Saturday, November 24, 2012

Apocalyptic Optimism: Harnessing the Antediluvean Brain for Future Survival


Apocaholics: A New Word for New Times

by Ray Grigg

For people who like words, “apocaholics” is a new and ingenious one. It instantly conveys the impression that those with a dystopian view of the future have a neurotic compulsion that is unhealthy and unfounded. The word is instantly dismissive and pejorative, suggesting an irrational fear, a baseless apprehension, an addictive dependence on pessimism that needs therapy, like those who are debilitated by alcohol. It's a word that garners immediate attention.

Apocaholics made its debut in the popular media in a conversation Brian Bethune of Maclean's magazine (Oct. 22/12) had with Brian David Johnson, the chief futurist for Intel Corporation, one of the world's largest makers of computer chips. Johnson, of course, is optimistic about Intel's prospects and is promoting the use and value of “putting chips into all sorts of different enrich people's lives.” Bethune replies by noting the pessimistic mood that is so common these days. “...You do not like our current dystopian attitude toward the future. You want to change the narrative.” Johnson's reply warrants its full paragraph.

“I do. I do,” he says. “There's been some research recently that human beings seem to be “apocaholics” — always seeing something right around the corner that's going to kill us all. I understand it. As human beings, we're hard-wired for a world where, if you heard a twig break behind you, you jump and you have a physical fear reaction. That was okay when that snap was a sabre-toothed tiger, but we don't live in that world any more. Now that reaction blocks us from coming up with the really great ideas, so I'm on a crusade against fear, because being afraid of the future means we're giving up our power. You can't let the future happen to you, you can't sit back and be passive — you need to be an active participant. We all, as human beings, personally build the future, whether it be our own, our family's, the world's. We have to own that fact and we need to do something about it.”

Johnson presents a convincing argument for the power of trust, optimism and volition, for the merit of taking control of our destiny and believing in our ingenuity. Indeed, considering our accomplishments to date, the prospects for tomorrow should be bright and promising. So, why the gloom? Perhaps the best reply to Johnson's argument comes from Surviving Progress, a recently released documentary distributed by Canada's National Film Board.

As a sequel to anthropologist Ronald Wright's brilliant book and Massey Lecture series, A Short History of Progress, Surviving Progress reminds us that the very brain that is managing our computers, nuclear bombs, fossil fuels, global finances, and the full suite of our modern technological complexity, is the same brain that responded reflexively to Johnson's example of the breaking twig. Our brains are virtually unchanged in 50,000 years. The ingenuity that is determining our future is the same electro-chemical hardware that met the sabre-toothed tiger. This mismatch between our inner capabilities and our outer challenges does not exactly warrant confidence in the outcome. Indeed, a dash of fear and caution might be precisely what we need. If the same visceral intensity that attacked the sabre-toothed tiger with clubs and spears now operates intercontinental ballistic missiles, the mechanism of international economics, the ethics of transnational corporations and the processing magic of computers, then this is legitimate cause for apprehension.

Surviving Progress also makes the poignant point that progress is not synonymous with improvement. The ingenuity that could kill a mammoth was probably useful. The ingenuity that could kill two mammoths might have been better. But the ingenuity that stampeded whole herds of mammoths over cliffs was an excess that may have caused the extinction of a valuable food source. Arrows might have been an improvement over clubs but thousands of nuclear warheads poised to obliterate most life on Earth hardly seems like the progress that induces confidence in our ingenuity.

Indeed, our reflexive response to the breaking twig may be the human failing that has prevented us from anticipating consequences and restraining the impulse to extremes. A succession of best first responses doesn't necessarily lead to a desirable ending. Agriculture fed more people than hunting-gathering but this innovation, that occupied only 0.2 percent of human history, has left a legacy of local ecological disasters and a population of seven billion people responsible for global ecological problems. The automobile eliminated the tonnes of horse manure littering city streets but a billion cars now clog the world's roads, filling the air with toxins and spurring the quest for ever-greater amounts of oil — another extreme of its own. And the essential goods we need for survival and comfort have morphed into an epidemic of consumerism that is polluting the planet while burdening our lives with excesses.

True, as Brian David Johnson says, we “can't let the future happen” to us. We “can't just sit back and be passive.” We have an obligation to “personally build the future...”.

How much future we can “personally build” is a mute point these days. A corporation such as Intel doesn't consult with humanity about the life-enriching benefits of “putting chips into all sorts of different devices”. Monsanto doesn't ask people about the need for genetically modified crops. Pharmaceuticals don't solicit from citizens a priority of diseases to be cured. Television stations don't design their programs to elevate the collective wisdom of society. Advertising invents wants and then indiscriminately elevates them to the status of needs. Petrochemical industries design exotic concoctions that subject living organisms to calculated risks. Global financial traders wreak economic havoc by playing loose with monetary prudence. This might be progress but it is not necessarily improvement. And, for most people, it isn't choice.

As Brian David Johnson proposes, we each “must personally build the future”. Then, for emphasis, he adds, “We have to own that fact and we need to do something about it.” Apocaholics are simply people who are taking his advice, are assessing our present situation, and are reaching their own conclusions.

A New Day in Gaza?


Reformatting Deterrence: A new day in Gaza and Israel 

Israel's enforcement of Gaza's occupation "kept them essentially untouchable" - they were "always out of reach"

by Jon Elmer - AJE

Whether or not Wednesday night's ceasefire holds, one thing is certain: it's a new day for Gaza and Israel.

Living in Gaza during the second intifada and the years after, amidst the obvious courage and resilience of Palestinians in the besieged enclave, I always sensed an underlying feeling of despair and frustration. Israel's enforcement of Gaza's occupation kept them essentially untouchable - mostly in the air, in fighter jets and drones and attack helicopters. They were always out of reach.

In the West Bank, Palestinian kids invariably confront Israeli army tanks and troops invading their towns, which happens upwards of a hundred times a week according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA). The teenagers throw rocks and bottles filled with fine white dust that leaves a splat on the side of the tanks. To the outsider, this can get described as futile and hopeless at best, and brainwashing at worst.

For Palestinians, nothing could be further from the truth. The confrontations that the kids grow up watching offered a modest moment of engagement and agency against the Israeli army. It is a small chance to redirect some of the fear of living under a violent occupation.

Gaza, on the other hand, can feel like a shooting gallery. Penned in by walls and sniper towers, Palestinians are pushed back into the edges of overcrowded cities and refugee camps by a ruthlessly enforced shoot-to-kill buffer zone.

With Israel's tank invasions in the West Bank, you can hear the danger approach - "tank, tank" the kids yell, as doors are shuttered, streets emptied. People have time to react. It's a kind of telephone-game air raid siren.

In Gaza, the warplanes don't amble, they seem to tear a hole in the sky, unleashing 500-, 1,000-, 2,000-lbs of fiery-metal horror in an instant. You don't know when the next one will hit until your windows shatter, your fixtures fall from the ceiling and you pick yourself up from the blast-wave that knocked you down. As quickly as the attacker arrived, he is gone. All you can do is look to the sky and scream. But nobody was listening.

These past eight days of war, people were forced to listen. The introduction of long- and medium-range rockets in Gaza touched off daily air raid sirens as rockets fell on Tel Aviv for the first time since 1991 - in Jerusalem for the first time in a generation - forcing 3.5 million Israelis into the war. Gaza wasn't just "down there" anymore, the war had come to Israel, too.

Gaza's rockets were no longer a "nuisance", or "firecrackers", they now posed a threat that has to be included in the strategic equation of the conflict - and a potentially meaningful deterrence where there wasn't ever one before.

The true game-changer

The true game-changer in the region was Israel's defeat in south Lebanon in the 2006 July War. For 34 days, a seemingly unending stockpile of rockets drove Israelis into bomb shelters and halted daily life throughout nearly the whole country. When Israel's brutal air war failed to halt the rockets, a ground war was launched by the Israeli army.

If every war is to have its signifying battle - the July War was defined in Bint Jbeil. Israel's conscripted army and its reserves walked right into a prepared enemy that had changed the rules of the game - mixing guerrilla operations with conventional military tactics. In so doing, Hezbollah dealt Israel a psychological blow that carried the "spectacle" of defeat, as Israel's Haaretz newspaper characterised it.

According to Israel's Winograd Commission - tasked by the state with investigating the July War failings - the battle in Bint Jbeil was the turning point of the war, "a symbol of the unsuccessful action of the Israel Defence Forces throughout the fighting".

A successful model was in place, and Palestinians took note.

Tunnel trade and the Arab uprisings

After Cast Lead, there was a switch in resistance approach in Gaza led by the Qassam Brigades. In short, away from the primacy of infiltration-type operations to a more dug-in position inside Gaza itself. And drastic upgrading of the rocketry, weapons and materiel.

