Monday, April 20, 2015

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Dahr Jamail, Nader Hasan April 22, 2015

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook - Gorilla-Radio.com


Happy Earth Day! Hard to believe, but it's been five Earth Days since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, rupturing the pipeline to millions of gallons of sub-seabed oil. The subsequent fouling of the Gulf of Mexico killed unknowable numbers of creatures across the biome, and virtually destroyed a way of life for those in the region making their living from the sea. Even today, years after the fact, the region still bears the scars of the "spill", as do the thousands who worked cleaning up the Deepwater Horizon's aftermath.

Dahr Jamail is an Olympic peninsula-based freelance journalist and author, whose book titles include: 'The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan,' 'Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Iraq,' and the contributed chapter, "Killing the Intellectual Class" for the anthology, 'Cultural Cleansing in Iraq: Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned and Academics Murdered.'

Jamail is also a Truthout staff reporter, and his latest book, 'The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible' is co-written with Truthout founding editor, William Rivers Pitt.

Among Dahr’s many journalism awards are: the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, The Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and four Project Censored awards. His work has appeared at Truthout, The Guardian, Foreign Policy in Focus, Le Monde, and the Inter Press Service, among many others, and at his website, DahrJamail.net.

In 2010, Dahr applied the same rigorous determination to reveal the truth of the Iraq War to the global environmental crisis, focusing on anthropogenic climate disruption, including the emblematic Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Dahr Jamail in the first half.

And; from the Gulf of Mexico to the eastern Pacific, to the Beaufort Sea, and Hibernia, North America is ringed from coast to coast to coast with offshore oil interests determined to have their way come Hell or cold water. The latest target of Big Oil's interest is Baffin Bay's Davis Strait, where the Norwegian company, Petroleum Geo-Services Inc.has received the blessing of Canada's National Energy Board, or NEB, to begin seismic testing for oil and gas believed to lay beneath the ocean bottom there. But there is a small problem; the Inuit community of Clyde River is opposed to Petroleum Geo-Services' plan to deploy high-decibel sound blasting equipment in their fishing grounds. They believe the testing will harm the wildlife they depend on for their livelihood, and they've taken the NEB to Canada's courts to prove it. For its part, the NEB says it initiated, quote: "[A] lengthy, detailed, open process that was well designed to share and gather information to hear and take into account the concerns put forward by the applicants." Hearings began Monday in Toronto.

Nader Hasan is lead attorney for the plaintiffs of Clyde River. Hasan specializes in constitutional and human rights cases brought against government and police and has acted for victims of police abuse, the wrongfully convicted and asylum seekers. A partner with the prestigious Toronto law firm, Ruby Shiller Chan Hasan, Nader also maintains an active appellate practice. He's also an Adjunct Professor of Law at the U. of Toronto's Faculty of Law, where he teaches on crime and punishment, and lectures on civil liberties issues. An associate editor of the Canadian Rights Reporter, Nader Hasan is also co-author, with Clayton Ruby and Gerald Chan of the book 'Sentencing,' and co-authored with Chan a forthcoming book on privacy rights and digital technology.

Nader Hasan and the village of Clyde River taking a stand against the petro-giants in the second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus Janine Bandcroft has been called away on a vital mission, so won't be joining us at the bottom of the hour. So first up, Dahr Jamail on Earth Days past, and those to come.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca, and now heard at Simon Fraser University's http://www.cjsf.ca . He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

60 Minutes Resisting Reality on Syria, While Rewriting History on Iraq

A Fact-Resistant ‘Group Think’ on Syria

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

April 20, 2015

On Sunday evening, CBS’s “60 Minutes” presented what was pitched as a thorough examination of the infamous sarin gas attack outside Damascus, Syria, on Aug. 21, 2013, with anchor Scott Pelley asserting that “none of what we found will be omitted here.”

But the segment – while filled with emotional scenes of dead and dying Syrians – made little effort to determine who was responsible.

Scott Pelley, CBS Evening News anchor

Pelley’s team stuck to the conventional wisdom from the rush-to-judgment “white paper” that the White House issued on Aug. 30, 2013, just nine days after the incident, blaming the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. But Pelley ignored contrary evidence that has emerged in the 20 months since the attack, including what I’ve been told are dissenting views among U.S. intelligence analysts.

The segment also played games with the chronology of the United Nations inspectors who had been invited to Damascus by Assad to investigate what he claimed were earlier chemical attacks carried out by Syrian rebels, a force dominated by Islamic extremists, including Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the even more brutal Islamic State.

Though Pelley starts the segment by interviewing a Syrian who claimed he witnessed a sarin attack in Moadamiya, a suburb south of Damascus, Pelley leaves out the fact that Moadimiya was the first area examined by the UN inspectors and that their field tests found no evidence of sarin. Nor does Pelley note that UN laboratories also found no sarin or other chemical agents on the one missile that the inspectors recovered from Moadamiya.

The two labs did have a dispute over whether trace elements of some chemicals found in Moadamiya might have been degraded sarin. But those disputed positives made no sense because when the UN inspectors went to the eastern suburb of Zamalka two and three days later, their field equipment immediately registered positive for sarin and the two labs confirmed the presence of actual sarin.

So, if the sarin had not degraded in Zamalka, why would it have degraded sooner in Moadamiya? The logical explanation is that there was no sarin associated with the Moadamiya rocket but the UN laboratories were under intense pressure from the United States to come up with something incriminating that would bolster the initial U.S. rush to judgment.

The absence of actual sarin from the rocket that struck Moadamiya also raises questions about the credibility of Pelley’s first witness. Or possibly a conventional rocket assault on the area ruptured some kind of chemical containers that led panicked victims to believe they too were under a chemical attack.

That seemed to be a working hypothesis among some U.S. intelligence analysts even as early as the Aug. 30, 2013 “white paper,” which was called a U.S. “Government Assessment,” an unusual document that seemed to ape the form of a “National Intelligence Estimate,” which would reflect the consensus view of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies and include analytical dissents.

By going with this new creation – a “Government Assessment,” which was released by the White House press office, not the Office of Director of National Intelligence – the State Department, which was then itching for war with Syria, got to exclude any dissents to the hasty conclusions. But the intelligence analysts managed to embed one dissent as a cutline to a map which was included with the “white paper.”

The cutline read: “Reports of chemical attacks originating from some locations may reflect the movement of patients exposed in one neighborhood to field hospitals and medical facilities in the surrounding area. They may also reflect confusion and panic triggered by the ongoing artillery and rocket barrage, and reports of chemical use in other neighborhoods.”

In other words, some U.S. intelligence analysts were already questioning the assumption of a widespread chemical rocket assault on the Damascus suburbs – and the strongest argument for the State Department’s finger-pointing at Assad’s military was the supposedly large number of rockets carrying sarin.

Possible ‘False Flag’


However, if there had been only one sarin-laden rocket, i.e., the one that landed in Zamalka, then the suspicion could shift to a provocation – or “false-flag” attack – carried out by Islamic extremists with the goal of tricking the U.S. military into destroying Assad’s army and essentially opening the gates of Damascus to a victory by Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State.

That was what investigative journalist Seymour Hersh concluded in ground-breaking articles describing the alleged role of Turkish intelligence in assisting these Islamic extremists in securing the necessary materials and expertise to produce a crude form of sarin.

In December 2013, Hersh reported that he found a deep schism within the U.S. intelligence community over how the case was sold to pin the blame on Assad. Hersh wrote that he encountered “intense concern, and on occasion anger” when he interviewed American intelligence and military experts “over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence.”

According to Hersh, “One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote.

“A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening.

“The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy.”

Despite Hersh’s legendary reputation dating back to the My Lai massacre story during the Vietnam War and revelations about CIA abuses in the 1970s, his first 5,500-word article appeared in the London Review of Books, a placement that suggests the American media’s “group think” blaming the Assad regime remained hostile to any serious dissent on this topic.

Much of the skepticism about the Obama administration’s case on the Syrian sarin attack has been confined to the Internet, including our own Consortiumnews.com. Indeed, Hersh’s article dovetailed with much of what we had reported in August and September of 2013 as we questioned the administration’s certainty that Assad’s regime was responsible.

