Saturday, April 05, 2014

BDS Growing: Canada's University Students at Odds with Government Allegiance to Israel

Yet more Canadian students join the boycott Israel movement

by Editor - Redress

While Israel’s apologists withdraw into a parallel universe of make belief, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) train is gathering pace.

Just days after Zionist fantacist Michael Rosenberg declared that the “BDS movement is irrelevant”, students at Toronto’s Ryerson University voted at their annual meeting on 2 April to join the ever growing boycott Israel movement.

As even the ultra-right-wing Israeli news website Arutz Sheva 7 admits;

The vote caps a chain of anti-Israel decisions among Canadian institutions of higher education.

Just two weeks ago, Toronto’s York University student union voted to join the BDS movement. It was preceded by Windsor University in Ontario in early March. In mid-March, students at the University of Ottawa launched a campaign to have Sabra hummus banned from campus because of its alleged connection with “Israel apartheid.”

Similar votes for a general boycott on Israel have recently been passed in other universities, such as the University of Toronto’s Scarborough and Mississauga campuses, Regina University, Carlton University and others.

So, it’s best if Rosenberg and other Zionist sclerotics took time off for a reality check.

Slowly but surely, the truth is beginning to take its toll on the world’s only surviving apartheid state. Those who can’t come to terms with this reality had better find another hobby horse – or a good psychiatrist.

Solartopia Must Come, Will Come and Is Coming

Solartopia: Winning the Green Energy Revolution

by Harvey Wasserman for BUZZFLASH at TRUTHOUT

High above the Bowling Green town dump, a green energy revolution is being won. It's being helped along by the legalization of marijuana and its bio­fueled cousin, industrial hemp.

But it's under extreme attack from the billionaire Koch Brothers, utilities like First Energy (FE), and a fossil/nuke industry that threatens our existence on this planet.

Robber Baron resistance to renewable energy has never been more fierce. The prime reason is that the Solartopian Revolution embodies the ultimate threat to the corporate utility industry and the hundreds of billions of dollars it has invested in the obsolete monopolies that define King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas).

The outcome will depend on YOUR activism, and will determine whether we survive here at all. Four very large wind turbines in this small Ohio town are producing clean, cheap electricity that can help save our planet. A prime reason they exist is that Bowling Green has a municipal­owned utility. When it came time to go green, the city didn't have to beg some corporate­owned electric monopoly to do it for them.

In fact, most of northern Ohio is now dominated by FirstEnergy, one of the most reactionary, anti-­green private utilities in the entire US. As owner of the infamous Davis­Besse reactor near Toledo, FE continually resists the conversion of our energy economy to renewable sources. Except for the occasional green window­ dressing, First Energy has fought fiercely for decades to preserve its unsafe reactors while fighting off the steady progression of renewable generators.

FE's obstinance has been particularly dangerous at Davis­Besse, one of the world's most profoundly unsafe nukes. To the dismay even of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and other notoriously docile agencies, undetected boric acid ate nearly all the way through a reactor pressure vessel and threatened a massive melt­down/explosion that could have irradiated the entire north coast and the Great Lakes. FE's nuke at Perry, east of Cleveland, was the first in the US to be substantially damaged by an earthquake.

Both Perry and Davis­Besse are in the stages of advanced decay. Each of them is being held together by the atomic equivalent of duct tape and bailing twine. A major accident grows more likely with each hour of operation.

Small wonder the nuclear industry has been shielded since 1957 by the Price-­Anderson Act, which limits corporate liability in any reactor disaster to less than $15 billion, a drop in the bucket compared to what has already happened at Chernobyl and Fukushima, and could happen here.

Should either of those reactors blow, FE and other investors will simply not have to pay for the loss of your home, family or personal health. Should that federal insurance be removed, the reactors would shut soon thereafter since for the last 57 years, no private insurers have stepped forward to write a policy on these reactors.

As for the wind turbines in Bowling Green, there are no such problems. With zero federal insurance restrictions, they initially came in ahead of schedule and under budget. They have boosted the local economy, created jobs and produced power is that is far cheaper, safer, cleaner and more reliable than anything coming out of the many nearby trouble­plagued burners of fossil and nuclear fuels.

Throughout the world similar "miracles" are in progress. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 92 percent of the new electrical generating capacity installed in the US in the first two months of 2014 was renewable.

That includes six new wind farms, three geothermal facilities, and 25 new solar plants. One of those wind installations is a 75 megawatt plant in Huron County, Wisconsin.

Four solar arrays will produce 73 megawatts for Southern California Edison, which was just forced by agrassroots upsurge to shut its two huge reactors at San Onofre, between Los Angeles and San Diego.

SoCalEd and the people of southern California are now in the process of filling that void with a wide range of renewable installations. Many home owners will be doing it by installing solar panels on their rooftops, a rapidly advancing technology that is proving extremely cost-­effective while avoiding production of millions of tons of greenhouse gases and radioactive waste.

By comparison, according to one report, new development in "fossil fuel ­based infrastructure was almost non­existent for January and February, with only one natural gas facility brought on line."

Across the nation, public opinion polls show an accelerating embrace of renewables. According to a Gallup Poll taken last year, more than 70 percent of Americans want more emphasis put on solar and wind power, well over twice as many as embrace coal (31 percent) and nearly twice as many as those who support new nukes (37 percent).

And here Wall Street agrees with Main Street. Despite gargantuan federal subsidies and its status as a legal fiefdom unto itself, major investors have shunned atomic energy. The smart money is pouring toward Solartopia, to the tune of billions each year in new invested capital.

There have been the inevitable failures, such as the infamous Solyndra which left the feds holding more than a half-­billion in bad paper.

But such pitfalls have been common throughout the history of energy start­ups, including all aspects of the fossil/nuke industry. And in solar's case, Solyndra has been dwarfed by billions in profits from other green investments.

Ironically, one of the biggest new fields ­­­advanced bio-­fuels ­­­is being opened by the legalization of marijuana and its industrial cousin, hemp. Hemp was the number two cash crop (behind tobacco) grown in the early American colonies. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were enthusiastic cultivators. Jefferson wrote passionately about it in his farm journal, and Washington took pains to import special seed from India.

As a crop with many uses, hemp has been an essential player in human agriculture for 50 centuries.

In early America, hemp's primary early service was as feedstock for rope and sails for ships. But it was also used to make clothing and other textiles. Ben Franklin processed it in his first paper mill. And it has wide applications as a food crop, especially thanks to the high protein content of its seeds, which are also a core of the bird feed business.

Some of the early colonies actually required farmers to grow hemp. During World War II the military commandeered virtually the entire state of Kansas for it, using it primarily for rope in the Navy. But since then it has been almost everywhere illegal.

There are many theories behind why, including a belief that the tree ­based paper industry does not want to compete with hemp feedstock, which­­­ as Franklin knew­­­ makes a stronger paper, and can be grown far more cheaply and sustainably.

China, Japan, Germany, Rumania and other nations have long been growing hemp with great profit. Canada's annual crop has been valued at nearly $500,000,000. Estimates of its domestic consumption here in the US run around $550,000,000, all of it imported.

The US hemp industry is widely regarded as an innocent by­stander in the insane war against marijuana. (Some believe that because it threatens so many industrial interests, hemp is actually a CAUSE of marijuana prohibition).

But because marijuana prohibition seems finally to be on the fade, the laws against hemp cultivation are falling away. The national farm community is in strong support, for obvious reasons. Hemp is extremely easy to grow, does not require pesticides or herbicides (it's a weed!) and has centuries of profitability to back it up.

When Colorado legalized recreational pot it also opened the door for industrial hemp, with the first full­ on crop now on its way in. Washington state is following suit. In Kentucky, right ­wing Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell both strongly support legalization. The federal law against its cultivation in states where it's being legalized has now eased.

Hemp's role in the Solartopian revolution is certain to be huge. The oil content in its seeds make it a prime player in the booming bio-­fuels industry. The high cellulosic content of its stems and leaves mean it might also be fermented into ethanol. (The stalks and stems are also highly prized as building materials and insulation).

There has been strong resistance to bio-­fuels now derived from corn and soy, for good reason. Those are food crops, and their use for industrial fuel has pitted hungry people against automobiles and other combustion technologies, bringing on rising prices for those who can least afford them.

