Saturday, April 27, 2013

Capital Terror in Rana Plaza

The Terror of Capitalism

by Vijay Prashad - CounterPunch

Delhi - On Wednesday, April 24, a day after Bangladeshi authorities asked the owners to evacuate their garment factory that employed almost three thousand workers, the building collapsed.

The building, Rana Plaza, located in the Dhaka suburb of Savar, produced garments for the commodity chain that stretches from the cotton fields of South Asia through Bangladesh’s machines and workers to the retail houses in the Atlantic world.

In the rubble of Rana Plaza. 
Photo: Taslima Akhter 

Famous name brands were stitched here, as are clothes that hang on the satanic shelves of Wal-Mart. Rescue workers were able to save two thousand people as of this writing, with confirmation that over three hundred are dead. The numbers for the latter are fated to rise. It is well worth mentioning that the death toll in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City of 1911 was one hundred and forty six. The death toll here is already twice that. This “accident” comes five months (November 24, 2012) after the Tazreen garment factory fire that killed at least one hundred and twelve workers.

The list of “accidents” is long and painful. In April 2005, a garment factory in Savar collapsed, killing seventy-five workers. In February 2006, another factory collapsed in Dhaka, killing eighteen. In June 2010, a building collapsed in Dhaka, killing twenty-five. These are the “factories” of twenty-first century globalization – poorly built shelters for a production process geared toward long working days, third rate machines, and workers whose own lives are submitted to the imperatives of just-in-time production. Writing about the factory regime in England during the nineteenth century, Karl Marx noted, “But in its blind unrestrainable passion, its wear-wolf hunger for surplus labour, capital oversteps not only the moral, but even the merely physical maximum bounds of the working-day. It usurps the time for growth, development and healthy maintenance of the body. It steals the time required for the consumption of fresh air and sunlight…. All that concerns it is simply and solely the maximum of labour-power that can be rendered fluent in a working-day. It attains this end by shortening the extent of the labourer’s life, as a greedy farmer snatches increased produce from the soil by reducing it of its fertility” (Capital, Chapter 10).

These Bangladesh factories are a part of the landscape of globalization that is mimicked in the factories along the US-Mexico border, in Haiti, in Sri Lanka, and in other places that opened their doors to the garment industry’s savvy use of the new manufacturing and trade order of the 1990s. Subdued countries that had neither the patriotic will to fight for their citizens nor any concern for the long-term debilitation of their social order rushed to welcome garment production. The big garment producers no longer wanted to invest in factories – they turned to sub-contractors, offering them very narrow margins for profit and thereby forcing them to run their factories like prison-houses of labour. The sub-contracting regime allowed these firms to deny any culpability for what was done by the actual owners of these small factories, allowing them to enjoy the benefits of the cheap products without having their consciences stained with the sweat and blood of the workers. It also allowed the consumers in the Atlantic world to buy vast amount of commodities, often with debt-financed consumption, without concern for the methods of production. An occasionally outburst of liberal sentiment turned against this or that company, but there was no overall appreciation of the way the Wal-Mart type of commodity chain made normal the sorts of business practices that occasioned this or that campaign.

Bangladeshi workers have not been as prone as the consumers in the Atlantic world. As recently as June 2012, thousands of workers in the Ashulia Industrial Zone, outside Dhaka, protested for higher wages and better working conditions. For days on end, these workers closed down three hundred factories, blocking the Dhaka-Tangali highway at Narasinghapur. The workers earn between 3000 taka ($35) and 5,500 taka ($70) a month; they wanted a raise of between 1500 taka ($19) and 2000 taka ($25) per month. The government sent in three thousand policemen to secure the scene, and the Prime Minister offered anodyne entreaties that she would look into the matter. A three-member committee was set up, but nothing substantial came of it.

Aware of the futility of negotiations with a government subordinated to the logic of the commodity chain, Dhaka exploded in violence as more and more news from the Rana Building emerged. Workers have shut down the factory area around Dhaka, blocking roads and smashing cars. The callousness of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Association (BGMEA) adds fire to the workers’ anger. After the protests in June, BGMEA head Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin accused the workers of being involved in “some conspiracy.” He argued that there is “no logic for increasing the wages of the workers.” This time, BGMEA’s new president Atiqul Islam suggested that the problem was not the death of the workers or the poor conditions in which workers toil but “the disruption in production owing to unrest and hartals [strikes].” These strikes, he said, are “just another heavy blow to the garment sector.” No wonder those who took to the streets have so little faith in the sub-contractors and the government.

Attempts to shift the needle of exploitation have been thwarted by concerted government pressure and the advantages of assassination. Whatever decent lurks in Bangladesh’s Labour Act is eclipsed by weak enforcement by the Ministry of Labour’s Inspections Department. There are only eighteen inspectors and assistant inspectors to monitor 100,000 factories in the Dhaka area, where most of the garment factories are located. If an infraction is detected, the fines are too low to generate any reforms. When workers try to form unions, the harsh response from the management is sufficient to curtail their efforts. Management prefers the anarchic outbreaks of violence to the steady consolidation of worker power. In fact, the violence led the Bangladeshi government to create a Crisis Management Cell and an Industrial Police not to monitor violations of labour laws, but to spy on worker organisers. In April 2012, agents of capital kidnapped Aminul Islam, one of the key organisers of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity. He was found dead a few days later, his body littered with the marks of torture.

Bangladesh has been convulsed this past months with protests over its history – the terrible violence visited among the freedom fighters in 1971 by the Jamaat-e-Islami brought thousands of people into Shanbagh in Dhaka; this protest morphed into the political civil war between the two mainstream parties, setting aside the calls for justice for victims of that violence. This protest has inflamed the country, which has been otherwise quite sanguine about the everyday terror against its garment sector workers. The Rana building “accident” might provide a progressive hinge for a protest movement that is otherwise adrift.

In the Atlantic world, meanwhile, self-absorption over the wars on terror and on the downturn in the economy prevent any genuine introspection over the mode of life that relies upon debt-fueled consumerism at the expense of workers in Dhaka. Those who died in the Rana building are victims not only of the malfeasance of the sub-contractors, but also of twenty-first century globalisation.

Vijay Prashad’s new book, The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South, is out this month from Verso Books.

Free-Loading, Tax-Dodging, Corporate Welfare Queens Named

Investigation Reveals Trillions Hidden in Tax Havens


Bill Black: An international collaboration of investigative journalists has released the names of wealthy individuals stashing as much as three times the American GDP in tax havens.

William K. Black, author of THE BEST WAY TO ROB A BANK IS TO OWN ONE, teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC). He was the Executive Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention from 2005-2007. He has taught previously at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and at Santa Clara University, where he was also the distinguished scholar in residence for insurance law and a visiting scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Black was litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, deputy director of the FSLIC, SVP and general counsel of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and senior deputy chief counsel, Office of Thrift Supervision. He was deputy director of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement. Black developed the concept of "control fraud" frauds in which the CEO or head of state uses the entity as a "weapon." Control frauds cause greater financial losses than all other forms of property crime combined. He recently helped the World Bank develop anti-corruption initiatives and served as an expert for OFHEO in its enforcement action against Fannie Mae's former senior management. 

Pay Pal No Friend of Freedom for Political Prisoners

Pay Pal Blocks Funds Earmarked for '5 Days for Cuban 5'

by International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5

One day after a matching fund appeal was sent out by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, PayPal stopped all donations coming in and froze all assets in the committee's account. The purpose of the appeal was for much needed funds for the upcoming Five Days for the Cuban Five, May 30 - June 5 in Washington D.C.

Donors received the following message: "Unfortunately, we are not able to complete this particular transaction. This reversal is specific to this transaction and does not affect the use of your PayPal account. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. For more information, see Government regulations and policies. Sincerely, PayPal".

The committee's account administrator called PayPal and followed it up with the following letter:

"You suspended this account for three days and then cleared it after I made a phone call, which is great. However, we still do not know or understand the reason for the suspension except that you suspect some activity that might possibly be in violation of Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations.

"What activity? What provoked the concern? I gave you no more information in the phone call than you already had in your files.

"We are understandably concerned about any accusation concerning OFAC violations, and if there are any parties that are making such accusations to cause trouble to us, we want to take appropriate action. I'm sure you understand.

