Saturday, August 30, 2014

Taking Wing: America's Chicken Hawks Fly Again!

America’s War Hawks Back in Flight

by Danny Schechter - Consortium News

Sound the bugle! Get the press to march along; we are going to war. Again! Enemies R ‘Us!

 For a long time with the killing of bin Laden, a jihadi fatigue had set in. With the apparent shriveling up of the Al Qaeda menace, America’s threat-defining and -refining machinery was somewhat adrift. What had been so simple turned too complex to fuse into one sound-bite.

Barack Obama, then President-elect, and President George W. Bush 
at the White House during the transition in November 2008. 

Former CIA official Thomas Fingar, now at Stanford University, describes his own frustration in finding out what U.S. policy priorities should be in national intelligence. He asked his colleagues to share the threats they worried about. He was soon inundated.

When I was given responsibility for the process known as the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, almost 2,300 issues had been assigned priorities higher than zero,” he explained. “My first instruction was, ‘Reduce the number’.”

He knew they needed only one bad-ass enemy to focus fears and attract appropriations to fight. He had too many threats to respond to. They had to go. Now, he and the Obama administration have that new bad guy: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS.

Political scientist/analyst Michael Brenner says Washington is in an ISIS panic: “The grotesque beheading of James Foley is stirring passions in Washington policy circles. From the highest levels of the Obama administration to the media pundits, emotions are flaring over what the United States should/could do. The act in itself has changed nothing insofar as IS’ threat to the United States and its significance for Middle East politics are concerned. It is the mood that has been transformed. Irresistible impulse is displacing cool deliberation. The flood of commentary, as usual, reveals little in the way of rigorous logic but much in the way of disjointed thinking and unchecked emotion.”

The response? Give us a war plan, and not just against ISIS, let’s throw in Syria too. Money is apparently no object.

Breaking reports: “US operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (or whatever we’re calling it these days) have probably cost the country about $100 million so far, according to one of the top defense budget experts. It’s difficult to come up with a precise estimate for what current operations in Iraq are costing.”

Don’t forget, as Glenn Greenwald didn’t, before the current focus on ISIS, the U.S. was bombarding Syria’s Bashar al-Assad with calls that he step down amidst threats of overthrowing him.

It was not even a year ago,” Greenwald writes, “when we were bombarded with messaging that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a Supreme Evil and Grave Threat, and that military action against his regime was both a moral and strategic imperative. Now the Obama administration and American political class is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the failed ‘Bomb Assad!’ campaign by starting a new campaign to bomb those fighting against Assad – the very same side the U.S. has been arming over the last two years.”

Recall: the campaign for bombing Assad’s military was undercut when public opinion in the U.S. turned against it. The Obama administration negotiated instead, and accomplished something, eventually destroying Syria’s stash of chemical weapons. Why emulate a success when you can make more mistakes?

That was then, and this is now. ISIS is the new boogieman. The next stage of our assault is underway as we can deduce from a build up of recent press reports:

Daily Beast: Obama Wants ISIS War Plan

President Barack Obama wants to make a decision by the end of this week whether or not to expand his war against ISIS into Syria, report Josh Rogin and Eli Lake. However, nobody knows yet how we can do it, or what will happen next. 

Still, there are plenty of ominous headlines:

  • Syria and Isis committing war crimes, says UN

  • Alawites prepare as IS, Jabhat al-Nusra close in on regime areas

  • Drones a Step Toward Expanding War Into Syria

  • U.S. Mobilizes Allies to Widen Assault on ISIS (Elite Magazine for Elite Warriors) reports:

Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, were trained in 2012 by U.S. instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials. The officials said dozens of ISIS members were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The officials said the training was not meant to be used for any future campaign in Iraq.

The Jordanian officials said all ISIS members who received U.S. training to fight in Syria were first vetted for any links to extremist groups like al-Qaida.

Now, there are reports that the CIA is forming new hit squads to use ISIS tactics against ISIS with an ISIS-like assassination offensive, to “cut off the head of the snake.” (Sounds like beheading doesn’t it?) Shh! Sounds like we are headed back to the dark side with killings, torture, renditions, secret sites, etc. Will that long-awaited CIA report now be seen as a manual for more of the same.

The last time the U.S. organized assassination teams in Iraq in 2003, it didn’t work out that well, And guess who else was involved? Israel trains US assassination squads in Iraq:

Israel helping train US special forces in aggressive counter-insurgency (CI) operations in Iraq, including the use of assassination squads against guerrilla leaders, US intelligence and military sources said. … The new CI unit made up of elite troops being put together in the Pentagon is called Task Force 121, New Yorker magazine reported. … One of the planners, highly controversial … Lt. Gen. William ‘Jerry’ Boykin … with calls for his resignation after he told an Oregon congregation the US was at war with Satan who ‘wants to destroy us as a Christian army’.”

Ten years later – in 2013 – the German magazine Der Spiegel reported U.S. training Syrian rebels in Jordan. And so it goes, as once again, around and around, we become more and more like the enemy we warn against.

Back to Michael Brenner’s take on how our media hysteria is not helping, “There is a more general lesson to be learned from this latest exercise in ad hoc policy-making by press conference. The insistence of senior officials to speak at length in public on these complex, sensitive matters when there is no set policy is inimical to serious planning and diplomacy. If they feel compelled to react to events to satisfy the media and an agitated populace, they should just say a few well-chosen words and then declare themselves on the way to an important meeting – preferably not in Martha’s Vineyard.

Silence, though, is taken to be tantamount to death in the egocentric media age where image is all – confusing random motion with focused action.” Amen.

Why look back? No one wants to learn anything! Iraq 2.0 was a disaster for President George W. Bush. Can we expect Iraq 3.0 under President Obama to be any better? Afghanistan is a disaster. Israel failed in its aims in Gaza, whatever bloody “urban renewal” was imposed at a high human toll. Libya is a mess.

Knock, knock: raise your hand if you think Syria will become our next miracle?

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at and works on Comments to

Initial Assessment Report on Imperial Metals Mount Polley Tailings Spill

Initial Assessment Report on Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine Tailings Storage Facility Breach

by Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe Camp

August 27 2014

The Imperial Metals Mount Polley mine tailings storage facility damn breach is the largest environmental disaster in British Columbia's history. The 4 kilometer wide, 35 meter high (approximately the length of three telephone poles) damn breach unleashed 10 billion litres of contaminated water and 5 billion litres of solid tailings waste into Polley Lake, down Hazeltine Creek, into Quesnel Lake and onto the Quesnel River which directly connects to the Fraser River Watershed. The Quesnel Lake watershed is host to the second largest sockeye salmon run in the world and 63% of the provincial population is dependent on the Fraser River watershed.

The Imperial Metals Mount Polley mine is located on Northern Secwepemc territory, therefore, this disaster most directly effects the Secwepemc who rely on salmon as their principal food source and the impacted area for hunting game, fishing, gathering berries and medicines. The disaster is also directly affecting Likely residents who have no immediate access to drinking water and are experiencing serious health effects as a result of the spill.

As a result and under the auspices of Secwepemc Natural Law, the Secwepemc Territorial Authority who met over two nights, August 15th and 16th, in conjunction with the Secwepemc Gathering 2014. With over 300 Secwepemc signatories from Secwepemc bands across the nation, the Territorial Authority resolved to light a sacred fire on Monday August 18th at the entrance of the Imperial Metals Mount Polley mine site to gather the community to appropriately respond to the disaster, and so the Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe camp was born.

As of August 27th, the sacred fire has been burning for 10 days, and during that time, the encampment has recorded and collected testimonials, information and data from workers, contractors, local residents, area Secwepemc, provincial ministries and Imperial Metals executives. The encampment has also surveyed the area and is working with biologists, lawyers and other experts to conduct independent testing and structure a response to this disaster.

The following report is an initial assessment of the disaster and a summary of the data and information we have collected. This report is meant for public consumption and to provide context and information on the disaster the provincial government and Imperial Metals has not and will not disclose.

Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine


The Imperial Metals Mount Polley operation opened in 1997 and re-opened in 2005 and currently employs anywhere from 300-400 people, only up to 100 of these employees are local Likely and Williams Lake residents, most of the workers travel from all over the country to work in this mine.

The mine itself is an open pit, low grade, large scale gold and copper mine. Because the gold and copper is less than 1% of the ore being mined, a lot of toxic waste, tailings, are created from processing the 20,000 tonnes of ore that goes through the mine mill each day. During processing, the mined rock is mixed with water and reagents to remove the gold and copper, and the remaining slurry, the tailings, are pumped into the tailings impoundment for disposal.

Tailings Storage Facility

Sudden and catastrophic failure is a common and major risk of all large tailings storage facilities using earthen damns. The bigger the damn, the higher the risk. The average height of a Canadian tailings storage facility has doubled since the 1960s from 120 metres to 240 metres.

Between 2000 and 2012, there were 49 dangerous or unusual occurrences at tailings storage facilities across British Columbia. These occurrences include cracking or caving in of a dam or dike, seepage or appearance of springs on the outer face of the damn or dike and inrushes of water, mud or slurry.

Open damns of toxic slurry are an outdated and dangerous practice in the mining industry, safer practices include drying tailings or turning them into paste before containment. These methods cost more and so are less likely to be used by profit-focused corporations such as Imperial Metals.

The tailings in Imperial Metals' Mount Polley's storage facility were kept saturated, this means they had little to hold them together and a breach in the facility's damn means the waste water and the heavy metal solids flow together out of the facility and downstream. The facility stored a large volume of water, possibly accumulated rainwater, and allowed the water level to rise above the 1 meter buffer required by provincial permit. The provincial Ministry of Environment gave 5 warnings to the company about the amount of water in the impoundment but never enforced them, even after the May 2014 incident where excess water was spilling over the damn. The engineering firm responsible for the construction of the damn also warned Imperial Metals about the high water level.

