Saturday, November 14, 2015

Darkness and Light: The Struggle for Peace Continues

Black September Reflections

by Mazin Qumsiyeh - Popular Resistance

And they searched his chest
But could only find his heart
And they searched his heart
And could only find his people
                                                            - Palestinian Poet Mahmud Darwish

My political awareness started out in September 1970 when I was 13 years old. That is the first time I saw my late father cry. My parents had tried t isolate us from the miseries of the world but in this case he could not help it as he watched how politics results in innocent people massacred.

The quarrel between the PLO and the Jordanian monarchy had peaked into a war. Jordanian troops with tanks entered refugee camps killing perhaps thousands (no one knows the number) of Palestinian refugees as they uprooted the PLO armed factions from Jordan. My father still would not talk much politics so I turned to my mother who gave me a brief history lesson much of it personal. For example she told me about her school friend Hayah Balbisi who was murdered with her students in Deir Yassin.

The images on TV of flattened shaggy shantytowns over dead bodies still haunts me. I began to educate myself of things they do not teach us in school about our own history: that British invasion of Palestine September 1918 was a direct result of Zionist lobbies that gave the Balfour and the Jules Cambon declarations 1917 and learned of the British imposition of apartheid through the first Zionist ruler here Herbert Samuels.

In September 1982, it was my turn to cry uncontrollably as I saw images of the massacres at the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila (Israeli paid proxy militias). By September 2001, I had been living and working at Yale University for 1.5 years and I had been in the US for 22 years. In those 1.5 years in Connecticut, we had held over 20 events for Palestine and I had published dozens of letters and opinion articles on Palestine. We were happy we succeeded in pressuring Yasser Arafat not to sign onto the humiliating agreement offered him at Camp David that abrogated the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and lands (I co-founded a group that managed to collect over 800,000 signatures for refugee rights between 1997 to 1999).

We were planning more actions and more events especially in protest of the ongoing massacres committed by the war criminal Ariel Sharon in the occupied Palestinian territories. That was what some people had called the second Intifada 2000-2005 (my book on Popular resistance actually shows it is number 14 or 15). We planned events, held rallies, organized protest and also cared for the injured. We had already brought a girl who was 8 years old who lost her eye to an Israeli rubber-coated steel bullet and gave her a prosthetic eye (Hiam was one of hundreds of children to lose eyes and limbs in 2000-2003). Another girl Marwa Alsharif was coincidentally with us in September 2001.

Marwa Al-Sharif had a bullet in her head which was just removed by neurosurgeon in Hartford and she was recovering (I acted as translator for her and her mother). On 10 September 2001 I was dealing with Zionist back lash and media distortions about the Israeli targeting of these children. On September 4, 2001, the Zionist group CAMERA posted to their members one of our media alerts and added “As you will see, pro-Palestinian activists are very focused and energetic and are using sophisticated and diverse methods to press their case. We can do no less!”

An article by Rhonda L Maacarty and me appeared in Q magazine about the growing role of international solidarity in the struggle for freedom in Palestine. The struggle was plodding along but then it came to the USA in a big way on 11 September 2001. My first message after I recovered from the shock of the news was this sent at 11:30 AM on Tuesday 11 September 2001:

Talking points on the catastrophe

Many have already been contacted by the media for commentary on the attacks in NYC and Washington. Here are possible talking points:

1) This is an awful catastrophe
2) Our first thoughts must be with the victims.
3) We condemn acts of terror in the strongest possible ways.
4) It is important not to jump to conclusions about who or how this was caused and to wait for the situation to be clear.

No need to say anything else.
Mazin Qumsiyeh

I checked on my friends in New York (an area only 40 minutes from our home in Orange, CT) and we held vigils for the victims at Yale (hundreds of victims were also Arab and/or Muslim Americans). I was interviewed at least 10 times in the next few hours. That night was sleepless, as we addressed emails and made phone calls etc. Marwa Al-Sharif and her mother were at the Friday prayers called for by all the mosques in the US after this catastrophic event to pray for the victims and pray for peace.

Marwa and her mother at the mosque after 11 Sept 2001

In the next few weeks I gave over 50 talks dealing with this issue. In these talks and in my writings (including a book I published soon after) I warned that unless the west changes its foreign policy in the Arab world (stop supporting dictatorships like “Saudi Arabia” and the apartheid colonial system in Palestine “the Jewish state of Israel”, that we will have many more black Septembers. I warned of a potential refugee flood much worse.

We even mobilized a roving bus called the “Wheels of Justice Bus Tour” which talked about Palestine and Iraq and the importance of changing policies. We spoke at in 4 years in 48 states of the USA. We protested, we marched, we did civil disobedience etc.

My contract at Yale was not renewed in September 2005 and I left the USA in September 2008 to try and make a bigger difference in Palestine. September 2015, we see more suffering, more refugees, children washing ashore in the Mediterranean. We still cry, we still mourn, but we must still act. It is not enough to tell the callous western leaders “we told you so”. They still make horrible catastrophes. Please act to stop them (e.g. the USA/Saudi collusion to attack Yemen is creating another catastrophe).

Here in Palestine in the past 7 years, I adapted methodologies and changed directions to push for change. I donated much of what I made working at Duke and Yale to Palestine. I was detained, arrested, and harassed but luckily am much better off than 95% of other Palestinians with a conscience.

Now I spend a majority of my time “lighting candle better than cursing the darkness” and “having joyful participation in the sorrows of this world”. I am blessed to be surrounded by good active people, volunteers of all backgrounds and from many countries. Our email colleagues are in the tens of thousands. A luta continua – the struggle continues.

I want to take this opportunity to thank those thousands of you who act for peace and justice. You donate of your time and money but most important you give of yourself.

As the great Kahlil Jubran once wrote:

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow? And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city? And what is fear of need but need itself? Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?

There are those who give little of the much which they have--and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty. There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward. And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism. And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space. Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.

It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving. And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall someday be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.

You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving." The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish. Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you. And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream. And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving? And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed? See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.

For in truth it is life that gives unto life while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

And you receivers... and you are all receivers... assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives. Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings; For to be over mindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother, and God for father.”

No-Use Water Warning for Shawnigan Lake South Following SIA Overflow

Do Not Use - Water Advisory Notice – November 13th

by Shawnigan Residents Association

The Do Not Use water advisory issued by Island Heath, on November 13, after a breach at the SIA toxic soil dump site is currently being distributed to all residents of Shawnigan Lake by the Shawnigan Residents Association.

The many warnings issued by the Association to MLA Mary Polak and the Ministry of the Environment for the past three years forewarned of an event such as this.

While the breach does not appear to have come from the currently active lot, it underscores what the Association has been saying all along. The proponents and operators of the site, along with the Ministry of the Environment, have not properly assessed the risks of the operation and have exposed the residents to an unacceptable danger.

It has been foretold all along that heavy rain would endanger the site and the lake. Now in the toxic dump’s first real season, and real test, with the first “normal” rain event, a breach has occurred to force a drinking water advisory.

The Ministry of the Environment and Minister Polack have, all of this time, sided with the dump proponents. The Shawnigan Residents Association is again calling for the courts to issue a stay in the dumping permit and for the Ministry to rescind the permit.

Residents of Shawnigan Lake receiving this note should call their neighbours and notify them of this advisory.

A no-water use advisory in effect: south-end of Shawnigan Lake Area November 13, 2015


Island Health is advising residents not to use water taken out of the lake from the south end of Lake Shawnigan, south of Butler Avenue and Verlon Road, due to a suspected overflow of water from the South Island Aggregates site.

The Ministry of the Environment is investigating, and water tests will be conducted.

No licensed permitted drinking water systems draw water from this area. Private residents are always recommended to properly treat water from surface sources.

As further information becomes available, this advisory may be updated.

Central/North Island media inquiries:
Valerie Wilson
Manager, Regional Communications

South Island media inquiries:
Kellie Hudson
Media Relations Manager

Passing: Gerd Weih, Worker for Peace and Justice

Passing: Gerd Weih, Worker for Peace and Justice

by Theresa Wolfwood  - Barnard-Boeker Centre Foundation

Gerd Weih, founding member of the Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation, died in Victoria on August 31.

He was dedicated to the aims and work of BBCF which he formed with his wife and companion in life’s struggles for peace and justice, Theresa Wolfwood. The ‘Boecker’ in the name of the foundation came from his mother’s family.