Our skepticism flew in the face of a “group think” among prominent opinion leaders who joined in the stampede toward war with Syria much as they did in Iraq a decade earlier. War was averted only because President Barack Obama was informed about the intelligence doubts and because Russian President Vladimir Putin helped arrange a compromise in which Assad agreed to surrender his entire chemical weapons arsenal, while still denying any role in the sarin attack.

A Short-Range Rocket


Later, when rocket scientists — Theodore A. Postol, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Richard M. Lloyd, an analyst at the military contractor Tesla Laboratories — analyzed the one home-made, sarin-laden rocket that landed in Zamalka, they concluded that it could have traveled only about two to three kilometers, meaning that it would have been fired from an area controlled by the rebels, not the government.

That finding destroyed a conclusion reached by Human Rights Watch and the New York Times, which vectored the suspected paths of the two rockets — one from Moadamiya and one from Zamalka — to where the two lines intersected at a Syrian military base about 9.5 kilometers from the points of impact. Not only did the vectoring make no sense because only the Zamalka rocket was found to contain sarin but the rocket experts concluded that it couldn’t even fly a third of the way from the military base to where it landed.

After touting its original Assad-did-it claim on the front page on Sept. 17, 2013, the Times snuck its retraction below the fold on page 8 in an article published on Dec. 29, 2013, between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

But none of these doubts were examined in any way in Pelley’s “60 Minutes” presentation. Instead, Pelley simply pointed the finger at the Syrian government, citing U.S. intelligence. Pelley said: “The rockets were types used by the Syrian army and they were launched from land held by the dictatorship. U.S. intelligence believes the Syrian army used sarin in frustration after years of shelling and hunger failed to break the rebels.”

Pelley did note one anomaly to the conventional wisdom: Why would Assad have ordered a chemical attack outside Damascus after inviting in a team of UN inspectors to examine another site? Pelley then shrugs off that contradiction while offering no alternative scenario and leaving the clear impression that the attack was carried out by the Syrian government.

When I asked the Office of Director of National Intelligence about the “60 Minutes” segment, spokesperson Kathleen C. Butler responded with this e-mailed response: “The intelligence community assess[es] with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. The intelligence community assesses that the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely.”

She did not say whether there was any dissent among analysts. [For more details on the sarin incident, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

Clueless over Iraq


Pelley has built a highly successful CBS career by always parroting the official line of the U.S. government no matter how obviously false it is. For instance, in 2008, he conducted an interview with FBI interrogator George Piro who had questioned Iraq’s Saddam Hussein before his execution.

Pelley wondered why Hussein had kept pretending that he had weapons of mass destruction when a simple acknowledgement that they had been destroyed would have spared his country the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

“For a man who drew America into two wars and countless military engagements, we never knew what Saddam Hussein was thinking,” Pelley said in introducing the segment on the interrogation of Hussein about his WMD stockpiles.
 “Why did he choose war with the United States?”

The segment never mentioned the fact that Hussein’s government did disclose that it had eliminated its WMD, including a 12,000-page submission to the UN on Dec. 7, 2002, explaining how its WMD stockpiles had been eliminated. In fall 2002, Hussein’s government also allowed teams of UN inspectors into Iraq and gave them free rein to examine any site of their choosing.

Those inspections only ended in March 2003 when President George W. Bush decided to press ahead with war despite the UN Security Council’s refusal to authorize the invasion and its desire to give the UN inspectors time to finish their work.

But none of that reality is part of the faux history that Pelley delivered to the American public. He preferred the officially sanctioned U.S. account, as embraced by Bush in speech after speech, that Saddam Hussein “chose war” by defying the UN over the WMD issue and by misleading the world into believing that he still possessed these weapons.

In line with Bush’s made-up version of history, Pelley pressed Piro on the question of why Hussein was hiding the fact that Iraq no longer had WMD. Piro said Hussein explained to him that “most of the WMD had been destroyed by the UN inspectors in the ‘90s, and those that hadn’t been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.”

“So,” Pelley asked, “why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk, why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade?”

After Piro mentioned Hussein’s lingering fear of neighboring Iran, Pelley felt he was close to an answer to the mystery: “He believed that he couldn’t survive without the perception that he had weapons of mass destruction?”

But, still, Pelley puzzled over why Hussein’s continued in his miscalculation. Pelley asked:

“As the U.S. marched toward war and we began massing troops on his border, why didn’t he stop it then? And say, ‘Look, I have no weapons of mass destruction,’ I mean, how could he have wanted his country to be invaded?”

On Sunday, Pelley was reprising that role as the ingénue foreign correspondent trying to decipher the mysterious ways of the Orient.

Just as Pelley couldn’t figure why Hussein had “wanted his country to be invaded” — when no one at “60 Minutes” thought to mention that Hussein and his government had fully disclosed their lack of WMD to save their country from being invaded — Pelley couldn’t fully comprehend why the Assad regime would have launched a sarin gas attack with UN inspectors sitting in Damascus.

The possibility that the attack actually was a provocation by Al-Qaeda or Islamic State extremists — who have demonstrated their lack of compassion for innocents and who had a clear motive for getting the U.S. military to bomb Assad’s army — was something that Pelley couldn’t process. The calculation was too much for him even after last week’s disclosure that Syrian rebels had staged a 2013 kidnapping/rescue of NBC’s correspondent Richard Engel, whose abduction was falsely blamed on Assad’ allies.

Inviting a Massacre


Besides being an example of shallow reporting and shoddy journalism – using highly emotional scenes while failing to seriously investigate who was responsible – the “60 Minutes” episode could also be a prelude to a far worse human rights crime, which could follow the defeat of the Syrian army and a victory by Al-Qaeda or its spin-off, the Islamic State.

Right now, the only effective fighting force holding off that victory – and the very real possibility of a massacre of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other religious minorities – is the Syrian army. Some of those Syrian Christians, now allied with Assad, are ethnic Armenians whose ancestors fled the Turkish genocide a century ago.

The recent high-profile comment by Pope Francis about the Armenian genocide can be understood in the context of the impending danger to the survivors’ descendants if the head-chopping Islamic State prevails in the Syrian civil war, the possibility that these Sunni extremists backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia might finish the job that the Ottoman Empire began a century ago.

Yet, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the American neocons are still set on the overthrow of the Assad government and continue to pretend that Obama could have averted the Syrian crisis if he had only bombed or invaded Syria several years ago.

The Washington Post’s neocon editorial page editor Fred Hiatt recited that theme in an op-ed on Monday that made a major point out of the Assad government’s alleged use of something called “barrel bombs” — as if some crude explosive device is somehow less humane than the more sophisticated weapons that were used to slaughter countless innocents by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel in Gaza and Lebanon and now Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

“Obama could have destroyed Assad’s helicopters or given the resistance the weapons to do so,” Hiatt said, arguing the neocon assertion that to have intervened earlier would have somehow prevented the rise of Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State. But that is another simplistic argument since there were terrorist elements in the Syrian civil war from the beginning and many of the so-called “moderates” who were trained and armed by the United States have since joined forces with the extremists. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Syrian Rebels Embrace Al-Qaeda.”]

The key question for Syria’s future is how can a realistic political settlement be reached between Assad’s government and whatever reasonable opposition remains. But such a complex and difficult solution is not advanced by irresponsible journalism at CBS and the Washington Post.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Water and Oil: Water Emergency Prompts Extractive Industry Innovation

The Game-Changing Water Revolution: Interview with Stanley Weiner

by James Stafford - Oilprice.com

Globally, water demand is threatening to dangerously outpace supply, while in the US, dry states such as Texas and California are suffering from shortages and the future forebodes more suffering.

For the North American shale boom, the lack of water is suffocating.

Amid this doom and gloom, a water revolution emerges, led by energy industry figures who realized the endless potential of tapping into new water sources and processing them with advanced desalination technology that, for the first time ever, is economically feasible.

The water revolution is here, according to Stanley Weiner, CEO of STW Resources-a Texas-based company that has the exclusive North American license for Dutch-developed next generation Salttech desalination technology.

In an interview with James Stafford Oilprice.com, Weiner discusses:

• The new technology behind the water revolution
• How communities in Texas can be spared drought
• Advancements that finally make desalination commercially viable
• How it's already working-and where
• How we can turn toilet water into tap water
• What it means for the oil and gas industry
• How vital water is to energy independence
• How much oil and gas companies can save with new desalination systems
• The next phase of the water revolution
• Why everyone can finally benefit from conservation

James Stafford: A global study warns that by 2030 demand for water will outstrip supply by 40%. What are we facing in the US alone?

