Saturday, November 29, 2014

Wade Davis: "If I could ask Mr. Harper..."

Massey lecture series compiled in The Wayfinders

by Wade Davis

[The following passage is from Wade Davis' Massey lecture series complied in The Wayfinders. I thought is was timely because of the protests on Burnaby Mountain. It's not just about stopping a pipeline here or there, it's about changing the whole damn way the politicians and the corporations treat our sacred lands and waters...]
"If I could ask Mr. Harper to read, and absorb, one thing (other than a scientific review of the impacts of the Northern Gateway), it would be this: “Environmental concerns aside, think for a moment of what these proposals imply about our culture. We accept it as normal that people who have never been on the land, who have no history or connection to the country, may legally secure the right to come in and by the very nature of their enterprises leave in their wake a cultural and physical landscape utterly transformed and desecrated.

What’s more, in granting such mining concessions, often initially for trivial sums to speculators from distant cities, companies cobbled together with less history than my dog, we place no cultural or market value on the land itself.

The cost of destroying a natural asset, or its inherent worth if left intact, has no metric in the economic calculations that support the industrialization of the wild.

No company has to compensate the public for what it does to the commons, the forests, mountains, and rivers, which by definition belong to everyone. As long as there is promise of revenue flows and employment, it merely requires permissions to proceed. We take this as a given for it is the foundation of our system, the way commerce extracts value and profit in a resource-driven economy.
But if you think about it, especially from the perspectives of so many other cultures, touched and inspired by quite different visions of life and land, it appears to be very odd and anomalous human behaviour."

[I’m not sure how to turn this into a green resolution… perhaps simply posting this, and having a few people read and talk about it to their friends, is enough. But just in case, I also pledge to NEVER vote for Stephen Harper. Or shake his hand, should the opportunity arise. Keep on for keeping on...Dave]

PNG Claimants' Lawyers Against African Barrick Gold Go Public

Lawyers Say Barrick Thwarts Access to Justice for Victims of Violence

by MiningWatch Canada

OttawaNew evidence is emerging that Barrick Gold’s dealings with victims of violence by mine security and police at mine sites in Papua New Guinea and in Tanzania is primarily designed to protect the company from legal action, rather than to provide fair remedy for women who have been raped and men who have been hurt or killed by mine security.

Magige Ghati Kesabo (left) is the first named claimant in a case commenced in London against UK-based African Barrick Gold. He holds a photo of his son, Emmanuel Magige Ghati, who was allegedly shot and killed by police on 16 May 2011 at the North Mara mine owned by African Barrick Gold. Emmanuel was 26 years old at the time of his death. His wife was pregnant with their first daughter.

Lawyers who represent victims of violence at the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and at the North Mara mine in Tanzania are speaking out.

On Friday, U.S.-based EarthRights International released documents that reveal how the compensation process Barrick has put in place at the Porgera mine to deal with victims of rape by the company’s mine’s security trades inadequate benefit packages for a promise never to sue Barrick. Documents reveal that women who reject the packages or ask for other forms of remedy are being turned away by the program.

“Some of the women felt they had no choice but to accept the benefits offered,” said Marco Simons, Legal Director of EarthRights International (ERI), which represented dozens of women in the process.

“One of our clients told us how she was brutally beaten, cut with a knife and raped by more than 10 Barrick guards, left unable to have children, and then abandoned by her husband and ostracized by her community. She was angered by what the Remedial Framework offered. But she felt she could not reject the benefits because she needed medical treatment; her injuries still made it painful for her to walk.”

“Some of our clients did, however, refuse the benefits,” added Simons.
“As far as we know, the only women who refused to sign Barrick’s legal waiver were those represented by ERI – in other words, those who thought they might have other options.”

In a visit to Ottawa on November 6, 2014, Shanta Martin, a partner at UK-based law firm Leigh Day, spoke out about the firm’s Tanzanian clients who are pursuing claims against African Barrick Gold and its Tanzanian subsidiary in the High Court of England and Wales for deaths and injuries they claim were a result of the excessive use of force by mine security and police, including the frequent use of live ammunition.

In its press release Martin said, “Impoverished people from remote rural villages who sue multinational companies often face incredible obstacles to having their claims heard by an independent arbiter,” said Martin.

“Our clients naturally expect companies that say they are transparent and supportive of human rights to live up to those claims.”

