Saturday, March 30, 2013

Canada in Iraq

Canada’s Secretive Role in Iraq

by Yves Engler - CounterPunch

When a US-led coalition invaded Iraq the forward-looking Canadian government stayed out of the war. And if you believe that I have a bridge for sale in Moose Jaw at an excellent price.

As part of the tenth anniversary of the invasion many media outlets lauded Canada’s refusal to join the second Iraq war. Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien got the ball rolling by boasting that he never believed Iraq had amassed weapons of mass destruction and that staying out of the war “is a decision that the people of Muslim faith and Arab culture have appreciated very much from Canada, and it was the right decision.”

While the more liberal end of the dominant media regurgitated the former PM’s claim, it’s completely false to say Canada did not participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. As Richard Sanders has detailed, dozens of Canadian troops were integrated in US units fighting in Iraq; U.S. warplanes en route to that country refueled in Newfoundland; With Canadian naval vessels leading maritime interdiction efforts off the coast of Iraq, Ottawa had legal opinion suggesting it was technically at war with that country; Canadian fighter pilots participated in “training” missions in Iraq; three different Canadian generals oversaw tens of thousands of international troops there; Canadian aid flowed to the country in support of US policy. As such, some have concluded that Canada was the fifth or sixth biggest contributor to the US-led war.

But the Jean Chrétien government didn’t do what the Bush administration wanted above all else, which was to publicly endorse the invasion by joining the “coalition of the willing”. Notwithstanding Chrétien’s claims, this wasn’t because he distrusted Bush’s pre-war intelligence or because of any moral principle. Rather, the Liberal government refused to join the “coalition of the willing” because hundreds of thousands of Canadians took to the streets against the war, particularly in Quebec. With the biggest demonstrations taking place in Montréal and Quebecers strongly opposed to the war, the federal government feared that openly endorsing the invasion would boost the sovereignist Parti Québecois vote in the next provincial election.

So the Chrétien Liberals found a middle ground between the massive anti-war mobilization and Canada’s long-standing support for US imperialism.

Tenth anniversary stories in the mainstream media have mostly erased the role popular protest played in this important decision, focusing instead on an enlightened leader who simply chose to do the right thing.

Of course the Iraq war was not the first time that popular movements forced the hand of foreign policy decision-makers. Or the first time that the “official story” ignored the role of protesters. Or the first time that the myth makers twisted the truth to promote the notion of a benevolent Canadian foreign policy.

Take the example of Ottawa’s move to adopt sanctions against apartheid South Africa in 1986. While former PM Brian Mulroney and many media commentators now boast that Canada sanctioned South Africa, they rarely mention the two decades of international solidarity activism that exposed and opposed Canadian corporate and diplomatic support for the racist regime. (And as with the Liberals refusal to join the “coalition of the willing” in Iraq, Canadian sanctions against South Africa were half measures). Even though Ottawa prioritized corporate and geostrategic interests above the injustices taking place there for four decades, today much is made about Canada’s morally righteous position on apartheid South Africa.

The dynamics were similar with the 1973 coup in Chile. The Pierre Trudeau government was hostile to Salvador Allende’s elected government and predisposed to supporting Augusto Pinochet. Days after the coup against Allende, Andrew Ross, Canada’s ambassador to Chile cabled External Affairs: “Reprisals and searches have created panic atmosphere affecting particularly expatriates including the riffraff of the Latin American Left to whom Allende gave asylum … the country has been on a prolonged political binge under the elected Allende government and the junta has assumed the probably thankless task of sobering Chile up.”

Canadian leftists were outraged at Ottawa’s support for the coup and its unwillingness to accept refugees hunted by the military regime. Many denounced the federal government’s policy and some (my mother among them) occupied various Chilean and Canadian government offices in protest. The Trudeau government was surprised at the depth of the opposition.

Similar to Chrétien on Iraq, the Trudeau government tried to placate the protesters all the while pursuing a pro-US/pro-corporate policy. Canadian investment and business relations with Chile grew substantially after the coup. Ottawa did allow refugees from the Pinochet dictatorship asylum in Canada but continued to support the pro-Pinochet and pro-investment policies directly responsible for the refugee problem. As a result of the protests, thousands of refugees from the Pinochet (1973-90) dictatorship gained asylum in Canada, leaving many with the impression that Canada was somehow sympathetic to Chile’s left. But, this view of Canada’s relationship to Chile is as far from the truth as Baffin Island is from Tierra del Fuego.

Like Iraq, the partial activist victories regarding South Africa and Chile have been twisted to reinforce the idea that Canadian foreign policy is benevolent. And this myth, which obscures the corporate and geostrategic interests that overwhelmingly drive Canadian foreign policy, is an obstacle to building effective opposition to Ottawa’s destructive role in international affairs.

With politicians and establishment commentators refusing to credit activists, it’s important we write our own history. A better understanding of the power of solidarity and especially our victories will strengthen our movements.

But at the same time it’s important to be conscious of current limitations. Canadian foreign policy so overwhelmingly prioritizes corporate and geostrategic interests that full-scale victories are nearly impossible in the short or medium term. We’ll achieve no lasting change without fundamentally changing Canada’s corporate dominated political system.

Yves Engler’s latest book is The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s foreign policy. For more information visit

Gas Backed Up: Chevron Feels Brunt of Pacific Trails Pipeline Push Back

Chevron Gas Stations Blockaded for Fracking Project


Victoria, Coast Salish TerritoriesCommunity activists on a critical mass bicycle ride consecutively blockaded three Chevron gas stations today. This blockade was in response to the Unis’tot’en call for solidarity actions targeting Chevron.

The action was one of dozens taking place across Canada, and the globe to raise awareness about Chevron’s plans to build the Pacific Trail Pipeline across unceded Wet’suwet’en territory.

Chevron’s plans will allow for expanded production of fracked gas in Northeastern B.C. to be piped to a Liquid Natural Gas terminal in Kitimat.

Activists in Victoria blocked traffic and rode bicycles to three Chevron gas stations, distributed flyers, and wrapped Chevron stations in crime scene tape.

“Chevron is the latest corporation to sign up to commit colonial climate crimes in British Columbia,” said Antoine. Antoine continued, “Fracking natural gas requires the indiscriminate use of fresh water and releases massive quantities of methane, a powerful driver of climate change. These processes are destroying lands that are unceded by indigenous people.”

Blockade participant, Jordy Nault said, “we blockaded Chevron today to disrupt business as usual and send a warning that the Pacific Trail Pipelines will meet resistance.  Chevron is responsible for the deaths of land, water and communities, and we refuse to be silent and complicit in the destruction of life.”

Freda Huson from the Unis’tot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en said:

“If Chevron tries to install unsanctioned pipelines through unceded lands, they will meet complete and utter defeat”. She continued, “We will resist all of their plans. We act to protect our lands, and the increasingly unstable climate to do what is best for future generations”.

For more information visit the Unis’tot’en website:

For Immediate Release

Press Contacts:
Julie-Anne Blackpen
Serina Zapf 

Violence Outside Al-Aqsa as Police Attack Worshippers

Six Injured, Reporter Kidnapped, By The Army In Jerusalem

by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

Jerusalem - Palestinian medical sources reported that six Palestinians, including an elderly man, have been injured, and one reporter has been kidnapped, after Israeli soldiers attacked Muslim worshipers who tried to enter the Al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, to participate on Friday prayers.
The Maan News Agency reported that the Israeli army and police prevented Palestinian men who are 48 years old or less from entering the mosque.

Medical sources reported that resident Jamal Kabajna, 54, suffered various cuts and bruises in his head, while his son Mohammad, 18, suffered various cuts and bruises in addition to fractures in his left arm and right leg; both were moved to a local Palestinian hospital.

Also, resident Mahmoud Abed Abu Nee’, 81, suffered a fracture in his foot and a fracture in his pelvis after a number of soldiers pushed him around and threw him onto the ground.

Three more Palestinians were injured after Israeli policemen attacked them with batons near one of the gates of the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Waleed Feerawy, a medic working for the Palestinian Medical Relief, stated that three Palestinians have been injured after being violently attacked by the police, and that one of them lost a finger after a police barrier fell on his hand.

Another Palestinian suffered a dislocated knee after being beaten by the army, while another resident was injured in his chest; all were hospitalized for treatment.