Additionally, Imperial Metals requested a discharge permit to release water from the impoundment in 2009 into Polley Lake. The permit was denied and conditions for approval included the requirement that Imperial Metals build water treatment facilities. The corporation never did and another application to discharge was being processed at the time of the spill. The local belief is that the corporation may have allowed for lax standards for the dam with the idea that a limited amount of spillage and the clean up or remediation following would cost less than building the facilities and additionally make it more likely that the discharge permit would be approved.

The tailings storage facility at Imperial Metals Mount Polley mine held a range of dangerous, heavy metals and toxic chemicals such as mercury, arsenic and lead. Refer to the chart in appendix 1 for a full list of the substances in the tailings. In addition to these dangerous substances, Imperial Metals also contracted and was permitted, by the province, to dump human solid waste from the Metro Vancouver area into the storage facility and use as fertilizer and remediation of the area.

It is important to note that there are over 90 tailings storage facilities using earthen damns in the province. The Imperial Metals Mount Polley facility is certainly not the largest one. The Imperial Metals Red Chris mine's storage facility in Tahltan territory is much larger and uses the same structure and technology.

Impact Assessment


Immediately following the Imperial Metals Mount Polley mine disaster, a complete water consumption, swimming and cooking ban was instituted for Quesnel and Cariboo rivers. The toxic slurry collected along what used to be Hazeltine Creek, spilling into Quesnel Lake, one of the largest glacier fed fjord lakes in North America. Imperial Metals and the provincial government are counting on the heavy metals laden sediment to settle in the depths of Quesnel Lake but the topography of the lake is such that, as the slurry enters the lake from Hazeltine Creek, it is kicked up by the lake currents and continues to circulate in the lake itself.

The spill has directly affected the water in Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek, Quesnel Lake, Quesnel River, Cariboo River and finally Fraser River, which encompasses and therefore effects 63% of the provincial population.

Full or partial water bans have since been instituted and rescinded over the three weeks since the spill, with Imperial Metals and the Provincial ministries insisting water is drinkable, unless it appears cloudy, in which case residents are advised not to drink it. Water testing by the Provincial government and the Imperial Metals Corporation has proven to be insufficient. The Provincial Ministry of the Environment does not have equipment to test the depths of the lake and some of the chemicals and metals in the tailings storage facility cannot even be tested for by labs being used in the area.

Neither Imperial Metals nor the Provincial government have delivered or provided safe water for the Secwepemc and Likely area communities. Area residents are forced to travel to Spanish Mountain, a steep and dangerous road, at specific times to bring back water safe to use. There are concerns about access, as elders and those disabled cannot travel up this road, not everyone can afford fuel to haul water in, and when winter comes, the road is going to be even more dangerous to traverse.

While the local Secwepemc and Likely communities early on noticed a change in the color, from blue to green, and clarity of the water, from clear to cloudy. Imperial Metals and the Provincial government refused to admit any serious issues with the water until very recently, when the corporation and the government admitted to finding sediment plumes in Quesnel Lake and Quesnel River. The water in the tailings storage facility was a milky green and it is clearly evident that the area water is deeply affected by the spill and continuing leakage into what once was Hazeltine Creek and down into Quesnel Lake, onto Quesnel River which connects to the Fraser River.

In addition to sediment plumes and a change in the color and clarity of the water, there are high levels of copper, selenium and other dangerous metals and chemicals. A blue film floating above the water that burns to the touch has also been documented on Quesnel Lake. After initially denying the reports, the province and the corporation were forced to admit the film existed and on testing it for only two substances, claimed it was organic and a result from the large amount of debris in the lake decomposing. Experts consulted point out that the wood could not possibly be decomposing so quickly and that the testing done was not sufficient as it only tested for two substances and not a full panel of dangerous metals and chemicals.

The government, the corporation and the media has been focusing on drinking water standards, which are much lower than aquatic life standards. According to the government and the corporation, drinking water standards are being met but health workers and other experts are concerned about animals drinking the water and the dust coming off the site. The heavy metals in the lake itself, the reagents, the chemicals, are changing the chemistry of the lake. There are so many different layers of unknowns and the interactions of how this is going to play out are unpredictable. It is therefore irresponsible for the provincial government, Imperial Metals and the media to downplay the effect of the tailings storage facility dam breach on the water until there is a more comprehensive understanding of the situation.

Additionally, the intakes for the drinking water come from the bottom of the lake, not from the top. The sediments are settling to the bottom of the lake, therefore, the intakes are at the most dangerous level of the water.

There are also concerns about rain and the effect heavy rains will have on the toxic slurry still lined along what used to be Hazeltine Creek, flowing into Quesnel Lake. Nothing has been done to contain the tailings or the damn and heavy rains will continue to spread the chemicals and metals into the surrounding areas.

Aquatic, Land and Plant Life

While the Provincial government, the Imperial Metals Mining Corporation and the media have claimed the water being tested is meeting drinking water standards, it is important to note that these standards are much lower than aquatic life standards.

The government and the corporation have admitted high levels of copper, selenium, iron, aluminum and other harsh chemicals and metals in the water and in parts of the salmon and trout tested. These levels exceed B.C. guidelines for sediments and contaminated sites regulation standards. The government and corporation are still insisting the fish are safe to eat even though there have been documented cases of fish being caught after the spill with their skin falling off and internal bleeding and deformities.

The Quesnel Lake watershed is host to the second largest Sockeye Salmon run in the world. The Quesnel sockeye travel up the Fraser River, turn into the Quesnel River, swim up Quesnel Lake, pass through the toxic materials suspended in the lake where Hazeltine Creek meets it, turn up into the Horsefly and Michelle Rivers. The Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine breach could not have happened at a worse time for these salmon as it is peak spawning season and because they are filtering the water to breathe, the contaminants are likely lethal and this could be the end of the salmon. As upstream carriers of a load of these heavy chemicals, the salmon act as another vector for contaminate. Salmon can become stressed, disoriented and fail to spawn if they encounter pollutants, debris and changes in water temperature and environment. The copper levels in the water are high enough to impair the salmon’s directional sense of smell, which the sockeye need to move up the lake and find their primary spawning areas. Approximately 20 km up the lake from the outlet, there is a shallow area where the lake water usually flows westward. That flow concentrates small plankton that feeds young salmon, but the polluted water has spread eastward and reached the area, which affects both the young fish and its food supply. This year, the run was expected to be as large as 3 million salmon. There are only 24 lakes associated with sockeye in the entire Fraser and 7 of those are listed in the red zone, depleted of fish. Experts such as David Suzuki expect that all of the fish in Hazeltine Creek are gone and will not likely return anytime soon, the contaminated water would make it almost impossible for them to survive.

Biologists who have been testing the sediment plumes and the murky waters in Quesnel Lake are further hypothesizing that the plumes and the discoloration is the lake itself dying, starting with the smaller organisms and onto the larger animals in the lake and the animals that feed on them as well. As this is the peak time for salmon spawning, it will also, in two weeks, be a peak time for grizzle bears in the area to feed on the salmon.

The hazards of bioaccumulation are also a very real concern to experts surveying and predicting the outcomes of the Imperial Metals Mount Polley tailings dam breach. Even if the Provincial government and the corporation are insisting most levels of contaminants are under safety regulation standards, bioaccumulation of aluminum, arsenic, mercury, selenium and other dangerous chemicals and metals can happen quickly and so have serious long term effects on humans and animals alike.

Long before the salmon arrive in the rivers to spawn, eagles and ravens, blackbirds and osprey can be seen scouting up and down the rivers, searching, waiting, looking for wild salmon. Many eagles will travel to the spawning areas in the fall, and over-winter there, benefiting from the rotting salmon that litter the edges of rivers and lakes, for many months. The trout are also arriving, anticipating their catch of salmon eggs left unprotected or accessible. Bears are an important link in the spread of salmon energy into the terrestrial spaces. Besides feasting on the fattest parts, they drag the salmon, dead and dying, up onto the land where it will decompose and feed the plants that line the banks of the rivers. The trees and shrubs along the salmon spawning rivers keep erosion from the edges, which keeps the river water clean and oxygen rich. The salmon fertilizer will ensure that these same plants thrive. The plants also shade the river, ensuring the right temperature for spawning salmon and for salmon fry and smolts to grow. Those same plants, mostly deciduous leaf-bearers, shed leaves in the fall into the rivers and lakes and feed zooplankton therein. That same zooplankton eat the flesh of decomposing salmon that is either washed immediately into the lakes or ends up there in the spring when the high waters flush the drying, desiccated salmon carcasses into the local ecosystem. When the salmon fry hatch in spring, their main foodsource is the zooplankton that feeds upon the leaf litter and salmon carcasses of their ancestors, thus completing the cycle of life that ensures the salmon's survival, and the survival of all those dependent upon the salmon, plant and animal alike. Even though we notice the sockeye the most when they are red and spawning, they are always present in these areas, whether as eggs, alevin, fry, smolts or returning adults.

The area and life affected by the spill also includes, to list a few, endangered caribou, cougars, beavers, lynx, mountain goats, rabbits, badgers, frogs, snakes, hawks, eagles, and deer.

Human Health

The effects of the Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine tailings dam breach on the health of surrounding residents is not being documented or addressed by the Provincial government or Imperial Metals Corporation. The camp has been recording and collecting documentation on these effects from residents and doctors in the area. The following reporting includes physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health.

Physical Health: The camp has received reports of health effects resulting from the Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine before and after the tailings damn breach. In addition to the elevated levels of cancer in the territory surrounding the mine, area Secwepemc and residents now have a host of other health effects to worry about. Members of the community have attended the encampment with reports of blood in their urine, dizziness, nausea, headaches, sore throats, and other respiratory issues.

