Monday, February 20, 2017

Boots on the Toxic Ground: Syria Like Iraq a Depleted Uranium Dump Site

US Terror-Bombed Syria with Toxic DU Munitions

by Stephen Lendman - sjlendman.blogspot.com


February 19, 2017

America uses banned depleted uranium (DU) weapons in all its wars, ongoing since first developed during the Vietnam era. The 1925 Geneva Protocol and succeeding Geneva Weapons Conventions prohibited use of chemical and biological agents in any form as weapons of war.

Although no Geneva Convention or other treaty specifically bans radioactive uranium weapons, including DU ones, they’re illegal de facto and de jure under the 1907 Hague Convention, prohibiting use of any “poison or poisoned weapons.”

DU munitions are radioactive, chemically toxic and poisonous. America is a signatory to the Hague and Geneva Conventions. Using these weapons in combat is a war crime.

US Code, Title 50, Chapter 40, Section 2302 defines a WMD as "any weapon or device that is intended, or has the capability, to cause death or serious bodily injury to a significant number of people through the release, dissemination, or impact of (A) toxic or poisonous chemicals or their precursors, (B) a disease organism, or (C) radiation or radioactivity.”

Armor-piercing DU munitions enable their ability to penetrate targets, enhancing their destructive capability. On detonation, depleted uranium aerializes, contaminating land, air and water, acting as a miniature dirty bomb.

It caused an epidemic of cancer, numerous other diseases and serious birth defects in Iraq - including children born with two heads, one eye, and legs grown together. Miscarriages are frequent. Hundreds of newborns had cleft pallets, elongated heads, overgrown or short limbs, and other malformed body parts.

Iraq remains a toxic wasteland. So do other US war theaters. The Pentagon admitted using thousands of DU rounds in Syria in 2015, falsely claiming attacks were against ISIS, imperial foot soldiers America created and supports.

Pentagon warplanes began terror-bombing Syria in September 2014, conducting thousands of airstrikes, continuing under Trump against infrastructure and government targets. It’s unknown if DU weapons were used throughout this period, as well as against Iraq since US terror-bombing began in June 2014 - on the phony pretext of combating ISIS. Whatever the Pentagon admitted to is likely a small fraction of what it’s done.

Its high crimes are notoriously whitewashed. In March 2015, US-led coalition spokesman John Moore lied, saying its warplanes “have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria…”

Now we know part of the truth. Most of it remains hidden.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III." http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Fukushima Lurking: Is There Any Stopping This Global Catastrophe?

Fukushima – A Lurking Global Catastrophe?

by Robert Hunziker - Pacific Free Press


February 19, 2017

Los Angeles - Year over year, ever since 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown grows worse and worse, an ugly testimonial to the inherent danger of generating electricity via nuclear fission, which produces isotopes, some of the most deadly poisonous elements on the face of the planet. Fukushima Diiachi has been, and remains, one of the world’s largest experiments, i.e. what to do when all hell breaks loose, aka The China Syndrome.

“Scientists still don’t have all the information they need for a cleanup that the government estimates will take four decades and cost ¥8 trillion. It is not yet known if the fuel melted into or through the containment vessel’s concrete floor, and determining the fuel’s radioactivity and location is crucial to inventing the technology to remove the melted fuel,” (Emi Urabe, Fukushima Fuel-Removal Quest Leaves Trail of Dead Robots, The Japan Times, Feb. 17, 2017).

As it happens, “”inventing technology” is experimental stage stuff. Still, there are several knowledgeable sources that believe the corium, or melted core, will never be recovered. Then what?

According to a recent article, “Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi,” d/d Feb. 11, 2017 by Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University: The Fukushima nuclear facility is a global threat on level of a major catastrophe.

Meanwhile, the Abe administration dresses up Fukushima Prefecture for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, necessitating a big fat question: Who in their right mind would hold Olympics in the neighborhood of three out-of-control nuclear meltdowns that could get worse, worse, and still worse? After all, that’s the pattern over the past 5 years; it gets worse and worse. Dismally, nobody can possibly know how much worse by 2020. Not knowing is the main concern about holding Olympics in the backyard of a nuclear disaster zone, especially as nobody knows what’s happening. Nevertheless and resolutely, according to PM Abe and the IOC, the games go on.

Along the way, it’s taken Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) nearly six years to finally get an official reading of radiation levels of the meltdown but in only one unit. Analysis of Unit #2 shows radiation levels off-the-charts at 530 Sieverts, or enough to kill within minutes, illustrative of why it is likely impossible to decommission units 1, 2, and 3. No human can withstand that exposure and given enough time, frizzled robots are as dead as a door nail.

“A short-term, whole-body dose of over 10 sieverts would cause immediate illness and subsequent death within a few weeks, according to the World Nuclear Association” (Emi Urabe, Fukushima Fuel-Removal Quest Leaves Trail of Dead Robots, The Japan Times, Feb. 17, 2017).

Although Fukushima’s similar to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in some respects, where 1,000 square miles has been permanently sealed off, Fukushima’s different, as the Abe administration is already repopulating portions of Fukushima. If they don’t repopulate, how can the Olympics be held with food served from Fukushima and including events like baseball held in Fukushima Prefecture?

Without question, an old saw - what goes around comes around - rings true when it comes to radiation, and it should admonish (but it doesn’t phase ‘em) strident nuclear proponents, claiming Fukushima is an example of how safe nuclear power is “because there are so few, if any, deaths” (not true). As Chernobyl clearly demonstrates: Over time, radiation cumulates in bodily organs. For a real life example of how radiation devastates human bodies, consider this fact: 453,391 children with bodies ravaged, none born at the time of the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, today receive special healthcare because of Chernobyl radiation-related medical problems like cancer, digestive, respiratory, musculoskeletal, eye disease, blood disease, congenital malformation, and genetic abnormalities. Their parents were children in the Chernobyl zone in 1986 (Source: Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster, USA Today, April 17, 2016).

Making matters worse yet, Fukushima Diiachi sets smack dab in the middle of earthquake country, which defines the boundaries of Japan. In that regard, according to Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University: “The problem of Unit 2… If it should encounter a big earth tremor, it will be destroyed and scatter the remaining nuclear fuel and its debris, making the Tokyo metropolitan area uninhabitable. The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 will then be utterly out of the question,” (Shuzo Takemoto, Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi, February 11, 2017).

Accordingly, the greater Tokyo metropolitan area remains threatened for as long as Fukushima Diiachi is out of control, which could be for generations, not years. Not only that, Gee-Whiz, what if the big one hits during the Olympics? After all, earthquakes come unannounced. Regrettably, Japan has had 564 earthquakes the past 365 days. It’s an earthquake-ridden country. Japan sits at the boundary of 4 tectonic plates shot through with faults in zigzag patterns, very lively and of even more concern, the Nankai Trough, the candidate for the big one, sits nearly directly below Tokyo. On a geological time scale, it may be due for action anytime within the next couple of decades. Fukushima Prefecture’s not that far away.

Furthermore, the Fukushima Diiachi nuclear complex is tenuous, at best:

“All four buildings were structurally damaged by the original earthquake some five years ago and by the subsequent hydrogen explosions so should there be an earthquake greater than seven on the Richter scale, it is very possible that one or more of these structures could collapse, leading to a massive release of radiation as the building falls on the molten core beneath.” (Helen Caldicott: The Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Continues Unabated, Independent Australia, February 13, 2017).

Complicating matters further, the nuclear site is located at the base of a mountain range. Almost daily, water flows from the mountain range beneath the nuclear plant, liquefying the ground, a sure-fire setup for cascading buildings when the next big one hits.