Stanley Weiner: The situation can only be described as extremely urgent. We're looking at continual drought and predictions of a new 'mega drought' for Texas. The current drought started in 2010, and it's still in play. In the meantime, we're seeing a lot of new people moving into Texas, as well as industry, and they all need water that they don't have.

California is running out of water. A NASA scientist has recently warned that California has only about one year's worth of water left in storage, while its groundwater is rapidly depleting. According to scientists, 40% of the state is undergoing an 'exceptional drought'-the most severe it has seen in 1,200 years. Earlier this month, California Governor Jerry Brown issued the state's first-ever mandatory water restrictions. It sounds apocalyptic because it is, even if we don't feel it immediately.

And a dry California is a disaster for the entire US. California is our breadbasket-where more than one-third of our vegetables come from and some two-thirds of our fruits. What it means immediately is higher food prices across the US. It's not enough anymore to think that if you don't live in a dry state you won't be affected. The water crisis affects us all in many ways. Parts of Oklahoma are hard hit by drought. Drought conditions have intensified in Nevada and Utah, and Arizona is facing a similar problem to California-it's growing thirstier by the day.

Water is behind every single sector of our economy and our way of life. It's more valuable than oil because at the end of the day, there is no oil without water. It's important that everyone understands that finding a solution for our growing water crisis is hands-down the most important endeavor of our time-from both a human and an industrial standpoint.

James Stafford: Ok, so where do we stand today in terms of new technology that can address urgent water supply issues on a global level?

Stanley Weiner: Until recently, new technology that could realistically address urgent issues of water supply around the world had been relegated to the realm of science fiction. Even though the technology has existed and was continually advanced, it was unfeasible on a commercial scale-until now.

So what we're seeing today is a breakthrough that is far more significant than the technological advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing that ushered in the shale revolution. Today, we can provide a solution to droughts; we can provide dry communities with more drinking water than they ever could have imagined-and we can prop up the shale boom by providing drillers with more sources of water, ultimately leading to America's energy independence. We can also economically recycle the water they use in the process.

James Stafford: What you're describing is no less than a water revolution, then?

Stanley Weiner: Absolutely. This is a revolution, and it's only just emerging, so we can expect a lot of technological advancements along the way to make desalination even more efficient and cost-effective. But there is no turning back now.

On the desalination front, Netherlands-based Salttech has developed breakthrough technology called Salttech DyVaR, for which STW has the exclusive license in North America. Salttech is a think tank with brilliant engineers and scientists who are always asking how they can make it better. After such a long time trying to bring feasible desalination technology to the world, this is finally the game changer.

Everything is connected to everything else-that's the first message to be heard loud and clear from this emerging 'water revolution'. Tighter environmental regulations have expanded the market for companies that encompass not only the use of 'green' technology, but also of 'blue', or clean water technology. But there's a third color here that is just as important, and we'll call it black, which means it has to make sense economically. Until now, desalination technology has been too expensive, with projects operating in the red, rendering them economically unfeasible on a commercial scale. 'Blue' technologies have also until now not been 'green' enough to make sense for the environment.

James Stafford: Ok, so first take us through what this next-generation desalination technology is capable of …

Stanley Weiner: First off, this is largely mobile technology, so it's easy to set up in all kinds of venues and to move around, which also contributes to cost-effectiveness, but it can also be a fixed facility situation. What it does is this: It takes dirty water and turns it into potable water using vaporization. It can clean up the oil industry's frack flowback water and the dirty water produced by oilfields, and it can also desalinate ocean water.

James Stafford: And how does it work, exactly? There has been a lot of talk lately about thermal distillation using Dynamic Vapor Recompression (DVR), but for the layman, what does this mean?

Stanley Weiner: OK, yes, DVR is a key aspect of the Salttech desalination system. DVR is a new type of mechanical vapor recompression-which is the process of evaporating water at moderate temperatures through the use of a vacuum and then condensing it in a higher-pressure chamber. The heat of condensation is transmitted to the influent stream through a heat exchanger. All of this requires very little energy compared to conventional process that rely on “flash distillation” and large amounts of energy. Where the term “dynamic” comes into play in the DVR is in relation to the use of a cyclone during the evaporation process. This cyclone separates the crystallized salts from the brine by centrifugal force.

James Stafford: On a 'green' level, how is this new generation technology different? What makes it actually 'green'?

Stanley Weiner: The key aspect of this technology is what we call zero liquid discharge (ZLD). All these 'permanent' desalination plants that are being put up around the world-including nine just in Texas and one in Carlsbad, California-are harming the fragile ecosystem of our oceans and waterways. They can't process more than 35-50% of the water in the desalination process, and what they don't process into potable water is rejected back into the ocean in the form of harmful liquid discharges. Studies have found that if they are processing 50 million gallons a day, they are putting 25 million gallons of harmful liquids back into the ocean. The studies are frightening, and they will impinge on the ability of these plants to get permits to keep feeding reject liquids back into the waterways. In Israel, for instance, there are contracts to build these permanent desalination plants, but now it looks like the permits aren't going to come through.

James Stafford: So how does the Salttech system avoid rejecting harmful liquids back into the waterways?

Stanley Weiner: First, this new technology processes around 97% of the water, so there's much less rejected. Second, the 3% or so that it can't process, it turns into a solid, so there is zero liquid discharge. And there are no chemicals used in the process whatsoever. Let me put it this way: the 'permanent' desalination plants are discharging 50-65% of what's rejected in the process in the form of a waste stream of highly concentrated brine liquid-directly into the oceans. The new mobile technology, developed by the Dutch, discharges its 3% reject in the form of solid salts and minerals, so there is no harmful discharge into waterways and no disposal problem. Importantly, this means there is no need for deep well waste water injections, evaporation ponds and other recognized methods for disposing of concentrated brine waste from desalination activities.

James Stafford: How do the costs compare with conventional desalination technologies?

Stanley Weiner: Typically, the price of desalinated oilfield water projects has hovered around $4-$8 per barrel, but Salttech makes it possible at around $1.50-$2.00 per barrel. To process brackish or seawater, the cost is about $1,100-$1,350 per acre-foot of water. These prices make fresh water economically available for everyone who needs it.

James Stafford: How important is water to the overall energy equation?

Stanley Weiner: It's absolutely a vital part of the energy equation. Water is what enables the US to drill more oil and gas wells and to wean itself off of foreign oil and reduce vulnerability to geopolitical whims.

James Stafford: Is there a point at which the energy industry-one of the bigger consumers of water itself-can actually contribute to the solution rather than the problem?

Stanley Weiner: Oilfield water use represents much less than people think: It's only about 3% of total fresh water consumed. For 2005, most of the fresh-surface-water withdrawals-about 41%--were used in the thermo-electric power industry to cool electricity-generating equipment. Water used in this manner is most often returned to the water body from which it came. That is why the more significant use of surface water is for irrigation-in the agricultural sector-which uses about 31% of all fresh surface water. Ignoring thermoelectric-power withdrawals, irrigation accounted for about 63% of the US' surface-water withdrawals. Public supply and the industrial sector were the next largest users of surface water. However, the energy industry can still contribute to the solution in a significant way through water reclamation. Just like we drill for new oil and gas, we can drill for new sources of water deep underground and tap into water resources that were never before accessible for potable water.

James Stafford: Where can we find new sources of water and how do we tap into them?

Stanley Weiner: The new sources of water aren't really new at all-they've always been there; we just didn't have the economically viable technology to tap into them on a commercial scale. These sources include the ocean, brackish water from reservoirs deep underground and municipal wastewater, which will be tapped into using our toilet-to-tap technology.

James Stafford: What will the next advancement in desalination technology be that will render it even more economically rewarding?

Stanley Weiner: Now that it's already commercially viable, the next step will be to lower the energy costs even further with wholesale solar, wind and geothermal power. In fact, the first desalination plant already in operation in Mentone, Texas, is entirely run on solar power and is providing the city of Mentone with as much drinking water as it could ever want.

James Stafford: This technology was first deployed in Mentone, Texas?

Stanley Weiner: Yes. This is where it really all started in July last year-in this small town in the Permian Basin. This was a highly successful pilot project that is now providing residents with all the drinking water they need. And, as I mentioned before, the entire operation is run on solar power. It was this system that convinced me of the viability of licensing it and commercializing it to make water available to everyone in need of it.