Gerd Weih 1923-2015

After his experiences in World War II and his time in a Russian prisoner of war camp, he came to Canada to start a new life. He believed that war was the worst thing that could happen to people and a society and worked tirelessly for peace that provided justice and dignity for people and communities.

Gerd was a physician who healed many people; he brought hundreds of babies into the world. He practiced in Alberta for most of his working life. After early retirement from medical practice, Gerd worked as a volunteer doctor in Nevis, Domenica, Zimbabwe and Nicaragua- in a war zone, often treating those injured by the Contras.

His commitment to peace and social justice took him with Theresa to be human rights observers in the jungle of Chiapas, Mexico, to refugee camps in Mexico to meetings and clandestine encounters with Guatemalans during the civil war there. He joined a coffee-picking brigade in Nicaragua. Later he was a an election observer three times in El Salvador and travelled to Mexico to meet with activists opposed to Canadian mining companies.

He visited and supported the Mazi Mazuri Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, Women in Struggle in Pakistan, farmer groups in Uganda and many other grass-roots organizations. He believed in and supported independent media in Canada and abroad.

Gerd and Theresa travelled twice to Palestine, meeting farmers, families, activists, workers and independent politicians; they attended a conference on non-violent resistance in Bil’in, Palestine where they were tear-gassed by the Israeli army at peaceful demonstrations. In Jordan and Lebanon they met with Palestinian refugees in camps and organizations dedicated to an independent Palestine and the right of return.

Over the years Gerd was informed and inspired by participation in World Social Forums and other international conferences. He was always stimulated by the work and analysis of other activists.

A keen reader, he was reading books on Palestine, USA torture camps and the Spanish Civil War just before his death.

Gerd loved making and fixing things. He spent many hours lying under various ancient VW vans over the years. With Theresa he built a cabin on Hornby Island; there he planted trees and entertained many visitors. He joined in many peace and social actions in that community.

He loved the theatre and was an enthusiastic amateur actor, set-builder and board member of theatre groups. He acted in two political musicals created and directed by BBCF board member, Stacy Chappel. In MAI in Oz he played Margaret Thatcher as the Marlboro Man and in Splice of Life he was a genetically modified sheep.

Gerd was actively involved in BBCF work, often directing attention and contributions to various causes he felt strongly about, including The Arab Group for the Protection of Nature and its tree planting project in Palestine and the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) Campaign for Palestine.

Locally he was active in the Mining Justice Action Committee and the Central America Support Committee; he was bagging its Café Simpatico fair trade, organic Nicaraguan coffee in the weeks before he died. He loved hosting visitors and gatherings in his home. In June he participated as he had in previous years in the Cumberland Miners Memorial.

Gerd faithfully attended Victoria Women in Black vigils, helped make hundreds of White Poppies for Peace, and wore his proudly on his birthday, November 11, a symbol of his work for peace. The Women in Black August 6, Hiroshima Day vigil was his last public event; he came, frail but determined to the end, to witness for peace.

Photo: 2011 Diyarbakir, Turkey while attending Social Forum there.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Despair of Ages: Hell's Gyre Spread Wider Over the World

The Age of Despair: Reaping the Whirlwind of Western Support for Extremist Violence

by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque

We, the West, overthrew Saddam by violence. We overthrew Gaddafi by violence. We are trying to overthrow Assad by violence. Harsh regimes all — but far less draconian than our Saudi allies, and other tyrannies around the world. What has been the result of these interventions? A hell on earth, one that grows wider and more virulent year after year.

Without the American crime of aggressive war against Iraq — which, by the measurements used by Western governments themselves, left more than a million innocent people dead — there would be no ISIS, no “Al Qaeda in Iraq.” Without the Saudi and Western funding and arming of an amalgam of extremist Sunni groups across the Middle East, used as proxies to strike at Iran and its allies, there would be no ISIS. Let’s go back further. Without the direct, extensive and deliberate creation by the United States and its Saudi ally of a world-wide movement of armed Sunni extremists during the Carter and Reagan administrations, there would have been no “War on Terror” — and no terrorist attacks in Paris tonight.

Again, let’s be as clear as possible: the hellish world we live in today is the result of deliberate policies and actions undertaken by the United States and its allies over the past decades. It was Washington that led and/or supported the quashing of secular political resistance across the Middle East, in order to bring recalcitrant leaders like Nasser to heel and to back corrupt and brutal dictators who would advance the US agenda of political domination and resource exploitation.

The open history of the last half-century is very clear in this regard. Going all the way back to the overthrow of the democratic government of Iran in 1953, the United States has deliberately and consciously pushed the most extreme sectarian groups in order to undermine a broader-based secular resistance to its domination agenda.

Why bring up this “ancient history” when fresh blood is running in the streets of Paris? Because that blood would not be running if not for this ancient history; and because the reaction to this latest reverberations of Washington’s decades-long, bipartisan cultivation of religious extremism will certainly be more bloodshed, more repression and more violent intervention. Which will, in turn, inevitably, produce yet more atrocities and upheaval as we are seeing in Paris tonight.

I write in despair. Despair of course at the depravity displayed by the murderers of innocents in Paris tonight; but an even deeper despair at the depravity of the egregious murderers who have brought us to this ghastly place in human history: those gilded figures who have strode the halls of power for decades in the high chambers of the West, killing innocent people by the hundreds of thousands, crushing secular opposition to their favored dictators — and again, again and again — supporting, funding and arming some of the most virulent sectarians on earth.

And one further cause of despair: that although this historical record is there in the open, readily available from the most mainstream sources, it is and will continue to be completely ignored, both by the power-gamers and by the public. The latter will continue to support the former as they replicate and regurgitate the same old policies of intervention, the same old agendas of domination and greed, over and over and over again — creating ever-more fresh hells for us all to live in, and poisoning the lives of our children, and of all those who come after us.

Chris Floyd is a columnist for CounterPunch Magazine. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at
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Johnny Gets the Gun

A Stunning Anti-War Polemic

by Stephen Lendman - ICH

November 13, 2015

Years ago, I read author, screenwriter Dalton Trumbo’s 1939 classic novel “Johnny Got His Gun” - one of the most stunning ever fictional indictments of war, impossible to read his chilling account of its barbarity in human terms without being deeply affected.

Joe Bonham is the protagonist, a US WW I soldier, a war during which my father served in France, thankfully coming home in one piece, mind and body intact, no signs of what he may have seen or endured with one exception. He shunned discussing the war.

I and my brother never pressed him. 

Bonham awakens in a hospital after an artillery blast shattered his body beyond repair, physically and emotionally numb to what happened.

Gradually he realizes he lost both arms and legs, his face, including both eyes, ears, teeth and tongue. His mind alone functions normally. The horrors of war destroyed him - Trumbo’s polemic a heart-wrenching testimonial indictment of all wars, the highest of high crimes.

So-called good ones don’t exist, not now, not ever, WW II worst of all, a nuclear one if waged will be the ultimate war crime, risking humanity’s destruction.

Bohnam initially can’t bear living in a shattered torso, nothing else remaining of his former self. He reconsiders, wants to be placed in a glass enclosed container and taken on tour nationwide - to show as many people as possible the true horrors of war.

Without any normal way to communicate, he does it by tapping Morse code statements on his pillow, using his shattered head.

He realizes his wish won’t be granted. His only option is enduring whatever time he has left in his shattered condition, unless able to end it by suffocation or other means. 

He can’t walk, talk or do anything normally. He’s a living corpse, drifting between reality and fantasy, remembering pre-war times past, his normal life with family and girl friend.

Trumbo’s title is taken from the George M. Cohan song “Over There,” written during America’s involvement in WW I (1917 - 1918). The lyrics begin “Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun. Take if on the run, on the run, on the run.”

The memorable chorus continues, saying “Over there, over there, send the word, send the word over there that the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming, the drums rum-tumming everywhere…”

“Send the word, send the word to beware. We’ll be over, we’re coming over, and we won’t be back till it’s over, over there.” 

Al Jolson and Enrico Caruso-sung versions were recorded. Nothing glorious about “over there” exists, not in WW I or any wars.

Trumbo deplored them. Pacifists in America are generally shunned publicly. His novel was well received, winning a 1940 American Booksellers Award, published days before WW II began, over two years before America’s direct involvement.

