

84% of union members want to know how their unions are spending their money

CUPW has been one of the main financial backers of Canadian ships attempting to break the Israeli blockade of the terrorist-run Gaza. More benignly, unions spend millions every year supporting the NDP, which is fine for the 20% of union members who support the Dippers and not so good for the 80% who don't.
Whatever you think of the Sun as a newspaper, they deserve kudos for commissioning a poll on this issue.  The federal government passed legislation that would have compelled unions to disclose the salaries of union officials making more than $100,000 a year, spending on political activities, and general spending for sums as little as $5,000.

If such a law had been in place by 2004, CUPE would have had to disclose to its members that is was sending a representative to yearly terrorist conferences in Cairo (see here).

But despite the Commons passing the law, corrupt and radical unions still don’t have to fear scrutiny. The unions spent millions of dollars of their members’ money on a lobbying campaign and convinced the Senate to gut the bill. Now if a union wants to drop $100,000 of their members' money to rebuild a biker strip club, they can go right ahead, and still no one the wiser…

By Brian Lilley, Parliamentary Bureau

OTTAWA - Union funds used to rebuild a biker strip club, false expense claims sometimes totalling $4,000 in a day for a single executive and plenty of connections between top union officials and organized crime. These are just some of the shocking revelations to come out of Quebec's Charbonneau Commission into corruption in that province.

The allegations might also explain why union bosses have fought so hard against disclosure laws that their members support in droves.

The latest poll of working Canadians, including a strong sampling of union members, shows that 83% of all working Canadians agree that unions should be required "to publicly disclose detailed financial information on a regular basis."

Broken down further, the poll showed that 84% of union members back such a law compared to 81% of working Canadians who have never been unionized and 89% of those who formerly belonged to a union.

"We don't see it very often," said Leger vice-president Christian Bourque, when asked about how often eight in 10 Canadians agree on any proposed law.

Bourque also said they asked a high number of unionized Canadians to ensure they were adequately reflecting the views of union members.

"We also asked the question multiple ways to make sure the wording of the question did not influence the outcome," Bourque said.

A law passed by the House of Commons in late 2012 would have amended the income tax act to require public disclosure of union finances including executive salaries, political activities and general spending over $5,000.

In June, after an intensive lobbying campaign by organized labour, estimated to have cost millions of dollars in union dues, unelected senators essentially gutted the bill removing all meaningful requirements for disclosure.

Union leaders have warned that such a bill would add increased costs for their movement, which would result in higher dues or reduced benefits. However, when presented with a range of options on how to deal with any increased costs, the most popular option was reducing donations to political parties followed by reduced pay for union leaders and reduced spending on political or social causes.

The phone survey was conducted by Leger Marketing July 29-Aug. 18, among a representative sample of 1,400 English or French speaking employed Canadian adults. The maximum margin of error obtained for a sample of 1,400 respondents is +/- 2.62, 19 times out of 20.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Financial aid to the Palestinians in action - funding terrorism and offshore bank accounts

Aid dollars at work in the West Bank – funding offshore bank accounts

Over the past four years, the Palestinian Authority has managed to "lose" nearly $3 billion in financial aid from Europe, according to a report by the European Court of Auditors that was leaked to Britain's Sunday Times.

The news comes just days after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas publicly blamed Israel for his regime's economic woes.

The European Court of Auditors is an organ set up by the European Union to monitor income and spending by member states. In its report, the court revealed that $2.7 in direct aid to the Palestinians between 2008 and 2012 could not be accounted for. What's more, EU investigators who visited Jerusalem and the so-called "West Bank" were unable to access information or speak to Palestinian officials regarding suspected corruption.
Of course, this comes as no surprise to the Palestinians themselves. In a survey published last month by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 79 percent of respondents said the Abbas government is corrupt to the point of being ineffective.
Late last year, the Jerusalem Institute of Justice launched a campaign to pressure foreign governments to stop sinking money into a Palestinian government whose overt corruption is only making peace and prosperity a more distant goal than ever.
In its initial presentation, the JIJ noted that per capita, the Palestinian Authority has received 25 times more aid than did Europe in the years following World War II.
"Poverty in the Palestinian areas could have been eradicated years ago," wrote JIJ founder and director Calev Myers on his Facebook page. "The Palestinian people should be outraged by this. So should Americans and Europeans."

