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How to Stop Canadians From Becoming Jihadists

and | August 29, 2014

Calgarian Farah Mohamed Shirdon joined his fellow Islamic State fighters in a ritualistic burning of passports, meant to symbolize the destruction of the artificial borders between Muslims and the creation of a new reality, that of a yet-to-be-announced Caliphate.

The video of the act, posted in April, highlights the growing threat from homegrown fighters to Canada’s national security.

Before burning his passport, Shirdon, whose death was reported in August, told those watching, “This is a message to Canada and all the American tyrants. We are coming for you, with permission from Allah the almighty.” In death Shirdon went from being a troubled man, who felt excluded, to an international jihadi star; a warrior who died for a holy cause, the establishment of a Caliphate incorporating Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel-Palestine. More …


Canada Aiding Iraq: This Is Just the Beginning

and | August 28, 2014

As the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, France and even Iran provide humanitarian and military assistance to Iraq in its fight against the Islamic State, Canada too has been supporting efforts to help Iraqis in their struggle against the Islamic militants. But opportunities exist for it to do more.

The Canadian government has pledged its support for the Iraqi people. It recently announced that it will be delivering weapons provided by allies to Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State (often still called by its old acronyms ISIS or ISIL) and will be sending $5 million in emergency supplies and humanitarian aid to Iraq. More …


Canada’s Central American Connection

| August 27, 2014

For the past several months, stories of unaccompanied minors making the overland journey from Central America to the United States have caught the attention of the media, the public, and policymakers. In 2014 alone, an estimated 50,000 children arrived at the U.S. border, prompting the United Nations to ask for their international protection, instead of deportation.

OpenCanada contributor Robert Muggah recently detailed the often violent conditions causing many Central Americans to flee, some of which can be directly linked to gangs deported from the United States and the unrest caused by a militarized drug war.

Such turbulent times are not new to Central America however, as author and academic Maria Cristina Garcia points out. The Cornell University professor recounted the history of political upheaval and consequent migration in her book ‘Seeking Refuge: Central American Migration to Mexico, The United States, Canada.’

She spoke with OpenCanada managing editor, Eva Salinas, about Canada’s history of accepting Central American migrants, of the need to update the definition of refugee, and on the need for a regional response to this current humanitarian crisis. More …


Modi’s India, Three Months In

| August 25, 2014

The clearest articulation of Modi’s vision came in the traditional PM’s Independence Day speech on August 15. Typically PMs pronounce with pride India’s shining accomplishments while sounding warnings to mischief-minded foreign powers. Modi broke from tradition in the substance of his address and the barnstorming nature of his performance in an extemporaneous 70-minute address in Hindi.

Modi began by saying he spoke as India’s First Servant, not PM. Acknowledging the contributions of all predecessors, he insisted that national upliftment was not just the duty of government but the individual, family and collective responsibility of the people. He attacked the mentality of mera kya (what’s in it for me?) and if nothing, mujhe kya (what’s it to me?). If every one of India’s 1.25 billion people took one step forward, he noted, India would move forward 1.25 billion steps. References to skill development, digital India, e-governance, balance between imports and exports, manufacturing, and the abolition of the Planning Commission were along expected lines. More …

Women and their children wait in line to register at the Honduran Center for Returned Migrants after being deported from Mexico, in San Pedro Sula

The crisis of child migration

| August 22, 2014

They are usually given the choice to leave immediately or stay, and be killed. Central America´s desperate, or deseperados, are fleeing their homes in record numbers. This year alone more than 60,000 undocumented children already made the perilous trek from the northern triangle – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – to the United States.

The scale of the displacement crisis is staggering. U.S. customs officials picked-up 17,500 unaccompanied children from Honduras, 15,700 from Guatemala and 14,500 from El Salvador this year. There were just 3,000 from all three countries combined in 2009.

Many of these children are now in limbo, interned in 100 shelters scattered along the US-Mexico border. They join an estimated 11.7 million pool of “illegals” who negotiated extreme hardship in pursuit of a better life. More …

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  • “ISIS has grown from being a small offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq into the wealthiest terror group in the world,” writes Sheera Frenkel for Buzzfeed. The group is making millions selling oil and artifacts on the black market and running racketeering and kidnapping schemes. And since that wealth is produced locally, it isn’t as vulnerable to outside sanctions.


    Criminalization alone is not best way to deal with radicalization, argue Alexander Corbeil and Reza Akhlaghi.

  • Iraq

    Navid Hassibi and Wisam Salih on what Ottawa can do to help the fight against the Islamic State.

    The five major oceanic gyres – large systems of rotating ocean currents – make up about a quarter of the Earth’s surface. And we’re slowly filling them with plastic, writes Bucky McMahon for Matter. That plastic eventually dissolves into dust that leaches toxic substances. Those substances are eaten by fish which we eat in turn.

  • Migrants

    An interview with author and academic Maria Cristina Garcia about Canada’s relationship with migrants from Central America.

    Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva is leading the charge against industrial agriculture that relies on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fossil fuels, cheap water, and increasingly biotechnology like GMOS, writes Michael Specter for the New Yorker. But while Shiva’s rhetoric is damning, the science doesn’t always agree with her.

  • At the height of the surge, Kabul was a boomtown full of expats with too much easy money and an inclination to misbehave, writes Matthieu Aikins for Rolling Stone. Now the party is over and foreign civilians are being targeted, sometimes by the Taliban and sometimes by Afghans who just don’t like Westerners.


    NATO might be slow, flawed and possibly broken, but it’s still the best form of multilateral military cooperation we have, says Steve Saideman.

  • Scotland will vote on whether or not to become an independent country on September 18, but there are some key questions that remain unanswered. The BBC’s Vanessa Barford lists five big ones, including what currency the new country would use and how much oil revenue it can expect from the North Sea.


    Ramesh Thakur considers India’s direction under its new Prime Minister.

  • Women and their children wait in line to register at the Honduran Center for Returned Migrants after being deported from Mexico, in San Pedro Sula

    Central America migration is a humanitarian issue, but it has been caught up in the illegal immigration debate, argues Robert Muggah.

    When Presidential candidate Eduardo Campos was killed in a plane crash earlier this month, his choice for vice president Marina Silva was suddenly in the running. With her candidacy confirmed this week, as Dom Phillips reports in Time, the environmentalist is expected to shake up the campaign before October elections.

  • Guatemala1

    Kyle Matthews and photographer Tristan Brand follow the forensic team unearthing and identifying victims of decades of civil war.

    While it appears the Islamic State is finally on the defensive in northern Iraq, it is far from defeated. It may be “only a matter of time before transnational operations are launched,” The Economist reports. Military and political might is needed, including careful action by Iraq’s new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi.

  • U.S. President Obama holds a news conference at the conclusion of the the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the State Department in Washington

    This month’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit ended with a promised $14 billion in investments. Adam Sneyd calls for new economic thinking going forward.

    With more people displaced than at any time since the Second World War, The Independent‘s Suzy Madigan looks at the transformation of the aid industry by those searching for radical solutions: “The aid sector is opening membership to business, technology developers and, crucially, affected populations.”

  • Yazidi refugees who fled the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, take part in a protest at Nowruz refugee camp in Qamishli

    Stephen Saideman looks at why Canada is getting involved with a country it avoided for so long.

    The development of platinum mining was considering one of South Africa’s recent “good stories” but the killing of 34 mineworkers two years ago exposed an ongoing struggle for justice. The Guardian‘s Jack Shenker looks at the battle for power and change in its wake.