It was Gaza's smaller-scale answer to Hezbollah, led by Qassam Brigades commander, Ahmed Jabari. Under Jabari, Hamas' armed wing transformed into a more structured and professionalised force. "This isn't a terror organisation anymore," said Minister for Home Front Defence Avi Dichter, two days before Jabari's assassination, "it's a bona fide army."

In addition to the rockets, Palestinians added anti-tank missiles of the sort that were used to devastating effect by Hezbollah in 2006. Anti-aircraft missiles looted from Gaddafi's caches during NATO's war in Libya emerged in Gaza across a well-trodden corridor from post-war Libya, through post-uprising Egypt and into the virtually independent Bedouin republic in the Sinai - where all roads lead to Gaza's lucrative tunnels network.

The tunnels were once hand-carved with trowels and only large enough for teenagers to navigate, but in recent years have become an industrial-scale project, large enough for cars and cattle, and various weapons-systems too.

And while it could be argued that Gaza's rockets were largely ineffective during the eight days of fighting, it takes some time to learn to use these weapons. Because there are nothing like test-ranges in the tiny enclave of Gaza, the rockets must be tested in battle. Still, as day after day of rocket barrages passed, it seemed inevitable that a deadly landing in a major city was getting closer.

That could not have been lost on Netanyahu, as the prime minister embarks on an election campaign that will be defined by this latest war in Gaza. A costly strike on Tel Aviv from Gaza would have been a problem for his campaign, and would have likely pressed Israel into a ground war against a transformed force with significantly improved capability.

Instead, Israel sued for peace with a ceasefire that reads very favourably to Palestinians. While Netanyahu avoided his Bint Jbeil moment, Israelis were forced to recognise a new day in Gaza.

Jon Elmer is a Canadian journalist based in the Middle East since 2003, primarily in the West Bank and Gaza.

Follow him on Twitter: @jonelmer

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Harper Regime Attack on Science Continues: CIFA Seeks to Strip ISA Reference Lab of Standing

BC Poised to be Designated ISA Virus Positive? - CFIA steps in

by Alexandra Morton

British Columbia is poised to be designated ISA virus positive. A few weeks ago the Office of International Epizootics, OIE, changed the definition of an ISA virus positive region.

Instead of having to diagnose the disease, today detection of any strain of the virus is enough to designate a region as ISA virus positive. This is the difference between a person being HIV positive, or having AIDS.

This change means a place like BC, could move fast enough to stop a full-blown epidemic. The ISA virus has been detected by the North American OIE reference lab for ISA and two other labs. DFO got positive ISA test results in 2004, but hid them. Now the federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency may be causing a dangerous delay, risking wild salmon of the North Pacific.

The Globe and Mail reports today that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has written to the Office of International Epizootics (OIE) asking that the Kibenge Lab at the Atlantic Veterinary College, PEI be stripped of its standing as one of only 2 ISA virus reference labs. The second lab is with the Norwegian government.

There are 169 comments, over 2,00 shares and facebook posts in response to this article! Here is one:

"Good on you Mr. Kibenge. As a fellow scientist I have witnessed first hand the sweeping layoffs targeting the PC (physical scientist) designation in government.

It is our responsibility to stand up for the safety and values of Canadians regardless of what the current regimes mandate is."

ISA virus is in the influenza family. If it is in BC it is absolutely essential that it be stopped from spreading, because it appears to be European. This means the wild fish of the North Pacific may not have enough immunity to it.

It was Dr. Kibenge who accurately diagnosed ISA virus for the first time ever in Chile. That virus exploded within weeks of his diagnosis to cause $2 billion in damages, to the Chilean salmon farming industry. Chile, however, had no wild salmon to lose. For BC the stakes are even higher. No one knows what this virus will do to wild Pacific salmon if it is left to spread - NO ONE.

Could the CFIA just be engaging in due diligence? Perhaps, but there are extenuating circumstances.

When the OIE applies their ISAv designation upgrade to British Columbia by accepting the results from their lab British Columbia's status would have to be altered from ISAv-free to ISAv-positive.

The CFIA testified under oath at the Cohen Commission in December 2011 that if the ISA virus is confirmed in BC, BC farm salmon trade could cease. The Provincial Minister of Agriculture echoed this stating in the BC legislature that US and Asian lawmakers were pushing to close their borders to BC farm salmon as a result of the first ISA virus positive test results from Dr. Kibenge's Lab. One has to ask if this is why the CFIA is trying to disconnect Dr. Kibenge's lab from the OIE?

If the CFIA is successful, they will destroy any hope of a fast response. The research will continue, but we will be at the mercy of this virus, giving it the opportunity to do what it does best - Go Viral

The directive to protect wild salmon has to come from us, because there is no one else who can do this. This is a very ominous development.

Dr. Kibenge will speak about this tonight on CBC "As it Happens".

Israel Stinks: Settlement Cretins Routinely Dump Raw Sewage on "Down-Winder" Palestinian Farmlands

Beitar Illit settlers release sewage on Palestinian Wadi Fuqeen village farmlands

by Nureddin Sabir - Redress

A picture is worth a thousand word. The video below is both instructive and appalling. They sum up the character of the Jewish settlers – the misfits, thieves and squatters from the United States, Europe, the former Soviet Union and elsewhere who are stealing and blighting Palestinian lands in increasing number – and they expose the deep-seated racism that underlies their contempt for Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular.

This first video below, shot by a special correspondent, shows raw sewage flowing from the illegal Jewish colony of Beitar Illit on to the farmlands of the besieged Palestinian village of Wadi Fuqeen.

At least twice a month, starting on Friday afternoons and continuing for a large part of the following day, the authorities in the illegal Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit, which is built on land stolen from the neighbouring Palestinian village of Wadi Fuqeen, near Bethlehem, open their sewage tanks on to the farmlands of the village. As the video shows, the sewage, which runs through specially-built pipelines that open on to the slopes leading to Wadi Fuqeen, accumulates on the Palestinian farmlands, poisoning crops, contaminating the water table and posing a serious health threat to villagers.

This second video, taken recently by Church of England Reverend Stephen Sizer, also shows the sewage waters flowing down the hillsides from the illegal Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit on to farmland of Wadi Fuqeen.

Note that the interviewee explains that the next village along, Nahalin, is experiencing the same problem.

In this video, also made by the Rev. Sizer, you can see the type and scale of damage caused by the sewage from the illegal settlement of Beitar Illit to Wadi Fuqeen’s agricultural land.

In the video below, the mayor of Wadi Fuqeen, Ahmad Sokal, gives an interview to Rev. Sizer in which he explains the problems and challenges facing the village.

Efforts by the Palestinians of Wadi Fuqeen and some Israeli peace activists to persuade the Israeli authorities so stop this appalling and disgraceful behaviour have come to nothing. The “mayor” of the illegal Beitar Illit settlement even had the audacity to suggest that this is a Palestinian problem and that they, the Palestinians, not the Jewish producers of the sewage, should find a way, such as constructing an aqueduct, to divert the Jewish sewage away from their farmlands.

Please help to expose the Jewish settlers for what they really are by circulating the link to this page as widely as possible.

Morsi: Meet the New Pharoah

Tens of Thousands of Egyptians Protest Morsi's Power Grab 

 by TRNN

Hamid Dabashi: On the heels of Israel's attack on Gaza, with support of Obama, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Morsi gives himself powers that rival Mubarak.

Watch full multipart Egypt

Friday, November 23, 2012

In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: Pennsylvania's Remote University Governance

University Governance Doesn’t Represent the People


About 800,000 Pennsylvanians are members of labor unions, and the state has a long history of union rights and activism, but neither of the two largest university systems has a labor representative on its governing board.

The only labor representative on the Board of Governors of the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) in its 29 year history was Julius Uehlein, who served 1988–1995 while Pennsylvania AFL–CIO president. The appointment was made by Gov. Robert P. Casey, a pro-worker Democrat. The SSHE, a state-owned system, has 120,000 students enrolled in 14 universities.

Only three persons have ever represented labor on Penn State’s Board of Trustees. Gov. Milton Schapp, a Democrat, appointed Harry Boyer, the state AFL–CIO president, in 1976. When Boyer retired in 1982, he also left as a trustee. Richard Trumka, a Penn State alumnus and Villanova law school graduate, now the national AFL–CIO president, served as a trustee, 1983–1995, while president of the United Mine Workers. He was first appointed by Gov. Dick Thornburgh, a Republican, reappointed by Gov. Casey, and not reappointed when Tom Ridge, a Republican, became governor. Penn State, a state-related university which received about $272 million in state funding for the current fiscal year, has 96,000 students on its 24 campuses.