Corn and soy are also extremely inefficient as fuel stocks (corn is far worse). In a world dominated by corporate agri­business, they are generally raised unsustainably, with huge quantities of pesticides, herbicides and petro-­based fertilizers. None of those are required for hemp, which is prolific, sustainable and can be raised in large quantities by independent non­corporate growers.

Along with on­going breakthroughs in other feedstocks (especially algae) hemp will be a major player in the Solartopian future. As pot inches its way toward full legalization, we can reasonably expect to see a revolution in bio­-fuels within a very few years.

Likewise wind and solar. Windmills have been with us for at least five centuries. Coming from the plains of Asia, they covered our own Great Plains in the Great Depression and have rapidly advanced in power and efficiency. Newly installed turbine capacity is far cheaper than nukes and has recently surpassed all but the dirtiest of fossil fuels. As at Bowling Green, installation can be quick and efficient. Actual output often exceeds expectation, as do profits and job­creation.

But the real revolution is coming in photo­voltaics (PV). These technologies ­­­and there's a very wide range of them ­­­convert sunlight to electricity. Within the next few decades, they will comprise the largest industry in human history. Every home, office, factory, window, parking lot, highway, vehicle, machine, device and much more will be covered and/or embedded with them. There are trillions of dollars to be made.

The speed of their advance is now on par with that of computing capability. Moore's Law ­­­which posited (correctly) that computing capacity would double every two years ­­­is now a reality in the world of PV. Capacity is soaring while cost plummets.

It's a complex, demanding and increasingly competitive industry. It can also be hugely profitable. So there's every technological reason to believe that in tandem with wind, bio-­fuels, geo­thermal, ocean thermal, wave energy, increased efficiency, conservation and more, the Solartopian revolution in clean green PV power could completely transform the global energy industry within the next few years.

"Only flat­earthers and climate­deniers can continue to question the fact that the age of renewable energy is here now," says Ken Bossong, executive director of the Sun Day Campaign.

But there's a barrier ­­­King CONG, the Robber Baron energy corporations. In fact, the Koch Brothers and their fossil/nuke cohorts are conducting a vicious nationwide campaign against renewables. It puts out all sorts of reasons for the bloviators to blurt.

But the real motive is to protect their huge corporate investments.

Because what's really at stake here is the question of who will control the future of energy ­­­King CONG, or the human community.

Though it would seem it could also be monopolized, Solartopian energy is by nature community ­based. Photovoltaic cells could be owned by corporations, and in many cases they are.

But in the long run PV inclines toward DG (distributed generation). The nature of roof­top collectors is to allow homeowners to own their own supply. The market might incline them at various stages to buy or lease the solar cells from a monopoly.

But in real terms, the price of PV is dropping so fast that monopolization may well become moot. As futurist Jeremy Rifkin puts it more generally his "Rise of Anti­Capitalism."

"The inherent dynamism of competitive markets is bringing costs so far down that many goods and services are becoming nearly free, abundant, and no longer subject to market forces. While economists have always welcomed a reduction in marginal cost, they never anticipated the possibility of a technological revolution that might bring those costs to near zero."

But that's what's starting to happen with photovoltaic cells, where fuel is free and capital costs are dropping low enough that the utility industry and its fossil/nuke allies can't quite grab control.

When individual building owners can generate their own PV power, when communities like Bowling Green can own their own windmills, when small farmers can grow their own hemp­based fuel, who needs King CONG?

We know this powerful beast will fight against the renewable revolution right down to its last billion, especially now that American elections are so easily bought and stolen. Defending the green ­powered turf will not be easy.

But sooner or later, if we can survive fracking, the next few Fukushimas and the oil spills after that, Solartopia must come.

Our economic and our biological survival both depend on it.

See you there!

Custom Canada: Industry-Tailored Legislators

Canada Changing Laws to Fit...

by Alexandra Morton

The salmon farming industry is making an aggressive bid for expansion through BC at the invitation of government. Private ownership of salmon in the ocean is on the table. Section 36 of the Fisheries Act is being removed from DFO, described as a critical impediment to the industry. Section 36 prohibits release of chemicals that are harmful to fish, but salmon farmers need drugs to kill sea lice.

There has been legal action by an east coast lobster fishermen for impact of farm salmon de-lousing drugs. That right to protect the lobster from farm salmon drugs appears to be receding. Meanwhile, back in Norway they are saying sea lice are out of control, even after using the drugs. They fear for their last wild salmon.

I testified in front of the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. It was a very revealing experience.

The ability for citizens of Canada to do anything about industrial salmon operations taking over the wild fishing grounds is rapidly drawing to a close.

Canada is in the process of changing its laws to accommodate a handful of companies. In the process, they are plowing under the smaller, more innovative companies that could thrive on land and be much, much more efficient with the last ocean protein that remains harvestable.

Why is it we are being forced to choose between aquaculture and wild fisheries?

As always I am open to sound ideas on how to resolve this.

Alexandra Morton

Friday, April 04, 2014

Ukrainian Putsch in Pictures

Ukraine, a Fascist Coup? - A Photo Essay

by Andre Vltchek - CounterPunch

Ukraine is burning, it is going to the dogs; it has been taken over by an illegitimate government engorged with fascists, neo-Nazis and simple pro-Western opportunists, as well as countless EU and US-sponsored members of various NGO’s.

The West has destabilized an entire nation, supporting right-wingers and fascists. Then it began spreading anti-Russian propaganda, even before Crimea had voted to join its historic homeland.

Everything was well planned, with Machiavellian precision. The EU was hoping to get its hands on the abundant natural resources, heavy industry and a well-educated and cheap labor force. In exchange, it was willing to give… nothing. No sane government would be willing to accept such a deal. Therefore, the only way to push through its agenda, the West began supporting violence and terror, as well as the fascist, neo-Nazi groups. A similar approach is being used by the US and EU in Venezuela, Syria and even Thailand.

Just a few days ago, I concluded my 2,000-kilometer drive, from Kiev to Odessa, and then to the border with Transnistria and Kharkov. I visited destroyed and abandoned villages – a result of the ‘collapse of the Soviet Union’ and Ukrainian flirtation with the market economy, its obedience to the IMF and World Bank. I spoke to workers at an enormous steel plant in Krivoi Rog, located in the country’s industrial heartland. I met several leading intellectuals at the university city of Kharkiv, and I stood on the Ukrainian-Russian border, observing and photographing several Ukrainian tanks and armored vehicles.

All that I witnessed will be included in my in-depth report, which will be published, next week, in CounterPunch.

But right now, I would like to share some images with our readers. Those that I took, and those taken by two brave Ukrainian reporters: Andriy Manchuk and Andrey Nedzelnitsky.

I took the photographs very recently, this week and last week, while both Manchuk and Nedzelnitsky worked in Kiev in January and February 2014.

Andriy Manchuk wrote for this photo essay:

The photos were taken by me, and by the Kiev-based activist Andrey Nedzelnitsky, between January & March 2014, during the armed political confrontations in the center of the capital. I took some photos on 19th January, and 18th-20th February, in the periods when the intensification of events were at their peak. During those days, supporters of the opposition backed by the EU and US turned to violence, with the EU and US directing attempts to seize power. The result of these actions was the establishment of a new government – a coalition of neoliberals and ultra-right politicians, as well as the unleashing of a rightwing terror campaign – unseen in the history of independent Ukraine.

You can see in the photo series, the most significant moments of the last three months in Ukraine: the violent clashes between units of rightwing football fans and far-right militants and the police; burning barricades, marches by far-right paramilitaries with Nazi symbols, the moments of the demolition of the monuments to communists, and participants of the workers uprising of 1918, the public desecration of the communist red flag seized by the neo-Nazis in the offices of the Communists Party of Ukraine. You can also see the moment of the brutal assault and beating up of the anti-Maidan supporters – it took place on the Maidan itself and as a result of my work, the right-wing fighters grabbed my camera. There is also one photo of Arseniy Yatsenyuk – the current acting PM of Ukraine – who recently met with President Obama in Washington, and negotiated the possibility of obtaining loans while agreeing to implement brutal anti-social, neoliberal reforms that will affect millions of Ukrainian citizens. This was the very price of the victory of the rightwing and neoliberal politicians that organized and controlled the Euro-Maidan movement.”

The photos of my Ukrainian comrades were mainly taken by their mobile phones, as cameras were often destroyed or ‘confiscated’ by those self-proclaimed and later glorified by Western media, pro-European ‘democrats’.