A 1940 NBC radio adaptation starred James Cagney as Bohnam. In 1971, Trumbo directed the film version of his novel, Timothy Bottoms in the lead role. A 1982 stage play followed, first off-Broadway, then worldwide.

Revived film and stage versions are vitally needed now - pulling no punches, revealing the horrors of war the way Trumbo explained them in his lead character.

It bears repeating. No wars are good ones. All are fought for wealth, power, conquest and dominance. No one endures their horrors without being scarred for life in some ways, lucky ones returning with their bodies and minds intact, managing to get on with their lives as normally as possible.

Too many others are physically and/or emotionally affected forever, traumatized or disfigured, their lives never the same.

To the victors go the spoils. For soldiers at all levels in battles, few are spared the horrors of war in some ways. 

No one forgets the nightmarish experience - why humanity desperately needs a way to end wars or they’ll end us. With today’s super weapons, there’s no in between.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at - His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III." - - Visit his blog site at . Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Playing Uncle's Game to Win

Grandmaster Putin Beats Uncle Sam at His Own Game

by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch

November 13, 2015

Imagine that you despised your brother-in-law and wanted to kill him. But you didn’t have the guts to do it yourself so you hired a hit-man to do the job for you.

Would you still be guilty of murder?

You’re darn right, you would be. So let’s apply this same rule to US foreign policy: Would it be just as wrong to invade a country, kill its people and topple its government with militants that you funded, armed and trained as it would be with your own US troops?

Yep, it sure would be. So while some people might think that it was smarter for Obama to use a proxy-army in Syria instead of US soldiers, morally or legally speaking, there’s really no difference between what he did and what Bush did in Iraq. A US invasion is a US invasion. Period. It doesn’t matter if you use for-hire killers or your own guys. It’s all the same. Obama is just as guilty as Bush.

Why does it matter?

It matters because Obama’s Syrian policy has resulted in the deaths of 250,000 people and created 11 million refugees. That’s more refugees than Iraq. And the funny thing is, the media doesn’t even talk about it, in fact, there’s not one major media outlet in the entire country that has stated what everyone knows to be the obvious truth; that the United States is 100 percent responsible for the refugee crisis. 100 percent! Assad had nothing to do with it. US policy and our buck-passing president are entirely to blame.

The point is, the Democrats pursue the same policies as the GOP with some minor-tweaking at the edges. So if the hard-charging, but dimwitted Republicans decide to drag the country to war on a pack of lies, then the shifty Dems will try to be smarter about it; they’ll try to micromanage the public relations, preempt antiwar marches in US cities and avoid US casualties at all cost. Obama has succeeded in all of these things. There’s nobody in the streets protesting, the media has convinced most people that Syria is in the throes of a civil war, and there have been no flag-draped coffins returning to Andover Airbase because their are no US boots on the ground. For all practical purposes, the Democrats have created our first completely invisible war. That’s quite an accomplishment, don’t you think?

The only glitch is that, after 4 years, Obama’s plan for toppling Bashar al Assad has failed. True, he’s destroyed the world’s oldest civilization and condemned its people to a hardscrabble existence for the next 20 years or so, but he’s failed in his primary objectives; to remove Assad, partition the country, and secure the territory he needs for vital pipeline corridors. So, you see, all the sneaky, underhanded methods the Democrats have used to secretly prosecute their war on Syria have backfired because the US is going to lose the war anyway.

Why is the US going to lose the war?

Because the Russian-led coalition has stopped Washington dead-in-its-tracks and sent the terrorist vermin fleeing for cover, that’s why.

On Tuesday, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and fighters from the feared Lebanese national militia, Hezbollah, recaptured the strategic Kuweires military airbase in North Syria killing hundreds of ISIS terrorists and liberating 250 Syrian soldiers who had been holding out at the base for more than two and a half years. The battle was downplayed in the western media mainly because it represents a critical turning point in the conflict. The Russian-led coalition is now the drivers seat while the “US-backed” jihadis are on the run. The war’s momentum has totally shifted in Putin’s favor which means that Putin’s going to win and Obama’s going to lose.

Kuweires is Syria’s Stalingrad, the famous WW 2 siege which lasted from August 1942 to February 1943 when the German Wehrmacht was repelled by the ferocious Red Army in the largest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare. While the scale of Kuweires is smaller by many orders of magnitude, it’s importance can’t be overstated. It wasn’t ISIS that was defeated at Kuweires; it was US foreign policy, a policy which has reduced a large swathe of the planet, extending from North Africa, across the Middle East and into Central Asia, into smoldering rubble. Kuweires was a key node in Washington’s plan to topple Assad and plunge Syria in failed-state anarchy. That strategy has now been rolled back, not by people waving signs in the streets or politicians appealing for peace and sanity, or diplomats at the UN “talking shop” who have become the de facto rubber stamp for US aggression. No. US policy was rolled back by Russian warplanes, heavy artillery, armored vehicles and highly-motivated, stiff-neck fighting grunts who put their country before their own personal safety. Get the picture?

For the last 15 years, the US has ruled the world through force of arms. Well, guess what; other people have weapons too, and they’re ready to use them. That’s the meaning of Kuweires. Other nations are refusing to accept a model of global world disorder where one country unilaterally arms, trains and deploys homicidal jihadi psychopaths to achieve its own narrow geopolitical goals. That’s a model that is seriously broken and needs to be replaced ASAP. This is the task to which Putin and his fellow terror-liquidators have applied themselves, and they’re doing a pretty fair job of it too.

In the last week, the Russian-led coalition has made great strides in ending this madness and turning the tide on the imperial project. As a result, Washington has been forced to rethink its approach and adapt to the rapidly-changing conditions on the ground. The evidence of this is everywhere, like this goofy article which ran at Huffington Post on Thursday. Check it out:

“Supported by U.S.-led airstrikes, Kurdish Iraqi troops on Thursday seized part of a highway that is used as a vital supply line by the Islamic State group, a key initial step in a major offensive to retake the strategic town of Sinjar from the militants….

Hours into Thursday’s operation, the Kurdish Regional Security Council said its forces controlled a section of Highway 47, which passes by Sinjar and indirectly links the militants’ two biggest strongholds — Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in northern Iraq — as a route for goods, weapons and fighters….

“By controlling Highway 47, which is used by Daesh to transport weapons, fighters, illicit oil and other commodities that fund their operations, the coalition intends to increase pressure … and isolate their components from each other,” a coalition statement said.” 
(“U.S.-Backed Kurds Launch Offensive To Retake ISIS-Held Iraqi Town Sinjar”, Huffington Post)

So they launched a major ground offensive and cut off ISIS vital supply lines?

What a novel idea? Too bad no one in Washington thought about that before wasting the last 18 months blowing up camels in the dessert or whatever the hell they were doing. And why has the Pentagon been playing circlejerk for the last year and a half while these freaks raped women, lopped off heads and wreaked havoc across the countryside when they could have pulled the plug on them long ago?

“Why”? Let me explain “why”?

It’s because ISIS is Washington’s favorite windup toy. They just let these hooligans “Do their thing” as long as they advance US geopolitical goals and, when they’ve served their purpose, they stomp them out like a stag beetle. That’s the basic program. That’s how it works. Only now that Putin has been mowing down these gobshite takfiris like a combine-harvester slashing thorough the corn patch, the Obama crew has had to move on to Plan B: Liquidate ISIS and hold-on to those areas that were under ISIS control. That will give Uncle Sam the territory he’s going to need to set up his “safe zones” that’ll be protected by US aircover and serve as sanctuaries for more troublemaking sociopaths who can be deployed back into Syria to perpetuate the conflict deep into the future. That’s the US strategy in a nutshell.

Washington knows now that the war is lost, so it’s looking for a way to keep a foothold in Syria for future mischief. The same is true on the Turkish-Syrian border where Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan is conspiring with Obama to set up a buffer zone on Syrian territory. Check this out in Today’s Zaman:

“In the run-up to the Nov. 1 election, signals were given that if the Justice and Development Party (AKP) won, Turkey might well start up a land military operation in Syria….

Looking at statements from top Ankara officials in the days prior to the upcoming G-20 summit in Antalya, it does appear that we’ll have action in Syria sometime soon. No matter how often government officials signal Ankara’s desire to cooperate in air operations over Syria, the real fact of the matter is, Ankara would like to see Turkish troops enter Syria by land in warfare situation….