The 32-member Penn State Board of Trustees is divided into five groups: ex-officio members who are in the Governor’s administration (6), Governor appointments (6), members elected by the Alumni Association (8), Business and Industry members (6), and elected members from Agriculture (6). The Agriculture representation dates to 1862 when Penn State (at that time known as Farmer’s High School) was one of the first two land grant institutions; the land grant institutions were created to provide advanced education in agriculture and the sciences. About half of its members are corporate CEOs. Except for one student representative, most of the rest are lawyers or senior corporate or public agency executives.

SSHE’s 20-member Board of Governors has three student representatives, who are appointed by the Board after being nominated by the presidents of the 14 universities; thus, the students usually have views similar to what the administration sees as acceptable. Most student representatives have tended to follow a “cower and comply” role.

Membership also includes four legislators, selected from each political caucus (Democrat and Republican caucuses in the House and Senate), and the secretary of the Department of Education); the rest are appointed by the Governor, with the approval of the state senate. Gov. Tom Corbett and his designated representative, Jennifer Branstetter, a public relations executive, serve on both Penn State and SSHE boards. Most of the other members are lawyers or senior business executives. One of them, Kenneth Jarin, who served as chair for six years and is currently a member, is a lawyer who represents management in labor issues.

The lack of at least one representative of labor on the SSHE Board of Governors is because of “a lack of sensitivity to the labor point of view,” says Dr. Stephen Hicks, president of the 6,400 member Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty (APSCUF).

“It remains a curiosity why the people’s universities don’t represent the people,” says Irwin Aronson, general counsel for the Pennsylvania AFL–CIO. Aronson is a Penn State alumnus and graduate of the Penn State’s Dickinson Law School.
“Because of the number of union members in Pennsylvania, and the need to have working people’s issues and perspectives represented on the board,” Dr. Paul Clark, chair of Penn State’s Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations, says “We always thought it made a lot of sense for that constituency [working class] to be represented on the trustees.”

About three-fourths the 6,400 full- and part-time faculty and coaches, and about two-thirds of the staff at the SSHE universities are members of unions. About 3,000 Penn State staff (mostly those working in maintenance, physical plant, dormitories, and the cafeteria) are members of the Teamsters; about 1,300 registered nurses, including those of the Hershey Medical Center, are members of the Service Employees International Union. However, there is no faculty union at Penn State. Part of the problem, says Dr. Clark, is that faculty in the large business and agriculture colleges, plus those in engineering and science, tend not to have strong union loyalties; those in the liberal arts tend to have more acceptance of the value of unions.

Dr. Hicks has tried to get the SSHE Board to include a faculty member. However, he says, when a Board has most of its members “who have run a business and made money, you get a certain viewpoint.” Under the “business plan,” it is more economically feasible to bring in as much raw product (often called freshmen) as possible, and for the university to produce finished units (often called graduates.) More units and fewer staff and faculty result in higher return on investment. Having unionized staff and faculty—or unionized graduate and teaching assistants, as exist at some out-of-state universities—apparently is believed to be a deterrent to a business model.

It is that reason that probably results in most public and quasi-public Pennsylvania universities having strong business schools but few labor studies classes. At Penn State, about 90 percent of students in the Labor Studies and Employment Relations Department plan to enter the corporate world in human relations. Of the 14 SSHE universities, only one, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has a labor studies program that has a focus upon the working class.

During the recently-concluded presidential race, Mitt Romney (a multimillionaire venture capitalist) and Barack Obama (a Constitutional lawyer and community organizer) incessantly drummed out a theme of how much they would do for the middle-class. Perhaps it’s time that both Penn State and the State System of Higher Education realize they need to include more diverse governing boards, starting with permanent representatives from the labor movement.

Walter Brasch is a syndicated social issues columnist and the author of 17 books. His latest is Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, available at,, and bookstores. He is a professor emeritus of journalism and mass communications.

Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D.
 Latest Book: Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution

One Night in Gaza

A Night in Gaza Under the Bombs 


A mini-documentary report from the emergency ward of a hospital in Gaza as the bombs were falling Watch full multipart The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

Gaza Slaughter as a Test of Egypt and America


Netanyahu’s High-stakes Game in Gaza: Same Time, Same Place

by Ramzy Baroud

Many key phrases have been presented to explain Israel’s latest military onslaught against Gaza, which left scores dead and wounded. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is flexing his muscles in preparation for the Israeli general elections in January, suggested some. It is Israel’s way of testing the administration of Egyptian President Mahmoud Morsi, commented others. It was a stern message to Iran, instructed few. Or that Israel is simply assessing its ‘deterrence’ capabilities. And so on.

But there is more than those ready-to-serve analyses. It has been four years since Israel mixed up the cards through an unhindered show of force. Last time it did so was in 2008-09, in a 22-day war it termed ‘Operation Cast Lead’. Then, it killed over 1,400 Palestinians and wounded over 5,000 others. Excluding Israel’s diehard supporters, the general consensus was, including that of many UN and international rights organizations: Israel committed war crimes and crimes against humanity deserving of international tribunals and due retribution.

Of course, none took place. The US government and media stood as an impenetrable shield between Israel’s accused war criminals and those daring to level accusations. Four years later little has changed. Then as it is now, Israel was embarking on national elections, and since ‘security’ is Israel’s enduring strategy whether in national or international politics, it was suddenly realized that Gaza posed a ‘security threat’, thus had to be suppressed or at least taught a lesson. Never mind that a truce was in affect and was mostly holding up, that it was Israel that provoked Palestinian factions to retaliate - before the retaliation was itself considered the original act of aggression as willfully validated by mainstream western media.

In 2008, Barack Obama was elected president, and the outgoing George W. Bush administration remained largely ‘uninvolved’, save for the reiteration of Israel’s right to defend itself against hordes of Palestinian terrorists and such. Some then, suggested that Cast Lead was an Israeli trial balloon to test Obama, whom Israel viewed with much suspicion despite all the groveling he has done at Israeli lobby meetings to assure Israel that a president with a middle name such as ‘Hussein’ will not dare demand accountability from Israel. Obama eventually lived up to Israel’s expectations, and despite few hiccups in their relations, the new administration was hardly different from its predecessors. Under Obama’s, Israel remained a top priority for American diplomacy, politics, military and financial aid and more. However, Israel was still dissatisfied.

Political analysts cite few incidents that made Netanyahu look unfavorably at Obama from the onset. The latter ushered in his foreign policy with the appointment of a Middle East peace envoy, and expected Israel to work towards the resumption of the so-called peace process. More dangerously however, Obama spoke bluntly for the need to freeze settlement construction, as a necessary first step before the return to the ‘negotiations table’. Even Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who understands well the importance of Israeli support for any ambition US politician, was clear regarding the settlements: President Obama, she said, “wants to see a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions.”

Gradually that position weakened, if not entirely reversed. Over the following months and years, the Obama administration retreated to the US’ foreign policy comfort zone regarding Israel: give generously (even in times of economic recession), expect nothing in return, and in the meantime ask no question. But it takes more to placate an ever-demanding government as that of Netanyahu.

The Israeli Prime Minister is himself troubled by fears that his palpable support of the Republican candidate Mitt Romney, his trademark arrogance and lecturing of Obama regarding Iran could prove costly during Obama’s new term. Not that Obama is likely to be any less enthusiastic about supporting Israel, but the Israeli government is concerned that the US administration might not adopt Israeli foreign policy priorities as if it’s an American doctrine, which has been the case for years.

Hours after the election results declared Obama a winner, the Israeli media began censuring the injudiciousness of their prime minister. Articles with such titles as “So Sorry, President Obama, Please Forgive Netanyahu,”(Haaretz) and “Bibi Gambled, We’ll Pay,” (Yedioth Ahronoth) became commonplace. Romney’s defeat was particularly sobering for Israel since it’s the first time that the power of the Zionist lobby and the endless millions of their patrons, such as multibillionaire gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson were rarely as useful in determining election results of this scale.

Truth to be told, Obama is not only unpopular among Israeli political elites, by the Israeli public as well. “In global polls, Israel is the only country in the world that would have elected Romney over Obama,” said ABC, and with a huge margin too.

It was early morning time on Wednesday Nov 7 in Israel and the occupied territories when the US election results were declared. The Israeli cabinet swung into action, and the Israel army was quickly deployed to seek provocations at the Gaza border. An earlier incident on Nov 5, where an apparently mentally unfit man, Ahmad al-Nabaheen was shot dead by Israeli troops, heightened tension, although a truce remained in effect. On Nov 8, however, Israel sought its Casus belli as it moved in Gaza with tanks and attack helicopters. An early victim was a 12-year-old boy gunned down while playing soccer. Palestinians retaliated, although projectiles inside Israel caused no damage. One Israeli soldier was injured near the border with Gaza and more firing was reported by Palestinian fighters aimed at an Israeli military jeep, injuring four. Two more children were killed in an open soccer field on Nov 10, prompting more, although still guarded Palestinian retaliation. And another civilian in Gaza was killed the following day when Israel bombed the funeral tent set up to mourn the victims of past days.

