Saturday, October 13, 2012

Class War and Political Fraud

"Political Fraud"

by ClassWarFilms

End of the Patriarchs: Not a Second, but a "Be-Coming"


by Betty Krawzcyk - Betty's Early Edition

Two women have captured my heart in the last few days, Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan and the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. I’m sure that most of you have heard about Malaya. She is only fourteen years old. She lies in a medical induced coma trying to survive gunshot wounds to the head and neck. She was shot point blank by the Taliban because she attended school and spoke out for the rights of other girls to attend school. If she lives, the Taliban has promised to try to murder her again. The bright spot in this, if there is one, is that Malala’s family is supporting her and her actions against the murderous threats of the Taliban. Another bright spot occurred in the Australian parliament recently. Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave the most passionate speech condemning misogyny in government I have ever heard. Check out Gillard’s speech attacking Tony Abbott (opposition) for his sexist actions and remarks in government on Youtube if you haven’t already. Julia Gillard is spell binding. The video has gone viral.

BC MP Elizabeth May and Premier Pauline Marois of Quebec are two Canadian women leaders trying to move governments to embrace a more egalitarian value system. Their efforts to increase respect for women, kids and the environment are of course severely hampered by our prime minister who belongs to a Christian evangelical fundamentalist church. The pastor and congregation of this church are heavily steeped in Biblical prophecy which they take literally. In my view this in turn fosters the belief that it doesn’t matter much about the environment anyway, or the needs of the poor, who are primarily women and children because it’s all going to end soon as we are in the End Times . According to scripture the End Times precedes the Second Coming of Christ.

Mary Daly, international Catholic theologian. Philosopher and feminist (she died two years ago) suggested in her book “Beyond God the Father” that the Second Coming so anticipated by Christian fundamentalists might be hugely surprised when it gets here. Daly suggests the Second Coming is really the “Be-Coming” of women in leadership roles demanding equality for all humans along with care for the environment. In other words, Daly thinks women will bring the end of patrarichary. In the meantime we have male Conservative politicians who are trying to bring back the debate on when life begins, which is of course, the angle they hope might eventually outlaw abortion. The question of when life begins for a single human egg is still fuzzy, but one thing is becoming clearer all the time, and that is how, when and where the first truly human person (Homo sapiens sapiens) was born.

Homo means man, of course, and Homo sapiens sapiens means thinking man (to differentiate modern humans from Neanderthal types). When these words are strung together they mean the human man, hence the term mankind. Women are supposed to be included in this description. The thought and image of women as subordinate to the male simply became part of religious thinking which eventually turned into civil law in Europe. Remember Adam and Eve? This myth is deeply embedded in at least half of the world’s brains, both male and female. But the entire world is going to have to rethink this Biblical myth, and other creation stories, because according to the geneticists at University of California, Berkeley, when Eve was born there was no Adam.

The very first Homo sapiens sapiens wasn’t a guy at all…she was a baby girl. And she was a mutant, so to speak. That is, she mutated in her mother’s womb to become the first truly human being, one that differentiated her from all the other man-apes (and women-apes). According to these geneticists this happened approximately two hundred thousand years ago in Africa and all of the humans on earth today are descended from this first human female child. But after the rise of patriarchy female children were treated brutally as property of the men; this is still happening in many countries. Let us center our minds and hearts on the life and death struggle our little sister and daughter Malala Yousafzai is waging. More later about how and when the geneticists made this discovery of the first human.

Oh, and this video was just sent to me from Silver Donald Cameron. Check it out, too, if you have time.

Free Speech, Free Salmon: Staniford's Fish Farm Victory

Rafe Mair's Landmark Free Speech Case Credited in Salmon Activist Staniford's Victory

by Damien Gillis - The

I was delighted to learn recently that my good friend and colleague, leading salmon farming critic Don Staniford, won a major victory in the BC Supreme Court over the aquaculture industry - in large part thanks to an important legal precedent established by another good friend and colleague, Rafe Mair.

According to an opinion piece by Andrew Gage of West Coast Environmental Law, it was Rafe's landmark victory at the Supreme Court of Canada a decade ago that formed the basis of Don's victory in a defamation case brought against him last year by Mainstream Canada (the local arm of Norwegian global aquaculture giant Cermaq). At issue was a campaign the globetrotting British activist Staniford created comparing the salmon farming industry with Big Tobacco.

In his analysis of the case and judge's ruling in favour of Staniford, announced two weeks ago, environmental law expert Andrew Gage explains how the precedent set by Mair's victory in an unrelated defamation suit from his days on the radio at CKNW helped get Don off the hook today:

Don won because the Supreme Court of Canada has recently expanded the “defence of fair comment” in a case known as WIC Radio Ltd. v. Simpson. That case was a defamation suit against BC’s own Rafe Mair for comments that he made comparing a speech made by Kari Simpson on homosexuality to speeches made by Hitler and U.S. segregation era politicians. The Supreme Court of Canada allowed Rafe’s appeal, and in doing so, said that individuals who express honestly held opinions – as long as they are clearly opinions and not claims of fact – cannot be found guilty of defamation. The Supreme Court says that the defence applies where:

(a) the comment must be on a matter of public interest;

(b) the comment must be based on fact;

(c) the comment, though it can include inferences of fact, must be recognisable as comment;

(d) the comment must satisfy the following objective test: could any [person] honestly express that opinion on the proved facts?

(e) even though the comment satisfies the objective test the defence can be defeated if the plaintiff proves that the defendant was [subjectively] actuated by express malice.

Don’s case is the first defamation case that we’re aware of involving defamation by an environmental activist since the Supreme Court’s decision in WIC Radio, and Adair J. found that Don’s cigarette packages satisfied all of these criteria. In doing so, she made a couple of findings which will protect environmentalists and others seeking to comment on high profile public issues.

As Gage alludes to above, the campaign created by Staniford that led to Mainstream's suit involved a series of cigarette package graphics - disseminated through his website, social media and print materials - containing images of the salmon farming industry and statements comparing it to the tobacco business. The essence of the comparison was more with regards to the industry's PR tactics and corporate behaviour than medical matters, though many of the graphics raised specific health impacts for marine life and humans from its operations and products.

Staniford and his lawyer David Sutherland characterized Mainstream's legal strategy as a SLAPP suit (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) - designed to shackle criticism of the company through the threat and reality of unwieldy legal costs. While Sutherland, acknowledged as one of the country's top media and free speech lawyers, worked pro bono or at a reduced rate for much of the case, Don's cause drew an outpouring of public support. In the end he raised $50,000 for his legal fund online, mostly through small donations, plus several other larger contributions from salmon fishermen's unions, Norwegian anti-aquaculture groups and NGOs like West Coast Environmental Law.

I've had the privilege of working alongside both Don and Rafe for a number of years, doing battle with the Norwegian aquaculture giants around the world - and am proud of their significant contributions both to this cause and to the protection of free speech.

My assessment of Cermaq/Mainstream's tactics in this case - apart from the legal dimensions, which are not my province - is that this Norwegian-Canadian Goliath allowed its own pride and bullying attitude to draw it into a battle it should never have waged.

Don had some valid points and he wasn't the first to make them - in fact, the genesis of his campaign concept was a comment made by mutual ally and aquaculture critic Otto Langer in a documentary Don and I produced together a few years ago, called "Farmed Salmon Exposed". In that film, the retired DFO senior scientist and manager equates the industry's choice to deny steadfastly the growing body of evidence of its environmental impacts with Big Tobacco's denial of health effects. But rather than agree to disagree with Don's campaign, rebutting it through their own PR machine (which they did in abundance), they had to go one step further and bully him through the courts.

They saw Don was financially vulnerable and decided to attack him with a vengeance.

But Don had many assets on his side they failed to see: overwhelming public goodwill stemming from years of frustration with the industry - which translated into tens of thousands of dollars for Don's legal fund - a skilled lawyer with a point to prove, and that little case won years ago at the Supreme Court by Rafe Mair.

In choosing to take this beef into the courts, Mainstream gambled and lost big time. Not only will they have to repay some of Staniford and Sutherland's legals costs as part of the court's judgement, but they suffered yet another black eye in the media.

As Andrew Gage asserts in his insightful post-mortem, Staniford's case is a "victory for free speech" and "give[s] environmentalists some comfort that they won’t be held liable for any controversial statement made about corporations." Yet it also underscores how heavily the legal process has become weighed toward corporations - and should prompt renewed discussion about tilting the balance more in the direction of free speech and social activism:

...the decision does nothing to address the broader problem of allowing large corporations with extremely deep pockets to drag their political opponents into court. The costs of going to court (and defamation cases are particularly expensive) are prohibitive for activists, but are a tax deductible expense for big companies. The result is an unequal playing field where those who speak out against environmental destruction risk being sued by deep-pocketed opponents.