Signals are now coming in fast and furious that Turkey will enter into this war. What’s more, the signals are not limited to AKP statements; the assumption is spreading in the West, too, that this will be Ankara’s course.”
(“Is war on the horizon?“, Today’s Zaman)

Erdogan is a megalomaniac and a menace which is why Putin had better keep an eye on him. And the same goes for Obama too. Obama may be down, but he’s not out just yet. He still has a few more tricks up his sleeve and he’s sure to use them before this thing is over. Even so, the advantage definitely goes to Putin at this point. He took on the entire Washington braintrust and beat them at their own game.

Like him or not, you got to tip your hat to a guy like that.

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
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The Prince and the "Cargo"

The Saudi Prince and Two Tons of Narcotics

by Andre Vtlchek - CounterPunch

Saudi Prince Abdulmohsen bin Walid bin Abdulmohsen bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was obviously not fully satisfied with his life.

A private jet, several luxury cars and a mansion were not enough to make him feel a truly fulfilled and respected member of the Gulf ruling “elites”.

Others had more, like those double-decker Airbus 380’s, or tremendous duplexes overlooking Karbala.

Perhaps that was the reason why he tried so hard to catch up, by smuggling from Beirut, Lebanon to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (KSA), some 40 suitcases and boxes neatly packed with Captagon pills, with some cocaine thrown in for good measure.

I say “perhaps”, because there are, of course, some other options and possibilities…

In fact there are many different first-hand takes on every aspect and detail of the story.

According to various reports, a simple and honest security guard at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport stopped the Prince and asked him to open his suitcases.

“I have a diplomatic passport!” protested the Prince.

“You do, but your luggage doesn’t”, explained the guard, phlegmatically.

What followed was described by several mainstream media outlets.

On November 2, Reuters reported:

“Lebanese authorities detained five Saudi citizens at the airport last week after finding two tones of Captagon amphetamine pills bound for Saudi Arabia on a private jet, security sources and the NNA said, the biggest smuggling operation ever discovered at the airport. On Monday the prince and four other people in custody were accused of the crime, the NNA cited Claude Karam, public prosecutor for the Mount Lebanon area, as saying. The charges were also leveled at five other people in absentia, he added…. Consumption of Captagon outside the Middle East is negligible, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said last year, but it is a significant drug in the Gulf. Lebanon and neighboring Syria are conduit routes for the drug.”

According to other sources, the interception was prepared well in advance and the security officers at the checkpoint that had been set up for the passengers coming and leaving Beirut on their private jets, knew well in advance about the content of the cargo, which was covered with Saudi Arabian official emblems. An x-ray machine that was hardly used at that particular section, suddenly and miraculously became operational. The prince and his cohorts were thoroughly checked, and then detained.

This was the biggest contraband ever discovered at this already notorious airport. Just to put things into some visual perspective: imagine a full-sized hippopotamus, weighing around 2 tons. This is how heavy the narco-contraband was in possession of His Highness, and his 4 chums. What an appetite! All that stuff has a value of around US$280 million at the “market price”.


The prince could not be truly so daring, could he? Princes are usually not… 2 tons of drugs leaving Beirut, and the same 2 tons arriving at Riyadh airport! In his country, some poor Philippine maid or a Bangladeshi guest worker would be chopped to pieces for just a few grams of cocaine. And in some Saudi ideological, Wahhabi colonies, like Indonesia, any foreigner or non-elite citizen would be shot like a stray dog for trafficking almost any amount of drugs. 2 tons would put anyone in the KSA or Indonesia into a giant, slowly rotating blender!

A prince of one of the closest allies of the West would surely not break the law in such an outrageously extreme manner. Unless…

Unless he knew something, was told something, or was on a mission!

“Yes, they will let him go”, lamented a prominent Lebanese political analyst who did not want to be identified (out of fear that Saudis would retaliate).

“They have a license to kill, rape, smuggle with complete impunity, and yet still couldn’t manage to let women get a drivers license because of ‘norm-wise’ and religion-wise it is not advisable, yet raping and killing innocent people and dealing with and smuggling drugs is fair and square in their own interpretation of religion. Their royalty is acting very un-regally. And what is happening here: This is Lebanon and everything here is a matter of ‘give and take’.

It means: Saudis give. They give to the local Sunni “elites”. And then they take…

There has been no comment from Saudi authorities on the case. Several of my colleagues in Lebanon tried to extract at least some comment, some explanation, but found nobody who would be willing to speak at the Saudi embassy in Beirut.


The Saudi Royal Family has a truly ‘colorful’ history, from ancient to modern times. Let’s forget, for now, how they and their British allies and handlers, infested the entire region with the Wahhabi teaching.

Earlier this year, while his country was bombing and murdering thousands of innocent people in Yemen, another Saudi prince was arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly trying to force a woman to perform oral sex on him at a Beverly Hills mansion. A news agency Sputnik reported:

“Last month, another Saudi prince was arrested in Los Angeles accused of taking cocaine, sexually assaulting a maid, threatening to kill women who refused his sexual advances and having sex with his male aide.”

But the US authorities decided not to pursue the charge, citing a lack of evidence. Perhaps the same reason why the UN decided not to pursue the charges against Saudi acts of terror against Yemen.

In 2013, a Saudi princess was accused in Los Angeles of enslaving a Kenyan woman as a housemaid, but the charges were also eventually dropped.

After all, the Saudi Royal family is one of the closest allies of the West. A Saudi prince can definitely count on a very different treatment than Julian Assange, when it comes to some sexual allegations.


While several Western mass media outlets commented abstractly that Captagon pills are mainly used in the Gulf and in Syria, local sources concretely confirmed that it is a drug of choice for so-called “Syrian rebels”, including the ISIS. The India Times ran a story with the title: “Saudi Prince Caught With 2 Tons Of ISIS’s Favorite Drugs In Lebanon”.

Not surprisingly, most European and US mainstream newspapers and television channels decided not to investigate any further, most of the latest reports date back to 2 November 2015. It was all getting “just too risqué”.

Perhaps the most colorful report went to print on October 28, written by Robert Fisk and published by The Independent:

“…The Lebanese who grabbed them must regret that their customs scanner ever picked up the cargo… The eloquent Lebanese Minister of the Interior Nouhad Machnouk has already denied knowledge of any details of the affair – a likely story – saying that it is “in the hands of the justice [ministry]… ”.

Fisk concludes in the most appropriately sarcastic manner:

“But let’s rely on Lebanese justice. Innocent until proved guilty. Lebanon’s large Sunni Muslim community loves Sunni Saudi Arabia. Indeed, two of its prime ministers (Hariri, father and son, both good men) have been Saudi as well as Lebanese citizens. All just one big mistake, surely. Wrongly labeled boxes. Or perhaps a fiendish conspiracy by Saudi’s Hezbollah enemies in Beirut to embarrass the most respected royal family in the Middle East.”

The diplomatic community in Lebanon is entertaining several theories, but all of them are presented on “off the record” bases. One is linking the arrest of Prince to a prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who is facing a death sentence in Saudi Arabia, for political dissent.

As Press TV reported on October 28:

“On October 25, Mohammed said in a message on social media that the Saudi Supreme Court and an appellate court had approved the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, and authorized the Saudi Interior Ministry to carry out the sentence previously handed down to the eminent cleric.”

Mohammed al-Nimr is a brother of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

And pay attention to the dates!

Several influential Shia politicians in Lebanon, the theory says, are behind the arrest. The prince arrested in Beirut could be, hypothetically, swapped for the cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.


This is all a very big game. And captagon is not just some recreational drug, intended for underground nightclubs in the Gulf, and for notorious private orgies in Saudi Arabia. It is, as I was told by local experts, a “drug that makes one extremely brutal; a drug, which destroys all fear”. It is a “combat narcotic”, which has been given mainly to the ISIS fighters.

“It could have been destined for Iraq and the ISIS cells there, but most likely the Saudi Prince was bringing it for the Saudi allies in Yemen” I was told on the basis of anonymity. “Or both… Most likely: both.”

It was explained that those countless pills of captagon were produced and purchased in or around the town of Aarsal, in northern Lebanon on the Syrian border, an area controlled by ISIS, only around 15 kilometers from the major archeological site of Baalbek.