For over five years now, radioactive water flowing out of the power plant into the Pacific carries isotopes like cesium 134 and cesium 137, strontium 90, tritium, plutonium americium and up to 100 more isotopes, none of which are healthy for marine or human life, quite the opposite in fact as those isotopes slowly cumulate, and similar to the Daleks of Doctor Who fame (BBC science fiction series, 1963-present) “Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!”

Isotopes bio-concentrate up the food chain from algae to crustaceans to small fish to big fish to bigger humans. Resultant cancer cells incubate anytime from two years to old age, leading to death. That’s what cancer does; it kills.

Still, the fact remains nobody really knows for sure how directly Fukushima Diiachi radiation affects marine life, but how could it be anything other than bad? After all, it’s a recognized fact that radiation cumulates over time; it’s tasteless, colorless, and odorless as it cumulates in the body, whether in fish or further up the food chain in humans. It travels!

An example is Cesium 137 one of the most poisonous elements on the planet. One gram of Cesium 137 the size of a dime will poison one square mile of land for hundreds of years. That’s what’s at stake at the world’s most rickety nuclear plant, and nobody can do anything about it. In fact, nobody knows what to do. They really don’t.

When faced with the prospect of not knowing what to do, why not bring on the Olympics? That’s pretty good cover for a messy situation, making it appear to hundreds of thousands of attendees, as well as the world community “all is well.” But, is it? Honestly….

The Fukushima nuclear meltdown presents a special problem for the world community. Who knows what to believe after PM Abe lied to the IOC to get the Olympics; see the following headline from Reuters News: “Abe’s Fukushima ‘Under Control’ Pledge to Secure Olympics Was a Lie: Former PM,” Reuters, Sept. 7, 2016.

“Abe gave the assurances about safety at the Fukushima plant in his September 2013 speech to the International Olympic Committee to allay concerns about awarding the Games to Tokyo. The comment met with considerable criticism at the time… Mr. Abe's 'under control remark, that was a lie,’ Koizumi (former PM) now 74 and his unruly mane of hair turned white, told a news conference where he repeated his opposition to nuclear power,” Ibid.

As such, a very big conundrum precedes the 2020 games: How can the world community, as well as Olympians, believe anything the Abe administration says about the safety and integrity of Fukushima?

Still, the world embraces nuclear power more so than ever before as it continues to expand and grow. Sixty reactors are currently under construction in fifteen countries. In all, 160 power reactors are in the planning stage and 300 more have been proposed. Pro-Nuke-Heads claim Fukushima proves how safe nuclear power is because there are so few, if any, deaths, as to be inconsequential. That's a boldfaced lie.

Here’s one of several independent testimonials on deaths because of Fukushima Diiachi radiation exposure (many, many, many more testimonials are highlighted in prior articles, including USS Ronald Reagan sailors on humanitarian rescue missions at the time):

“It’s a real shame that the authorities hide the truth from the whole world, from the UN. We need to admit that actually many people are dying. We are not allowed to say that, but TEPCO employees also are dying. But they keep mum about it,” Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba (Fukushima Prefecture), Fukushima Disaster: Tokyo Hides Truth as Children Die, Become Ill from Radiation – Ex-Mayor, RT News, April 21, 2014.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Talking with Russians: "Have You Now, Or Have You Ever..."

The Did-You-Talk-to-Russians Witch Hunt

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News


February 18, 2017

In the anti-Russian frenzy sweeping American politics and media, Democrats, liberals and mainstream pundits are calling for an investigative body that could become a new kind of House Un-American Activities Committee to hunt down Americans who have communicated with Russians. The proposed commission would have broad subpoena powers to investigate alleged connections between Trump’s supporters and the Russian government with the apparent goal of asking if they now have or have ever talked to a Russian who might have some tie to the Kremlin or its intelligence agencies.
Senator Joe McCarthy with Roy Cohn

Such an admission apparently would be prima facie evidence of disloyalty, a guilt-by-association “crime” on par with Sen. Joe McCarthy’s Cold War pursuit of “communists” who supposedly had infiltrated the U.S. government, the film industry and other American institutions.

Operating parallel to McCarthy’s Red Scare hearings was the House Un-American Activities Committee (or HUAC), a standing congressional panel from 1945-1975 when it was best known for investigating alleged communist subversion and propaganda. One of its top achievements was the blacklisting of the “Hollywood Ten” whose careers in the movie industry were damaged or destroyed.

Although the Cold War has long been over – and Russia has often cooperated with the U.S. government, especially on national security issues such as supplying U.S. troops in Afghanistan – Democrats and liberals seem ready to force Americans to again prove their loyalty if they engaged in conversations with Russians.

Or perhaps these “witnesses” can be entrapped into perjury charges if their recollections of conversations with Russians don’t match up with transcripts of their intercepted communications, a tactic similar to ones used by Sen. McCarthy and HUAC to trip up and imprison targets over such secondary charges.

Ousted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has already encountered such a predicament because he couldn’t recall all the details of a phone conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 29, 2016, after Flynn took the call while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.

When Obama administration holdovers at the Justice Department decided to gin up a legal premise to go after Flynn, they cited the Logan Act, a law enacted in 1799 to prohibit private citizens from negotiating with foreign adversaries but never used to convict anyone. The law also is of dubious constitutionality and was surely never intended to apply to a president-elect’s advisers.

However, based on that flimsy pretext, FBI agents – with a transcript of the electronic intercept of the Kislyak-Flynn phone call in hand – tested Flynn’s memory of the conversation and found his recollections incomplete. Gotcha – lying to the FBI!

Under mounting media and political pressure, President Trump fired Flynn, apparently hoping that tossing Flynn overboard to the circling sharks would somehow calm the sharks down. Instead, blood in the water added to the frenzy.

Iran-Contra Comparison


Some prominent Democrats and liberals have compared Trump-connected contacts with Russians to President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal or President Reagan’s Iran-Contra Affair, an issue that I know a great deal about having helped expose it as a reporter for The Associated Press in the 1980s.

The key difference is that Iran-Contra was an unconstitutional effort by the Reagan administration to finance an illegal war against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government in defiance of a congressional ban. The Trump-connected communications with Russians – to the degree they have occurred – appear to have been aimed at preventing a new and dangerous Cold War that could lead to a nuclear holocaust.

In other words, Iran-Contra was about enabling a paramilitary force to continue its brutal marauding inside a country that was no threat to the United States while the current “scandal” is about people trying to avoid hostilities between two nuclear superpowers, an existential threat that many mainstream and liberal pundits don’t want to recognize.

Indeed, there is a troubling denial-ism about the risks of an accidental or intentional war with Russia as the U.S. media and much of Official Washington’s establishment have lots of fun demonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin and jabbing the Russians by shoving NATO troops up to their borders and deploying anti-ballistic missiles in Eastern Europe. For some crazy reason, the Russians feel threatened.

False Narratives


This Russia-bashing and Russia-baiting have been accompanied by false narratives presented in the major U.S. newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, to justify increased tensions.

For instance, the Post’s senior foreign affairs writer Karen DeYoung on Friday described the civil war in Ukraine this way: “That conflict began when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014, then backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in what has become a grinding war, despite a deal to end it, called the Minsk agreement, negotiated with Putin by the leaders of France and Germany.”

But DeYoung’s synopsis is simply not true. The crisis began in the fall of 2013 when Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of what he regarded as a costly and unacceptable association agreement with the European Union, a move which prompted protests by Ukrainians in Kiev’s Maidan square.

The Obama administration’s State Department, U.S. neocon politicians such as Sen. John McCain, and various U.S.-backed “non-governmental organizations” then stoked those protests against Yanukovych, which grew violent as trained ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi street fighters poured in from western Ukraine.