Gage and Sutherland both offer solutions, including legislative changes to ban corporate lawsuits in defamation and specifically restricting SLAPP suits. Clearly, Don's case brings these concerns to the fore again and it's high time we had this discussion at the political level, instead of relying on costly courtroom battles to decide these matters one precedent at a time. For the moment, though, I offer a pat on the back to my two friends and colleagues, Don and Rafe, for their ongoing commitment to the environment and free speech. Both have the balls to take on Goliath and the skill to land one between the eyes every now and then.

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon.

E-U Named Peace Laureate 2012: Nobel Committee Tops Obama Prize Gaffe This Year

Why Europe Did Not Deserve a Nobel Peace Prize

by David Swanson - War is a Crime

Yes, indeed, it is a little-acknowledged feat of miraculous life-saving power that Europe has not gone to war with itself -- other than that whole Yugoslavia thing -- since World War II. It's as clear a demonstration as anything that people can choose to stop fighting. It's a testament to the pre-war peace efforts that criminalized war, the post-war prosecutions of the brand new crime of making war, the reconstruction of the Marshall Plan, and ... and something else a little less noble, and much less Nobel-worthy.

Alfred Nobel's will, written in 1895, left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." Fredrik Heffermehl has been leading a valuable effort to compel the Nobel committee to abide by the will. Now they've outdone themselves in their movement in the other direction.

Europe is not a person. It has not during the past year -- which is the requirement -- or even during the past several decades done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations. Ask Libya. Ask Syria. Check with Afghanistan. See what Iraq thinks. Far from doing the best work to abolish or reduce standing armies, Europe has joined with the United States in developing an armed global force aggressively imposing its will on the world.

There were good nominees and potential nominees available, even great ones.

Now the Nobelites have almost guaranteed themselves a second-ever pro-war peace-prize acceptance speech. If you don't recall who gave the first one, I'll tell you after the U.S. election when you might be better able to hear me.

What a disgrace that the Nobel peace prize needs alternative awards that don't go to warmongers. What a further shame that even those don't always go to people who measure up to Nobel's will.

Was Nobel asking so much really when he asked that a prize go to whoever did the best work toward abolishing war?

The West is so in love with itself that many will imagine this award a success. Surely Europe not going to war with itself is more important that Europe going to war with the rest of the world! Imagine how many white people might have died if Europe had kept its warmaking to itself. By directing the threat of war outward and engaging in humanitarian wars and philanthropic wars, Europe has taken us beyond naive war abolition and into an era of powerful possibilities. Oh, and some dark people died. But we're looking at the Big Picture.

Does this not frighten anyone?

Continentalist Push Continues in New North America

New Border Regime is Taking the U.S.-Canada Partnership to the Next Level

by Dana Gabriel via Dissident Voice

The Beyond the Border deal announced in December 2011 represents the most significant step forward in U.S.-Canada cooperation since NAFTA. Dual action plans are further transforming trade, regulatory and security relations between both countries. Over the next few years, various cross-border initiatives will be rolled out, with some beginning as pilot programs. The U.S. and Canada have laid the framework for a new border regime which is taking their partnership to the next level and pushing the continent closer to a fully integrated North America security perimeter.

The Department of Homeland Security and Canada Border Services Agency recently announced the Phase I pilot of the Entry/Exit program which is part of the Beyond the Border action plan. It will include collecting and exchanging biographic information of third-country nationals, permanent residents of Canada, and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. at four selected land border ports of entry. A fact sheet stressed how this, “is an important step as both countries move towards a coordinated entry/exit system that will strengthen border and immigration programs, support law enforcement, and accelerate the legitimate flow of people and goods into Canada and the United States and across our common border.” The Canadian government is also advancing plans to use biometrics for immigration and border security that would bring them in line with the U.S. and other countries. The perimeter security agreement called for implementing, “systematic and automated biographic information-sharing capability by 2013 and biometric information-sharing capability by 2014.” A North American biometric identification system could be used to restrict, track and trace our movements.

On October 4, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Transport Canada officials announced the extension of the expedited screening initiative, TSA Pre✓™ which will now include lanes for Canadian NEXUS members at 27 participating U.S. airports. Canadian Minister of State For Transport Steven Fletcher explained that, “The Government of Canada and the United States are delivering on commitments to include Canadian NEXUS members in designated TSA Pre✓™ lanes as part of the Beyond the Border Action Plan.” He went on to say, “This will mean smarter and faster air travel for Canadian NEXUS members traveling within the U.S., while maintaining a high level of aviation security.” TSA Administrator John Pistole acknowledged that, “The inclusion of Canadian NEXUS members in TSA Pre✓™ is an important step in further harmonizing the security screening process between the U.S. and Canada.” Under NEXUS, pre-screened travelers are granted expedited access across the border, by air, land or sea. As part of the perimeter security deal, both countries are expanding and integrating trusted traveler programs.

The Next-Generation pilot project which would permit U.S. agents on Canadian soil is on hold while legal issues are being resolved. The security perimeter agreement stated that both countries would, “create integrated teams in areas such as intelligence and criminal investigations, and an intelligence-led uniformed presence between ports of entry.” The plan which is a land-based version of the Shiprider program was scheduled to be deployed this summer. Allowing U.S. agents to cross the border and pursue suspects into Canada poses a threat to sovereignty and could infringe on personal privacy laws. The pilot project is part of the process of acclimating U.S. policing activities in Canada and could later be expanded.

Last month, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency established a pre-clearance initiative pilot project on import re-inspection activities for fresh meat. This is tied to the Beyond the Border deal and is aimed at streamlining meat inspections at the U.S.-Canada border. Just as the joint program was being rolled out, XL Foods in Alberta, Canada announced a massive recall of meat products due to E. coli contamination. This came on the heels of a letter from the Safe Food Coalition to the USDA citing concerns that food safety could be compromised and requesting that the border inspection pilot be halted. Some of the potential tainted meat could have been shipped to at least eight U.S. states. In a press statement, the Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, Wenonah Hauter pointed out that, “the Obama Administration and the Harper Government in Canada have been plotting to eliminate the very border inspection program that tipped off authorities that there was a major problem brewing with the products originating from the XL plant.” Plans to further deregulate food safety inspections could lead to more trouble in the future.

In September, Transport Canada and the United States Coast Guard launched a pilot project that will include joint Port State Control inspections of non-Canadian and non-U.S. flagged vessels in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway. Rear Adm. Mike Parks, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District described how, “This initiative is in keeping with President Obama’s and Prime Minister Harper’s Beyond the Border Perimeter Security Initiative protecting the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway region, which provides common access to the heart of North America. Our goal is to make vessel inspections more efficient and facilitate American and Canadian business on both sides of our shared border.” The program is outlined in the Regulatory Cooperation Council action plan and establishes a, “safety and security framework for the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway that will align the two countries’ regulatory requirements. This pilot project will look for efficiencies in order to reduce duplicate inspections and impediments to trade.” When completed, recommendations will be made on whether to form a permanent binational foreign vessel inspection program.

NAFTA partners, in conjunction with multinational corporations and influential think tanks are pushing for deeper North American integration. As far as the upcoming U.S. election goes, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both committed globalists and have no intentions of upholding the constitution or protecting what is left of American sovereignty. The notion of real choice is now even more of an illusion. Minus the Democrat and Republican rhetoric, it’s essentially the same policies, same agenda, and the same team. It doesn’t matter who wins the presidency, the path towards a North American Union will continue.


Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues. Contact: Read other articles by Dana, or visit Dana's website.

US/Israel Recognize Iran Far from Bomb - Sanctions Screw Still Tightens

US and Israel Recognize Iran Not Near a Bomb 


In spite evidence Iran directing much of its supply of 20% enriched uranium for scientific purposes, “killer” sanctions continue

Gareth Porter is a historian and investigative journalist on US foreign and military policy analyst. He writes regularly for Inter Press Service on US policy towards Iraq and Iran. Author of four books, the latest of which is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam.

Watch full multipart The Porter Report

Friday, October 12, 2012

Resistencia Doc Shorted for Cuban Hat Contest


BOOM! Resistencia is a Semi-Finalist in the Cuban Hat Contest

by Jesse Freeston

Hey! If you haven't heard, I'm making a film. Check out the trailer.

It's called Resistencia, it's about the farmers of Honduras' Aguan Valley who have been occupying 8,000 acres of palm oil plantations for almost three years, ever since a military coup overthrew the only president that ever supported them. Sixty members and supporters of this occupation have been killed over this period, yet the the farmers are still there, and we need to get their story out ASAP. The Aguan should be as well known as Tahrir Square.

This film, which is being produced by Productions Multi-Monde, is still in the process of being made, and as such, is battling for financing and exposure with other projects. Earlier this year, we successfully raised more than $20,000 over a one-month crowdfunding campaign.

And now, it has just been named a semi-finalist in the Cuban Hat Pitch Contest.

You can check out my pitch video as well as those of the 12 other semi-finalists, and then take a minute and 35 seconds to cast your vote. The top five will get to do their pitch in front of industry leaders at the Montreal International Documentary Film Festival next month in a competition for prizes and exposure.