But Mentone was just the genesis of this water revolution. The desalination project in Fort Stockton-also in Texas-is much larger. Right now, in Fort Stockton's Capitan Reef Aquifer we are drilling our first production well, and will be drilling several additional wells here and in other brackish aquifers. We're drilling to new water sources about 2,000-4,500 feet under the surface, to tap into as much as 14 million acre-feet of new water-or about 5.6 trillion gallons. In the second quarter of this year we will start selling that water. The beneficiaries will be several west Texan municipalities suffering from drought.

James Stafford: What about the oil and gas industry? Are they jumping on this water revolution bandwagon yet?

Stanley Weiner: Our pilot project in the Permian Basin has definitely attracted the attention of oil and gas companies who are hurting for water supplies and struggling with low oil prices and thus have problems justifying costs. You have to understand that Texas is both a highly competitive playing field for oil companies-with the sleeping giant that is the Permian Basin and the prolific Eagle Ford shale-but it is also water starved. So the competition for water resources is just as competitive as the competition for oil and gas licenses. There is also a great deal of competition among industries who are heavy users of water. With the advent of hydraulic fracturing-which uses exponentially more water-this competition has grown even fiercer. Demand for water is soaring, and now we can meet that demand. Over half of the 40,000 wells Americans have drilled since 2011 have been in areas of drought, and in total these wells have used 97 billion gallons of water.

Over the next six to nine months, we will be launching another major desalination project for an NYSE-listed oil and gas company-so the word is out.

James Stafford: Specifically, how much money could oil companies potentially save in Texas' Permian Basin or Eagle Ford using this technology?

Stanley Weiner: The numbers are actually fantastic: They could save approximately $150,000+ per well using this desalination technology.

James Stafford: What is the future of water reclamation and desalination? Where do you see the technology going over the next 5-10 years? Where is there room for improvement?

Stanley Weiner: Advancements will continue but improvements will always be about the bottom line, making it cheaper and more economical to use. It can only get cheaper and more efficient at this point. Listen, we used to think fresh water was endless, and we squandered it. Not any longer. Now we need to squeeze every drop out of brackish reservoirs and oceans desalination operations. There is no turning back the tide now. It's already the new ideal: The technology uses no chemicals or filtration and requires very little power, and at the end of the process you have clear, fresh water. The revolution has begun.

James Stafford: So at the end of the day, from an investor's perspective, the water revolution could outshine the financial glitz of the shale revolution?

Stanley Weiner: You know, when we initially set up shop with STW, we were simply planning on targeting frack water in the oil business. We didn't see further than that. It didn't occur to us that there were endless possibilities for actually accessing and processing water that no one would have thought could be for human consumption. Once we realized the potential here-the potential that goes so far beyond the oil and gas industry-our goals became clearer. We can provide water not only to the oil and gas industry and to every other industry, but to municipalities in dry states; to communities. There is a great deal of money to be made in what amounts to conservation at the end of the day, and for once it can be made without harming the environment. That is exactly what is revolutionary about it. Everyone benefits.

James Stafford: What's the bigger picture here?

Stanley Weiner: This is all about conservation, and the first chance we have seen where it is possible to actually make money on conservation. If a project can be energy efficient-such as the pilot Salttech project in Mentone, Texas, which is run entirely on solar power-and can process vastly more than it rejects, then we are talking about conservation. We are wasting our precious fresh water resources every minute of every day when we could be reusing it. Everyone needs to realize that water is our most precious commodity and it needs to be conserved in every way possible.

Five Years After: Deepwater Horizon Killings and Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning and the Deepwater Horizon Killings

by Greg Palast - Truthdig


The military whistleblower’s 2010 Wikileaks dump included information that could have saved the 11 BP workers who died that spring in the Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster.

Five years ago Monday, 11 men died on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig — despite Chelsea Manning’s effort to save their lives.

Let me explain.

The BP drilling rig blew itself to Kingdom Come after the “mud” — the cement used to cap the well — blew out. The oil company, the federal government and the industry were shocked — shocked! — at this supposedly unexpected explosion in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

But BP knew, and Exxon and Chevron knew, and the U.S. State Department knew, that just 17 months earlier another BP offshore rig had suffered an identical, disastrous blow-out halfway across the planet in the Caspian Sea.

In both the Gulf and Caspian blow-outs, the immediate culprit was the failure of the cement, in both cases caused by the use — misuse — of nitrogen in the cement mix, a money-saving but ultimately deadly measure intended to speed the cement’s drying.

The cover-up meant that U.S. regulators, the U.S. Congress and the public had no inkling that the cost-saving “quick-dry” cement process had failed on an offshore rig only a year before the Deepwater Horizon blew.

You can watch the Deep Water Horizon report in Palast's documentary compilation film, Vultures and Vote Rustlers, which will be available as a FREE download for the next two days courtesy of the not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund.

But Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning tried to warn us. The details of the Caspian Sea blow-out off the coast of Baku, Azerbaijan, were revealed in the secret State Department cables Manning released in December 2010 through Wikileaks. Cables from the U.S. ambassador relayed a summary of confidential meetings in which BP’s top Azeri executive confided that their big Caspian offshore rig suffered a “blow-out” in September 2008 leading to the “largest such emergency evacuation in BP's history” — its likely cause "a bad cement job.”

The message was relayed to Washington after BP’s American partners in the Caspian, Exxon and Chevron, asked the State Department to find out why BP had ceased to drill in the Caspian, costing them all millions. State, then headed by former Chevron board member Condoleezza Rice, got the oil chiefs their answer – then joined them in keeping it secret.

[Not knowing about the Manning cables, I had to find out about the Caspian blow-out the hard way. Just days after the Deepwater Horizon blow-out, I received a tip from an eyewitness to the Caspian disaster. To check out the facts, I flew to Baku, where my British TV crew and I found ourselves placed under arrest by a team of goons from the Azerbaijan secret police, the military and some of BP’s oil-well-insignia-sporting private security clowns.

As a reporter for British Television, I was quickly released — with the film of the bust captured on my little pen camera. But, terribly, two of my rig-worker witnesses disappeared.]

Had BP or the State Department 'fessed up to the prior blow-out — a disclosure required by U.S. and British regulations — it is exceptionally unlikely that BP would have been allowed to use the quick-dry cement method in the deep Gulf of Mexico.

Indeed, there may have been a complete prohibition on the drilling, because Department of Interior experts had opposed deep drilling in that part of the Gulf. To lobby the government to allow drilling there, just six months before the Deepwater Horizon blew, BP executive David Rainey and the presidents of Exxon USA and Chevron testified before Congress that offshore drilling had been conducted for 50 years “in a manner both safe and protective of the environment.”

It is hard to imagine the oil companies defeating the Interior experts had the executives admitted to the major blow-out in the Caspian Sea.

Ultimately, Rainey was indicted for the crime of making false statements to Congress on a lesser matter. However, indicting the executives for concealing the earlier blow-out was not possible because our own State Department participated in the cover-up.

And that’s what Manning exposed — though not quickly enough to save those 11 lives.

Pvt. Manning may not have known about the specific memo of the secret meeting of State and BP. It was one in an ocean of cables she released.

But Manning knew this: The truth can save lives. Or, as Manning was brought up to believe: The truth shall set us free.

And if truth sets us free, then official secrets enslave us.

Barack Obama and John Boehner and Mitch McConnell know this. So do Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and the other candidates for Secret-Keeper-in-Chief.

Years ago, Daniel Ellsberg told me that he was surprised when Judge Stanley Sporkin dismissed all charges against him although Ellsberg had revealed top-secret military intelligence, the Pentagon Papers. The judge noted that the U.S. was unique among nations in having no “official secrets act,” no law against telling the truth to the public.

No more. The brutal 35-year prison sentence for Manning on espionage charges and the continuing manhunt for Edward Snowden makes it clear that the Obama administration considers truth-telling a crime.

As I see it, the State Department officials who withheld BP’s blow-out secret are as culpable as the oil company in the deaths of those 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon. You can say that the men who died on the rig were victims of the corporate-government enslavement of information, martyrs to official secrecy.

* * * * *

Read Greg Palast's Deepwater Horizon investigation in full in his book Vultures Picnic. The investigation was also broadcast on Britain's Channel 4 Dispatches.