Aid dollars at work in Gaza – funding the terrorists

Associated Press
Sunday, October 13, 2013
(Published in print: Monday, October 14, 2013)

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said Sunday it discovered a concrete-lined tunnel dug from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip into Israel, alleging militants planned to use it to attack or kidnap Israelis.

In response, the military froze the transfer of all construction materials to the Palestinian territory, the army said. A Hamas military spokesman in Gaza, Abu Obeida, was defiant over the tunnel discovery, saying on his official Twitter account that “thousands” more tunnels would be dug out.
According to the Israeli military, the latest tunnel stretches a little more than one mile and appears to have been recently dug and in use until its discovery last week.

“The tunnel is extremely advanced and well prepared” Brig. Gen. Mickey Edelstein, commander of Gaza Strip division, told reporters. “Massive amount of concrete and cement have been used to build this tunnel.”

Military officials said it opened some 600 feet inside Israeli territory and had two exits in an open area. The exits were roughly one mile from an Israeli communal village, making Israeli civilians potential targets.

The military invited journalists into the tunnel, dug some 60 feet underground and roughly six feet high. Concrete walls and arches lined the tunnel and electrical cords could be seen along its walls. The military also showed empty food wrappers, work gloves and an axe-like digging tool it said it had found inside. One of the cookie wrappers was dated June 2013, indicating that workers had been inside in recent months.

The military said it was the third tunnel found along the Gaza border fence in the past year. It estimated that 500 tons of cement and concrete were used, and the structure took more than a year to build. It said the tunnel was detected during a routine patrol, and that Hamas blew up the Gaza side of the tunnel after figuring out that Israel had detected it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Toronto high school teacher links to antisemitic websites

A teacher at a Toronto public high school recently posted a link on the school’s Facebook page to an article on the antisemitic website Veteran’s Today. The article itself wasn’t antisemitic; more anti-Canadian, but it raised my eyebrows, especially when I saw other articles that had been linked to.

Virginia Pang, the principal of The Student School, told me that the article was for a politics class about the Canadian electoral system and whether it’s fair and open.  The teacher’s mistake, Pang said, was not to check out the website.

I’ll say. The article was originally published by Iran’s Press TV, which has been conducting a propaganda offensive against Canada since our government broke off diplomatic relations with Iran. (More on Iran's anti-Canadian propaganda here.) This particular article claims that a Canadian court ruled that the 2011 federal election was fraudulent.

The story was also covered by all the legitimate Canadian media. The court did find that fraud was committed in the election by persons unknown, but contrary to Iranian propaganda, the fraud had no effect on the election’s outcome. 

“Fascist,” said a comment on the school’s Facebook posting, apparently in reference to  Stephen Harper, and a teacher at the school “liked” this comment.

Perhaps the teacher did so to encourage discussion, the principal suggested.

Unfortunately, the teacher himself wouldn’t talk to me. If he had, I might have suggested that a high school teacher should understand enough history to know that the government of Canada isn’t fascist.

The teacher did take down the link to Veteran’s Today as soon as he learned he’d directed students to an antisemitic website. Since my chat with the principal and with Ryan Bird, a communications officer with the Toronto District School Board, The Student School has taken down its whole Facebook page and is combing through it to remove other inappropriate postings.

David Duke, former Grand Wizard of American's most notorious racist organization, the Klu Klux Klan, is one of the "experts" Press TV likes to interview.
One posting linked to an article on Press TV. As a propaganda arm of the Iranian government, Press TV is antisemitic and shares the Iranian government’s malice toward Israel. I asked the principal if the teacher understood what Press TV is. She said she didn’t think so.