Two Quick Things On Voting:

1. Once you vote, a confirmation email will be sent to your account, you have to open it and click on the link, otherwise your vote won't be counted.

2. While voting, it will ask you to 'pledge' a donation for the Cuban Hat. This is not mandatory, you can leave it blank if you wish. That said, this is a pretty awesome project, so if you did want to throw something in the cap, you wouldn't be sinning.

If you don't wanna vote for Resistencia, that's okay. Lucky for you it's a secret ballot. In this case, please vote for either Lia Tarachansky's Seven Deadly Myths or Stefan Verna's Nomad's Land. Both are fantastic films by two people that inspire me on a daily basis. The ideal situation will be to see all three of us on stage for the finals in Montreal in November.

If you're into Resistencia. Don't be shy to spread the word on Facebook or whatever social gadget you prefer.

Wishing nothing but the best to you all. But wishing even better to those who GO VOTE.

Jesse Freeston.

PS - If you're in New York City. The Aguan farmers will be receiving an award this Wednesday Oct 10th recognizing their contribution to global Food Sovereignty. It will include a free concert from Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. Vitalino Alvarez, the farmer representative that was going to come receive the award was stopped by the Honduran government from leaving after they charged him with participating in an 'illegal protest' in front of the Supreme Court. So get out there on Wednesday and show your support if you can!

Turkey's Move to the Big Stage

Turkey’s Policies at a Crossroads: From Zero-Problems to a Heap of Trouble

by Ramzy Baroud

It seems that media consensus has been conclusively reached: Turkey has been forced into a Middle Eastern mess not of its own making; the ‘Zero Problems with Neighbors’ notion, once the foreign policy centerpiece of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), is all but a romantic notion of no use in realpolitik.

Turkey’s “policy’s goal – to build strong economic, political, and social ties with the country’s immediate neighbors while decreasing its dependency on the United States – seemed to be within sight,” wrote Sinan Ulgen nearly a year ago.

“But the Arab Spring exposed the policy’s vulnerabilities, and Turkey must now seek a new guiding principle for regional engagement.”

This reading was not entirely unique and was repeated numerous times henceforth. It suggests an air of naiveness in Turkish foreign policy and overlooks the country’s barely selfless regional ambitions. It also imagines that Turkey was caught in a series of unfortunate events, forcing its hand to act in ways inconsistent with its genuine policies of yesteryears. This, however, is not entirely true.

The recent skirmishes of Oct 4 at the Syrian-Turkish border were reportedly invited by mortar shells fired from the Syrian side. Five people including 3 children were killed and the incident was Turkey’s ‘last straw.’ Turkey’s Anatolia news agency reported of an official Syrian apology through the United Nations soon after the shelling and the Syrian government promised an investigation. However, their seriousness remains doubtful. But the Turkish military was quick to retaliate, as the parliament voted to extend a one-year mandate to the military in order carry out cross-border military action. Irrespective of the violence at the Syrian border, the mandate was originally aimed at Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq and it had already been set for a pre-scheduled vote in mid-October.

The peculiarly evolving episode seems unreal. Not long ago, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had, to the displeasure of Israel and the US, reached out to both Syria and Iran. He referred to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as his ‘brother’, knowing of the full political implications of that term. When Turkey voted against Iran sanctions at the United Nations in June 2010, ‘it provoked a crisis,” a Wall Street Journal article read. Later, Turkey quarreled with NATO over the missile-defense initiative, a system that is clearly aimed at Iran and Syria. “Turkey is becoming the Alliance's ‘opt-out’ member in operations in Muslim countries,” said the WSJ. These developments took place at the heels of the deadly Israeli military raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which carried mostly Turkish peace activists as part of a larger effort – The Gaza Freedom Flotilla – aimed at breaking the siege on Gaza. Israel killed 9 Turkish civilians and wounded many more on the Mavi Marmara.

Erdogan and other Turkish officials rose to the status of superstars among Arabs at the time when ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was himself complicit in the Gaza siege. Understandably, the AKP became a political model and the subject of endless academic and television debates. Turkey was the brand to beat even culturally and economically.

Internally, Erdogan and his party were credited for overseeing massive economic growth, and successfully reining in and eventually integrating the once insubordinate, coup-prone military leadership into a democratic system managed by elected civilians. Externally, Erdogan and his Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu helped rebrand and partly break the isolation of several Arab leaders, including Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi. (Turkish leaders must have been fully aware of the grievances of Arab peoples as they signed economic deals worth billions of dollars with the very dictators they helped oust.) Although Ankara’s spat with Tel Aviv didn’t translate into tangible change in Israeli or US policies towards Palestinians, a level of gratification permeated: At last, a country strong enough as Turkey had the courage to stand up to Israel’s intransigent and calculated insults.

Then Tunisia overthrew its president and Turkey’s foreign policy cards were mix-up like never before. If the US, France and other Western powers were inconsistent and self-contradicting in their stances on uprisings, revolutions and civil wars that struck the Middle East and North Africa in the last 18 months, Turkey’s foreign policy was particularly muddled.

Initially, Turkey responded to what seemed like distant affairs with good sound bites concerning people’s rights, justice and democracy. In Libya, the stakes were higher as NATO was hell-bent on determining the outcomes of Arab revolts whenever space allowed. Turkey was the last NATO member to sign onto the Libya war. The delay proved costly as Arab media that cheered for war seemed to target Turkey’s prized reputation and credibility.

When Syrians rebelled, Turkey was prepared. Its policy was aimed at taking early initiative by imposing its own sanctions on Damascus. It went even further as it turned a blind eye while its once well-guarded border area became awash with smugglers, foreign fighters, weapons and more. Aside from hosting the Syrian National Council (SNC), it also provided a safe haven for the Free Syrian Army that operated from the Turkish borders at will. While much of that was justified as righteous Turkish action to deter injustice, it was one of the primary reasons which made a political solution unattainable. It turned what eventually became a bloody and brutal conflict into a regional struggle. It allowed for Syrian territories to be used in a proxy conflict involving various countries, ideologies and political camps. Since Turkey is a NATO member, it meant that NATO was involved in the Syrian conflict, although in a more understated way than its war on Libya.

The Kurdish dimension to Turkey’s role in Syria is of course enormous. Less reported is that Turkey is industriously working to control any Kurdish backlash in Syria’s northeast region, thus doubling Turkey’s border conflict, which has been mostly confined to northern Iraq. Writing in Turkish Today’s Zaman, Abdullah Bozkurt spoke of "a high-stakes game plan for Turkey to control the fast-paced developments in northern Syria using the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in neighboring Iraq as a proxy force without getting directly involved in Syria." Moreover, Ankara has more discreetly worked to compel favorable policies by the SNC regarding the Kurdish question.

Bozkurt further reports that “Ankara has silently pushed SNC to elect an independent Kurd, Abdulbaset Sieda, in June as a compromise leader .. as a safeguard measure for Turkey to exert influence over some 1.5 million Kurds in Syria.”

Indeed, the so-called Arab Spring has partly confused and eventually helped realign Turkish foreign policy towards Arab countries, and even Iran. Turkey however was barely a passive player before or after the upheaval. The impression that Turkey has stood at the fence as competing agendas south of their border finally pushed Ankara to the brink, is both erroneous and misleading. Regardless of how Turkish politicians wish to formulate their involvement, there is no escaping that they have taken part in the war against Libya, and are now entangled, to some extent by choice, in the brutal mess in Syria.

The sad irony is that hours after Turkey’s retaliation to the Syrian fire, Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor told reporters in Paris that an attack on Turkey is an attack on NATO, an underhanded gesture of careful solidarity. He added, “If the Assad regime were to fall, it would be a vital strike on Iran.” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman could barely hide his excitement, for what the US neoconservatives failed to achieve, is now being done by proxy. Lieberman, hardly a visionary, predicted a 'Persian Spring' on the way that, he urged, must be supported. For Israel and the US, now that Turkey is on board, the possibilities are endless.

Ankara must reconsider its role in the deepening calamity, and devise more sensible policies. War should not be on the agenda. Too many people have died that way.

Ramzy Baroud ( is an internationally syndicated columnist and the editor of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London.)

What Some Ministers Say Jesus Would Do


At Last, the True Ministers of God Have Spoken-Hallelujah!

by William A. Cook

“Where are the Priests, the Rabbis, the Imams, the quiet Buddha monks, all who claim to love humankind? Why does silence reign? Whose voice are we afraid of? Where are the voices of our leaders…?” 

These are words I wrote in October of 2004 in an article titled “The Destructive Power of Faith: Killing for Christ.” At last, the true ministers of God have spoken and all the world should rejoice for they have spoken to “our leaders” in Congress, and they have demanded an investigation into the illegal and inhumane actions of the Israeli government against the Palestinians, actions that are done with impunity regardless of International Law, the laws of the United States, and certainly the teachings of the very Christ they worship.

Let us all rejoice!