This still does not explain the origin or destination of the cocaine which was also found in possessions of the Saudi prince. But perhaps the cocaine was just a personal affair and booty of a member of Royal Family. That we may never find out.


Lebanon is a collapsed country, which, apart of narcotics, food and some construction materials, produces hardly anything. Most of the funds come from remittances, and drug trade. There is some blood money pouring in from “investments” in West Africa. Almost everything very ugly, if not out rightly horrifying! For some time now, Lebanon has no truly functional government. It recently experienced unrest over the meltdown of basic infrastructure, corruption and the horrid state of all basic services. It is an extreme capitalist country.

It is also an extremely divided country; divided along the religions lines, and social classes, recently inundated by more than 2 million, mainly Syrian, refugees. Syria is destabilized, totally ruined, by the Western imperialist policies. While Lebanon lacking ideology, plays with anyone who pays: be it the West, or all sorts of Christian sects, as well as Sunni and Shi’a Islam.

Saudi Arabian citizens have been using Lebanon as their playground, for decades. This is where they have been historically coming for shopping, “entertainment”, easy sex and yes, narcotics – not unlike Egypt and Indonesia. But big smuggling of narcotics, drug orgies and big political and military games (sometimes all are inter-connected) in which hard drugs playing an important role, are reserved exclusively for the “elites”.

Saudi Arabia is playing an extremely important role here, economically and “ideologically”. It fuels the wars and conflicts, from Yemen to Syria and beyond. It pays blood money for secrecy and silence. It pays a lot. Therefore, the recent arrest of the Saudi prince is something absolutely unexpected and extraordinary.


Before this essay went to print, several deadly explosions devastated southern Shi’a suburb of Beirut, Burj al-Barajneh, one of the strongholds of Hezbollah on November 12. Dozens of people were killed and around 200 wounded. Most likely the ISIS or al-Nusra Front performed this carnage. Both terrorist groups are backed by Saudi Arabia and are fighting against the government of al-Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Further investigation will show to what extend are these two stories directly or indirectly related.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”.Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.
More articles by:Andre Vltchek

BC's Climate Leadership Team Readies Its Report

Vicky Husband: Committee shouldn’t greenwash government plans

by Vicky Husband

In May, Premier Christy Clark named 19 people to a new Climate Leadership Team that included representatives from provincial and municipal governments, industry, academia, the environmental community and First Nations. She said the team was to “consider the best actions” to get a lagging B.C. back “on track” in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

November 30, the deadline for the committee to submit its recommendations, fast approaches. On that day, international climate change talks begin in Paris and Clark will likely be there boasting of B.C.’s green credentials.

For that reason, it is vital that the team’s members — particularly its environmental reps — not legitimize a “clean energy” plan that could set back renewable energy initiatives by decades and is an affront to aboriginal rights and interests.

Take, for example, a discussion paper on climate leadership released in July by the B.C. government and reviewed by the committee.

“The British Columbia government recognizes that more actions are needed to keep pace and achieve our targets, as our economy grows and diversifies. For example, the province is preparing to develop a liquefied natural gas industry over the next decade. LNG could reduce global emissions by replacing the use of coal in fast-growing economies such as China and India.”

To date, none of the committee’s respected environmental appointees — Tzeporah Berman, former co-director of Greenpeace International’s global climate and energy program, Matt Horne, the Pembina Institute’s regional director for B.C., and Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada — have publicly questioned in their capacity as committee members how building just one LNG plant in B.C. is even remotely compatible with “clean energy objectives.”

LNG and clean energy are, in fact, completely incompatible. Higher greenhouse emissions and more contaminated water are a certainty with LNG, which will require vastly more natural gas drilling and fracking.

Nor have they spoken as one about the $9-billion Site C dam. Land clearing in preparation for the dam’s construction has begun, despite a growing roster of organizations opposed to the project, including the Union of B.C. Municipalities. Nowhere in the 22-page discussion paper is the proposed hydroelectric dam even mentioned.

Could that glaring omission have something to do with government plans to harness “clean” power from a new dam to power up increased LNG production? Such a scenario would see massive amounts of fossil fuel shipped across the Pacific where theoretically it could be used to offset the burning of coal. If this is the case, the committee’s environmental reps should forcefully oppose such plans before Clark commands the spotlight in Paris.

Site C’s price tag alone is reason enough for Berman, Horne and Smith to voice concerns. At a 2014 international symposium on energy transition in Hong Kong, academic researchers presented data on cost overruns at 61 hydroelectric dams around the world. On average, the overruns exceeded 70 per cent. Translation? Site C could cost more than $15 billion.

Even a fraction of that money invested in solar, wind and geothermal installations would dramatically diversify B.C.’s renewable energy portfolio while moving us away from an overreliance on hydroelectric power. This should be a top environmental and climate priority, as opposed to building an unnecessary dam that, in the latest wrinkle, the government now suggests could help Alberta reduce its dependence on coal-fired electricity.

Site C is opposed by local First Nations who stand to lose lands along 107 kilometres of the Peace River and its tributaries, to say nothing of the socially, ecologically and economically ruinous loss of some of the best farmland in B.C.

Under the circumstances, Berman, Horne and Smith must not ignore Site C when their mandate is to “provide advice and recommendations” that “further the province’s government-to-government relationships with First Nations while constructively finding climate solutions.”

Site C is not a climate solution. Any alleged climate action plan that fails to even mention the dam, let alone its numerous renewable energy alternatives, is dishonest. The Climate Action Team’s environmental appointees ought to say so — and well before the Paris talks.

“Clean” hydropower to power-up expanded production of some of the dirtiest fossil fuel on Earth? If that’s Victoria’s plan, let the government do the greenwashing, not the Climate Leadership Team’s respected environmental members.

Vicky Husband is the former conservation chairwoman of the Sierra Club of British Columbia.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ghettoizing Hebron

A Palestinian Call for “Unarmed Warfare”

by Jonathan Cook - Dissident Voice

November 11th, 2015 

Behind the headline news of clashes between Palestinian youths and armed Israeli soldiers, Israel has – as ever – been quietly tightening its grip on Palestinians’ lives in the occupied territories.Last week in Hebron, a current flashpoint, 50 embattled families still living in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood, faced a new restriction on movement designed to help free up the area for intensified Jewish settlement.

Some of Tel Rumeida’s residents could be seen silently queuing at the local checkpoint to register their ID cards. Anyone not from the neighbourhood and not on the military’s list will be barred from entering.

Their response differed starkly from the reaction 21 years ago, when residents faced a similar order. Then, the entire neighbourhood refused to register. Israel punished them with a curfew for six months, allowing the families out for a few hours a week to buy food.

How to respond to military orders of this kind stands at the heart of a debate that has revived among Palestinians about the relative merits of armed struggle and non-violent resistance.

A poll in the early summer showed 49 per cent of Palestinians aged between 18 and 22 supported an armed uprising. By September, after the first clashes in Jerusalem, that figure had surged to 67 per cent.

The volatility can in part be explained by an inevitable thirst for revenge as Palestinians watch compatriots being killed and maimed by Israeli soldiers.

But it also reflects a void of Palestinian leadership and strategy. Instead, Palestinians have been buffeted into polarised camps that, put simply, pit Hamas’ rhetoric of armed struggle against the stalled diplomacy of Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority.

Non-violence once earned a central place in Palestinian resistance to occupation. During the first intifada of the late 1980s, Palestinians engaged in mass civil disobedience: they refused to cooperate with the military authorities, burnt their ID cards, refused to pay taxes and held strikes.

That approach never entirely ended. Today it finds expression in the weekly protests and marches by villages against Israel’s steel and concrete barrier eating away at Palestinians’ agricultural lands. These protests remain largely peaceful, even in the face of unceasing army brutality.

But the use of non-violence has been limited to local struggles, waged with the aim of small, isolated victories. It has also invariably coexisted with more violent approaches, from stone-throwing to the current knife attacks.

Much of the blame falls to Abbas, who has appropriated the language of non-violence while failing to harness it to a national strategy of resistance. Even the PA’s support for the villagers’ battles against Israel’s wall has been less than half-hearted.

In the minds of many Palestinians, non-violence has become tainted by association with Abbas’ years of ineffectiveness: his desperate and unsuccessful attempts both to push Israel into peace talks and to cosy up to Washington. The nadir was his declaration of the “sacred” status of the PA’s security coordination with Israel.