Greg Palast is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse.

Make a tax-deductible donation and keep our work alive.

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Pandora's Uranium Box

Cloudylabs cloud chamber working

by Cloudylabs

A sealed glass container contains liquid alcohol at the top. Emanating alcohol vapors fill the whole volume of the container until they reach the bottom of the chamber maintained to a very cold temperature (-40°C).

Most of the vapour condenses on the glass surface creating a mist, but a small fraction of it stays in vapour form above the cold condenser. This creates a layer of unstable sursaturated vapour which can condense at any moment. When a charged particle crosses this vapor, it can knock electrons off the molecules forming ions. It causes the unstable alcohol vapor to condense around ions left behind by the travelling ionizing particle : the path of the particle in the matter is then revealed by a track composed of thousands droplets of alcohol.

Any charged particle is visible in a cloud chamber. The most common ones are alphas, electrons, positons, protons, nuclear charged fragment, muons (...). Theses particles come from natural cosmic and telluric background radiations or from close radioactive sources. They will all leave tracks of different shapes in the chamber, based on their charge, mass and speed. Electrons are the lightest particles and will be easily deflected by magnetic fields. Alphas and protons are much heavier and slower and will thus ionize more, causing denser track of droplets. Interactions of neutral particles like gamma rays or neutrons can be seen thanks to the charged particles they create in matter.





See you at cloudylabs.fr for more experiments!


This video shows the Cloudylabs's cloud chamber running for approx. 50 min with an Uranium mineral. After 40 min, there is not enough alcohol to make newer trails. With time, the alcohol condense on the mineral. The small thickness of liquid alcohol on the mineral is enough to absorb a part of the energy of the alpha particles (their ranges in air for 5 MeV is 3-4 cm, but in water, it's 15 micrometer), so with time, the trails are shorter than in beginning. It's preferable to make such experience during 10 minutes to have longer alpha track.

Video with other radioactives sources (radium, americium, radon, tritium...) :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGNvA...

Friday, April 17, 2015

Passing: Eduardo Galeano

Remembering Eduardo Galeano, Champion of Social Justice & Chronicler of Latin America’s Open Veins

by Democracy Now!

 

One of Latin America’s most acclaimed writers, Eduardo Galeano, died on Monday at age 74 in Montevideo, Uruguay. The Uruguayan novelist and journalist made headlines when Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez gave President Obama a copy of his classic work, "The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent."


Since its publication in 1971, "Open Veins" has sold more than a million copies worldwide, despite being banned by the military governments in Chile, Argentina and his native country of Uruguay. While in exile after the Uruguayan military junta seized power in a 1973 coup, Galeano began work on his classic trilogy "Memory of Fire," which rewrites five centuries of North and South American history. He also authored "Soccer in Sun and Shadow," "Upside Down," "The Book of Embraces," "We Say No," "Voices of Time," "Mirrors," "Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History," among others. Galeano received numerous international prizes, including the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom, the Casa de las Américas Prize, and the First Distinguished Citizen of the region by the countries of Mercosur. We look back on Galeano’s life and hear from his Democracy Now! interviews in 2009 and 2013.

This Ain't No Disco: Canadian Media Cheerleading on Ukraine War

It’s not hockey we’re playing against Russia

by Jim Miles - Miles Report 


Watching the news off an on throughout the day provides a glimpse of the spin that the mainstream media (MSM - mainly CBC) put on the situation in Ukraine.

The first broadcast I heard contained some interesting comments. It indicated that “fighting erupted” along the theoretical truce line.

If any reader had been paying attention to news other than on the MSM, they would know that the Kiev forces never stopped shelling the Novorussia side of the line. The ‘eruption’ of fighting, also as seen on other than MSM news indicated that it was most probably testing forays or training forays by the Ukrainian/Kiev side.

The “heavy shelling” reported would have had to come from the Kiev forces, as according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) the Novorussian side had pulled back their heavy artillery while the Kiev forces had not.

A more serious error, but one that suits the Russia as bad guy image was the reporting of the truce as being between Ukraine and Russia. This is absolutely not the case as the truce was signed between Kiev and the Donetsk and Luhansk leaders. The Russians were ‘facilitators’ to the efforts by the Germans, as the latter were becoming aware of the serious setbacks to the Kiev forces from the Novorussian forces.

It is true that the rebels are backed by Russia, but in context, the Kiev forces are backed by both U.S. political will and funding, and U.S. equipment.

Susan Ormiston has been called upon as CBC’s ‘senior correspondent’ for the region without having actually travelled to the Novorussian region. She does get some things right, seeing the “broken and fragile” truce as a way to “help Ukraine build up” its military forces after their winter defeat. As for the ‘fragile and broken’ nature of the truce, that was its nature from the start as shelling continuously came from the Kiev forces as the Novorussian forces withdrew their heavy artillery as per the truce.

Ormiston, as with others awash in MSM references refers to “Russia backed rebel aggression.” It is certain that their are Russian supplies and perhaps advisors in Novorussia, not much different from U.S./NATO supplies and ‘advisors’ (more than likely black ops personnel) on the Kiev side. There has been no proof of any regular Russian military in Novorussia. (And what about the distinct silence concerning MH17? A sure sign that it was a false flag operation).

What is wrong is the identification of Russia being the aggressor, when it was the U.S. that instigated the coup that overthrew a democratically - if corrupt - elected government. When Luhansk and Donetsk declared their independence from the neo-Nazi Banderites and Right Sector controlled Kiev, the Kiev rulers attacked the two sectors with the stated intent to eliminate the Russian speaking population - a process normally called ethnic cleansing in which the rhetoric was also calling for genocide of the Russian population.

Evan Solomon came on later stating, “Russians have a lot of forces around Ukraine,” a brilliant statement considering that Russia borders on Ukraine, and now that Crimea has voted to join with Russia, yes, those forces are around Ukraine. Not nearly as widespread though as U.S. forces are spread around the world in over 130 countries with over 750 bases, (or higher depending on source).

Later in the day Susan Ormiston returned, attempting to represent the Russian side, repeating the Moscow phrasing of U.S./NATO forces “meddling” in Ukraine - a considerable toned down response to the actual U.S. aggressor role. She repeated an interesting statement about the equipment and training being used so that Kiev is able “to kill its own citizens”, essentially the truth…

...except that after the continued shelling of civilians and civilian infrastructure by the Kiev forces, there is no way the Novorussians will want to rejoin with the remnants of the Ukraine and be citizens of that state.

Alter-net sources


One of the great things about the internet is the wealth of resources available to anyone seriously considering what is happening in the Ukraine. While the MSM follow the standard U.S. rhetoric, many other sources see the wilful ignorance of it all. There are many sites providing different perspectives, one of the best being fortruss.com, and one of the most honest, from a Crimean citizen who honestly notates Novorussian defeats as well as their successes is cassad-eng.livejournal.com/. Another good site is thesaker.is.

But take it from Gary Leupps, a U.S. professor at Tufts University (Massachusetts) if you think the others are nothing but propaganda:

"Russia's official line on Ukraine—and it should not be dismissed just because that’s what it is—is that the U.S. has spent about $ 5 billion backing “regime change” in that sad, bankrupt country, ultimately resulting in a coup d’etat (or putsch) in Kiev in February 2014 in which neo-fascists played a key role. The coup occurred because the U.S. State Department and Pentagon hoped to replace the democratically elected administration with one that would push for Ukraine’s entry into NATO, a military alliance designed from its inception in 1949 to challenge Russia. The ultimate intent was to evict the Russian Black Sea Fleet from the bases it’s maintained on the Crimean Peninsula for over 230 years.

Personally, I believe this interpretation is basically true, and that any rational person should recognize that it’s true."

As for the NATO alliance, U.S. action

"...[V]alidates the key Russian charge that this is all about NATO—the NATO that, following George H. W. Bush’s promise to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989 that the alliance would not advance “one inch” towards Russia’s borders has in fact advanced to surround European Russia since 1999. NATO now includes Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Albania."

In his conclusion Leupp writes

"But with crazies running the U.S. State Department, successfully promoting a bogus narrative about what’s happened in Ukraine over the last two years—a narrative echoed slavishly by a clueless mainstream media—it’s just barely conceivable that there might come a day in which U.S. forces join the Azov Battalion in battling forces of the People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk.