Mental Health: The mental and emotional anguish and stress suffered by Secwepemc, St’at’imc, Tsilhqot'in, Cheam and other Indigenous communities along the Fraser River is incomprehensible. The camp has received reports of women all along the affected riversides weeping, grieving their loss and coming to terms with the immensity of the impact of the disaster. The Likely and area community is also suffering from an immense amount of trauma and stress as water bans and states of emergency are instituted, lifted and reinstituted again. The camp has received reports of posttraumatic stress disorder from Indigenous and Likely area residents, who are suffering from insomnia (sleeplessness, teeth grinding), anxiety, and depression as a result of the immense trauma of the disaster.

It is important to note that the testing of the water by the Provincial government and corporation is highly insufficient, no tests are being taken in Polley Lake or the deeper areas of Quesnel Lake. Additionally, no air quality tests are being conducted. Therefore, the short or long-term effects cannot be sufficiently understood or appropriately addressed by the government or the corporation.

Spiritual and Emotional Health: An immense and incomprehensible amount of spiritual and emotional trauma is being experienced by the Secwepemc as a result of this disaster. The site of the disaster is the same area in which small pox wiped out entire villages of hundreds of pit houses housing up to 30 Secwepemc at a time and has been held in high regard for thousands of years. The area affected by the disaster is, was an area where Secwepemc hunted, gathered and fished, went on vision quests and even derived some of their names. The Secwepemc gathered huckleberries, soap berries, saskatoon berries, thimble berries, raspberries, cranberries, blueberries, chokecherries as well as powerful medicines only available in this area. As a result of the disaster, some area Secwepemc will not be able to hunt, fish or gather over the coming years.
The Secwepemc are speaking of the spiritual and emotional impact of the disaster as losing a close relative, an entire village and as the end of a way of life.

Long Term Health

The specific long term outcomes of this disaster are not known as it is the largest tailings storage facility dam break this world has seen. We do know though, that a spike in cancer rates is guaranteed.

We also know the long term effects of bioaccumulation of mercury, arsenic, aluminum and other heavy metals and chemical poisoning. These effects are well documented and widely available and therefore will not be included in this initial report.

Economic Fallout

Approximately 1.5 million salmon were expected in this year’s Quesnel Sockeye Salmon run. At the selling price of $30 per salmon, the net loss attached to this year’s run is $45 million. Experts advise that the impact will be felt for at least the next 25 years, which, not counting for inflation is a net loss of over $1 billion.

Property values in the surrounding areas have plummeted with reports of real estate agents not even returning calls from local residents and refusing to give appraisals on the area.

Small businesses and ecotourism in the area is already suffering huge losses with cancellations and bleak prospects for the future.

Imperial Metals Containment Efforts Assessment

The totality of the clean up effort of Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine 23 days following the disaster has been confined to the aesthetic shoreline clean up of the debris in Likely area. The wood, replete with toxins from the spill, is being collected, some chipped and sold whole for profit.

The corporation has not built fences along the 10 km that used to be Hazeltine Creek, once a 1.2 meter wide creek, now a 150 meter wide gorge, to keep wildlife from being caught in the toxic sludge. Neither has the corporation installed silt nets to mitigate the amount of heavy metal laden sediment still pouring into Quesnel Lake or taken any steps towards addressing the ultra fine metal laden sediment now circulating through the Lake.

Currently, Imperial Metals is only allowing shoreline tests of surface water in Polley Lake, which rose almost 2 meters after the tailings dam breach, to assess its toxicity because of a plug created by the debris of old growth trees at the mouth of Hazeltine Creek. This plug, according to the corporation, creates a safety risk for any boats on the lake as, if it were to suddenly dislodge, another flood of slurry and tailings would be released down what used to be Hazeltine Creek and into Quesnel Lake. Nothing is being done to secure this plug to prevent a repeat of the August 4th deluge and or to allow for accurate testing of Polley Lake.

Instead, Imperial Metals is using a series of pumps to slowly lower the water level of Polley Lake so that more testing can be done before an action plan is put into place. The untested water is being pumped down Hazeltine Creek and again, into Quesnel Lake. The testing being done in Quesnel Lake is also minimal as the Ministry does not have equipment that can test deep enough in order to have a full assessment of the composition of the water in the lake.

In summary, no substantive clean up is taking place and there are no plans for any substantive clean up. The rate of the pumping out of Polley Lake into Hazeltine Creek and further down into Quesnel Lake is so slow, it would take 6 months to lower the lake's water levels to allow for safe testing. Winter is coming and the rains and heavy snowfall will spread the toxicity further into the surrounding environment and the Fraser Watershed and will also make it increasingly difficult to effectively test, mitigate and contain the dispersal of the toxins.

Legal Assessment

International Law

The United Nations declaration of water as a human right, Resolution 64/292, identifies “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.” Article I.1 states that water is indispensible for leading a life in human dignity and is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights. Comment No. 15 also defines the right to water as the right of everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable and physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use. The concept of water as a human right is so fundamental, it underpins many other UN resolutions and conventions. It is obvious then that the Provincial and Federal government alongside the Imperial Metals Mining corporation are violating international law in their conduct before, during and after the spill. Therefore, remedies must be provided to the effected area residents, this includes the 63% of the population of British Columbia that lives along the Fraser River water basin.

Domestic Law

While a full domestic law assessment of this disaster is pending with a working group of lawyers, advocates and academics, the prerequisites for a multitude of criminal charges and private class action suites are present upon a pima facie analysis of the facts of the situation. Up until the publishing of this report, no records or evidence have been seized from Imperial Metals by the RCMP and the Provincial or Federal government has not made any movement towards charges further than mentioning, in passing, at the most recent Likely town hall meetings have indicated that criminal charges may be brought against Imperial Metals and the managers of their Mount Polley Mine.

In addition to criminal and private charges, violations of workers rights are rife in the Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine. The camp has received reports of physical intimidation, a litany of unsafe practices and has a bad habit of firing employees who question management or speak out about safety concerns. The union offers little to no protection for workers at the mine. The camp has received reports of workers being ordered into Polley Lake immediately following the disaster, swimming around with snorkels to pull dead fish out of the lake and clear the pumps.

Secwepemc Natural Law

The responsibility of stewardship and protection of the land and water and all life that depends on it is a foundational principle of Secwepemc Natural Law. To that end, the violations of this law by Imperial Metals are numerous, ongoing and egregious. In addition to these violations, Imperial Metals does not have consent of the Secwepemc to be present on their territory. The corporation has been evicted and will face ramifications for their failures at Mount Polley Mine and their violations of free prior and informed consent in their Ruddock Creek Mine in Southern Secwepemc territory.

Imperial Metals Ruddock Creek Mine Assessment

(Ashley Churchill, Secwepemc)

Ruddock Creek is one of 4 mines Imperial Metals owns, including the Huckleberry Mine, the Red Chris Mine currently under construction and scrutiny by the Tahltan, and Mount Polley. The mine itself sits in a glacial area, the Scrip Range in the place commonly known as British Columbia, in Secwepemcul'ewc, the territory of the Secwepemc. The range flanks both the Columbia and Fraser River watersheds, and sits in the headwaters of the Adams River, which is home for Salmon spawning in one of the largest salmon runs in the world. While Ruddock Creek is considered a relatively small mine in terms of daily output, and so doesn't fall under Federal Environmental review, it has the potential to have a greatly disproportionate impact.

The mine has been in the discovery phase for a number of years as ownership of the mine has changed over time, and exploration has already lead to wastes being flushed into the environment. When Lead-Zinc is mined, as with any ore, toxic substances are used to more easily extract ore from "waste rock." It can make up to 90% of what is removed from the earth. Once the ore is removed, waste rock and toxic substances from processing are further processed and turned into a slurry to be stored, usually in tailings ponds, or backfilled into the mine. Slurry is put into tailings enclosures and covered with water (ponds) to prevent oxidization (contact with air) of heavy metals and chemicals. The idea is that these ponds are left for the water and Earth to clean up over time, or dilute and distribute slowly over time. This is an important point for Lead-Zinc mines such as Ruddock Creek because what happens with Lead-Zinc deposits when they are exposed to oxygen and moisture, they "go acid." When oxygen and moisture reach it in the process of mining, it chemically reacts (like metal rusting on a car), and can start a chain reaction. In this process, intense heat is generated as it reacts, and the water it comes in contact with turns acidic. So, along with the toxic chemicals used to extract the ore, the naturally occurring heavy metals that would have remained locked up in the rock, for the most part, but released during mining and processing, the slurry and waters are also acidic.

The type of rock that Lead-Zinc is typically found in, sulphide deposits made up mostly of Pyrites, can easily lead to acid mine drainage, even after a mine is shut down, as it continues to react underground, and affect groundwater. In reports, Imperial Metals argues that the host rock is mostly carbonate-Based, which will mostly neutralize acid generation, and the mine shafts are relatively dry, which reduces acid generation. What is not mentioned is that even a small amount of acid generation that goes unchecked can create a chain reaction, especially if you add other chemicals and heavy metals from processing, that can further react and lead to non-acid generating rock to "go acid." If ground water gets into the backfilled mines, and if there are any cracks where seepage can occur, over time this can still lead to this process. This area is also relatively wet for the interior, and receives 850-1400mm of rain, and very large amount of snow accumulation, so the risks of it going acid and for groundwater contamination are high. As it is in a glaciated area that receives high amounts of snow, if it does go acid, the heat generated from the reactions underground, could also negatively impact the area. This relatively wet climate is also what has allowed for the unique habitat that the Endangered Mountain Caribou require, and there are known populations in the area of the mine, which are very likely to be affected, even if all of the mitigation plans work.