The maliciousness and brutality of the Empire, the propaganda and lies that the mass media are spreading, are reaching top gear. They are increasingly determined, but also progressively primitive and desperate. It must be obvious even to a child that the Emperor is naked!

Photos: Andre Vltchek, Andriy Manchuk and Andrey Nedzelnitsky:

Russian-Ukrainian border – all quiet.

Right-wingers are proud of this.

Police protecting courthouse where left-wing, anti-government activist is being tried.

Maidan from above.

Kharkiv is anti-Western, pro-Russian and pro-Soviet.

Fascism and religion hand in hand.

EU is interested – an oil rig in central Ukraine.

Advertisement used by snipers to tune up their weapons.

What is left of a Ukrainian village.

Ukrainean tank on Russian border, north of Kharkiv.

Doing business with EU flags.

Burning barricades on Maidan during 18 February 2014 clashes.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk – current acting PM of Ukraine joins right-wingers during their attack on police.

Two Maidan protesters in the time of calm.

Right-wing activists and football fanatics attacking on 19 January 2014.

Maidan protesters brutally beating up a man they accused of supporting the government.

Texas supports Maidan.

Right-wing group.

Right-wing on barricaden.

Right-wing football fans.

Right-wingers are encouraging passers-by to clean their shoes with a banner of the Communist Party of Ukraine.

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. He has just completed the feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

Honduran Human Rights Activist Oliva Takes Campaign to Ottawa

Honduran human rights leader to visit Ottawa and urge MPs to put human rights first

by Americas Policy Group

Prominent Honduran human rights activist Bertha Oliva, general coordinator of the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared and Detained in Honduras (COFADEH), will visit Ottawa on April 8, 2014 to urge that Canadian trade and investment not trump human rights.

Ms. Oliva will provide first hand testimony to the Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights (SDIR) and the Standing Committee on International Trade (CIIT) about serious, systematic, increasing human rights abuses in Honduras, as well as concerns that they will be exacerbated by the Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement (CHFTA).

Recent reports by Human Rights Watch <> and Amnesty International <> echo the concerns of Ms Oliva, painting a highly disturbing panorama of police corruption, militarization, lack of judicial and prosecutorial independence, as well as targeted violence against human rights defenders, women and girls, Indigenous, Afro-descendant and campesino (peasant) communities, and LGBTI people. These violations take place in a context where impunity for human rights violations is endemic and where organized as well as common crimes are high. The homicide rate in Honduras remains the highest in the world.

"Ms. Oliva has enormous experience, respect and credibility when it comes to assessing the human rights situation in Honduras and for this reason it is imperative that MPs listen carefully to her assessment," said Tara Ward, Co-Chair of the Americas Policy Group (APG).
"It is crucial that MPs take seriously their responsibility to ensure that Canadian policy does not make a bad situation worse."

Ms. Oliva and human rights organizations in Honduras, together with a broad range of civil society organizations in Canada, are deeply worried about the impact that the trade deal will have on human rights in Honduras. Investors' rights enshrined in the trade deal enable corporations to sue the Honduran state in international tribunals, undermining the state's capacity to uphold human rights that may come into conflict with corporate interests. Meanwhile, labour and environmental side agreements lack enforcement mechanisms, providing little protection for Hondurans.

Concern regarding the impact of Canadian investments on human rights is substantiated by several cases. For example, Goldcorp's San Martin mine in Siria Valley, which operated from 1995-2008, led to severe water depletion and health impacts related to contamination, in addition to repression of the local population, documented in studies by the Institute for Environmental Rights in Honduras (IDAMHO) <> , as well as by biologist Flaviano Bianchini <>, among others.

On the northern coast of Honduras, Afro-Indigenous Garifuna communities are resisting the incursion of tourism investors, among these, Canadian pornography mogul and CEO of Life Visions Properties Randy Jorgensen. Garifuna communities allege that the creation of Jorgensen's "Banana Coast" mega-tourism project has involved the illegal purchasing of their communal land, leading to their forced eviction.

Ms. Oliva will visit Toronto, Six Nations, and Montreal from April 7 to 11, 2014, as part of the "Building Solidarity with Honduras: Peoples' Rights over Corporate Rights" tour organized by 25 organizations across Canada and Quebec. Ms. Oliva's visit to Ottawa is sponsored by the APG and its members, including the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the PSAC Social Justice Fund.

For more details, click here <> .



In 2009, a military coup in Honduras deposed democratically elected left-of-centre President Manuel Zelaya. Elections after the coup, which brought Porfirio Lobo Sosa of the conservative National Party to power, were deeply flawed and seen as a mere continuation of the de facto government. Canada was quick to recognize Lobo's victory, stating that elections "appear to have been run freely and fairly." Despite the procedural irregularities, as well as violence and intimidation, which marked elections in November 2013, Canadian officials attended the inauguration of Lobo's successor, Juan Orlando Hernandez, also of the National Party, legitimizing his government.

Despite the democratic deficit, as well as an alarming climate of violence and repression in Honduras, the Canadian government has only deepened its political support for, as well as economic ties with, the Central American country, most notably through the Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement (CHFTA).

The Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement (CHFTA)

The CHFTA was signed in November 2013, without regard for troubling testimony given during hearings of the Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights regarding grave human rights concerns in Honduras. The bill to implement the trade deal (C-20) passed its Second Reading on March 31, 2014.

Concerns have been further fueled by experience under the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and the failure of the Canadian government to take seriously a requirement to annually assess and report on human rights effects of the trade deal.

The Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared and Detained in Honduras (COFADEH)

COFADEH is a leading Honduran human rights organization, which seeks justice for current human rights abuses and for "disappearances" by state security forces in the 1980s, and trains local human rights activists. Ms. Oliva has become an emblematic presence in the Central American human rights movement and is one of the leading voices of resistance to state repression.

The Americas Policy Group (APG)

The Americas Policy Group (APG) is a working group of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. APG brings together dozens of international development and humanitarian NGOs, human rights groups, labour unions, research institutions, church and solidarity groups in Canada to work on policy issues related to development and social justice. The socio-political situation in Honduras has been a focus of APG's work for the past few years, since many members of APG are involved on the ground and have close links with local organizations.

APG calls upon parliamentarians to bear in mind Berta's testimony when asked to vote upon the bill to implement the trade deal, when it enters its Third Reading. We also urge the Canadian government to use all means at its disposal to firmly and consistently press for effective action to protect human rights, including, amongst others, the right to freedom of expression, the right to organize, and the right to free, prior and informed consent regarding projects that will affect Indigenous peoples.

April 3, 2014 - For immediate release

For more information or to arrange interviews with Bertha Oliva, please contact:

Stacey Gomez
Coordinator - Americas Policy Group
Coordonnatrice - Groupe d'orientation politique pour les Amériques

Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC)

Conseil canadien pour la coopération internationale (CCCI)
450 Rideau St., Suite 200, Ottawa (Ontario), K1N 5Z4

Follow us on / Suivez-nous sur :

<> <> <> <> <>

Register now for our Annual Conference and AGM on May 13-15!

Inscrivez-vous maintenant à notre conférence annuelle et AGA, du 13 au 15 mai!

NoPipelines! Resistance Training

NO PIPELINES! TRAINING 2014 4,5,6/04/14

by NoPipelines! Training

Read on for our 3-day schedule of events, details of the opening and closing community feasts, live music and film nights and two inspiring speaker events.

This weekend of popular education and mass movement building is an opportunity for organizers and groups from across the Pacific Northwest to deepen our collective understanding of the politics of extreme energy and carbon colonialism. Workshops include Mapping Resistance, Knowing Your Rights, Creating Cultures of Resistance, Decolonization, False Solutions and Anti-Oppression among many, many more. This is not just about talking – it’s time to take to the streets and skill up for civil disobedience. Learn how to plan direct actions: from scouting the target and briefing the media to using a range of blockading skills to shut them down!

In addition to a packed workshop schedule, the weekend opens on Friday evening at the Russian Hall with an indigenous welcoming followed by a celebratory feast and panel event with Cease Wyss and guests from the Unist’ot’en Action Camp and Ancestral Pride. From 9.30 PM we’ll embrace the rhythms of resistance with music from Savage FAM. The training will close on Sunday night with a community salmon dinner and speaking forum honouring the essential leadership of Indigenous women, mothers, and grandmothers in climate justice and anti-colonial organizing.