It won’t have anything to do with “freedom,” any more than the last few U.S. wars have had anything to do with that abstraction. It will be about imperial expansion, which while it might serve the .01% that rules this country, is not in your interest at all.(1) "

Isolated? Not at all.

In general the MSM does a poor job of reporting on Russia. There is no reporting that I have heard about the economies of the EU suffering far more than the economy of Russia. For that matter, the retrenchment of the Russian economy has proven to be a bonus as the Russians have been able to internalize and ramp up their own production in agricultural, technology, and finances.

In addition,as for the “rest of the world”, “internationally” (as per the MSM), Russia is backed by China, India, and most of the other Asian countries, as well as most of the Latin American countries. Isolated? India vastly reduced an order of French Rafale jets and turned towards - who else - Russia to manufacture the majority of its next generation fighter jets. This will also include manufacturing sectors in India to the benefit of both countries military technologies.

Speaking of India…


The current visit by India’s leader Narendra Modi highlights interesting features of current geopolitical structures. Modi is a right wing Islamophobe (2), similar to Harper, and is quite content to use Canada’s resources to further its own nuclear ambitions - and India, unlike Iran, has many nuclear weapons, the delivery systems for them, and is not signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

But to tie it together with Russia and the global view, I wonder if Harper introduced himself to Modi by saying, “Get out of Kashmir.”


Notes

(1) http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/04/14/ukraine-the-truth/

(2) Narendra Modi is the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He was re-elected to his post after the 2002 pogrom against Muslims conducted mainly by his political allies and with the complicity of the state apparatus. Two thousand people died and several hundred thousand had their homes and livelihoods devastated. According to Human Rights Watch, "Mobs arrived by the thousands in trucks, chanting slogans of incitement to kill, and armed with swords, tridents, sophisticated explosives, and gas cylinders. They were guided by computer printouts listing the addresses of Muslim families and their properties. While army troops had been flown in to quell the violence, state officials refused to deploy them until after the worst violence had ended. In the weeks that followed the massacres, Hindu homes and places of business were also destroyed in retaliatory violence by Muslims." http:/./www.counterpunch.org/2005/03/09/a-state-terrorist-visits-american-hoteliers/

Souha Bechara and Karl Sabbagh

Souha Bechara and Karl Sabbagh 

by Mazin Qumsiyeh - Popular Resistance


I met many people in my short visit to Europe (and I am really home sick to Palestine). The most interesting was Lebanese Souha Bechara.

Souha gave a talk on Gaza in France. It was very moving. Souha spent 10 years in the infamous Al-Khayyam prison in South Lebanon during the Israeli occupation. She was tortured like many who spent time in that prison. She, a Lebanese Christian, had shot Antoun Lahd (the criminal who worked as a subcontractor for the Israeli occupation). Reading her book in its Arabic version on the way from Geneva to Oslo was educational.

I had read the English version a few years ago. The book puts the era of the occupation in perspective and gives us lessons about today’s world (e.g. about security coordination and subcontracting management of local population to local collaborators). It is really fascinating. I also learned so much from talking to people - those we agree with and those we don’t. Now in Oslo for the Arab Film Festival just met Nadine Salib from Egypt (film “Mother of the Unborn”) and we will have many good films to screen and discuss including the one about my village called “The Wanted 18”.

For more on this festival see www.filmfrasor.no

Much work accumulated for us in Palestine in our many areas (the clinical laboratory, the museum administration, the research, the student papers, the visitors who will come see us, the writing, the conferences, etc). So it is hard to be away but the time here is important to reflect and reset some priorities while encouraging me to proceed in other areas even in stronger. And the contacts we made are always good and some collaboration likely will produce fruits to serve Palestinian youth. I also recruited some   volunteers who will come work at the Museum.

Invitation: Lectures at the Palestine Museum of Natural History, Mar Andrea Campus of Bethlehem  University

Thursday April 23rd, 4 PM

Karl Sabbagh: Why the World Needs a Museum of the History of Palestine.


Although Palestinians know their own history only too well, many people in the west have only the vaguest of ideas about the history of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. If they understood the history better they would have a much clearer idea of the rots of the dispute between the Palestinians and the Jews. Karl Sabbagh presents a proposal for a Museum of the History of Palestine, to be built in a major western capital.

Bio: Karl Sabbagh is a British Palestinian, the son of Isa Khalil Sabbagh from Safad. He is a documentary producer, a writer and a publisher, based in the UK. Among his many works “Palestine: A Personal History” and “Britain in Palestine”.


Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and Director
http://palestinenature.org

HumanRights newsletter
http://lists.qumsiyeh.org/listinfo/humanrights

Stopping Bill C-51 - Canada Gets Nation-Wide in Opposition to Police-State Bill

Victoria Day of Action Against Bill C-51

 by Stop Bill C-51

Bill C-51 is coming up for its third and final vote in the House of Commons when Parliament resumes on April 20th.

Saturday April 18 at 12 Noon
Millie's Lane 
(Yates Street, between Douglas and Blanshard)

Listen. Hear.


We're having another Canada-wide Day of Action on April 18th, with the Victoria event beginning in Millie's Lane, right next to Odeon Alley, on Yates St. (between Douglas and Blanshard). We will meet here at Noon and from there we will be going to Centennial Square where we will have a Block (C-51) Party! Join us for speakers, updates and rallying!

Last month saw a beautiful day of solidarity across the entire country. Victoria's turnout was well over 2000 people - a massive accomplishment for a city its size.

In the wake of the Day of Action, amendments started being made, as people hit the streets and stood in solidarity with each other against the government's proposed "Anti-Terrorism" legislation ? which threatens the rights and freedoms of all in Canada. Politicians were forced to listen up. Liberal support for the Bill started wavering. We are so close!


United, we can defeat this.


On April 18th, join in solidarity with people across Canada in a family-friendly, peaceful demonstration for our democratic rights.


For further information, contact us:
Visit http://www.stopbillc51.ca/
Email: stop.c51.victoria@gmail.com
Twitter: @StopC51Victoria

Join the event on Facebook

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Kiev: Government by Assassination

America’s Weaponising of Ignorance

Finian Cunningham - SCF

17.04.2015

The contract killing of two opposition figures in Kiev this week is stark evidence that the country under the Western-backed regime is descending into a fully-fledged state of chaos and criminality.

We have already seen the rise of Neo-Nazism militarism, and now the assassination of political opponents on the streets of Kiev. Yet, still, the Western governments and their dutiful news media steadfastly refuse to deal with the grim reality. Instead, they continue to regurgitate slanderous aggression against Russia. And when the West cannot cope with explaining reality they simply disparage Russia for telling lies and «weaponising information». But the truth is that it is the West that is «weaponising ignorance». Wilful, unabashed, woeful ignorance.

Former Ukrainian newspaper editor Oles Buzina was gunned down reportedly by two masked assailants near his home in the Ukrainian capital on Thursday.

Only the day before, former parliamentarian Oleh Kalashnikov was also murdered at his Kiev home. Both men were known for their outspoken critical views of the ultra-rightist regime that seized power last year with the backing of Washington and Brussels. Kalashnikov had been a senior member of the Party of Regions – the party of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

The latest execution-style killings follow a spate of at least four suspicious deaths among other former parliamentarians who had also belonged to the Yanukoych government before it was overthrown in February 2014 in a Western-sponsored coup.

The new regime has gone on to oversee a state of illegal war waged against the dissident pro-Russian eastern Ukraine regions, as well as teetering bankruptcy, widespread social and economic misery, the rise of private militias under the control of competing corrupt oligarchs, and the systematic glorification of former Nazi collaborators. The formation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which perpetuated mass killings on behalf of the Nazi Waffen SS during World War Two, has been made into an official public holiday in commemoration of that death squad.

Last week, the regime’s parliament in Kiev, which is dominated by openly fascistic parties, voted to ban Communist organisations and to erase all symbols of Soviet-era history. Public statues of Soviet leaders and Red Army heroes who liberated Ukraine from Nazi domination have been obliterated. The regime is planning to spend more than $200 million purging cities and towns of their Russian place names.

Now the assassination of political opponents who are deemed to be «pro-Russian» takes the Kiev regime to a new level of lawlessness and ideological extremism.