On Nov 12, Egypt was concluding yet another truce between Israel and resistance factions. But that turned out to be a diplomatic embarrassment for Egypt, as the man who agreed to the text of the truce on the Palestinian side, the leader of the Hamas armed resistance in Gaza Ahmed Jabari, was himself assassinated by an Israeli missile on Nov 14. No other meaning can be extracted from Jabari’s murder but the fact that Israel had decided to pull the Palestinians into an all-out war. Scores of Palestinians, many of whom civilians, were killed in the subsequent days. Palestinians extended the range of their projectiles into areas near Tel Aviv and as far as Jerusalem. Three Israelis were reportedly killed.

Israel’s obsession with security often, if not always leads it to create the very conditions that compromise on its own security, so that its leaders may demonstrate the authenticity of their original claim. It is a strange logic that is as old as the state of Israel itself. But the timing of the latest war on Gaza as in the previous one partly meant to push the subject of Israel’s security on the top of the new administration’s agenda, rife with crises and challenges. No US administration risks initiating its term in office with an open confrontation with Israel. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that in times of war, Israel is right even if it’s wrong, as it often is. Not even Barack Hussein Obama is strong enough to change that reasoning.

“We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel,” said Jay Carney, the White House spokesman. “There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel.”

Now that Israel once more pushing its agenda as an American priority, the time is ripe for further escalation and for more saber-rattling against Iran, Hezbollah and whomever else Israel perceives as an enemy. Israeli causalities will be used to demonstrate Israel’s supposed vulnerability, and Palestinian deaths will buttress Netanyahy’s rightwing government as Israel’s unbending guardian against those who continue to pose ‘an existential threat’ to the Jewish state. The truth, of course, remains the least relevant. 

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.

David Rovics in Victoria - Nov. 23, 2012

David Rovics Tonight Cancelled!

Friday, November 23rd, 7:30 pm


2994 Douglas
Victoria, British Columbia

David Rovics grew up in a family of classical musicians in Wilton, Connecticut, and became a fan of populist regimes early on. By the early 90's he was a full-time busker in the Boston subways and by the mid-90's he was traveling the world as a professional flat-picking rabble-rouser. These days David lives in Portland, Oregon and tours regularly on four continents, playing for audiences large and small at cafes, pubs, universities, churches, union halls and protest rallies. He has shared the stage with a veritable who's who of the left in two dozen countries, and has had his music featured on Democracy Now!, BBC, Al-Jazeera and other networks. His essays are published regularly on CounterPunch and elsewhere, and the 200+ songs he makes available for free on the web have been downloaded more than a million times. Most importantly, he's really good. He will make you laugh, he will make you cry, he will make the revolution irresistible.

Does Israel Need to be Hated?

Why Israel Desires to be Hated by Palestinians

by OREN BEN-DOR- CounterPunch

Yet another massacre is unfolding in Gaza, the largest prison in the world. We are surrounded by familiar chatter: ‘Israel’s right to defend itself’; ‘Palestinians’ legitimate resistance to (the 1967) occupation’; ‘who started it this time?’ Most insidious, however, is the stale refrain, sung by a chorus which includes President Obama, that the violence is disastrous for the ‘peace process’ aimed at a ‘two-state solution’.

While it has been noted that one motivation for the Israeli government, in the run-up to elections in January, is to unite voters behind a ‘no choice’ rhetoric, there is a deeper motivation at stake here – to restrict the horizons of political debate, to control what should be regarded as a litmus test for ‘realistic’, ‘moderate’ and ‘reasonable’ voices.

War is useful because the passion it arouses prevents people from asking two basic questions that must be addressed if the core of silencing and violence that we are witnessing is to be grasped and, in turn, if progress is ever to be made towards justice and enduring peace. First, what kind of state is Israel? Second, who are the Palestinians that this state is in conflict with?

Making Hay: Chronicling Escalated Killings before the Gaza Calm

Killing Before the Calm: Israeli Attacks on Civilians Escalated Before Ceasefire

by Eva Bartlett – In Gaza

Nov 21, al Aqsa hospital, Deir al Balah. At approximately 2pm, Mubarak Ibrahim Abu Houly, 24, was walking among the olive trees on his land when the drone hit him, tore off his left leg… not that it mattered…he was instantly dead.

Drone strikes come without any warning. The sky is continually filled with the buzzing of the drones, and eventually you tune them out, they become background noise.

Abu Houly lived in central Gaza’s Nusseirat camp, an area that has been hammered by Zionist bombings this past week.

In Deir al Balah’s al Aqsa hospital morgue—a small room with two three-drawer fridges—Mubarak’s body, awaiting burial, is another testament to the Israeli drone strikes occurring throughout the Strip. Yes, they are precision, but no, they are not merely targeting Israel’s wish list, they are targeting anyone, anywhere.

A branch of the olive tree he was killed near lies above his head on the morgue slab, his face marked by shrapnel but intact, likewise his torso. It is at his hipbone when the shredded, burnt flesh appears, the only evidence of where a leg was.

The staff at Aqsa hospital say, as do news reports from around Gaza, that a high percentage of the martyred were on their land, in or outside their homes, civilians in residential areas.

Two days earlier, three men in their twenties, two from the Abu Bashir family in Deir al Balah, had just harvested tomatoes from their greenhouse, loaded the flatbed truck, and begun returning to the town when they were targeted by an Israeli warplane.

4:26 pm: an ambulance rushes into the hospital’s small parking lot, medics jumping out to rush a tiny body into emergency. The girl, 4, dies on the emergency table as doctors try in vain to revive her. Reham Maher Nabaheen died at 4:27 from the shrapnel lodged in her head after an Israeli army drone strike targeted her family outside their home in Nusseirat.

Her father, in the simple, ragged clothes of Gaza’s poorest, moves between Reham’s bed and that of his wife, injured in the drone strike, sobbing uncontrollably.

The next martyr is rushed in shortly after the morgue fridge door closes on Reham, wrapped in her white, blood-stained, bed-sheet shroud.

Rami Abeid, 37, is the first of five martyrs to be brought into Aqsa hospital after the Israeli F-16ing of the Abu Kmeil house in al Mughraqa, Nusseirat. His body, covered with the dust of rubble, is in one piece. But his face is crushed, bloated. The crushing of his head leaves a thick blood-stain on the stretcher he was carried in on. Quickly enough, he is packaged in the standard white bed-sheet shroud and wheeled into the tight morgue for storage.

The next martyr brought in, wrapped, and stored likewise leaves behind a blood-stain in the form of a head, and the debris of the rubble he was trapped under. One of the civil defense rescuers who helped bring 35 year old Mohammed Abu Eteiwy to the hospital is wracked with sobs: Abu Eteiwy was a rescuer colleague, off-duty and visiting the Abu Kmeils when their home was bombed.

It’s now 6:15 and dark out. The drones continue their ominous humming, the scene is almost out of some horrible futuristic, end-of-the-world movie…and it feels as much. The medics tell us after delivering Abu Eteiwy that they are still searching for the other martyrs. One is half-visible, the others completely buried.

Palestinian medics are among the bravest people alive. They continually face the Zionist tactics of double or triple bombing a targeted site. The medics in their quest for survivors and the martyred go head first into such sites. Some pay the price dearly. In the 200-2009 Israeli attacks on Gaza, 16 medics were killed in Israeli army attacks while aiding Palestinian injured or bringing in the martyred.

The good-natured cameraman who yesterday sobbed at the loss of his journalist colleague—Mohammed Bader, killed while going to document the recently-bombed Abu Tama’a home in Deir—is today stoically back at work, determined to document everything. “I’ve been here everyday since these attacks began,” he tells us. “I sleep at the hospital, 2 or 3 hours, then get back to work.”

At 6:25, an ambulance delivers the body of Sady Abu Kmeil, 26, whose concrete-dusty corpse resembles that of the two men before him.

Across from the empty emergency room bed where Sady Abu Kmeil’s body no longer is, a woman lies on a hospital bed, arms in the air shaking uncontrollably. “Psychotic trauma,” one of the doctors tells me. “She is the sister of Mohammed Abu Eteiwy.” When I ask if he sees many cases of psychotic trauma, he answers without pause, “oh, yes!”

The brother of Rami Abeid, the first martyr brought in, is at the hospital, tells us his dead brother and friends were just sitting in the house when the Israeli army bombed it.

The next body, that of Nidal Hassan, 32, is brought in and out, same routine to the morgue.