"As Christian leaders in the United States, it is our moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional US financial assistance to the government of Israel. Realizing a just and lasting peace will require this accountability, as continued US military assistance to Israel -- offered without conditions or accountability -- will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories," the letter, signed by leaders of the Lutheran, Methodist, UCC churches, and the National Council of Churches, said.

Such breaking of the silence that has shrouded the devastation the Zionist governments of Israel have wrecked on the Palestinian people for the past 63 years lifts the pall of complicity from Christian denominations, forcing those absent from the letter to address the action sought by their brethren: remain silent in complicity of crimes alleged, crimes contrary to the teachings of Jesus, thus raising the specter that they do not believe in the teachings of Christ, or attempt to argue against the points raised and the action requested by sighting an image of Christ as a warrior God with a bloody sword held in his teeth as he brings chaos and death to human kind.

Needless to say, the Haspara forces have gone into overdrive. Mr. Foxman of the ADL called the request "a serious breach of trust by mainline Protestant Church leaders” participating in the annual interfaith meeting, which will be held on Oct. 22. “In light of the failure of any of the church leaders to reach out to us, we have decided not to attend this interfaith meeting,” Strange how speaking out against illegality, both in the means the Zionists have used to force our Congress to be complicit in their crimes and in their use of America’s military support against its own laws, becomes a “breach of trust.” More strange would be continued silence by Christ’s emissaries on this earth should they not speak out.

Foxman added what might be perceived as an even stranger damnation of the Christian leaders, “In light of the failure of any of the church leaders to reach out to us,” as though they were obligated to communicate their fears to the ADL before bringing them to their representatives in the US government. That’s how the Zionists have maintained complicity with our representatives; never speak negatively about Israel or face the consequences.

It will be interesting to see how our Ministers of War on the Evangelical Right, Christian Zionists they are called, react to their brethren who use Christ’s teachings to address the amoral behavior of the United States. What Old Testament orders from G-d Almighty can they bring to thwart the words of Christ, “Love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and mind and soul, and thy neighbor as thyself.”

But Foxman had not finished his castigation of the true ministers of God:

“The blatant lack of sensitivity by the Protestant dialogue partners we had been planning to meet with has seriously damaged the foundation for mutual respect, which is essential for meaningful interfaith dialogue.” 

One wonders how “interfaith dialogue” can occur when one of the participants wields the horrific power that Israel inflicts on its hapless neighbors, the Palestinian people, confiscating their lands, bulldozing their homes, shredding their deeds, dispossessing them of their aquifers, imprisoning them behind cement walls and chain link fences topped with rolled barbed wire garnished with electricity, the ultimate in friendly neighbors who have faith in a G-d that relishes genocide.

Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, these Ministers of God noted, indeed condemned justly, "a troubling and consistent pattern of disregard by the government of Israel for U.S. policies that support a just and lasting peace," citing Israel's failure to halt settlement activity despite repeated U.S. government requests.

This is indeed an unsettling reality recognized by our Christian leaders. They might have added that Israel has announced through its Likud Party Platform that it has no intentions of allowing the existence of a Palestinian State west of the Jordan. That statement alone confirms what the Ministers of God find “troubling.” Israel’s occupation now controls all but 12% of the original Mandate Palestine. And Netanyahu has asserted that there will not be negotiations for peace that begin with the 1967 borders. We all cry for peace but there can be no peace with minds cemented in war.

Let’s not be so kind as the Ministers of God who now speak the truth. Let’s draw up the bill of particulars that is hidden from the world, the subtext, the unsaid prayer no one in this American government wants revealed and certainly no one in Israel wants displayed publicly. What is the true nature of this state of Israel that commands the allegiance of the American people and is now seeking to enlist the governments of the world against its perceived “existential” enemy, Iran? (a passage taken from The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction)

* It is a state without mercy, a state without morals, a state premised on racism, a state built on deception and lies;

* a state defiant of international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Geneva Conventions that apply to occupying powers;

* a state, unlike North Korea or Iran, the other identified Axis of Evil states, that has invaded neighboring states and occupies them;

* a state, unlike all nations in the Mid-East, that possesses weapons of mass destruction, including hundreds of nuclear weapons, and refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty;

* a state that uses cluster bombs, white phosphorus, and other internationally banned weapons of warfare, not only against the innocent people of Lebanon, but also against the defenseless people of Palestine;

* a state that proclaims itself above the law as it executes individuals without arrest, without charges brought, without counsel, without habeas corpus, and without trial by jury;

* a state that imprisons over 10,000 Palestinians without charge and without due process;

* a state that tortures those it imprisons;

* a state that constructs a wall, in defiance of the International Court of Justice and the United Nations, that encircles the Palestinians with full intention of decimating their economy and hence their livelihood as well as their chance to create a state of their own, while inflicting a psychological humiliation that is inhumane and in defiance of every principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

* a state that has systematically confiscated, appropriated, annexed, and assimilated virtually all land belonging to the Palestinians in a sixty-year period of time, leaving them approximately 12/14 percent of their original land, making it the greatest visible land theft known to human kind in our day;

* a state whose laws protect a group that belongs to a religion and denies equality of citizenship to all others including the indigenous people of the land;

* a state that has defied more than 160 UNGA and 39 UNSC resolutions, demanding it act as a civilized state abiding by international law and protocol;

* a state that will not tolerate interference by the UN in its calculated genocide of the Palestinian people;

* a state that, through its Zionist supporters in America, particularly AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), influences U.S. policy in the Mid-East that has resulted in the unlawful invasion of Iraq and irrational economic and political procedures against Syria and Iran;

* a state that has convinced our Congress that it provide billions of dollars to ensure that the state of Israel continues this genocide of the Palestinian people;

* a state that proclaims itself a democracy but is not and, with malicious intent, confiscates the money belonging to a democratically elected government in Palestine and arrests their representatives without charge or trial;

* a state that proclaims peace but creates conditions that prevent peace;

* a state that, like the United States under Bush, has reached the nadir of the civilized state, a return to lawless barbarism inflicted on the weak by the strong, the imposition of the will of the few on the many;

* and, finally, in all brazen hypocrisy, a state that cries to the world that it is the victim of unspeakable cruelty and in constant peril of obliteration by forces within and without. And we wonder why the United States is castigated throughout the world when it supports this rogue state, this state without mercy.

Great is truth, sayeth the Prophet, and it shall prevail, if not for those now living perhaps for the dead who have suffered the consequence of this deceit; it is to them, “to the dead,” says Voltaire, “we owe only truth.”

Justice demands that Israel and the United Nations address the enormous inequities that exist in Palestine. There is no justice if the division of the land remains 86 percent to 12/14 percent when both populations are of approximately equal size, especially if the right of return is acted upon according to international law.

There is no justice if Israel remains the controlling power over a faux state that cannot manage its own affairs and control its own destiny.

There is no justice if Israel does not compensate those from whom they have stolen land and return to Palestine the natural resources it has commandeered.

There is no justice if a reconfiguration of the land is not achieved so that both peoples can move freely from one sector of their country to another.

There is no justice if the separation wall continues to imprison the Palestinians with its constant reminder that Israelis defied international law to impose their own and made visible the unacceptable attitude that one people has a right to psychologically and physically isolate others from communication with their neighbors or the world, a collective punishment that denies the very humanity of the people.

There is no justice if the status quo remains the day-to-day reality of the Palestinians, because that way is a slow, torturous route to sickness, psychological torture, deprivation, starvation, and death; it is the Israeli government’s heinous action of a slow genocide acted out on the world stage as the European Union, the Asian nations, and America look on indifferently.   

Left Unsaid: What the VP Debate Didn't Cover

The VP Debate: What They Didn't Talk About 


The moderator didn't question the right of US to project global power; no discussion about the cause of the crash or the the power of the big banks

Watch full multipart 2012 US Elections

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Leah-Lynn Plante: Resisting the New Witch Hunters

Statement by Leah-Lynn Plante for her Grand Jury appearance October 10th, 2012

On the morning of July 25th, 2012, my life was turned upside down in a matter of hours. FBI agents from around Washington and Oregon and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents from Washington busted down the front door of my house with a battering ram, handcuffed my house mates and me at gunpoint, and held us hostage in our backyard while they read us a search warrant and ransacked our home.

They said it was in connection to May Day vandalism that occurred in Seattle, Washington earlier this year.

However, we suspected that this was not really about broken windows. As if they had taken pointers from Orwell’s 1984, they took books, artwork and other various literature as “evidence” as well as many other personal belongings even though they seemed to know that nobody there was even in Seattle on May Day. While we know that knowledge is powerful, we suspected that nobody used rolled up copies of the Stumptown Wobbly to commit property damage. We saw this for what it was. They are trying to investigate anarchists and persecute them for their beliefs. This is a fishing expedition. This is a witch hunt. Since then, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, we have learned that this Grand jury was convened on March 2nd, 2012, two months before the May Day vandalism even took place.