Tailings Management and Impact Assessment

In earlier proposals, there were plans to store the tailings in enclosures just below Tumtum Lake, and beside the Adams River, just outside of the park. For this tailings pond to be constructed they would have had to divert a salmon spawning stream and a tailings pipeline would have to run through sensitive marsh ecosystems and along streams, crossing the Adams River. There would have been also another temporary storage facility closer to the mine, also connected by pipeline.

The most recent plan is to dump waste from the mine into Light Lake for the first 6 months, and once there is more space made in the mine, to start backfilling it with the waste that would be stored in temporary above ground lined holding areas. Light Lake will be turned into a permanent tailings pond. The decision to use Light Lake was based on its location relative to the mine and on the basis that there "likely" are no fish in it or the adjacent Creek, because they didn't catch any during surveys in 2006-2007. It is not clear where these temporary storage sites will be placed, or if they will use Light Lake or their original plan for the tailings storage dam by Tumtum, as they haven't been finalized. In their reports, Imperial Metals lists many endangered species, and potential and actual negative impacts of the mine, but also that they will do their best, following industry and government standards, to mitigate most of those effects.

In the light of the Mount Polley spill, where they ignored warnings that the dam would fail, and that they have changed the plans regarding environmental impact mitigation multiple times, and not finalizing them before continuing in the process of opening the mine, this poses many problems. What is clear, is that this mine will have an impact, regardless of any accident or catastrophe. Even if there is a small amount of acid drainage, or a tailings pipeline or enclosure leaks, it will drastically impact aquatic life, including spawning salmon. Even if nothing goes wrong, and they follow through with the regulations and mitigation, the construction, exploration, and general mine workings have negative impacts from road building, changing ground water levels and flow of water, and the presence of a colonial human settlement in the area. This area has extremely sensitive ecosystems that is home to widely diverse species of aquatic life and terrestrial life, that provide for Secwepemc people, regardless of band. Familial connections, trading relations, and harvesting happen across all band territories, and beyond to other Fraser River and Columbia River peoples, including non-Indigenous people. That this mine is located in glaciers, and at a peak in the headwaters of both these rivers, any impact, small or large, by accident or with intent, will affect everyone downstream, most notably the Secwepemc bands in the immediate area that depend on the lands and waters. Most of the impacts will be felt after the mine is underway, but moreso when the mine has closed down, and into the future, for the next generation to struggle with, as the affects are cumulative and the processes associated with leaching and acid mine drainage can be slow.


This report has concluded that the end objective for Imperial Metals is not clean up, is not remediation but is to restart the Mount Polley Mine and push through other Imperial Metals projects such as Red Chris Mine in order to fund any clean up effort in the future. To that end, the camp has received reports that the mill manager has been called back into work and blasts have been heard at the mine site.

This report concludes that mines should not occur in sensitive ecosystems, or in the immediate vicinity of streams or lakes, especially large rivers that so many peoples and so much life depends on.

This report concludes that a mining moratorium must be in place while an extensive third party review of mining practices is conducted. This includes developing disaster protocol and appropriate reporting structures allowing local residents to be notified of dangers and incidents, however small, at the mine.

This report concludes that the decimation of the salmon is akin to the decimation of the buffalo and an active act of genocide against the Secwepemc.

Finally, this report asks how many rivers, creeks, lakes and watershed until we say enough?

Appendix 1

Substances in Mount Polley tailings as reported to the NPRI (in tonnes)

Substance    2009    2010    2011    2012    2013    Total      
Nickel         48    73    56    63    71    311      
Lead           105    59    40    36    38    278      
Arsenic        81    137    84    84    83    472      
Zinc             273    701    453    420    403    2250      
Copper       9,016    9,044    7,570    6,723    6,392    38745      
Vanadium    1,045    1,474    1,357    1,637    1,557    7070      
Cadmium     2    2    1    2    1    8.6      
Cobalt         105    139    129    142    138    653      
Phosphorus  7,784    11,374    9,735    10,056    10,405    49354      
Antimony    35    3.6    2.8    3.5    3.6    48.5      
Manganese  3,231    7,444    4,733    4,733    4,119    24260      
Mercury      0.5    0.7    0.5    0.4    0.6    2.6      
Selenium      0.01    0.01    6.8    8.2    9.0    24   

Posterity Will Wonder: Likely's Story

Our Posterity Will Wonder

by Laila  Yuila

Our posterity will wonder about our ignorance of things so plain.’ ~ Seneca

We are being made aware that the organization of society on the principle of private profit, as well as public destruction, is leading both to the deformation of humanity by unregulated industrialism, and to the exhaustion of natural resources, and that a good deal of our material progress is a progress for which succeeding generations may have to pay dearly.”
T.S. Eliot

photo credit: Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe Camp

25 days ago the good people of Likely and surrounding communities were awoke to a roar that many still say ” sounded just like Niagara Falls.”Except there aren’t any waterfalls near that size in the area and the roar was the sound of billion of litres of wastewater, and solid tailings obliterating local creeks before flooding into lakes and rivers.

And there, it stills sits with chemical scents so overwhelming they make one feel nauseous, and swirls and worries locals who still refuse to drink the water and I don’t blame them.

With weeks having passed, so much still bothers me about all of it. That this was no accident and should never have happened. ( fantastic blog with many Mt.Polley posts worthy of reading)

That some with positions of public influence are mocking others who call this a disaster. It may not be a disaster to someone who doesn’t live in the community or rely on its natural bounty for sustenance and commercial economic activity, but it’s a disaster on many levels nonetheless. And why nothing is really being done yet, 25 days later other than discuss whether or not perhaps it would be the cheaper, easier, more convenient, “best” course of action to leave the toxic sludge alone, is incredibly worrisome and why this story must be followed continuously.

The news that the water is fine to drink was enough to slow the panic down, until it was discovered there very well may an interflow between waterways that is allowing a layer of polluted to exist within cooler and warmer layers.. meaning that the sediment did not all disperse as previously thought. And that fact that ongoing water test results are based on samples taken in some cases, weeks earlier, is hardly reassuring.

As initially linked to in an earlier paragraph, there remains a sediment cloud in the lake that moves, and changes water quality,taste and appearance. It may very well be that what is safe in one testing area on one day, changes a week later as the sediment cloud moves – which is why they are testing that now as well.

Toss in the blue sheen witnessed and sampled by Alexandra Morton, thought by ministry officials to be organic in nature as per ‘the poke test’. Tested for two forms of organic compounds, but apparently for nothing else as far as I can see on the initial tests, the sheen was not only found near debris, but also out in the lake and in the Quesnel river.

And of course, you’ll be totally fine to eat the fish as long as you don’t eat the gonads….worrisome because this is still so early in terms of monitoring accumulated levels in fish and other species, which can build up over years. Will salmon and trout spawn successfully in this water? Will the hatchlings survive? What will be the impact as bear, eagles, coyotes and others eat the fish, and it is passed down the food chain?Will humans be able to eat this fish long term? The moose or dear that graze on the foliage and willows that grow along the banks? What about berries or wild foods collected by many First Nations?

The fact is, an incident of this great magnitude hasn’t happened before in Canada, so no one really knows what’s going to happen and in my opinion that is why every effort must be made to mitigate ongoing contamination. In reading through the various memo’s to sample results posted on the governments Mount Polley update site, there are too many “at this time” ” however more monitoring is needed” etc etc.

Despite concerns over drying sediment being carried in the air by wind, there is no air quality assessment done. There is still no talk about the impact on anything other than water and aquatic life.

It’s all quite up in the air and still very much a fluid situation for all purposes. With fall and rain on it’s way and later on the snow of winter, the sediment that shows evidence in photos taken of what appear to be chemical reactions and leaves a heavy chemical smell in the air, is unlikely to moved in time. That raises even more questions as to the impact of heavy rains and melting snow on toxic, heavy metal, chemical laden sediment that surely will be washed into the water system all over again.

And that’s a huge concern. The response to this failure of policy and industry has been a complete and utter failure, slow and lethargic. The only thing that happened quickly was the efforts to get payments reached with some locals at a time when the full impact of the failure was clearly not known – it still isn’t nearly a month later – an unconscionable action worthy of scorn in my world.

This mess needs to be cleaned up, and it needs to be made right.

It’s not enough to makes some conciliatory actions, toss out some cash and pretend it’s ok just because it didn’t happen right along the highway where everyone could have seen it. Because if this had happened in a highly visible area easy to access for the general public you and I both know a full clean-up would have already been well underway for the world to see. That’s sadly, kind of how it works.

The Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe Camp has released their own initial assessment today and it’s worth the read. They will not let this one rest.

Today marks the start of the long weekend we celebrate Labour Day and instead of thinking about relaxing I’m thinking about the good people of Likely, and the surrounding areas who chose to make this area their home.

They have everything on the line and there is still so much to be seen in this area. Please think about driving up or flying to Williams Lake and renting a vehicle to get to Likely. Stay at the Inn, talk to the people, explore the area and most of all learn. Take your own water. There is so much to see and do and learn in the area.

Learn how a community deals with something so large and so public that it threatens their jobs, their homes and their way of life.

Learn why it’s important for each of us, no matter where we live or what the industry around us, to know how and if our government regulates them.

Take a bit of Likely home with you, because we all are in this together and the community needs help. We can’t leave these people behind, and we must not let this happen again.

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence . . .”
Wallace Stegner, The Sound of Mountain Water

Friday, August 29, 2014

Lebanon's Non-Citizens: Conditions of Aid Include Normalizing Refugees' Status

No American Arms for Lebanon until Civil Rights for Palestinians

by Franklin Lamb - CounterPunch

Lebanese politicians late this summer are consumed with what they habitually do best. And that is to wring their hands and exclaim ‘the sky is falling’ while blaming other countries from the US and Wahhabist Saudi Arabia to Shia Iran, Zionist Israel, oil rich Qatar, local sects, rival politicians and various religions for the rise of Daash (ISIS) and the clear signs that it is heading to Lebanon en route to other destinations, including Palestine.