It has also not helped that prejudicial demands for non-violence are regularly made of Palestinians by outsiders and dishonest brokers such as Washington. Last month US secretary of state John Kerry singled out Palestinians for blame in the latest clashes. “There’s no excuse for the violence,” he scolded, ignoring decades of Israel’s violent suppression of Palestinian efforts at liberation.

Nonetheless, some Palestinian intellectuals are advocating non-violent resistance as they warn against an armed uprising. Palestinians have a right in international law to resist the occupation, even violently, but this group emphasises the futility of violence faced with Israel’s military superiority. Theirs is a pragmatic argument.

In an article headlined “Don’t go out to die, Palestine needs you alive”, journalist Mohammed Daraghmeh called on Palestinians to “channel the national anger toward mass protest”. Reminding Palestinians that the western world created the conflict and must fix it, Daragmeh warned: “It will not do so if we commit suicide.”

Similarly, Palestinian businessman Sam Bahour has coined the term “smart resistance”, arguing that all the Palestinian factions should commit to non-violent resistance as a way to national liberation.

Both have drawn on earlier strategies of communal solidarity and collective sacrifice – as demonstrated by Tel Rumeida’s inhabitants two decades ago.

One of the architects of the first intifada’s non-violent resistance, Mubarak Awad, recently reminded Palestinians that it is no soft option. “It’s about using nonviolence militantly, like a kind of unarmed warfare,” he told an interviewer.

He suggests instead refusing to carry Israeli-issued IDs, defying curfews, blocking roads, planting trees on sites intended for settlement, tearing down fences, staging sit-ins and and inviting mass arrests to fill to breaking point Israel’s jails.

Such actions require mass participation, mobilising women, children and the elderly – the very groups likely to be excluded by armed struggle.

And, as Awad notes, non-violence also needs a people trained in its techniques and principles. That is why he has translated into Arabic the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

Political organisers and strategists like Awad have always topped Israel’s list for arrest. He was jailed and tortured at the start of the first intifada and later expelled to the US.

The power of disciplined non-violent resistance, he adds, is that it forces on the occupier a heavy burden: to “deal with our willingness to stand up for ourselves with nothing but our bodies and hearts”.

It forces Israelis to “choose what kind of people they are”, and creates division and dissent among the oppressor population, weakening its resolve.

It is a challenging message, especially when Israel is so ruthlessly crushing Palestinian hope and dignity. But Awad argues that it is precisely by demonstrating an irrepressible humanity that Palestinians can again discover hope, reclaim their dignity and win freedom.

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). Read other articles by Jonathan, or visit Jonathan's website.

November 12: Forget Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day Should Not Be Used for Indoctrination of Young Minds

by Kim Petersen  - Dissident Voice

November 11th, 2015

As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead trying to kill me.

They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are only doing their duty, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life. On the other hand, if one of them succeeds in blowing me to pieces with a well-placed bomb, he will never sleep any worse for it. He is serving his country, which has the power to absolve him from evil. - George Orwell 1

War is necrophilia. And this necrophilia is central to soldiering, just as it is central to the makeup of suicide bombers and terrorists. The necrophilia is hidden under platitudes about duty or  comradeship. - Chris Hedges 2

My Chinese-born companion wanted to catch the latest news, so she tuned in to CBC. It was replete with Remembrance Day festivities and war veterans.

“Is this Canada?” she asked.

“Yes,” I answered.

Her next utterance caused me to grab a pen and write down her words: “They went to other countries to kill other peoples?”

“No one has attacked Canada, so Canada’s soldiers only go to other countries,” I replied.3

“And we are to remember them every year?” she asked.

The inanity of a holiday dedicated to willing, albeit unwitting, accomplices of empire was on my mind since yesterday.

I was at a school which was renamed after a man who likely is a war criminal: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After all, he was the president who ordered the internment of US citizens of Japanese descent in concentration camps and the commander-in-chief of a military that firebombed Tokyo.

That conflagration was called “the greatest single disaster incurred by any enemy in military history” by flight commander general Thomas Power.4

The US Strategic Bombing Survey went so far as to state that:

probably more persons lost their lives by fire at Tokyo in a 6-hour period than at any time in the history of man. People died from extreme heat, from oxygen deficiency, from carbon monoxide asphyxiation, from being trampled beneath the feet of stampeding crowds, and from drowning. The largest number of victims were the most vulnerable: women, children and the elderly.4

That such facts are a matter of history causes one to pause upon considering that an institute of learning is so named today.

The educator Noam Chomsky once made an acerbic comment about education: “Most schooling is just training for stupidity and conformity…”5

The events of 10 November brought this home to me. Roosevelt Elementary School held an assembly in the school gym. Students were informed that silence was expected on this solemn occasion. Near the front of the gym were seated a couple of veterans. Students sat on the floor, and teachers and parents were seated or standing around the gym’s perimeter.

A number of videos were presented. First there was a welcome from Indigenous educators and then came a Bryan Adam’s song, “Remembrance Day.” He calls it, WWII, a “bloody war” but the video features several images of violence.

The warring is updated to Canada’s participation in the aggression (what the Nuremberg Tribunal deemed “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”6 ) of Afghanistan with a simple ditty by a band that I had never heard of before, the Trews: “Highway of Heroes.”

In contrast to Bryan Adams’ “promise of glory” rationale for fighting —

For our king and our country and the promise of glory
We came from Kingston and Brighton to fight on the front line

— the Trews sing:

I served with distinction,
No visions of glory.
I served without question,
Or personal gain.
Seek no justification,
Its not part of my story.

To serve without question? Is this what schools would like to impart to young minds? Isn’t questioning integral to learning?

Who is a hero? Is going to fight another non-threatening country something that should be accepted?7

The usual reading of “In Flanders Fields,” observing two-minutes of silence, as well as the playing of the Canadian anthem were part of the agenda. The entire assembly was one of conformity. For any student to have demurred, it would likeliest have been labeled as disobedience. (Should instilling obedience be part of schooling?) Shouldn’t such heavy topics such as war and peace be discussed in classes? Are not contemplation, reflection, and forming one’s own conclusions part of becoming an independent thinker?

In 1931, Canada’s parliament changed the name of Armistice (referring to warring parties reaching agreement to cease hostilities) Day to Remembrance (remembrance for those serving Canada during times of war, conflict, and peace) Day. The change of title reflects a shift in emphasis from ending warring to serving in the warring. But is not society better served by a day more so dedicated to promoting universal peace and an end to all warring?

All Canadian involvement in wars have been wars of choice. That is something to remember and act upon.

No more should humans pick up weapons to use against other humans. Is this mindset, however, achievable when soldiers are venerated by society thus conferring a veneer of respectability to a profession which teaches killing?

Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Kim.

    “The Lion and the Unicorn.” [↩]
    War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, (New York: PublicAffairs, 2002): 165. [↩]
    Of course I refer only to the state of Canada which was erected on the genocide and dispossession of the Original Peoples. [↩]
    See Mark Selden, “A Forgotten Holocaust: US Bombing Strategy, the Destruction of Japanese Cities & the American Way of War from World War II to Iraq,” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. [↩] [↩]
    See “Most Schooling Is Training for Stupidity and Conformity – Noam Chomsky on Education.” [↩]
    See Nuremberg Tribunal, “Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Volume 22,” Monday, 30 September 1946, Avalon Project. [↩]
    BJ Sabri and I explore the question of whether soldiers are “heroes” or undiscerning, paid killers? See “American Violence in Iraq: Necrophilia or Savagery?Part 3: King Frederick’s and George Bush’s Troops,” Dissident Voice, 1 September 2005. [↩]

"Worst Business Move in History" Balsillie Weighs in on TPP

Balsillie blasts TPP and parties in Parliament

by Peter Ewart - 250 News

November 12, 2015

Prince George, B.C. – Jim Balsillie, former co-director of the high tech firm Research In Motion (RIM), has issued some stinging words regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal which the Harper government signed on to before being voted out of office.

According to Balsillie, signing the TPP will be “the worst public policy decision in the country’s history” and result in Canada losing hundreds of billions of dollars. The TPP enshrines bad and discriminatory rules for Canada regarding intellectual property, and will stifle innovation in the country, making Canada a “permanent underclass in the selling of ideas” (1).