*** SAVE THE DATES *** Click here to view the full schedule and locations
Click here to view the full schedule

Highlights for the Weekend Training, include:

Workshops and trainings include: strategic planning: tools for resistance, blockades training, direct action 101 102, know your rights, false solutions: offsetting resistance (panel), anti-oppression, anti-capitalism: connecting struggles (panel), workers and direct action, decolonization: unsettling ourselves, unlearning transphobia, creating cultures of resistance, being allies in imperfect solidarity, facilitated discussion for queers and allies, know your enemy: security culture & counter surveillance, radical media, arizona direct action camp: report back, mapping resistance, anarchist solidarity, action planning, scouting, tripods and tree-sits, mega loads resistance with RT Portland

· Presentations by grassroots community leaders

· Building a coalition to stop resource extraction

· Planning collaborative mass direct actions and protests for 2014

This weekend is designed to share popular education on mass movement building and citizen action – to prepare hundreds of folks for civil disobedience and community organizing through skill shares and relationship building. We are looking to use these skills and new connections to plan public protests throughout 2014 against numerous mega projects proliferating the landscape – from oil and gas pipelines, to coal export terminals, from fracking and mining projects to incinerators. For the future of all our communities and children – we need to act now.

Dates for No Pipelines! Action Training for Climate Justice are April 4, 5 and 6th and these trainings will be held at various locations in Vancouver including Russian Hall (600 Campbell Ave), Dogwood center (706 Clark dr), Spartacus (684 East Hastings) and GCBC (1803 East 1st)

Anti-colonial and Anti-Oppression Statement

We acknowledge we are gathering this weekend, on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish people including the.xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations Our words and actions will reflect our awareness and appreciation that this is occupied land and confront the marginalization and oppression that indigenous people and people of colour face on a daily basis. We commit to rejecting all manifestations of marginalization and discrimination, including, but not limited to patriarchy, racism and white supremacy, classism, disableism, ageism, homophobia and transphobia.

Safer Space and Accessibility

All attendees, therefore, will strive to not replicate the systems of oppression, which big coal, oil & gas use to divide and rule, as we come together to create a better world.

Listening: Living in this complex, contested time means that there are hard questions that need to be asked and the hard work of careful listening is vital to hearing each other. Do not assume you know where someone is coming from. Be open to positions different from yours.

Photography: Before taking any photos or posting them online, please obtain permission of everyone who is in your photo.

Scent-reduction: To help make this a safer space for those in our communities who have chemical sensitivities or allergies, please refrain from wearing perfume and other scented-body products.

Childcare: Childcare is available for those who want it. Please make spaces safe and welcoming to children and their parents who attend events.

Pronouns: Respect preferred pronouns. If you are unsure of what pronoun somebody prefers, ask respectfully or use first names.
Gender-neutral washrooms will be made available in each venue.

Rides between venues will be available for elders and those with mobility concerns. Just ask one of the organizers at the venue.


Grandview Calvary Baptist Church

Grandview Calvary Baptist Church’s kitchen’s entrance is at street level, which gives access to washrooms, kitchen and lower hall. One washroom is gender neutral and has a stall that can accommodate a wheelchair. The washroom door opening is 86 cm, and the stall door is 61 cm.


Spartacus Books is on the ground/street level. Both the outer door and the bathroom door are 800mm (31.49 inches) in width. In the gender neutral bathroom, there is one bar directly to the left of the toilet and one bar directly behind it. The inside of Spartacus is all one level except for a slight bump (about 1mm in height) close to the back.

Russian Hall

The hall has two levels. The top level is accessible (wheelchair ramp). The lower level is not accessible (4 steps, no ramp). Because the bathroom is located in the lower level, there is no wheelchair access to the bathroom. The bathroom is also not wheelchair accessible. There will be a male washroom and a gender neutral washroom available.


3 steps between ground and main entrance, with a total height of 21 inches. 10ft long ramp and human lift are available. One gender inclusive washroom.


We are suggesting donations for this weekend training from $1 to $100 depending on your resources.
This convergence has been organized completely by volunteers. Rising Tide has no paid staff and no office – your donation goes directly to paying for the training spaces, food costs, travel for grassroots land defenders, etc. Any remaining donations will go into a fund for front line communities battling resource extraction, climate change, and the capitalist system.

A huge THANK YOU to the many volunteers and community organizations who helped with organizing childcare, food, billeting and all the many details needed to make this possible. THANK YOU to all the speakers, facilitators and participants for adding your voices as we all work together to create a foundation of resistance.

PRESENTED BY @Rising Tide Vancouver Coast Salish Territories

BACKGROUND: The Joint Review Panel has approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline from the tar sands to Kitimat. Approval is expected from the Harper government at any time. Meanwhile, reports say that construction is beginning on a lesser-known but equally destructive pipeline: Pacific Trail, from the fracking fields of Northern BC to Kitimat. Pacific Trail, which was appoved over a year ago, shares the western part of the route with Enbridge. Enbridge and Pacific Trail are only two of the many pipelines proposed for BC and across Canada.

Both projects are doomed, according to land defenders. Two years ago, members of the Unis’tot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation set out to block the route for both pipelines. Indigenous leaders are occupying and patrolling the territory as they always have. They have turned away pipeline surveyors, a logging crew planning to clear the route, and RCMP officers.

More info:

Click here to view the full schedule

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Philippine Extra-Judicial Killings Targeting Activists, Poor, Left and Media

Current Philippine Government And Military Using ongoing Extra-Judicial Killings Targeting Activists, Poor, Left and Media

by Brian McAfee

On March 25, William Bugatti, a 43 year old human rights worker for Karapatan, one of the Philippines main human rights organizations, Bugatti was shot to death. He was the 12th activist killed so far this year.

On March 15 Romeo Capalla, 65, chairperson of the Panay Fair Trade Center, was shot to death. On March 2 Freddie Ligiwi, his father and his brother Edie disappeared, they were found March 8 in a shallow grave.

Freddie had been a member of Anakbayan, a left wing organization. Women have also been targeted in the killings. Elisa Lascona Tulid, 37, a land rights activist was killed October 19, 2013 in front of her husband  and 4 year old daughter.

The story of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines has been going on since the beginning of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroya presidency which ran from 2001 to 2010. During her presidency there were 1,206 extra-judicial killings. So far in the Aquino presidency there have been 188 extra-judicial killings and dozens of forced disappearances.

The first few months of 2014 the Aquino government/military began arresting and jailing left wing activists on fictitious charges. So far 43 have been imprisoned in this way. The Philippine government is moving against  its political opponents using violence and lies, showing with clarity that they have no legitimacy.

While the Philippine military bears a great deal of the responsibility for the crimes committed in the extra- judicial killings a great deal must also go to the U.S. which supplies and trains the AFP through IMET (International Military

Education and Training) program and its JCET (Joint Combined Exchange Training) program. The U.S. holds similar joint military and training exercises in Indonesia where there are ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua by the Indonesian military. I believe The U.S. should alter its conduct and cease all weapons supplies and joint activities and training until all human rights abuse conduct can be proven to have ended.

The U.S. has had the School Of the Americas for Central and South America where the U.S. military trained the Latin American dictators how to torture and or murder dissidents. It appears that IMET and JCET play the role of the School of the Americas in Asia. 

For ongoing updates about the Philippines go to 

I welcome your thoughts or comments. -Brian McAfee

An Exchange with Greenwald

Cartoons and Cueballs: An Exchange with Glenn Greenwald

by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque

Glenn Greenwald stopped by the place Tuesday to respond to my last post. I thought I would bring his reply out of the comments and feature it here, along with my response. Glenn's statement is a lengthy and, to my mind, remarkable document: a powerful piece of emotional invective put together in the guise of an argument, based on wild and sometimes bizarre leaps of illogic that pack plenty of heat but tend to be short on substance.

Although he begins in friendly tones, and says he welcomes good-faith criticism, especially from the left, the piece becomes fiercer -- and more personal -- as it goes on, until it is abundantly clear that, in his eyes, it is impossible to offer any criticism of the handling of the NSA documents in good faith. Anyone who questions any aspect of the enterprise is a moral coward on a par with the neo-cons of "circa 2002/2003" who supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq but didn't want to go fight them. (It might not have been entirely wise for Glenn to refer to this particular stance during this particular time period, but more on that later.) Such critics also secretly wish to see Snowden put in more danger, and disparage his bravery.