In a video filmed in Raqqa and broadcast this month by Vice News, an Islamic State spokesman announced that the group’s priority is “Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and anyone who tries to keep us from liberating Palestine.”

So will IS (Daash) be invading Lebanon next month as some here are suggesting?

Several Lebanese political leaders are claiming they are convinced that it will and also doubt Lebanon can stop them given the thousands of young men are said to be clawing their way to Syria and Iraq and nearby countries to join them. The US Intelligence Community comprised of 16 American intelligence agencies leaked a memo to some in the US Congress estimating that Daash (ISIS) will soon be able to field a 250,000 army with possible limitless numbers standing by. On 8/28/14 several media outlets in Lebanon quoted Education Minister Elias Bou Saab as reporting to them after a cabinet session, that “Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq informed us that thousands of fighters supporting Daash are on the Syria-Lebanon border waiting orders to advance.”Meanwhile, some Lebanese politicians are urging the Obama Administration, which they frequently vilify and blame for the mayhem in the region, to send “swift military assistance to the Lebanese Army and security forces, to stop the Islamist threat faced by Lebanon.” On 8/26/14 during a meeting with the representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N.

Security Council, including Russian Ambassador Alexander Zasypkin, British Ambassador Tom Fletcher, U.S. Ambassador David Hale, and the French and Chinese Charge D’affairs as well as U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Pumbly, the Speaker of Lebanon’s Parliament demanded that “the international community overcome the traditional, protocol mechanism to meet Lebanon’s pressing weapons demands as soon as possible.” At noon on 8/29/14 the Pentagon will deliver to the to Beirut airport some boots, gear and light ammunition in the presence of a U.S. Embassy delegation and some Lebanese Army officers and no doubt plenty of Lebanese politicians.

More than this should not be given to Lebanon until it complies with American laws regulating which countries are eligible for US weapons assistance.

The announced three billion Saudi grant to the Lebanese army has bogged down partly due to French doubts about who created and are working covertly with Daash and how the funds should be spent. The route from Syria to Lebanon, despite Syrian government success last spring in taking control of some rebel areas in Qalamoun and around Qusair near Homs and other parts difficult to patrol areas of the Syrian-Lebanese border are still likely Syria to Lebanon ‘jihadist fast-tracks’ to be used by IS.

A compelling case can be made Lebanon could use US weapons to confront IS. Who would ultimately end up with those arms is not clear. The Lebanese army admits it can’t stop ISIS and it’s an open question if Hezbollah can. While the Party of God has had some success fighting rebels in parts of Syria, Aron Lund, a Swedish journalist and analyst who authored several reports on the Syrian opposition reported this week that ISIS “is very interested in setting Lebanon alight and confronting Hezbollah” as a way of drawing fighters to its burgeoning ranks. Hezbollah will likely seek to combat the growth of ISIS cells in Lebanon as well as preventing them from crossing the border. Lund claims that to date Hezbollah has fought only the enemies of ISIS and the Assad Regime, i.e. various rebel factions, but never has faced ISIS directly: “As far as I am aware, Hezbollah’s main zones of influence in Syria are close to the Lebanese border, in Qalamoun and in the Qusair area, and in the capital Damascus, as well as in some Shiite communities elsewhere, such as in Busra al-Sham. These are not areas when ISIS has been operating so we do not know the results of a Daash-Hezbollah head-on battle.” On 8/25/14, renewed fighting erupted in the Qalamoun border region, where Hezbollah fighters and Syrian regime forces are yet again locked in a fierce battle with rebels, but not yet with the rebels more serious enemy, ISIS.

There are aspects of the current crisis that surely need to be addressed in Beirut and Washington when making plans to undermine IS. On 8/27/14 Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam rightly criticized the tense political rhetoric among various political powers locally that in reality represent other countries, saying that “they do not help Lebanon in confronting the security danger of ISIS.” One problem in keeping IS out of Lebanon is that the growing appeal of the jihadist organization to Sunni Muslims in Lebanon needs to be addressed with more than repetitive hot air political speeches. The Sunni-Shia deepening conflict is a growing problem and is spreading similar to the way thousands of would-be Sunni jihadists are flooding to IS recruitment and training camps.

Informed sources in Ein el Helwe Palestinian camp near Saida, report on what is happening there and in Lebanon’s other eleven camps. Detailed discussions are being held by this observer and colleagues with Palestinian friends about who supports Daash in the camps. Subjects include why some Palestinians support them at all, what percentage of Sunni youth in Lebanon and in the camps are likely to join Daash if it comes to Lebanon, the effect on Sunni-Shia relations globally and how to destroy the magnet that today is drawing recruits to IS.

For Palestinians, a microcosm can be said to be that Lebanon’s sects continue to deprive them of the basic civil right even to work and pressure are building not just for an intifada but for a jihadist revolt across Lebanon. Some politicians here who claim to support the Resistance promise to look into the “problem” when ISIS is destroyed. Of course this is putting the cart before the horse and lacks even the faintest credibility.

Most politicians and analysts in Lebanon express dismay at the rise of IS and growing support for it, despite its barbaric behavior. Others express surprise that such a group did not emerge years ago given the brutal and repressive Arab regimes, American wars in the region which in combination over the past nearly half-century have repressed their populations and left them with little hope of a better life for themselves and their children.

Some well-known and well-paid water carriers for one country or another are flooding the internet with odd claims that no one can possibly understand ISIS unless they first study the evils of Saudi Wahabism. Frankly, this is inaccurate. While there is plenty of abuse in the KSA and regime change is surely coming to the vast Wahabist royal family, the reasons for the ISIS incubation and success lie elsewhere. This observer has spoken with enough Daash young men to have learned that a surprising number are not all that religious and care less about the Koran or know much, if anything about Saudi Arabia or Wahhabism. It is generally agreed that the fundamental and immediate issues giving rise to IS type groups in this region are three. The historic lack of dignity and freedom allowed to the Arab people by their dictatorial rulers and politicians, the Zionist occupation of Palestine and the growing Sunni-Shia conflict and competition.

Daash is similar in some ways to a malignant tumor or a virus which like other brutal movements, developed and metastasized from despair, disenfranchisement, humiliation, lack of justice, and deprived of freedom or economic opportunity. Blaming one branch of Islam misses the point. Granted that 85% of Saudi’s, and a growing number of Muslims globally, while abhorring Daash brutality feel that elements of Sharia law should be incorporated into the predominant western secular system of law, morality, and human rights. They are right in this observers view.

To stop IS from taking hold in a major way in Lebanon, politicians here, including Sunni and Shia political parties, need to reach out to each other and be seen as serious in their calls for ‘dialogue’. Iran has a role to play. So does Saudi Arabia.

One seemingly modest, but in reality a major remedial action that can be taken immediately to thwart IS plans for domination of Lebanon is to grant the 220,000 Palestinians in Lebanon the elementary civil rights to work. Given the nature of the current political power structure in Lebanon this will be widely seen as a humanitarian act granted by the Shia community to their Sunni Palestinian sisters and brothers still trapped in Lebanon’s camp, waiting for Resistance forces to help with their Full Return to their own country, Palestine.

This long overdue act will bring Lebanon into compliance with US laws to allow the legal transfers of American arms to Lebanon to fight Daash. American laws prohibit the transfer of US arms to countries that engage in serial violations of human rights which Lebanon has done for decades with respect to outlawing the right to work to Palestinian refugees. No other country on earth, including the Zionist apartheid regime still occupying Palestine deprives Palestinian of this fundamental birthright. Rights enjoyed by every other refugee in the world and every foreigner whose foot touches the tarmac at Beirut airport on arrival to this claimed democracy and signatory to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Moreover, the Shia led Resistance reaching out to the Sunni Palestinians caged in Lebanon’s camps, gasping for air these torrid humid days in worse conditions even than camps in Gaza will indelibly stamp an historic imprimatur to the Resistance victory in Gaza of August 2014.

Within this context it is appropriate to consider whether the US government, based on international and domestic law, is obligated to cut military aid and cease the transfer of weapons to Lebanon.

According to the International Law Commission (ILC), the official UN body that codifies customary international law, “A State which aids or assists another State in the commission of an internationally wrongful act by the latter is internationally responsible for doing so if: (a) that State does so with knowledge of the circumstances of the internationally wrongful act; and (b) the act would be internationally wrongful if committed by that State” (Article 16 of the International Law Commission, “Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts,” (2001) which were commended by the General Assembly, A/RES/56/83).

Section 502B of the US Foreign Assistance Act stipulates that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” And section 4 of the Arms Export Control Act prohibits the shipments arms to nations that engage is consistent violations of human rights. Lebanon has for six decades engaged in “consistent violations of human rights” of Palestinian refugees and continues to expand its violations of international humanitarian law as in 2001 when its Parliament outlawed home ownership for Palestinian refugees. US law could not be clearer on this point and authorizes the supply of US military equipment and training only for lawful purposes including applying international laws that protect refugees and allow them to seek a job until they are able to return home.

Given the Obama administration’s failure, to date, to hold Lebanon accountable for its violations of US laws, it has become complicit in the violation of the most basic civil rights of Palestinian in Lebanon. The General Assembly of the United Nations imposed an embargo on the export of arms to the apartheid regime in South Africa during the second half of the last century, which fully applies to the situation of Palestinians in the face of repeated Lebanese violations of the right to work and to own a home.

American arms to Lebanon and/or to every country is this region will not defeat ISIS, staunch its growing support or turn the masses against it. Justice will. Granting citizens dignity, economic opportunity, the ability to impact their and their children own lives positively will.