In early 2014, a coup to overthrow the democratically elected Yanukovych took shape under the guidance of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt who were caught in a phone call in late January or early February 2014 conspiring to impose new leadership inside Ukraine.

Nuland disparaged a less extreme strategy favored by European diplomats with the pithy remark: “Fuck the E.U.” and went on to declare “Yats is the guy,” favoring Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the new leader. Nuland then pondered how to “glue this thing” while Pyatt ruminated about how to “midwife this thing.”

On Feb. 20, 2014, a mysterious sniper apparently firing from a building controlled by the ultranationalist Right Sektor killed both police and protesters, setting off a day of violence that left about 70 people dead including more than a dozen police.

The next day, three European governments struck a deal with Yanukovych in which he agreed to early elections and accepted reduced powers. But that political settlement wasn’t enough for the U.S.-backed militants who stormed government buildings on Feb. 22, forcing Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives.

Instead of standing by the Feb. 21 agreement, which the European nations had “guaranteed,” Nuland pushed for and got U.S. allies to accept the new post-coup regime as “legitimate,” with Yatsenyuk becoming prime minister and several top government posts given to the ultranationalists and neo-Nazis.

Spreading Violence


In the ensuing days, the right-wing violence spread beyond Kiev, prompting Crimea’s legislature to propose secession from Ukraine and readmission to Russia, whose relationship to the peninsula dated back to Catherine the Great.

Crimea scheduled a referendum that was opposed by the new regime in Kiev. Russian troops did not “invade” Crimea because some 20,000 were already stationed there as part of a basing agreement at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol. The Russians did provide security for the referendum but there was no evidence of intimidation as the citizens of Crimea voted by 96 percent to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, a move that Putin and the Russian duma accepted.

Eastern Ukrainians tried to follow Crimea’s lead with their own referendum, but Putin and Russia rejected their appeals to secede. However, when the Kiev regime launched an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” against the so-called Donbass region – spearheaded by ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi militias – Russia provided military assistance so these ethnic Russians would not be annihilated.

Karen DeYoung also framed the Minsk agreement as if it were imposed on Putin when he was one of its principal proponents and architects, winning its approval in early 2015 at a time when the Ukrainian military was facing battlefield reversals.

But Assistant Secretary Nuland, working with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and the Ukrainian parliament, sabotaged the agreement by requiring the Donbass rebels to first surrender which they were unwilling to do, having no faith in the sincerity of the Kiev regime to live up to its commitment to grant limited autonomy to the Donbass.

In other words, Kiev inserted a poison pill to prevent a peaceful resolution, but the Western media and governments always blame the Minsk failure on Putin.

If Karen DeYoung wanted to boil all this history down to one paragraph, it might go: “The Ukraine conflict began when U.S. officials supported the violent overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych, prompting Crimea to rejoin Russia and causing ethnic Russians in the east to rise up against the U.S.-backed coup regime in Kiev, which then sought to crush the rebellion. The Kiev regime later torpedoed a peace deal that had been hammered out by Russian, Ukrainian and European negotiators in Minsk.”

But such a summary would not have the desired propaganda effect on the American people. It would not present the U.S.-backed side as the “white hats” and the pro-Russia side as the “black hats.”

The simple truth is that the story of Ukraine is far more complex and multi-sided than The Washington Post, The New York Times and most mainstream U.S. news outlets want to admit. They simply start the clock at the point of Crimea’s rejection of the post-coup regime and distort those facts to present the situation simply as a “Russian invasion.”

A Whipped-Up Hysteria


The major media’s distortion is so egregious that you could call it a lie, but it is a lie that has proved very useful in whipping up the current anti-Russian hysteria that is sweeping Official Washington and that has given birth to a New Cold War, now accompanied by a New McCarthyism that deems anyone who doesn’t accept the “groupthink” a “Russian apologist” or a “Moscow stooge.”

Since last November’s election, this New McCarthyism has merged with hatred toward Donald Trump, especially after the outgoing Obama administration lodged unproven accusations that Russia undercut Hillary Clinton’s campaign by hacking into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and those of her campaign chairman John Podesta – and slipped that information to WikiLeaks.

Those emails showed how the DNC undercut the rival campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders and revealed the contents of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street banks as well as pay-to-play aspects of the Clinton Foundation, information that Clinton wanted to keep from the voters.

But no one thought the emails were a major factor in the Clinton-Trump race; indeed, Clinton blamed her stunning defeat on FBI Director James Comey’s last-minute decision to reopen and then re-close his investigation into security concerns about her use of a private email server as Secretary of State.

But the script on how Clinton lost was flipped during the Trump transition as President Obama’s intelligence agencies floated the Russia-hacked-the-election scenario although presenting no public evidence to support the claims. WikiLeaks representatives also denied getting the material from Russia, suggesting instead that it was leaked by two different American insiders.

A Ministry of Truth


Still, during the post-election period, the anti-Russian hysteria continued to build. In November, The Washington Post highlighted claims by an anonymous group called PropOrNot accusing some 200 Web sites, including Consortiumnews.com and other major independent media outlets, of disseminating Russian “propaganda.”

The New York Times joined in the frenzy by calling for leading technology companies to marginalize Web sites that are deemed to be publishing “fake news,” a vague term that was applied not just to intentionally false stories but to information that questioned official narratives, no matter how dubious those narratives were. The New McCarthyism was morphing into a New Orwellianism.

The movement toward a Ministry of Truth gained further momentum in December when Congress passed and President Obama signed a military authorization bill that included a new $160 million bureaucracy to identify and counter alleged “Russian propaganda.”

The anger of Democrats and liberals toward President Trump in his first month has added more fuel to the Russia-bashing with some Democrats and liberals seeing it as a possible route toward neutralizing or impeaching Trump. Thus, the calls for a full-scale investigation with subpoena power to demand documents and compel testimony.

While the idea of getting to the full truth has a superficial appeal, it also carries dangers of launching a witch hunt that would drag American citizens before inquisitors asking about any contacts – no matter how innocuous – with Russians.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, HUAC also claimed that all it wanted was the truth about whether some Americans were allied with or sympathetic to Moscow. Sen. Joe McCarthy offered a similar rationale when he was trying to root out “disloyal” Americans with the question, “are you now or have you ever been a communist?”

That Democrats and liberals who hold the McCarthy era in understandable disdain would now seek to rekindle something similar reeks of rank opportunism and gross hypocrisy – doing whatever it takes to “get Trump” and build an activist movement that can revive the Democratic Party’s flagging political hopes.

But this particular opportunism and hypocrisy also carries with it the prospect of blindly ramping up tensions with Russia, diverting more taxpayer money into the Military-Industrial Complex and conceivably sparking – whether planned or unplanned – a nuclear Armageddon that could eliminate life on the planet. Perhaps this anti-Trump strategy should be rethought.

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).

Friday, February 17, 2017

Bigger Than Russia: Trump Revolution Drowns in Asia Pivot Gyre

Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper

by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch


February 17, 2017

The Flynn fiasco is not about national security advisor Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador. It’s much deeper than that.

It’s about Russia. It’s about Putin. It’s about the explosive rise of China and the world’s biggest free trade zone that will eventually stretch from Lisbon to Vladivostok. 
Photo: woodleywonderworks | CC BY 2.0 

It’s about the one country in the world that is obstructing Washington’s plan for global domination. (Russia) And, it’s about the future; which country will be the key player in the world’s most prosperous and populous region, Asia. That’s what’s at stake, and that’s what the Flynn controversy is really all about.