The Civil Defence ambulance which just delivered him backs up in the small parking lot before turning around to go off for more victims. It’s backing alert is, instead of a beep, incongruously a cheerful children’s song. In the dark, drones droning, the night gets more surreal.

7:07 pm, waiting for the last of the Abu Kmeil home martyrs. Another Israeli-dropped bomb blasts out over the drones’ buzz.

Six minutes later the last martyr, Ahmed Abu Kmeil, 23, is brought in, wrapped, stored. His body is intact, but his face and ears have melted from the bombing. An older woman sitting comatosely quiet is, a doctor tells me, his relative, and is also in psychotic trauma.

Only 7 minutes later a new victim is brought in: 14 year old Nader Abu Mghaseeb.

His is one of the most horrifying corpses I’ve seen yet, including those martyred in the Israeli war on Gaza 4 years ago. When targeted by an Israeli drone strike, the 14 year was wearing the kind of plastic sports watch and bright t-shirt teens wear. His appendages are still nominally attached to his body, but his legs are bloated, shredded, and when the medics move him from stretcher to gurney, his feet and ankles twist unnaturally, revealing the threads that just barely keep them attached.

I sob.

His father waits outside the hospital, still crying, unable to return to his eastern Gaza home in Abu Agine, near the border with Israel. It isn’t only the lack of taxis; if any were on the road, they wouldn’t dare to go to that area, so close to the occupying army.

He tells us the story. It was a couple of hours before the “cease-fire” and Nader wanted to go to the shop nearby…I have young kids, he adds. Nader went to buy some food for his siblings. The father didn’t want him to leave, but Nader was confident, there was to be a cease-fire. When he didn’t return after 10 minutes, the father began to worry, called Nader on his cell phone and kept calling him until, terrified, he went to look at the shop. He found Nader a bomb-blasted mess on the street.

One of the emergency room doctors is from the same area, knows the Abu Mghaseebs. He was a good boy, the doctor said, good at school, no trouble.

The drone buzzing increases at 7:30, an hour and a half before the “cease-fire”. Another strike sounds out somewhere in central Gaza.

A young couple with a 4 month old baby are in the hospital lobby. Their baby is ill, not related to the bombings. But the couple couldn’t find a taxi or anyone to drive them to the hospital. So they walked the 15 minutes there, in the dark, potential drone targets.

An old woman, in the hospital for whatever reason, hobbles out the parking lot, on her way home, also ride-less. All of the taxis, normally so keen for fares, are too afraid to be the next target. The streets, aside from those brave medics, are empty.

7:45 The hospital buzzes with word that the cease-fire might actually happen. But it isn’t only the bomb blast that occurs minutes later that makes it impossible to believe, it’s the steady stream of martyrs that have come in these past hours before a cease-fire. Nader Abu Mghaseeb’s mutilated legs are etched in my mind.

8:01 An F-16 has been circling where the drones are loudest. Flares go off under the warplane, flares almost always accompanied by a blast soon after.

8:45 A nusseirat apartment is targeted, the injured comes in minutes later.

8:55 Five minutes before the “cease-fire” the drones and F-16s are as loud as ever.

9:10 A journalist at the hospital gets word that the Israeli army has bombed a media office in Khan Younis; there is one martyr.

Altough sceptical, we eventually leave the hospital to go home, passing by streets no longer ghost-like. People have poured out of their homes and are jubulous. Victory, they say, we did not kneel to the Israeli army.

A hefty price to pay for this victory: by the end of Israel’s assault on Gaza, 162 Palestinians have been killed, the vast majority civilians not involved in resistance activities, including 42 children, 11 women, and 18 elderly.

Another 1222 were injured, including 421 children, 207 women, 88 elderly.

25 schools, 1 hospital, 35 mosques, 2 bridges, and 100s of homes were damaged or destroyed.

Past the celebrating crowds of people so happy to be out of their homes and walking freely again, back in the dark of our neighbourhood–the power is out, the siege still exists–the sounds of drones and F-16s continue through the night.

 Eva Bartlett, reporting from Gaza, contributed this article and photos to

Related posts:
  1. Two More Palestinian Killed, 2 Hurt in Israeli Airstrike on Rafah

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Integration" of Canada's Cybersecurity Agenda

U.S.-Canada Integrated Cybersecurity Agenda

by Dana Gabriel  - Be Your Own Leader

As part of the Beyond the Border initiative, the U.S. and Canada are strengthening cybersecurity cooperation. In a move that received little attention, both countries recently announced a joint cybersecurity action plan. Cyber threats know no national borders which has made the issue an important security concern. A fully integrated North American security perimeter would be entrusted with preventing and responding to any such attacks.
One of the key priorities identified in the November 2011 Beyond the Border Action Plan is cybersecurity. The agreement lays the framework for enhancing U.S.-Canada, “bilateral cyber-security cooperation to better protect vital government and critical digital infrastructure and increase both countries' ability to respond jointly and effectively to cyber incidents. This will be achieved through joint projects and operational efforts, including joint briefings with the private sector and other stakeholders, and the enhancement of real-time information sharing between operation centres.” 
The deal will also works towards strengthening, “cooperation on international cyber-security and Internet governance issues to promote prosperity, enhance security and preserve openness in our networked world.” Merging cyber threat strategies would force Canada to further bring its security practices in line with American ones and under the reach of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
On October 26, Public Safety Canada and the DHS released a Cybersecurity Action Plan which represents a key commitment under the Beyond the Border agreement. A press release explained that the specific goals include, “enhancing collaboration on cyber incident management between each country's cyber security operations centres, improving information sharing and engagement with the private sector, and continuing the ongoing collaboration between Canada and the U.S. on the promotion of cyber security awareness to the public.” 
The new joint action plan promotes a shared approach to cybersecurity and digital critical infrastructure protection. Building on these initiatives, both countries also seek to further integrate cyber capabilities into military command structures.
Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta authorized the creation of the Joint Cyber Center (JCC) run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command. The JCC will bring together personnel from the intelligence, operations and command control systems divisions. The aim is, “To better integrate cyber into the headquarters missions by improving situational awareness in the cyber domain, improving the defense of the commands’ networks and providing cyber consequence response and recovery support to civil authorities.” 
In June, DefenseNews reported that Secretary Panetta, “approved a new organizational framework, a plan designed as a ‘first step’ towards standardized cyber operations.” This includes having a JCC at each geographic combatant command which is part of ongoing efforts to not only boost U.S., but continental cyber defense capabilities. In the near future, the U.S. and Canada could create a binational “cyber-NORAD” to protect North America from shared threats.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) released an updated Policy on Cyber Defence in June 2011. According to NATO’s website;
“This revised policy offers a coordinated approach to cyber defence across the Alliance with a focus on preventing cyber attacks and building resilience.” It will act as the framework, “for how NATO will assist Allies, upon request, in their own cyber defence efforts, with the aim to optimise information sharing and situational awareness, collaboration and secure interoperability.” The new policy also, “sets the principles on NATO’s cyber defence cooperation with partner countries, international organisations, the private sector and academia.” 
In May of this year, the Chicago Summit Declaration, “committed to provide the resources and complete the necessary reforms to bring all NATO bodies under centralised cyber protection.” It also pledged to, “further integrate cyber defence measures into Alliance structures and procedures.” U.S.-Canadian military cooperation also extends through NATO and this includes in the realm of cybersecurity.
There are reports that President Barack Obama may be close to issuing a cybersecurity executive order as a means of bypassing Congress. Under the guise of cybersecurity, the U.S. and Canada have been individually pushing draconian legislation domestically which would grant government agencies sweeping new powers. The implications would be far reaching and pose a risk to privacy and civil liberties. Through the Beyond the Border initiative both countries are pursuing an integrated cybersecurity agenda. As they move forward and address common threats to North America, cyber and perimeter security will be further defined and dominated by U.S. interests.
Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues. Contact: Visit his blog at Be Your Own Leader

November 22, 1963: Remembering the Day American Democracy Died

The beginning of President Kennedy's "Peace" speech given at American University, June 10, 1963. Noteworthy are his comments that the US was seeking a goal of "complete disarmament" of nuclear weapons and his vow that America "will never start a war".

Handmaiden to the Slaughter of Truth: BBC "Coverage" Triumphs Again

As Gaza is Savaged Again, Understanding the BBC’s Role Requires More Than Sentiment

by John Pilger

In Peter Watkins' remarkable BBC film, The War Game,which foresaw the aftermath of an attack on London with a one-megaton nuclear bomb, the narrator says: "On almost the entire subject of thermo-nuclear weapons, there is now practically total silence in the press, official publications and on TV. Is there hope to be found in this silence?"