To turn the ISIS tide, Lebanon’s best initiative is the investment of 90 minutes of Parliaments time to grant elementary civil rights to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. This simple humanitarian act, required by US Arms Export laws and international humanitarian law would lend some credence to claims of “our religious, moral, political, Arab Nationalist and Resistance obligation which is our bloodstream cause” that one hears so facially brandied about across elements of the Lebanese political spectrum.

It is long overdue for Lebanese politicians to grant Palestinian refugees the elementary civil rights to work and to own a home. They must do it now.

Franklin Lamb is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University and volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (

The Empire Bites Back: NATO Shaking Its Spear at Russia

NATO steps up military preparations against Russia

by Kumaran Ira - WSWS

The US and European powers are stepping up their reckless military escalation against Russia, citing the crisis in Ukraine and Russia’s annexation of Crimea as a pretext to deploy troops to new bases throughout Eastern Europe.

Ahead of next week’s NATO summit in Cardiff, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen bluntly accused Russia of destabilizing eastern Ukraine and all but threatened Russia with war.

According to the Guardian, he indicated that the NATO summit would agree to “new deployments on Russia’s borders—a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow.”

Rasmussen explained, “We will adopt what we call a readiness action plan with the aim to be able to act swiftly in this completely new security environment in Europe. We have something already called the NATO response force, whose purpose is to be able to be deployed rapidly if needed. Now it’s our intention to develop what I would call a spearhead within that response force at very, very high readiness.” This would “involve the pre-positioning of supplies, of equipment, preparation of infrastructure, bases, headquarters. The bottom line is you will in the future see a more visible NATO presence in the east.”

NATO’s base on the Baltic Sea coast in the Polish city of Szczecin is likely to be the hub for the new deployments.

NATO’s decision to deploy troops in Eastern Europe blatantly violates promises made by numerous Western officials to the USSR during the process of German reunification in 1990. Then-US Secretary of State James Baker, for instance, pledged that there would be “no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east” after the Soviets agreed to let a reunified Germany join NATO.

Diplomatic and military sources also reported that two NATO warships will enter the Black Sea next week.

“Two NATO warships at once will arrive in the Black Sea on September 3. They are the US Navy’s destroyer USS Ross and the frigate Commandant Birot of the naval forces of France,” an unnamed source told RIA Novosti news agency.

To fund their confrontation with Russia, NATO powers are also discussing a massive increase in military spending, which could only be funded by carrying out deep social cuts against the working class. “Since the end of the cold war we have lived in relatively good weather,” Rasmussen said. “Now we are faced with a profound climate change. That requires more investment. Politicians have tried to harvest the peace dividend after the end of the cold war. That’s understandable. But now we are in a completely new security situation.”

Former NATO supreme commander General Sir Richard Shirreff also said that European nations had to put their “hands in their pockets to spend more money on defence.” He added that the “security framework” in Europe had changed as a result of Russia’s annexation of the southern Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March.

The warmongering propaganda of the NATO powers stands reality on its head. In fact, it is NATO that stirred up conflict in Ukraine, backing the fascist-led coup that ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych in February. The aim of the US and its European allies is to turn Ukraine into a forward operating base, threatening war with Russia, a nuclear-armed power.

In an extraordinarily reckless move, NATO is preparing to unofficially but effectively bring Ukraine into the NATO alliance, using it as a proxy force to threaten Russia. Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko will be the sole non-NATO head of state attending the NATO summit next week. According to the Guardian, “Four ‘trust funds’ are to be established to finance Ukraine’s military logistics, command and control structures, and cyber defences, and to pay the armed forces’ pensions.”

Rasmussen said, “It is actually what we will decide to do at the summit, to help them build the capacity of their security sector, modernise it.”

It appears that this policy is being pursued despite significant internal opposition inside NATO, which is rarely reported in the major media and never in detail.

Although the European powers backed the fascist coup in Kiev, some reportedly oppose setting up permanent bases in Eastern Europe, fearing this will hurt Europe’s economic ties with Russia. According to the Guardian, “The French, Italians and Spanish are opposed while the Americans and British are supportive of the eastern European demands. The Germans, said a NATO official, were sitting on the fence, wary of provoking Russia.”

The Kremlin, for its part, is taking an accommodating position to the Western powers in Ukraine, effectively recognizing the Western puppet regime in Kiev by holding its first direct negotiations with it.

On Tuesday, Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks in Minsk after both attended a meeting among the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union, the European Union and Ukraine. Though it was reported that both countries are working for a peace plan, no agreement came out of the summit.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told reporters the talks at the summit were “tough,” but avoided saying that they had failed. He said, “Sadly, the situation there [in Ukraine] has gone so far that in the absence of agreements in principle, any steps or technical accords are not going to lead to settlement.”

In his opening statement, Putin expressed concern over Ukraine’s decision to sign an association agreement with the EU, as it undermines Russian interests. Ukraine is set to ratify the EU association agreement next month.

Putin said, “Not all of our arguments are accepted by our colleagues, but at least we were heard and we have agreed to intensify the exchange of views, and try to find some solutions,” adding that in the absence of a final agreement Russia will have to “take measures” to protect its economy.

However, Putin called the meeting with Poroshenko “positive,” while Poroshenko called it “very complicated and difficult.”

Putin’s main concern seems to be to leverage his role as the EU’s energy supplier to reach some sort of deal, asserting that the two sides “have also agreed that a resumption of gas and energy talks is urgently needed.”

As NATO escalates its military threats against Russia, fighting between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian army and its allied fascist paramilitary units is continuing in eastern Ukraine.

The area around the city of Novoazovsk, strategically positioned on roads linking Russia with Crimea, which Moscow annexed in March, has come under heavy artillery firing in the past days. Novoazovsk lies on the Azov Sea on the road that runs from Russia to the major Ukrainian port of Mariupol and west to Crimea.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine has killed over 2,249 and wounded 6,033, according to the United Nations. The flood of refugees has now reached crisis proportions, with 190,000 internally displaced Ukrainians and 207,000 seeking refuge in Russia.

On Monday, a Ukrainian official said a column of Russian tanks and armoured vehicles entered southeastern Ukraine. The Kiev government said it captured 10 Russian soldiers around Amvrosiivka, a town near the Russian border. Later, Moscow admitted that they were Russian soldiers patrolling the border, claiming that they probably crossed it inadvertently.

The Dummy's Guide to Idiocy: High Tech. Conspiracy to Make Us All Feel Stupid

Gadgets Turning Me Into an Idiot!

by Andre Vltchek - CounterPunch

I feel challenged, at times dumb. I am constantly behind.

And that is where the multi-nationals want me to be. That is how they want me to feel: a total retard, a failure.

Computers are evolving; smart phones, cameras and recorders are changing their operation systems. They are designed that way: a few months or years and into the garbage with them!

Apple, ‘BB’, Canon and other manufacturers are making sure that everything changes with lightening speed, from the shape of batteries, to the size of plugs.

Is your SIM now a ‘nano’ size? Or is it full size, or something in between?

And how do you download footage from your camera? Oh, you need new software, possibly new cables?

Whenever I buy a new phone, new camera or new computer, I have to spend several weeks or months trying to understand their complex manuals. And these days, many manuals are not even printed – they have to be studied online. And then, once I at least master some basics, it is time to get the next generation of the equipment, to throw the old, obsolete one into the garbage, without fully mastering it.

The way new-era-gadgets are designed is that after just 1-3 years they become obsolete: applications cannot be run or downloaded and everything becomes incompatible. Entire systems demand a periodical overhaul, but even overhauls have time limitation, at some point they cease to ‘be allowed’. And so, eventually, new equipment has to be purchased, and, that happens with increasing frequency.

We all know that this is how the ‘market’ works, that this is how ruthless, self-serving ‘entrepreneurship’ is shagging us. We are all bitching about it, but there seems to be nothing that can be done. We have simply become slaves of those vicious, greedy and twisted capitalist companies. We know that they only care about their profits and nothing about the advancement of society and humanity. They are clearly and determinedly robbing creative people, of both time and resources.

Often it feels that we are defenseless and unprotected

The more time and money we spend playing their games, satisfying their gluttony by buying and buying, continuously learning absolutely useless new concepts about ‘operating systems’ or electronic menus, the less time and resources we have left for thinking and working on the improvement of life on our planet.

Of course that is most likely one of the essential parts of their grand design.

The logical conclusion of thinking people would be, “Let’s get rid of capitalism, corporatism and market fundamentalism,” if they had more time to read, study, concentrate and analyze the world that surrounds them.

Therefore, they should be kept busy and confused with indigestible manuals, forced to give up their old gear, to buy new and newer things, and kept constantly occupied with form, instead of substance.


Many readers who follow my work from countless conflict zones and areas where Western imperialism has been destroying the last flickers of freedom and resistance, most likely imagine that I keep things relatively simple, and that I still create, in the same vein as several of my ‘heroes’ from bygone days –such as Wilfred Burchett or Ryszard Kapuściński. Otherwise, how am I able to work in so many different places, in such short periods of time?

Yes and no.

Yes, I try to be mobile, to create differently, resisting turning myself into a technocrat. Instead of relying on equipment, I do my best to insert poetry, where there only seems to be left ash, tears and devastation. I go to many ‘extreme places’, located almost ‘at the edge’, in order to shed light on some of the most gruesome crimes committed by the Empire.

In order to get through to some damn hostile places, I have to ‘travel relatively light.’

But most of the times I still carry those heavy bags full of cameras, recorders, smart phones, chargers and other wires.

And the more I carry with me; the more my thinking actually becomes blurred; it is slowing down, diverted from real issues.

The honest conclusion is: “The more gadgets I have, the worse the results of my work are.”

Then why can’t I ‘lighten up’ even further?


Actually, to write my fiction or poetry, all I need is my notepads and a decent pen, or a small computer.

I essentially only need the same notepads and a pen, plus one Leica, to create vivid and detailed essays from warzones – what is called war reporting or ‘investigative journalism’.

And to make documentaries, a camera with a decent microphone would be enough for me, as I am not a purist.

A good Moleskin notebook costs up to US$20. A decent Japanese ‘Campus’ notepad goes for US$2. A Montblanc pen can last an entire lifetime. And Leica cameras can survive for decades.

Basically, this is all that I need, plus, a MacPro, and one portable studio audio recorder… and a sturdy smart phone.

A MacPro can last for many years, if it were allowed to, and so could the phone. Recorders, especially the analog, tape-based ones, can last for decades.

But strangely and suspiciously, we are encouraged, almost forced, to throw away great old equipment that is simple and perfect for what it was designed for.

Excellent professional machines are being replaced with idiotic, complex, toy-like gadgets; fit more for entertainment than for serious work.

Those old-fashioned enthusiasts, that tried to invent groundbreaking products, in order to improve the world, do not run design teams inside corporations, anymore. In the past, even in the capitalist system, some solid companies took pride in themselves for inventing great gear that could survive for decades. Many of these products were supposed to make both life and work much easier.

Now, the same companies are making sure that their products are too complex to be used, that they break down after a short period of time, and that they are full of electronics that will eventually block any upgrades and become incompatible with other equipment.

Even as one is being screwed, one is still expected to long for some new and idiotic phone, one has to be proud because he or she is in possession of the latest tablet, or cutting-edge car model, or pair of those ‘funky’ headphones with totally inadequate Hz response but with shiny colors and the perfect advertisement campaign.

The truth is: old tape-based portable professional studio recorders had much better, warmer sounds, than their present-day flashy, tiny digital cousins. Those old machines, after you purchased them, took them out of the box, and inserted batteries; everything was ready for work and for great performance, in just ten minutes.

Almost nothing has really improved, lately, in the field of optics or sound. Look at your parent’s HI-FI’s specs – that HI-FI that is now stored somewhere in the cellar. 50 years ago, most of the stereo components produced much better sound than what is now on display and in vogue. A few decades ago, all gear worked at least within the range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, which is the bare minimum for true HI-FI. Good stuff would go between 15 and 25,000 Hz. Now? Please check your phone or tablet. Usually there are no specs, because what you may find would be embarrassing!

Look back at F4 and F5 cameras; those metal frames, all the controls simple and exposed.

But the gear, producing crappy sound that they are selling to you now, requires a rocket scientist’s brain to figure it out.

Almost all that new equipment beats me. There are hundreds of useless functions. I am a writer, a philosopher, a film-maker, and still, I almost cannot figure out anything. I scroll through menus, pushing some tiny buttons, until I totally forget what it is exactly that I wanted to film, or to record. All my enthusiasm and inspiration are going to hell.

It is all thoroughly humiliating, too. I buy pieces of equipment in order to film, or to record sound, to communicate, for my fight against Western fascism.

But I am instantly transformed into a pathetic geek.

Instead of Gramsci and Camus, I read manuals

Instead of researching, I spend time trying to figure out HOW to read, how to download, how to save and convert.

And believe me, there is always something to convert! There are always some new applications and programs that have to be downloaded, figured out.

In the process, all my private information is sucked out. In order to allow me to do what some of the great analog professional equipment used to let me do quickly, simply and discreetly, I am now forced to register, to give away my mailing address, my phone number, my credit card numbers, an email address and a bunch of passwords.


Gadgets keep breaking down, most likely because they are designed to break down.

Memory cards and extended memory cards constantly fail, and so we are encouraged to copy our important files, twice, three times, endless times, and send off our valuable images to some ‘clouds’.

The internal memories even in professional video cameras frequently collapse, but we are made to throw away our great HDV professional cameras, in the same way we were told to throw away our tape recorders.

Our smart phones, our expensive computers, constantly crash and collapse, too, as if they were programmed to collapse, with clockwork accuracy.

Nothing survives more than five years, and the lifespan is shortening.


In some parts of the world, particularly in Southeast Asian countries, but also increasingly in India, gadgets have fully overwhelmed society.

They have become the purpose of life, replacing culture and local art, deeply influencing and trivializing language, and the way that people communicate.

Creativity has fully collapsed

You sit in Bangkok, on the Sky Train, which is an extremely overprized mode of ‘public transportation’, a privately-owned type of people mover, and you see that nobody reads anything printed on paper. The entire car is glued to the monitors of their smart phones. Repulsive and cheap, but loud, advertisements beam from the overhead monitors. The “market” propaganda is so loud that even if someone wanted to read, it would be impossible to concentrate. Sky train and smart phones are part of the ‘lifestyle’. It is not ‘good or bad’, but it is ‘how it should be’; how the market has decided that we should live.

Here, to understand gadgets, is essential, if one wants to be inside that integral part of the society ‘that matters’.

Who rules Thailand after the military putsch, is, for many, not as important as the ability to send cute faces from one tablet to another. Or say, “Sent from my iPhone,” attachments are. And that is what really matters, isn’t it?

Southeast Asia became totally infantile. What a joy for corporations, elites, military and the West, to manufacture and then control such societies!


What can be done to resist this toxic trend of people being converted into slaves of technology?

Definitely, to put substance over the form, and to remember what these gadgets are really supposed to be for.

Phones should help us to communicate with each other, to send meaningful information from one person to another, to hear each other’s voice.

Cameras, especially professional ones, are here to capture important images, and to document life, to help fight against injustice, to sound alerts, to improve life.

Computers should be meant to help us to communicate, to study, and to create.

It is clear that our regime, our Empire and therefore our corporations, are trying to make total brain-dead beings out of us. They want us to waste as much time as possible. They want us to study and consume nothingness, to get busy reading for months, their manuals about how to use some degenerate gadget that should have, in theory, just a few simple buttons.

We are not supposed to think about life. Our life is supposed to be reduced to a form, to a labyrinth, to a trap.

Technology is not here to help us to study and to create, anymore. It is supposed to keep us away from thinking. It makes sure that we are too busy. Instead of communicating deep thoughts, we are constantly thinking about the form – how to communicate.

It used to be simple: you were hit by some great idea. You picked up the receiver and dialed the number. “I was thinking…!” you would say to a relevant individual at the other end of the line.

Now, at least in many parts of the world, you open some program, like Tango, Line, or WhatsApp, and, with your big fingers you begin banging into the screen of your smart phone, hitting and missing, confused. Can one really create and communicate important thoughts, while typing into smart phones? Would important thoughts actually survive such a mode of communication?


The crimes of market fundamentalists are too apparent and so the leaders of the corporate-political mafia are really petrified that one day, more and more people will open their eyes and will begin to shout just like in that old fairytale: “But the Emperor has no clothes!”

And so they want to make us dumb, as quickly and irreversibly as possible.

After many years of research I have come to the conclusion that some parts of the world, particularly Southeast Asia, were being used as guinea pigs in a lab for experiments on human beings. After some horrifying coups and bloodletting, people have been fully indoctrinated with market fundamentalism. The fetish of gadgets was injected with tremendous force, at the same time as hundreds of millions of people were contaminated with the lowest form of pop culture. Those who resisted were murdered or made irrelevant. Thinking and creativity were discouraged and discredited.

It has worked. And now, the same system is being implemented even in the core of the Empire – in the US and Europe.

Culture has been ruined and propaganda has become accepted as the truth, even in the places like Paris, London and New York.

I will soon return to this subject. I am writing a long essay on the topic of cultural destruction in Southeast Asia, and on the experiment conducted on the people of that region.

Pop culture and unbridled consumerism, right-wing propaganda and advertisements, they are all made from the same stuff, and they are responsible for creating that brave new world of Southeast Asia, as well as many brave new worlds all over the planet.

The model should be studied in depth, because, it is a toxic, horrifying model. And if we do not fight it with determination and courage, it will soon become the future of our humanity!

I repeat: the gadgets are turning me into an idiot! They are killing my creativity and taking me away from the essential issues. I am resisting, but it is hard.

There is nothing wrong with computers, phones or cameras. But the way capitalism uses them; they are being converted into extremely dangerous psychological weapons of destruction – weapons that are slowing our thinking, diverting us from real issues, making us as busy as possible as we try to figure out an irrelevant multitude of digits and commands on confusing menus.

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. The result is his latest book: “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. ‘Pluto’ published his discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is 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”. His feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” is 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.

"Vlad Did It!" - Reframing Obama's Disastrous Ukraine Adventure

Obama’s “Catastrophic Defeat” in Ukraine

by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch

“We are currently witnessing an epic and historic event. The Ukrainian regular army and the punitive battalions are suffering a catastrophic defeat to the south of Donetsk…..It still is not quite clear how the Junta intends to avoid a complete defeat here…. By squandering the most combat-capable brigades in systematic offensive operations, the Junta sustained enormous losses and at the same time suffered a crushing, purely military defeat. The southern front has collapsed.” – The Southern Front Catastrophe – August 27, 2014″, Colonel Cassad, Military Briefing, Novorossiya, Ukraine
“The reports out of Novorussia (New Russia) are nothing short of incredible… sources are reporting that Novorussian forces have bypassed Mariupol from the north and have entered the Zaporozhie region!” – News from the Front, Vineyard of the Saker

Barack Obama has pushed Ukraine to the brink of political, economic and social collapse. Now he wants to blame Russia for the damage he’s done. It’s absurd. Moscow is in no way responsible for Ukraine’s descent into anarchy. That’s all Washington’s doing, just as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria were Washington’s doing. If you want to blame someone, blame Obama.