The linked article accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing against its Bedouin population. There is a plan to move many of the Bedouin of the Negev Desert from their current homes in impoverished unregulated villages. The plan is highly controversial and has been covered in detail by the legitimate media in Israel. (Outside Israel, there’s little interest in the issue.)

But unlike Press TV, the legitimate media explains the plan is not to remove the Bedouin from the Negev – as suggested by the phrase “ethnic cleansing.” 

Nor - even in the Press TV coverage - is there any suggestion the Israelis are committing murder, torture, rape, or any other heinous practices associated with ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, where the term originated.  

Rather, the Bedouin are to be moved into towns close to their current homes, but with running water, flush toilets and schools. They will also receive cash compensation.

The Press TV article is just as weak on what’s wrong with this plan. Reading Israeli media, you’d learn that at least some Bedouin want the government to bring running water and other municipal services to their villages, rather than moving elsewhere to get these services and complain they weren’t consulted about this plan for them.

But these sorts of real and substantial issues are largely absent from the Press TV article. Also, of course, in keeping with its standard practices, Press TV doesn’t interview anyone actually responsible for the plan, because after all, they’re Jews.*

Ryan Bird, the TDSB communications officer I spoke to, told me that the teacher had said the purpose of these postings was to spark a conversation in class. “It’s not a one-sided discussion,” he said.

Good. Still, given that there are many high quality articles about the planned relocation of the Bedouin, I would have liked to ask The Student School teacher why he chose to link to an article composed of baseless accusations and containing almost no facts.

Cartoon from Richard Falk's blog: Dog in Jewish skull cap and American sweater eats people and pisses on Justice

Another posting by a Student School teacher linked to an article on Richard Falk’s blog about “heroic” Palestinians hunger strikers, protesting their detention by Israel.

Falk is the UN’s Special Human Rights Rapporteur to the Occupied Territories and a notorious anti-Israel bigot. The governments of Canada and the UK have condemned Falk for antisemitic comments and material he’s posted on his blog which The Student School linked to.

Falk has approved suicide bombings, compared Israelis to Nazis and the Hamas terrorist group to French resistance fighters, suggested the US was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and blamed Israel for the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon.

As Falk has never had any problem with Palestinian terrorism, naturally he also supports their hunger strike.

Hopefully, the class discussion about this article at The Student School concerned why the UN has a human rights rapporteur who’s a bigot.

Another posting by a Student School teacher linked to a petition calling on the Red Hot Chili Peppers to cancel their performance in Israel;* another linked to an article about Teacher’s Union of Ireland voting to support an academic boycott of Israel.

Hopefully, the teacher opened the class discussion about that article by noting that in Canada the Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality. Thus, for a school to support an academic boycott and to spurn a teacher or student because they’re Israeli would be illegal.

I do believe the teacher does his best to make sure in-class discussions don’t give only one side of controversial issues, but a discussion that begins with Israel in the dock, accused of some crime, is imbalanced from the get go.

Besides, I doubt a teacher who doesn’t know what Press TV is understands the Middle East well enough to guide a classroom discussion of such controversial issues.

And given, the articles The Student School links to, I can’t help but worry that its teachers are biased against Israel, regardless of reassurances from the principal and from Ryan Bird, the School Board’s communication officer.

Chili Peppers rock Tel Aviv
However, things clearly have improved at the school. Back in 2008, The Student School founded the first high school chapter of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, an odious group that calls on people to shun Israelis.

Readers will recall that in 2010, all parties in the Ontario Legislature unanimously condemned CAIA’s annual Apartheid Week.

 Ryan Bird reports that this group doesn’t exist at the school anymore and that the school absolutely does not support a boycott against Israel.

Well good! But still, as a parent and as a Canadian, schools such as The Student School that define their purpose as the pursuit of “social justice” or "social activism" make me nervous.