The truth of this statement was equal to its irony. On 24 November, 1965, the BBC banned The War Game as "too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting". This was false. The real reason was spelt out by the chairman of the BBC Board of Governors, Lord Normanbrook, in a secret letter to the Secretary to the Cabinet, Sir Burke Trend.
"[The War Game] is not designed as propaganda," he wrote, "it is intended as a purely factual statement and is based on careful research into official material... But the showing of the film on television might have a significant effect on public attitudes towards the policy of the nuclear deterrent." 
Following a screening attended by senior Whitehall officials, the film was banned because it told an intolerable truth. Sixteen years later, the then BBC director-general, Sir Ian Trethowan, renewed the ban, saying that he feared for the film's effect on people of "limited mental intelligence". Watkins' brilliant work was eventually shown in 1985 to a late-night minority audience. It was introduced by Ludovic Kennedy who repeated the official lie.

What happened to The War Game is the function of the state broadcaster as a cornerstone of Britain's ruling elite. With its outstanding production values, often fine popular drama, natural history and sporting coverage, the BBC enjoys wide appeal and, according to its managers and beneficiaries, "trust". This "trust" may well apply to Springwatch and Sir David Attenborough, but there is no demonstrable basis for it in much of the news and so-called current affairs that claim to make sense of the world, especially the machinations of rampant power. There are honourable individual exceptions, but watch how these are tamed the longer they remain in the institution: a "defenestration", as one senior BBC journalist describes it.

This is notably true in the Middle East where the Israeli state has successfully intimidated the BBC into presenting the theft of Palestinian land and the caging, torturing and killing of its people as an intractable "conflict" between equals. Standing in the rubble from an Israeli attack, one BBC journalist went further and referred to "Gaza's strong culture of martyrdom". So great is this distortion that young viewers of BBC News have told Glasgow University researchers they are left with the impression that Palestinians are the illegal colonisers of their own country. The current BBC "coverage" of Gaza's genocidal misery reinforces this.

The BBC's "Reithian values" of impartiality and independence are almost scriptural in their mythology. Soon after the corporation was founded in the 1920s by Lord John Reith, Britain was consumed by the General Strike. "Reith emerged as a kind of hero," wrote the historian Patrick Renshaw, "who had acted responsibly and yet preserved the precious independence of the BBC. But though this myth persisted it has little basis in reality... the price of that independence was in fact doing what the government wanted done. [Prime Minister Stanley] Baldwin... saw that if they preserved the BBC's independence, it would be much easier for them to get their way on important questions and use it to broadcast Government propaganda."

Unknown to the public, Reith had been the prime minister's speech writer. Ambitious to become Viceroy of India, he ensured the BBC became an evangelist of imperial power, with "impartiality" duly suspended whenever that power was threatened. This "principle" has applied to the BBC's coverage of every colonial war of the modern era: from the covered-up genocide in Indonesia and suppression of eyewitness film of the American bombing of North Vietnam to support for the illegal Blair/Bush invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the now familiar echo of Israeli propaganda whenever that lawless state abuses its captive, Palestine. This reached a nadir in 2009 when, terrified of Israeli reaction, the BBC refused to broadcast a combined charities appeal for the people of Gaza, half of whom are children, most of them malnourished and traumatised by Israeli attacks. The United Nations Rapporteur, Richard Falk, has likened Israel's blockade of Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto under siege by the Nazis. Yet, to the BBC, Gaza - like the 2010 humanitarian relief flotilla murderously attacked by Israeli commandos - largely presents a public relations problem for Israel and its US sponsor.

Mark Regev, Israel's chief propagandist, seemingly has a place reserved for him near the top of BBC news bulletins. In 2010, when I pointed this out to Fran Unsworth, now elevated to director of news, she strongly objected to the description of Regev as a propagandist, adding, "It's not our job to go out and appoint the Palestinian spokesperson".

With similar logic, Unsworth's predecessor, Helen Boaden, described the BBC's reporting of the criminal carnage in Iraq as based on the "fact that Bush has tried to export democracy and human rights to Iraq". To prove her point, Boaden supplied six A4 pages of verifiable lies from Bush and Tony Blair. That ventriloquism is not journalism seemed not to occur to either woman.

What has changed at the BBC is the arrival of the cult of the corporate manager. George Entwistle, the briefly-appointed director general who said he knew nothing about Newsnight's false accusations of child abuse against a Tory grandee, is to receive £450,000 of public money for agreeing to resign before he was sacked: the corporate way. This and the preceding Jimmy Savile scandal might have been scripted for the Daily Mail and the Murdoch press whose self-serving hatred of the BBC has long provided the corporation with its "embattled" façade as the guardian of "public service broadcasting".

Understanding the BBC as a pre-eminent state propagandist and censor by omission - more often than not in tune with its right-wing enemies - is on no public agenda and it ought to be.

America's "Attack" Attack


America Is Under Attack!

by William T. Hathaway

Vicious fanatics are trying to kill us and destroy our country. They're blowing up our soldiers overseas. They've infiltrated our country. We must defend ourselves against these mad-dog berserkers before it's too late.

This litany has been repeated by corporate-controlled media and politicians for years now, pumping fear into us. It is used to justify a massive ongoing war that has killed hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings and almost bankrupted the USA.

But is it really true? Who started this war? When did it begin? The history of this conflict reveals a different story than the one continually beamed at us. The Romans were the first Westerners to try to dominate and plunder the Middle East; the Christian crusaders followed, then nineteenth-century imperialists. From the Arabs' perspective, the barbarians keep descending on them from the north, and they keep throwing them out. In the past hundred years the attacks have intensified as new treasure has been discovered: vast reserves of black, liquid gold under the desert sands.

During World War One, the British persuaded the Arabs to fight on their side by promising them independence. Thousands of them died in battle for the Brits because of this promise of freedom. But after the victory Britain refused to leave. It maintained control by installing puppet kings -- Faisal in Iraq and Ibn Saud in Saudi Arabia -- to rule in its interest.

After World War Two, Britain and the USA pressured the United Nations into confiscating Arab land to form the state of Israel, making the Arabs pay for the crimes of the Germans. In addition to providing a nation for the Jews, Israel would be a forward base for Western economic and military power in the Middle East. To the Arabs it was another European invasion of their territory.

In the early 1950s, the USA and Britain overthrew the government of Iran because it tried to nationalize its oil industry, which was under Western control. We installed the Shah as dictator, and he promptly gave the oil back to us. Then he began a twenty-five year reign of terror against his own people. His secret police jailed, tortured, or killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians who opposed him. Since they knew he was kept in power only by American military aid, they began hating the USA. They finally ousted the Shah, but then the CIA started subverting the new government, trying to bring it down. At that point the Iranians fought back by holding US Embassy officials hostage, which was a mild response, considering what we had done to their country.

In the mid 1950s, Egypt decided to nationalize the Suez Canal and use the income from it to help their people out of poverty. They were willing to pay its British and French owners the full market value for their shares, but Western governments and Israel responded violently, invading and bombing Egypt into submission.

Countries have the right to nationalize their resources as long as they pay a fair compensation, so what Iran and Egypt wanted to do was legal. The Western response, though, was illegal aggression in violation of international law and the United Nations charter. It roused in its victims a deep resolve for revenge.

The USA and Britain committed similar atrocities in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Indonesia, and Afghanistan. We overthrew their governments, installed dictators, undermined their economies -- all to strengthen our business interests. In every nation where we now have terrorism, we had first assaulted them. America is under attack only because it is on the attack. It's no wonder they hate us. Imagine how we would feel if a foreign country were doing this to us. We'd be fighting back any way we could.

Since they don't have our military power, they're resisting with the only weapons they have: guerrilla warfare. As Mike Davis wrote, "The car bomb is the poor man's air force." The rich have Stealth bombers, the poor have Toyota Corollas, both filled with explosives. The bombers are much bigger and kill many more people. Since 9-11 the USA has killed over three hundred thousand -- a hundred times more than died in the World Trade Center. The overwhelming majority have been civilians. We are the top terrorist, armed to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction. As Martin Luther King stated with simple eloquence: "The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government."

Our politicians and media have created an image of fiendish terrorists who "hate us for our freedom." But they really hate us for subjugating them. Since we started the aggression, the attacks won't end until we leave their countries.

Even fanatics like al-Qaeda aren't really aggressors. They're fighting a defensive war, trying to force us out. The Western media never publish their demands because they are so reasonable. They basically come down to, "Go home and leave us alone. Pull your soldiers, your CIA agents, your missionaries, your corporations out of Muslim territory. If you do that, we'll stop attacking you." Nothing about destroying the West or forcing it to become Islamic. Just that the West should stay in the West.