There is a great deal more in this vein, some of which touches upon things I have actually said, and many of which do not. But enough intro. Here is Glenn's statement in full, to be followed by my reply.

Glenn Greenwald writes:

Hey Chris – I’m visiting “these run-down precincts” to address a couple points you’ve made here and elsewhere because, as you know, I’ve respected your work for a long time, and that hasn’t changed despite the barrage of intense (and, I think, often unfair) criticisms you’ve directed at me over the past several months. I’m sure I’ll be attacked for responding here on the grounds that it shows how “thin-skinned” or “obsessed” with criticism I am or whatever, but I prefer that to being insular, non-responsive and unaccountable, which are the adjectives I think apply to those who ignore criticisms simply because they can. I actually do believe that one responsibility that comes from doing things that affect others is that you engage rather than ignore valid criticisms that are made in good faith, even if those criticisms aren’t made in some huge media venue.

Nobody contests your right to criticize how I’ve reported these leaks, or the propriety of voicing such criticisms, nor should Edward Snowden be immune from being criticized. To argue against any of that is to engage a strawman. I’m personally glad that at least a small fraction of the critiques I hear come from the pro-transparency left rather than the trite, predictable, dreary sloganeering of the pro-national-security-state authoritarians about how we’re Endangering Lives and Helping the Terrorists. I’m glad that the uber-nationalistic fear-mongering about our actions from the Michael Haydens and David Frums of the world at least have some counterpart, even if much less amplified, in the form of “publish-more!” missives from the Chris Floyds.

As I’ve said many times, I consider the criticism that we haven’t published enough (or quickly enough) to be far more valid and serious than the accusation that we’ve published too much or recklessly. I am certain that if someone else were doing this reporting, I’d also be questioning why more hasn’t been published by now. For 10 consecutive months, I’ve put a huge amount of pressure on myself to publish as much as possible and as quickly as possible and in as many countries around the world as I possibly could (which is why I’ve published far more documents on my own than anyone else with access to large troves of Snowden documents has, including the largest media institutions, and why this has been the largest leak of Top Secret documents in US history, with plenty more to come), but I’m still glad for the external pressure to publish more.

For all the accusations of “profiteering” and the like, I could easily have stopped after the first few stories, collected all the accolades and prizes, written a lucrative book, and – in the process - been threatened with far fewer dangers and recriminations for myself and the people closest to me. I didn’t choose that far more limited course because – as my work over the last 8 years demonstrates – my commitment to opposing the grand excesses of the Surveillance State specifically and the American National Security State generally are authentic. I didn’t need to publish story after story, document after document, in country after country, month after month, in order to get the personal benefits: if anything, doing all that has created more enemies and increased the threats. I know what motivates me and so I sleep very well at night, with a clear conscience. Still, critics keep one honest, and I’m glad for the better ones I have.

All that said, there are two vital points I think are most often overlooked, in your critiques:

(1) When Edward Snowden came to me as a source with the documents he had, he had very strong opinions on how they should and should not be published. We spent a good amount of time talking about that, but ultimately, there were several conditions on which he insisted and to which we, as journalists, agreed.

I think it would be unconscionable – despicable even – for me to violate my agreement with him in how I publish these materials. To do so would be to subject him to a wide array of legal and other risks he did not choose to undertake. It would be an act of great treachery to accept these materials based on an agreement that I then just disregard. It would ensure that no source in their right mind would in the future take these hugs risks to come forward to me – or other journalists – with classified materials if they know journalists are willing to violate agreements the minute it becomes convenient to do so.

The terms Snowden insisted on are not a mystery. They’re not secret. He’s been very clear publicly - both through his representatives and himself - about what they are:

He did not want all the documents uploaded to the internet (had he wanted that, he could have just done that himself: he did not need us for that). He did not want many of the materials he gave us to ever be published because their publication would harm innocent people in all sorts of serious ways (he gave them to us for background, or context, or in some cases because he thought they were borderilne cases). He wanted certain types of documents withheld. He wanted the documents published one by one, in a journalistic context, for both legal and strategic reasons: he primarily believed that an incremental release would be far more effective for generating a sustained global debate than a massive, indiscriminate dump or even a series of massive simultaneous releases. He left it up to us to decide what to publish and how and in what order, but this was the framework he created at the start.

Obviously,anyone should feel free to criticize him for those assessments. For multiple reasons, I happen to agree with him that this has been by far the optimal strategy in this case. As someone who spent years defending WikiLeaks and Chelsea Manning, I know that the most effective tactic used to demonize them and distract from the substance of their revelations was to focus the public on a few snippets of disclosed information that could be said (falsely but to many people persuasively) to put people in danger.

Snowden wanted to render that tactic ineffective, and to keep the public – and the media’s – interest high for a long period. I think he achieved both goals because of the method he wanted, certainly far more than a one-time dump of all the documents would have achieved.

But it’s of course reasonable to contest Snowden’s assessment, to have a different view. One can, if one really wants to, also argue that I should use a different method for reporting these documents, even though I entered into an agreement with Snowden about what I would and would not do here.

But those who want to criticize the method I’ve used should have the intellectual honesty and courage to expressly state exactly what they are actually advocating: namely, that I purposely violate my agreement with my source; that I subject him to massively increased legal risks and political attacks that he did not and does not want for himself; and that I override the agency and autonomy of the person who actually risked his life and liberty to make these documents available.

You made a point of saying that you’ve almost never criticized Snowden. That’s exactly the point: you can’t rationally criticize the methods I’ve used to report these documents without criticizing Snowden. That’s because the methods I’m using are the ones he insisted upon.

If you want to argue that I should release all the materials, or publish them outside the context of journalistic outlets, then at least have the honesty to admit that what you’re really advocating is that I violate my agreement with him. If you want to depict the methods we’ve used as some sort of pro-state, obsequious, insufficiently radical servitude to American empire - as you've done - then it’s necessary to acknowledge that these are Snowden’s methods for the disclosures. And that’s why critics like you don’t want to acknowledge that: because it’s facially absurd to try to depict Edward Snowden – facing multiple felony charges and decades in the US Prison State –as some sort of cowardly, government-subservient patsy. So you just pretend that it’s all my doing because that critique is easier.

(2) I won’t speak for Carl Kandutsch, whom I don’t know, but his criticisms of your post resonated with me (not the part about Arthur Silber’s fundraising, but the substantive points about your arguments). But in responding to him, I don’t think you fairly characterized his points, opting instead to fight against easy strawmen.

Again, nobody contests your right to criticize me, or Snowden, or anyone else involved in this matter. Nobody thinks you should have to first take similar risks yourself in order to have a perfect right to criticize. What we’re doing is public and has an effect on others, so everyone has the full right to articulate whatever criticisms they have, no matter what they have or have not done themselves.

He was addressing one particular line of attack: the notion that Snowden’s actions (and ours as well) are insufficiently radical, cowardly, too subservient to the state, etc. etc. That’s the critique for which I harbor particular scorn when voiced by people who refuse to take any risks themselves. It reminds me exactly of the neocons circa 2002/2003 who demanded that others go fight their wars and then pranced around as though they were tough, stalwart Churchillian warriors because of it: I wrote a whole book about those people: demanding that others take risks for a Cause rather than taking those risks themselves, and then feeling good and pure about themselves because of it

Edward Snowden is charged with multiple felonies, faces an almost certain prison term of decades if he returns to the US, and has been condemned as a traitor by America’s most influential factions. Senior national security officials and other influential figures have repeatedly and publicly called me (not Bart Gellman, not the NYT, but me) a criminal and an accomplice; argued that I should be prosecuted; detained my partner for 9 hours under a terrorism law and took all of his possessions; and are actively threatening criminal prosecutions under that terrorism law against him and me and Laura Poitras and others. Our lawyers have repeatedly told David that it’s not safe to travel to the EU and told us that it’s a big risk to try to return to the US.