I was served a subpoena to testify before a Grand Jury on August 2nd, a week later. I hastily packed my life up into boxes, got rid of almost all of my personal belongings in preparation of incarceration. I was dismissed that day after refusing to testify and re-subpoenaed for August 30th, which was pushed back to September 13th. In that time I did a lot of self care, got my affairs in order and got advice from other people who have either resisted Grand Juries, gone to prison or both. I returned to the Grand Jury on September 13th where I was granted immunity. When you are granted immunity, you lose your right to remain silent and can be thrown into prison for civil contempt. Between consulting with my attorney and an hour long recess, I narrowly avoided a contempt hearing simply because they ran out of time. I was dismissed and was told I would receive my 4th subpoena. I walked out of the courthouse just in time to witness Matthew Kyle Duran, my fellow resister, being taken away to prison in a police van. It broke my heart to watch them kidnap an amazing and strong person and take him away from his friends and loved ones. Katherine “Kteeo” Olejnik has met a similar fate for refusing to testify on September 27th. Right now, Matt and Kteeo are both sitting in prison cells for doing nothing but remaining silent. I have nothing but love and admiration for them both and I know that thousands of others feel the same. On the drive home that night my brain felt like it was short circuiting. A few days later, I received notice that my next subpoena was for October 10th. They also notified my lawyer that they were preparing for a contempt hearing.

Court dates aside, my life has been a roller coaster. Thanks to unrelated events, I have suffered with severe depression and PTSD for many years. These are now much worse and new things trigger me. For a while after the raid, I was in a constant state of panic and I could barely eat. Every time someone knocked on the door, every time I heard any sort of loud sound in my house, my heart sank and I thought “they’ve come for me.” To the day of this writing, I haven’t slept a full night since that cold July morning thanks to nausea inducing anxiety that wakes me up between 4:00 and 7:00 every single morning. After a couple months, the initial panic has faded into grim acceptance. Despite my mental health issues, I never once considered co-operation and never would. It is against everything I believe in. On my right arm I have a tattoo reading “strive to survive causing least suffering possible.” This is something I live by every single day and will continue to live by whether I am in a cage or not.

I cannot express in words how grateful I am to all those who have shown us support and solidarity, especially our friends, partners and loved ones. We will all get through this together. I know I am a broken record with the following sentiment, but I feel like it’s worth repeating. They want us to feel isolated, alone and scared. I know that even though Kteeo has been held in what is essentially solitary confinement, she does not feel alone. I know that Matt does not feel alone. I know that I will not feel alone. When they try to mercilessly gut communities, we do not scatter, we grow stronger, we thrive. I view this State repression like this: The State thinks it is a black hole that can destroy whatever it wants. In reality, it is much more like a stellar nursery, wherein it unintentionally creates new, strong anarchist stars.

I do not look forward to what inevitably awaits me today, but I accept it. I ask that people continue to support us throughout this process by writing us letters, sending us books, donating and spreading awareness.

My convictions are unwavering and will not be shaken by their harassment. Today is October 10th, 2012 and I am ready to go to prison.

Love and solidarity to all those who resist,
Forever in silence.

Leah-Lynn Plante

September 13th, 2012

My name is Leah-Lynn Plante, and I am one of the people who has been subpoenaed to a secret grand jury, meeting in Seattle on September 13th, 2012.

This will be the second time I have appeared before the grand jury, and the second time I have refused to testify. The first time was on August 2nd. I appeared as ordered and identified myself. I was asked if I would be willing to answer any questions. I said, “No,” and was dismissed after being served a second subpoena.

Over a month later, my answer is still the same. No, I will not answer their questions. I believe that these hearings are politically motivated. The government wants to use them to collect information that it can use in a campaign of repression. I refuse to have any part of it, I will never answer their questions, I will never speak.

It is likely that the government will put me in jail for that refusal.

While I hate the very idea of prison, I am ready to face it in order to stay true to my personal beliefs. I know that they want to kidnap me and isolate me from my friends and my loved ones in an effort to coerce me to speak. It will not work. I know that if I am taken away, I will not be alone. We have friends and comrades all around the world standing behind us, and even though this has been one of the most traumatizing experiences of my life, I have never felt so supported or loved. I can only speak for myself, but I have every faith that the others subpoenaed to these hearings will likewise refuse. And I know that hundreds of people have called the US Attorney demanding that they end this tribunal. Hundreds of organizations, representing thousands of people, signed onto a statement expressing solidarity with those of us under attack and demanding an end to this sort of repression.

I know that those people will continue to support me, the others subpoenaed, and the targets of the investigation. That spirit of solidarity is exactly what the state fears. It is the source of our strength, yours and mine. And that strength shows itself in every act of resistance.

Forever in silence,
Leah-Lynn Plante

August 1st, 2012:

This is a statement on behalf of Dennison Williams, Leah-Lynn Plante. The two of us were subpoenaed to the secret grand jury to begin meeting on Thursday investigating anarchists.

We are releasing this statement to make clear our intention to resist the grand jury. We will not co-operate with their investigation. If we appear before the grand jury, we will not answer any questions other than our names. If we are asked additional questions, we will invoke our First, Fourth,and Fifth Amendment rights. Under no circumstances will we talk about other people.

This grand jury is a tool of political repression. It is attempting to turn individuals against each other by coercing those subpoenaed to testify against their communities. The secret nature of grand jury proceedings creates mistrust and can undermine solidarity. And imprisoning us takes us from our loved ones and our responsibilities.

But our passion for freedom is stronger than the state’s prisons. Our refusal to cooperate with the grand jury is a reflection of our own desires for a liberated world and our support for others who are working to bring that world into being. We support the efforts of all those who will be resisting this grand jury.

If you would like to join us, please visit: There you can find out how to sign on to a solidarity statement, donate money to our defense and support campaign, and write us should we be imprisoned.

More importantly, though, you can show your solidarity by refusing to co-operate with any police force and encouraging your friends and families to do the same. The police do not protect us, and do nothing to bring justice to those who have been hurt by others. If we want real safety, and real justice, we need to begin creating liberatory alternatives to the state’s institutions.

(note: Dennison’s subpoena was dropped.)

Earthship Biotecture with Michael Reynolds

"Earthship Biotecture:" Renegade New Mexico Architect's Radical Approach to Sustainable Living

by Democracy Now!

New Mexico residents are trying to a break free from Los Alamos’ nuclear legacy by creating more environmentally sound ways of living. At the forefront of this struggle is renegade architect Michael Reynolds, creator of radically sustainable living options through a process called "Earthship Biotecture." Reynolds’ solar homes are created from natural and recycled materials, including aluminum cans, plastic bottles and used tires. These off-the-grid homes minimize their reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels by harnessing their energy from the sun and wind turbines. In Taos, New Mexico, Reynolds gives us a tour of one of the sustainable-living homes he created.

Guest: Michael Reynolds, creator of radically sustainable living options through a process called "Earthship Biotecture."

Iran Conflagration Igniter: Another False Flag Planned for New York?

NYPD Concern About ‘Iran Terror’ Should Put U.S. Security on Alert

by Maidhc Ó Cathail - Passionate Attachment

On September 25, The Passionate Attachment broke the story of the Israel lobbyist who suggested that a Pearl Harbor-type attack might be necessary to get a recalcitrant Obama Administration to go to war with Iran. As Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, brazenly put it during question time at the pro-Israel think tank’s policy forum luncheon on “How to Build U.S.-Israeli Coordination on Preventing an Iranian Nuclear Breakout”:

So, if in fact the Iranians aren’t going to compromise, it would be best if somebody else started the war.

In light of Clawson’s thinly-veiled call for a false flag attack to trigger another Middle East war for Israel, a story in yesterday’s New York Post entitled “NYPD on alert for Iran terror” should be of major concern to those charged with protecting U.S. national security. Reported Jessica Simeone:

A terror attack sponsored by Iran is an ongoing concern for the NYPD, Commissioner Ray Kelly revealed yesterday.

“We’ve been concerned about Iran for a while, and I think the history of those events throughout the world since January give us cause for concern,” Kelly said during an anti-terror conference called NYPD SHIELD.

Kelly also said that a possible conflict between Iran and Israel is a particular area of concern, given New York City’s large Jewish population.

One issue is the potential for a retaliation attack on New York City by Iran and Hezbollah, said NYPD Lt. Kevin Yorke of the Intelligence Division.

“Within the last year, we’ve seen a worldwide increase in incidents involving the stockpiling of explosives, the surveillance of targets, and a number of very significant plots and attacks,” Yorke said.

That increase in activity is in direct relation to Iran’s nuclear-weapons program and the tension surrounding it, Yorke said.

“Obviously if there’s any action involving Israel and Iran we have to be very cognizant of the potential of retaliation here in New York City,” Kelly said.

Considering the intimate ties between the “rogue” NYPD Intelligence Division & Counter-Terrorism Bureau and the “criminal state” of Israel — with its sordid history of false flag attacks and other crimes against the United States as well as its ongoing dubious propaganda campaign of allegations against its Islamic enemies — this public statement of “concern” about an Iranian-sponsored terror attack in New York should put those genuinely concerned about U.S. national security on high alert.