If people knew this -- knew how easy it would be to stop terrorism -- they wouldn't want to fight this war. That's why the media ignore al-Qaeda's demands. Western leaders don't want people to see that the war's real purpose isn't to stop terrorism but to control the resources of this region. They actually want the terrorism because that gives them the excuse they need -- the threat of an evil enemy.

As Hermann Goering, Hitler's assistant, declared: "Naturally the common people don't want war.... is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.... All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Goering was right about the democracies that existed both then and now. In these, the people's influence in politics is regulated to ensure that only pro-capitalist parties have a chance. Corporate financing, winner-take-all elections, ballot-access laws, and slanted media coverage effectively exclude alternatives. Democracy means power is in the hands of the people. But the real power in our society -- economic power -- remains firmly in the hands of the rich elite, enabling them to control politics -- and us -- to a large degree.

Capitalism is always at war. The violence, though, is often abstract: forcing us either to accept low-paying, exhausting jobs or starve; denying us adequate health care, education, and economic security; convincing us that human beings are basically isolated, autonomous units seeking self gratification. But when this doesn't suffice to keep their profits growing, the violence becomes physical, the cannons roar, and the elite rally us to war to defend "our" country and destroy the fiendish enemy. Motivating us to kill and die for them requires a massive propaganda campaign -- America is under attack! -- which we confront whenever we turn on their media.

Why do they do this? Are they monsters?

No, they're not. They're just human beings serving an inhuman system. Capitalism is inherently predatory. It demands aggressive growth. It's either dominate or go under.

This drive for domination is the root cause of war, and until we eliminate it, we're going to continue killing one another. Eliminating it requires a global struggle to bring down oligarchic capitalism and replace it with democratic socialism. Political democracy must be expanded and extended into the economic sphere. We, the people of the world, have to take control of the forces that shape our lives. This is the basis for building a society in which we can all fully develop as human beings. Once we achieve this, we'll have a real chance at lasting peace.

We can do this! It's no more difficult than other evolutionary challenges humanity has mastered. The best program I've found for achieving it is the Socialist Equality Party's:

William T. Hathaway is an adjunct professor of American studies at the University of Oldenburg in Germany. His latest book, Radical Peace: People Refusing War, presents the experiences of war resisters, deserters, and peace activists in the USA, Europe, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Chapters are posted on a page of the publisher's website at He is also the author of Summer Snow, the story of an American warrior in Central Asia who falls in love with a Sufi Muslim and learns from her that higher consciousness is more effective than violence. Chapters are available at

Gaza's Morning After

The Morning After

by Richard Lightbown

Let there be no illusions about this article. It is being written from the comfort of a computer armchair more than a thousand miles away from the conflicts of the Middle East. And from where I sit the underdog has just got the better of the argument with the neighbourhood bully in the Middle East. This is a long way from the story of David and Goliath. This Goliath is still very much alive and dangerous. But for the moment at least he has been taught to back off and sit this one out.

As an election campaign the recent Gaza conflict may not have done Mr Netanyahu any harm, but it may not have done Ehud Barak a lot of good either. If Mr Barak is now forced out of office because Israel forces were constrained from carrying out the Dahiya doctrine on Gaza it will indeed be good riddance to very bad rubbish.

What is abundantly clear however is that this criminal policy of scorched earth was not carried through, and it was not because the Israeli public disapproved of such an action, not because the Israeli politicians or the military leaders could not stomach such a crime, not because the UN, America or Europe was appalled and offended enough to act and not because the international Criminal Court struck fear into the gangsters contemplating such an act. The only constraints on the bully boy rogue state this time around were the Palestinians themselves.

Let no one be in any doubt about this, apart from moral support from civilians around the world, some fair (if subdued) campaigning from Amnesty International and courageous reporting from the alternative media, the people of Gaza had only the support of their fellow citizens on the West Bank during their suffering from the rampages of the most malignant army in the world.

It is worthwhile reflecting on just how little support there was for the misery in Gaza. Western politicians parroted ad nauseum the pathetic mantra that Israel had a right to defend itself. (Why did they not just issue a joint statement?) None of them paused to consider whether similar rights should be accorded the 1.6 million trapped inside Gaza’s concentration camp. The UN Security Council was neutered by the United States from passing any condemnation. (And yes this is the same US that has been expressing so much righteous indignation against the Russian and Chinese vetoes on its meddling in Syria: where was your moral outrage this time Dr Rice?) On Capitol Hill the US Congress passed Resolution 813 on 16 November in one minute flat, expressing “vigorous support” and “unwavering commitment” to the state of Israel. It is recorded that the resolution passed without objection, although this was doubtless because there was no notice, no committee hearing, no discussion and no debate. (Not exactly the finest moment for American democracy.)

While there has been a stream of Muslim politicians visiting Gaza this last week none has dared to defy the mighty American dollar and match action with words. The Rafah crossing has stayed firmly shut to goods so that while Gaza’s medical supplies sink perilously close to exhaustion not so much as a band aid crossed the terranean border from Egypt. The opposition in Turkey has called on its government to close the US radar base at Kürecik on the grounds that it benefits Israeli security, but Prime Minister Erdoğan appears not to have given the matter any consideration. The Emir of Qatar had visited Gaza in October and insisted that the aid he promised for rebuilding the territory would be sent via the Rafah crossing. But this fair weather friend was strangely quiet all through the Israeli assault.

Human Rights Watch treated both sides as equal combatants in calling for an end to attacks on civilians. Did this prestigious organization not know that Israeli smart bombs had targeted three hospitals and one clinic in Gaza and that the Jordan Field Hospital in Gaza City had been damaged beyond repair? Does not 155 dead in Gaza compared to five dead in Israel not suggest a disparity of force, and of responsibility?

If the grotesque photos from Gaza of dead children, (including one of what appears to once have been a young girl, but now looks like a rag doll with a red hole for a brain) cannot evoke more action from HRW then there is clearly a need for a new, and genuine, organization to campaign fairly and honestly for human rights.

It is a fact that the Gazan response in this Israeli-initiated conflict has been indiscriminate attacks on civilians. It is a fact that these actions are war crimes. It is also a legitimate question to ask what other response was available to the militant defenders within that embattled enclave?

The UN did not help (again). The governments which could have restrained the most militarized nation in the world stayed their hands. As Israel called up 65,000 reservists for a ground assault and the Dahiya doctrine was openly discussed, a massacre of Palestinian civilians on the scale of 2008/9 was on the cards. That it did not happen does not appear to have been the result of any influence from Barak Obama and was certainly not the result of any action by Congress. That can only mean that Gaza’s war crimes have in fact prevented a greater crime.

Fajr rockets landing on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and a homemade rocket killing three Israelis at Kiryat Malachi have spoken louder than any weasel words in the UN. The near destruction of an F-16 has shown that even advanced US weaponry is vulnerable now, while the Iron Dome defence system that Israel had hoped to market as a battle proven defence system now looks a bad investment to any potential buyer. A bomb on a bus in Tel Aviv appears to have been the final argument that convinced the bully to take the peace negotiations seriously. This was not a moral option: it was an outrage. But regrettably in a world of lies, hype, hypocrisy and callous indifference the civilian victims of Tel Aviv seem to have been the blood sacrifice that was necessary to bring a little sanity and reason to a troubled region.

What now? Israelis can now come out of their shelters and get on with their lives. The 65,000 reservists can go back to useful occupations and the Israeli economy will be the better for it. Barak Obama can serve another four years as Israel’s poodle and Europe will continue to treat Israel as a normal state. But for Gaza the siege is likely to continue. It is true that the peace deal requires “procedures of implementation” to be put in place on opening the border crossings and allowing free movement of people and goods. It is also very true that we have been here before with a deal brokered by Condoleeza Rice in 2005 and promises made after the 2010 public relations disaster when psychopaths raided the Freedom Flotilla. None of those promises was kept and we should not indulge too much wishful thinking this time.

But it is important that no one forget that there is a crisis in Gaza. Huge quantities of medical supplies and equipment are urgently needed. Infrastructure needs a complete overhaul. Homes, schools, hospitals, sports and social facilities need building and repairing. Above all Gaza needs access to the world outside the concentration camp, to trade, to send its critically sick for advanced care, to send its bright young people for an advanced education and generally to interact with the world about it. Israel’s past history has been one of preventing this by all means, while hiding the evidence.

Few people know that the 550 tons of cement from the Freedom Flotilla were kept on the Rachel Corrie in Haifa harbour until it was unusable. Few people know that the two x-ray machines for Gaza were seriously damaged while under Israeli control and so rejected by the UN. In fact it is not clear just how much of the 10,000 tons of cargo from the flotilla was ever allowed to get to its destination and put to use, despite the assurances to the world by that inveterate liar Mr Mark Regev.