In particular, if the new Liberal government decides to go ahead with the TPP, Canadian innovators will be forced to play by U.S. defined rules, giving U.S. companies an edge and costing Canadian companies “more money because they would have to pay for someone else’s ideas instead of their own.”

He further argues that our trade negotiators “have profoundly failed Canadians and our future innovators” and allowed us to be systemically encircled by the Americans. In Basillie’s view, we needed a more sophisticated negotiating team, but the Canadian government didn’t dispatch one.

Simply put, he says, “we’ve been outfoxed.”

These comments follow others that Balsillie has made on the issue of innovation in Canada. According to him, all three main parties – Conservatives, Liberals and NDP – have failed in terms of developing strategies to foster innovation in terms of technology, inventions and ideas.

“Canada must establish its own rules for innovation,” he says, “rather than allowing others to tell us what to do.”

Unfortunately, of those innovative companies that have been able to develop, it seems they have only done so in spite of government policy, which remains stuck in old models of innovation that are not consistent with the times.

According to Balsillie, the TPP seems more focused on “potential resource markets than on writing new rules that will allow Canadian high-tech firms to commercialize emerging technologies.”

This latter comment is of particular interest. Is the sharp decline in Canadian manufacturing over the last dozen years, as well as the stagnation of research & development and the neglect of science, a harbinger of things to come regarding the Canadian economy?

With the TPP and other trade deals, is Canada being relegated to the status of a natural resource warehouse for North American and global corporate interests? One that is reduced to exporting raw or semi-processed materials and has no manufacturing or high tech sector to speak of?

If so, the implications are huge for Canadians, their jobs, and our future as a sovereign country.

Peter Ewart is a columnist and writer based in Prince George, British Columbia. He can be reached at:

Rapist in Blue: Police Sexual Assault

Rapists in Blue: Sexual Assault by Police

by Debra Loevy  - CounterPunch

When the police stop you, they have the authority. We are taught to obey their commands. When officers say to show your driver’s license and registration, you hand them over. They say to put your hands where they can see them, you hold the steering wheel. And we’re taught that we can rely on police officers to help us when we need assistance – they’re the ones you’re supposed to call when you need help. But sometimes, officers seriously abuse that trust and authority. One awful abuse of police power is sexual assault by police officers.

The AP just released a report about sexual assault by police officers after studying records from 41 states, spanning from 2009 through 2014. The AP looked at nearly 9,000 cases in which officers lost their law enforcement certification and found that about 1,000 of those officers were decertified for committing: sexual assault, sex crimes like possessing child pornography, or misconduct that ranged from propositioning citizens to on-duty sexual intercourse.

Although the AP study is informative, it acknowledges that it vastly undercounts the actual number of police officers committing sexual misconduct while on duty. This is because many states simply fail to keep sufficient track of dirty officers, while others lack a decertification process.

Our law firm, Loevy & Loevy, has represented many brave people who had the courage to speak out about sexual assault by police officers. These cases give you a sense of the breadth of the problem, so I’ll tell you about a few of them:

  • A woman accepted a ride home from two Chicago police officers, who were both in uniform and driving a marked police car. The woman reluctantly allowed the officers to escort her into her apartment. One officer raped her, while the other took photos on his cell phone. 
  • A young woman from Milwaukee called 911 to report someone throwing a brick through her window, and one of the responding officers raped her. When she ran screaming from the house that she had been raped, she was falsely charged with assaulting an officer. Although the local district attorney declined to prosecute the cop, after a federal investigation, the officer was tried and convicted.
  • A young woman in Nebraska was pressured into performing oral sex on the officer after he found marijuana in her boyfriend’s car. The officer threatened her with arrest and criminal charges if she did not obey his commands. When questioned about the incident, the officer lied and claimed he was elsewhere, but the GPS system in his cruiser revealed the lie.
  • A teenage boy was brutally sodomized by a police officer during what was supposed to be a search for drugs. Medical records supported the boy’s claim, and a jury found in his favor.

Sexual misconduct by police is prevalent, as demonstrated in the AP report. But, as is often the case with sexual assault, these horrible offenses are frequently swept under the rug. There is no consistent system for tracking sexual assault by police officers, so rapist-cops can sometimes just job hop to continue their violent abuse of power.

In at least a half dozen states – including California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts – police officers are not decertified when they commit sexual misconduct. In other words, they might be fired for coercing sexual favors from a suspect, but they remain certified police officers who can simply look for a job on another police force.

And they are often fired using euphemisms like “conduct unbecoming an officer,” so their sexual misconduct is never tallied or counted. In about twenty states, officers are only decertified after a criminal conviction, which is extremely rare. So, most of the time, the cop is permitted to just quietly resign due to sexual misconduct, and he remains certified to seek a law enforcement job elsewhere.

Sexual assault by police officers is a serious issue crying out for solutions. Starting with the most obvious, police officers should have license requirements and be banned from licensure for certain type of prior misconduct, like other professionals in positions of public trust such as doctors and teachers. Until then, all police departments should be required to participate in a national decertification registry to track officers who are decertified and the reason for the decertification.

It is time for police departments to abandon complicit codes of silence about police misconduct. The fact that many refuse to do so regarding such an obvious abuse of police power speaks volumes about the need to reform police departments at all levels.

Debra Loevy graduated cum laude from University of Michigan Law School in 1995. She has extensive experience addressing poverty law issues and criminal defense appeals. She is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Illinois Supreme Court, and multiple courts of appeal and district courts.
More articles by:Debra Loevy

$camerica: The Way of War in the 21st Century

It’s a $cam! The American Way of War in the Twenty-First Century

by Tom Engelhardt  - TomDispatch

Let’s begin with the $12 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills, Iraqi oil money held in the U.S. The Bush administration began flying it into Baghdad on C-130s soon after U.S. troops entered that city in April 2003. Essentially dumped into the void that had once been the Iraqi state, at least $1.2 to $1.6 billion of it was stolen and ended up years later in a mysterious bunker in Lebanon.

And that’s just what happened as the starting gun went off.

It’s never ended. In 2011, the final report of the congressionally mandated Commission on Wartime Contracting estimated that somewhere between $31 billion and $60 billion taxpayer dollars had been lost to fraud and waste in the American “reconstruction” of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Iraq, for instance, there was that $75 million police academy, initially hailed “as crucial to U.S. efforts to prepare Iraqis to take control of the country's security.” It was, however, so poorly constructed that it proved a health hazard. In 2006, “feces and urine rained from the ceilings in [its] student barracks” and that was only the beginning of its problems.

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It’s a $cam! The American Way of

War in the Twenty-First Century

by Tom Engelhardt

When the bad press started, Parsons Corporation, the private contractor that built it, agreed to fix it for nothing more than the princely sum already paid. A year later, a New York Times reporter visited and found that “the ceilings are still stained with excrement, parts of the structures are crumbling, and sections of the buildings are unusable because the toilets are filthy and nonfunctioning.” This seems to have been par for the course. Typically enough, the Khan Bani Saad Correctional Facility, a $40 million prison Parsons also contracted to build, was never even finished.

And these were hardly isolated cases or problems specific to Iraq. Consider, for instance, those police stations in Afghanistan believed to be crucial to “standing up” a new security force in that country. Despite the money poured into them and endless cost overruns, many were either never completed or never built, leaving new Afghan police recruits camping out. And the police were hardly alone. Take the $3.4 million unfinished teacher-training center in Sheberghan, Afghanistan, that an Iraqi company was contracted to build (using, of course, American dollars) and from which it walked away, money in hand.

And why stick to buildings, when there were those Iraqi roads to nowhere paid for by American dollars? At least one of them did at least prove useful to insurgent groups moving their guerrillas around (like the $37 million bridge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built between Afghanistan and Tajikistan that helped facilitate the region's booming drug trade in opium and heroin). In Afghanistan, Highway 1 between the capital Kabul and the southern city of Kandahar, unofficially dubbed the “highway to nowhere,” was so poorly constructed that it began crumbling in its first Afghan winter.

And don’t think that this was an aberration. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) hired an American nonprofit, International Relief and Development (IRD), to oversee an ambitious road-building program meant to gain the support of rural villagers. Almost $300 million later, it could point to “less than 100 miles of gravel road completed.” Each mile of road had, by then, cost U.S. taxpayers $2.8 million, instead of the expected $290,000, while a quarter of the road-building funds reportedly went directly to IRD for administrative and staff costs. Needless to say, as the road program failed, USAID hired IRD to oversee other non-transportation projects.