"Please therefore provide us with information that we can use to avoid such a problem in the future.
"Thank you"

Organizations and individuals in the U.S. working in solidarity with Cuba are used to this type of intimidating tactic that is just another extension of the cruel and senseless blockade of Cuba. This action has only made us more determined than ever to make the second Five Days for the Cuban Five a great success.

We get word everyday of more people coming to Washington and we should show our strength by making sure we make the matching fund. For those of you who had your donation bounce resubmit it and for those of you who haven't made a contribution there could be no better time than now.

See you in Washington D.C.

Donations are tax deductible.

You can make an online CREDIT CARD donation


WRITE YOUR CHECK TO: International Committee

Send your donation to
International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
P.O. Box 22455
Oakland, CA 94609

TO MAKE A DONATION BY WAY OF A WIRE TRANSACTION, FROM ANY COUNTRY WRITE TO US to: and we will send you the necessary information to make the transaction.   

Framing the Next Regime Change in Lebanon: Al Qaeda Vs. Hezbollah

Pushing Al Qaeda to Take on Hezbollah

by Franklin Lamb - CounterPunch

Beirut - "This is one damn fine idea, what took us so long to see a simple solution that was right in front of our eyes for Christ’s sake”, Senator John McCain of “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” and “no-fly zones for Syria” notoriety, reportedly demanded to know from Dennis Ross during a recent Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) brain storming session in Washington DC.

Ross, a founder of WINEP with Israeli government start up cash (presumably reimbursed unknowingly, one way or another by American taxpayers) and currently WINEPs “Counselor”, as in “consigliere” reportedly responded to the idea of facilitating Al Qeada to wage jihad against Hezbollah with the comment: “Shiites aren’t the only ones seeking death to demonstrate their ‘resistance’ to whatever. Plenty of other Muslims also want to die as we saw last week in Boston. Let ‘em all go at it and Israel can sweep out their s— when it’s over.”

One Congressional staffer attending the WINEP event emailed to Beirut: “Dennis spoke in jest—well I assumed he did- but who knows anymore? Things are getting ever crazier inside some of these pro-Israel ‘think tanks’ around here.”

Featured on the front page of its 4/25/13 edition, the Zionist compliant New York Times writes that the Assad regime is apparently recovering but, “it must be understood that for all of the justified worries about the (al Qaeda affiliated) rebels “Assad remains an ally of Iran and Hezbollah.”

The Times adopts the views of Islamophobe, Daniel Pipes, who recommends that the US try to keep the two sides in Syria fighting as long as possible until they destroy each other. Pipes, now serving as an advisor to John McClain, wrote in the Washington Times of 4/11/13 “ Evil forces pose less danger to us when they make war on each other. This keeps them focused locally, and it prevents either one from emerging victorious and thereby posing a greater danger. Western powers should guide enemies to a stalemate by helping whichever side is losing, so as to prolong their debilitating conflict.”

Both Jeffrey Feltman, U.N. Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs and Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N, have at a minimum impliedly joined in the intriguing idea of sic’ing Jabhat al Nusra on the Party of God. This scheme, if launched, would be Feltman’s 14th attempt to topple Hezbollah and defeat the Lebanese National Resistance to the occupation of Palestine since he first arrived in Beirut from Tel Aviv in 2005 to become US Ambassador to Lebanon. This observer, among others in this region sense that given the aura still enveloping the American Embassy here, that Jeffrey never really left his Lebanese ambassadorial post and continues to occupy this position from his new UN office.

This week Feltman warned that the spillover of Syria’s war continues to be felt in Lebanon as Susan Rice, echoed him and condemned Hezbollah for “undermining the country’s “dissociation policy.” The latter being a bit obscure in meaning but connoting something like sitting around doing nothing while this country is being shelled by jihadists from among the 23 countries currently fighting in Syria. Feltman informed the media on 4/22/13 that “The Secretary-General is concerned by reports that Lebanese are fighting in Syria both on the side of the regime and on the side of the opposition, hopes that the new government will find ways to promote better compliance by all sides in Lebanon with the “disassociation policy.”

Given current divisions in Lebanon that will not happen anymore than Lebanon’s June 9th Parliamentary elections will be held on time.

For her part, Susan lectured the UN Security Council that “Hezbollah actively enables Assad to wage war on the Syrian people by providing money, weapons, and expertise to the regime in close coordination with Iran.” This position was expressed also through a statement by US. State Department spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, who said that Washington “has always been clear concerning Hezbollah’s shameful role and the support it is providing for the Syrian regime and the violence it is inducing in Syria.” Ventrell added: “We were clear from the start concerning the destructive role played by Iran as well as the Iranian role.”

Several Israeli agents in Congress are today promoting a Jabhat el Nusra-Hezbollah war even as the Obama administration terror-lists the jihadist group. Meanwhile, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), McCain’s neocon Islamaphobe acolyte, goes a bit further and explains to Fox News, once Assad falls and Hezbollah is out of the picture “We can deal with these (jihadist) fellas.”

Recent history in Libya instructs otherwise. As Turkish commentator Cihan Celik recently noted: “A divorce with al-Nusra will not be easy in Syria.”

The past two years in Libya, that shadow of a country, reveals countless examples, three witnessed firsthand by this observer, during the long hot summer of 2011. What we saw was Gulf sponsors and funders offering young men, often unemployed, $ 100 per month, free cigarettes, and a Kalashnikov to do jihad. Plenty down and out lads still accept these offers in Libya, as they do in Syria. One reason why the militias proliferated so quickly in Libya and never melted away was the phenomenon of a wannabe jihadists deciding to be a leader and recruiting perhaps a brother or two, maybe a few cousins or tribe members, and presto, they have created a militia with power they never dreamed of. Their new life can offer many perceived benefits from running rough shod over the civilian populations and setting up myriad mini but potent criminal enterprises specializing in kidnappings, robberies, drugs, trafficking in women, and assassinations for cash. How many of these young men have turned in their weapons in Libya and returned to their former lives? Or will do so when instructed by the likes of McCain or Graham?

On 4/24/13 Jabhat Al-Nusra Front intensified its threats to officials here including the Lebanese president by releasing a challenge from its media office: “…we inform you – and you may think of that as a warning or an ultimatum – that you must take immediate measures to restrain Hezbollah, otherwise, the fire will reach Beirut. If you do not abide by this within 24 hours, we will consider that you are taking part in the massacres committed by the Hezbollah members and we will unfortunately have to burn everything in Beirut.” In addition they are calling for Jihad and the establishment of the “Resistance Factions for Jihad against the Regime in Syria” and also in Saida and Tripoli, Lebanon.

Israeli officials appear to be in agreement with the Ross/Pipes proposal to arrange for Al Qeada to launch a war against Hezbollah. The Director for External Affairs at “The Mosche Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, repeatedly claimed that the Shia are the real threat to Israel, not the Sunni and with the least threat coming from the Gulf monarchs. He offered the view recently that “Israel is now a partner of the Sunni Arab states.” Indeed, Israel hopes that Hezbollah will forget Israel when tasked with trying repel Al Nusra and other al Qaeda affiliate attacks.

According to various Israel officials who have issued statements on the subject, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan and several other members of the Arab League constitute an “alliance of anxiety for Israel” because they claim that “Sunni Arabs are not as competent as the Shia and Iran and as a result they express doubts that Israel can rely on the Sunni states in the same way that the Sunni states can reply on Israel.”

In a documentary about the Iraq war, an American soldier explains: “Actually, we don’t really have much of a problem with the Sunnis. It’s the Shias who we are afraid of. The problem has something to do with their leader who was killed centuries ago and these fellas are willing to lay their life down for the guy. Anyhow, that is that they told us in Special Ops class.”

Al Nusra fighters currently occupying parts the south west areas of Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in south Damascus, recently expressed eagerness to fight Hezbollah which they claim would give them credibility with Sunni Muslims and, oddly, in this observers view, “ credibility with western countries”, who supposedly are al Qaeda’s sworn enemies. It’s sometimes hard to know who precisely is whose enemy these days in Syria as the rebels continue using areas east and southwest of Damascus as rear bases and as gateways into the capital.

Despite boasts to the contrary from Jihadist types in Syria and Lebanon, it is not clear to this observer if Jihadist and al Qaeda-affiliated groups living among Hezbollah communities in Lebanon like Fatah al Islam, Jund al Sham or Osbat al Ansar which have been here for years would actually join the Zionist promoted anti-Hezbollah jihad.

But it is evident that some Lebanese Islamists and jihadists directly connected to al Qaeda do have the ability to target Hezbollah. Elements from each of these groups are startling to associate and identify with al Nusra inspired partly by the latter’s successful military operations of Jabhat al Nusra in Syria. Again, we saw the same thing in Libya. Enthusiastic, ambitious young men who want to improve their lot in life try to go with a winner. According to sources in the Ain al Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, jihadist leaders such as Haytham and Mohammed al Saadi, Tawfic Taha, Oussama al Shehabi and Majed al Majed are recruiting followers and fighters in Lebanon and offer a ticket out the the squalid army surrounded, Syrian refugee inflated camp.

Homs-based media activist Mohammad Radwan Raad claims that “the embattled residents of the rebel-controlled Homs province town of Al-Qusayr welcome Saida, Lebanon based Sunni Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir’s call for Jihad in Syria.” Claims Raad, “Al-Qusayr residents welcome Assir’s call and hope the Lebanese people help kick out Hezbollah members in the area…We need anyone who can get rid of them.” This week Assir urged his followers to join Syrian rebels fighting troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah. Al-Qusayr has been under rebel control for more than a year and on the scene reports indicate that it is about to be returned to central government control.

In response, two Salafist Sunni Lebanese sheikhs urged their followers to go to Syria to fight a jihad (religious war) in defense of Qusayr’s Sunni residents. “There is a religious duty on every Muslim who is able to do so… to enter into Syria in order to defend its people, its mosques and religious shrines, especially in Qusayr and Homs,” Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir told his followers. For now, experts say, such calls on the part of Lebanon’s Salafists are largely bluster because the movement is far from able to wield either the arsenal or the fighting forces of Hezbollah.

Local analysts like Qassem Kassir argue that Jabhat al Nusra and friends are not organized enough to fight against Hezbollah in a conventional war, but they could cause great damage by organizing bomb attacks against the Party of God’s bases and militants. The latter would be enough initially for Ross and WINEP and their Zionist handlers. Creating chaos in Lebanon being one of their goals but more importantly weakening the National Lebanese Resistance led by Hezbollah and also challenging Syria and Iran.

In a recent speech, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah offered his party’s view about a promoted Sunni-Shia clash with Al-Nusra, AlQaida and all the groups which flocked to Syria, saying that what was wanted of them by those who sent them was to kill and get killed in Syria, in a massacre which will only serve the enemies of the Arabs and Muslims.

The coming months will reveal to us if the several pro-Zionist Arab regimes and Islamophobes including those at WINEP and other Israel first “think-tanks” are delusional in believing a “simple solution” in John McCain’s words, to those resisting the Zionist occupation of Palestine would be to assist Jabhat el Nusra type jihadists to make war against Hezbollah. And whether they could defeat Hezbollah or even whether Jabhat al Nusra and friends are capable of igniting yet another catastrophe in this region.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and Syria and can be reached c/o

What YOU Can Do to Protect BC's Wild Salmon

Add Your Voice to Protect Wild Salmon

by Alexandra Morton


Sign Petition the Province of British Columbia must cease permitting Atlantic salmon feedlots to operate among wild salmon

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 10.09.23 AM

Pushing the BC NDP on Fish Farms

The NDP's Salmon Sell Out - Money Talks, Adrian Dix Doesn't!

by Don Staniford - Green Around the World

Voters in the upcoming election in British Columbia are beginning to see through the NDP's embarrassingly thin policy on salmon (click online here - and then search for "salmon" and there's only two mentions in 70 pages of NDP policy promises!).

NDP leader Adrian Dix - the man in the skimpy orange underpants - is the Emperor with no clothes and no voice for wild salmon.

Watch Adrian Dix's lips as he criss-crosses BC on the campaign trail - but don't hold your breath for him to issue a public statement on salmon anytime soon. The BC salmon farming industry has bought the NDP's platform on salmon farming - hence Dix's deafening silence on salmon.

The NDP's current policy on salmon farming is the tail wagging the dog.

A look at all the donors to the NDP reveals over $10,000 in donations from the BC Salmon Farmers Association and the salmon farming giant Grieg Seafood - with five donations from the BCSFA since 2006 including $6,700 in 2012 alone.

Norwegian-owned Grieg Seafood donated a further $1,125 during 2012.

Grieg Seafood, along with another Norwegian-owned salmon farming corporation Cermaq (Mainstream), spread the deadly disease Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis around BC last year precipitating "losses amounting to millions of dollars".

Read more via Alexandra Morton's blog "On to the next IHN positive site owned by Norwegian company Grieg"

BCSFA member Mainstream Canada (a subsidiary of Cermaq) certainly know how to play politics. Following the death of NDP leader Jack Layton they cried crocodile tears via this press release:

Whilst NDP federal leader Jack Layton came out strongly in support of wild salmon and referred to fish farms as a "grave concern" before the 2011 election, BC NDP leader Adrian Dix refuses to nix disease-ridden salmon feedlots.

"I think the long-term decline that we’ve seen, the growth of fish farming that we’ve seen, is something that’s of very, very grave concern," said Layton in an interview with The Straight. "So this is a high priority for us."

Read more via "Message to the NDP - Cut the Crap on Salmon Farming"

How low can the BC NDP now go when it comes to their policy on salmon? Whilst Jack led from the front and spoke his mind, Adrian barks orders from the backroom to NDP candidates to stay silent whilst out on the campaign trail.

A closer look at the NDP's backroom team bossing strategy rings the alarm bells. The brains behind the NDP's election campaign is Brad Lavigne - a Vice President of the PR company of choice for polluting corporations, Hill & Knowlton.

Hill & Knowlton acted as a shameless shill for the salmon farming industry when advising the BC Salmon Farmers Association in 2003. Raincoast Conservation Society wrote in a press release:

Read more via "Farmageddon & the Spin Doctors", "Media campaign attempts to get farmed salmon off the hook" and "Net-cage farmed salmon will never gain public acceptance"

A decade later, that Hill & Knowlton's Vice President is pulling the strings on the NDP's salmon policy speaks volumes (even if NDP leader Adrian Dix doesn't).

Read more via "Is the NDP the Liberal Party in disguise? Go Green for Wild Salmon!"

Friday, April 26, 2013

Exhuming the BC Rail Inquiry: What Were the Roles of Surviving Liberals?

BC Rail inquiry - The time has come

by Peter Ewart  - Opinion 250

The scandal-ridden sale of BC Rail has haunted provincial politics and the BC Liberal government since 2003. Like Marley's ghost in Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol", it shows up again and again, chains clanking, reminding all who will listen of some very unpleasant facts.

Now, finally, it looks as if we could have an opportunity to confront some of these facts. The BC NDP has announced that, if elected on May 14th, it will conduct a judicial inquiry into the sale of BC Rail to the U.S. rail giant CN Rail. This inquiry is expected to take two years and cost $10 million.

What are just a few of these unpleasant facts?

In the early 1990s, David McLean, Chairman of CN Rail, provided substantial backing and support for Gordon Campbell's bid to take over the leadership of the BC Liberal Party, which was then in opposition.

In the 1996 election, Campbell ran on a platform that included the selling off of BC Rail, a provincially-owned crown corporation. However, he lost the election in large part due to the opposition to the proposed sale from people in the north of the province. After the election, Campbell apologized to northerners and said that he would not repeat the mistake.

Yet, after winning the provincial election in a landslide in 2001, Campbell reversed his promise. BC Rail was put up for sale in 2003. Although the Liberal government used other terminology to describe the transaction, such as "partnership", "lease", and so on, the bare fact remained that it was, for all intents and purposes, a sale.

People in Prince George and surrounding communities, from all walks of life and political affiliations, stood up against what they considered to be a flagrant betrayal of trust. Nevertheless, the provincial government, with the full support of then Minister Christy Clark, as well as local Liberal MLAs Pat Bell and Shirley Bond, proceeded to push it through.

The bidding process itself was scandal-ridden. Two of the bidders, CP Rail and Burlington Northern, withdrew their offers alleging that the government had leaked key information to the winning bidder CN Rail, and that the bidding process was "unfair."

Soon after CN Rail was granted the contract, the RCMP launched an unprecedented raid on the BC Legislature. News outlets around the world reported on the spectacle of RCMP officers ringing the Legislature and marching out of buildings with seized computers and boxes bulging with files. The incident has to be one of the most shameful things ever to happen in the history of BC politics, and brought the entire political process in the province into disrepute.

As part of the investigation, the RCMP also raided the home of Bruce Clark, brother of current Premier Christy Clark, and seized confidential documents that had been handed over to him by the two ministerial aides, Basi and Virk, who were charged with accepting bribes, breach of trust and fraud. Bruce Clark was never charged.

The corruption trial of Basi and Virk had its own set of controversies. In testimony, various dirty tricks and questionable practices carried out by individuals associated with the BC Liberals came to light. Indeed, just as key testimony was about to be given that could have shed light on broader aspects of the bidding process and scandal, the provincial government announced that a plea deal had been negotiated. Astoundingly, as part of the plea deal, the $6 million legal bill for Basi and Virk was paid off with public funds and the trial was shut down.

There are a multitude of other unanswered questions and controversies too numerous to be mentioned here that are associated with this sordid affair, and which hover phantom-like over BC politics.

These must be brought to light. Why? Because there is a perception amongst many British Columbians that other crimes and wrongdoings associated with this deal still remain to be uncovered. Indeed, a number of facts point in that direction. Given the sheer magnitude of the sale and the controversies associated with it, a full public inquiry is warranted.

Furthermore, BC Rail represented a major billion dollar public asset, one which was closely associated with the opening of the Interior and development of the province. To sell off such an important asset, after promising not to do so, was an act of treachery committed against the people of BC and the sovereignty of the province.

Elected officials must be taught that when they carry out actions in contempt of the people, there will be consequences. Not to do so, means that such actions will be repeated in the future. As an example of this repetition, scarcely two months after the 2009 election, the government tried to impose the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) even though before the election, it had clearly indicated it was not planning such a controversial action. The parallel to the sell-off of BC Rail in 2003 was apparent to the many who were outraged by the imposition of the tax.

Finally, the $6 million payout to Basi and Virk to cover their legal expenses (and subsequent shutting down of the corruption trial) stinks to high heaven. Government officials need to account for such an outrageous act.

No doubt some in the BC Liberal Party will howl and moan about the prospect of a public inquiry. But the fact of the matter is, it was their mess. They caused it. They inflicted it on the province. So they shouldn't complain when others try to clear the air.

In addition, they definitely should not complain about the price tag of $10 million, considering that they handed over $6 million to the convicted criminals who were part of the scandal, and considering that they sold off a publicly-owned asset worth more than $1 billion to a U.S. rail company, using a scandal-ridden bidding process to do so.

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

Japan Spins America's Much Vaunted "Asian Pivot" Policy

Japan stirs Campbell's US 'pivot' soup

by Peter Lee - Asia Times Online

Oscar Wilde wrote, "When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers." Perhaps this is how Kurt Campbell feels today.

Campbell, after all, as assistant secretary for East Asia in Hillary Clinton's State Department, was a key architect and proponent of the "pivot to Asia", which was meant to elicit satisfactory behavior from China - and, in the process, demonstrate US leadership and relevance - by confronting the PRC with a phalanx of Pacific democracies (plus Vietnam of course) determined to impose liberal security, economic, and human rights norms on the rogue superpower.

The inevitable result of US backing has been an increased willingness of the Philippines, Vietnam, and Japan to stand up to China, which has contributed a virtuous cycle of Chinese hostility and a further defensive cleaving of the smaller nations to the United States.

The less-than-desirable by-product has been the tendency of the pivot's designated junior partners to tug at the dragon's whiskers for national and domestic political reasons, secure in the knowledge that the United States must back them up, even if the confrontation runs contrary to long-term US interests and objectives for the region.

In the case of Japan, adventurism has gotten out of hand, and the US is responding with anxiety, a shift in policy, and a sea-change in nomenclature.

History will judge if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is the architect of Japan's renaissance, or merely an opportunistic and short-sighted nationalist. In any case, he has already demonstrated a willingness to stir the Pacific pot in ways that excite the anxiety of the United States.

The United States' discomfort at Japan's eagerness to hype the Senkaku/Diaoyutai Island dispute as a useful point of friction with China has become palpable.

Kurt Campbell, now ensconced in the private sector on the board of the Center for a New American Security think tank, chose to reveal to the Kyodo News Agency that the US government had advised Japan against the nationalization of three of the Senkaku Islands, the provocation that sparked this year's Sino-Japanese brouhaha:
The Japanese government consulted with the State Department prior to the purchase, Campbell revealed, and was given "very strong advice not to go in this direction."

The US government, in urging Japan not to follow through with the purchase, stressed the action could "trigger a crisis" with China, which claims the islands for itself.

"Even though we warned Japan, Japan decided to go in a different direction, and they thought they had gained the support of China, or some did, which we were certain that they had not," Campbell said. [1]

Stroking the Senkaku fetish might be excused as an unavoidable political imperative for Abe, given the rise in anti-Chinese feeling in Japan. However, under Abe the Japanese government has unilaterally undertaken a series of other moves to strengthen the hands of Pacific nations seeking to counter China.

In recent months, the Japanese government has agreed to provide 10 patrol boats to the Philippines; enticed Taiwan to abandon its anti-Japanese stance on the Senkakus (which, as a matter of proximity, really belong to Taiwan) by granting Taiwanese fishing vessels the right to fish near the islands (though not within the 12 mile limit); offered its economic good offices as an alternative to China as a destination for Mongolian coal; and scheduled talks with Vietnam on cooperation in "maritime security", also known as the provision of patrol boats along the Philippine model.

The spectacle of the Japanese government cutting all sorts of anti-China deals in Asia on its own kick raises the specter of an independent Japanese security policy and, with it, the kind of destabilization that the US pivot to Asia was meant to pre-empt.

As Peter Ennis reported in Dispatch Japan, the Obama administration was determined to reign in Prime Minister Abe's anti-China shenanigans during his March visit to Washington:

In a brief Oval Office appearance with Abe, Obama spoke not one word about the Senkakus, China, Okinawa, or even a "joint vision" of the sort announced with Noda. Abe tried his best to criticize China, very indirectly, but adhered to US desires to not rile-up Beijing. ...

Neither Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry took the seemingly easy step of reiterating the January 18 statement by then-Secretary of State Clinton outlining American opposition to any effort at unilateral change of Japan's administrative control of the Senkakus. This was a far-cry from Abe's initial desire for a strong statement from Obama specifically mentioning China. ...
Obama embraced the US-Japan alliance, but did not embrace Abe. [2]

Unfortunately for the United States - and the pivot - it looks like the Japanese military cat is permanently out of the bag, as a result of Japan's growing unwillingness to accept the second-class military status imposed upon it by its defeat in World War II.

The Abe government is determined to revise Japan's "pacifist" constitution and dilute its restrictions on military operations outside Japan's borders once the LDP gains expected dominance of the Diet's upper as well as lower house - and the ability to unilaterally amend the constitution - following elections in July.

Actually, a lot of nibbling has already taken place. Recently, the Japanese cabinet decided that Japanese ground forces could be dispatched overseas "to assist in the evacuation of Japanese nationals" from danger zones. Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera asserted Japan's legal right to engage in preemptive strike to forestall an imminent attack, while stating that Japan had not developed that capability "as yet".

During Prime Minister Abe's visit to the United States, the Japanese team also touted the concept of "collective self-defense", which states that the Japanese self-defense forces could come to the defense of an ally, ie fight a war outside Japan's borders as long as it was "defending an ally". To demonstrate the benefits of the collective self-defense posture, the Japanese team also suggested that Japan's missile defense network would be pleased to knock down a North Korean missile headed for the United States.

The Obama administration, while undoubtedly appreciative of the offer to shelter beneath Japan's missile defense umbrella, was perhaps more worried about Japan knocking down something else and starting World War III, and demurred.

In a relatively unnoticed but equally significant development, the Obama administration also objected strongly to Japan's plans to process its spent fuel rods domestically and enlarge its sizable stockpile of bomb-worthy plutonium metal. [3] Another indication that Japan has slipped the leash is in the area of "Abenomics".

It is safe to say that no governments outside of Japan are enthusiastic about the keystone of Prime Minister Abe's national economic rebirth strategy: a wild bet on quantitative easing twice the size of the US effort, one that will inject US$1.4 trillion into the economy over two years and double Japan's money supply.

Officially, the objective of the policy is to boost inflation to 2%, thereby baking inflationary expectations into the economy, and stampeding "Mrs Watanabe", the prototypical Japanese saver, into buying a new car or bedpan-emptying robot right away, instead of waiting for another 20 years of continued deflation to bring the price within reach. Nobody knows if that will work.

Unofficially, the objective of the policy seems to be to drive down the yen and boost Japanese exports, which is already working.

To cite Oscar Wilde once again, export promotion is the quantitative easing consequence that dares not speak its name. Nobody who engages in quantitative easing - the United States, the European Union, or, now Japan - admits that the objective is to weaken the currency and keep factories humming with exports. Because once one country weakens its currency, everybody else will, and we're down the slippery slope.

Given the fait accompli Abe delivered to the financial markets, the Group of 20 decided to give Japan the benefit of the doubt with this less than ringing endorsement of its motives at the April 19 meeting of finance ministers in Washington:
Japan's recent policy actions are intended to stop deflation and support domestic demand.

Full stop.

The G-20 had a lot more to say about quantitative easing, as long as it didn't have to talk directly about Japan:

We will refrain from competitive devaluation and will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes, and we will resist all forms of protectionism and keep our markets open. We reiterate that excess volatility of financial flows and disorderly movements in exchange rates have adverse implications for economic and financial stability. Monetary policy should be directed toward domestic price stability and continuing to support economic recovery according to the respective mandates of central banks. We will be mindful of unintended negative side effects stemming from extended periods of monetary easing.

Concerned readers will be shocked, shocked! to learn that Japanese officials and sympathetic media outlets spun the G-20's leeriness about quantitative easing and its one-sentence shirking of criticism of Japanese policy into an endorsement of Abenomics. As in:
G-20 understood Japan's policies to revive economy - BOJ's Kuroda. [4]

The Japan Times headlined with "G-20 finance chiefs back aggressive easing regime" and continued with a strategic use of the passive voice:
Those comments were viewed as giving a green light to Japan's program, which has driven the value of the yen down by more than 20 percent against the dollar since October. [5]

As reported by the Guardian, concern over Japan's Abenomics plans was already widely acknowledged back in February:

Japan will escape censure from the G20 group of nations meeting in Moscow this weekend despite widespread unease at Tokyo's aggressive intervention into currency markets to drive down the value of the yen.

It is understood that pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and several prominent G20 members has kept any reference to Japan's attempts to depress the yen out of a communique due to be released on Saturday.

A draft communique seen by Reuters suggests that Tokyo would not be singled out for criticism, as had been suggested.

An unnamed delegate was quoted as saying: "There wasn't anybody putting Japan on the spot. That's quite frankly a bit of a surprise." [6]

For its part, in order to avoid explicit criticism in the Washington meeting, the Bank of Japan declared it would print money by purchasing Japanese government bonds, not directly purchasing foreign securities and thereby explicitly strengthening foreign currencies. [7]

Nevertheless, in the real world, a lot of that money is going to end up in foreign markets (and strengthening foreign currencies) anyway, simply getting laundered through private securities firms instead of flooding out direct from the BOJ. Bill Gross, the bond guru of Pimco - and Japanese QE skeptic-told the Wall Street Journal:

"This BOJ printing seeps out daily into global markets as Japanese institutions which have sold their Japanese government bonds to the BOJ look for higher yielding replacements," said Mr Gross in an email interview Tuesday afternoon with The Wall Street Journal. "Ten-year Treasurys to us look very low-yielding, but to them they yield 125 basis points more." [8]

It is not out of line to speculate that Japan's announcement of its decision to join negotiations on the Obama administration's cherished Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact was also timed to ensure US forbearance on Japan's massive program of quantitative easing.

Japan may be enjoying some success in its public relations campaign to paper over widespread unease about its quantitative easing program, but massaging the national and financial press is not going to alleviate private US concerns about the immediate and less than beneficial impact of Prime Minister Abe's diplomatic and economic initiatives on another important pivot partner, South Korea.

In the framework of the pivot, Japan's disregard for the sensibilities and interests of the Republic of Korea, a frontline state in any effort to restrain North Korea and counter China, is well-nigh inexplicable.

Why split the anti-China alliance by fussing over the Dokdo Islands, provoking South Korea with unnecessary, symbolic affronts like Abe's offering to the Yasakuni shrine, the visit of almost 200 lawmakers to the shrine, or making statements like this?:

On Tuesday during an Upper House session, Abe was asked to comment on the 1995 statement by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, who straightforwardly apologized for Japan's "colonial rule and aggression," which "caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries."

Abe didn't elaborate, but he did claim that the definition of "aggression" in general has yet to be "firmly determined" by academic experts or the international community.

What is described as aggression "can be viewed differently" depending on which side you're on, Abe said. Major South Korean newspapers slammed Abe on their front pages Wednesday. [9]

If Prime Minister Abe is unable to characterize the invasion of Korea and China as "aggression", Japan's neighbors are free to worry about how elastic his definition of "self-defense", collective or otherwise might be, once the constitution is revised.

In some circles, Japan's quantitative easing is seen as little more than a zero-sum game to juice the economy by benefiting Japanese exporters at the expense of their direct rivals in South Korea, pivot be damned:

[T]he Hyundai Research Institute predicted that if the yen reaches 100 or 110 to the dollar, South Korean exports will fall by 3.4% in the first case and 11.4% in the second.

The problem is the large degree of overlap with Japan in terms of major exports, which account for 60% of South Korea's GDP. An analysis by the Korea International Trade Association showed an overlap of about 50% between South Korea's top 100 export items and Japan's.

Indeed, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MTIE) figures on the first quarter growth rate for export items where South Korea competes with Japan showed an 11.3% drop from the previous quarter for steel and a 3.5% drop for automobiles. With respective ratings of 0.63 and 0.58, they were the second and third most competitive industries behind shipbuilding (0.75). [10]

South Korea experiences a double whammy at the hands of Japanese quantitative easing thanks to the ROK's status as a growing, emerging economy and, therefore, a hot money magnet, as William Pesek wrote for Bloomberg, while chronicling the ROK's $16 billion stimulus counter to the 20% drop in the value of the yen:

Instead of spurring demand, ultra-low rates are creating a flood of hot money. All that cash has to go somewhere, and it's ending up in Chinese junk bonds, Philippine stocks, Australian real estate and the Korean won.

More bold steps may be coming. Korea is considering ways to insulate itself from capital-flow volatility, possibly by imposing taxes on financial transactions. Fifteen years ago, Malaysia became a pariah state when it limited the flow of money. Today, it is common-sense economics to protect your country from being overwhelmed by central-bank largesse.

Developing Asia once spread financial contagion from New York to London and Tokyo. Now, as the world's richest economies return the favor, Asian policymakers are grappling for ways to cope ? [11]

Ironically, one of the best ways for the US to restrain an increasingly independently minded Japan is by cozying up to China and redefining the pivot away from its China-containment (and provocation and destabilization-enabling) roots.

So Kurt Campbell emphasized the distance between Washington and Tokyo on the Senkakus, and - notably for someone who built a diplomatic strategy on confronting China - made the case in an op-ed for the Financial Times for increased cooperation between the US and China:
[T]he world's most important bilateral relationship is the one between the US and China. For that relationship to succeed, it must be embedded in a larger framework of US diplomacy in Asia, stretching from Japan to India, but certainly the US-China piece will be central for the 21st century. With new leadership in Beijing under President Xi Jinping settling in and President Barack Obama starting his second term, this is a defining period for the future of US-China relations. Both countries have challenging domestic agendas, but Washington and Beijing fully recognise the importance of their international interactions. [12]

The US media also made some ridiculous but significant efforts within the context of the North Korean crisis to shoehorn China into the unlikely role of America's pivot "ally". [13]

As part of the China reset, the Obama administration dispatched the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Michael Dempsey, to Beijing, where he labored to redefine the pivot as "not all about China" and, indeed, not even a pivot at all:

Economic, security, and demographic trends all lead to the Asia-Pacific region, he said.

"Furthermore, I tell them this wasn't about them, meaning China. Of course they're a factor, but this wasn't a strategy that was aimed at them in any way," Dempsey said.

The chairman added that military considerations are only part of the broader US regional strategy. "I pointed out to them that among the first visitors who came here after our ? rebalancing initiative was announced was Jack Lew, the secretary of the treasury," he said. [14]

For connoisseurs of government newspeak, it should be pointed out that apparently the "pivot", with its thrusty, aggressive connotations is "out" and the more gentle, conciliatory "rebalancing" is "in" as the description of what the US is trying to do to or with China in Asia.

Speaking of the finance side of "rebalancing", the Department of Treasury also quietly emphasized the implicit gap between Washington and Tokyo on quantitative easing while giving China some modest praise, as the German news outlet MNI reported:

If there was anything mildly unexpected in Lew's post-G20 comments, it was the highlighted praise aimed at China, increasing the emphasis on the positive beyond that of Lew's two most recent predecessors.
Lew's silence about Japan in his statement to his counterparts from around the world seemed to soften somewhat the emphasis placed only hours earlier by a senior Treasury official. The official had reiterated in response to a question from MNI that the US. will be watching closely to see if the expansion of quantitative easing in Japan actually does more to boost demand and inflation than it does to depreciate the yen. [15]

In another indication of US establishment umbrage, New York Times also weighed in with an editorial critical of Japan's Yasakuni Shrine antics titled "Japan's Unnecessary Nationalism".

In a significant bit of reframing that probably irked the Japanese government, the New York Times pointed out that the recent heightening of tensions around the Senkakus was a bilateral effort (China was responding to a flotilla of Japanese nationalists), not merely an exercise in Chinese "assertiveness", as the Western media usually presents the issue:

On Monday, South Korea canceled a visit to Japan by its foreign minister and China publicly chastised Japan. On Tuesday, tensions were further fueled when Chinese and Japanese boats converged on disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Japan and China both need to work on a peaceful solution to their territorial issues. But it seems especially foolhardy for Japan to inflame hostilities with China and South Korea when all countries need to be working cooperatively to resolve the problems with North Korea and its nuclear program. [16]

So, from the US perspective, maybe China is not the only big, bad guy in Asia anymore.

Add Japan, with its unilateral, damn the consequences (to others) security and fiscal aggressiveness to the list.

When one considers that the Japanese quantitative easing program could blow up the Asian and world economy in a replay of 1997 - or worse - there's even a case to be made that the genuine near-term threat to the world's well-being from Japan is perhaps greater than that from China.

As one finance guru told CNBC:

There are additional risks, the most glaring being that a big round of quantitative easing in Japan may be no better at stoking growth and the good kind of inflation there than it has been in the US. Despite the Fed's all-out efforts, unemployment remains elevated and inflation subdued, though stocks have soared. ...

"Monetary policy is being used as the policy tool to create demand. The question is, is this going to end in tears?" Prudential's Krosby said. "Is this going to end in worse calamity for the markets than what we had in 2008 and 2009?" [17]

Creating and then managing intractable problems through reshuffled nomenclature may be the ticket to full employment for practitioners of international relations, but for promoters of the US national interest, the realization that we are now wrestling with a second assertive, unpopular, and profoundly destabilizing power in the West Pacific is cause for concern, not celebration.

[This piece originally appeared on Asia Times Online on April 26, 2013. It can be reposted if ATOl is credited and a link provided.]

1. U.S. warned government against buying Senkaku Islands: Campbell , Japan Times, April 10, 2013.
2. For Abe, talks with Obama came down to 'take what you can get', Dispatch Japan, February 26, 2013.
3. U.S. officials concerned about Japan's plan to reprocess nuclear fuel, R&D, April 22, 2013.
4. G20 understood Japan's policies to revive economy - BOJ's Kuroda, Reuters, April 22, 2013.
5. G-20 finance chiefs back aggressive easing regime, Japan Times, April 20, 2013.
6. G20 meeting: Japan won't be singled out for currency depreciation, The Guardian, February 15, 2013.
7. Finance ministers endorse Japan's easy money, USA Today, April 19, 2013.
8. Pimco's Bill Gross Turns Bullish on 10-Year Treasury Notes, Fox News, April 9, 2013.
9. Abe war comment roils S. Korean media, Japan Times, April 24, 2013.
10. Weak yen could mean trouble ahead for South Korean exporters, The hankyoreh, April 24, 2013.
11. Click here.
12. Steps to improve US-China relations, The Financial Times, April 23, 2013. (Subscription only).
13. AP Thinks China is 'An Unreliable American Ally', China Matters, April 6, 2013.
14. China Visit Sparks Dynamic Engagements, Dempsey Says, US Department of Defense, April 24, 2013.
15. Click here.
16. Japan's Unnecessary Nationalism, The New York Times, April 23, 2013.
17. US, Japan Now Global Allies in Money Printing, CNBC, April 8, 2013.

Vancouver Convergence Tracing Mining Violence to Its Source

Tracing Violence To Its Source: Exposing Vancouver Mining Companies

The world’s “Greenest City” is home to some dirty mining companies - who are holding their annual conference! BC Mining Week: Celebrating BC

Mining is coming to town, and the Mining Justice Alliance and allies are planning our own celebration! Join us for a “Toxic Tour” of Vancouver’s mining headquarters, featuring dance performances, street theatre, testimonies, video footage, food, and more surprises.

MONDAY April 29, 2013! Toxic Tour
Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories

 5pm START: At the GOLDCORP SFU Center for the Arts
(in the Woodwards ‘public’ Atrium) 111 W Hastings St at Abbott.

Final destination: Canada Place outside BC Mining Week’s Opening Gala Event for THE OTHER GALA to honour community resistance to unjust mining and expose the violence and toxicity that are the effect of Vancouver companies.

Monday, April 29th
5 to 8 pm
Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories
* March in solidarity with communities affected by BC-based mining
companies throughout Turtle Island and across the globe!
* Visit the corporate headquarters of mining companies and hear from
communities resisting mines!
* Reject government-supported corporate violation of peoples' lands,
waters, rights and livelihoods!
* Honour those who have been injured or killed for their opposition to
Canadian Mining projects.
* Bring your children, parents, grandparents!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Whipped Explores Party Discipline and the Secret World of Back Door Politics

'Whipped' - New Doc Explores Secret World of Party Discipline

by Damien Gillis - The

I'm pleased to announce that award-winning political journalist Sean Holman is premiering his new 40-min documentary Whipped in Vancouver and Victoria this week.

I worked with Sean as the cinematographer for the project, so I'm not in a position to review the film.

But I will say, humbly, that he's done a bang-up job securing unprecedented access to key political figures and coaxing out some truly astonishing confessions about the way our political system really works.

Whipped poses some important questions, like why BC has the lowest record of independent votes in the Legislature of pretty much any jurisdiction in the Western world; like how we got to this place where MLAs elected to represent their constituents are invariably far more concerned about sticking to the party line; and what solutions could help bring real democracy back to Victoria.

According to Holman, "For the first time ever, British Columbians will hear what really happens behind the closed doors of the provincial politics – and why some MLAs think it’s wrong."

The impressive calibre of interviewees demonstrates the respect Sean's years as a reporter (he's now a journalism professor at Mount Royal University) garnered him over the years - both through the mainstream media and his own blog, The Public Eye Online. The film draws out some fascinating, candid revelations from a long list of influential, retired politicians - from onetime Liberal Attorney General Geoff Plant and Finance Minister Carole Taylor to the NDP's David Chudnovsky and Premier Mike Harcourt.

It also includes a number of lesser known but highly qualified leaders whose independent-mindedness kept them from Cabinet posts they likely merited. People like the Liberals' Dennis MacKay and Socred Nick Loenen - not to mention Independent MLA Bob Simpson, whose mild public criticism of then NDP Leader Carole James triggered a chain of events that brought about her downfall and compelled him to quit the party.

I went into the project with what I thought was a fairly good grasp of the lock-down world of party politics. And yet, shooting this film for Sean proved a real eye-opener for me. It was clear that even these intelligent, successful people - leaders in their respective fields of law, education, medicine, media, business - were genuinely shocked, upon their initiation as MLAs, to learn how the system really works.

Now, thanks to Whipped, the public has the opportunity to share in those insights and begin a much-needed conversation about how to fix our ailing democracy.

See Whipped this week at one of the following screenings:

Thursday, April 25 (7 p.m.), UBC
Buchanan Building (Room A103)

Friday, April 26 (7 p.m.), Victoria
The Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas Street
Sunday, April 28 (7 p.m.), Vancouver
Library Square Conference Centre (Alice MacKay Room), 350 West Georgia Street

Last Thoughts on the Success of Israeli Zionism and the Abject Arab Failure to Support Palestine

Final Thoughts on Zionism's Success, Arab Failure

by Alan Hart - Redress

I am withdrawing from the battlefield of the war for the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel, and the following is an explanation of why.

Exposing Zionism’s lies

More than three decades ago when I made my commitment to this war effort, in the full knowledge that it would make me persona non grata in the eyes of the mainstream media I had served with some distinction, I believed that the single most amazing thing about the conflict was Zionism’s success in selling its propaganda lies – lies which were told not only to justify anything and everything the Zionist (not Jewish) state of Israel did and does, but also to establish and fix the boundaries of what could and could not be discussed in public discourse about Israel’s policies and actions. (I mean what could and could not be discussed by non-Jews, Europeans and Americans especially, if they didn’t want to be terrorized by smears and false charges of anti-Semitism which could result in them losing their positions and jobs).

What could be called the Mother and Father of Zionism’s propaganda lies is the assertion that all the Jews of the world are descended from the ancient Hebrews and therefore have a common ethnic origin and national heritage. In other words, according to Zionism’s assertion, Palestine is by definition the ancestral homeland of all the Jews of the world; and this, it is further asserted by Zionism, means that Israel has the right to sovereignty over all the land it occupies today and Jews from anywhere have the right to settle on it.

As Israeli historian Shlomo Sand explains in his book The Invention of the Jewish People, that is simply not true. And as I noted in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews (which was published before Sand’s work), almost all if not all the Jews who went to Palestine in answer to Zionism’s call had no biological connection to the ancient Hebrews. They, like almost all Jews, were the descendants of peoples from many homelands (mainly in Eastern and Western Europe) who converted to Judaism centuries after the brief rule of the ancient Hebrews ended and who, after their conversion, had only their religion and its rituals in common.

Though they subsequently converted to Islam and Christianity, it is possible that when Zionism declared itself to be in existence 1897 there were more Palestinian Arabs than Palestinian Jews who were descended from the ancient Hebrews.

Zionism’s claim that the Jews of the world have a right to the land now occupied by Greater Israel does not bear honest examination.

One of the most influential of Zionism’s follow-up propaganda lies asserted that Israel was given its birth certificate and thus its legitimacy by the United Nations Partition Resolution of 29 November 1947. As I document in detail in my book and have indicated over the years in more than a few articles and presentations of public platforms of all kinds, that is propaganda nonsense.

In the first place, the UN without the consent of the majority of the people of Palestine did not have the right to decide to partition Palestine or assign any part of its territory to a minority of alien immigrants in order for them to establish a state of their own.

Despite that, by the narrowest of margins, and only after a rigged vote (rigged by Zionist pressure amounting to blackmail on the leaders and governments of some member states), the UN General Assembly did pass a resolution to partition Palestine and create two states, one Arab, one Jewish, with Jerusalem not part of either. But the General Assembly resolution was only a proposal – meaning that it could have no effect, would not become policy, unless approved by the Security Council.

The truth is that the General Assembly’s partition proposal never went to the Security Council for consideration. Why not? Because the US knew that, if approved, it could only be implemented by force, and President Truman was not prepared to use force to partition Palestine.

So the partition plan was vitiated (became invalid), and the question of what the hell to do about Palestine after the occupying British had been driven out it by Zionist terrorism was taken back to the General Assembly for more discussion. The option favoured and proposed by the US was temporary UN Trusteeship. It was while the General Assembly was debating what to do next that Israel unilaterally declared itself to be in existence – actually, in defiance of the will of the organized international community as it then was, including the Truman administration.

The truth of the time was that Israel had no right to exist. It came into existence because Ben-Gurion had done everything necessary to guarantee that his Jewish forces would be more than sufficient in numbers and well enough armed to roll back and defeat any Arab military response to Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence, and that Zionist might would prevail over Palestinian right.

Thereafter Zionism was successful in convincing the Western world that poor little Israel lived in constant danger of annihilation, the “driving into the sea” of its Jews. The truth is that Israel’s existence has never, ever, been in danger from any combination of Arab military force. Despite some stupid, face-saving Arab rhetoric to the contrary, which played into Zionism’s hands, the Arab regimes never, ever, had any intention of fighting Israel to liberate Palestine. (When elements of the armies of the front-line Arab states went to war with Israel in 1948, their objective was not to destroy the “Jewish state” but to hold the land that had been assigned to the Palestinian Arab state by the vitiated partition plan, and they failed miserably, as Ben-Gurion was confident they would, to do that. Also true is that Jordan, whose king had been in secret dialogue with Zionism’s in-Palestine leaders, would not have been a serious party to the Arab war effort if Ben-Gurion had not tried to grab Jerusalem; if, in other words, he had been content for the Holy City not to be part of either the Jewish or Arab state of the vitiated partition plan.)

Israel always was the aggressor and oppressor, not and never the victim.

Its assertion, repeated over and over again, that it didn’t have Arab partners for peace was also a big, fat, propaganda lie (as the documented truth of history, including de-classified Israeli state papers, which are ignored by the mainstream media, proves).  

War for truth

When I made my commitment to the war for truth more than three decades ago, I believed that calling and holding Israel to account for its crimes, in order for there to be peace based on justice for the Palestinians and security for all, would remain a mission impossible unless the citizens of the Western nations, enough of them and Americans especially, were informed about the truth of history.

That seemed obvious to me because it was clear that, unwilling to confront the Zionist lobby in all its manifestations, the governments of the major Western powers were not going to use the leverage they have to oblige Israel to end its defiance of international law unless and until they were pushed to do by informed public opinion – by manifestations of real democracy in action. The problem was that most citizens of the Western nations, Americans especially, were too misinformed and uninformed to do the pushing. In other words, because they had been conditioned by Zionist propaganda, peddled without question by the mainstream media, most citizens were too ignorant to make their democracies work for justice and peace in the Middle East.

So my starting point was the belief that the real conflict is an information war between Zionism’s masters of deception on the one side and the truth tellers on the other.

The truth tellers were few in number but among those who produced major truth-telling works (books) were Jews of real integrity including, for example, the Jewish-American Alfred M. Lilienthal, the first two Israeli “revisionist” meaning honest historians – Avi Shlaim and Ilan Pappe, the Jewish-American Norman Finkelstein and Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer. (In such company the gentile me felt secure in the frontline trenches of the war for truth. There was also comfort in knowing that we were taking on Zionism from the moral high ground.)

Over the last 20 years or so, with their books, articles and public speaking, the truth tellers have made an impact but not on a big enough scale to change the outcome of the war.

The truth today is that the situation of the occupied and oppressed Palestinians is worse than it has ever been and is worsening as Israel continues its defiance of international law and gobbles up more and more Palestinian land and water resources.

…I believe that Zionism could have been contained and defeated by now if the resources (yes, I do mean money) had been available to assist the promotion and spread of the truth of history on the scale necessary to empower the citizens of the Western nations, Americans especially, to make their democracies work for justice and peace, by demanding that their governments end their unconditional support for Israel right or wrong.

Also true today is that there is a rising, global tide of anti-Israelism, but it has little or nothing to do with the work of the truth tellers. It is being provoked by Israel’s policies and actions.

Some people (including perhaps President Obama) hope that Israel’s growing isolation will bring a majority of Israeli Jews to their senses and cause them to insist that their government be serious about peace on terms the Palestinians could accept. That has to be a possibility, but I think it is much more likely that the rising, global tide of anti-Israelism will have an opposite effect. I mean that it will assist Zionism’s deluded leaders to reinforce the message that what is happening is proof of what they have always said: that the world hates Jews, and that Israel’s leaders must therefore do whatever is necessary to preserve and protect their state as an insurance policy, a refuge of last resort, for all Jews everywhere, even if that means telling an American president and the whole world to go to hell.