To claim, in the face of all that, that we’re performing some sort of subservient service to the US National Security State for which they are grateful strikes me as a joke. The claim from Arthur Silber and others that we only publish what the government says we can is an outright lie: at least for the stories that I’ve worked on, the NSA and DNI’s arguments about why we shouldn’t publish – often made vehemently and threateningly - have been rejected in almost every case. Whatever else anyone wants to say, we have been subjected to all sorts of threats, recriminations, and attacks by the government and its apologists. That’s especially true, obviously, of Snowden.

So yes, there is something ugly and untoward about having a bunch of people who don’t take any risks themselves castigating the risks we’ve taken as insufficient and insubstantial. To be told by people who are too afraid even to use their real names on Twitter that we are cowards or state-servants for not taking even more risks is mind-boggling in its self-delusion.

It’s so incredibly easy – and cheap - to sit around demanding that others be more radical and risk-seeking. It’s a lot harder, but more valuable, to lead by example. The very ordinary and powerless people who broke into the FBI in 1971 and exposed COINTELPRO took matters into their own hands. That, to me, is what actual radicalism is about: not running around beating one’s chest proclaiming how radical one is, but taking actual steps to challenge and undermine corrupted power factions.

None of these radical heroes threw caution to the wind. The 1971 burglars didn’t take all FBI files: they only took what they thought the public should know. Chelsea Manning talked about her goals as sparking “debate” and “reform”, the same terms that prompt ridicule from self-proclaimed Super Radicals when used by Snowden. Aaron Swartz, if he were alive, would be mocked endlessly for his reformism by many of the same people who now exploit him as a martyr because he's dead. Dan Ellsberg made all sorts of arguments back then that would now be castigated by our self-proclaimed Super-Radicals as piecemeal and incrementalist. WikiLeaks redacted materials and sought the government’s advice on what to withhold. Tom Drake and other people I admire, who have been viciously persecuted, took very partial steps within all sorts of existing structures.

I spent years defending those people (and engaging in activism for them), not castigating them as insufficiently radical, because whatever else was true, they took a lot more risks than I was taking, and did more than I was doing, to challenge those I thought needed challenging. I felt free to criticize them, but not to attack them as cowardly servants of the state. That’s because I knew that doing so would be absurd until I was prepared to take similar action myself, and that ultimately, the real test of one’s convictions is not a willingness to sit around disparaging other people’s risk-taking as insufficient but rather a willingness to take those risks oneself.


Chris Floyd replies:

Well, that's a fine settling of hash, and no mistake! It begins with professions of continuing respect and ends with vitriolic personal denunciations. Along the way it attacks me for several things I haven't said or done -- often, as I noted earlier, in a bizarre fashion.

For example, what is this about "people who are too afraid even to use their real names on Twitter" when launching attacks? There certainly are creatures like that out there, but what has that got to do with me, or with anything I have said, in my own name, about the Snowden archive or First Look? Glenn knows perfectly well that everything I have ever written on the internet or in print has been under my own name. I've been doing this since I first began writing critically about politics and the national security state many years ago. This includes the earliest days after 9/11, when I received several death threats for harshly criticizing the Bush administration -- at a time many other people were "ready to stand behind President Bush" and "strongly approved of his performance," as Glenn wrote of himself in his book, How Would a Patriot Act? These death threats included a couple that were more serious than the usual anonymous sputterings and had to be investigated more formally; one ardent supporter of the president in those days was stalking my elderly parents, staking out their house, even learning of its internal layout and dropping heavy hints to me about what would happen to them, and where in the house it would happen, if I kept writing.

This was also during the time when I was, to my knowledge, one of the very few people writing in a mainstream publication about the Bush Administration's creation of arbitrary death squads. I stated plainly that this was murder and that the government was now morally illegitimate. Again, this was when Glenn's "confidence in the Bush Administration" was growing, "as the president gave a series of serious, substantive, coherent and eloquent speeches." I was calling Bush a murderer, denouncing an out-of-control national security apparatus, in print -- and being threatened by the US Embassy in Moscow (and threatened with specious but crushing lawsuits from plutocrats connected to the Bushes) for doing so -- while Glenn was, by his own admission, growing ever more supportive of Bush and "wanting an aggressive response from our government."

In his comment above, Glenn likens me -- equates me -- with "neocons circa 2002/2003 who demanded that others go fight their wars and then pranced around as though they were tough, stalwart Churchillian warriors because of it." But in that exact period, I was writing frantically, relentlessly about the obvious deceptions the Bush Administration was using to push the country into a criminal war of aggression. I wrote of this in newspapers in Russia and America, drawing almost exclusively on published reports in mainstream sources available to any journalist, or any citizen. I was one of the very first writers in an American newspaper to detail PNAC's long-term plans for provoking war with Iraq and a vast militarization of American policy.

What was Glenn doing at that time? Well, despite some doubts, he tells us that "I had not abandoned my trust in the Bush Administration. ... I believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgment deferred to, and to the extent that I was able to develop a definitive view, I accepted his judgment that American security really would be enhanced by the invasion of this sovereign country." He didn't, however, sign up for the war. He was then, at that time, "exactly [like] the neocons" of that era, happy to support a war that he wasn't going to fight.

I am sincerely glad that Glenn later repudiated these beliefs, and now, after many years, no longer defers to the national security judgment of the president. I wish he had added his obviously passionate voice and ferocious energy to those of us who felt that way before the serious, substantive, coherent and eloquent President Bush set in motion the pointless destruction of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. I'm sorry that it took the instigation of mass murder on this scale to shake Glenn's patriotism and turn him toward dissent.

I do not mean in any way to compare the relatively few, sporadic and unsystematic risks I faced in those days -- the threat of my parent's murder, my murder, the destruction of my livelihood, the ruin of my family -- with the dangers faced today by Edward Snowden, Glenn and David Miranda, and others, who face not a few lone nuts or wild Bush cronies but the full weight of a national security state that is now much bigger and more sinister than the one Glenn supported a few years ago. The risks they face are deadly serious, and their courage in facing them is unquestionable. And I have never questioned it, despite Glenn's wild imputations to the contrary. To question the efficacy or decisions of someone at risk is not all the same as questioning their courage in facing that risk -- although almost all of Glenn's "arguments" are based on this false premise.

But I bring up all this ancient history because I resent, with every fiber of my being, the accusation that I am or have ever been some kind of sniveling coward hiding behind anonymity, afraid to put my name or my person on the line for my political beliefs. I especially resent it coming from someone who -- at the very time I was facing my admittedly minor threats (although the murder of my parents was not a minor thing to me personally) for attacking the national security state -- was himself blithely ignoring the mountains of evidence about that state's crimes and giving it "the benefit of the doubt" as it planned and carried out mass murder.

I don't think Glenn's thunderous claiming of the moral high ground is appropriate in this case. Even if I were guilty of every wild accusation he throws at me, every imputation and insinuation, what, in the end, would I really be guilty of? An egregious failure to appreciate the courage and sacrifice of some people trying to do good. Well, that is indeed a serious failing. If I were guilty of that, I'd feel bad about it. But not as bad as I would feel if I had supported aggressive war and mass murder by "deferring" to the judgment of a blatant fool surrounded by a sinister clique of known warmongers. Now, I don't think that supporting such a thing is some kind of unforgivable sin; people can come to new understandings, and thank goodness they do, and thank goodness Glenn did. But had I been that morally blind as a full-grown, highly educated adult -- especially when millions of people around the world saw the obvious evil of this action, and stood up against it -- I think I might be somewhat more circumspect today about berating others for their moral failings.

To cut more quickly to the chase. In regard to any criticism about the way the NSA documents are being disseminated, Glenn refers to his agreement with Snowden. It's a valid point, up to a point. I would never want any journalist to dishonor an agreement they've made with a source, especially a whistleblower in grave danger -- and I'm not aware of ever calling on Glenn or anyone else to do so. However, such agreements are not set in stone. In his early interviews about the NSA material, Glenn stated that he was in touch with Snowden every day. Presumably he can still get in contact with him. It would be entirely possible to try to renegotiate terms in a way that still addressed Snowden's concerns, if Glenn felt there was now a better way to disseminate these documents. Glenn here states very plainly that feels that the initial agreement is in fact the best way to handle the material. That's fine. It all seems straightforward, and Glenn says that people of good faith can disagree on this. And that's true too.

But then he goes on almost immediately to say that anyone who criticizes the current method is guilty of intellectual dishonesty and cowardice, because they won't "admit" that what they're "really doing" is asking Glenn to violate Snowden's trust and put him in further danger. This is an example of emotional invective masquerading as an argument. It's such a bizarre piece of non-logic that it's hard to frame a coherent response to it. But let's try, slowly and simply.

