congratulations to now for re-printing David Bacon's Been There: NAFTA Labour Standards A Joke (NOW, January 4-10). Missing from the article is the Canadian connection to the story. Custom Trim was formerly a Canadian company that shifted production to Mexico to take advantage of cheap labour and lax enforcement of health and safety regulations. In 1997, Mexican Custom Trim worker Salvador Bravo visited Canada as part of a solidarity exchange with Custom Trim workers in Waterloo, Ontario. When he returned to Mexico, Bravo and members of his family received death threats. Pressure from the Steelworkers union and the Maquila Solidarity Network resulted in the Canadian government's investigating the case.
The Custom Trim plant in Waterloo has since been closed, and Custom Trim workers in Mexico are now being harassed and threatened for daring to file a complaint under the ineffective NAFTA labour side agreement.
Who benefits from free trade? Certainly not workers.LYNDA YANZ Maquila Solidarity Network Torontothank you for the news fromMexico. It is very timely. However, I would like to correct a possible misperception that might be left with your readers from the John Ross story (NOW, December 21-27).You say that "both the Abejas (Bees) and the Xi'Nich (Ants) are supporters of the rebel Zapatista Army of Liberation (EZLN)." I cannot speak for the Xi'Nich, but the Abejas, while supporting the general aims of the EZLN for self-determination, autonomy and maintenance of the Mayan way of life in Chiapas, do not support the use of arms to attain these ends.
As part of a Christian Peacemaker Team delegation to Chiapas last July, I had a chance to visit three Mayan Indian villages/refugee camps near San Cristobal de Las Casas, two of which were Abejas villages -- X'oyep and Acteal (where the massacre occurred).
The Abejas are devout Christians who study the Bible and believe that the only way to achieve their goals is through non-violent action. They have steadfastly refused to retaliate in kind against the paramilitaries (many of whom they know) who massacred their loved ones. Instead, they continue to press for Mexican law to bring those responsible to justice.
Christian Peacemaker Team members were among the internationals who accompanied this Mayan march to Mexico City. MURRAY D. LUMLEY Ancaster, Ontarioyou kids at now are such cut-ups. One issue after running a want ad for a Mac systems queen to be hired on contract (with three years' "proven" experience -- as if someone's going to pack in an established job to work for Michael Hollett for a few weeks), we get Matt Galloway telling us, "When programs on the old Mac OS crashed, the entire machine crashed with them" (NOW, January 4-10).Let's add this to the litany of urban legends surrounding le monde Macintosh. Some crashes freeze your system, sure.
Most merely kill the offending program, likely also taking chunks out of RAM allocations and upping the risk of really crashing the whole computer until you restart. If you run MacsBug on your system (downloadable from VersionTracker.com), you can usually recover from crashes that would otherwise nuke your entire machine. (Type "stdlog;es" after each crash. G for Go and RS for Restart are other useful commands.)
The Mac OS isn't Unix. It isn't the most stable system on the planet. But Macs don't throw as many hissy fits as Matty seems to think.
Good luck finding a Mac systems queen. You need one. JOE CLARK Torontothe only thing wrong with ellieKirzner's summation of the right wing in Israel (NOW, December 21-27) is that she doesn't realize (nor, incidentally, do a whole bunch of other Canadians) that the edge of the West Bank is only 10 kilometres from the sea, and that scares a lot of Israelis. We all want peace, but we also want a strong Israel. If you want to see a race-and religion-oriented society, wait for the new Palestine! I've visited the area around Israel. I've seen it first-hand.JOHN VALENTINE
Mississaugamichelle hammers' poignantlysimple-minded letter on Israel (NOW, December 21-21) typifies the determined ignorance of many of us. If she troubled to equip herself with facts, not sentimental half-truths, her comments would be more constructive.She might try the Internet for a start. From a report on a mission to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories produced by the Helsinki-based International Federation of Human Rights in October of last year:
"Despite the fact that, where it was used, tear gas proved to be an effective reaction to violent demonstrations, leading to a quick and sustained dispersal, its use has been very limited. Similarly, there has been no evidence of water cannons being used.
"Instead, from a very early stage in the conflict, Israeli authorities resorted to using a range of firearms and heavy weapons that have resulted in widespread death and injuries amongst the Palestinians. Such use has been wholly out of proportion to the threat faced..."
Hammers asks, "If my nephews are stationed in Gaza and are under attack by Palestinian mobs, do you want them to lay down their arms and go to their death like their great-grandparents?" Ms. Hammer, let us hope they wake up before then.OWEN FORD Torontosurely there are many artists inthis town who, like myself, gagged on the word "perks" in the context of Vera Frenkel's momentous Body Missing project at the Goethe Institut, and its Web site version at York University (NOW, December 21-27).For the majority of artists in Toronto, "perks" do not and never have attached to any of their lonely dedications. Frenkel's work is a testimony to the "real story" that could be reported about culture in this city -- a wealth of meaning woven from a dearth of comfort.JEANNE RANDOLPH
Last week's cover photos of Mark Lonergan were taken by Susan King.