Many readers are familiar with the expression “pivot to Asia”, but do they know what it means?

It means the United States has embarked on an ambitious plan to extend its military grip and market power over the Eurasian landmass thus securing its position as the world’s only superpower into the next century. The pivot is Washington’s top strategic priority. As Hillary Clinton said in 2011:

“Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests… Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia…

The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade…. we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia…and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.”(“America’s Pacific Century”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)

In other words, it’s pivot or bust. Those are the only two options. Naturally, ruling elites in the US have chosen the former over the latter, which means they are committed to a strategy that will inevitably pit the US against a nuclear-armed adversary, Russia.

Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, wanted to normalize relations with Russia. He rejected the flagrantly hostile approach of the US foreign policy establishment. That’s why he had to be removed. And, that’s why he’s been so viciously attacked in the media and why the threadbare story about his contacts with the Russian ambassador were used to force his resignation.

This isn’t about the law and it isn’t about the truth. It’s about bare-knuckle geopolitics and global hegemony. Flynn got in the way of the pivot, so Flynn had to be eliminated. End of story. Here’s a clip from an article by Robert Parry:

“Flynn’s real “offense” appears to be that he favors détente with Russia rather than escalation of a new and dangerous Cold War. Trump’s idea of a rapprochement with Moscow – and a search for areas of cooperation and compromise – has been driving Official Washington’s foreign policy establishment crazy for months and the neocons, in particular, have been determined to block it.

Though Flynn has pandered to elements of the neocon movement with his own hysterical denunciations of Iran and Islam in general, he emerged as a key architect for Trump’s plans to seek a constructive relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Meanwhile, the neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks have invested heavily in making Putin the all-purpose bête noire to justify a major investment in new military hardware and in pricey propaganda operations.” (“Trump Caves on Flynn’s resignation“, Consortium News)

US foreign policy is not developed willy-nilly. It emerges as the consensus view of various competing factions within the permanent national security state. And, although there are notable differences between the rival factions (either hardline or dovish) there appears to be unanimity on the question of Russia. There is virtually no constituency within the political leadership of either of the two major parties (or their puppetmaster supporters in the deep state) for improving relations with Russia. None. Russia is blocking Washington’s eastward expansion, therefore, Russia must be defeated.

Here’s more from the World Socialist Web Site:

“US imperialism seeks to counter its declining world economic position by exploiting its unchallenged global military dominance. It sees as the principal roadblocks to its hegemonic aims the growing economic and military power of China and the still-considerable strength of Russia, possessor of the world’s second-largest nuclear arsenal, the largest reserves of oil and gas, and a critical geographical position at the center of the Eurasian land mass.

Trump’s opponents within the ruling class insist that US foreign policy must target Russia with the aim of weakening the Putin regime or overthrowing it. This is deemed a prerequisite for taking on the challenge posed by China.

Numerous Washington think tanks have developed scenarios for military conflicts with Russian forces in the Middle East, in Ukraine, in the Baltic States and in cyberspace. The national security elite is not prepared to accept a shift in orientation away from the policy of direct confrontation with Russia along the lines proposed by Trump, who would like for the present to lower tensions with Russia in order to focus first on China.” (“Behind the Flynn resignation and Trump crisis: A bitter conflict over imperialist policy“, WSWS)

Foreign policy elites believe the US and its NATO allies can engage Russia in a shooting war without it expanding into a regional conflict and without an escalation into a nuclear conflagration. It’s a risky calculation but, nevertheless, it is the rationale behind the persistent build up of troops and weaponry on Russia’s western perimeter. Take a look at this from the Independent:

“Thousands of Nato troops have amassed close to the border with Russia as part of the largest build-up of Western troops neighbouring Moscow’s sphere of influence since the Cold War…Tanks and heavy armoured vehicles, plus Bradley fighting vehicles and Paladin howitzers, are also in situ and British Typhoon jets from RAF Conningsby will be deployed to Romania this summer to contribute to Nato’s Southern Air Policing mission…

Kremlin officials claim the build-up is the largest since the Second World War.” (“The map that shows how many Nato troops are deployed along Russia’s border“, The Independent)

Saber-rattling and belligerence have cleared the way for another world war. Washington thinks the conflict can be contained, but we’re not so sure.

The inexperienced Trump– who naively believed that the president sets his own foreign policy–has now learned that that’s not the case. The Flynn slap-down, followed by blistering attacks in the media and threats of impeachment, have left Trump shaken to the core. As a result, he has done a speedy about-face and swung into damage control-mode. On Tuesday, he tried to extend the olive branch by tweeting that “Crimea was taken by Russia” and by offering to replace Flynn with a trusted insider who will not veer from the script prepared by the foreign policy establishment. Check out this blurb on the Foreign Policy magazine website on Wednesday:

“President Donald Trump offered the job of national security advisor to retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward on Monday night…If, as expected, Harward accepts the job today, he is likely to bring in his own team, from deputy on down, with a focus on national security types with some experience under their belts…

Harward also would work well with Defense Secretary James Mattis. When Mattis was chief of Central Command, Harward was his deputy. Mattis trusted him enough to put him in charge of planning for war with Iran. Mattis has urged Harward to take the NSA job.

If Harward becomes NSA, Mattis would emerge from the Flynn mess in a uniquely powerful position: He would have two of his former deputies at the table in some meetings. The other one is John Kelly, now secretary for Homeland Security, who was his number two when Mattis commanded a Marine division early in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.” (“A Mattis protégé poised to take the helm of Trump’s NSC,” Foreign Policy)

In other words, Trump is relinquishing control over foreign policy and returning it to trusted insiders who will comply with pre-set elitist guidelines. Trump’s sudden metamorphosis was apparent in another story that appeared in Wednesday’s news, this time related to Rex Tillerson and General Joseph Dunford. Here’s a clip from CNN:

“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford meet face to face with their Russian counterparts Thursday, as the Trump administration evaluates the future direction of US-Russian relations….But even as Tillerson’s plane was taking off in Washington, the Pentagon announced the meeting between Dunford and his Russian counterpart Valeriy Gerasimov, which will take place Thursday in Baku, Azerbaijan….

“The military leaders will discuss a variety of issues including the current state of U.S.-Russian military relations …Trump’s envoys have been expressing positions more keeping with previous US policies. …

Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, indicated the US would maintain sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea in 2014. She condemned what she called the “Russian occupation” of the Ukrainian territory…

The US has deployed thousands of troops and tanks to Poland and Romania in recent weeks, while other NATO allies have sent troops to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

“There is a common message from the President, from his security team, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, that they stay strongly committed to NATO,” he added.

Let’s summarize: The sanctions will remain, the tanks are on the border, the commitment to NATO has been reinforced, and Dunford is going to explain Washington’s strategic objectives to his Russian counterpart in clear, unambiguous language. There will be no room for Tillerson, who is on friendly terms with Putin, to change the existing policy or to normalize relations; Dunford, Haley, and Defense Secretary James Mattis will make sure of that.

As for Trump, it’s clear by the Crimea tweet, the sacking of Flynn and the (prospective) appointment of Harward, that he’s running scared and is doing everything in his power to get out of the hole he’s dug for himself. There’s no way of knowing whether he’ll be allowed to carry on as before or if he’ll be forced to throw other allies, like Bannon or Conway, under the bus. I would expect the purge to continue and to eventually include Trump himself. But that’s just a guess.

The hope that Trump would bring an element of sanity to US foreign policy has now been extinguished. The so called “Trump Revolution” has fizzled out before it ever began.

In contrast, the military buildup along Russia’s western flank continues apace.
 