I feel that, on balance, the method of dissemination has not been as effective as other approaches might have been. (I have never advocated a "total dump" of the data, by the way; in fact, I don't know anyone who has.) I feel that it is regrettable that the current course was the one that was chosen. I believe it would be possible for the custodians of the data to try to renegotiate those terms with Snowden, if they felt it was best, and always bearing in mind his very legitimate concerns.

There is absolutely nothing in these statements that calls for anyone to act dishonorably, or to betray anyone's trust. It is entirely possible to hold the positions stated above without secretly wanting Glenn to "violate my agreement with my source" or "subject him to massively increased legal risks" or override the agency of someone who risked their life and liberty. Such a thing never crossed my mind, and I have never seen anyone else advocate such a thing. Nor is it the logical conclusion -- or, in Glenn's strict binary world, the only conclusion -- one can draw from criticism of this methodology. Glenn berates me for attacking "straw men," but the amount of fury and space he expends on this single wisp is astonishing. He has whupped it good and proper; but as it is not a position I have ever held, I don't quite see the point.

This sort of furious illogic runs all through the comment. He says: "You made a point of saying that you’ve almost never criticized Snowden. That’s exactly the point: you can’t rationally criticize the methods I’ve used to report these documents without criticizing Snowden." Well, I didn't make a particular point about it; I was merely replying to the accusation of Carl Kandutsch that I had "repeatedly disparaged" Snowden. I said, no, the only direct criticism I've made concerned his recent remarks to the EU about the need to cooperate with "government stakeholders" in dealing with whistleblower revelations. Given the fact that he is now being hounded by the relevant government stakeholders in our national security system, I felt this might not be the wisest course. I did agree with Arthur Silber that if the state was brought into the loop on such revelations, then we could indeed end up with what are, in effect, state-sanctioned leaks.

However, if Glenn insists that to criticize the method of disseminating the NSA archive is to also criticize Snowden, then yes, I will plead guilty of questioning Snowden on this point as well. But as I said above, criticizing an action or decision of someone in danger is not at all the same thing as disparaging them or denying their courage or anything of the sort.

I am glad that Glenn disputes the notion, implied by Kandutsch, that only those who are at risk themselves can criticize others under threat. Glenn says that "everyone has the full right to articulate whatever criticisms they have, no matter what they have or have not done themselves." This is certainly gracious of him. Yet he immediately says that if anyone actually exercises this freedom, and says, for example, that they wish Glenn and Snowden had been more radical in their approach, then such critics are "exactly" like the armchair neocon warriors of 2002/2003 who joined Glenn in supporting the invasion of Iraq.

In other words, anyone is free to criticize Glenn -- as long as they don't actually criticize him. If they offer their opinion that Glenn isn't radical enough, then they are just like the moral cretins who supported the Iraq War without fighting in it. If they criticize the methodology, then they secretly want to put Snowden in more danger and make Glenn betray his word. If they advocate radicalism, but aren't actually handed secret documents by a whistleblower and given the chance to put their convictions to the test on a public stage (as opposed to the many unheralded ways that someone offering an opinion about radicalism on a blog might actually be practicing their radicalism in their lives and communities), then they should just shut up. If they express their concern that the national security state will try to turn the revelations to its own advantage, despite the sincerity of its challengers, then they are being cheap, ugly, untoward and delusional. As far as I can see, there is literally no criticism that can be offered of any aspect of this enterprise that is not, in Glenn's view, a mark of bad character, bad faith or cowardice.

Again, one is not even allowed to wish that the keepers of the NSA secrets were more radical in their attack on the war-making national security state -- without being "exactly" equated with the most ardent champions of the war-making national security state. The irrationality of this position boggles the mind. It is impossible to argue with, because it is a closed circle -- a circle of impenetrable and unchallengeable virtue.

Glenn makes several other points and accusations which deserve answering or debating, but I'm too exhausted to go on throwing myself against that ironclad cueball of virtue. And I'm sure anyone still reading is exhausted as well. But it is a strange experience to see a cartoonish misrepresentation of one's views set up and gnawed to pieces in this way.

But so what? I think that over the years I have established a record that can withstand the bizarre charges of cowardice and anonymous Twitter attacking and similarity to neocon warmongers and the rest of the katzenjammer Glenn has tossed around here. I know what I've done in challenging corrupted power factions, and the many ways I've fallen short. (I'm afraid I'm not possessed with the invincible moral superiority that Glenn so obviously enjoys.) I know what I stand for, and what I strive for. I've never denigrated Snowden's courage, or that of Glenn Greenwald or Laura Poitras or anyone else "taking actual steps to challenge and undermine corrupted power factions." (Some of my views on people like Chelsea Manning and Snowden can be found here.)

But enough -- more than enough -- of all this for now.

Ukraine Side-Show a Welcome, If Momentary Distraction from Obama Admin.'s Disastrous Foreign Policy

New Lows for Obama’s Failed Middle East Policy

by Shamus Cooke - CounterPunch

Obama seemed so traumatized by his Middle East blunders he decided to take a break, giving Ukraine a try instead. The distraction was just what the president needed. And the U.S. media followed obediently, while barely glancing at the flames in the rear-view mirror — until another explosion piqued their interest. The predictable break down of peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians occurred when the Palestinian Authority backed out of a “peace process” they had zero to gain from.

Yet another failure after a string of Middle East fiascoes: Obama’s failed “surge” in Afghanistan, his disastrous bombing campaign and regime change in Libya (an international crime initially cheered as a “success” in the U.S. media), and his catastrophic proxy war in Syria, which grinds on with no end in sight and which helped re-ignite the Iraq conflict — another “success” turned disaster for U.S. foreign policy.

Obama has turned away in denial from the chaos he helped create, but the Middle East is still there, still in crisis, and balancing on a razor’s edge: Israel has bombed Syria and the Palestinian territories several times in recent months; while al-Qaeda style extremists still dominate giant swaths of Iraq and Syria (thanks to Obama’s Syrian proxy war). Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt are especially combustible, though one could make such an argument for every single country in the region. Obama’s proxy war in Syria is acting as the fuel.

Having turned away from the Middle East, Obama has been throwing fresh flames at Russia; perhaps Obama’s policy in Ukraine — backing a fascist-filled provisional government — will be more successful than his policy in Syria — supporting a Jihadi-packed political opposition.

Like President Bush, Obama prefers the role of arsonist to firefighter.

Obama’s current silence on Middle East issues should be unsettling; he is, of course, not going to simply pack his bags and forget about the region. His so-called “pivot” to Asia — to set China ablaze — has been delayed, there is simply too much at stake in the Middle East, and the U.S. military is stretched too thin.

But what about the peace process Obama started with Syria and Iran? Obama saved face by backing off of his bombing threat in Syria by agreeing to Russia’s plan of removal of Syrian chemical weapons, and later beginning peace talks with the regional power Iran. This process has stalled, no doubt due to the right-wing pressure in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and in the U.S. corporate elite.

The recent lack of action in the Middle East reflects the crisis of U.S. foreign policy — Obama simply has no idea what to do next; he’s continued the Bush-era policy of tearing the region asunder and, like Bush, he doesn’t have the political-military power to put the smoldering jigsaw back together again — at least not in a way favorable to “U.S. interests.”

The president is under immense pressure from his base: the U.S. corporate elite — especially the military-industrial complex — is demanding that he act tough, especially after he’s been humiliated by his lack of power in Syria and with Russia. The sanctions against Russia are his first timid steps back in the ring after getting his nose bloodied in Syria.

The globe’s only super power will not react to these affronts by adopting a foreign policy of peace. And peace could be easily achieved. The U.S. still has immense diplomatic power in the region, which Obama has used thus far to pressure his Middle East allies — the Gulf monarchy dictatorships — to pursue the Syrian proxy war, as Obama directs the politics and military arms running behind the scenes.

A fair and equitable peace could easily be achieved, and as author Franklin Lamb recently pointed out, Syria and Iran are fulfilling their end of their diplomatic agreements with the U.S. Will Obama respond in kind? Or will he escalate tensions for the sake of re-enforcing “U.S. regional power?”

Unfortunately, peace is never as profitable as war. If Obama leaves the Middle East, Russia and China will fill in the gaps, slurping up the profits that would have otherwise gone to U.S. corporations. And if U.S. corporations felt that they were making enough profit at home, they’d politely bow out of the contest, especially since U.S. foreign policy has been one Godzilla-like disaster after another.

But U.S. corporations remain starving for overseas profits; the U.S. domestic economy is still struggling towards the endlessly promised land of “recovery,” and the really big profits of U.S. corporations have come from foreign investments, using the cheap Fed-printed dollars to speculate in foreign currency and foreign raw materials — an obviously unsustainable strategy. At home U.S. corporations are largely continuing their investment strike, waiting for cheaper labor, additional tax breaks, fewer regulations, and larger guaranteed opportunities for profit than currently exist, which is why corporations are refusing to invest over $7 trillion of hoarded dollars.

A just and fair peace with Iran and Syria would thus be especially infuriating for the corporate U.S. war hawks, since treating Iran and Syria in a fair way would imply that they deserve to be “equal partners” in the foreign policy world, again making the U.S. seem weak, unable to push around “inferior” nations into unequal political and economic arrangements favorable to U.S. corporations — violating the spirit of imperialism.

Another equally vexing problem with creating a fair peace with Iran and Syria is getting “buy in” from their regional rivals, Israel and Saudi Arabia — the two most important regional allies of Obama’s, regardless of their rampant violations of human rights and violent foreign policy.

Egypt, too, has slid out of the grasp of the U.S., which Saudi Arabia is no doubt using as an important regional bargaining chip to lure the U.S. back in the fight against Syria and to crush the Iran peace process. Nothing Obama can do will solve the current dilemma he’s put himself into.

Ultimately, it’s safe to say that Obama is incapable of accomplishing the peace process he started with Iran, Syria and Israel-Palestine. The domestic profit rate of U.S. corporations is too thin, while Saudi Arabia and Israel are determined to go down swinging. All working and poor people have a direct interest in achieving peace in the Middle East, for their own future and the future of the millions suffering from decades of the U.S. foreign policy nightmare of unending war.

Shamus Cooke is an elected officer of SEIU 503. He can be reached at

Does Kerry's Looming Deadline Threaten the Peace Process Industry?

Kerry’s Looming Deadline and the Peace Process Industry

by Ramzy Baroud  -

As the US-imposed April 29 deadline for a ‘framework’ agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority looms, time is also running out for the American administration itself. The Obama administration must now conjure up an escape route to avoid a political crisis if the talks are to fail, as they surely will.

Chances are the Americans knew well that peace under the current circumstances is simply not attainable. The Israeli government’s coalition is so adamantly anti-Arab, anti-peace and anti any kind of agreement that would fall short from endorsing the Israeli apartheid-like occupation, predicated on colonial expansion, annexations of borders, land confiscation, control of holy places and much more. Ideally for Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies in the right, far-right and ultranationalists, Palestinians would need to be crammed in disjointed communities, separated from each other by walls, Jewish settlements, Jewish-only bypass roads, checkpoints, security fences, and a large concentration of Israeli military presence including permanent Israeli control of the Jordan Valley. In fact, while politicians tirelessly speak of peace, the above is the exact ‘vision’ that the Israelis had in mind almost immediately following the 1967 war - the final conquest of all of historic Palestine and occupation of Arab lands.

Palestinians are currently paying the price of earlier Israeli visions, where Vladimir Jabotinsky's ‘Iron Wall’ of 1923 was coupled with the Allon plan, named after Yigal Allon, a former general and minister in the Israeli government, who took on the task of drawing an Israeli design for the newly conquered Palestinian territories in 67. Not only would it not make any sense for a Zionist leader like Netanyahu - backed by one of the most rightwing governments in Israeli history - to bargain with Palestinians on what he considers to be Eretz Yisrael - the Whole Land of Israel -he has shown no desire, not even the most miniscule, to reach an agreement that would provide Palestinians with any of their rightful demands, true sovereignty notwithstanding.

It is implausible that the Americans were unaware of Israel’s lack of interest in the whole undertaking. For one, Israeli extremists like Naftali Bennett – Israel’s minister of economy and the head of the rightwing political party the Jewish Home – are constantly reminding the US through unconstrained insults that Israel is simply not interested in peacemaking efforts. The Americans persist, however, for reasons that are hardly related to peace or justice.

Previous administrations suffered unmitigated failures in the past as they invested time, effort, resources, and reputation, even to a greater extent than to Obama’s, in order to broker an agreement. There are the familiar explanations of why they failed, including the objection to any US pressure on Israel by the pro-Israel Zionist lobby in Washington, which remains very strong despite setbacks. The lobby maintains a stronghold on the US Congress in all matters related to Israel and Israeli interests anywhere.

Preparing for the foreseeable failure, US Secretary of State John Kerry remained secretive about his plans, leaving analysts in suspense over what is being discussed between Mahmoud Abbas’s negotiators and the Israeli government. From the very start, Kerry downgraded expectations. But the secrecy didn’t last for long. According to Palestinian sources cited in al-Quds newspaper, the most widely read Palestinian daily, PA president Abbas had pulled out of a meeting with Kerry in Paris late February because Kerry’s proposal didn’t meet the minimum of Palestinian expectations.

According to the report, it turned out that Kerry’s ambitious peace agenda was no more than a rehash of everything that Israel tried to impose by force or diplomacy, and Palestinians had consistently rejected: reducing the Palestinian aspiration of a Jerusalem capital into a tiny East Jerusalem neighborhood (Beit Hanina), and allowing Israel to keep 10 large settlement blocks built illegally on Palestinian land, aside from a land swap meant to accommodate Israel’s security needs. Moreover, the Jordan Valley would not be part of any future Palestinian state, nor would international forces be allowed there either. In other words, Israel would maintain the occupation under any other name, except that the PA would be allowed a level of autonomy over Palestinian population centers. It is hard to understand how Kerry’s proposal is any different from the current reality on the ground.

Most commentary dealing with the latest US push for a negotiated agreement would go as far back as Bush’s Roadmap of 2002, the Arab peace initiative earlier the same year, or even the Oslo accords of 1993. What is often ignored is the fact that the ‘peace process’ is a political invention by a hardliner, US politician Henry Kissinger, who served as a National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State in the Nixon Administration. The idea was to co-opt the Arabs following the Israeli military victory of 1967, the sudden expansion of Israel’s borders into various Arab borders, with full US support and reinforcement. It was Kissinger himself who lobbied for massive US arms to Israel that changed the course of the 1973 war, and he was the man who worked to secure Israeli gains through diplomacy.

While many are quick to conclude that the ‘peace process’ has been a historical failure, the bleak estimation discounts that the intent behind the ‘peace process’ was never to secure a lasting peace, but Israeli military gains. In that sense, it has been a splendid success. Over the years, however, the ‘peace process’ became an American investment in the Middle East, a status quo in itself, and a reason for political relevance. During the administration of both Bushes, father and son, the ‘peace process’ went hand in hand with the Iraq war. The Madrid Peace Talks in 1991 were initiated following the US-led war in Kuwait and Iraq, and was meant to balance out the extreme militancy that had gripped and destabilized the region. George W. Bush’s Roadmap fell between the war on Afghanistan and months before the war on Iraq. Bush was heavily criticized for being a ‘war president’ and for having no peace vision. The Roadmap, which was drafted with the help of pro-Israel neoconservative elements in his administration, in consultation with the lobby and heavy amendments by the Israeli government, was W Bush’s ‘peace’ overture. Naturally, the Roadmap failed, but until this day, Bush’s insincere drive for peace had helped maintain the peace process charade for a few more years, until Bill Clinton arrived to the scene, and kick started the make-believe process once more.

In the last four decades, the ‘peace process’ became an American diplomatic staple in the region. It is an investment that goes hand in hand with their support of Israel and interest in energy supplies. It is an end in itself, and is infused regularly for reasons other than genuine peace.

Now that Kerry’s deadline of a ‘framework agreement’ is quickly approaching, all parties must be preparing for all possibilities. Ultimately, the Americans are keen on maintaining the peace process charade; the Palestinian Authority is desperate to survive; and Israel needs to expand settlements unhindered by a Palestinian uprising or unnecessary international attention. But will they succeed?

- Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the editor of He is a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter, UK. His latest book is “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London).