Too often, “justice” is just a name people give to their political agenda. And even well-meaning teachers, without an agenda, are unequipped to navigate controversial issues. Because unfortunately, the world of “activism” is full of people untethered to reality and seething with anger, bigotry and antisemitism.
*Note: The Press TV article linked to by The Student School also accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing during its War of Independence. Anyone who can count knows the real ethnic cleansing in 1948 took place on the other side, as following ’48 the Jewish population of the Gaza strip and of Judea and Samaria was reduced to zero while many Arabs remained in Israel and still compose 20% of its population today.

But who knows? Perhaps the complexities of the 1948 conflict were covered during an in-class discussion, which perhaps also touched on the marked disappearance of Jews from Iraq, Syria, Egypt and the other Arab countries. (More on how Jews were driven out of Arab countries here.)

*Whenever a big name act announces a visit to Israel, the anti-Israel crowd deluges the performer with emails begging them to ostracize the Jewish state and threatening them if they don’t. I’m happy to report that the Chili Peppers ignored the haters and played to a sold-out crowd of 50,000 in Tel Aviv.

A slightly shorter version of this article appeared in the Jewish Tribune. A hat tip for information used in this article to Eye on a Crazy Planet and to Socialist Studies.

Confessions of a Toronto high school teacher

This is an interesting piece I picked up by a recently retired teacher:
I distinctly remember hearing teachers railing against then Conservative Ontario Premier Bill Harris – overt political propaganda in the classroom. When my own students asked me, during the height of tensions between his government and the teachers’ unions, what my feelings were about Harris, I replied that I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to use the classroom to advocate my political views. Their response was, “All our other teachers do.” My colleagues railed against Bush senior over Kuwait and Bush junior about Hurricane Katrina . . . some considered their desks to be their political pulpits, something that I, as a conservative, would not dare have done.
But nothing matched the Board’s approach to racism, which was, essentially, to vilify white people – I know that sounds extreme, and they would deny it, but I can demonstrate it, and will.
At one school, a group was brought in to give a presentation to the student body in an assembly and then fan out into the classrooms to indoctrinate the students further. Their presentation consisted of a number of skits that showed discrimination in action.
After three or four of these, I started to keep score. If it concerned something sexual orientation, the heterosexual was “the bad guy”; racism, the white guy; sexual harassment, the male . . . without fail. And it occurred to me: a new stereotype was being created and advertised – the white, able-bodied, heterosexual, anglophone male.
And what will happen when Toronto becomes majority non-white, as the demographers tell us will happen? Whites will face discrimination, fueled by generations of educators and other politically correct sources telling non-whites that whites discriminate against them.
I went to – in fact, was forced to attend – a workshop on racism, in which I and my fellow teachers were told that the only people who could, by definition, practice racism were whites because racism, by definition, equals discrimination plus power, and whites are the only group that has power.
That’s circular logic combined with a definition that you won’t find in Oxford or Webster. When I pointed out that the then director of the TDSB was black, I was informed, straight-faced, that he was the exception, and so, in short, did not count. 
The overall effect of this is to create and foster a stereotype of white people as being racist to non-whites, while non-whites are incapable of being racist, which fosters antipathy towards whites who, quite rightly, resent that – hardly a formula for reducing racism.
What little true racism exists in our society, of course, exists on all sides. I have seen black students show prejudice against Asians, Asians against blacks, aboriginals against whites . . . like I said, it’s on all sides.
I once had to deal with a group of black girls who were playing loud music in the hall, disturbing students in the Library. The hall monitor, who was also black, asked me to help because the girls would not listen to him.
When negotiations failed, I simply unplugged their boom box. One of them started screaming at me. My ears literally hurt because she got so close and so loud. She called me a “fucking white racist”.
For this, she received a one day suspension – one day! I asked the vice-principal what discipline he would have handed out if a large white male student had screamed obscenities at a small black female teacher, calling her a “fucking black” anything. The only answer I got was a glare.