For the past year, Western governments and media have persisted in branding the regime in Kiev as a «pro-democracy» vanguard that was endeavouring to orient the former Soviet Republic towards «Western values», membership of the European Union and joining the US-led NATO military alliance.

The Western depiction of developments under the Kiev regime is a stupendous feat of denial over what is really happening in Ukraine. The practice of oligarch-banditry and the surge in Nazi-styled paramilitaries, brashly donning SS insignia and carrying out war crimes against the ethnic Russian population; the indiscriminate shelling of eastern Ukrainian cities and villages under the orders of Kiev leaders; and the economic blockade of the breakaway region in a Nazi policy of collective punishment – all these violations have been comprehensively denied by Western governments and their mass media.

The West’s preferred distortion is to invert reality by accusing Russia of «invading» Ukraine and sponsoring proxy pro-independence rebels in the east. No matter that there is no credible evidence to support such claims; no matter that Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations, including this week by President Vladimir Putin in his annual public Q&A conference; no matter that the eastern Ukrainian rebels deny the «Russian proxy» charge; no matter that the monitors of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe can’t find evidence of Russian invasion; no matter that the head of French military intelligence Christophe Gaumard just this week told his country’s National Assembly that there is no evidence of Russian military incursion in Ukraine, or even plans for such an incursion.

However, with the emergent campaign of murder against opposition politicians and journalists in Kiev, the Western distortion of reality stretches its elastic credulity to breaking point.

Innocent, unarmed civilians are being gunned down in the streets of Kiev for the sole reason that these individuals have expressed political views that are critical of the Western-installed Kiev regime. If that isn’t evidence of the regime descending into the fascist practices that it eulogises then what is?

Ironically, against this appalling background of Western collusion with atavistic Nazi barbarism in Kiev, the United States Congress this week held hearings on what it called Russia’s «weaponisation of information».

Speakers told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee of their fears that Russia was winning a propaganda war. Their evidence? Well, because reputable Russian news channels, such as RT, Itar-Tass and Sputnik, were reaching Western audiences with an alternative perspective on the crisis in Ukraine. A perspective that actually explains the nature of the Ukraine conflict in a credible geopolitical context of Washington seeking regime change for its wider pursuit of global military dominance vis-a-vis Russia.

Just because Russian media do not peddle an anti-Putin, anti-Moscow narrative – as the Western outlets shamelessly do – then that is construed as «evidence» that the Kremlin is conducting an information war and «weaponising information».

Earlier this year, US Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that «Russia’s military aggression is matched only by its propaganda». Kerry appealed for more than $630 million to counteract the influence of Russian news media on the American public by setting up Russian-language satellite TV stations that will beam Fox-News-style into Russia.

Kerry’s chain of thought based on false assertion leading to false conclusion is espoused unanimously among the White House, the State Department, the US media and the two chambers of Congress – the Senate and House of Representatives. In other words by the entire American political establishment.

Last month, the House of Representatives voted by a landslide calling on President Barack Obama to send lethal weapons to support the Kiev regime «against Russian aggression».

One of the Representatives, Republican party member Steve Pearce (New Mexico), had this to say to a concerned American citizen, who had written to Pearce deploring Congressional support for the Kiev regime and the drive for war with Russia.

Disturbingly, Pearce’s letter reveals an astounding dearth of knowledge. He writes:

«Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns regarding Ukraine. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue… »

On February 22, 2014, the Ukrainian parliament unanimously voted to impeach President Viktor Yanukovych, following months of protest. Former President Yanukovych has since fled to Russia – with Russia now challenging the sovereignty of Ukraine. It is very concerning that Russia is acting in Ukraine and not allowing the will of the people to determine the future of the nation. The United State [sic] should stand up, and let it be known that we will not tolerate Russia invading its neighbors. Ukraine has the right to determine its own course».

Note how there is no mention by the Congressman of how the US State Department funded the violent Maidan protests in Kiev at the end of 2013, or how the CIA colluded with Pravy Secktor Neo-Nazi paramilitaries to violently topple the constitutionally elected Yanukovych government.

The concerned US citizen who shared this correspondence, Randy Martin, a social media activist, said of Congressman Pearce’s reply: «In his response to my letter, he apparently had no clue about the US role in backing the Neo-Nazi coup that has resulted in the overall collapse of the Ukraine economy, a brutal civil war and genocide against Russian-speaking people in Ukraine, and the fact that the US military is now actively training the only standing Neo-Nazi military in the world».

The Congressman – as with the rest of the ruling elite in Washington – evidently lives in a state of blissful ignorance about what is really going on in Ukraine. Yet based on this ignorance, he and his fellow Congressmen voted for the supply of billions-of-dollars-worth of weaponry to the Nazi-adulating Kiev regime – a regime where opposition politicians and journalists are being gunned down in their homes.

Across the spectrum of official American politics and that supposed pillar of democracy – the news media – what we see is «systematic ignorance».

Never mind American claims that Russia is «weaponising information». America is weaponising ignorance on an industrial scale.

Shattering Hillary's Feminist Shibboleth

Hillary Clinton - Of Glass Ceilings and Shattered Countries

by David Edwards - Media Lens

We live in a time when compassionate rhetoric is used as a weapon of state-corporate control. The rhetoric focuses on ethical concerns such as racial, gender and same-sex equality, but is disconnected from any kind of coherent ethical worldview. Corporate commentators are thereby freed to laud these moral principles, even as they ignore high crimes of state-corporate power.

Thus, it was deemed 'historic', even 'epoch-making', by our corporate culture that Barack Obama was elected the first black president of the United States. And it certainly was a triumph for racial equality. But the moral significance was hailed by a media commentariat that proceeded to gaze with blank indifference at the ethical trailblazer's bombing of seven countries, his deep involvement in four ongoing, full-scale wars, his devastation of Libya, and his abject failure to address the apocalyptic threat of climate change.

Alongside these horrors, Obama's involvement in the Honduran coup, his diplomatic and military support for Egypt's blood-soaked military junta, and his $90bn in arms sales sent (in the last four years) to a Saudi Arabian tyranny wreaking havoc in Syria and Yemen, are mere footnotes.

None of this matters: for our corporate media, Obama remains, above all, the inspirational first black president.

Similarly, in evaluating Obama's possible successor, the Guardian's editorial 'view on Hillary Clinton' focuses on the problem that she is 'hammering the glass ceiling (again)' of gender inequality:

'with four years as her nation's chief diplomat on the world stage under her belt, Mrs Clinton's personal gravitas is even harder to quibble with than it might have been in 2008'.

So, for the Guardian editors, Clinton has more 'personal gravitas' now - she actually has more dignity, should be taken more seriously. A remarkable response, as we will see. The Guardian continues:

'On foreign policy, her spell as secretary of state leaves her with a somewhat clearer record - she is associated with a rather more interventionist approach than Mr Obama. Her admirers would describe her as a happy mix of the smart and the muscular; doubters will recall her vote for the ruinous invasion of Iraq in 2003, and prefer the Obama-esque oath to first do no harm.'

The cognitive dissonance could hardly be more glaring: Obama's colour and Clinton's gender are key ethical concerns, and yet Obama's responsibility for mass killing is not only not a concern, it is not even recognised. Instead, he continues to be presented as a benevolent non-interventionist who has consistently chosen to 'do no harm'.

'Grandmother-In-Chief'


In a Guardian piece titled, 'Clinton returns to smash glass ceiling, with gender at forefront of campaign', US environment correspondent Suzanne Goldenberg writes:

'The finest moment in Hillary Clinton's political life - so far - arrived on a hot June day in 2008, when she finally took ownership of her place in history as the woman who came so painfully close to shattering that "highest, hardest glass ceiling".'

Goldenberg notes that Clinton 'seems to have adopted a new persona: grandmother-in-chief'. She quotes Clinton:

'Becoming a grandmother has made me think deeply about the responsibility we all share as stewards of the world we inherit and will one day pass on. Rather than make me want to slow down, it has spurred me to speed up.'

If this sounds like vacuous PR blather, it is for a reason. On the BBC website, Anthony Zurcher notes that Clinton's 2008 presidential bid was criticised because it 'showed little personality' and lacked 'a unifying vision'. In other words, Clinton did not stand for anything. So what does Clinton care about in 2015?