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.
More articles by:Mike Whitney

Bibi and Don Hook Up

Netanyahu and Trump

by Mazin Qumsiyeh - qumsiyeh.org


February 15, 2017

Netanyahu just met Donald Trump and they are very friendly. Both are liars.

Netanyahu claimed that just like Chinese come from China, Jews come from Judea and so are not colonizers! He also claims Iran writes in Hebrew on their missiles that Israel must be destroyed!

War criminal Netanyahu’s prerequisites for peace are:

(Photo: Thierry Ehrmann cc 2.0)

1) Palestinians recognize the colonial state as a Jewish state (it is like South Africa saying the prerequisite for peace is to recognize it as a white state) and; 

2) the “Jewish state” retain control over the whole area (again like South African white government saying that they want to control the whole area). Trump said that Palestinians are taught to hate and must stop hating Israelis. 

These two lies and many other lies are typical of congenital liars like Netanyahu. Sorry, "The Jews" (nor "The Christian" or "The Muslims") do not come from our country (Palestine is the correct geographic name, for those who still do not know). A minority of people from those religions actually come from here (less than 3% of each adherent of any of these religions come from Palestine). There is a myth of "Jewish biology" that is actually taken from Nazi racist myths (themselves stoked by Zionist myths).
See: http://qumsiyeh.org/chapter2/amd http://qumsiyeh.org/chapter3/

Who is Netanyahu? Benyamin Mileikowsky (aka Netanyahu) was born to Benzion Mileikowsky (later changed names to Netanyahu), a polish immigrant. His American father became secretary to terrorist leader Vladimir Yevgenyevich Zhabotinsky (aka Zeev Jabotinsky) founder of "revisionist" Zionism and supported groups like Irgun terrorist organization during the mandate in Palestine. His son continues to idolize these early Jewish terrorists.

Both Benjamin and his brother served in units of the Israeli forces responsible for assassinations on foreign lands (in violations of international law) and committed war crimes. Benjamin Miliekowsky (Netanyahu) is known both among Israelis and globally as a consummate liar who refused to accept the Oslo accords (even though they were partial to Israel) and has gotten rich off of his political activities. Here is a video of him thinking the camera was off explaining his true contributions during his first stint as Israeli prime minister in the 1990s:
https://youtu.be/JrtuBas3Ipw

See also this Israeli report:
https://972mag.com/netanyahu-clinton-administration-was-%E2%80%9Cextremely-pro-palestinian%E2%80%9D-i-stopped-oslo/135/

This is after all the same terrorist who gave a speech to dozens of Likud Party members in Eilat in which he admitted this is his strategy. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (15 July 2001):

"...giving his audience a bit of advice on how to deal with foreign interviewers (Netanyahu said): 
"Always, irrespective of whether you're right or not, you must always present your side as right."
"In 2011, the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, described Netanyahu as a liar in a private exchange with US President Barack Obama at the G20 summit (it was inadvertently broadcast to journalists):
"I cannot stand him. He's a liar," Sarkozy told Obama.
"The US president Obama responded by saying:
"You're fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day." 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/08/sarkozy-obama-netanyahu-gaffe-microphone

So did Netanuahu vote for Trump? (he like a majority of Israelis has a foreign passport).

I do not know and we do not care. They are good friend for decades as they both say. I know there is a temptation out there to ignore Netanyahu (who is much smarter than Trump) and focus on Trump. Some good-intentioned people are joining in the “pile on Russia” crowd that is smelling blood after Flynn’s resignation as US National security chief and will ignore the Israeli interference in US elections. Yes Flynn and Bannon and Trump and their “Fox” talk show mentors are brain-washed racist anti-Muslim anti-logic and “alternative fact” nuts (but who made them?).

The democratic establishment (e.g.many democratic senators and congressmen) and many liberals in the media who back them are not being honest with us or themselves. For example they are not telling us about how the foreign lobby for Zionists has shaped US media (including Zionist Murdoch's fox news) and shaped selection of US officials (whether Congress, the president or his cabinet for decades).

Read Findley's book "They Dare to Speak Out" or some other books. They shaped foreign policy and aid for decades in favor of Israel and most times against US interests.

Israel is no friend of the US and it intentionally attacked the American ship, USS Liberty in International waters killing many US sailors,  (see: http://www.gtr5.com/ ).

See also my message from a few week’s ago titled “Meddling in Elections” about the Israeli blatant hijacking of the US democracy:
https://sites.google.com/site/onedemocraticstatesite/archives/meddling-in-elections-by-mazin-qumsiyeh

Worth reading too, from the American Council for Judaism: Commemorating 75 Years of Advancing Prophetic Judaism, Free of Nationalism and Politicization by Allan C. Brownfeld
http://acjna.org/acjna/articles_detail.aspx?id=2671

We must continue to speak truth to power, stay informed, and most of all organize and build an alternative to the narrative of Zionist republicans or Zionist democrats. We must reclaim our humanity!

Stay human. Speaking truth in an era of universal deceit is revolutionary - revolt.

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
http://qumsiyeh.org
http://palestinenature.org
Join me on facebook https://www.facebook.com/mazin.qumsiyeh.9
_______________________________________________
HumanRights newsletter
http://lists.qumsiyeh.org/listinfo/humanrights

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Trump Effect: Will Canada's Trade Suffer?

In the Trump Era, Is Canada's Trade Relationship with the U.S. a Blessing or a Curse? 

by TRNN


February 15, 2017

Following the first meeting between U.S. President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, Nora Loreto discusses the future of US-Canada relations.


Nora Loreto is the author of From Demonized to Organized: Building the New Union Movement. She is also the editor of Rabble.ca's series titled UP! Canadian Labor Rising.

"Regularised" Apartheid: Israel's Terrifying Plans for Palestine

Israel's Vision for the Future is Terrifying

by Ramzy Baroud  - RamzyBaroud.net


February 15, 2017

Empirical historical evidence combined with little common-sense are enough to tell us the type of future options that Israel has in store for the Palestinian people: perpetual apartheid or ethnic cleansing, or a mix of both. The passing of the “Regularisation Bill” on 6 February is all we need to imagine the Israeli-envisaged future. The new law allows the Israeli government to retroactively recognise Jewish outposts built without official permission on privately-owned Palestinian land.


Crossing the Qalandiya Checkpoint.
(Photo: Tamar Fleishman, PC)

All settlements – officially recognised settlements and unauthorised outposts – are illegal under international law. The verdict has been passed numerous times by the United Nations and, more recently, pronounced with unmistakable clarity in UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

Israel’s response was the announcement of the construction of over 6,000 new housing units to be built throughout the Occupied Palestinian territories, the construction of a brand new settlement (the first in 20 years), and the new law that paves the way for the annexation of large swathes of the occupied West Bank.

Undoubtedly, the law is the “last nail in the coffin of the two-state solution”, but that is not important. It never mattered to Israel, anyway. The talk of a solution was mere smoke and mirrors as far as Israel was concerned. All the “peace talks” and the entirety of “peace process”, even when it was in its zenith, rarely slowed down the Israeli bulldozers, the construction of more “Jewish homes” or ended the unceasing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Writing in Newsweek, Diana Buttu described how the process of building settlements is always accompanied by the demolition of Palestinian homes. 140 Palestinian structures were demolished since the beginning of 2017, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Territories.

Since Donald Trump was sworn in as president of America, Israel has felt liberated from its obligation to doublespeak. For decades, Israeli officials spoke passionately about peace, and did everything in their power to hinder its attainment. Now, they simply do not care. Period.

They have perfected their balancing act simply because they had to, because Washington expected it, demanded it. But Trump had given them a blank cheque: do as you please; settlements are not obstacles to peace; Israel has been “treated very, very unfairly” and I will correct that historical injustice, and so on.