Furthermore, a cameraman identified as Mohammad Al-Fateh Abu Sneina, 22, was kidnaped and was moved to an interrogation facility.

Dozens of Policemen have been deployed in different parts of occupied Jerusalem, especially the Old City and the Al-Aqsa Mosque area, stopped and interrogated dozens of Palestinian youths while inspecting their ID cards, and prevented all Palestinian below the age of 50 from entering the mosque.

Thousands of Palestinians performed Friday prayers in the streets of the Old City, especially near Bab Al-Amoud, Wad Al-Joz, and several other areas, and took pictures of dozens of residents. 

Manufacturing Crisis in Korea

War Scare in Korea – A Manufactured Crisis

by Eric Margolis

The United States and the two feuding Koreas could blunder into a real war unless both Pyongyang and Washington cease provoking one another.

Last week, two nuclear-capable US B-2 stealth bombers flew non-stop from America to South Korea, and then home. These ‘invisible’ aircraft can carry the GBU-43/B MOAB 13,600kg bomb that is said to be able to blast through 70 meters of reinforced concrete, putting North Korea’s underground nuclear facilities and its leadership’s command bunkers under dire threat.

Earlier this month, US B-52’s heavy bombers staged mock attack runs over South Korea – within minutes flying time of the North - rekindling memories of the massive US carpet bombing raids that devastated North Korea during the 1950’s Korean War. US-South Korean-Australian war games in March were designed to train for war with the North. The US media ignored these provocative exercises, but, as usual, North Korea went ballistic, foolishly threatening to attack the US with long-ranged missiles it does not yet possess.

We have grown jaded over the years by North Korea’s threats and chest-beating. But its recent successful nuclear test and work on a long-ranged missile have begun to add muscle to Pyongyang’s threats. No sooner was the new young North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in power than the US, South Korea and Japan began testing him.

More important, the US-South Korea defense treaty calls on Washington to militarily intervene if war erupts between North and South Korea. Given present tensions, a border fight on the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), commando raids by North Korea’s 110,000-man special forces, air or naval clashes could quickly lead to full war.

North Korea has repeatedly threatened to flatten parts of South Korea’s capitol, Seoul, using 11,000 heavy guns and rocket batteries hidden in caves along the DMZ. North Korean commandos and missile batteries are tasked with attacking all US airbases and command headquarters in South Korea. The 28,500 US troops based in South Korea will also be a primary target.

North Korea’s medium ranged missiles are aimed at US bases on mainland Japan, Okinawa and Guam. North Korea’s tough 1.1-million man army is poised to attack south. Massive US airpower would eventually blunt such an advance, but that would mean moving US warplanes from the Gulf and Afghanistan. The US Air Force’s stocks of bombs and missiles are perilously low and its equipment showing heavy wear and tear.

The US has become accustomed to waging war against small nations whose ‘threat’ has been wildly overblown: Grenada, Somalia, Iraq, Libya. The last real war fought by the US, against Vietnam, was an epic defeat for American arms. North Korea is not an Iraq or Libya.

North Korea’s air force and navy would be quickly destroyed by US and South Korean air power within days of war. But taking on North Korea’s hard as nails army will be a serious challenge if it fights on the defensive. Pentagon studies show that invading North Korea could cost the US up to 250,000 casualties. So the US would be clearly tempted to use tactical nuclear weapons. But North Korea vows to nuke Japan if the US goes nuclear. And there is the threat of Chinese intervention.

The US would be wise to back off from this confrontation and lower tensions with North Korea. America’s empty Treasury can’t afford yet another war, having already blown $2 trillion on the lost wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. America’s armed forces, bogged down in the Mideast and Afghanistan, are in no shape to fight a real war in Korea. Just moving heavy armor and guns there would take months.

Now might be a good time for Washington to ease rather than keep tightening sanctions on North Korea. Pyongyang’s real objectives are to gain a non-aggression treaty with the US and direct, normal relations. Washington won’t hear of this, though it deals with other repellant regimes. American neocons are determined to overthrow North Korea’s regime, fearing it will send advanced arms to Israel’s Mideast foes.

Military forces on the Korean Peninsula are on hair-trigger alert. Flying B-2’s near the North is almost daring it to attack. Diplomats, not air force generals, should be running this largely manufactured crisis.

Copyright © 2013 Eric Margolis

Hearing the Unheard Hunger Strike in Guantánamo

Voices from the Hunger Strike in Guantánamo

by Andy Worthington

Here at “Close Guantánamo,” we are deeply concerned about the prison-wide hunger strike at Guantánamo, which we first wrote about here, and its effect on prisoners already ground down by what, for the majority of them, is eleven years of indefinite detention without charge or trial, with no end to their imprisonment in sight after President Obama failed to fulfill his promise to close the prison.

The President has been hindered by the intervention of Congress, where lawmakers, for cynical reasons, intervened to impose almost insurmountable restrictions to the release of prisoners, but President Obama is also to blame — through his refusal to make Guantánamo an issue, since that promise to close it on his second day in office, and through his imposition of an unjustifiable ban on releasing Yemenis cleared for release by his own inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force.

Of the 166 men still held, 86 were cleared for release by the Task Force, and two-thirds of these men are Yemenis, consigned to Guantánamo, possibly forever, because, over three years ago, a Nigerian man, recruited in Yemen, tried and failed to blow up a plane bound for the US and a moratorium on releasing Yemenis was issued by President Obama. The others are either hostages of Congress, or men in need of third countries to offer them a new home, because they face torture or other ill-treatment their home countries.

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012 with US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.

The hunger strike began seven weeks ago in response to aggressive cell searches, which also included the seizure of personal items, and, in particular, manhandling of the prisoners’ copies of the Koran. In a letter to the new defense secretary Chuck Hagel on March 14, 51 lawyers described a set of “regressive practices at the prison taking place in recent months, which our clients have described as a return to an older regime at Guantánamo that was widely identified with the mistreatment of detainees.”

These complaints, added the the despair brought on by the prisoners’ perception that they have been abandoned by the Obama administration, explains why over a hundred prisoners are engaged in a hunger strike, even though they are risking their lives by doing so.

Sadly, the indifference of the administration to their plight also explains why the authorities refused to acknowledge that a hunger strike was taking place until the media started to focus sufficient attention on the prison that it was impossible to ignore, and also why they have, to date, only conceded that 31 prisoners are on a hunger strike.

On Monday, for example when the authorities acknowledged that 28 men were on a hunger strike, Capt. Robert Durand, a prison spokesman, said that ten men were being force-fed, and that three men had been hospitalized for dehydration, as the New York Times explained.

In contrast, however, Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at the City University of New York, who represents several Guantánamo prisoners, said he spoke by telephone on Friday with two of his clients who are participating in the hunger strike — Moaz al-Alawi, a Yemeni who is held in Camp Six, and Abdulhadi Faraj, a Syrian who is held in Camp Five.

As the New York Times reported, Kassem said that each man said they had lost about 30 pounds. Apart from “a few elderly prisoners,” they told him, “no one is accepting food from prison authorities.” He added, “Prisoners are not eating anything, surviving only on water. Any supplies left on cellblocks and with prisoners have now been exhausted.”

Carlos Warner, a federal public defender from Ohio who represents Fayiz al-Kandari, one of the last two Kuwaitis in the prison, agreed. Last week, following a visit to his client, he released unclassified notes in which he described al-Kandari as “gaunt” and “too weak to stand,” and noted that he had stated that “all men are striking” and also, as the Times put it, that they were also “refusing prescribed medication, except for two elderly detainees in Camp Six.”

Warner also spoke to CBS News. On March 23, he explained that al-Kandari, whose case we have covered here, “appeared to have lost 20 percent of his body weight due to a hunger strike that began six weeks ago,’ as the broadcaster described it.

In Warner’s words, “Fayiz could not stand yesterday. Today, he was a bit stronger and stood to greet me. He had sallow cheeks. His waist was shockingly thin. His waist looked like the waist of my six-year-old child. He was skin and bones. He was disoriented and exhausted both days.” He added, “He refused honey I brought him. He drank only water during the meetings.”

This week Carlos Warner also spoke to CNN. In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday, he bluntly described conditions at the prison as “dire.” He explained that Army Col. John Bogdan, a military police officer and the joint detention group commander at GTMO since June 2012, had “sparked the current situation.”