It may also be of note to national security that a recent Israeli delegation to the city headed by Minister for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuri Edelstein cited the 9/11 attacks as “an example of the destructive capability of terrorist groups governed, motivated and supported by the terrorist capital of the world — Iran.”

Presumably, Minister Edelstein did not mention that his prime minister thought that those same attacks were “very good” for Israel.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

This article was originally posted at The Passionate Attachment.

China's Neo-Liberal Communists Shore Up Control

Neo-Liberal Capitalists Strengthen Control of Chinese Communist Party


Minqi Li: Recent struggle in the leadership has been a decisive defeat for forces pushing for more income distribution and social reform

Minqi Li is an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah specializing in Political Economy, World Systems and the Chinese Economy. He was a political prisoner in China from 1990 to 1992. He is the author of "After Neoliberalism: Empire, Social Democracy, or Socialism?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Making Waves in Nanaimo: Barlow, McKibben and More

October 26-27

Council of Canadians conference and annual general meeting

Join us in Nanaimo, BC for a movement-building conference with environmental, health, youth, Indigenous and labour groups to fight-back against Harper’s austerity agenda, mining, and pipeline projects that are threatening our environment.

Friday, October 26, 7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Vancouver Island Conference Centre, 101 Gordon Street, Nanaimo, BC
Admission: Pay what you can. (Suggested donation of $10.)
All are welcome.

Featuring keynote speakers:

  • Welcome from Snuneymuxw Elder and Chief Douglas White
  • Maude Barlow, Chairperson, The Council of Canadians
  • Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs
  • Linda McQuaig, journalist and author
  • Bill McKibben, environmentalist and founder of

Saturday, October 27, 8:45 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The Coast Bastion Inn, 11 Bastion Street, Nanaimo, BC

Join us for a day of interactive workshops and plenary panel discussions that will inform, inspire and motivate you to take action!

Registration required: $70 in advance. $90 onsite. Fixed income $40. Includes lunch and admission to Friday Public Forum.

Sunday, October 28, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
The Council’s annual business meeting (For Council members in good standing)

Fueling Crisis: Feeding Farmland to Cars

Fueling the Food Crisis 


Tim A. Wise: Bio-fuels are driving up the price of food everywhere and costing developing countries billions

Timothy A. Wise is the Research Director of the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE), Tufts University, and leads its Globalization and Sustainable Development Program. With a background in international development, he specializes in agricultural policy and rural development. He is involved in ongoing research in the areas of: Sustainable Rural Development, Beyond Agricultural Subsidies, Mexico Under NAFTA, WTO and Global Trade. He is the co-author of the book (in English and Spanish), Confronting Globalization: Economic Integration and Popular Resistance in Mexico, and The Promise and the Perils of Agricultural Trade Liberalization: Lessons from Latin America. He is the former executive director of Grassroots International, a Boston-based international aid organization. He holds a Masters in Public Policy from Tufts' Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department.

From Sink to Source: Tar Sands and the Boreal Forests

Alberta’s Tar Sands and the Boreal Forest

 by Laray Polk

“Environmental science gets politicized because it has economic implications.”—George M. Woodwell

The following essay was written in 2011 after the Tar Sands Action in Washington that resulted in 1,252 arrests, and before President Obama’s official postponement of final approval for TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.

The latter is a partial truth; Obama approved the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. Currently in East Texas, TransCanada is demolishing trees in preparation for a 500-mile pipeline that will run from Cushing, Oklahoma, to refineries along the Gulf Coast. In the path of their equipment, a new wave of tar sands activists [] is occupying a tree fortress while others conduct daily acts of nonviolent resistance in tandem with landowners on the ground. In light of an increasingly tense situation in the isolated Piney Woods of Texas, it seems relevant to revisit an old essay on the importance of forests and acts of tar sands protest happening here, there, and everywhere.

Why are scientists in alarm mode over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a 1,700-mile long conduit that would transport a chemical-laden synthetic oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas? Scientists across specialized fields have joined forces to make public statements, penned a formal letter to President Obama, and have even committed acts of civil disobedience in front of the White House during the national Tar Sands Action.

What do they know that we don’t?

In October 2011, I sought out these questions, traveling to the furthest southern extent of Cape Cod to the township of Woods Hole; a place of world renown for its oceanic studies and a hub of scientific exploration since the late 1800s. I had come to meet with one of the signatories of the Obama letter, ecologist George M. Woodwell, at the Woods Hole Research Center.

While awaiting his arrival, I walked around the facility and its grounds. WHRC, also a campus, is ensconced in eight acres of oxygen-rich forest where burnt and downed tree trunks are left alone to decompose. The carpet of detritus underfoot was so dense and varied its components were indecipherable to the naked eye. The outdoor laboratory is a sliver of what they do on a global scale: WHRC is a preeminent collector of data on forests. They track and record the health of forests worldwide in tandem with cooperators in the Amazon, the Arctic, Africa, Russia, Alaska, Canada, New England, and the Mid-Atlantic.

Once the interview was underway, Woodwell, founder and director emeritus of WHRC, did not mince words about the Keystone XL project: “The tar sands is a complete scandal; it’s totally for profit—for Canadian profit, political profit, financial profit—and not for the public good because the oil poisons the world, and the methods of getting it poisons the world in more ways than anybody is admitting.”

Woodwell believes the role of government is to protect the public welfare, and that includes protection of the environment. For those who argue for less oversight, he presented an inventory of what a loosely regulated business world has produced in the past: slavery, the effluence of smelters that killed people and vegetation, silicosis in miners, and chemical and radiation poisoning of workers. For an example of a country in ecological collapse, he pointed to Haiti. “They don’t have a functioning environment, economy, or government. All must stand together. Take one away, or make one fail, and the others fail.”

He has been accused on more than one occasion of being political. Woodwell conducted the groundbreaking research on DDT that formed the basis for its eventual nationwide ban in 1972. He has a very short answer why such accusations exist: “Environmental science gets politicized because it has economic implications.”

Woodwell, who prefers the term “climate disruption” to climate change, is clear on what must be done to stabilize the already teetering-on-the-edge biosphere. The use of fossil fuels must be reduced and “we have to stop deforestation, all of it, all over the world because the carbon pool in the vegetation of the earth is connected to forests.”

The carbon storage capacity of forests is approximately three times as large as the pool of carbon in the atmosphere. If forests are changed, reduced, or eliminated, the pool, or captured carbon, goes into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2). According to Woodwell, the carbon release from deforestation accounts for “25 to 30 percent of the four to five billion tons of carbon accumulating a year in the atmosphere from the total of all human activities.”

Listening to Woodwell explain the role of the tundra and forests in carbon sequestration, it became evident where his years of scientific research and the Keystone XL pipeline intersect. The tar sands are largely mined in northeastern Alberta in an area classified as boreal forest.

The boreal forest, or taiga, is the largest forest in the world. It is a circumpolar biome—a community of related plant and animal species fostered by a similar climate—occurring at high-altitudes across Alaska, Canada, Northern Europe, and Russia. The boreal forest exists on 14.5 percent of the earth’s surface, but contains over 30 percent of the earth’s terrestrial carbon. The forest in its natural state is considered a sink: a repository for carbon. If disrupted, it becomes a source, releasing carbon back into the atmosphere.

Mining the Tar Sands

Techniques used to extract the tar sands are more akin to mining than drilling, both in the methods employed and amount of land destruction necessary for the removal of a tarry, viscous hydrocarbon called bitumen. Two techniques are used: in situ recovery and surface mining.

In situ recovery begins with drilling wells into bitumen deposits then injecting steam into the reservoir. The steam reduces viscosity and enables the bitumen to be pumped to the surface.

Surface mining, also referred to as strip mining, entails clearing large swaths of land. The forest is first cut down, followed by the removal of carbon-rich peat (the peat is put in storage for later usage in required remediation efforts). The bitumen and surrounding soils are then gouged out by heavy equipment. The usable hydrocarbon is separated on site using a caustic hot-water process, with the resultant wastewater sent to facilities for processing. The water is eventually stored in outdoor tailing ponds.

The tailing ponds, collectively covering more than 19 square miles, contain fine particulate matter and toxic chemicals (naphthenic acid and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). These open ponds, also a part of required reclamation, allow fine particles to settle. The estimated time for settlement varies from several decades to 150 years.

The total amount of energy used in tar sands extraction and production results in greater amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than from conventional sources of oil. The amount of increased emissions remains an issue of concern and calculation, though not all studies are equal.

The Department of Energy’s National Environmental Technology Lab estimated the GHG emissions of tar sands production to be “approximately 17 percent higher than gasoline from the 2005 average mix of crude oil consumed in the U.S.,” while a study conducted by TIAX, LLC, found emissions “only 2 percent higher when compared to gasoline from Venezuelan heavy crude.”

That’s a difference of 15 percent, though both reports used a “well-to-wheels” calculation. A well-to-wheels calculation factors in GHG emissions from extraction, processing, distribution, and combustion. But what about the additional emissions as a result of deforestation and the destabilization of associated soils—what scientists refer to as “land-use change”?