Almost immediately after Trump was inaugurated as president on 20 January, all masks came off.

On 25 January, the real Benjamin Netanyahu resurfaced, dropping his act altogether, and declaring in enviable brazenness: “We are building, and we will continue to build” illegal settlements.

What more is there to talk about with Israel at this point? Nothing. The only solution that mattered to Israel is Israel’s own “solution”, always driven by blind American support, European uselessness and always imposed on the Palestinians and other Arab countries, by force if needed.

The guardians of the grand charade of the two-state solution, who shrewdly crafted the “peace process” and danced to every Israeli tune are now bewildered. They have been outed by Israel’s dreadful plans that shot their “solution” right between the eyes, leaving Palestinians to choose between subjugation, humiliation or imprisonment.
Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0

Jonathan Cook is right. The new law is the first step towards the annexing of the West Bank or, at least, most of it. Once small outposts are legalised, they would need to be fortified, (“naturally”) expanded and protected. The military occupation, in effect for 50 years, will no longer be temporary and reversible. Civil law will continue to apply to Jews in Occupied Palestinian Territories and military laws on occupied Palestinians.

It is the very definition of Apartheid, in case you are still wondering.

To meet the “security needs” of the settlers, more “Jewish-only” bypass roads will be constructed, more walls erected, more gates to keep Palestinians away from their land, schools and livelihood will be put up, more checkpoints, more suffering, more pain, more anger and more violence.

That is Israel’s vision. Even Trump is growing frustrated by Israel’s shamelessness and audacity. He called on Israel in an interview with Israel Hayom newspaper to “be reasonable with respect to peace”.

“There is so much land left. And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left,” Trump said. He is backtracking on promises he made with regard to moving the US embassy and the unchecked expansion of the settlements and more, as he is realising that Netanyahu and his US supporters have led him to a cliff and are now asking him to jump.

But it matters little, anyway. Whether Trump holds on to his extremely pro-Israel position or reverts to a wishy-washy stance similar to that of his predecessor, Barack Obama, reality is unlikely to change – for only Israel is ultimately allowed to influence outcomes.

Israeli lawmakers’ approval of the bill is, indeed, an end of an era. We have reached the point where we can openly declare that the so-called “peace process” was an illusion from the start, for Israel had no intentions of ever conceding the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem to the Palestinians.

The Palestinian leadership is hardly blameless in all of this.

The greatest mistake that the Palestinian leadership committed (aside from its disgraceful disunity) was entrusting the US, Israel’s main enabler, with managing a “peace process” that has allowed Israel time and resources to finish its colonial projects, while devastating Palestinian rights and political aspirations.

Returning to the same old channels, using the same language, seeking salvation at the altar of the same old “two-state solution” will achieve nothing but waste further time and energy.

But Israel’s humiliating options to the Palestinians can also be read in a different way. Indeed, it is Israel’s obstinacy that is now leaving Palestinians (and Israelis) with one option, and only one option: equal citizenship in one single state or a horrific apartheid and more ethnic cleansing.

In the words of former President Jimmy Carter: “Israel will never find peace until it permit(s) the Palestinians to exercise their basic human and political rights.”

That Israeli “permission” is yet to arrive, leaving the international community with the moral responsibility to exact it.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Strangest Bedfellows: Kucinich to Trump/Flynn Rescue

"Wake Up America"

by FOX News


February 15, 2017

Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) discussing how the intelligence community is seeming to upend President Donald Trump in the wake of Michael Flynn's resignation as national security adviser.

The former Democratic presidential candidate said the bigger issue here is that the phone conversations between Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were intercepted and leaked to the media.



  Kucinich Says Intel Community Making 'Unprecedented' Effort to Upend Trump


ey Kislyak were intercepted and leaked to the media.
Posted February 15, 2017
- See more at: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46450.htm#sthash.m3ZukRJu.dpuf

Abetting the Jewish Labour Movement's Anti-Corbyn Campaign

Why is Owen Jones helping to subvert Corbyn?

by Jonathan Cook


15 February 2017

I have never been overly sold on Owen Jones. From his platform at the Guardian, he has spent far too much time whining about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his failure to reach out to voters rather than using his rare spot in the mainstream media to help him to do precisely that. But this news has knocked me sideways. It was announced yesterday that Jones is lined up to give a memorial lecture in April on behalf of the Jewish Labour Movement – the same group implicated in the recent efforts of the Israeli embassy to damage a Corbyn-led Labour party with confected allegations of anti-semitism.

All of this was exposed last month in an undercover Al Jazeera investigation.

The Jewish Labour Movement was effectively shown to be acting as a front for the Israeli government’s efforts to oust Corbyn over a supposed anti-semitism crisis in the party. Israel hates Corbyn because of his long-standing position in support of Palestinian rights.

The announcement of Jones’ lecture was written by Ella Rose, the former Israeli embassy official who tried to conceal her past after she became the director of the Jewish Labour Movement.


Photo published for Jewish Labour Movement director investigated for violent threat


She was one of those caught on Al Jazeera’s hidden cameras – in her case threatening to beat up black-Jewish Labour party activist Jackie Walker, who has been the prime target of these phony anti-semitism allegations. None of this is secret history. I first wrote about the Jewish Labour Movement’s role in trying to subvert Corbyn back in September.

It is not even as though we can credit Jones with some kind of live-and-let-live attitude to free speech. Remember back in 2013 he pulled out at the last minute, and without warning, as a speaker at an important Stop the War rally to prevent British military intervention in Syria. His grounds? He had come under fire from the armchair interventionists because he was to speak alongside Mother Agnes, a Syrian-based nun who was seen as being too pro-Assad. (The reasons Syrian Christians like Mother Agnes might support Bashar Assad were pretty obvious even then, but are blindingly so now.)

Mother Agnes pulled out of the rally to try to salvage it, but Jones continued to refuse to take part.

I criticised Jones then over his cowardly and irresponsible behaviour. Now he needs to explain how the principles that drove him away from the Stop the War rally can allow him to support a group, the Jewish Labour Movement, that is so clearly and maliciously attempting to subvert the elected leader of the Labour party.

UPDATE:



Owen Jones has responded to this blog post both on Twitter, calling it “tedious nonsense” in his usual, dismissive style, and with a post here that tries to deflect attention from my argument with a straw man: that a conspiracy theory is painting him as a stooge of the Israeli government.

No conspiracy is being posited here – only very, very poor judgment. I have also not accused him of working on behalf of the Israeli government. Only of assisting, presumably thoughtlessly, those who are working on behalf of the Israeli government inside the Jewish Labour Movement, including most definitely its current director, Ella Rose.

Sadly, though predictably, he has avoided addressing the point of my criticism.

It is great that he wants to pay his respects to a friend’s late father, and I am sure there are responsible ways he can do that. But one of them is certainly not by adding his name and credibility to an organisation that was recently exposed by an undercover investigation to have been acting as a front for Israeli government efforts to subvert the elected leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

The Jewish Labour Movement has been working to confect allegations of anti-semitism against other Labour party members. That is a serious form of verbal violence against members of Jones’ own party that has the power to do its victims great harm, personally and professionally.

Let’s not also forget, as I pointed out, that Ella Rose, who will be hosting Owen Jones’ lecture, was filmed threatening physical violence against a fellow Labour party member, Jackie Walker.

I was astounded that Jones accepted this offer from the Jewish Labour Movement. I am even more astonished that he is so casually dismissive of the very real harm caused by the actions of this organisation and its leaders.