In his words, “Col. Bogdan lit the fuel on fire by his oppressive search of the men and taking away the things that they had grown accustomed to for years, like isomats,” the prisoners’ insulated bed mats. The Koran searches, he added, took place in this context, and, as a result, “This is about frustration; this is about the Obama administration ignoring Guantánamo in every way, shape and form.”

Warner told Christiane Amanpour that he was “a liberal who supported President Obama, but is disappointed that Obama has completely ignored Guantánamo and blamed Republicans in Congress.” That, he said, was an argument he rejected. “There’s not one person in this administration that I can call and say I need to talk somebody in the White House about the hunger strike,” he said, pointing out that President Obama had appointed a special envoy for the closure of Guantánamo, Daniel Fried, but had just closed his office and reappointed him, leaving no one in charge of Guantánamo issues.

Appointing someone in charge of closing Guantánamo is one of three demands that we at “Close Guantánamo” issued last month.

The loss of Fried, and his office, Warner said, leaves his clients in “indefinite detention for life,” adding, “It leaves them with the prospect of the only way we leave Guantánamo is death. And unfortunately, I think the men are ready to embrace this. And I don’t see the military backing off.”

CBS News also spoke to Army Capt. Jason Wright, the appointed military defense counsel for Obaydullah, an Afghan put forward for a trial by military commission under President Bush, but cleared for release under President Obama, whose innocence we wrote about here. Capt. Wright explained that he was on a hunger strike and had written, “I am in jail for almost 11 years, and still I do not know about my fate.”

Capt. Wright also said he “was ‘shocked’ by Obaydullah’s appearance two weeks ago and again when he returned to see him this week.” He told Capt. Wright that “his weight had dropped from 167 to 131 pounds after refusing meals for 45 days.”

In Capt. Wright’s opinion, “He had clearly lost weight and was visibly distressed. I think this is a manifestation of sheer desperation and hopelessness.”

Can the desperation and hopelessness be dealt with before prisoners die? President Obama needs to wake up to what is going on, and address it by, at the very minimum, lifting his ban on releasing cleared Yemenis (another of our demands) and sending them home.

Doing nothing is no longer an option. Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is the military defense attorney for Fayiz al-Kandari and Fawzi al-Odah, the other Kuwaiti still held, and he was the first attorney to publicise the hunger strike. Speaking to RT about Fayiz on March 24, he said, “at this point it’s official that he’s lost almost 40 pounds (18kg) — one third of his body weight from 147 pounds (67kg).”

Telling RT that “we’re running out of time,” he added that the prisoners “have figured out that probably the only way for them to go home — cleared or not — is in a wooden box.”

When the prison’s spokesman, Capt. Durand, spoke to the New York Times last week, he acknowledged that, as the Times put it, “a significant underlying condition for the recent unrest was the collapse of hopes that the United States government would at some point let them go.” Capt. Durand said, “I think there was great hope that there would be fresh movement, and there was at the beginning [of the Obama administration]. But the movement in the last year is not encouraging. I don’t dispute that there is frustration over that.”

In Congressional testimony last week, Gen. John F. Kelly, who became the naval commander at Guantánamo in November, went further. “They [the prisoners] had great optimism that Guantánamo would be closed,” he said, adding, “They were devastated, apparently … when the president backed off — at least their perception — of closing the facility. He said nothing about it in his inauguration speech. He said nothing about it in his State of the Union speech. He has said nothing about it. He’s not — he’s not restaffing the office that … looks at closing the facility.”

When the general in charge of the naval base at Guantánamo recognizes so clearly what is happening at Guantánamo, and what is wrong with the administration’s inactivity, President Obama needs to pay attention.

So please, Mr. President, wake up to the need to clear the 86 released prisoners, to review the cases of the 46 others you designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial in an executive order two years ago, and make sure that the rest of the men designated for trials are given trials.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US).

Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign”, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

F#*k Fiscals, Get Ready for the Bitumen Cliff!

The Bitumen Cliff

by Ray Grigg - Shades of Green

Bitumen is the current subject of much discussion in Canadian economic and energy policy. Getting Alberta's version of this carbon-intensive crude from the tar sands to market by pipeline is the cause of considerable concern, study, frustration and tension. The proposed Northern Gateway to BC's treasured West Coast is laden with controversy, as is the Kinder-Morgan expansion to Vancouver. The Keystone XL pipeline that would send bitumen south to be refined in the US Gulf Coast has become more complicated than the “no brainer” envisioned by those promoting bitumen exports. Now a report released jointly by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and the Polaris Institute (PI) is casting doubt on the wisdom of the federal government's avid promotion of resource extraction as its primary economic strategy (Shawn McCarthy, Globe and Mail, Feb. 2/13).

Alberta may be the best example of this economic folly. The so-called “bitumen bubble”, the hollowing out of Alberta's oil prices, has left the seemingly wealthy province with a staggering budget deficit of billions. With an economy now mostly dependent on the value of its bitumen, the province is vulnerable to price fluctuations determined by international market forces. Now, with new extraction technology flooding the market with oil and gas from shale deposits, Alberta is cornered and in financial crisis. The federal government's attempts to establish Canada as an “energy superpower” is now in doubt. The report by the CCPA and PI refers to this situation as the “bitumen cliff”.

As Tony Clarke, director of the Polaris Institute explains, “Canada's current bitumen strategy is not only damaging to the environment, but is leaving our economy highly vulnerable to shrinking markets for bitumen as the world moves to less polluting fuels” (Ibid.). The problem is the intensive energy required to extract bitumen from the tar sands. As climate change advances and the international community becomes more sensitive to carbon emissions, the preference for cleaner fuels will rise and the demand for bitumen will fall. In a age of growing environmental concerns, bitumen becomes a sunset fuel.

But the “bitumen cliff” is expressed in more serious structural effects. As a primary economic strategy, resource extraction offers a questionable future. One of Canada's famous economic historians, Professor Harold Innis, succinctly identified the danger of relying on resource extraction as the source of national wealth. In summarizing Innis's thinking, the CCPA report notes, “As staples are exported in raw form to more industrialized trading partners, Canada is left to buy back processed, value-added products and services at a much higher cost. The combined outcome is a self-reinforcing staples trap (a phrase borrowed from Professor Innis), whereby the faster Canada exports its latest staple, the less diversified and capable the economy becomes and hence all the more dependent on finding more staples to export” (Ibid.). However well-intentioned, a strategy of resource extraction drifts a country downward in status, sophistication, wealth and stability.

A lack of economic diversity means a lack of economic resilience and greater economic vulnerability. Not only do boom-and-bust cycles become more common but a country's economic health is wholly dependent on the needs of other economies. Bitumen is a classical example. It seemed like a good idea when the world was facing peak oil — the federal plan, in concurrence with Alberta, was supposed to make Canada an “energy superpower”. Now that other oil and gas is flowing freely from multiple shale deposits around the world, bitumen is in danger of becoming an expensive burden.

As well as the environmental risks and costs associated with the production and distribution of bitumen, such a resource comes with other consequences that are not so obvious. Economies that are dependent on a single resource are compelled to safeguard its production, to cater to its interests and to those who control it. The inevitable result is a deformation and erosion of democracy. Saudi Arabia is an extreme example. But the economic power of oil almost invariable comes with a politically corrupting influence. Economic diversity invariably creates better government, greater resilience and more social stability — and broadly educated societies that are healthier and happier.

The most valuable resource in a modern society is its people. They are nourished and developed by schools, universities, health care, open inquiry and the free-flow of information. Informed people invent their own wealth. A country such as Canada has the raw resources that are best used by Canadians. Professor Innis's “staple trap” is an economic cliff to be avoided. Short term political objectives are inclined to exploit the immediate cash of raw resource extraction. But the best and most enduring investments are made in the people themselves. They, after all, are the real substance of nations.

And finally, at the bottom of the “bitumen cliff” is environmental mayhem. In Alberta, it's open pits of toxic wastes, and an endangered Athabaska River which flows northward to expansive valleys and deltas ecologically rich with fish and wildlife. In adjacent places, it's pipelines, tankers and trains with the certain threat of disastrous spills. For the planet, it's greenhouse gas emissions, a polluting process with unfolding consequences that science describes as being catastrophic to both natural ecologies and to human societies.