Ukraine’s troubles began when the US State Department toppled the elected president in February and replaced him with a compliant stooge who agreed to follow Washington’s directives. The new “junta” government quickly launched a full-blown war against Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the east which split the civilian population and drove the country to ruin. The plan “pacify” the East was concocted in Washington, not Kiev and certainly not Moscow.

Moscow has repeatedly called for an end to the violence and a resumption of negotiations, but each request has been rebuffed by Obama’s puppet in Kiev leading to another round of hostilities. Washington doesn’t want peace. Washington wants the same solution it imposed on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, that is, a chaotic failed state where ethnic and sectarian animosities are kept at a boiling point so forward-operating bases can be established without resistance, so resources can be extracted at will, and so a formally-independent nation can be reduced to a “permanent state of colonial dependency.” (Chomsky) That’s the basic gameplan wherever Washington goes. The same rule applies to Ukraine. The only choice the people have is to arm themselves and fight back. Which is what they’ve done.

Donetsk and Lugansk have formed militias and taken the war to the enemy. They’ve engaged Obama’s proxy-army on the battlefield and pounded it into mincemeat. That’s why Obama deployed his propagandists to lie about the fictitious “Russian invasion”. The administration needs a diversion because the Novorussia forces (aka-the “pro Russia separatists”) are kicking the holy crap out of Obama’s legions. That’s why Washington and Kiev are in full panic-mode, because none of this was supposed to happen. Obama figured the army would put down the insurrection, crush the resistance, and move him one step closer to his goal of establishing NATO bases and missile defense systems on Russia’s western flank.

Well, guess what? It’s not playing out that way and it probably never will. The Novorussia fighters are too tough, too smart and too motivated to be one-upped by Obama’s feckless troopers. (Check out this short video and you’ll see why the rebels are winning: Vineyard of the Saker)

Putin hasn’t sent tanks and artillery into Ukraine. He doesn’t need to. The militias are loaded with battle-hardened veterans who know how to fight and who are quite good at it. Just ask Poroshenko whose army has been taking it in the shorts for the last couple of weeks. Check out this blurb in Thursday’s Itar Tass:

“Over the week of August 16-23, the self-defense fighters of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics seized 14 T-64 tanks, 25 infantry fighting vehicles, 18 armored personnel carriers, one armored reconnaissance and patrol vehicle, one Uragan multiple launch rocket system, two Gvozdika self-propelled artillery guns, four D-30 howitzers, four mortars, one ZU-23-2 air defense system and 33 vehicles.” (East Ukraine militias seize large amount of Ukrainian armor, Itar Tass)

Get the picture? The Ukrainian army is getting beaten to a pulp, which means that Obama’s glorious “pivot strategy” just slammed into a brick wall.

Bottom line: Russia has not invaded Ukraine. The propagandists in the media are just trying to hide the fact that the Novorussia Army Forces (NAF; aka-the pro Russia separatists) are kicking ass and taking names. That’s what’s really going on. That’s why Obama and his gaggle of miscreant neocons are in a furor. It’s because they don’t know what to do next, so they’ve returned to their default position on every issue; lie like hell until they settle on a plan.

Naturally, they’re going to blame Putin for the mess they’re in. What else can they do? They’re getting their heads handed to them by a superior army. How do you explain that to the folks at home? Check out this excerpt from the New York Times Number One fiction writer, Michael “aluminum tubes” Gordon (who, not surprisingly, co-authored pieces with infamous Judy Miller in the lead up to the Iraq War):

“Determined to preserve the pro-Russian revolt in eastern Ukraine, Russia reinforced what Western and Ukrainian officials described as a stealth invasion on Wednesday, sending armored troops across the border as it expanded the conflict to a new section of Ukrainian territory.

The latest incursion, which Ukraine’s military said included five armored personnel carriers, was at least the third movement of troops and weapons from Russia across the southeast part of the border this week, further blunting the momentum Ukrainian forces have made in weakening the insurgents in their redoubts of Donetsk and Luhansk farther north. Evidence of a possible turn was seen in the panicky retreat of Ukrainian soldiers on Tuesday from a force they said had come over the Russian border.” (Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion on a New Front, New York Times)

“Stealth invasion”? In other words, Gordon has settled on a substitute for WMD. What a surprise.

This isn’t even good fiction; it’s more like Grimm’s Fairy Tales. And where are the photos? If you have evidence, Gordon, let’s see it. But, please, make sure it’s better than the last time, you know, those fake photos of Russian soldiers that were supposedly operating in Ukraine. That was another deceit, wasn’t it? (See: Another NYT-Michael Gordon Special?, Robert Parry, Consortium News)

This is like the Malaysia airlines crash, isn’t it? Remember how Kerry went on a five-TV-talk-show blitz the day after the crash, making all kinds of spurious accusations, about surface-to-air missiles and phantom Russian convoys, without a shred of evidence, and then— the very next day– Russian military experts calmly produced hard evidence, from radar and satellite data, that a Ukrainian fighter plane was seen closing in on MH17 just moments before it was downed. (BBC also interviewed eyewitnesses who saw the SU 25 approaching the passenger plane.)

So, who do you believe; Kerry or the facts? And who are you going to believe this time; “Aluminum tubes” Gordie or Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitor Andrey Kelin who said yesterday:

“We have said that no Russian involvement has been spotted, there are no soldiers or equipment present.”

“Accusations relating to convoys of armored personnel carriers have been heard during the past week and the week before that. All of them were proven false back then, and are being proven false again now.” (RT)

Repeat: “No Russian involvement”. All the accusations “were proven false.” “False” as in fake, phony, propaganda, bunkum, lies which, by the way, appears to be Gordon’s area of expertise.

Anyone who has been following the conflict knows that the Washington-backed junta in Kiev has waged a war against its own people in the East, and that they’ve been bombing hospitals, schools, libraries, apartments, public buildings, residential areas, etc, all in an effort to drag Putin into a war that will sabotage EU-Moscow economic integration and further US interests in the area. It’s all geopolitics, every bit of it. Remember the pivot to Asia? This is what it looks like in real time. A lot of people get butchered so the big money guys in Washington can maintain their grip on global power for another century or so.

Well, you can put that pipedream to rest now, mainly because a group of scrappy ex-military types in east Ukraine gathered themselves into an effective and lethal militia which has turned things around pronto. If you follow developments on blogs that chronicle the daily events, you’ll know that what I’m saying is true. The disorganized and demoralized rabble they call the Ukrainian Army has been routed in nearly every dust up they have with the Novorussia militia.

Here’s how blogger Moon of Alabama summed it up on a post on Thursday:

“Their moral is bad, their equipment old, ammunition is low and the entire aim of their campaign is dubious. Now even a few weak counterattacks, the “counteroffensive”, have them on the run.”

The only thing he could’ve added to the litany is the fact that they are led by the biggest moron to ever hold high office, Petro Poroshenko, the overstuffed buffoon who thinks he’s Heinz Guderian deploying his Panzers through the Ardennes and on to Paris. What a joke!

The Times even admits that the Ukrainian army is badly demoralized. Take a look at this:

“Some of the Ukrainian soldiers appeared unwilling to fight. The commander of their unit, part of the Ninth Brigade from Vinnytsia, in western Ukraine, barked at the men to turn around, to no effect. “All right,” the commander said. “Anybody who refuses to fight, sit apart from the others.” Eleven men did, while the others returned to the city.

Some troops were in full retreat: A city busload of them careened past on the highway headed west, and purple curtains flapped through windows shot out by gunfire.” (New York Times)

Have you ever heard of a commanding officer asking his men whether they want to fight or not? It’s ludicrous. This is a defeated army, that much is clear. And it’s easy to understand how the average grunt feels, too. The average working guy doesn’t have the stomach for killing his own people. That’s not something he’s going to feel good about. He just wants to see the war end and go home, which is why they’re getting whooped so bad. It’s because their hearts aren’t in it. In contrast, the farmers, shopkeepers and miners who make up the militia are highly-motivated, after all, this isn’t some geopolitical game for them. Most of these people have lived in these cities their entire lives. Now they’re watching neighbors get gunned down in the streets or pulling friends out of the wreckage of bombed out buildings. For these people, the war is real and it’s personal. They’re defending their towns, their families, and their way of life. That tends to build resolve and focus the mind.

Here’s more from the NY Times:

“The United States has photographs that show the Russian artillery moved into Ukraine, American officials say. One photo dated last Thursday, shown to a New York Times reporter, shows Russian military units moving self-propelled artillery into Ukraine. Another photo, dated Saturday, shows the artillery in firing positions in Ukraine.

Advanced air defenses, including systems not known to be in the Ukrainian arsenal, have also been used to blunt the Ukrainian military’s air power, American officials say. In addition, they said, the Russian military routinely flies drones over Ukraine and shares the intelligence with the separatists.” (Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion on a New Front, New York Times)

Photos? What photos? Gordon doesn’t have any photos. Ah, but he has heard about a New York Times reporter who saw a photo.

This is ridiculous, but, then again, isn’t that what you’d expect from a journalist who helped craft the pretext for invading Iraq?

Here’s how Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded to the claims of a Russian invasion. He said:

“It’s not the first time we’ve heard wild guesses, though, so far, the facts have never been presented…
There have been reports about satellite imagery exposing Russian troop movements. They turned out to be images from videogames. The latest accusations happen to be much the same quality…

We’ll react by persisting in our effort to reduce the bloodshed and to support negotiations about the future of Ukraine, with participation of all Ukrainian regions and political forces, something that was agreed upon back in April in Geneva, but which is now being deliberately avoided by our Western partners.” (RT)

There you have it; there is no Russian invasion anymore than there were WMD, mobile weapons labs, aluminum tubes, Sarin gas etc, etc, etc. It’s all BS concocted by a servile media pursuing the agenda of a warmongering political establishment that wants to escalate the conflagration in east Ukraine at all cost. Even if it leads to a Third World War.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at