UPDATE 2:



Depressing to see that Owen Jones has now retweeted approvingly a conspiracy theory against critics like me. Apparently we are CIA-funded.

Paradoxically, in Jones’ original response, he accused his critics of being “conspiracy theorists”.

Will Trump Set Canada Free?

Free at last! Canada without NAFTA

by David Orchard - DavidOrchard.com


02/02/2017

John A. Macdonald called free trade with the US “veiled treason.” A century later, Pierre Elliott Trudeau called the FTA a “monstrous swindle.”

 

 

Donald Trump has said he intends to renegotiate or cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This would be good news if we take the opportunity to get out of the NAFTA straitjacket and begin using Canadian resources for the benefit of Canadians.

Under the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) – chapters 4 and 9 and NAFTA chapter 6 – Canada gave the US the right to take the same proportion of any good, including all forms of energy, that it was taking over the previous three years, even if Canada itself goes short.

The US is now taking about 60% of our oil production and with the prospect of large new pipelines to the US, which cripples the idea of an east-west pan-Canadian line because we have a finite supply of oil, that percentage will rise.

Under (NA)FTA, the US has the right to continue taking this 60%, and more, of our total supply, in perpetuity. Further, Canada has agreed to never charge the US more for any good, including all forms of energy, than it charges Canadians.

Meanwhile, in addition to charging some of the world’s lowest royalty rates, we are selling our oil to the US at far less than the world price – a subsidy from Canada to the US of roughly $30 billion per year – while Canada pays some $10 billion a year to import foreign oil, mostly from Saudi Arabia and the US, into eastern Canada at world price. Does that make sense?

No self-respecting country would, as Canada did under Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien, sign away its resources, its sovereignty and its future in this way and most Canadians are still unaware our country has done so. (Mexico refused to sign these energy sections in NAFTA and exempted itself from their terms.)

Eighty percent of the world’s oil resources are held by state-controlled oil companies. Yet, in the 1990s, Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments privatized and sold our national oil company, Petro-Canada, which in a few years had grown to become one of Canada’s largest companies. Norway, which has less oil than Canada, voted to stay out of the EU and today has a trillion dollar (and growing) surplus. It has used its oil and its national oil company, Statoil, to make Norwegians the richest people on Earth with free childcare, free dental care for everyone under18, free university education and generous old age pensions. There is zero government debt and homelessness is virtually non-existent.

By contrast, Canada, a far richer country than Norway, has massive provincial and federal debt, totalling some $1.2 trillion, after decades of pouring increasing amounts of oil, gas and other resources across the border. The provinces are desperately offering to sell off profitable crown corporations to pay their bills, while also implementing huge budget cuts. Canada has miserly old age pensions, high university tuition and no national free pharmacare, childcare or dental care.

If we continue in this way, the resources will be gone. Norway will hand its savings to its grandchildren, but what will we say to our generations to come?

Algeria used its oil to build Sonatrach into the largest company in Africa. Mexico’s publicly owned national oil company, Pemex, is Latin America’s second largest company, producing 40% of Mexico’s federal government revenue. Italy’s state controlled oil and gas giant, ENI, brings in $150 billion a year. Brazil’s publicly controlled Petrobras has grown into a world leader of advanced technology, the southern hemisphere’s largest company; its power kept Brazil’s stock market steady during the 2008 whiplash. Libya, until it was subjected to a horrific US-led NATO attack in 2013, in which Canada played a significant role, used its oil revenue to move its citizens from the poorest in the world in 1960 to the highest standard of living in Africa.

NAFTA’s Chapter 11 contains a dispute settlement provision allowing US and Mexican corporations to sue Canada for any law or regulation, which they think causes them “loss or damage” and which they feel breaches the spirit of NAFTA.

These disputes are not heard by Canadian judges in Canadian courts, but by special tribunals operating behind closed doors, using not Canadian law, but NAFTA rules. There is no right of appeal. Since 1994, Canada has been sued 35 times by US corporations under NAFTA, reversed several of its laws, paid out $200 million in NAFTA fines and faces claims of $6 billion more. The US has not lost a single case.

(NA)FTA gave US corporations sweeping rights to buy up most of the Canadian economy. Called “national treatment,” it prohibits Canada from restricting or screening new US investment in Canada and grants American investors, citizens and corporations the right to be treated as if they were Canadian citizens. With a low dollar and low interest rates, the wholesale take-over of Canadian companies is proceeding in a torrent. Our standard of living and real wages have declined, jobs and factories have disappeared and almost a million Canadians now use food banks.

Freed from (NA)FTA, Canada could go on to use its natural resources to create Canadian owned and controlled industries, with all the benefits and security that could mean for Canadians. Instead of spending hundreds of billions of dollars on foreign machinery, electronics, ships, aircraft and jet fighters, we could build our own. We once created the world’s most advanced jet fighter, the Avro Arrow, so we know it can be done. Canada is a huge market for foreign automobiles. Countries from Korea to Italy and Sweden, far smaller than Canada, with a fraction of our resources, have built their own auto industries. So could we.

Our founding fathers would be outraged at the giveaway of our raw resources and the casual sale of our railways and iconic corporations: from Hudson’s Bay to Stelco, the dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board, built by western farmers and given away for a song, and Nortel, Canada’s giant, high tech powerhouse, allowed to go down, its parts picked up by Google and its other foreign competitors.

For 150 years, great Canadian leaders have warned that, without an economic border, Canada would not long have a political border with the US. John A. Macdonald called free trade with the US “veiled treason.” A century later, Pierre Elliott Trudeau called the FTA a “monstrous swindle.”

Both John A. Macdonald and Georges-Étienne Cartier were determined to build Canada into “a northern power,” a competitor to the US, not a resource colony. We can see their vision in the magnificent Parliament buildings they left us, the world class railways they built to bind the country together and one of the world’s longest lasting and most admired constitutions.

The idea that Canada would sign away its precious non-renewable resources to another country, our greatest competitor, and that it would allow itself, at the whim of foreign corporations, to be sued for following its own goals, would have been unthinkable to our founders. Let’s take this chance to get out of these destructive agreements, the FTA and NAFTA, stand on our own two feet and make Canada an independent power on the world stage.

David Orchard is a farmer and the author of The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism.
davidorchard.com davidorchard@sasktel.net

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Eoghan Moriarty, Terry Wolfwood, Christina Nikolic Feb. 15, 2017

This Week on GR

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


February 14, 2017

It's official: We are indeed living in those proverbially interesting times; but what no ancient Chinese curse could have prophesied is the sheer scope and magnitude of these days of ours.

That we face myriad peace, justice, and environmental issues locally, nationally, and globally none but the shortest of thick planks would deny, but how in the midst of this chaos of calamity does one know which of the Hydra's many heads to strike for? Well, we are fortunate perhaps in British Columbia that within our realm there exists the lair of a beast-horror signally representative of the multitudinous ills so deleteriously effecting the whole of the Natural World.

It is the Hydro-headed Site C dam, the dark aspects of which can only be regarded as an evil pure, born of the deepest, reptilian corner of the human psyche. And, if you think that's going too far, you don't know the half of it.

Listen. Hear.

Eoghan Moriarty is founder of the Vancouver-based Mindagape, a media and creative services company, and describes himself as a "digital storyteller" who became involved in documenting B.C. groups fighting against coal exports transiting through their communities. Between filming coal trains and researching the relationship between the Port Authority, Vancouver, and the coal industry, and recording community solidarity and resistance events, Eoghan co-founded RealPortHearings.org, a part of the RealHearings.org concept "creating platforms for organizations working on environment, climate, and other progressive campaigns." Eoghan Moriarty is also vice-president of the Burns Bog Conservation Society.

Eoghan Moriarty in the first half.

And; Terry Wolfwood will present Palestine in My Heart at the upcoming CAFÉ SIMPATICO. Terry's Director and co-founder of the Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation, and her articles on peace and social justice are featured in Briarpatch, Peace News, and Third World Resurgence among other places. The long-time Victoria-based activist/organizer, poet/essayist and World traveler for justice is also the local coordinator for Victoria's Women in Black and she'll be showcasing slides and telling stories of her recent trip to Palestine and Jordan where Terry says she, "met with teachers, students, farmers, activists, artists, writers and local officials to learn about their struggles for justice in their occupied country."

It's all at the next CAFÉ SIMPATICO, coming Friday, February 24th at 1923 Fernwood. There will also be music, and special Palestinian refreshments served and admission is free!

Terry Wolfwood in the heart of Palestine in the second half.

And; Christina Nikolic will be sitting in for Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with some of the good goings on going on on the streets of our city and beyond planned for the upcoming week. But first, Eoghan Moriarty getting Real Hearings on Site C and more.
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.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.

Taking Heart: Demonstration Opens BC Legislature Spring Session

Citizens stand up for what they love at BC Legislature opening ceremony

by Concerned citizens and First Nations’ representatives


February 14, 2017

Environmental groups and First Nations leaders rally for sustainable future



VICTORIAConcerned citizens and First Nations’ representatives demonstrated at the BC legislature today, before the opening of the final legislative session before the election.

Demonstrators are demanding the provincial government stand up for BC by stepping away from environmentally destructive projects like the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the Site C dam, fracking and LNG exports, and continued old-growth logging.

“This province is not a playground for giant corporations to exploit and pollute,” said Torrance Coste, Wilderness Committee Vancouver Island Campaigner.

“The BC government seems to have forgotten that and with an election around the corner we’re here to remind them.”

Speakers addressed the crowd in a short rally, and then undertook a creative Valentines-themed action to show their love for a healthy coastline, Indigenous rights, a safe climate and a sustainable economy.

“British Columbians want an economy that operates within nature’s limits, providing good green jobs today and tomorrow,” said Galen Armstrong, Peace Valley Campaigner for Sierra Club BC.

“Instead of doubling down on fossil fuels, we need to shift to low carbon power sources; instead of old-growth logging, we need sustainable harvesting of second growth; and instead of producing expensive, unneeded power, we need to defend farmland that will become increasingly vital as climate impacts increase.”

Meaningful respect for Indigenous rights and title is a central demand for demonstrators. Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip Nation — one of dozens of Nations opposed to Kinder Morgan — spoke at the rally.

Rally organizers charge that BC elected officials are not doing enough to stand up for a future where renewable energy and healthy ecosystems are prioritized, instead letting corporations set a course that locks us into dangerous climate change, ecological disaster and boom-bust resource cycles.

“People across BC are tired of governments that serve the corporate elite and leave the rest of us with inflated hydro rates, polluted waterways and the looming threat of a catastrophic oil spill," said Charles Campbell, Provincial Organizer for Dogwood Initiative.

"The heart is being cut out of our province and our future and we're determined to put it back."

The rally and demonstration was organized by Amnesty International, Council of Canadians, Dogwood BC, Friends of Carmanah-Walbran, Greenpeace, Kairos Victoria, Poets for the Peace, RAVEN, Rolling Justice Bus, Sierra Club BC, Social Coast, Social Environmental Alliance, Transition Sooke and the Wilderness Committee.

These organizations will continue to push provincial leaders to stand up for BC’s environment and good green jobs in the lead-up to the election in May.

–30–


For more information, please contact:

Torrance Coste | Vancouver Island Campaigner, Wilderness Committee
 
Galen Armstrong | Peace Valley Campaigner, Sierra Club BC

Charles Campbell | Provincial Organizer, Dogwood Initiative

Monday, February 13, 2017

Europe's Silent Spring: Grasshopper and Cricket Populations Face Extinction

Intensive agriculture and wildfires threaten over a quarter of Europe’s grasshoppers and crickets

by IUCN


9 Feb 2017

Over a quarter of European grasshopper, cricket and bush cricket species are being driven to extinction by unsustainable agricultural practices and the growing frequency of wildfires in Europe, a new IUCN report has found.

Photo: Axel Hochkirch

The European Red List of Grasshoppers, Crickets and Bush crickets, published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), assesses, for the first time, the conservation status of all of Europe’s 1,082 grasshopper, cricket and bush cricket species. It shows that over a quarter of these species are at risk of extinction, making them the most threatened of the insect groups assessed so far in Europe.

More than 150 experts participated in the two-year assessment project, which was funded by the European Commission.

“Europe’s rapidly changing landscape is affecting many species, including insects we are so familiar with, such as crickets and grasshoppers,” says Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director, IUCN Global Species Programme.

“To bring these species back from the brink of extinction, more needs to be done to protect and restore their habitats. This can be done through sustainable grassland management using traditional agricultural practices for example. If we do not act now, the sound of crickets in European grasslands could soon become a thing of the past.”

Crickets, bush crickets and grasshoppers – a group known as Orthoptera – are an important food source for many of Europe’s birds and reptiles, and their decline could affect entire ecosystems. They are also indicators of ecosystem health and grassland biodiversity.

Photo: Axel Hochkirch
The intensification of agricultural land use, which leads to the loss, degradation and fragmentation of grassland habitats, has been identified as the main threat to the species. They are particularly affected by overgrazing, the overgrowing of abandoned pastures, the conversion of grassland or shrubland to cropland, the use of fertilisers and heavy machinery, frequent mowing and the use of pesticides.

The Adriatic marbled bush cricket (Zeuneriana marmorata), for example, is now classed as Endangered due to the conversion of meadows into crop fields and the intensification of grassland management.

Orthoptera populations are also being decimated by escalating wildfires, particularly in Greece and on the Canary Islands. For instance, the Endangered Gran Canaria green bush cricket (Calliphona alluaudi) has lost about one quarter of its former range due to a large wildfire in 2007. Many coastal species are also affected by tourism development and urbanisation, such as the Endangered knotty sand grasshopper (Sphingonotus nodulosus), threatened by a large development project in Portugal.

Adequate adaptive management and monitoring schemes should be developed to conserve Orthoptera species, such as the Critically Endangered Crau plain grasshopper (Prionotropis rhodanica), which is restricted to the Crau plain in the South of France and has declined dramatically, according to the report. To reverse its decline, a conservation strategy has been developed and is being implemented.

“The results from this IUCN Red List are deeply worrying,” says Luc Bas, Director, IUCN European Regional Office.

“Healthy populations of these insects are key to maintaining sustainable ecosystems in Europe, which provide the basis for social and economic well-being. The need for better implementation of the EU Nature Directives has recently been recognised as a priority by the European Commission and will certainly contribute towards improving the status of these species in Europe, especially those found in Natura 2000 sites.”

The report recommends the establishment of a pan-European monitoring programme for cricket, bush cricket and grasshopper species to obtain information on population trends.

“The IUCN Red List has already helped by putting Orthoptera species with a high extinction risk on the conservation agenda,” says Axel Hochkirch, Chair of the IUCN SSC Grasshopper Specialist Group and lead author of the report.

“But our knowledge of the population trends of crickets, bush crickets and grasshoppers is still scarce, and almost 10% of species have been assessed as Data Deficient due to lack of data. We urgently need more research and resources to prevent other species from going extinct unnoticed.”

Download full publication here

For more information or interviews please contact:

Bianca Vergnaud, IUCN media relations, IUCN
European Regional office
bianca.vergnaud@iucn.org