So the “bitumen cliff” also comes with a moral dimension. Is it strategically wise to develop a resource that comes with a suicidal component? Shouldn't our human energy and ingenuity be applied to avoiding weather extremes, rising oceans and the plethora of other environmental disasters awaiting a hotter planet?

The most important discussions today are no longer about the economy and oil but about the fate of future generations. Bitumen belongs in this broader and deeper conversation.

A Rage Building in Nicosia: Talk of Reciprocity, Whispers of Retribution

 Cyprus Day 2: As the Dust Settles, Talk of Reciprocity and Whispers of Retribution

by Patrick Henningsen - 21st Century Wire

On Friday at high noon the banks of Cyprus opened for the second day in a row and with minimal queues, and almost no trouble from a citizenry who have become the latest abused poster child for the global financial banking syndicate’s campaign of financial destruction through Europe.

The tension fueled by the fear of financial loss and hardship was palpable yesterday morning when the banks finally opened up after 15 days, but no major incidents took place in Nicosia. The Cypriots surprised the world again on Friday, re-enforcing their reputation as the most calm, cool and collected member of the European Union. This is probably down to the fact that this particular Mediterranean civilisation, in the words of one old resident, “has been occupied for 3,000 years”.

That’s not diminishing the present day reality of an island divided by a war with Turkey in 1974, and a capital city which now has its own version of Check Point Charlie dividing Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus.

PHOTO: No danger of a bank run on Friday, as some 
Cypriots taking it easy.

Capital controls will be in effect for the next 7 days (300 euros per day withdraw limit), and many believe that some form of capital controls will be around for many months to come. Friday night was somewhat of a party atmosphere on the Larnaca Beach boardwalk, as many people appeared to be out gladly spending some of the euros they manged to withdraw over the last few days – an understandable and universal reaction after any shortage.

Now that the danger of an immediate run on the banks has subsided, we spent Friday talking to residents to try and find out what caused this crisis and who might be held responsible.

Former President Demetris Christofias has become one such focus of the people’s anger.

Lucious Petrou, a retired local farmer says, ”Imagine the timing of Christofias resigning only five weeks ago, and then our banks closing their doors three weeks later?”

“Our Communist President came into power with a 1 billion euro surplus and left with what will be a 17.5 billion euro debt to the international bankers. Where is he now?”

Most residents are confident that Christofias will be dragged into the dock during the upcoming judicial inquiry into the banking collapse.

Of course, that’s the big question on everyone’s minds: why Cyprus? Why now? Social Democrat and avowed communist Demetris Christofias came to power in 2008 through a coalition government, after campaigning on the populist platform of the “reunification of Cyprus”, bringing the Greek and Turkish sides together in a bi-zonal federal state. The people liked the idea, but instead they got an economic meltdown.

PHOTO: Divided Cyprus – Capital Nicosia dreams of one day
reuniting the Greek and Turkish Cypriots again.

Other shadowy players in this story mentioned in the cafes of Nicosia include the USA, who with the help of Henry Kissenger, were the architects of the Turkish invasion in 1974 and masters of the IMF today. Like the British, the US also have a military presence on the island to go with their 300 plus other bases and installations scattered throughout Turkey. Many Cypriots believe that the US have been using their multi-lateral institutions like the IMF to kick Russian influence – and money out of Cyprus, and thus, out of Europe. There are an estimated 50,000 Russians living in Cyprus, concentrated around the city of Limassol, along with many off-shore corporations, and hundreds of thousands more coming to visit year-round. If the US, or the EU wanted to lean on Russia – particularly in Syria, then this would be the first place to start.

We also discovered that there are also 30,000 plus Chinese who have established a burgeoning European beachhead in nearby Pathos, and one would expect that there were at least a few hundred Chinese millionaires, or billionaires, who took a sizable haircut too this week – but you won’t find that one in the mainstream media.

One other name kept coming up again, and again, as we combed the back streets of the old town in Nicosia. His name is Andreas Vgenopoulos, the Greek tycoon and chairman of the controversial Marfin Investment Group, and the man who inflated the now failed Laiki Bank’s financial balloon – which was doomed to pop three weeks ago, taking the whole of the Cyprus economy down with it.

The story behind his inflated success and failure is a bizarre Ménage à trois between Dubai, Athens and Nicosia. It appears that Mr Vgenopoulos steered a massive ponzi scheme which attracted the usual suspect crowd of high-flying financiers, naive and corrupt politicians and overpaid government bureaucrats, who flocked to his over-cooked honey pot of accessible capital backed up the same junk bonds and overvalued paper which brought down Cyprus’s northern EU neighbor Greece only 2 years earlier. By the time Cypriots knew what was going on, the bottom had already fallen out of their balance sheet – forcing Nicosia to go cap in hand to the ECB, and later to the IMF.

Vgenopoulos, it seems, was the Troika’s agent provocateur in this story – he lit the match, left the building with all the loot and watch it burn from across the sea.

PHOTO: Reporter Patrick Henningsen finds out what
 the people are saying in the coffee houses of Nicosia.

Last but not least, people seemed very suspect, and somewhat offended, by the Germans, who magically opened-up their bond market, promoting investment into everything from solar energy to “secure investment” – at the very same time the Cyprus economy was flushed down the Euro- toilet by the Troika.

What’s worse, however, is that the elite Troika (Brussels, Berlin and the IMF) had known about this contagion and also that Cyprus would collapse well in advance of this month’s bank holiday – but they just stood back and watched as the moussaka to hit the fan, to swoop in with more crisis loans which has ultimately given them complete financial control over the economic destiny of the island. It’s like the heroin dealer trying help a recovering addict by giving them a kilo of smack. What will happen if the European and Cyprus banks re-hypothecate all this new debt-based issued money from the Troika? And what about the bankers’ using these latest loans to parlay a piece of Cyprus’s untapped gas and oil reserves? We’ll find out in a year, until then, it’s watch and wait.

Even worse, imagine the heroin dealer, after giving the recovering addict a final kilo smack, proceeds to steal the addict’s furniture, sell-off his house and cut the wages and pensions of everyone living in the house.

PHOTO: G4S private security conglomerate has
cleaned up in contracts over the Cyprus collapse.

One winner so far, is the private security company G4S, who have been contracted to provide extra guards throughout Cyprus in case the people lose their patience with the government and their Troika masters in Europe. It’s been a relatively easy gig for them so far in Cyprus. If it happened anywhere else, there would have been riots in the streets. If the Troika tries to steal depositor’s money in Spain, G4S probably won’t cut it, and the Spanish government would probably give the security contract to someone like Blackwater - as was done already in Greece.

When the dust settles, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that every Cypriot will know who robbed them, and how it was done. Now, in their deceptive laid back fashion it seems, the people are deciding how best to even the score.

Watch the UK Column Live TV program on Tues at 1pm GMT, and visit the UK Column website for more reports from Cyprus.

Also, you can listen to daily reports this week from Cyprus at The Pete Santilli Show, M-F 12pm PST/7pm GMT.

Friday, March 29, 2013

News Flash: GI Joe Retaliation is Crap

News Flash: GI Joe Discovers Nuclear Weapons in Israel

by Peter Lee - China Hand

The movie GI Joe: Retaliation is crap. To call it a video game movie is an insult to good video games. It is a bad video game movie.

The expository scenes—where the characters move their mouths and words come out—are treated as cut scenes i.e. brief pauses to reward players with a bathroom break after they have completed a previous level, and provide the arbitrary framing that enables another session of witless, button-mashing mayhem on the next level.

Fans of common sense, physics, and conservation of momentum will be amused and/or appalled by the revelation—spoiler alert!—that Cobra’s super weapon is a gravity bomb…released from an orbiting satellite.

The audience’s primary diversion during and after the film is ridiculing the logical inconsistencies and plot holes in the movie—and noting the numerous missed opportunities for comic relief (obviously, the dubious determination was made that action, no matter how absurd, sells and character and comedy do not play in the critical foreign markets). The possibilities are virtually limitless.

However, GI Joe: Retaliation does perform one remarkable geopolitical service. It treats the existence of Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapons arsenal as a matter of fact.

When the world’s nuclear weapons powers are gathered for an asinine episode of Armageddon brinksmanship orchestrated by Cobra, the attendees are: USA, France, Great Britain, Russia, China, India, North Korea…and Israel (in the first act of the movie, Pakistan was deemed unworthy of retaining its nuclear weapons and was summarily disarmed by the GI Joe team, thereby forfeiting its place at the atomic roundtable).