As in Papua New Guinea, Barrick’s North Mara mine in Tanzania has implemented a compensation process to deal with victims of excessive violence by mine security. And as in PNG, victims of violence have to sign away their right to sue the company in return for compensation, however inadequate. MiningWatch Canada and UK-based Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) conducted a human rights assessment at the North Mara mine in July and August and found that the mine’s compensation program is not transparent, not independent of the company, that the compensation being offered is neither appropriate nor reflective of the deaths and serious harm that victims have suffered, and that it is not what the victims themselves said they need to overcome the harm.

MiningWatch and RAID also found that clients of Leigh Day were being targeted by North Mara mine personnel to persuade them to drop their law suit in return for this inadequate compensation.

In its release, Leigh Day confirmed that many of their clients stated they had been specifically targeted to forgo their legal claims and sign up to the mine’s grievance mechanism.

“The PNG and Tanzanian cases clearly demonstrate an abuse of so-called project level grievance mechanisms to ensure legal immunity for Barrick at a high cost to the victims of violence,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada.
 “It is questionable whether company-led project-level grievance mechanisms should even be dealing with criminal acts by mine security, but if they do they should absolutely not result in legal waivers that create barriers to access to judicial remedy.”

Both the Government of Canada and the Mining Association of Canada are currently drafting guidance for the use of project-level non-judicial grievance mechanisms. The issue is also front and centre at the upcoming UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva in December.

For more information, or to set up an interview with victims, contact:

Catherine Coumans,

The following documents have been released by EarthRights International :
Statement from Remedial Framework Advisory Panel rejecting compensation demands
Remedial Framework benefits package (name redacted)
Remedial Framework benefits package (name redacted)
Remedial Framework final contract including agreement not to sue Barrick (name redacted)

See also Leigh Day's news release of November 6, 2014.

EU and German "Miscalculations" Key to Ukraine Crisis: Der Spiegel

Der Spiegel Tones Down Anti-Putin Hysteria

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News

Last summer, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel was swept up in the Western hysteria over Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Ukraine crisis, even running a bellicose cover demanding “Stop Putin Now” and blaming him for the 298 deaths in the July 17 crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine.

“Vladimir Putin has shown his true face. Once seen as a statesman, the Russian president has exposed himself as a pariah of the international community. The MH17 dead are also his; he is partially responsible for the shooting down of the flight,” a Der Spiegel editorial declared on July 28.
“Nobody in the West continues to harbor serious doubts that the plane was shot down with a Buk surface-to-air missile system — one that was almost certainly provided to the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine by Russia.” 

Actually, by then, a number of people in the West, including U.S. intelligence analysts, were doubting the blame-Putin narrative because they could find no evidence that the Russians had supplied the ethnic Russian rebels with a sophisticated anti-aircraft missile system that could bring down a commercial plane flying at 33,000 feet.

At the time, I was being told by a source briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts that the emerging scenario pointed more toward an extremist group associated with the Ukrainian government although not under the control of Kiev’s senior leadership. But the major media in the U.S. and Europe refused to rethink the early “conventional wisdom.”

However, in October, Der Spiegel quietly reversed itself regarding Moscow supposedly supplying the Buk missiles, reporting that the German foreign intelligence agency, the BND, had concluded that Russia did not supply the battery suspected of bringing down the plane, saying the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian military missile captured by the rebels from a Ukrainian military base (although I was later told by a European official that the BND’s conclusion was less definitive than Der Spiegel reported).

Creating a Crisis

In another reversal of sorts, this leading German-language newsmagazine has acknowledged that the European Union and German leaders were guilty of miscalculations that contributed to the Ukraine crisis, particularly by under-appreciating the enormous financial costs to Ukraine if it broke its historic ties to Russia in favor of a new association with the EU.

In November 2013, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych learned from experts at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine that the total cost to the country’s economy from severing its business connections to Russia would be around $160 billion, 50 times the $3 billion figure that the EU had estimated, Der Spiegel reported. The figure stunned Yanukovych, who pleaded for financial help that the EU couldn’t provide, the magazine said.

Western loans would have to come from the International Monetary Fund, which was demanding painful “reforms” of Ukraine’s economy, structural changes that would make the hard lives of average Ukrainians even harder, including raising the price of natural gas by 40 percent and devaluing Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia, by 25 percent.