In these years, the cost of reconstruction never stopped growing. In 2011, McClatchy News reported that “U.S. government funding for at least 15 large-scale programs and projects grew from just over $1 billion to nearly $3 billion despite the government's questions about their effectiveness or cost.”

The Gas Station to Nowhere

So much construction and reconstruction -- and so many failures. There was the chicken-processing plant built in Iraq for $2.58 million that, except in a few Potemkin-Village-like moments, never plucked a chicken and sent it to market. There was the sparkling new, 64,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, $25 million headquarters for the U.S. military in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, that doubled in cost as it was being built and that three generals tried to stop. They were overruled because Congress had already allotted the money for it, so why not spend it, even though it would never be used? And don’t forget the $20 million that went into constructing roads and utilities for the base that was to hold it, or the $8.4 billion that went into Afghan opium-poppy-suppression and anti-drug programs and resulted in... bumper poppy crops and record opium yields, or the aid funds that somehow made their way directly into the hands of the Taliban (reputedly its second-largest funding source after those poppies).

There were the billions of dollars in aid that no one could account for, and a significant percentage of the 465,000 small arms (rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, and the like) that the U.S. shipped to Afghanistan and simply lost track of. Most recently, there was the Task Force for Business Stability Operations, an $800-million Pentagon project to help jump-start the Afghan economy. It was shut down only six months ago and yet, in response to requests from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the Pentagon swears that there are “no Defense Department personnel who can answer questions about” what the task force did with its money. As ProPublica’s Megan McCloskey writes, “The Pentagon’s claims are particularly surprising since Joseph Catalino, the former acting director of the task force who was with the program for two years, is still employed by the Pentagon as Senior Advisor for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism."

Still, from that pile of unaccountable taxpayer dollars, one nearly $43 million chunk did prove traceable to a single project: the building of a compressed natural gas station. (The cost of constructing a similar gas station in neighboring Pakistan: $300,000.) Located in an area that seems to have had no infrastructure for delivering natural gas and no cars converted for the use of such fuel, it represented the only example on record in those years of a gas station to nowhere.

All of this just scratches the surface when it comes to the piles of money that were poured into an increasingly privatized version of the American way of war and, in the form of overcharges and abuses of every sort, often simply disappeared into the pockets of the warrior corporations that entered America’s war zones. In a sense, a surprising amount of the money that the Pentagon and U.S. civilian agencies “invested” in Iraq and Afghanistan never left the United States, since it went directly into the coffers of those companies.

Clearly, Washington had gone to war like a drunk on a bender, while the domestic infrastructure began to fray. At $109 billion by 2014, the American reconstruction program in Afghanistan was already, in today's dollars, larger than the Marshall Plan (which helped put all of devastated Western Europe back on its feet after World War II) and still the country was a shambles. In Iraq, a mere $60 billion was squandered on the failed rebuilding of the country. Keep in mind that none of this takes into account the staggering billions spent by the Pentagon in both countries to build strings of bases, ranging in size from American towns (with all the amenities of home) to tiny outposts. There would be 505 of them in Iraq and at least 550 in Afghanistan. Most were, in the end, abandoned, dismantled, or sometimes simply looted. And don’t forget the vast quantities of fuel imported into Afghanistan to run the U.S. military machine in those years, some of which was siphoned off by American soldiers, to the tune of at least $15 million, and sold to local Afghans on the sly.

In other words, in the post-9/11 years, “reconstruction” and “war” have really been euphemisms for what, in other countries, we would recognize as a massive system of corruption.

And let’s not forget another kind of “reconstruction” then underway. In both countries, the U.S. was creating enormous militaries and police forces essentially from scratch to the tune of at least $25 billion in Iraq and $65 billion in Afghanistan. What’s striking about both of these security forces, once constructed, is how similar they turned out to be to those police academies, the unfinished schools, and that natural gas station. It can’t be purely coincidental that both of the forces Americans proudly “stood up” have turned out to be the definition of corrupt: that is, they were filled not just with genuine recruits but with serried ranks of “ghost personnel.”

In June 2014, after whole divisions of the Iraqi army collapsed and fled before modest numbers of Islamic State militants, abandoning much of their weaponry and equipment, it became clear that they had been significantly smaller in reality than on paper. And no wonder, as that army had enlisted 50,000 “ghost soldiers” (who existed only on paper and whose salaries were lining the pockets of commanders and others). In Afghanistan, the U.S. is still evidently helping to pay for similarly stunning numbers of phantom personnel, though no specific figures are available. (In 2009, an estimated more than 25% of the police force consisted of such ghosts.) As John Sopko, the U.S. inspector general for Afghanistan, warned last June: "We are paying a lot of money for ghosts in Afghanistan... whether they are ghost teachers, ghost doctors or ghost policeman or ghost soldiers."

And lest you imagine that the U.S. military has learned its lesson, rest assured that it’s still quite capable of producing nonexistent proxy forces. Take the Pentagon-CIA program to train thousands of carefully vetted “moderate” Syrian rebels, equip them, arm them, and put them in the field to fight the Islamic State. Congress ponied up $500 million for it, $384 million of which was spent before that project was shut down as an abject failure. By then, less than 200 American-backed rebels had been trained and even less put into the field in Syria -- and they were almost instantly kidnapped or killed, or they simply handed over their equipment to the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front. At one point, according to the congressional testimony of the top American commander in the Middle East, only four or five American-produced rebels were left “in the field.” The cost-per-rebel sent into Syria, by the way, is now estimated at approximately $2 million.

A final footnote: the general who oversaw this program is, according to the New York Times, still a “rising star” in the Pentagon and in line for a promotion.


You’ve just revisited the privatized, twenty-first-century version of the American way of war, which proved to be a smorgasbord of scandal, mismanagement, and corruption as far as the eye could see. In the tradition of Watergate, perhaps the whole system could be dubbed Profli-gate, since American war making across the Greater Middle East has represented perhaps the most profligate and least effective use of funds in the history of modern warfare. In fact, here’s a word not usually associated with the U.S. military: the war system of this era seems to function remarkably like a monumental scam, a swindle, a fraud.

The evidence is in: the U.S. military can win battles, but not a war, not even against minimally armed minority insurgencies; it can “stand up” foreign militaries, but only if they are filled with phantom feet and if the forces themselves are as hollow as tombs; it can pour funds into the reconstruction of countries, a process guaranteed to leave them more prostrate than before; it can bomb, missile, and drone-kill significant numbers of terrorists and other enemies, even as their terror outfits and insurgent movements continue to grow stronger under the shadow of American air power. Fourteen years and five failed states later in the Greater Middle East, all of that seems irrefutable.

And here’s something else irrefutable: amid the defeats, corruption, and disappointments, there lurks a kind of success. After all, every disaster in which the U.S. military takes part only brings more bounty to the Pentagon. Domestically, every failure results in calls for yet more military interventions around the world. As a result, the military is so much bigger and better funded than it was on September 10, 2001. The commanders who led our forces into such failures have repeatedly been rewarded and much of the top brass, civilian and military, though they should have retired in shame, have taken ever more golden parachutes into the lucrative worlds of defense contractors, lobbyists, and consultancies.

All of this couldn’t be more obvious, though it’s seldom said. In short, there turns out to be much good fortune in the disaster business, a fact which gives the whole process the look of a classic swindle in which the patsies lose their shirts but the scam artists make out like bandits.

Add in one more thing: these days, the only part of the state held in great esteem by conservatives and the present batch of Republican presidential candidates is the U.S. military. All of them, with the exception of Rand Paul, swear that on entering the Oval Office they will let that military loose, sending in more troops, or special ops forces, or air power, and funding the various services even more lavishly; all of this despite overwhelming evidence that the U.S. military is incapable of spending a dollar responsibly or effectively monitoring what it's done with the taxpayer funds in its possession. (If you don’t believe me, forget everything in this piece and just check out the finances of the most expensive weapons system in history, the F-35 Lightning II, which should really be redubbed the F-35 Overrun for its madly spiraling costs.)

But no matter. If a system works (particularly for those in it), why change it? And by the way, in case you’re looking for a genuine steal, I have a fabulous gas station in Afghanistan to sell you...
Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

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