From Sink to Source

To some degree, this question is addressed in a paper by Yeh et al. (2010). In tar sands surface mining, by “removing the functional vegetation layer at the surface of a peatland, the disturbed ecosystem loses its ability to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere.” When peat is put into storage for later reclamation purposes, it decomposes, releasing CO2 and CH4 (commonly known as methane, one of six identified greenhouse gases). Over time, tailing ponds also produce CH4 emissions—a gas “25 times more potent than CO2.”

GHG emissions from land-use change factors in the loss of a sink (a natural system known to capture carbon), as well as the addition of sources (gases produced from stored peat and tailing ponds). I queried the State Department on whether these emissions had been considered in their estimates. The first spokesperson responded, “off the record, no.” The question was also submitted to the Clean Energy Branch of Alberta Environment, who quickly replied, “We have supported some scientific research in this respect; that work is currently in the peer review process so we cannot report on that work at this point in time.”

The area of boreal forest to be razed as part of tar sands extraction is small. So far, about 150 square miles of Canada’s two million square miles of boreal forest have been denuded for tar sands operations. If projected GHG emissions from land-use change were available, they would most likely be a fraction of the total. However, fractions add up and the exclusion of that data in final, official reports does say something about an approach to calculation that puts human activity at the top while neglecting to weigh long-term environmental outcomes.

Woodwell cautions it is time to consider environment and economy as mutually dependent: “We’re at a stage we can’t afford to lose any more forests in the world. The building up of carbon, year after the year, is the problem. We're pulling climate out from under all life including civilization, and the consequences of that are devastating."

Laray Polk is a Dallas-based writer.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Turning on Greta: Palestinian "Solidarity" Groups Denounce Berlin

Abunimah Did It Again

by Gilad Atzmon

Is it really possible that not a single Palestinian or Palestinian solidarity activist would stand for Greta Berlin, one of the founders of the Free Gaza Movement and its spokesperson for the last several years? Is it possible that not a single peace activist would rush to defend the person who was directly and physically involved in every naval attempt to break the siege on Gaza? Apparently, yes.

A few days ago Greta Berlin had been subject to a vile Israeli and Zionist smear campaign following her facebook post containing the following message: “Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews”. Berlin also added to her facebook post a link to a video of a lecture by Eustace Mullins. I am not familiar with the work of Mullins but I guess that he is far from being a popular political thinker in Tel Aviv or Golders Green.

Zionists and Hasbara agents were very quick to slander Berlin. They tagged her as an ‘anti Semite’ and a ‘Holocaust denier’. But clearly there is no Holocaust denial in Berlin’s message. Furthermore, the views expressed by her are consistent with many experts including Jewish Marxist archivist Lenni Brenner who tells the same story in his book 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration With the Nazis. Hanna Arendt also reached a similar conclusion in her invaluable epic book A Report On The Banality Of Evil. I guess that Greta Berlin has a problem, unlike Arendt and Brenner: she’s not a Jew, she is a Shiktze, and Shiktzes better keep quiet. They are not supposed to talk, let alone tell the truth.

It didn’t take much Zionist pressure before the Free Gaza Movement grovelled and published a humiliating apology. It also didn’t take much time for the usual suspects within the movement to disassociate themselves from one of the most dedicated solidarity activists on the planet.

Yet, one would expect that after his recent failed attack on myself and my work, Kosher Commissar Ali Abuminah, would think twice before he allies himself with the darkest Zionist and Israeli Hasbara forces around.

Apparently, the man who managed to reduce the Intifada to an electronic outlet did it again. Today the dedicated Sabbath Goy criticised Berlin in the name of “trust and honesty.” It is almost funny considering the fact that Abunimah’s integrity record is probably one of the lowest in the history of resistance in general.

On top of being intellectually lame as clearly shown in the following video, the man also lacks some basic academic skills.

Just 48 hours before slandering my writing and my recent book, Abunimah was stupid enough to admit to Professor Norton Mezvinsky that he actually had never read anything by me. Today, once again, Abunimah proved that he doesn’t grasp the notion of history in general and certainly far from being familiar with the historicity of the Holocaust in particular.

Three weeks ago, Paul Larudee, another founding member of the Free Gaza movement, published a crucial expose that proved beyond doubt that BDS has given up on Palestinian Right of Return. A few days later, Nahida Izzat, my favourite Palestinian poet, published an urgent alert on the Uprooted Palestinian website:

"The BDS clearly changed its goal statement. BDS has given up on the most essential and crucial Palestinian principles." She wrote.

But Ali Abunimah and his Electronic ‘Intifada’ remained silent. If Abunimah had a drop of integrity in his system he would have taken the challenge and discussed the BDS’s goal statement’s recent change. But Abunimah who has the audacity to preach to us today on “trust and honesty” decided to shove the core Palestinian issue under the carpet.

The meaning of it all is pretty simple. As I disclose in my latest book The Wandering Who, there is a devastating continuum between hard core Zionism, Israeli Hasbara and the Jewish so-called ‘left’. Unfortunately, some Palestinians also operate as Sabbath Goyim. And they better be exposed.

It indeed didn’t take us by surprise to learn that Jewish Voice For Peace withdrew its support from Greta Berlin’s book tour and that Naomi Klein resigned from the board of Free Gaza. Needless to say that when I heard about the Zionist slandering of Greta Berlin I thought to myself that within less than a week Abunimah would join the party. I was wrong, in fact it took him less than 24 hours.

I don’t know who Abunimah’s pay masters are, but I guess it ain’t the Islamic Jihad. 

The Pitfalls of Triumph: America After the End of History

Overwrought Empire: The Discrediting of U.S. Military Power

by Tom Engelhardt - TomDispatch 

Americans lived in a “victory culture” for much of the twentieth century. You could say that we experienced an almost 75-year stretch of triumphalism -- think of it as the real “American Century” -- from World War I to the end of the Cold War, with time off for a destructive stalemate in Korea and a defeat in Vietnam too shocking to absorb or shake off.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, it all seemed so obvious. Fate had clearly dealt Washington a royal flush. It was victory with a capital V. The United States was, after all, the last standing superpower, after centuries of unceasing great power rivalries on the planet. It had a military beyond compare and no enemy, hardly a “rogue state,” on the horizon.

 It was almost unnerving, such clear sailing into a dominant future, but a moment for the ages nonetheless. Within a decade, pundits in Washington were hailing us as “the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome.”

And here’s the odd thing: in a sense, little has changed since then and yet everything seems different. Think of it as the American imperial paradox: everywhere there are now “threats” against our well-being which seem to demand action and yet nowhere are there commensurate enemies to go with them. Everywhere the U.S. military still reigns supreme by almost any measure you might care to apply; and yet -- in case the paradox has escaped you -- nowhere can it achieve its goals, however modest.

At one level, the American situation should simply take your breath away. Never before in modern history had there been an arms race of only one or a great power confrontation of only one. And at least in military terms, just as the neoconservatives imagined in those early years of the twenty-first century, the United States remains the “sole superpower” or even “hyperpower” of planet Earth.

The Planet’s Top Gun

And yet the more dominant the U.S. military becomes in its ability to destroy and the more its forces are spread across the globe, the more the defeats and semi-defeats pile up, the more the missteps and mistakes grow, the more the strains show, the more the suicides rise, the more the nation’s treasure disappears down a black hole -- and in response to all of this, the more moves the Pentagon makes.

A great power without a significant enemy? You might have to go back to the Roman Empire at its height or some Chinese dynasty in full flower to find anything like it. And yet Osama bin Laden is dead. Al-Qaeda is reportedly a shadow of its former self. The great regional threats of the moment, North Korea and Iran, are regimes held together by baling wire and the suffering of their populaces. The only incipient great power rival on the planet, China, has just launched its first aircraft carrier, a refurbished Ukrainian throwaway from the 1990s on whose deck the country has no planes capable of landing.

The U.S. has 1,000 or more bases around the world; other countries, a handful. The U.S. spends as much on its military as the next 14 powers (mostly allies) combined. In fact, it’s investing an estimated $1.45 trillion to produce and operate a single future aircraft, the F-35 -- more than any country, the U.S. included, now spends on its national defense annually.

The U.S. military is singular in other ways, too. It alone has divided the globe -- the complete world -- into six “commands.” With (lest anything be left out) an added command, Stratcom, for the heavens and another, recently established, for the only space not previously occupied, cyberspace, where we’re already unofficially “at war.” No other country on the planet thinks of itself in faintly comparable military terms.

When its high command plans for its future “needs,” thanks to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, they repair (don’t say “retreat”) to a military base south of the capital where they argue out their future and war-game various possible crises while striding across a map of the world larger than a basketball court. What other military would come up with such a method?

