The Garret Tree
Saturday, May 26, 2007
  Photography: Robin's photo galleries posted

I have posted photo galleries of my personal work on the site.

gallery collage

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Friday, May 25, 2007
  How Alberto Gonzales failed in history

This just posted on

Alberto Gonzales and the Geneva Convention.
Did the president's lawyer misread the Geneva Convention?

Did Alberto Gonzales, the embattled attorney general of the United States, turn a blind eye to legal history when he wrote a memo to President George W. Bush back in 2002 suggesting ways to avoid the Geneva Convention?

Although my book, A River Kwai Story The Sonkrai Tribunal is largely about the Second World War, it is also about the Geneva Convention and the inhuman treatment of prisoners of war.

So when I was doing my research for the book and I read a key phrase in a memo written January 25, 2002, from Gonzales to President George Bush (and leaked when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke) that said.

. . . some of the language of the GPW [Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War] is undefined (it prohibits, for example, ‘outrages against personal dignity’ and ‘inhuman treatment’) . . .

A River Kwai StoryI was, to say the least, surprised, since almost all the Far East war crimes trials for the abuse of prisoner of war, charged or contained the phrase "inhuman treatment."

How could the counsel to the president of the United States ignore the suffering of several hundred thousand Allied prisoners of war, including thousands of American POWs?"

It may take many years of history to answer that question.

The CBC news story outlines what Gonzales should have known when he wrote that memo.

The book, of course, will tell the reader, the exact details of the "inhuman treatment" carried out by the Japanese against the men of F Force.

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Monday, May 21, 2007
  Shooting on the Leslie Street Spit
I took my annual spring fun photo shoot out along the Leslie St. Spit (also known as Tommy Thompson Park ) in Toronto Sunday.

The spit is 5 kilometres long from entrance to lighthouse. So the trek out can be between 10 kilometres (if you take the main road) and 11 to 12 kilometres (if you use side trails and alternate routes)

All photos are copyright © Robin Rowland 2007 All rights reserved.

Here is my favourite shot (so far) from the shoot.

(Click for larger image)

This year we were lucky, lots of wildlife, as well as the usual seagulls and Canada Geese, there were garter snakes, rabbits and lots of songbirds.

Red-winged blackbird


Marc Ferreira's shots from the Spit Shoot

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  Facebook group for A River Kwai Story

I have created a Facebook group for A River Kwai Story.
Facebook members can click on the link. If not, join Facebook and then join the group.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007
  The Alan Johnston rally at Simcoe Park
Photographs by Robin Rowland © 2007

Rally for Alan Johnston in Toronto

Hundreds of journalists and other supporters rallied at Toronto's Simcoe Park on Thursday May 10, 2007, to support kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston, who by that time had been held in Gaza for 60 days.

Peter Mansbridge speaks at the Alan Johnston rally
CBC Chief Correspondent Peter Mansbridge expresses his support for Alan Johnston and his family at the rally.

Anna Maria Tremonti speaks at the Alan Johnston rally

Host of CBC's The Current, Anna Maria Tremonti, a former Middle East correspondent, spoke about Alan Johnston's reporting from Gaza. Former BBC correspondent Daniel Lak who helped organize the rally is on the left.

CBC News story on the rally at Simcoe Park

CBC Editor-in-chief Tony Burman's letter calling for freedom for Alan Johnston

Sign the BBC Online petition

BBC "How You Can Help"

Toronto Star Canadian media protest kidnapping

Canadian Press story on Canoe

Daniel Lak's blog, Lakwords

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007
  Toronto rally May 10 for BBC's Alan Johnston
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Canadian Media Guild (CMG) have called on their members and all journalists to mark May 10, 2007, by attending a rally in Toronto in support of British journalist Alan Johnston. BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston was kidnapped by gunmen near his office in Gaza City on March 12, 2007. Thursday, May 10 marks his 60th day in captivity.

In Toronto at

Simcoe Park
200 Front Street West
(beside the CBC building)

Thursday, May 10, 2007
12:00 p.m. - 12:40p.m.

Speakers include:

Peter Mansbridge, CBC Television
Brian Stewart, CBC Television
Anna Maria Tremonti, CBC Radio
Rick MacInnes Rae, CBC Radio
Patrick Martin, The Globe and Mail
Sandro Contenta, Toronto Star

Alan Johnston banner

Click in the image link above or go to the BBC Editor's page on Alan Johnston.

Johnston, 44, is a veteran foreign correspondent. Before moving to Gaza in 2004, he ran BBC bureaus in Kabul and Tashkent. He is widely respected and liked by his peers. His reporting on events in Gaza has been widely acclaimed as balanced, insightful and courageous.

The BBC and media workers rights organizations around the world have been calling for Johnston's immediate and safe release from the day of his abduction. These appeals have taken on a new urgency as time goes on. His parents in Scotland, both in their 70s, have appeared on international television and radio to appeal to his kidnappers for their son's freedom.

Johnston is believed to be alive and in good health but there is no sign of his captors releasing him anytime soon. Why he's being held remains a matter for speculation.

A single media worker harmed or kidnapped is one too many. The International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) reports dozens of instances of journalists taken hostage each year, many of them in Iraq and the Gaza strip. Fourteen journalists have been kidnapped in the Gaza Strip since 2005. Reporters, camera crew and producers need to know they can work safely in troubled areas like Gaza. If journalists are unable to report freely, the world will have lost vital access to information.

CBC News Editor in Chief, Tony Burman's Letter: Why BBC's kidnapped Alan Johnston needs to be freed.

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I write in a renovated garret in my house in a part of Toronto, Canada, called "The Pocket." The blog is named for a tree can be seen outside the window of my garret.

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Name: Robin Rowland
Location: Toronto, Canada

I'm a Toronto-based writer, photographer, web producer, television producer, journalist and teacher. I'm author of five books, the latest A River Kwai Story: The Sonkrai Tribunal. The Garret tree is my blog on the writing life including my progress on my next book (which will be announced here some time in the coming months) My second blog, the Wampo, Nieke and Sonkrai follows the slow progress of my freelanced model railway based on my research on the Burma Thailand Railway (which is why it isn't updated that often) The Creative Guide to Research, based on my book published in 2000 is basically an archive of news, information and hints for both the online and the shoe-leather" researcher. (Google has taken over everything but there are still good hints there)

New blogs as of Sept. 2009
Robin's Weir
Tao of News

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