'that remains to be seen. There have been hints that she will embrace the economic populist wealth-gap message most notably touted by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. She could also emphasise women's rights, both in the US and internationally - a subject that has been close to her heart for her entire career.'

As Obama created an ethical veneer out of his colour, so Clinton can use her gender. Zurcher reports:

'Early indications are she will attempt to soften her image by emphasising her new role as a grandmother.'

In a rousing conclusion to her Guardian article, Goldenberg writes:

'Now it's time for Clinton to pick up where she left off. Seven years on, many of the issues previously sidelined as women's concerns - minimum wage, equal pay, paid sick leave - have risen to the political mainstream, and Clinton shows every intention of trying to make them her own.'

Her sign-off:

'In every presidential election since 1980, women have turned out to vote in greater numbers than men. There will be many million more cracks to make before shattering that glass ceiling but Clinton is on her way.'

This was much closer to endorsement than impartial analysis, an impression Goldenberg reinforced by retweeting a message of support sent to Clinton by female Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarian Sehar Kamran:


'Good Luck Hillary'


The tweet contained a thumbs-up sign for good measure. We tweeted and emailed Goldenberg:

'How is this retweet compatible with the idea that Guardian journalists are neutral, objective and independent? Should you really be openly rooting for the politicians on whom you are reporting?' (Email to Goldenberg, April 14, 2015)

Goldenberg replied on Twitter:

'oh, please. We all know RT = interesting NOT endorsement'

Readers can decide for themselves if it was interesting that someone tweeted 'Good Luck Hillary' to Clinton.

In similar vein, Guardian columnist Deborah Orr tweeted:

'Go Hills! Imagine. A woman Guardian editor AND a woman US president.'

Indeed! Imagine having a newspaper editor like Rebekah Brooks AND a prime minister like Margaret Thatcher.

In the Guardian, in a piece titled, 'Why Hillary Clinton would make the perfect US president', Orr writes:

'She'll be less tainted by the scandals and mistakes of previous administrations than any woman ever has been.'

But anyway, 'the symbolic power of her appointment [as a female president] transcends all else'.

Which perhaps explains why both Goldenberg and Orr fail to mention Libya, the country Clinton played a decisive role in wrecking while US Secretary of State (2009-2013). We asked Goldenberg:

'How can you discuss Hillary Clinton's campaign without even mentioning Libya, the country she destroyed?'

Goldenberg replied:

'It's a piece abt gender & framing of @HillaryClinton candidacy, not foreign policy'

We responded:

'But you say "Clinton made several mistakes in the years.. leading up to Sunday's launch". Why not include the destruction of Libya?'

This was tongue-in-cheek. Libya, of course, was not a 'mistake'; it was a major crime - all the more reason to mention it. We received no reply.

We also emailed Orr, asking why she had not mentioned Clinton's role in the Libya catastrophe. Orr clarified:


Hi David,

Because that's not what the article was about.

Best wishes

Deborah Orr
(Email, April 14, 2015)

We responded:

Thanks for replying, Deborah. But the second sentence of the opening paragraph reads:
'She'll be less tainted by the scandals and mistakes of previous administrations than any woman ever has been.'

And you write:

'No doubt many people consider it wrong to believe that Clinton should be president "just because she's a woman". No doubt many feminists are troubled by the way that Clinton is following in footsteps trodden first by her husband.'

So clearly you are writing about these issues. Clinton has already followed in the warmongering footsteps of her husband, which you could have mentioned. It could hardly be more important or relevant.

Best wishes

David

Orr replied again:

Your first quote.

The sentences [sic] serves two purposes, one rhetorical, to express that no women has been President, the other practical, to note that she is indeed tainted by scandals and mistakes. It is not the purpose of the sentence to explore those things in detail.

Your second quote.

There's a presumption in those sentences that people already know quite a bit about HC's record, and don't need to be told again. You may need to be told again. But I actually doubt that either you, or many other readers, do.

We replied:

The destruction of Libya is not only not 'detail', it is arguably the defining fact, and crime, of Clinton's life. If an official enemy were responsible and under discussion, the idea that one could simply pass over, or take as read, their destruction of an entire country would be unthinkable.

Best

David

Orr responded one last time:

Noted.
Thanks.


Libya – 'Hillary's War'


In March 2011, Clinton said:

'Gaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead, so we believe he must go. We're working with the international community to try to achieve that outcome.' (Quoted, Maximilian Forte, 'Slouching Towards Sirte – NATO's War on Libya and Africa,' Baraka Books, digital version, 2012, p.325)

Writing in the Sunday Times, James Rubin comments:

'Former defence secretary Bob Gates has written that it was secretary Clinton's "considerable clout" that tipped the balance in favour of action.' (Rubin, 'Why Hillary Clinton would make a better president than Obama,' Sunday Times, April 12, 2015)

In the Telegraph, Mary Riddell notes:

'More hawkish than Mr Obama or the dovelike vice president, Joe Biden, she backed the invasion of Afghanistan, while US action in Libya has been described as "Hillary's War".'

The results: about 1.8 million Libyans - nearly a third of the country's population - have fled to Tunisia with 1,700 armed gangs fighting over a country in which chaos reigns.

In her memoir, 'Hard Choices', Clinton revealed how she had also played a key role in supporting the coup in Honduras:

'In the subsequent days [after the coup] I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico. We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of [overthrown Honduran president] Zelaya moot.'

Political analyst Mark Weisbrot commented:

'The question of Zelaya was anything but moot. Latin America leaders, the United Nations General Assembly and other international bodies vehemently demanded his immediate return to office.'

In 2008, Clinton said:

'I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran [if it attacks Israel]. In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.'

Clinton also commented of Egypt's then dictator, Mubarak:

'I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family.'

In 2006, Clinton co-sponsored a (failed) bill that would have criminalised the burning of the American flag. Clinton described it as 'an opportunity to protect our flag'.


'Hillary's Moment'


In the BBC website article mentioned above, Zurcher writes: 'If this is Hillary's moment, she's going to have to earn it.'

It is a trite but far from innocuous comment. Referring to Clinton by her first name indicates that 'Hillary' is one of 'the good guys', unlike surname-only 'bad guys' like Putin, Chavez, Gaddafi and Assad. Try imagining a BBC news piece commenting: 'If this is Bashar's moment, he's going to have to earn it.'

In 2013, BBC journalist Kim Ghattas authored a book titled, 'The Secretary – A Journey With Hillary Clinton from Beirut to The Heart of American Power.' Clinton, Ghattas explained, is 'a rock star diplomat who finally let her hair down'.

As US Secretary of State, 'Hillary' let her hair down in October 2011, after it emerged that Libyan leader Gaddafi (Muammar to his friends) had been beaten, sodomised with a knife and murdered. Moments after receiving the news, Clinton laughed, commenting: 'We came, we saw, he died.' As Maximilian Forte observed:

'Ghoulish, chilling, and perverse was this utterly remorseless display of how bloodthirsty US power can be.' (Forte, op.cit., pp.359-360)

Zurcher notes that Clinton 'faces an ongoing congressional investigation into her response to the attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya'. This is Zurcher's only reference to Libya. Like the rest of the media, the failure to protect the US consulate is the only Libyan scandal worth mentioning. Thus, the Independent refers to Clinton's 'potential weaknesses, including controversies over her handling, as Secretary of State, of the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, her use of a private email server while at the State Department and donations by foreign governments to the Bill Clinton foundation'.

In all the coverage of Clinton's presidential bid recorded in the Lexis newspaper database, we have found not one inclusion of the destruction of Libya among her 'controversies'.

It has been estimated that Clinton will raise between $1.5 billion and $2 billion in the primary and general election campaigns, twice the amount Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each spent in 2012. The World Socialist Web Site notes the significance:

'To raise these vast sums, all potential presidents must thus pass through a screening process that involves a few thousand billionaires and near-billionaires... The financial oligarchy selects the possible candidates, a process now referred to as the "invisible primary"... Those selected are invariably right-wing, reliable defenders of corporate America, usually themselves millionaires or multimillionaires.'

Are we really to accept that gender equality counts more than the naked fraudulence of this 'democratic' process, more than the bringing of death and destruction to entire countries? But this is exactly the message of the corporate 'free press', which works so hard to ensure that ethical discussion remains superficial, rootless, and powerless to challenge the status quo.

DE


Suggested Action

The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

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Email: suzanne.goldenberg@theguardian.com

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