The president now has at his command not one, but two private armies. The first is the CIA, which in recent years has been heavily militarized, is overseen by a former four-star general (who calls the job “living the dream”), and is running its own private assassination campaigns and drone air wars throughout the Greater Middle East. The second is an expanding elite, the Joint Special Operations Command, cocooned inside the U.S. military, members of whom are now deployed to hot spots around the globe.

The U.S. Navy, with its 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carrier task forces, is dominant on the global waves in a way that only the British Navy might once have been; and the U.S. Air Force controls the global skies in much of the world in a totally uncontested fashion. (Despite numerous wars and conflicts, the last American plane possibly downed in aerial combat was in the first Gulf War in 1991.) Across much of the global south, there is no sovereign space Washington’s drones can’t penetrate to kill those judged by the White House to be threats.

In sum, the U.S. is now the sole planetary Top Gun in a way that empire-builders once undoubtedly fantasized about, but that none from Genghis Khan on have ever achieved: alone and essentially uncontested on the planet. In fact, by every measure (except success), the likes of it has never been seen.

Blindsided by Predictably Unintended Consequences

By all the usual measuring sticks, the U.S. should be supreme in a historically unprecedented way. And yet it couldn’t be more obvious that it’s not, that despite all the bases, elite forces, private armies, drones, aircraft carriers, wars, conflicts, strikes, interventions, and clandestine operations, despite a labyrinthine intelligence bureaucracy that never seems to stop growing and into which we pour a minimum of $80 billion a year, nothing seems to work out in an imperially satisfying way. It couldn’t be more obvious that this is not a glorious dream, but some kind of ever-expanding imperial nightmare.

This should, of course, have been self-evident since at least early 2004, less than a year after the Bush administration invaded and occupied Iraq, when the roadside bombs started to explode and the suicide bombings to mount, while the comparisons of the United States to Rome and of a prospective Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East to the Pax Romana vanished like a morning mist on a blazing day. Still, the wars against relatively small, ill-armed sets of insurgents dragged toward their dismally predictable ends. (It says the world that, after almost 11 years of war, the 2,000th U.S. military death in Afghanistan occurred at the hands of an Afghan “ally” in an “insider attack.”) In those years, Washington continued to be regularly blindsided by the unintended consequences of its military moves. Surprises -- none pleasant -- became the order of the day and victories proved vanishingly rare.

One thing seems obvious: a superpower military with unparalleled capabilities for one-way destruction no longer has the more basic ability to impose its will anywhere on the planet. Quite the opposite, U.S. military power has been remarkably discredited globally by the most pitiful of forces. From Pakistan to Honduras, just about anywhere it goes in the old colonial or neocolonial world, in those regions known in the contested Cold War era as the Third World, resistance of one unexpected sort or another arises and failure ensues in some often long-drawn-out and spectacular fashion.

Given the lack of enemies -- a few thousand jihadis, a small set of minority insurgencies, a couple of feeble regional powers -- why this is so, what exactly the force is that prevents Washington’s success, remains mysterious. Certainly, it’s in some way related to the more than half-century of decolonization movements, rebellions, and insurgencies that were a feature of the previous century.

It also has something to do with the way economic heft has spread beyond the U.S., Europe, and Japan -- with the rise of the “tigers” in Asia, the explosion of the Chinese and Indian economies, the advances of Brazil and Turkey, and the movement of the planet toward some kind of genuine economic multipolarity. It may also have something to do with the end of the Cold War, which put an end as well to several centuries of imperial or great power competition and left the sole “victor,” it now seems clear, heading toward the exits wreathed in self-congratulation.

Explain it as you will, it’s as if the planet itself, or humanity, had somehow been inoculated against the imposition of imperial power, as if it now rejected it whenever and wherever applied. In the previous century, it took a half-nation, North Korea, backed by Russian supplies and Chinese troops to fight the U.S. to a draw, or a popular insurgent movement backed by a local power, North Vietnam, backed in turn by the Soviet Union and China to defeat American power. Now, small-scale minority insurgencies, largely using roadside bombs and suicide bombers, are fighting American power to a draw (or worse) with no great power behind them at all.

Think of the growing force that resists such military might as the equivalent of the “dark matter” in the universe. The evidence is in. We now know (or should know) that it’s there, even if we can’t see it.

Washington's Wars on Autopilot

After the last decade of military failures, stand-offs, and frustrations, you might think that this would be apparent in Washington. After all, the U.S. is now visibly an overextended empire, its sway waning from the Greater Middle East to Latin America, the limits of its power increasingly evident. And yet, here’s the curious thing: two administrations in Washington have drawn none of the obvious conclusions, and no matter how the presidential election turns out, it’s already clear that, in this regard, nothing will change.

Even as military power has proven itself a bust again and again, our policymakers have come to rely ever more completely on a military-first response to global problems. In other words, we are not just a classically overextended empire, but also an overwrought one operating on some kind of militarized autopilot. Lacking is a learning curve. By all evidence, it’s not just that there isn’t one, but that there can’t be one.

Washington, it seems, now has only one mode of thought and action, no matter who is at the helm or what the problem may be, and it always involves, directly or indirectly, openly or clandestinely, the application of militarized force. Nor does it matter that each further application only destabilizes some region yet more or undermines further what once were known as “American interests.”

Take Libya, as an example. It briefly seemed to count as a rare American military success story: a decisive intervention in support of a rebellion against a brutal dictator -- so brutal, in fact, that the CIA previously shipped “terrorist suspects,” Islamic rebels fighting against the Gaddafi regime, there for torture. No U.S. casualties resulted, while American and NATO air strikes were decisive in bringing a set of ill-armed, ill-organized rebels to power.

In the world of unintended consequences, however, the fall of Gaddafi sent Tuareg mercenaries from his militias, armed with high-end weaponry, across the border into Mali. There, when the dust settled, the whole northern part of the country had come unhinged and fallen under the sway of Islamic extremists and al-Qaeda wannabes as other parts of North Africa threatened to destabilize. At the same time, of course, the first American casualties of the intervention occurred when Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in an attack on the Benghazi consulate and a local “safe house.”

With matters worsening regionally, the response couldn’t have been more predictable. As Greg Miller and Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post recently reported, in ongoing secret meetings, the White House is planning for military operations against al-Qaeda-in-the-Magreb (North Africa), now armed with weaponry pillaged from Gaddafi’s stockpiles. These plans evidently include the approach used in Yemen (U.S. special forces on the ground and CIA drone strikes), or a Somalia “formula” (drone strikes, special forces operations, CIA operations, and the support of African proxy armies), or even at some point “the possibility of direct U.S. intervention.”

In addition, Eric Schmitt and David Kilpatrick of the New York Times report that the Obama administration is “preparing retaliation” against those it believes killed the U.S. ambassador, possibly including “drone strikes, special operations raids like the one that killed Osama bin Laden, and joint missions with Libyan authorities.” The near certainty that, like the previous intervention, this next set of military actions will only further destabilize the region with yet more unpleasant surprises and unintended consequences hardly seems to matter. Nor does the fact that, in crude form, the results of such acts are known to us ahead of time have an effect on the unstoppable urge to plan and order them.

Such situations are increasingly legion across the Greater Middle East and elsewhere. Take one other tiny example: Iraq, from which, after almost a decade-long military disaster, the “last” U.S. units essentially fled in the middle of the night as 2011 ended. Even in those last moments, the Obama administration and the Pentagon were still trying to keep significant numbers of U.S. troops there (and, in fact, did manage to leave behind possibly several hundred as trainers of elite Iraqi units). Meanwhile, Iraq has been supportive of the embattled Syrian regime and drawn ever closer to Iran, even as its own sectarian strife has ratcheted upward. Having watched this unsettling fallout from its last round in the country, according to the New York Times, the U.S. is now negotiating an agreement “that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.”

Don’t you just want to speak to those negotiators the way you might to a child: No, don’t do that! The urge to return to the scene of their previous disaster, however, seems unstaunchable. You could offer various explanations for why our policymakers, military and civilian, continue in such a repetitive -- and even from an imperial point of view -- self-destructive vein in situations where unpleasant surprises are essentially guaranteed and lack of success a given. Yes, there is the military-industrial complex to be fed. Yes, we are interested in the control of crucial resources, especially energy, and so on.

But it’s probably more reasonable to say that a deeply militarized mindset and the global maneuvers that go with it are by now just part of the way of life of a Washington eternally “at war.” They are the tics of a great power with the equivalent of Tourette's Syndrome. They happen because they can’t help but happen, because they are engraved in the policy DNA of our national security complex, and can evidently no longer be altered. In other words, they can’t help themselves.

That’s the only logical conclusion in a world where it has become ever less imaginable to do the obvious, which is far less or nothing at all. (Northern Chad? When did it become crucial to our well being?) Downsizing the mission? Inconceivable. Thinking the unthinkable? Don’t even give it a thought!

What remains is, of course, a self-evident formula for disaster on autopilot. But don’t tell Washington. It won’t matter. Its denizens can’t take it in.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as The End of Victory Culture, his history of the Cold War, runs the Nation Institute's His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050.

Copyright 2012 Tom Engelhardt