With Putin offering a more generous aid package of $15 billion, Yanukovych backed out of the EU agreement but told the EU’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Nov. 28, 2013, that he was willing to continue negotiating.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded with “a sentence dripping with disapproval and cool sarcasm aimed directly at the Ukrainian president. ‘I feel like I’m at a wedding where the groom has suddenly issued new, last minute stipulations,” according to Der Spiegel’s chronology of the crisis.

That was when the U.S. neocons stepped up their strategy of using the popular disappointment in western Ukraine over the failed EU agreement to topple Yanukovych, the constitutionally elected president.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, a prominent neocon holdover who advised Vice President Dick Cheney, passed out cookies to anti-Yanukovych demonstrators at the Maidan Square in Kiev and reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations.”

Meanwhile, neocon Sen. John McCain joined Ukrainian rightists onstage at the Maidan urging on the protests, and the U.S.-funded, neocon-led National Endowment for Democracy deployed scores of its Ukrainian political/media operatives in support of the disruptions. Even earlier, NED President Carl Gershman, a leading neocon, had identified Ukraine as “the biggest prize” and an important step toward toppling Putin in Russia. [See’s “Neocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit.”]

By early February, Nuland was telling U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt “fuck the EU” and discussing how to “glue this thing” as she handpicked who the new leaders of Ukraine would be;

“Yats is the guy,” she said about Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

As violent disorders at the Maidan spun out of control, the State Department and U.S. news media blamed Yanukovych, setting the stage for his removal. On Feb. 22, a putsch, spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias from the Maidan protests, forced Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives.

A Nasty Civil War

Nuland’s “guy” Yatsenyuk became the new prime minister and pushed through both the IMF “reforms” and the EU association agreement. But the price was high, with Ukraine descending into a brutal civil war with ethnic Russians of eastern and southern Ukraine resisting the imposition of the new order in Kiev.

The voters of Crimea overwhelmingly passed a secession referendum and rejoined Russia with the help of Russian troops stationed in Crimea at the naval base at Sebastopol. Two areas of eastern Ukraine also voted to secede but were not accepted by Moscow, though it provided military and non-lethal assistance when the Kiev regime launched an “anti-terrorism operation” that incorporated some of the neo-Nazi storm troopers into “volunteer militias.”

The Ukrainian civil war not only has claimed thousands of lives but revived the specter of a new Cold War. The U.S. State Department pressed the EU to join in economic sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea, a plan that Merkel and the EU adopted after the July 17 shoot-down of MH17, which was hastily blamed on Putin.

Tit-for-tat economic sanctions also pushed the EU toward its third recession since the 2008 financial crisis. They also have contributed to economic pain in Russia. But the worst victims are the Ukrainians who are facing a cold winter with scant supplies of fuel, little money and widespread joblessness.

“In one of the most important questions facing European foreign policy, Germany had failed,” Der Spiegel admitted in its review of how the crisis evolved from the botched negotiations a year ago.
The magazine cited a speech last December by the new Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, saying: “We should ask ourselves … whether we have overlooked the fact that it is too much for this country to have to choose between Europe and Russia.”

Der Spiegel also quoted a key figure in the Ukraine talks, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle, as conceding that the EU confronted Ukraine with an impossible choice. “We were actually telling Ukraine …: ‘You know guys, sorry for your geographic location, but you cannot go east and you cannot go west,’” Füle said.

“More than anything, though, the Europeans underestimated Moscow and its determination to prevent a clear bond between Ukraine and the West,” Der Spiegel wrote.
“They either failed to take Russian concerns and Ukrainian warnings seriously or they ignored them altogether because they didn’t fit into their own worldview.”

This more tempered assessment by Der Spiegel – though a marked improvement from the hysteria of last summer – still falls far short of the highest standards of journalistic objectivity. But it suggests that perhaps a more rational attitude toward the Ukraine crisis is finally taking hold in Europe.

U.S. Media Hysteria

That does not appear to be the case in the United States where major news outlets, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, continue to be little more than propaganda megaphones for the hawks in the State Department and the ever-influential neoconservatives.

For instance, on Wednesday, the Post’s neocon editors published a lead editorial aimed at both Putin and President Barack Obama with what you might call neocon trash-talking. In the Post’s print edition, the sneering headline was “The ‘invincible’ Mr. Putin. With no new pressure from the West, the Kremlin acts as if it has nothing to fear.” The online title was even more direct: “Prove to Mr. Putin that he is not ‘invincible.’”

The editorial continued the year-long campaign to demonize Putin and agitate Obama into taking more aggressive action toward destabilizing Russia.

The Post, which has become the neocon flagship publication, was following the neocon strategy of destroying what had been constructive behind-the-scenes cooperation between Putin and Obama on issues such as reaching a political settlement in Syria and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran.

If that Putin-Obama relationship were not obliterated, it carried grave dangers for the overriding neocon strategy of “regime change” across the Middle East, to eliminate nations and movements regarded as threats to Israel.

But the biggest risk to the neocons from Putin and Obama working together would be the possibility that the two leaders could join forces to pressure Israel into a peace agreement with the Palestinians, rather than continue Israel’s inexorable seizure of Palestinian land.

In demanding that Obama ratchet up the confrontation with Putin, the Post’s editors wrote that the current anti-Russian sanctions are “not enough, apparently to deter Mr. Putin from sending more troops to Ukraine, tightening his hold on Abkhazia or declaring himself ‘invincible.”

By the way, what Putin actually said was: “When a Russian feels he is right, he is invincible.” However, by twisting the rather innocuous observation, the Post’s editors could present Putin as delusional while simultaneously baiting Obama into escalating the personal feud between the two leaders, all the better to poison future hopes of cooperation on conflict resolution.

Yet, while the major U.S. media has become one continuous conveyor belt of anti-Russian propaganda, Der Spiegel finally seems to have slowed down the assembly-line manufacturing of lies and exaggerations by offering its readers a bit of honesty about how this crisis began.

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

COP 20, Lima: Attention Government of Canada, Your Children Are Speaking to You

To the Government of Canada

by CYCC COP 20

We are the Canadian Youth Delegation, supported by more than sixty environmental non-profits, labour groups, and youth organizations. We are youth from across Canada who are attending the upcoming UN international climate change negotiations (COP 20) in Lima, Peru.

As we prepare for our participation at the negotiations, we realize how important it is for us to introduce ourselves and tell you that we refuse to tolerate the inaction of the Canadian Government when it comes to climate change.

We intend to hold you accountable for the decisions you make at COP 20.

We have grown up in a world threatened by the impacts of a changing climate. For our entire lives, world leaders have been aware of the irreversible damage that humans are inflicting on our planet, but have done almost nothing to reverse it. You, the Government of Canada, have made it clear that you are more interested in the profit and power you gain from a fossil fuel based economy than you are in ensuring a sustainable and livable planet for generations to come.

Since assuming power you have:

  • withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol in 2012 and continually blocked progress at international climate negotiations;
  • refused to put meaningful effort into supporting climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts;
  • lowered and reneged on emissions reductions commitments and zealously lobbied other governments to do the same;
  • pushed back relentlessly on the Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-311) and silenced the young people who protested its failure in October 2009 by dragging them from the House of Commons, where you laughed at them for demanding collective and ambitious climate action and policy;
  • championed an omnibus bill in 2012 that stripped federal environmental protections and muzzled climate scientists;
  • systematically audited and threatened organizations that aim to shed light on the disgraceful actions of the government;
  • and denied the treaty rights of Indigenous peoples in this country.

We, the Canadian Youth Delegation, stand alongside the millions of young people worldwide who refuse to inherit a planet in crisis. We stand beside Indigenous peoples, front-line communities, people of colour and low income populations who are living the frightening realities and injustices of climate change, and who will continue to be disproportionately impacted in the absence of sufficient action.

From coast to coast to coast First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, industry workers, new immigrants, parents, farmers, fishers, unions, students and many more are demanding climate justice. Yet the Government of Canada continues to lead us down a highway of unfettered expansion of the tar sands, paired with unwieldy trade agreements, and a complete lack of respect for Indigenous land and treaty rights.

We reject the notion that the environment and the economy are mutually exclusive or pitted against each other. 

There is no price tag on forests, rivers, wetlands, air, culture, communities, or our lives and livelihoods. We know that it is not for lack of technological advancement, public opinion, or financial resources that we have not stopped climate change in its tracks; the culprit is lack of political will.

Along with action on climate change, we demand that the Government of Canada honour the treaties and land rights of Indigenous people in this country.

You have the opportunity to be a leader in creating a just transition to a clean energy future, but you consistently fail to rise to the challenge. By now, any excuses for delay have long expired, yet we anticipate with heavy hearts that you will continue to stall negotiations at COP 20 and promote carbon-intensive projects at home. If this is the case, we will continue to challenge the ongoing development of the single most destructive development anywhere on Earth, and we will not give up until you acknowledge and take urgent and ambitious action to demonstrate that our future is more important to you than the money in your pockets, the oil on your hands, or the power you hold.

To us, our future is everything, and we will do all that we can to protect it. 

Let it echo through the halls and boardrooms of every legislating body and corporate headquarters in this country: we deserve better.


The Canadian Youth Delegation to COP 20
Bringing Youth Towards Equality (BYTE)
Canadian Federation of Students
Canadian Labour Congress
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
Canadian Youth Climate Coalition
Climate Justice Saskatoon
Committee for Future Generations
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
Council of Canadians
Dalhousie Student Union Office of Sustainability
Divest Dalhousie
Divest McGill
Divest Mount Allison
Divest UVic
Divest York
Douglas Channel Watch
Ecology Action Centre
Ecology North
Ecology Ottawa
Environmental Studies Student Association, University of Saskatchewan
Fossil Fuel Divestment at Grenfell
Fossil Free Guelph
Fossil Free Kwantlen
Fossil Free Lakehead
Fossil Free McMaster
Fossil Free uOttawa
Friends of the Earth Canada
Geography, Planning and Environmental Graduate Students of Concordia University
Greenpeace Canada
Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative
Keepers of the Athabasca
Living Oceans Society
Mother Earth Action Co-operative Ltd.
Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association
Pro Information Pro Environmental United People (PIPE UP) Network
Polaris Institute
Public Interest Alberta
Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change
RPIC (Renewable Power - the Intelligent Choice)
Saskatoon Peoples’ Climate March
Saskatchewan Citizens’ Hearings on Climate Change Organizing Committee
Saskatchewan Eco-Network
Sierra Club BC
Sierra Club Canada Foundation
Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group
Starfish Canada
Stop Energy East Halifax
Sustainable SFU
Sustainable Trent
Student’s Society of McGill University
Transition Initiative Kenora
UR Sustainability
Vegans and Vegetarians of Alberta
West Coast Environmental Law Association
Wilderness Committee

Aotearoa New Zealand Human Rights Lawyers Association
Australian Youth Climate Coalition
Generation Zero
New Zealand Youth Delegation
P3 Foundation
SustainUS: U.S. Youth for Sustainable Development
Young Friends of the Earth Europe


Au gouvernement canadien:

Nous sommes la Délégation jeunesse canadienne, soutenue par plus de soixante organismes à but non lucratif, syndicats et organisations jeunesse. Nous sommes des jeunes de partout au Canada qui seront présents à la Conférence des parties sur le climat (COP 20), à Lima du 1er au 12 décembre. Alors que nous nous préparons à participer à ces négociations, nous avons cru bon de nous présenter et de vous annoncer que nous ne tolérons pas l’inaction du gouvernement canadien en matière de changements climatiques. À COP20, nous avons l’intention de vous tenir responsable des décisions que vous avez prises au courant de la dernière décennie.

Nous avons grandi dans un monde menacé par les impacts d’un climat en changement. Durant l’intégralité de nos vies, les leaders mondiaux ont été au courant des dommages que l’humain inflige à la planète, mais n’ont pas agi pour l’en empêcher. Vous, le gouvernement canadien, avez fait clairement comprendre que vous êtes davantage intéressé par le profit et le pouvoir que vous obtenez d’une économie basée sur les énergies fossiles que vous l’êtes par l’assurance d’un environnement sain pour les générations à venir. Depuis la prise de pouvoir de M. Harper, vous avez:

retiré le Canada du Protocole de Kyoto en 2012 et continuellement empêché le progrès des négociations internationales sur le climat;

refusé d’investir quelque effort que ce soit au soutien de l’adaptation et de la mitigation des impacts des changements climatiques;

manqué à vos obligations de réduction des émissions tout en encourageant d’autres gouvernements à suivre votre exemple;

réprimé le projet de loi sur la responsabilité en matière de changements climatiques (C-311) et retiré la voix des jeunes manifestant leur désaccord à l’abandon de cette loi en les traînant hors de la Chambre des communes et en riant de leurs demandes d’action concrète;