The real battle for Gaza now lies ahead and it is likely to be just as unequal as the one that has just ended. Aux armes citoyens: a great challenge lies ahead and we must be on our guard because, judging by their past actions, our politicians and the faux human rights organizations, along with much of the media, are not going to side with right against might in the continuing struggle for freedom and human rights in Gaza.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wet'suwet'en Intercept "Midnight" Survey Team

Pipeline Surveyors"Evicted" from BC First Nations Territory


Hi! I'm sending a call for support. Last night, our friends from Wet'suwet'en First Nation turfed a pipeline surveying crew from their territory after the crew was found "trespassing" without permission. Chief Toghestiy presented the crew leader with an eagle feather (a traditional notice of trespass) and a verbal warning. The Morice River West Forest Service Road is now closed 66 km south of Houston BC at the bridge over Wedzin Kwah (Morice River).

This 4-minute video shows Chief Toghestiy delivering the trespass notice November 20:

Here's the report from CBC:

Defenders from the Unis'tot'en Clan and allies are camping at the site of the blockade to stop any more attempts at pipeline construction.

I'm asking for support for our friends who are standing up to stop the pipelines. I pledged to send the Unis'tot'en Camp $3200 by Christmas for winter gear: snowshoes, parkas, boots, saws, axes, and insulation
for the cabins. Forest Action Network is collecting donations to send to the defenders. Click this link to help reach this goal:

The camp sits in the path of the planned Enbridge tar sands pipeline, part of the route other gas and oil companies plan to take advantage of to reach the coast. In August, I helped FAN deliver a caravan of
food, building supplies, and 100 volunteers to build the Unis'tot'en Camp. We also brought a $2500 cash donation for food and tools. This month, we sent another $800 for winter supplies. But more help is  needed. It's very cold there and the snow is already deep on the ground!

We're also seeking donations to the Eco Warriors Legal Trust -- "legal aid for activists."

Want to join the defenders? Send me a note and we can start planning the second caravan to Unis'tot'en. On Facebook? Like FAN and get the latest news!

Later this week I'll send a reminder about the community meeting in Victoria Tuesday Nov 27, 7 pm at 234 Menzies, to prep for the pipeline companies' public meetings in Victoria December and January. Info:

Thank you very much for your support!

Zoe Blunt
Forest Action Network
"Small but mighty"

Press release from the Unis'tot'en Defenders:

Unis'tot'en defenders order pipeline surveyors off indigenous territory

On the evening of November 20th, 2012, a Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief near Houston BC intercepted a pipeline surveying crew and presented them with a notice of trespass and a verbal warning. The surveyors said they were with the Can-Am Geomatics company, working to prepare the way for Apache’s proposed Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP). Chief Toghestiy handed the crew leader an eagle feather, which is the first and only notice of trespass in Wet’suwet’en law. The defenders ordered the surveyors (and all other people associated with PTP) to leave the territory and not return to Unis’tot’en land.

As a result of the unsanctioned PTP work in the Unist’ot’en yintah (territory), the road leading into the territory has been closed to all industry activities until further notice. Morice River West Forest Service Road is closed at the bridge over Wedzin Kwah (Morice River) 66 km south of Houston.

Toghestiy states: “I have invoked the Wet’suwet’en Inuk nu’ot’en (Law) called Bi Kyi Wa’at’en (Responsibility of a husband to respectfully use and protect his wife’s territory) to issue a trespass notice to Pipeline workers on her sovereign territory. My Clan’s territory called Lho Kwa (Clore River) is located behind the Unist’ot’en territory adjacent to the Coastal town of Kitimat and it is our responsibility to protect our territory as well. We will be stopping all proposed pipelines.”

The Wet’suwet’en are made up of five Clans, with territories that they are expected to manage for their future generations. The Unis’tot’en clan has been dead-set against all pipelines slated to cross through their territories, which include PTP, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway, and many others. The Unis’tot’en have established a permanent community along the Widzin Kwa (Morice River) directly in the path of the
proposed energy corridor and made their opposition extremely clear.

Freda Huson, spokeswoman for the Unis’tot’en Clan, states: “PTP does not have permission to be on our territory. It’s unceded land. We said “NO!” in their meetings. We’ve written them letters; I’ve sent them emails, saying “absolutely NO!” to their projects. Consider it trespass when you enter our territory without permission. You’ve received your warning. Don’t come back!”

This marks the second time that eagle feathers have been issued to pipeline workers. On August 23rd, 2010, Toghestiy and Hagwilakw of the Likhts’amisyu clan gave Enbridge representatives trespass warnings during a Smithers Town Council meeting where Enbridge attended to attempt to smooth over their recent oil spill on the Kalamazoo River.

This 4-minute video shows Chief Toghestiy delivering the trespass notice November 20:

A 9-minute video explaining the community can be found at The Unist’ot’en community’s website is

Please note that neither the Unis’tot’en People or the other Grassroots Wet’suwet’en are associated with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en.

Hotline: 250-813-3569

Women Produced and Producing

WOMEN, Production and Reproduction!

by Betty Krawczyk - Betty's Early Edition

Women are in the process of developing a strong consciousness of themselves as producers. As women now outnumber men in the Canadian and US work force they are using their capacity as producers to gain better pay, working conditions, and safer employment, not only for themselves, but for men, too. However I believe that the world will not make any kind of dramatic shift towards peace and equality until women recognize their power as reproducers as well as producers and act upon this recognition.

Why do I say this? Women reproduce the work force. In fact, women reproduce all human endeavor… the soldiers, mine workers, cab drivers, nurses and school teachers, doctors; government bureaucrats, priests, military generals and heads of state. And while women are paid, however poorly, for their production work, women do the long, often painful and disappointing as well as rewarding, always expensive reproduction work for free ( I do acknowledge father’s roles in rearing children but they do not grow the babies inside their own bodies or nurse them after). And ironically, it is the reproduction work that in the past have made women the scapegoats of a male dominated society.

If we look at the world’s most lucrative money markets, we see that it is drugs, guns and the arms trade, prostitution, sports, gambling and banking, alcohol, pornography, war, entertainment and human trafficking that head the list. None of these help women trying to raise children in a healthy way, in fact, these activities are killing children. When any animal’s habitat is destroyed so is the animal. Women know this, but feel helpless before the knowledge because these most lucrative markets are so attractive to men in general. Women as reproducers, are swamped with trying to keep our own canoes afloat, our own children out of harms’ way, while feeding and clothing them with as much love and care as time and money will allow to try to strengthen them against the uncaring of an increasingly militaristic, religious fundamentalist and violent world.

Eric Fromm, the renowned philosopher, in his book THE ART OF LOVING said that the opposite of love isn’t hate, but indifference. He pointed out that actual hate implies a connection of some sort, a kind of recognition. Fromm believed that Indifference was the most lethal killer of the human spirit. Robert Frost, famous American poet echoed this theme in his poem FIRE AND ICE. Robert Frost warns us in his famous poem that “Some say the world will end in fire… (but) to say that for destruction, ice is also great, and would suffice”.

The ice of indifference is what women in general are up against in recreating the next work force. There’s a crying need, not for cheap day care centers, but for free day care centres. Women need societal acknowledgement that the treating of females as sex entertainment for men is evil, that not only the sexual health of females but the sexual health of men (fifty percent drop in male sperm count in the last fifty years) is serious business, that cancer is epidemic, and that women as reproducers are just bloody tired of GMO foods shoved down our children’s throats as well as our own without even a warning label.

Significant numbers of young women understand very well that they will bear the blame if things go poorly in the tricky business of child rearing, and that they will reap no share of corporate profits for reproducing workers even if things turn out well. Some western and European women, although there is in most women the desire to cuddle a baby at one time or another, are seeing through what can only be described as a financial scam and saying no to motherhood. Enough so that Canada and European countries have to start depending on immigration for their work force along with all the clashes of culture that immigration implies. Many of the immigrants from countries where women’s needs are given less attention than those of livestock tend to set about trying to recreate a culture much like the one they just left.

According to accounts of first contact in the Americas, when the Europeans arrived they found a high degree of respect for women among the aboriginals. Women were acknowledged as the givers and providers of life. Johann Jakob Bachofen in the 1800’s wrote a three volume work on the early matriarchy called MOTHER RIGHT. Bachofen postulated that all early human organizations were matriarchal. Many other modern day scholars agree. I agree. Why? Because if patriarchy had prevailed in those early days the children would not have survived. Had the mean, uncaring, bottom line spirit of capitalism prevailed then as it does today with the emphasis on wars, male one up man ship, contempt for women, and indifference to children, the children would not have survived. It was women who brought the human race forward and women have a right to demand the right to rear children in peace with an equal distribution of the wealth of this country. Yes, let us stand up and demand MOTHER RIGHT!

©2012 Betty K | Blog: Books: