Saturday, September 07, 2013

Pacific Free Press - The Ape's Other Howl

Editor's Note

by Ape

Most appreciated readers: Those signing up for e-mail subscriptions are doubtless aware, our Pacific Free Press system has experienced some bumps as of late. This is to let all know, (and tell your friends too!); the intrepid and indefatigable Richard Kastelein has updated the system.

It seems past subscriptions were left unfulfilled, but I'm assured the new system is spot on and just waiting your, good reader's, attention.

Thanks for keeping us relevant, and please, keep reading.


Cryptic Riddle-Wrapped Enigmas and the Deserting of Edward Snowden

Crypto's Dance

by Peter Lee - China Matters

On the rational left, Edward Snowden is close to losing the support of Kevin Drum because the most recent revelation—that the government has all sorts of ways and means to break ordinary encryption—alerted the bad guys to start being more careful with their crypto.

And if you’ve lost Kevin Drum, there’s little left on the left but China Matters and the rest of the fringe!


Earlier today, in a post about the latest Edward Snowden leak, I wrote that "I'm a lot less certain that this one should have seen the light of day." After some further thought and conversation, I'm now a lot less certain I should have said that.

Here's the problem. The Guardian and New York Times stories basically revealed two things:
  • The NSA has been working to deliberately weaken commercial crypto standards and insert back doors that only they have privileged access to. This is horrific public policy for at least a couple of reasons. First, the NSA tried to do this publicly in the mid-90s with the Clipper chip and export restrictions on crypto technology, and they lost. Now they're covertly doing what Congress refused to let them do overtly. Second, deliberately weakening commercial crypto exposes everyone who uses it to possible interception from bad actors who manage to discover the NSA's handiwork. There's no way the NSA can guarantee that other groups won't learn the weaknesses it's introduced (indeed, it's already happened in some cases) or somehow get access to its back doors. I have no problem at all with the Times and the Guardian disclosing this, and I'd very much like Congress to put a stop to it.
  • In addition, the NSA has been working to to improve its decryption capabilities in ways that don't degrade commercial crypto for anyone else. The details are unclear. It might involve new mathematical techniques. It might involve new computational techniques or improved computational power. It might involve old school hacking. It might involve stealing encryption keys or getting companies to give them up. It might involve the discovery of weaknesses that already exist. This is all stuff that NSA is chartered to do, and it does nothing to harm general use of commercial cryptography. However, revealing the extent of NSA's success in this area might indeed warn terrorists and others away from commercial crypto that they thought was safe, and thus degrade NSA's ability to track them. I have a hard time believing that the public interest in this outweighs the damage done to U.S. intelligence efforts.

As a practical matter, I’m not convinced that Snowden crossed the line.

The US interest in reading encrypted messages is well-known, as are its efforts to crack crypto.

The government has a publicly announced obsession with cracking crypto, which includes all sorts of projects to leverage the capabilities of networked computers, better software, and various cheats to brute force current weak cryptography.

US efforts to diddle with crypto, for instance by corrupting the open source algorithm used to generate random numbers for the keys to make encryption easier to crack, had already been reported.

If and when we get a quantum computer, it will be because the US government will spend a gazillion dollars developing the technology as the magic bullet for cracking 256 bit strong crypto.

Absent quantum computing, the government’s priority is to universalize chickenshit crypto—the kind of crypto that is breakable with a variety of tricks. Industry is government’s willing handmaiden in this matter, as Glenn Greenwald’s piece in the Guardian reveals:

The document also shows that the NSA's Commercial Solutions Center, ostensibly the body through which technology companies can have their security products assessed and presented to prospective government buyers, has another, more clandestine role.

It is used by the NSA to "to leverage sensitive, co-operative relationships with specific industry partners" to insert vulnerabilities into security products. Operatives were warned that this information must be kept top secret "at a minimum".

A more general NSA classification guide reveals more detail on the agency's deep partnerships with industry, and its ability to modify products. It cautions analysts that two facts must remain top secret: that NSA makes modifications to commercial encryption software and devices "to make them exploitable", and that NSA "obtains cryptographic details of commercial cryptographic information security systems through industry relationships".

Certainly, with B2B and consumer cloud computing via encrypted links on top of every tech company’s wet dream agenda, nobody wants to get tarred with the decryption brush, as a related British GCHQ guideline conveys:

A 2009 GCHQ document spells out the significant potential consequences of any leaks, including "damage to industry relationships".

"Loss of confidence in our ability to adhere to confidentiality agreements would lead to loss of access to proprietary information that can save time when developing new capability," intelligence workers were told.

Excuse me, please step aside as Google—a key member of President Obama’s brain trust, supplier of Andrew McLaughlin to serve as the White House’s Deputy Chief Technology Officer, and the people who 1) bought Keystone global imaging technology from the CIA 2) renamed it Google Maps and 2) sells the data back to the US government—runs squealing to the front of the line to announce its existential commitment to customer security and privacy:

Google is racing to encrypt the torrents of information that flow among its data centers around the world in a bid to thwart snooping by the NSA and the intelligence agencies of foreign governments, company officials said Friday.

Thank you, Google. Let us continue.

More to the point, when somebody’s communications are targeted by the government, there are other tools available—like putting a keylogger on the computer—to find out what’s getting typed.

Add to that my personal suspicion that, if you encrypt your e-mail, you attract the special attention of the government on general principles and the investigatory gears start grinding, whether or not your encryption is broken.

So I would say if you are tippy-tappying at your computer with the expectation that encryption is keeping your communications—and you-- perfectly safe, you haven’t been paying attention.

So Edward Snowden’s most recent revelation serves only to give clues to the clueless.

What interested me is how quickly the “Internet freedom to connect” theme was submerged by the “national security” narrative.

Even though it is open to question who’s doing a sloppy job with the nation’s secrets: according to the Guardian, Edward Snowden was one of …850,000…individuals with top security clearance and he got a gander at this secret info.


Just in the United States.

It could also have been argued that Snowden did dissidents and activists a public service by alerting them that encrypted communications may not be secure.

As Kevin Drum pointed out, “bad guys” might be able to exploit the backdoors the government is slotting into systems in order to read encrypted communications.

As for the free world’s ability to manage and control these tools, does anybody remember the Google furor over hacked Chinese dissident e-mail accounts (which, as you undoubtedly recall, was the justification for Sergei Brin’s retreat in high dudgeon from the Chinese search engine market)? I do:

Bruce Schneier, a well-known US cyber security expert, made waves in the IT community with an op-ed on CNN on January 23 asserting that the e-mail hacker had obtained the e-mail information by accessing Google's own internal intercept system - a program designed to enable Google to collect user information in response to US government demands.

If this is the case, the e-mail hack is more of an embarrassment for Google than anything else: an indication that Google had not only created the application to enable governments to spy on e-mail accounts, it had done such a poor job of protecting it that it could be hijacked by malicious parties.

If this is the case, the e-mail hack is more of an embarrassment for Google than anything else: an indication that Google had not only created the application to enable governments to spy on e-mail accounts, it had done such a poor job of protecting it that it could be hijacked by malicious parties.

This passage—from January 2010!—should evoke feelings of intense nostalgia for those halcyon days—of August 2013—when Snowden’s first revelations were pooh-poohed as “it’s just metadata”, just the “address on the outside of the envelope” a.k.a. no big deal.

Now it’s the whole fricking encrypted enchilada.

Therefore, ineluctably, the framing slides from “It’s no big deal, don’t pay attention” to “It’s a big frickin’ deal, it must be suppressed.”

But the idea that Chinese dissidents might be grateful for the heads up that encryption might not be secure (and, in fact, the FBI has infiltrated and subverted the precious TOR network for anonymizing communications), and be more careful as a result hasn’t gained any traction yet.

And how about the security of VPNs?

Documents show that [UK GCHQ’s] Edgehill's initial aim was to decode the encrypted traffic certified by three major (unnamed) internet companies and 30 types of Virtual Private Network (VPN) – used by businesses to provide secure remote access to their systems. By 2015, GCHQ hoped to have cracked the codes used by 15 major internet companies, and 300 VPNs.

While we’re at it, given Snowden’s *ahem* impressive knowledge of the NSA’s decryption capabilities, would anybody care to walk back those “narcissistic naif who unwittingly had his hard drives drained by Russian and Chinese intelligence” memes that were spread in the early Snowden-bashing days?

Fukushima Melt Down News: Still Melting

Record Radiation Levels At Fukushima Nuclear Plant


Japanese government $500 million ice wall is a precarious, temporary fix, not a permanent solution to the radioactive water leaking from stricken nuclear reactors.

In Japan, the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors are continuing to emit record levels of dangerous radiation. Now the Japanese government has stepped in and pledged nearly $500 million to help stop the leaks. Now joining us to stop this discuss this ongoing environmental crisis is Arjun Makhijani. He's an engineer who specializes in nuclear fusion and the president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. He's authored numerous reports in books on energy and environmental-related issues.

Atzmon Serves Back in Kind: Slandered Writer Responds to Real News Network

Paul Jay: Portrait of An Anti-Zionist Zionist

by Gilad Atzmon

A few weeks ago some of us were rather amused to see Max Blumenthal, in conversation with Paul Jay (The Real News Network), deliver the usual anti-Zionist Zionist (AZZ) spiel. After the program many Palestinian solidarity and anti-war commentators were outraged and demanded that Jay provide me with a right to reply. So Jay approached me, asked to clarify a few issues and promised to come back to me shortly with an answer. I didn’t hold my breath because since the incident I had learned a little about Jay’s political affiliations and motivations.

Yesterday, he came back with his answer (see below) which he manages to stuff with a pile of confused and jumbled arguments that convey profound intellectual ignorance and are riven with a host of embarrassing contradictions. But one thing was for sure. Gilad Atzmon would not be appearing on Jay’s show. Why? Because, above all, Jay is a coward and must have realised that he doesn’t stand a chance of countering my ideas in front of a camera, not even in his own studio.

I define Jewish Power as the power to divert the attention from Jewish Power and Paul Jay clearly engages in just such an endeavour. In fact, my main contribution to this discourse is probably my capacity to expose this very power and the manner in which it is wielded (Actually, all I do is hand the microphone to my detractors and let their symptoms speak for themselves).

But Jay’s muddled text cries for attention because it is an invaluable glimpse into the deeply corrosive and dishonest attitude that currently contaminates Palestine solidarity, the anti-war movement and the entire peace movement.

Jay attempts to build his entire argument around the notion that I am an ‘anti Semite’ only to eventually admit that actually I am not. “Since the late 19th century the term (anti Semitism) has been used to mean hatred of Jews….Do I believe you (Gilad) hate all Jews? No. But your theory leads to that”

Well, I have some news for Jay & Co. ‘Theories’ do not hate, ideas do not kill, it is people who hate and people who kill. My ‘theories’ are there to enlighten people, including Jews. My ideas offer Jews, even the so-called progressive Jews such as Jay himself, an opportunity to self-reflect and, hopefully, to correct that which needs correction. But here we have a problem. As I explore in The Wandering Who, Jewish identity politics is a general state of blindness, a detached collective mind-set which Jay himself proudly exhibits. We know that the Israelis will accept no criticism and their Jewish so-called opponents react exactly the same. Time after time, they kill the messengers - or at least attempt to do so. This is why I am not at all angry with Jay, in fact I feel for him. He is trapped - metaphysically, spiritually and intellectually. Jay’s plight is the Jewish tragedy - a disastrous tale I explore fully in my writing. From a psychoanalytical perspective the man is in ‘denial’ and, like other progressive Jews, he, for the time being, resists therapy.

Now, before I let you read Jay own words, allow me to address some of his mistakes:

Jay fails to grasp the obvious distinction between ‘Judaism’ (the religion), ‘Jews’ (the people) and ‘Jewishness’ (the Ideology). In my work I concentrate on Jewish ideology and since I believe that every ideology and politics must be subject to criticism, this obviously includes Jewish identity politics. Jay, on the other hand, tries to block any criticism of Jewish politics and ideology. Is this because he believes that Jews are chosen? You be the judge.

Jay proclaims “the internalization of racism is not inherent in identifying ones cultural and ethnic roots as being Jewish, and to do so, is nothing uniquely Jewish.” Now, if Jay is correct, what is it that makes the ‘Jewish state’ Jewish? And what is it that makes JVP (Jewish Voice for peace) Jewish? Moreover, How many Goyim served as the secretary of JVP or ‘Jews for Justice’ in the last decade? Not one is the answer, and the reason has much to do with racial and ethnic qualification. Sooner or later even Jay will have to admit that by its very nature, Jewish politics is exclusivist.

Jay, who goes on for six pages about my criticism of Jewish politics, apparently doesn’t understand a thing about Judaism, Zionism and their relationship with Jewish textual heritage. For example he is particularly concerned my interpretation of the following Biblical verse: “Then when the Lord your God brings you to the land he promised your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you – a land with large, fine cities you did not build, houses filled with choice things you did not accumulate, hewn out cisterns you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant – and you eat your fill.” Deuteronomy: Six: 10 –11. No one who reads the above can turn a blind eye to the continuum between the Biblical call for plunder, the Zionist project and the Israeli practice. But Jay simply attempts to smokescreen this glaring fact.

Interestingly enough, in my latest book The Wandering Who I try to rescue Judaism out of this continuum. But Jay, being a secular Jew, doesn’t want anyone to fiddle with his cultural heritage in spite of the fact that he himself is totally unfamiliar with any Jewish text, let alone its cultural meaning.

So here is the story Jay seems to miss: Judaism is not driven by the Torah - the Talmud is a central text of Judaism. It was actually Zionism that revised and revolutionized the relationship between Jews and their forming texts and made the Torah into its primary text. Hence, Biblical plunder is deeply rooted in the new Hebraic culture, Israeli politics and legislation, a topic about which Jay is obviously clueless which may explain his obvious fear of facing me on his show.

It takes six pages for Jay to spit out his banal, materialist, Marxist clich├ęs regarding Israel and its origin. “Israeli state is a product and significant piece of the system of international capital”. But here is the problem Jay is unable to integrate into his system. Israel defines itself as “The Jewish State”, its tanks are decorated with Jewish symbols and, as I write these lines, its Jewish Lobbies are pushing for, on its behalf, a war in Syria. And as if this were not enough, the Jewish progressive network invests all its energy in trying to stop us from discussing it at all. This is the reality Jay attempts to disguise. But he can’t. No one can, not anymore. If anything Jay’s conduct in this affair only reveals the destructive and sinister power of Zionism within media in general and within the anti war movement in particular.

The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics,
available on &

Paul Jay to Gilad Atzmon

CC: Alison Weir, Harvie Branscomb Jeff Balnkfort, Monir Deeb Shahram Vahdany, Janet Mcmahon, Delinda C. Hanley, Paul Latudee and others


Dear Gilad, you asked for a chance to respond to Max Blumenthal’s accusation that your views are anti-Semitic. I promised to read some of your work and then reply. I've now read enough to give an answer.

First let me make a few things clear about my point of view.

I think any state based on religion or ethnicity is racist and inherently anti-democratic. Israel fits that bill, as do others.

I think the occupation of the West bank and siege of Gaza is illegal. In the brutal wars against the Palestinian people, Israel has committed countless war crimes.

If this was 1948, I would be opposed to the establishment of the State of Israel. A democratic, secular, inclusive state where everyone who was living on the territory of Palestine could become a citizen is what should have been created.

That is what should happen now. If Palestinians vote for a two-state solution that is their right, but it’s also their right to demand one-person one vote and thus transform the current Israeli state into a truly democratic one.

Now, let’s turn to your thesis.

I do not think that Zionism grows out of “Jewish ideology”. In fact, I reject the concept that there is something one can call a generic Jew or a Jewish ideology.

In your book The Wandering Who, you define Jewish ideology as someone who politically identifies as a Jew, “Jewishness is an ethno-centric ideology driven by exclusiveness, exceptionalism, racial supremacy and a deep inherent inclination toward segregation”.

In Israel, where national character and Jewish identity merge given the ethnic/religious basis of the state, this argument may have some merit, but it has nothing to do with the national and class ideology of thousands of Jews around the world who have little to no affinity with Israel and do not begin their political equation with “what’s good for the Jews”.

I’m not suggesting there are no such Jews, probably a majority at least when it comes to support for Israel. As odious as this is, this type of chauvinism is nothing unique, whether it’s Aryan, Han, Japanese, Russian, Saudi or American. Many nationalist cultures consider themselves to be “chosen” and “exceptional”.

Polling shows younger generations of American Jews are increasingly more distanced from feelings of affinity with Israel. Of course, they may adopt the religion or ideology of Americanism in its place (an ideology, in spite of its crimes, you seem to have no problem with as it’s not Jewish).

The point is that the internalization of racism is not inherent in identifying ones cultural and ethnic roots as being Jewish, and to do so, is nothing uniquely Jewish.

Just as it is pointless talking about a generic Catholic without taking into consideration country of origin, national psychology, and most importantly class – it’s meaningless talking about a generic Jew.

There are Catholics whose politics begin with “what’s good for the Catholics” . . . mostly to be found in the Vatican, but not exclusively. There are many Muslims who say the same about Islam.

But millions of people identify as Catholics and Muslims who do not start their political equation from identity politics. There is no “Catholic ideology or Muslim ideology” above national and class interest. The world view of a Sri Lankan catholic peasant has far more in common with an Indian Hindu peasant than with a Brazilian catholic finance capitalist. That’s not to say there are no instances of tribalism that influence sections of the population, but again, nothing uniquely Jewish about it.

There is no generic Jew.

A Canadian of Jewish Ashkenazi East European origin, who has no religious beliefs but identifies as a cultural Jew, opposes the Israeli occupation, has some nostalgic feelings about grandparents who spoke Yiddish and made chicken soup on Fridays, and most importantly understands that the Nazis made no differentiation between believers and non-believers when they knocked down the door . . . has far more in common, shares more of a world view with a progressive Muslim Canadian, than with an Israeli Jew who is dripping with racist hatred for Palestinians.

Hitler and the Zionists created a vision of a generic Jew with a metaphysical identity, transmitted by blood or the product of a Jewish soul. The Zionists concocted that this “identity” necessarily leads to support for the State of Israel. That’s why they promoted Hebrew as a modern language and virtually suppressed Yiddish – to invent an identity out of time and place.

Your thesis is the same as the Zionists. Your “Jewish ideology” exists only in abstract form and you also conclude it necessarily leads to support for Zionism. Unless a Jew renounces being a Jew, as you have, they must believe in “exclusiveness, exceptionalism, racial supremacy and a deep inherent inclination toward segregation” . . . in one form or the other. Your definition transcends nation and class, because for you, the Jewish identity trumps all other factors.

You write on the comments section of TRNN, “My scholarship is not concerned with Judaism (the religion) nor am I referring to Jews (the people). I am critical of Jewish Identity politics and Jewish ideology. I elaborate on Jewish-ness and Jewish culture as opposed to Judaism. Race, genetics or biology have never been part of my study. If anything, I am critical largely of Jewish secular politics and culture rather than the Jewish religion.”

Your writing is so self-contradictory that I’m sure you can find a quote that will deal with all criticisms, even if your statements are opposed to each other.

You write in your email to me and elsewhere, “Zionism is a dynamic continuation of Jewish-ness: it (Zionism) is racist, exclusive, supremacist and self- centered, yet it is not Judaic. It has very little to do with Judaism. It may be messianic in a territorial sense, yet it lacks the Judaic divinity. In fact, in this sense, Zionism opposes Judaism. (The Wandering Who footnote 46, P’197)

Yet in the same email you write, “However, it is rather obvious and very embarrassing to admit that the Judaic God, as portrayed by Moses in Deuteronomy 6:10, is an immoral and evil God. It is a God who leads his people to plunder, robbery and theft.”

Further down you write “In short, it is actually impossible not to see the continuum between Deuteronomy 6:10 and the crime against the Palestinian people that is committed by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish people”.

So Jewish ideology is not Judaic, but its roots are to be found in a continuum from Deuteronomy 6:10.

You claim this is an attack on an ideology, not Jews themselves, but I think it’s mental gymnastics. Certainly you admit to hating your own “Jewish ideology”, and when you assert that all those who ascribe to a Jewish identity necessarily have this ideology - it amounts to the same thing.

One could say, as the Catholic Church does, they don’t hate homosexuals, only their behavior, but it is completely disingenuous. Just as the Church is homophobic, your position is anti-Jewish.

Anti-Semitic because even though technically Semites include those from the region, since the late 19th century the term has been used to mean hatred of Jews. So I think Max Blumenthal’s charge is justified.

Do I believe you hate all Jews? No. But your theory leads to that.

I think you are rejecting a vicious form of racism that permeates Israeli society. For that I applaud you. It’s not easy to break with the pressure put on Israelis to fit the mold and give up any independent thinking.

This racism does express itself amongst some people of Jewish origin in North America and elsewhere, who as a result of experiencing the WWII genocide, or in a desperate search for meaning in their lives, or to create business alliances or advance their careers, have latched on to a fictitious poisonous brew cooked up by Zionist leaders to win support for the occupation.

But there are people who identify as Jews around the world, who reject all of this and share most, if not all, of the positions of the Palestinian solidarity movement.

Your “Jewish ideology” also has nothing to do with the brave Israeli Jews who put their lives and freedom on the line working in the solidarity movement, or refuse to join the armed forces, and other forms of resistance. Most of them could leave but choose to stay and fight. They don’t have to renounce their identity as a Jew to denounce the racist nature of the state and call for an end to the occupation.

You have many critics who are activists and Jews in the Palestinian solidarity movement. You seem to have special venom for them, denouncing them as just another form of Zionist ideologues.

But you have also been denounced by leading Palestinians. In a statement of which you must be aware, signed by twenty-three Palestinian activists, it says: “Atzmon’s politics rest on one main overriding assertion that serves as springboard for vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with his obsession with “Jewishness”. He claims that all Jewish politics is “tribal,” and essentially, Zionist. Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial project, but a trans-historical “Jewish” one, part and parcel of defining one’s self as a Jew. Therefore, he claims, one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist. We could not disagree more. Indeed, we believe Atzmon’s argument is itself Zionist because it agrees with the ideology of Zionism and Israel that the only way to be a Jew is to be a Zionist”. I don’t think these leading Palestinian activists can be accused of basing their critique of you on their “Jewish ideology”.

I’m going to post this letter in the comments section under the Blumenthal interview. As far as you answering Max goes, or responding to this letter, you are free to write a response and have it posted there. But I will not interview you about these issues.

I believe your theories have no historical or factual basis. I share the view that your theories serve Zionist propaganda and divide the solidarity movement. I concur that your thesis is anti-Semitic at its core. I don’t think a debate about these issues is called for or serves any kind of useful intellectual endeavor. I will not get into a drawn out back and forth with you on this.

While I appreciate much of your critique of the Israeli state, your theoretical work on the roots of Zionism is just not a serious analysis.

Your hatred for all things politically left, especially Jewish and left, is superficial and banal. I quote your email to me, “Sadly we have to admit that hate-ridden plunder of other people’s possessions made it into the Jewish political discourse both on the left and right. The Jewish nationalist would rob Palestine in the name of the right of self-determination, the Jewish progressive is there to rob the ruling class and even international capital in the name of world working class revolution. I better stay out of it. “

It’s beyond me how you can’t see that the Israeli state is a product and significant piece of the system of international capital, something you seem anxious to defend from “Progressive Jewish robbers”. Here you reveal your ideological roots as a defender of the “ruling class”.

Your grandfather would have been proud; you describe him in your book as a “. . . veteran Zionist terrorist. A former prominent commander in the right-wing Irgun terror organization”. You write, “More than anything, though, my grandfather hated Jewish leftists”.

When you equate the militarist Zionist state's occupation of Palestinian lands with those who want a more equitable society, and call them all plunderers who share this “Jewish ideology” - then you also hate Jewish leftists "more than anything". You hate them more than Zionism and building a united front against it.

Paul Jay
Senior Editor

Harper Plays Both Sides of Pipeline Promulgation/Environmental Conservation Fence with Obama

Harper Caught Helping Enbridge While Wooing Obama on Climate

by Damien Gillis - The

While Stephen Harper was busy trying to green-wash his image with Barack Obama – acquiescing to climate targets to improve prospects for the Keystone XL pipeline – Green Party Leader Elizabeth May dropped a bombshell: the suggestion that the Conservative Government is spending $120 million in tax dollars to “grease the wheels” for Enbridge and its Northern Gateway pipeline bid.

May and her only elected Green cohort, BC MLA and Nobel Prize-winning UVic climate scientist Andrew Weaver, discussed the allegation at a press conference in Victoria on Wednesday. Said Weaver:
Documents obtained from Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reveal that at a time when core science is being cut across the Government of Canada, tax dollars are being spent to do Enbridge’s homework for them.

Harper tries to turn over new leaf

The revelation was bad timing for the Prime Minister, coming on the heels of a letter he sent personally to Obama, promising “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector.”

According to CBC, Harper reached out to his US counterpart in late August, in an attempt to persuade him to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta’s Tar Sands to refineries in Texas. The project is in limbo, with Obama twice delaying his decision on the matter, recently bumping it 2014.

The Harper Government’s considerable lobbying efforts have yet to move Obama on Keystone. Some have even hampered their mission – like Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s attack of renowned former NASA climatologist James Hansen at a Washington, DC event. This failure is now compelling the Prime Minister to back off his earlier opposition to hard climate commitments, says CBC:
Sources told CBC News the prime minister is willing to accept targets proposed by the United States for reducing the climate-changing emissions and is prepared to work in concert with Obama to provide whatever political cover he needs to approve the project.

Those sources also say Harper wanted to address Keystone with Obama at this week’s G20 Summit in Russia, but the pipeline project was drown out in the tempest surrounding Syria.

May’s allegations can’t be of help to the Prime Minster’s attempted image makeover, which is why his government was quick to respond this week. Harper’s top lieutenant on pipeline matters, Joe Oliver, fired back:
While the Green party and the New Democratic Party oppose resource development projects before the science is in, our government will not make decisions until an independent, scientific review determines they are safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.

According to the Canadian Press, Ottawa said the money is going to “oil tanker safety studies on Canada’s coastlines…announced last March in Vancouver by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver against a backdrop of tankers and shipping vessels in Burrard Inlet.”

(You may recall this event for the irony of a federal oil spill clean-up ship running aground en route to the press conference)

Government handout to Big Oil

May and Weaver aren’t buying this defense. To them, Ottawa is using tax dollars to subsidize things that Enbridge should be doing at its own expense – like $78 million for bitumen-specific marine spill studies. Add to that another $42 million to develop improved weather monitoring systems for the rugged north and central coast waters which tankers would transit if Northern Gateway goes ahead.

Federal monies for such core elements of Enbridge’s National Energy Board application amount to a government hand-out, says Weaver:
This is another example of federal money being used to essentially subsidize industry, and industry’s inability to actually provide effective response to marine dilbit (bitumen) oil spills because the tools don’t exist.

For a leader who has spent the past several years gutting environmental laws, monitoring and enforcement staff, cutting research monies, and muzzling scientists, it won’t be easy now to suddenly convince Obama that he’s turned a new leaf. This is, after all, a president who has been heading in the opposite direction of late, earning accolades for his progressive talk on climate action.

By contrast, Harper’s egregious environmental record has spurred criticism from all corners – even two former Conservative fisheries ministers – leading to a series of “Stand Up for Science” rallies across the country on September 16.

If Keystone fails, it will be partly because the Prime Minister’s war on science and the environment finally caught up with him.

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.
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War Crimes of Omission: Obama Withholds Promised Syria "Evidence" from Congress Too

Congress Denied Syrian Facts, Too

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News

A U.S. congressman who has read the Obama administration’s classified version of intelligence on the alleged Syrian poison gas attack says the report is only 12 pages – just three times longer than the sketchy unclassified public version – and is supported by no additional hard evidence.

Exclusive: While seeking authority for a limited war with Syria, the Obama administration withheld from the American people the U.S. intelligence on the alleged chemical weapons attack of Aug. 21, amid assurances that Congress got all the secret details. But that doesn’t appear to be true, reports Robert Parry.

Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also said the House Intelligence Committee had to make a formal request to the administration for “the underlying intelligence reports” and he is unaware if those details have been forthcoming, suggesting that the classified report – like the unclassified version – is more a set of assertions than a presentation of evidence.

President Barack Obama answers questions at a press conference at Konstantinovsky Palace during the G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 6, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“We have reached the point where the classified information system prevents even trusted members of Congress, who have security clearances, from learning essential facts, and then inhibits them from discussing and debating what they do know,” Grayson wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times on Saturday.
“And this extends to matters of war and peace, money and blood. The ‘security state’ is drowning in its own phlegm. My position is simple: if the administration wants me to vote for war, on this occasion or on any other, then I need to know all the facts. And I’m not the only one who feels that way.”

As I wrote a week ago, after examining the four-page unclassified summary, there was not a single fact that could be checked independently. It was a “dodgy dossier” similar to the ones in 2002-2003 that led the United States into the Iraq War. The only difference was that the Bush administration actually provided more checkable information than the Obama administration did, although much of the Bush data ultimately didn’t check out.

It appears that the chief lesson learned by the Obama administration was to release even less information about Syria’s alleged chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 than the Bush administration did about Iraq’s alleged WMD. The case against Syria has relied almost exclusively on assertions, such as the bellowing from Secretary of State John Kerry that the Syrian government sure did commit the crime, just trust us.

The Obama administration’s limited-hangout strategy seems to have worked pretty well at least inside the Establishment, but it’s floundering elsewhere around the United States. It appears that many Americans share the skepticism of Rep. Grayson and a few other members of Congress who have bothered to descend into the intelligence committee vaults to read the 12-page classified summary for themselves.

Rallying the Establishment

Despite the sketchy intelligence, many senators and congressmen have adopted the politically safe position of joining in denunciations of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (where’s the downside of that), and the mainstream U.S. news media has largely taken to writing down the administration’s disputed claims about Syria as “flat fact.”

For instance, the New York Times editorial on Saturday accepts without caveat that there was “a poison gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime that killed more than 1,400 people last month,” yet those supposed “facts” are all in dispute, including the total number who apparently died from chemical exposure. It was the U.S. white paper that presented the claim of “1,429” people killed without explaining the provenance of that strangely precise number.

The New York Times editorial also reprises the false narrative that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syria’s Assad are to blame for the absence of peace negotiations, although the Times’ own reporters from the field have written repeatedly that it has been the U.S.-backed rebels who have refused to join peace talks in Geneva. [See’s “Getting Syria-ous About Peace Talks.”]

Nevertheless, the Times editorial states, “it was the height of cynicism for Mr. Putin to talk about the need for a Syrian political settlement, which he has done little to advance.” One has to wonder if the Times’ editors consider it their “patriotic” duty to mislead the American people, again.

Increasingly, President Barack Obama’s case for a limited war against Syria is looking like a nightmarish replay of President George W. Bush’s mendacious arguments for war against Iraq. There are even uses of the same techniques, such as putting incriminating words in the mouths of “enemy” officials.

On Feb. 5, 2003, before the United Nations Security Council, Secretary of State Colin Powell needled some intercepted quotes from Iraqi military officers to make some innocuous comments about inspecting weapons sites into proof they were hiding caches of chemical weapons from UN inspectors. Powell’s scam was exposed when the State Department released the actual transcripts of the conversations without some of the incriminating words that Powell had added.

Then, on Aug. 30, 2013, when the Obama administration released its “Government Assessment” of Syria’s alleged poison gas attack, the white paper stated, “We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N. inspectors obtaining evidence.”

However, the identity of the “senior official” was not included, nor was the direct quote cited. The report claimed concerns about protecting “sources and methods” in explaining why more details weren’t provided, but everyone in the world knows the United States has the capability to intercept phone calls.

Reasons for Secrecy?

So, why didn’t the Obama administration go at least as far as the Bush administration did in putting out transcripts of these phone intercepts? A reasonable suspicion must be that the actual words of the conversation – and possibly other conversations – would have indicated that the Syrian high command was caught off guard by the Aug. 21 events, that the Syrian government was scrambling to figure out what had happened and why, that the intercepts were less incriminating than the paraphrase of them.

That fuller story might well have undercut the U.S. case for taking military action. So, the administration’s white paper left out conversations reflecting the Syrian government’s confusion. The white paper didn’t even bother to put in the actual quote from the one “senior official” who supposedly “confirmed” the chemical weapons use.

Indeed, although the white paper states that its conclusions were derived from “human, signals, and geospatial intelligence as well as a significant body of open source reporting,” none of that intelligence was spelled out in the unclassified version. It is now unclear how much more detail was provided in the 12-page classified version that Rep. Grayson read.

In his op-ed, Grayson wrote, “The first [unclassified version] enumerates only the evidence in favor of an attack. I’m not allowed to tell you what’s in the classified summary, but you can draw your own conclusion. On Thursday I asked the House Intelligence Committee staff whether there was any other documentation available, classified or unclassified. Their answer was ‘no.’”

So, what is one to make of this pathetic replay of events from a decade ago in which the White House and intelligence community make sweeping claims without presenting real evidence and the major U.S. news outlets simply adopt the government’s uncorroborated claims as true?

One might have thought that the Obama administration – understanding the public skepticism after the disastrous Iraq War – would have gone to extra lengths to lay out all the facts to the American people, rather than try to slip by with another “dodgy dossier” and excuses about the need to keep all the evidence secret.

President Obama seems to believe that “transparency” means having some members of Congress interrupt their busy schedules of endless fundraising to troop down to the intelligence committee vaults and read some pre-packaged intelligence without the benefit of any note-taking or the ability to check out what they’ve seen, let alone the right to discuss it publicly.

In my 35-plus years covering Congress, I can tell you that perhaps the body’s greatest weakness – amid many, many weaknesses – is its ability to investigate national security claims emanating from the Executive Branch.

Beyond all the limitations of what members of Congress are allowed to see and under what circumstances, there is the reality that anyone who takes on the intelligence community too aggressively can expect to be pilloried as “unpatriotic” or accused of being an “apologist” for some unsavory dictator.

Soon, the troublesome member can expect hostile opinion pieces showing up in his local newspapers and money pouring into the campaign coffers of some electoral challenger. So, there is no political upside in performing this sort of difficult oversight and there is plenty of downside.

And once an administration has staked its credibility on some dubious assertion, all the public can expect is more of a sales job, a task that President Obama himself is expected to undertake in a speech to the nation on Tuesday. That is why the Obama administration would have been wise to have developed a much fuller intelligence assessment of what happened on Aug. 21 and then presented the evidence as fully as possible.

In the days of the Internet and Twitter – and after the bitter experience of the Iraq War – it is a dubious proposition that the White House can rely on national politicians and Establishment news outlets to whip the public up for another military adventure without presenting a comprehensive set of facts.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Slandering Atzmon: A Question of Integrity and The Real News Network's Professional Responsibility

TRNN and Intellectual Integrity

by Kim Petersen - Dissident Voice

 Gilad Atzmon was slandered in a TRNN interview with senior editor Paul Jay and guest Max Blumenthal. At having his chance for rebuttal denied Atzmon seemed (and rightfully so) angry, saying: “Because, above all, Jay is a coward and must have realised that he doesn’t stand a chance of countering my ideas in front of a camera, not even in his own studio.”

Atzmon called Jay an “anti-Zionist Zionist,” which is going overboard. Jay is obviously opposed to Zionism. He takes exception to Atzmon’s “ideology.” That is fine. But Jay cast a dismal shadow over his own and The Real News Network’s journalistic integrity. If you are going to openly defame someone on your program, I submit that it is only fair to invite the defamed party on air to defend himself. Jay obviously disagrees. He opened a door to discussion and he closed it. Arguably, Jay leaves himself open to gatekeeping charges.

I contend that my closing paragraph when I first analyzed the video is still valid.

Consequently, since TRNN has allowed its program to be used as a vehicle for character assassination, it is incumbent on an ethical, professional, self-respecting, viewer-respecting news organization to allow the maligned Gilad Atzmon a chance at an on-air rebuttal.1

TRNN, by not allowing viewers to hear all sides of the discussion, is marginalizing a viewpoint. It is demonstrating a lack of commitment to intellectual integrity. It is biasing its coverage to views it determines are suitable for viewers. It is behaving in much the same way as the corporate media that it seeks to distinguish itself. Jay believes that Atzmon’s views are anti-Semitic. While Palestinians find themselves under siege, their orchards are plowed under, and their land is confiscated to build Jewish colonies, Jay raises anti-Semitism? Why? Sometimes TRNN guest Noam Chomsky contended, “Anti-Semitism is no longer a problem, fortunately. It’s raised, but it’s raised because privileged people want to make sure they have total control, not just 98% control.”2

Does Jay believe that views he determines to be unsavory should be ignored, left in the dark? Or does Jay believe that light should be shone on darkness to reveal the darkness for what it is? TRNN, and Jay, it appears, would rather bury their ad hominem video piece, a piece to which Jay has heaped further ad hominem. TRNN is disrespecting its viewers by keeping them in the dark.

I cannot grant Atzmon a video rebuttal, but I want to grant DV readers the opportunity to hear Atzmon elaborate on his “ideology.” *****

Kim Petersen: Jay writes, “In your book The Wandering Who, you define Jewish ideology as someone [sic] who politically identifies as a Jew, ‘Jewishness is an ethno-centric ideology driven by exclusiveness, exceptionalism, racial supremacy and a deep inherent inclination toward segregation’.” At face value what you wrote is a definition of Jewishness and not of a Jew. I assume that Jewishness, as you define it, befits a Jew only insofar as that person embraces this Jewishness.

Gilad Atzmon: Hi Kim, I was also perplexed when I read the above paragraph in Jay’s piece. It revealed to me that the man is uniquely lame and may even fail to understand what ideology stands for.

Jay wrongly suggested that I define ‘ideology’ as “someone who politically identifies as a Jew” but then, just a second later, he quoted me correctly saying that “Jewishness is an ethno-centric ideology driven by exclusiveness, exceptionalism, racial supremacy and a deep inherent inclination toward segregation.” Obviously these are my words and this is how I define Jewishness and Jewish Ideology.

KP: Jay boils down your views on Jewish personality politics, as all Jews fitting into one framework, a homogenization. There does seem to be a certain “tribalism” among Jews that appears to be greater than that found among most other ethnicities I have encountered, but do you not grant that there is diversity among Jews and that your critique is confined to the uncritical, conforming Jew, specifically, the Zionist Jew – one who believes Jews have the right to the territory of an Indigenous people wherever they may be in the world?

GA: Kim you are totally correct. In my work I elaborate on Jewish cultural diversity. I examine different perspectives of Jewish identity politics and cultural manifestations. I differentiate between the Israeli identity and the Diaspora one and then examine the sub cultures within these distinct groups and so on. Yet, I also argue that amongst those who fall into the 3rd category, i.e. those who define themselves primarily as Jews, we detect a clear inclination towards segregation (political, cultural, spiritual and even physical). I am obviously very critical of the Zionist Jew in that respect, however, I also detect a similar tendency amongst Jewish progressives who, for some reason, insist to operate within Jews only political cells. The obvious question in that regard is, can Hammed, Hassan, or Abu Ali become the secretary of Jews Voice for Peace? Not really, they are apparently not qualified (ethnically, culturally or even racially).

KP: It is odd for me then to read that Jay agrees with what I find your depiction to be: “I’m not suggesting there are no such Jews, probably a majority at least when it comes to support for Israel. As odious as this is, this type of chauvinism is nothing unique, whether it’s Aryan, Han, Japanese, Russian, Saudi or American. Many nationalist cultures consider themselves to be ‘chosen’ and ‘exceptional’.”

I wonder about these other cultures that consider themselves “chosen”? Nonetheless, that other “odious,” “chauvinistic” cultures exist is tu quoque and does not exculpate Zionism. Why does Jay point out that it is not only among Jews that the claim to be “chosen” or “exceptional” exists? And why does Jay conflate “chosenness” with “Chauvinism” and “exceptionalism”?

GA: It is very possible that when Jay refers to the “odious” elements which he finds in other ethnicities and national identities he actually projects his own tribal symptoms. I have been examining Jewish secular choseness for a decade and I must admit that I find it hard to compare it with any other political culture or ethnic identity. Clearly, we can elaborate on some radical political manifestations that historically evolved into politics of hate (Nazism, Apartheid etc). However, when it comes to Jewish contemporary identity politics, we find animosity towards otherness in both Left and Right. Interestingly enough, I may be one of the few who manage to explain this peculiar tendency, and I do it in The Wandering Who. My answer is simple. Jewish secular identity is defined by negation. This implies a constant inclination towards isolation.

In order to address your question we may have to decide whether Jay is extremely dishonest or just uniquely unwise. I guess that we are dealing here with a combination of the two. In my work, I make it very clear that ‘exeptionalism’ becomes a problem when it is celebrated on the expense of others.

The kind of ‘Jewish choseness’, which I criticize in my work, is a relatively new secular concept. While within the context of the Judaic religion Jews are chosen by God to serve as a moral exemplary case, within the Jewish secular ideology choseness is reduced into a banal form of exclusive supremacy. The Zionist celebrate their symptoms on the expense of the Palestinians and the so-called anti Zionists celebrate their self-love on the expense of the rest of us all in the name of ‘Tikkun Olam’ and ‘progressiveness.’ As you probably know, I actually argue that the ‘progressive’ is a direct extension of choseness – it only implies that someone else (whom they don’t like) is ‘reactionary.’

KP: Jay writes, “One could say, as the Catholic Church does, they don’t hate homosexuals, only their behavior, but it is completely disingenuous. Just as the Church is homophobic, your position is anti-Jewish.” Thus Jay joins Blumenthal in wielding the term anti-Semite against you. The problem I see with Jay’s analogy is it being based on there being a “generic Jew” in your view. If the premises are false, then the logic is unsound. As I understood your book, The Wandering Who, your focus is on Jews who embrace supremacism, exclusion, and a right to Palestine, God-given or not.

GA: To start with, Jay’s horrid description of the Catholic Church is, in itself, extremely disingenuous but it actually reveals Jay’s hatred towards the church, Christianity, religion but it also conveys a deep dismissal of otherness that is unfortunately symptomatic to tribal mindset.

However, you are obviously correct again and Jay is totally wrong. My work is concerned with those who identify themselves politically and culturally as Jews. In the beginning of my book I make the following distinction: As far as self-perception is concerned, those who call themselves Jews could be divided into three main categories:

1. Those who follow Judaism.

2. Those who regard themselves as human beings that 
happen to be of Jewish origin.

3. Those who put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their 
other traits.

I then argue that the first 2 categories are innocent, yet the 3rd one is very problematic. It is exclusive, racially driven and in most cases, supremacist to the bone.

It doesn’t take a genius to gather that Zionists fall into the 3rd category, but what about progressive Jews who operate in Jews only cells, don’t they ‘put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their 
other traits’? I guess that this question demands an answer rather than a repeated and banal attempt to kill the messenger.

KP: Jay accuses you of contradictions, yet he calls you anti-Semitic while saying you do not hate all Jews, and he applauds you for “rejecting a vicious form of racism that permeates Israeli society.” Says Jay: “Do I believe you hate all Jews? No. But your theory leads to that.” I am unsure what Jay wants to say. I read your book and I was not led to hatred. I don’t hate any Jews. I don’t hate any ethic or national group. I hate racism, violence, and inequality. I understand your research into Jewish personality politics is meant to comprehend the tribalism, racism, and violence that emerges from a segment of Jewry. After all does not a knowledge of what underlies racism help to fight vicious racism?

GA: Jay indeed claims that I contradict myself, but he fails to provide a single example that supports his claim. On the other hand, as you mentioned Jay has managed to contradict himself numerous times in such a short piece. My verdict is clear, when Jay argues that I contradict myself, he, once again projects his own symptoms. The fact that we are so easily detecting Jay’s projections should be a matter of a great concern for a progressive Journalist. Again, the remedy for his condition is waiting for him in the pages of The Wandering Who where I elaborate on projection in the context of tribal mindset and Jewish identity politics.

You are also correct when you suggest that I don’t have hate in me, not even towards my arch detractors. In fact they help me a lot.

For years I was chased here in Britain by a Trotskyite political Jew who happened to be also petty criminal. His obsession with me was amusing for a while, but then I realised that he had actually a window of opportunity. He became the core of my research into Jewish tribalism.

Monitoring the so called anti Zionists was actually a glimpse into the deepest Zionist thought.

I then had to deal with Dershowitz and Foxman, and Abunimah and Omar Barghouti and Blumenthal. This endless barrage of hysteria is nothing but education. It was Abunimah and Barghouti, for instance, who provided me with the lead to George Soros’ Open Society and other liberal Zionist funders.

The relentless and desperate campaign to silence me clearly suggests that I am touching the row nerve but it also paves the path of my research. Time after time it turned the floodlight towards the obvious suspects. Look at Paul Jay and his Real News Network. I bet that his clumsy conduct in my regard will lead many of his supporters to grasp that The Real News may as well be just another exemplary case of controlled operation dominated by some tribal politics. Isn’t it a shame? I believe it is.

KP: Since it came up in Jay’s criticism — “Your hatred for all things politically left, especially Jewish and left, is superficial and banal.” — it deserves a reply. Do you hate the Left?

GA: Left, in its very original meaning and form, is the most beautiful idea. It is a universal concept preaching equality. It is also an intellectual discourse driven by critical thoughts and dynamic exchange. As such, it isn’t really different from Christianity, Islam or Ethics. But what is left of that great ideology and critical discourse? Not much. I am indeed repelled by ‘New Left’ and ‘Neo Marxism’. I am troubled with Left moral interventionists; I am bewildered by ‘progressive’ chauvinism; I am disgusted by the manner in which the New Left has dumped the working people; I am tired of Left dismissal of Islam and Muslims and religion in general; I am sickened by anti intellectualism that is inherent to the work of people like Jay and the neo-progressive clan.

So let me say it, if Left is represented by people such as Jay and Blumenthal, the answer is yes, I have very little respect to their entire project and suspect their motivations. But if Left is conveyed by the thoughts of Marx, Antonio Gramsci, and even Lenin, then I am totally fascinated.

KP: Jay says to you: “I believe your theories have no historical or factual basis. I share the view that your theories serve Zionist propaganda and divide the solidarity movement. I concur that your thesis is anti-Semitic at its core. I don’t think a debate about these issues is called for or serves any kind of useful intellectual endeavor. I will not get into a drawn out back and forth with you on this.”

Jay is conveying uncertainty about his assertions (“I believe,” “I don’t think”), and this is uncompelling for people who want to hear the facts and the arguments. However, Jay has closed the door on this. Journalism is about dialogue, shedding light on the external and internal workings of government, institutions (e.g., the media), corporations, and power – and the personalities and competing ideologies. Providing facts and logic so that media consumers can reached informed conclusions is part of a vibrantly functioning media. Yet Jay comes across as a journalist who slams the door on dialogue. This reeks of unfairness because it was Jay who opened the door with his interview of Blumenthal. Your view?

GA: Paul Jay knows that my work has been endorsed and praised by some of the greatest scholars of our time, a few of them are actually historians and avid readers of Jewish history. Jay probably knows that that my work is now studied in many academic institutes around the world. Talking about factuality, Jay didn’t manage to substantiate any of his arguments. In fact he didn’t even try, and when he attempted he ended up contradicting himself.

However, if Jay is convinced that I am talking rubbish, he clearly had the opportunity to invite me to his show, to grill me in his own studio and even to doctor the results in his own editing suite. But he didn’t take the chance. He reacted cowardly and for a good reason. He knew that he didn’t stand a chance.

We are dealing here with a very sad case. Paul Jay presented here an exemplary case of poor journalism and lost a lot of credibility. He clearly brought it on himself.

KP: As for the charge that your ideology “serve[s] Zionist propaganda and divide[s] the solidarity movement.” Surely one could similarly point to the divisiveness of their anti-Zionism.

In your reply, you wrote, “I define Jewish Power as the power to divert the attention from Jewish Power and Paul Jay clearly engages in just such an endeavour.” Few would deny that Zionist Jews have major influence in the media and over the discourse. Jay and Blumenthal while opposing Zionism have also for their part steered the discourse away from the racists/occupiers/oppressors to criticizing part of the opposition to the Zionist racism, occupation, and oppression. Is that not solidarity breaking? It seems easier for Americans to ally with al Qaeda than for anti-Zionists to stand together against Zionism and its crimes.

GA: To start with I don’t want to be instructed by anyone, neither a Jew or a Palestinian, on solidarity and how to bring it about. I am a writer, a philosopher and an artist. I don’t follow a ‘party line’ or a ‘campaign strategy’. I am driven by truth seeking and relentless search for beauty. However, you may want to ask yourself what those who claim to know what is good for Palestine have achieved so far? Zilch, is the answer.

By the time many of us in the West, as well people in the region, started to talk about The Palestinian Right of Return and One Democratic State, something that made the Israelis really worried for the first time, the BDS in Ramallah changed its goal statement in a clandestine manner and basically removed the 1948 from it official documentation. It didn’t take me long to grasp what happened there. I obviously learned that Soros money found its way to some corrupted Palestinian hands.

I guess that Jay and Blumenthal are correct to a certain extent. By now the peace movement as well as the Palestinian solidarity movements are divided. On one bank of the river we find the professional ‘anti Zionists’, the qualified good Jews namely the Tikkun Olam masters, those who also call themselves ‘progressive’, the people who think ‘as a’ (‘as a Jew’, ‘as a progressive’, as a gay, ‘as a Women’, ‘as an artist’, ‘as a patient’ etc.), some of them are anti-war, some actually support interventionist wars. That entire campaign is largely funded by liberal Zionist George Soros and his Open Society Institute. It divided the left into a collection of sporadic marginal discourses that promote and serve sectarian interests only.

On the other bank we find a lot of people who have nothing in common except an honest crave for peace, universal thought and deep intellectual curiosity. They are not funded by anyone in particular but they deliver a message and this message is harsh occasionally.

I am obviously not that river that split the land into two and it is not me who divides between these two distinct cultures that are becoming foreign to each other. But I guess that I have become a symptom and a symbol of this split between the tribal and the universal.

At a certain stage I revealed that something was not completely straight within the Judeo-centric political call, it was probably too kosher. Unlike Paul Jay, Max Blumenthal, Alan Dershowitz, and Ali Abunimah who practice the Jewish Herem culture (excommunication) all too often, I actually believe in free dialogue. I believe in freedom of thought and expression. I also believe that time is ripe for Jay and Abunimah to stand in front of the mirror and self-reflect. For the obvious reasons, Dershowitz and Blumenthal may better just self-reflect while skipping the mirror stage.

Clearly I didn’t lose my sense of humour.

  1. See Kim Petersen, “Independent News as Vehicle for Character Assassination,” Dissident Voice, 23 August 2013. []
  2. Noam Chomsky, “Anti-Semitism, Zionism, and the Palestinians,” from edited transcript of a live video link-up from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to public meetings called by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and other groups & organisations, throughout Scotland and the north of England, on Friday, 11 October 2002. []

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

Kenning the Men at the Heart of Syrian Conflict

Understanding the Players in Syria 


After a recent visit to Syria, Patrick Cockburn describes the pluralistic, militant groups that make up the "failed opposition" in Syria and provides the brutal truth about the history of Syrian President Assad.

Patrick Cockburn is an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent. Among the most experienced commentators on Iraq, he has written four books on the country's recent history. Cockburn's latest book is Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq. 

Houston...We Have a (small) Problem

Live Coverage of Moon Mission


Keystone Concessions: Canada Desperately Seeks Approval

Harper’s Climate Concession: Canada Increasingly Desperate to Secure Keystone XL Approval

by Carol Linnitt - DeSmogBlog

Prime Minster Stephen Harper’s hopes for the approval and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will transport Alberta tar sands crude across the US to refineries and export facilities in the Gulf Coast, hit a stumbling block this summer when Obama announced he will take Canada’s growing emissions problem into account when considering the project’s fate.

The tar sands, Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, have become the symbol of the country’s climate inaction, a position earning growing public censure across the globe.

Sources recently told the CBC that Harper addressed the issue in a letter he sent to Obama late August, inviting “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector,” if such efforts will help green-light the Keystone XL.

Sources told the CBC that Harper is willing to adopt Obama’s emissions targets and “work in concert with Obama to provide whatever political cover he needs to approve the project.”

Over the last year, the Keystone XL has become a rallying point for environmental organizations and climate activists internationally, as well as those hoping to scale back expansion of the tar sands.

Canada has gone into overdrive in an attempt to promote the nation’s allegedly strong environmental record, while downplaying the climate impacts of the tar sands and the country’s flagging environmental record.

Recently Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver referred to the tar sands as a “greener alternative” than other energy sources. And Alberta Premier Alison Redford traveled to Washington DC to praise Alberta’s environmental record.

In May Stephen Harper visited the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, saying the Keystone XL and the tar sands are projects the US “can’t afford to turn down.”
“Look,” he said, ”environmental challenges, they are real, they have to be dealt with.”

“Obviously constraining the emissions there in the oil sands is going to be important,” he said, adding these emissions amount to “almost nothing globally.”

Although according to Environment Canada data, emission from the tar sands increased some 267 percent between 1990 and 2011, although per-barrel emissions have gone down a reported 26 percent. The overall increase of Canada’s expanding tar sands extraction, however, has the nation’s total emissions set to increase steadily over the next several decades.

Tar sands oil produces 3 to 4 times more emissions in the production phase than conventional oil.

The letter to Obama is an indication that Harper is willing to more openly discuss Canada’s failure to address its emission problem, but means little in terms of positive changes on the ground.

The Keystone XL, which will help move landlocked tar sands crude to market, will inevitably promote growing oil production and GHG emissions in Canada.
“The International Energy Agency says we have to leave two-thirds of the proven reserves of fossil fuels in the ground if we want to have a hope of preventing catastrophic levels of global warming, and turning down [the Keystone XL] project is a good place to start.” Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaign co-ordinator for Greenpeace.

If Obama is serious about tackling climate change, refusing the Keystone XL is a no-brainer.

* images used with permission of Kris Krug

Friday, September 06, 2013

Northern Gateway Assessment Reveals Canada's Environmental Commitment Lacking at Home

Climate Change Missing in Enbridge Northern Gateway Assessment

by Chris Genovali - Raincoast Conservation

Our environment is changing rapidly and these changes are occurring faster than we can understand them. Climate disruption during the last decades has promoted a reorganization of biological communities, influencing the interrelationships of species and their distributions. Wildlife are now experiencing chronic alterations of local and regional ecology because of changes in global climate (e.g., snowpack depths, timing of snowmelt in spring, availability of standing water in summer). In all likelihood, this process will continue and intensify in the future.

Given the intense influence of climate on the natural environment, as formal interveners in the Northern Gateway federal review process, we at Raincoast Conservation Foundation were disconcerted that climate change was not considered in the Enbridge Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment (ESA). The proposed Northern Gateway project would see a 1,170 kilometer twin pipeline constructed from Alberta's tar sands to a marine terminal on the north coast of British Columbia, where VLCC's (Very Large Crude Carriers) would ship diluted bitumen to offshore markets in China and the United States. According to the journal Nature, "Canada's tar sands stand out in a ranking of total greenhouse gas emissions associated with different types of oil." Moreover, in light of the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, this oversight, deliberate or unintended, is more dismaying by the day.

Climate change directly affects key aspects of the project assessment, including underlying assumptions, results, interpretations, conclusions and analyses of risk. For example, an increased risk of flooding resulting from warmer temperatures and higher rainfall, which climate models predict for the west coast, also means an increased risk of exposed pipelines. Similarly, increased insect outbreaks could extensively alter forest ecosystems and their ability to maintain previous soil, moisture and temperature conditions. Ignoring the influence of climate change is a critical omission that further undermines the credibility and usefulness of an already flawed Enbridge ESA for decision-making.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that climate change poses a major threat to biodiversity and human livelihoods. The IPCC also states the current concentration and rate of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere exceed that of the last 420,000 years. Climate change influences abiotic components such as glaciers, rivers, lakes, and oceans, which in turn drive changes in the physical landscape and biota that are linked to them. A new study by an international team of scientists and published in Nature Climate Change has found that many fish and plankton are relocating towards the North and South poles at an astonishing rate of hundreds of kilometres per decade in response to climate change.

Human-caused warming already has a discernable influence on many physical and biological systems. The IPCC predicts that resilience of many ecosystems will be exceeded within this century by an unprecedented combination of changing climate and subsequent disturbances, combined with land-use change, pollution, and over exploitation of resources. Accordingly, the IPCC forecasts an increased risk of species extinctions as global temperatures rise.

Habitat fragmentation caused by large-scale resource extraction, such as industrial forestry, coupled with global climate change, could spell the decline or end of untold numbers of species. For example, under long-term drought, bears in British Columbia could find difficulty foraging for salmon in drying streams, for skunk cabbage roots in shrinking wetlands, or for shrivelling berry crops in less productive forests. The influence of climate change on forest ecosystems may cause species ranges to shift in elevation and latitude -- some expanding and some shrinking.

A recent report on climate change impacts in California by the state's Environmental Protection Agency reveals approximately half the species of small mammals in Yosemite National Park have now moved their habitat ranges to higher elevations.

Summertime stream temperatures, seasonal low flows and changes in peak and base flows are presently changing because of climate disruption. Simulations predict that rising water temperatures and reduced stream flow will become increasingly severe later in the twenty-first century. Already, we are seeing these conditions. The Pacific Salmon Commission recently announced that Fraser River discharge was roughly 25% lower and temperature was 1.4 °C higher than average for this date.

Watersheds that are strongly influenced by a mix of direct runoff from cool-season rainfall and springtime snowmelt are most susceptible to climate change. This is of vital importance to salmon, which are sensitive to high water temperature during their migration up-river to spawn.

The combined effects of higher stream temperatures and reduced flows in the summer and more flooding in the winter does not bode well for the survival of many BC salmon populations. These conditions are stressful, if not intolerable, for young salmon that rely on freshwater habitat in the summer or adults that have to migrate upstream. Increased winter flooding will also carry away eggs and salmon larvae.

The astoundingly fast changes that are now occurring show that long-relied upon approaches to static environmental assessment do not reflect emerging ecological conditions. Rather, once stable and predictable habitats are now being replaced by moving targets. This creates unprecedented levels of uncertainty. Yet, environmental change owing to climate disruption is completely ignored in the Northern Gateway assessment. This is such a critical deficiency that the efficacy of the Enbridge ESA is not only seriously undermined, but is arguably rendered effectively irrelevant in terms of its calculation of real world impacts.

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Christopher Genovali has served as Executive Director for the British Columbia based Raincoast Conservation Foundation ( for over a decade. Christopher has had numerous articles and features published on North American wilderness and wildlife conservation issues in print and online publications throughout Canada and internationally (Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, Victoria Times Colonist, Victoria News, The Ecologist, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Alternatives Journal, Edmonton Journal, Georgia Straight, Monday Magazine, The Tyee, Truthout, CounterPunch, Common Dreams, Buzzflash, etc.). He has also appeared as a spokesperson on various radio and television outlets such as CBC's 'As It Happens', CBC 'Newsworld', US National Public Radio, CKNW, CFAX, CTV, Global TV, BBC TV, BBC radio, Channel 4 UK, the Knowledge Network, and CBC News Vancouver.
This article was co-authored by Raincoast Conservation Foundation senior scientist Dr. Paul C. Paquet and Raincoast biologist Misty MacDuffee.

A version of this article previously ran in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

East Timor and West Papua Advocacy Groups Condemn US Sale of Attack Helicopters to Indonesia

Groups Condemn Sale of Deadly Attack Helicopters to Indonesia


The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) today condemned the U.S. government's decision to approve the sale of deadly Apache attack helicopters to Indonesia.

The sale demonstrates that U.S. concern for greater respect for human rights and justice in Indonesia are nothing more than hollow rhetoric.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, second from left, meets with Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in Jakarta, Aug. 26, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI to pursue "sweeping" operations, extending TNI capacity to stage operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.

The sale, announced during the visit of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to Jakarta, ignores the appalling record of human rights violations by the Indonesian military (TNI), which will operate this deadly weapons system.

The helicopters are offensive weapons often used in counter-insurgency campaigns.

The TNI continues to conduct military campaigns in West Papua. The military's "sweeps" and other military operations purportedly target the few remaining, lightly-armed pro-independence guerrillas. In reality, the operations are aimed at repressing and intimidating Papuans. The sweep operations, involve assaults on remote villages in West Papua, destroying civilian homes, churches and public buildings and forcing civilians from their homes. These attacks drive civilians into surrounding mountains and jungles where many have died due to a lack of food, shelter or medical assistance.

The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI to pursue "sweeping" operations, extending TNI capacity to stage operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.

The statement by Indonesia's Minister of Defense that the sale does not include any conditions on the use of these weapons is especially concerning. The TNI use of these weapons platforms will be largely unconstrained. TNI personnel are not accountable to the civilian judicial system nor is the TNI as an institution subordinated to civilian government policy or operational control.

For decades, the TNI has drawn funding from a vast network of legal and illegal businesses enabling it to evade even civilian government budgetary controls. Legislation to restrain the TNI has been weak or only partially implemented.


On Monday August 26, Secretary of Defense Hagel announced that the U.S. had closed a deal for Indonesia to buy eight AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for a half a billion dollars. The U.S. did not attach conditions restricting their use.

The sale represents the latest step in the Pentagon's increased engagement with the TNI. In 1999, restrictions on U.S. engagement with the Indonesia military were tightened as the TNI and its militia allies were destroying East Timor (now Timor-Leste) following the UN-conducted referendum on independence.

Through the 2000s, restrictions on engagement with the Indonesian military were gradually lifted, even though it remained unaccountable for its past crimes in Timor-Leste and throughout the archipelago and rights violations continue in West Papua and elsewhere.

Last year, ETAN and WPAT coordinated a letter signed by more than 90 organizations urging the U.S. not to sell the deadly attack helicopters to Indonesia. The groups warned that the helicopters will escalate conflicts in Indonesia, especially in the rebellious region of West Papua: "Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians."

ETAN, formed in 1991 and advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. Since its founding, ETAN has worked to condition U.S. military assistance to Indonesia on respect for human rights and genuine reform. See ETAN's web site: WPAT publishes the monthly West Papua Report.

John M. Miller,
Ed McWilliams,

see also
IPS: U.S. Sells Attack Helicopters to Indonesia amid Rights Concerns (August 26, 2013)
Groups Urge U.S. Not to Sell Attack Helicopters to Indonesia (March 30, 2012)
U.S.-Indonesia Security Assistance
West Papua Report