On reflection today I believe that Zionism could have been contained and defeated by now if the resources (yes, I do mean money) had been available to assist the promotion and spread of the truth of history on the scale necessary to empower the citizens of the Western nations, Americans especially, to make their democracies work for justice and peace, by demanding that their governments end their unconditional support for Israel right or wrong. (In my view, which is based on my own engagements with audiences across the US, Americans in great numbers would have been open to the truth of history if they had also been made aware that unconditional support for Israel right or wrong is not in their own best interests.)

Because the resources were not made available, the war for the truth of history has remained the most asymmetric of all information wars. Zionism’s masters of deception have, as they always have had, virtually unlimited funds for the co-ordinated promotion of their propaganda lies. The truth-tellers are, as they always have been, without the resources needed to put together and implement a coordinated, winning campaign strategy.

The main providers of the resources necessary for winning the information war ought to have been seriously wealthy Arabs in general and seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians in particular. They ought to have done for Palestine what seriously wealthy Jews did and still do for Zionism.

There are two main reasons why seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians declined to play their necessary part in funding promotion of the truth of history.

Those who live in Western Europe and America are frightened that any association with the work of people who credibly challenge Zionism’s version of history would invite Zionist retribution which could result in their businesses being damaged and perhaps even destroyed.

Those who live in the Gulf States are frightened that assisting the truth-tellers could put their very comfortable positions and relationships with the rulers of those states at risk because they, the rulers, would not take kindly to blow back hassle from Zionism. (Zionist heavyweights in America do sometimes call Gulf Arab rulers directly to tell them what they should not do or allow. One such call was made to tell a ruler that he should not support Alan Hart and Ilan Pappe. The call was made after Ilan and I had made a joint presentation in the particular state, at its invitation, and had been promised support for our work.)

Another possible reason why some seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians have not assisted the promotion of the truth of history could be that they don’t understand (at all or well enough) that Western governments are not going to confront the Zionist monster unless the citizens of nations, the voters, are informed enough to demand that they do.

It’s also not impossible that some seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians have not contributed to the information war effort because they believe but dare not say that Palestine has long been a lost cause.

The brutal truth about seriously wealthy non-Palestinian Arabs is that most of them don’t care about the occupied and oppressed Palestinians and the many others, refugees still living in camps, who were dispossessed of their homes, their land and their rights. The Arab masses do care but their elites don’t. (That statement is something of an exaggeration to make a point but it contains much truth.)

Personal cost of commitment

Today I can quantify the cost of my own commitment to the war for truth.

If I had written a pro-Zionist book, I would have had wealthy Jews throwing money at it and me for global promotion of all kinds. But with Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, (which is a complete rewriting of the entire history of the conflict exposing Zionist propaganda for the nonsense it is and replacing it with the documented truth of history), I was on my own. To fund the research and writing over nearly five years, then the printing and publication of the original, two-volume hardback edition, and then some promotion, I took out a loan against the security of the home my wife and I owned outright and have lived in for a quarter of a century.

My book was red-flagged by Zionism and therefore all the major Western publishing houses, this despite the fact that my extremely well connected and respected literary agent had on file letters from the chief executives of some of them with rare praise for my manuscript.

At the time I decided to do so (with my dear wife’s complete understanding and support), I didn’t think I was being stupid. My previous book (Arafat, Terrorist or Peacemaker?) had earned me significant income from the sale of the Arabic newspaper serialization rights, and I assumed that my latest book would do the same, enabling me to clear the remortgaged debt on my home.

I was, of course, aware that there were truths in Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews that would be more than uncomfortable for the Arab regimes and which they would not want their newspapers to publish. (When I was writing the book I had to be guided by the fact you can’t tell the truth about Zionism without telling the truth about why the Arab states were never a threat to Israel’s existence.) But newspaper serialization of a two-volume book (which became three volumes in its updated American edition) would have taken only a relatively small amount of total content. Arab editors doing the serialization could have left out everything that offended their political masters and still had more than enough material to inform and entertain their readers.

But it was no go. My book was red-flagged by Zionism and therefore all the major Western publishing houses, this despite the fact that my extremely well connected and respected literary agent had on file letters from the chief executives of some of them with rare praise for my manuscript. (One of the letters, which I quoted in the Preface to the original hardback edition, described my manuscript as “awesome… driven by passion, commitment and profound learning”. It added: “There is no question it deserves to be published.”).

… the Arab regimes were at one with Zionism in wanting the full truth of history to be suppressed to the maximum extent possible. They effectively endorsed Zionism’s strategy for dealing with me and my work – “Alan Hart and his book do not exist.”

For their part the Arab regimes were at one with Zionism in wanting the full truth of history to be suppressed to the maximum extent possible. They effectively endorsed Zionism’s strategy for dealing with me and my work – “Alan Hart and his book do not exist.” (I think my dear friend Ilan Pappe may well have been right when he said that Zionism was more frightened of my book than any other because of its title, which he described as “the truth in seven words.”)

Today I have to face the cost consequences of my commitment to the truth of history. To avoid being dispossessed of my home and land in the not too distant future because I don’t have the money to pay the principal sum of the outstanding remortgaged debt (I have been paying only the interest on it), I now have to sell and downsize. Preparing to downsize will require, among other things, months of my full time to sort through and dispose of much of what has been accumulated over decades and could not be accommodated and stored in a much smaller property with little or no land. And that in the proverbial nutshell is why I am withdrawing from the battlefield of the war for truth. The days when I could serve causes beyond self in order to feel that I was doing something useful with my life are gone. Like seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians and other Arabs, I must now put my own interests, and above all those of my dear wife, first.

Today I have to face the cost consequences of my commitment to the truth of history. To avoid being dispossessed of my home and land in the not too distant future because I don’t have the money to pay the principal sum of the outstanding remortgaged debt (I have been paying only the interest on it), I now have to sell and downsize.

Justice and fear

Back in the early 1970s when I was making “Five Minutes To Midnight”, my documentary on global poverty and its implications for all, I had a verbal boxing match with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. After a day of filming with her as she collected some of those dying from poverty on the pavements to give them a few more days of life with shelter and loving care, she invited my camera crew and I to a frugal evening meal with some of her sisters. The question I posed for discussion over the meal was this: which is the most important word in any language – love or justice?

Mother Teresa argued with passion, sometimes angry passion, for love. I argued, with equal but not angry passion, for justice. If she was alive today I would say to her: “Mother Teresa, it’s justice not love that is required if the countdown to catastrophe in Palestine that became Israel is to be stopped.”

But it was not only my complete identity with the Palestinians’ irrefutable claim for justice and my admiration of the incredible, almost superhuman steadfastness of the occupied and oppressed that inspired, drove and sustained my commitment to the war for the truth of history.

For three decades I have done my best to contribute to the understanding … but I have now reached and passed the outer limits of what I can do when there’s a lack of will on the part of seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinian and other Arabs to assist the promotion and spread of the truth of history.

I feared, as I do even more so today, that if the information war that probably could have been won by now is lost, the endgame will most likely be a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine, followed, quite possibly, by another great turning against the Jews, provoked by Zionism’s insufferable self-righteousness and contempt for international law

For three decades I have done my best to contribute to the understanding needed to prevent both obscenities from happening, but I have now reached and passed the outer limits of what I can do when there’s a lack of will on the part of seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinian and other Arabs to assist the promotion and spread of the truth of history.

In the days and weeks to come I will no doubt find myself wondering if I was naive to believe that Palestinian right could be assisted to triumph over Zionist might.

To those all over the world who down the years have expressed appreciation for my books, articles and presentations on public platforms of all kinds – Thank You, your moral support helped to sustain my commitment.

Final note

A Palestinian friend once asked me if, on matters to do with Palestine, I was aware of the main difference between Arabs and Jews. He didn’t wait for me to respond. He said: “Arabs almost never do what they say they will do. Jews often do what they say they will not do.”

I said I thought there was an element of truth in that.

Editor’s note

Please consider supporting Alan Hart, a principled, articulate and persuasive journalist and author who has made huge personal sacrifices for the cause of truth and justice in Palestine. You can find options for supporting him, including by making a direct donation, here.

We also strongly recommend that you buy his book, Zionism: the Real Enemy of the Jews, an indispensable tool for all activists for truth and justice in Palestine.