I wonder how this plot point snuck into the movie. Perhaps the producers believe they will lock in the lucrative Iranian market with the admission that Israel is, indeed, a covert nuclear weapons power.

In any case, it was interesting to see.

Pretty much the only interesting thing in GI Joe: Retaliation.

Stop Chevron Fracking - Vancouver Rise Up

Global Day of Action against Chevron and the Pacific Trail Pipeline  

by Rising Tide


Call for solidarity actions on Saturday March 30th 2013

NEW – RESOURCES PAGE! (Information about Chevron, PTP and Fracking, plus Graphics, Direct Action Ideas, Target iInformation, Chevron Station Finder Link and some great Short Films)


American oil giant Chevron wants to build a destructive pipeline across unceded indigenous territory to carry fracked gas to the coast, and export climate change to the world. We say NO. We do not need fracked gas, we do not want another pipeline and we will not stand by as colonial governments and greedy corporations push us over the climate catastrophe cliff edge.

Chevron is the new corporate face of the Pacific Trail Pipeline project, having recently become 50/50 partners with Apache to build a fracking gas pipeline across 500 kilometres of largely unceded land, from Summit Lake to LNG plants planned for Kitimat. On March 30th we will greet them with resistance across BC and around the world. As politicians put economic growth and industry interests ahead of carbon common sense and indigenous rights, it is up to us to take direct action to raise the cost of pushing ahead with the project, and raise the stakes in the PR battle. We encourage autonomous creative direct action against Chevron and any others involved in the development and financing of Pacific Trail Pipeline. Occupy offices, drop banners, demonstrate in city centres, lock-on at the pumps, subvert the Chevron brand, hand out leaflets… the choice is yours!

Everywhere they operate, Chevron exploits land and people for money, often through the use of force, and without taking responsibility for the consequences. Battles against environmental racism and illegal oil wars, movements for indigenous sovereignty and migrant justice – we amplify our resistance by uniting our struggles, so we are calling for solidarity actions and events against Chevron across Canada and around the world.

The Pacific Trail pipeline can still be stopped. There is a huge groundswell of public opinion against BC’s carbon corridor, the Unis’tot’en are mounting a determined resistance against incursions onto their territory, and a space is being carved out where we can change the course of BC’s energy future. We know that dismantling the fossil fuel empire is a colossal task, but every action we take takes its toll. Chevron, this is just the start… your time has come, your days are numbered!

See you in the streets!

Find more information and resources, spread the word, share action pics and reports and find out what others are planning online at:
Twitter: @risingtide604 / #nopipelines

To endorse this call-out, or to let us know about an action you organize, email us at

We resist because…
We stand with frontline communities

Frontline indigenous communities have already said a loud and clear NO to the Pacific Trail Pipeline and have repeatedly affirmed that free, prior, and informed consent must be respected by both colonial governments and corporations. No consent has been given. Far from it – industry surveyors have been evicted by the Unis’tot’en and other clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, equipment seized and roadblocks set up against all further pipeline activity. On March 30th, let us help amplify their voices and help return decision making power to the people whose lives will be most affected by the pipeline project.

For more on the Unist’ot’en camp, including news releases and videos from latest events, visit and to watch a short video explaining the community’s struggle, check out Stop the Flow –

Chevron has it coming

Chevron has an atrocious history of oil spills, gas explosions, toxic dumping, deforestation, water pollution, activist shootings, tax evasion and climate change denial. From the US to Nigeria, Australia to Angola, Brazil to Bangladesh, Chevron brings death and destruction. In Ecuador, after 8 years in court, Chevron was ordered to pay $8.6 billion in damages for 20 year of toxic dumping – but three years later, Chevron still refuses to pay. In Richmond, California, Chevron’s pollution is causing cancer and respiratory illnesses. In the Niger Delta, activists resisting Chevron’s unjust and unsafe production methods have been shot dead by local authorities (using Chevron helicopters). And the National Petroleum Agency of Brazil has actually banned Chevron from the country for its failure to take responsibility for the Rio De Janeiro oil spill. We are joining the global fight to put a stop to Chevron’s environmental and social crimes.

Frack off!

Northwest BC’s shale gas fields are shaping up to be a major front line in the global battle against unconventional energy via the carbon intense environmental nightmare that is fracked gas. Fracking causes methane leaks, ground water contamination, hydrogen sulphide leakage, earthquake risks, not to mention the CO2 release when the gas is finally burnt. This exploitation of ever more difficult, expensive and harmful fossil fuel sources demonstrates the true greed, and insanity, of the present global economic system. We have a really simple message – we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Fracking backgrounder:

This call-out was initiated by Rising Tide Vancouver – Coast Salish Territories and is endorsed by:

Ancestral Pride Ahousaht Sovereign Territory
Anti Racist Action Victoria
Art Not Oil – UK
Cafe Rebelde Collective
Council of Canadians – Delta/Richmond Chapter
Critical Criminology Working Group (Kwantlen Polytechnic University)
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Global Exchange
Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign of the Polaris Institute
Justice in Nigeria Now
Lhe Lin Liyin (Wet’suwet’en Guardian Society)
Likhts’amisyu (Fireweed Clan)
Marea Creciente México ~ Rising Tide México
Prepare the General Strike Committee
Occupy Vancouver Environmental Justice Group
Ontario Public Interest Research Group – York
Right to the City Alliance
Rising Tide Vancouver Coast Salish Territories
Root Force (Tucson, Arizona)
Ruckus Society
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD)
Spartacus Books
Stop the Pave
The Ravensong Group
UBC Social Justice Centre
Unist’ot’en (People of the Headwaters)
Vancouver Catholic Worker
Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network
VIPIRG | Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group
Yes Men / Yes Lab

Breaking the Set with Greg Palast

Breaking the Set with Greg Palast

by RT

Finding Reason at Last for the Iraq War

The Real Reason for the Iraq War

by Greg Palast - Vice Magazine

Because it was marked "confidential" on each page, the oil industry stooge couldn't believe the US State Department had given me a complete copy of their secret plans for the oil fields of Iraq.

Actually, the State Department had done no such thing. But my line of bullshit had been so well-practiced and the set-up on my mark had so thoroughly established my fake identity, that I almost began to believe my own lies.

I closed in. I said I wanted to make sure she and I were working from the same State Department draft. Could she tell me the official name, date and number of pages? She did.

Bingo! I'd just beaten the Military-Petroleum Complex in a lying contest, so I had a right to be chuffed.

After phoning numbers from California to Kazakhstan to trick my mark, my next calls were to the State Department and Pentagon. Now that I had the specs on the scheme for Iraq's oil – that State and Defense Department swore, in writing, did not exist – I told them I'd appreciate their handing over a copy (no expurgations, please) or there would be a very embarrassing story on BBC Newsnight.

Within days, our chief of investigations, Ms Badpenny, delivered to my shack in the woods outside New York a 323-page, three-volume programme for Iraq's oil crafted by George Bush's State Department and petroleum insiders meeting secretly in Houston, Texas.

I cracked open the pile of paper – and I was blown away.

Like most lefty journalists, I assumed that George Bush and Tony Blair invaded Iraq to buy up its oil fields, cheap and at gun-point, and cart off the oil. We thought we knew the neo-cons true casus belli: Blood for oil.

But the truth in the Options for Iraqi Oil Industry was worse than "Blood for Oil". Much, much worse.

The key was in the flow chart on page 15, Iraq Oil Regime Timeline & Scenario Analysis:

"...A single state-owned company ...enhances a government's relationship with OPEC."

An infographic produced by the author presenting
the Iraq war's secret history. Click to enlarge.

Let me explain why these words rocked my casbah.

I'd already had in my hands a 101-page document, another State Department secret scheme, first uncovered by Wall Street Journal reporter Neil King, that called for the privatisation, the complete sell-off of every single government-owned asset and industry. And in case anyone missed the point, the sales would include every derrick, pipe and barrel of oil, or, as the document put it, "especially the oil".

That plan was created by a gaggle of corporate lobbyists and neo-cons working for the Heritage Foundation. In 2004, the plan's authenticity was confirmed by Washington power player Grover Norquist. (It's hard to erase the ill memory of Grover excitedly waving around his soft little hands as he boasted about turning Iraq into a free-market Disneyland, recreating Chile in Mesopotamia, complete with the Pinochet-style dictatorship necessary to lock up the assets – while behind Norquist, Richard Nixon snarled at me from a gargantuan portrait.)

The neo-con idea was to break up and sell off Iraq's oil fields, ramp up production, flood the world oil market – and thereby smash OPEC and with it, the political dominance of Saudi Arabia.

General Jay Garner also confirmed the plan to grab the oil. Indeed, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld fired Garner, when the General, who had lived in Iraq, complained the neo-con grab would set off a civil war. It did. Nevertheless, Rumsfeld replaced Garner with a new American viceroy, Paul Bremer, a partner in Henry Kissinger's firm, to complete the corporate takeover of Iraq's assets – "especially the oil".

But that was not to be. While Bremer oversaw the wall-to-wall transfer of Iraqi industries to foreign corporations, he was stopped cold at the edge of the oil fields.

How? I knew there was only one man who could swat away the entire neo-con army: James Baker, former Secretary of State, Bush family consiglieri and most important, counsel to Exxon-Mobil Corporation and the House of Saud.

(One unwitting source was industry oil-trading maven Edward Morse of Lehman/Credit Suisse, who threatened to sue Harper's Magazine for my quoting him. Morse denied I ever spoke with him. But when I played the tape from my hidden recorder, his memory cleared and he scampered away.)

There was no way in hell that Baker's clients, from Exxon to Abdullah, were going to let a gaggle of neo-con freaks smash up Iraq's oil industry, break OPEC production quotas, flood the market with six million bbd of Iraqi oil and thereby knock the price of oil back down to $13 a barrel where it was in 1998.

The author.

Big Oil could not allow Iraq's oil fields to be privatised and taken from state control. That would make it impossible to keep Iraq within OPEC (an avowed goal of the neo-cons) as the state could no longer limit production in accordance with the cartel's quota system. The US oil industry was using its full political mojo to prevent their being handed ownership of Iraq's oil fields.

That's right: The oil companies didn't want to own the oil fields – and they sure as hell didn't want the oil. Just the opposite. They wanted to make sure there would be a limit on the amount of oil that would come out of Iraq.

Saddam wasn't trying to stop the flow of oil – he was trying to sell more. The price of oil had been boosted 300 percent by sanctions and an embargo cutting Iraq's sales to two million barrels a day from four. With Saddam gone, the only way to keep the damn oil in the ground was to leave it locked up inside the busted state oil company which would remain under OPEC (i.e. Saudi) quotas.

The James Baker Institute quickly and secretly started in on drafting the 323-page plan for the State Department. With authority granted from the top (i.e. Dick Cheney), ex-Shell Oil USA CEO Phil Carroll was rushed to Baghdad in May 2003 to take charge of Iraq's oil. He told Bremer, "There will be no privatisation of oil – END OF STATEMENT." Carroll then passed off control of Iraq's oil to Bob McKee of Halliburton, Cheney's old oil-services company, who implemented the Baker "enhance OPEC" option anchored in state ownership.

Some oil could be released, mainly to China, through limited, but lucrative, "production sharing agreements".

And that's how George Bush won the war in Iraq. The invasion was not about "blood for oil", but something far more sinister: blood for no oil. War to keep supply tight and send prices skyward.

Oil men, whether James Baker or George Bush or Dick Cheney, are not in the business of producing oil. They are in the business of producing profits.

And they've succeeded. Iraq, capable of producing six to 12 million barrels of oil a day, still exports well under its old OPEC quota of three million barrels.

The result: As we mark the tenth anniversary of the invasion this month, we also mark the fifth year of crude at $100 a barrel.

As George Bush could proudly say to James Baker: Mission Accomplished!

Greg Palast is a New York Times bestselling author and fearless investigative journalist whose reports appear on BBC Television Newsnight and in The Guardian. Palast eats the rich and spits them out. Catch his reports and films at, where you can also securely send him your documents marked, "confidential".
Follow Greg on Twitter: @Greg_Palast

Previously – How Bukowski Taught Me Not to Jerk Off Into My Own Belly Button

This week, VICE readers can download, for free, Greg Palast's investigation of the war in Iraq in the BBC film, Bush Family Fortunes, at – as well as the illustrated poster of "The Secret History of War over Oil in Iraq" from Palast's international bestseller, Armed Madhouse, also at

The World from Behind the Wall

Look at the World from Behind the Wall

by William A. Cook

Put yourself in their shoes. Look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own. Living their entire lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements not just of those young people but their parents, their grandparents, every single day. It’s not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It’s not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; or restricting a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or displace Palestinian families from their homes Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.” (President Barak Obama in Israel 2013).

Would that the President might take his own advice—“Put yourself in their shoes.

Look at the world through their eyes”—he need only open his eyes beyond the wall that imprisons the Palestinians he speaks about: see how the wall blinds the Jews to the plight of the people they drove from their land, see the barren landscape on the other side rubble strewn, savaged by bulldozers and missiles, see the people caught in a maelstrom of poverty and deprivation, listen to the mothers and wives weep for their husbands and sons jailed without charge in Israel’s Gulag where escape comes by self-starvation as the only defense against indefinite torture and lives lost to family and friends, listen to the cries of the people of the world who have condemned this barbaric behavior only to run into the President’s own wall--the veto in the UN Security Council that effectively denies the justice he so righteously exalts, “Peace is also just.”

How true and how easily it could be made a reality if he were to simply abstain during the vote that sought to bring this defiant state before the International Court of Justice finally after 64 years of impunity to the very justice this President mouths, as though saying it levitates him beyond criticism.

Indeed, “Look at the world through their eyes,” let Americans look at the state of Israel through Palestinian eyes to witness the monstrous injustice that exists in this “democratic state” that “shares America’s values,” America’s only “friend” in the mid-east. Let’s look at how the Israeli government responds to the President’s call for justice for the Palestinians, within three days of his visit. Let’s report on a peaceful protest that has gone unnoticed by the American press with the exception of Tim King’s Salem-News: “Israeli forces have sprayed Palestinian homes in the village of Nabi Saleh with "skunk"* as a punishment for organizing weekly protests against the Apartheid Wall built on occupied West Bank land (March 26, 2013). See the video provided by the paper that the eyes of all might be opened.

While the American press offered nothing about this incident, Reuters and the Guardian did as well as The Middle East Monitor which provided this background information:

“Israeli forces have sprayed Palestinian homes in the village of Nabi Saleh with raw sewage … as a punishment for organising weekly protests against the Apartheid Wall built on occupied West Bank land. Human rights watchdog B’Tselem published a video showing Israel’s armoured tanker trucks fitted with “water cannons” which spray the foul fluid at Palestinian protesters. B’Tselem said in a statement that the Israeli forces also targeted all the houses of the village with the sewage. The powerful jet broke windows and caused a great deal of damage in the houses, said the Israeli organisation. “It also causes environmental damage,” it pointed out. The non-lethal weapon has been added to the Israelis’ armoury for crowd control, said B’Tselem, even though the video shows clearly that it is also used against Palestinian-owned property” - “link to

Israeli soldiers use a truck to fire a water cannon containing a foul smelling substance during a protest against the controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah July 17, 2009.
Credit: Reuters/Fadi Arouri/Files

How can the people of the United States tolerate such despicable and inhumane behavior from a supposed friend? When did Americans decide that peaceful protests should not be allowed? When did Americans decide that their tax dollars should provide a state the means to shower humans and their homes in foul smelling chemicals that literally cloaks them in animal smell used by animals for self-protection but used here to prevent intelligent dissent from oppressive military aggression. Literally forcing silence to prevent disagreement. These are the ruthless and barbaric actions of a state that has no respect for humans other than its own; it casts a pall over its ”friend,” the American people, by making them complicit in such abominable behavior, it smells to high treason, an insult to those who have provided an estimated 3 trillion dollars of support that this state might exist (

What is particularly disturbing is the fact that minds have designed this “strategy” to quell dissent, a fundamental right and duty of democratic people. It tells us that the state of Israel does not value dissent; its newspapers can carry debates by its Jewish citizens but it will not tolerate dissent from those it occupies or its non-Jewish citizens.

Look through the eyes of the Palestinian mother and father who have struggled mightily to maintain a home through these years of deprivation; watch them see this “shit,” a term used in Vermont to describe the spreading of cow manure on the fields in the spring, but this is not Vermont nor are the Israelis “shitting the fields,” pulverize the house breaking through the windows saturating furniture, beds, even kitchen utensils depriving them of basic forks and knives to use at dinner. What is this but collective punishment of the innocent who at worst wanted to demonstrate against the occupation peacefully. There is no self-defense here; it is rather sheer racist hatred of others, demeaning, shameful, a means to inflict uncontested force against the defenseless, the coward’s way to self-fulfillment.

No state can spread such “shit” on its people with impunity except Israel protected as it is by our captured Senators like Lindsey Graham, who had the audacity to interrogate a true patriot, Senator Hagel, who pledged his oath of office to the United States not a foreign government, because he was beholden to AIPAC knowing as he sat there the answer to his question to Hagel, name a Senator Mr. Hagel who is afraid of Israel, with the answer written all over his obsequious face, you Senator Graham.

This is not the democracy Americans practice; it is a sham democracy that protects the few and emasculates those excluded. Democracy is inclusive. Had I not witnessed this behavior in this decade of advanced civilization, I would have thought that it came from the mind of our most enlightened sci-fi satirists, Kurt Vonnegut, Aldous Huxley, or George Orwell, minds capable of dreaming the impossible couched in scenes of the savage country or 1984; perhaps reality has caught up with comic satire.

Obama’s trip to Israel demonstrated, in the words of AIPAC, America’s “resilient friendship, based in large part on an unshakable dedication to common values. Commitment to democracy, the rule of law, freedom of religion and speech and human rights are all core values shared between the United States and Israel” (AIPAC). What is that rule of law that binds these two countries together that such a vicious display of animosity against neighbors would be inflicted so shortly after the President of this “resilient friendship” left the country having asked the Israeli people to consider “Looking through the eyes of their neighbors at the conditions imposed on them by the Israeli occupation”?

The Israeli government has imposed Military Order 101 that requires an Israeli permit if more than 10 people gather, something similar to the “parade permits” required in the old south to ensure no demonstrations against “Bull Connor’s peaceful world.” Martin Luther King had to face that same logic in the United States in August of 1963. Certainly our President knows the brilliance of King’s logic that tore apart the logic of occupiers and oppressors that denied the rights of people who live in a free, open and equitable land, a truly democratic land that treats all its citizens by rules of law as civilized societies must:

“…I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth-century prophets left their little villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Greco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown.” 

Is not this the purpose of the President’s visit to Israel, to announce to the world that America will not tolerate injustice done in its name by its “resilient friend” that receives 8 million a day from the largesse of the American taxpayer?

But there’s more, much more that King argued before the American government when it was forced to confront its immorality and illegality after 90 years of segregation, oppression and deceit against its own people.

“I am cognizant,” King asserted, “of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly...You deplore the demonstrations that are presently taking place in Birmingham. But I am sorry that your statement did not express a similar concern for the conditions that brought the demonstrations into being.”

How prophetic of the conditions that have yoked the United States to the state of Israel. Indeed that state wants to forge a “security agreement” that would link its behavior to that of the United States and literally drive our policies in concert with theirs. Skunk tankers would become American tools against its own people even as we permit, even encourage, the lawlessness that drives Israeli policies against its neighbors whether the American people agree or not. Thus do we become complicit in the evil perpetrated by that rogue state.

But some will assert that America had laws requiring permits to gather, to protest peacefully, to march against the immoral actions of its local military authority. And King demolished that logic by appeal to a human nature that knows barbarity does not and should not rule in a civilized state.

“One may well ask, "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "An unjust law is no law at all." Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”

We, the humans that design and implement the rules of law, do so to ensure that all are treated equally under that law; if not we have abrogated the responsibility of civilized humans to act on behalf of all and thus have become but beasts dependent on instinct and ruthless force to exist. That is not the principled foundation upon which the United States was fashioned. And while the nation did not begin its days in keeping with its principles, it never erased them but rather attempted in time to reconcile its beliefs with the implementation of laws that corrected its deficiencies.

Well might we ask how this President reacted to the foul actions of the Israeli government when it uses such despicable actions against the people it is responsible for protecting under the rules of international occupation?

This is what he said:

“So peace is necessary. But peace is also just. Peace is also just. There is no question that Israel has faced Palestinian factions who turned to terror, leaders who missed historic opportunities. That is all true.”

[But it is as well deceitful; it addresses only the concerns of one side, the “resilient friend” of the U.S. Why no mention of the Nakba, the defiant use of illegal terrorist destruction by the Jewish Agency and its armies against the legal authority of the Mandate Government charged by the international community to protect both the indigenous people of Palestine and the immigrants arriving from Europe? Why no mention of the 64 years of intentionally stalled peace negotiations’ that resulted in the virtual takeover of all the land of Palestine? Why no mention of the original intention of the Jewish Agency and its adherents to remove by whatever force necessary the Arabs from the land of Israel when in fact they didn’t own it or have “historical” right to it? Why pretend to the world that the Palestinians have been the perpetrators of terrorism when they have the legal right to defend their homeland against illegal occupiers and oppressors?]

“And that’s why security must be at the center of any agreement.”

[Security for whom? Do not the Palestinians need security when the reality on the ground has been the theft of virtually all their land? Only security for the state of Israel against the Palestinians when the state of Israel has the fourth largest military in the world and the Palestinians have no military?]

“It has to be done by the parties.”

[Certainly it is obvious to all that the United States cannot be a broker for peace between these parties. It is yoked to the state of Israel irrevocably. Only the UN can bring resolution by bringing Israel before the Security Council to determine how it will reconfigure its borders so that the state of Palestine can be fashioned legitimately and justice for all can be established.]

“But the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, their right to justice, must also be recognized.”

[If this is Obama’s desire than does he have a responsibility to take action to ensure it happens. Doing nothing will change nothing. Let the 95% of the world’s population that has recognized the rights of the Palestinian people (188 nations out of 193 allowed by their vote acceptance of the people of Palestine to member status in the UN) direct the process by which justice can be done.]

If we look at the world from behind the wall that imprisons the Palestinian people, we must accept the injustice that pervades the Zionist government’s treatment of their neighbors. Any law that degrades human personality as Martin Luther King states is unjust. What is more degrading to the human personality than to be drenched in the sewage that flows from the Jewish squatters’ settlements or sprayed by the skunks that use their protective innards to deny the democratic right of dissent?

A just people create just laws, laws that uplift human personality. Peace is just as the President said; would that he would make it so.

Shell's "Screwed Up" Drilling Plans Prompt Quick Arctic Pullout

Mother Nature, US Gov't. Chase Shell Out of Arctic

by Damien Gillis - The

Shell Oil, the first energy company granted coveted Arctic drilling permits by the US Government, is shutting down operations for all of 2013, nearly as quickly as they began.

Shell's hand is being forced by the Interior Department, following a scathing report which castigated the company for a series of misadventures in 2012 and early 2013.

The cancellation of this year's drilling program represents an about-face from the confident predictions made last year by the Shell executive heading up the operation, David Lawrence. 
The Arctic drilling would be "relatively easy", Lawrence told Dow Jones at the outset of Shell's foray into Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. 

The report by the Interior Department, released earlier this month, found Shell was unprepared for Arctic drilling and failed to properly oversee its contractors. Department Secretary Ken Salazar put it succinctly in a telephone press conference discussing the report. 
"Shell screwed up in 2012,” remarked Salazar, who stipulated that future drilling would be contingent on more detailed plans and an independent audit of the company's management systems.

The "Cypriot Poison" Pill Within Harper's Economic Action Plan 2013

Streamlining Conflict of Interest Provisions

by New Government of Canada (Stephen Harper)

[from pp. 144-5 of Economic Action Plan 2013]

The Government will examine whether the conflict of interest provisions contained in the financial sector statutes remain consistent with the overall Government policy as outlined in the Conflict of Interest Act.

To ensure the continued strong governance and oversight of federally regulated financial institutions, the Government will examine whether the conflict of interest provisions contained in the financial sector statutes remain consistent with overall Government policy as outlined in the Conflict of Interest Act.

Establishing a Risk Management Framework for Domestic Systemically Important Banks

Economic Action Plan 2013 will implement a comprehensive risk management framework for Canada’s systemically important banks.

Canada’s large banks are a source of strength for the Canadian economy. Our large banks have become increasingly successful in international markets, creating jobs at home. The Government also recognizes the need to manage the risks associated with systemically important banks — those banks whose distress or failure could cause a disruption to the financial system and, in turn, negative impacts on the economy.

This requires strong prudential oversight and a robust set of options for resolving these institutions without the use of taxpayer funds, in the unlikely event that one becomes non-viable.

The Government intends to implement a comprehensive risk management framework for Canada’s systemically important banks. This framework will be consistent with reforms in other countries and key international standards, such as the Financial Stability Board’s Key Attributes of Effective Resolution Regimes for Financial Institutions, and will work alongside the existing Canadian regulatory capital regime.

The risk management framework will include the following elements:

  • Systemically important banks will face a higher capital requirement, as determined by the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. 
  • Supporting Jobs and Growth
  • Helping Manufacturers and Businesses Succeed in the Global Economy

The Government proposes to implement a ―bail-in regime for systemically important banks. This regime will be designed to ensure that, in the unlikely event that a systemically important bank depletes its capital, the bank can be recapitalized and returned to viability through the very rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into regulatory capital. This will reduce risks for taxpayers.

The Government will consult stakeholders on how best to implement a bail-in regime in Canada.

Implementation timelines will allow for a smooth transition for affected institutions, investors and other market participants.

Systemically important banks will continue to be subject to existing risk management requirements, including enhanced supervision and recovery and resolution plans. This risk management framework will limit the unfair advantage that could be gained by Canada’s systemically important banks through the mistaken belief by investors and other market participants that these institutions are ― too big to fail.

Supporting the Financial Sector’s Contribution to the Economy

Supporting International Growth of the Canadian Financial Sector

Economic Action Plan 2013 will enhance the Government’s support for the strategic international expansion of Canadian financial institutions.

The Government will enhance its activities aimed at promoting the Canadian financial sector internationally.

As part of the Government’s efforts to intensify Canada’s pursuit of new and deeper trade relationships, it will partner with financial institutions to promote the Canadian brand with key decision makers in foreign markets.

Strategic expansion of Canadian financial institutions internationally will create skilled financial sector jobs in Canada and allow the industry to increase its contribution to the Canadian economy.

Combating International Tax Evasion and Aggressive Tax Avoidance 

(pp. 154-5)

Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes a number of measures to address international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

International tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance entail a fiscal cost to governments and taxpayers worldwide, and are unfair to businesses and individuals who play by the rules
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the revenue base and ensuring public confidence in the fairness and equity of the tax system. Accordingly, Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes to:

  • Require certain financial intermediaries including banks to report international electronic funds transfers of $10,000 or more to the CRA. Funding of $15 million over five years will be provided to the CRA for this initiative.
  • Extend the normal reassessment period by three years for a taxpayer who has failed to report income from a specified foreign property on their annual income tax return and failed to properly file the Foreign Income Verification Statement (Form T1135).
  • Revise Form T1135 reporting to provide more detailed information including the names of specific foreign institutions and countries where offshore assets are located and the foreign income earned on those assets.
  • Streamline the process for the CRA to obtain information concerning unnamed persons from third parties such as banks.

The CRA will also launch the Stop International Tax Evasion Program aimed at reducing international tax evasion and avoidance. Under this program, the CRA will pay rewards to individuals with knowledge of major international tax non-compliance when they provide information to the CRA that leads to the collection of outstanding taxes due.
The CRA will pay a reward to an individual only if the information results in total additional assessments exceeding $100,000 in federal tax. In this way, the CRA will target high-income taxpayers who attempt to evade or avoid tax using complex international legal arrangements.

A reward will not be paid to an individual who has been convicted of tax evasion in connection with the non-compliance.

Preying on Minority Communities for the Multiculturapocolypse

Waiting for the Multicultarapocolypse, Turko-Hispanic Edition

by Peter Lee - China Hand

I saw this billboard while motoring through the LA suburbs.

The sentiment is not drive-off-the-road gobsmacking, but it provided considerable food for thought.

Wonder if the Corps would celebrate its respect for “Caucasian” or “African-American” values.* Unlikely, because attributing certain “values” to racial groups is, well, racist. I assume the idea is to characterize “Hispanics” as an ethnicity with certain cultural characteristics, like, you know, the Irish. This leads us pretty far down the slippery slope to ethnic stereotyping, and I wonder what martial characteristics on the Frito Bandito-to-Zorro spectrum the Marines’ ad agency was thinking of when it crafted this campaign.

Actually, thanks to the website “Hispanic Marketing and Public Relations”, we don’t have to wonder:

“The ideals of honor, courage and commitment are not exclusive to the Marine Corps,” said Lieutenant Colonel Darrin Kazlauskas, assistant chief of staff for advertising, Marine Corps Recruiting Command. “Hispanic American families, like all great families, instill these values so that each generation can move forward and become positive members of their communities. We are proud to serve with all our Marine brothers and sisters who hold these values in high esteem.”
Through Family Values the Marine Corps set out to offer the public a window into the personal lives of the Hispanic Marines profiled in the ads with the intent of leading the audience to believe that there are ways in which the fundamental values of Hispanic Americans and the Marine Corps are one.

Well, don’t get me started on the “values” thing, and I won’t ask the Marines to reveal what other groups are relatively deficient in honor, courage, and commitment compared to a) the USMC and b) the "Hispanic community."

To unpack this a little more, “Hispanics” is something of a catch-all demographic category to characterize people in the US and the Latin and South American countries who can speak Spanish.

“Hispanics” often define themselves according to nationality, current or ancestral (“Mexican, Mexican-American”). Bear in mind, some indigenous Americans—Indians, per the traditional, wildly inaccurate nomenclature that prevails in the United States—such as the Oaxacans, who form a distinct underclass of immigrants in Los Angeles, employ their traditional pre-Colombian languages and speak Spanish as a second language and, sometimes, don’t speak Spanish at all. And some people of mestizo extraction who do speak Spanish nevertheless accentuate their local origins and dislike the European cultural, imperial, and linguistic implications of “Hispanic”.

So, “Hispanic” is something of an artificial category that assists non-“Hispanic” people who are looking for a convenient way to characterize, investigate, analyze, and slice-and-dice an increasingly important element in US economics and culture. I assume Hispanicism, the New World successor to Edward Said’s Orientalism—which explored the creation of “The Orient” as an object of Western penetration, exploitation, and conquest—has already been written by some bright, Foucault-steeped scholar, but I just don’t know about it.

Of course, what’s also interesting is that the sign is in English, not Spanish. Of course, one has to speak English to serve in the Marine Corps, but one might think that a recruiting poster would target Spanish-speaking parents as well.

I wonder how much deep thinking Lieutenant Colonel Kazlaukas put into this campaign. Is it part of a sophisticated effort to identify and attract English-speaking people with a Spanish-speaking background who self-select as having an uncertain grasp of anthropology, ethnography, and Marx’s critique of Hegelian idealism? Or a reflection of the fact that recruitment of “Hispanics”—actually, a certain undefined subset of this arbitrary class—has been quite successful and the Corps is trying to consolidate its gains by throwing the ad campaign at the wall and seeing if it sticks?

*The Marines do run a Black History Month campaign, but it accentuates the victories of black Marines in their struggle to overcome racism rather than attributing specific admirable values to African-Americans.

The second data point comes courtesy of the very interesting blog The Istanbulian, by Emre Kizilkaya, an editor of Hurriyet, the leading Turkish daily.

The modern Turkish state is based on a rather muscular, army-backed secularism that, in recent years, has come into increasing conflict with Islam-friendly political movements such as the one that Prime Minister Recip Erdogan rode into power. The government does reveal some Islamicizing tendencies which are nervously recorded by advocates of secular liberalism.

An exam in a local religious class included this priceless image under the heading “Learning to Pray”.

Spidey, we never knew!

What I like about the image is, if you rotate it 90 degrees, he looks like he’s praying at the Wailing Wall! While climbing it!

Kizilkaya’s blog is well-worth bookmarking. Turkey, in addition to serving as freedom’s eager handmaiden in Syria, is the world leader in imprisoning journalists. Kizilkaya performs the invaluable task of documenting the trends in repression, politics, religion, and the complex and volatile Assad-rebels-Syrian/Iraqi/PKK Kurd security equation for an English-speaking audience.