introduit et adopté le projet de loi C-45 annulant les protections environnementales fédérales tout en muselant les scientifiques;

audité et menacé de manière systématique des organismes tentant de dénoncer les actions douteuses du gouvernement;

renié les droits ancestraux des peuples autochtones du pays. La Délégation jeunesse canadienne se tient debout avec les millions de jeunes à travers le monde qui refusent d’hériter d’une planète en crise. Nous nous tenons debout avec les Autochtones, les communautés au front des impacts climatiques, les personnes de couleur et les populations à revenu modique qui vivent quotidiennement les réalités et les injustices climatiques, et qui continueront de les vivre de manière disproportionnée si vous maintenez vos positions et restez dans l’inaction.

À l’échelle du pays, des Premières Nations, Inuit, Métis, travailleuses et travailleurs, parents, fermières et fermiers, pêcheurs et pêcheuses, syndiqué(e)s, étudiantes et étudiants ainsi que des milliers d’autres personnes demandent la justice pour le climat. Pourtant, le gouvernement canadien maintient ses positions d’industrialisation débridée, d’exploitation de nos ressources naturelles et d’accords d’échange peu fructueux, sans se soucier des impacts sur le territoire ou des droits des Autochtones. Nous rejetons la notion selon laquelle l’environnement et l’économie sont exclusifs ou en opposition. Nos forêts, nos rivières, les milieux humides, l’air, notre culture, nos communautés, nos vies et nos moyens de subsistance n’ont pas de prix. Ce ne sont pourtant pas le manque d’avancées technologiques, l’opinion publique ou le manque de ressources financières qui nous empêchent de contrer les changements climatiques : le manque de volonté politique est le vrai coupable. En plus de l’action concrète sur les changements climatiques, nous exigeons que le gouvernement du Canada respecte les traités et les droits des Autochtones.

Vous avez la chance de devenir des leaders pour un futur propre, mais vous échouez constamment à relever ce défi. Aujourd’hui, le délai pour fournir des excuses a expiré depuis fort longtemps, pourtant nous anticipons avec tristesse que vous continuerez de retarder les négociations à COP 20 et de promouvoir des projets d’extraction sur la scène nationale. Si c’est le cas, nous continuerons de défier le développement des sables bitumineux, soit le projet d’exploitation le plus destructeur au monde. Nous ne cesserons pas jusqu’à ce que vous reconnaissiez que notre futur vaut plus que l’argent dans vos poches, le pétrole sur vos mains ou le pouvoir que vous détenez. Nous exigeons des actions en ce sens. Pour nous, le futur est tout ce que nous possédons et nous ferons tout ce qui est en notre pouvoir pour le protéger. Que notre message résonne à travers les chambres d’assemblées et les sièges sociaux du pays: nous méritons mieux.


Burnaby Mountain: Frontlines Beating Pipelines

Weekend on Burnaby Mountain: Celebrate victories, resolve to continue opposition

by ForestEthics Advocacy

Hundreds of people are expected to arrive at Burnaby Mountain today and Sunday to celebrate a significant victory against Kinder Morgan, and to resolve to continue the years-long campaign to stop the pipeline.

After three months of presence by caretakers on Burnaby Mountain, hundreds of residents showing up every day for two weeks of protests against Kinder Morgan drilling activity, and 125 arrests, the pipeline company removed their equipment and stopped their survey work.

It is very clear that local residents, led by Indigenous communities, oppose this tar sands pipeline. Indigenous leaders, academics, faith groups, seniors, mothers and daughters, immigrants, environmentalists have all faced arrest and made it clear they are willing to do what it takes to stop the pipeline from being built.

Saturday and Sunday's events will be family friendly events. Saturday features a celebration 'Frontline Beats Pipelines,' highlighting Indigenous and people of colour who have been at the forefront of the opposition to Kinder Morgan and the presence on Burnaby Mountain.

Weekend activities include:

Saturday Nov 29

- 11:30 Mama's Don't Allow Pipeline

- 12:00 Tar Sands Teach In

- 1:00 Frontline beats Pipeline

- 2:00 GPS for Dummies (Kinder Morgan staff encourage to attend this workshop)

Sunday Nov 30
- 12:00 Picnics Not Pipelines – Mass Rally

–30 –


***For Immediate Release***

Saturday November 29th, 2014
Media contacts:

Karen Mahon
Maryam Adrangi
Mayari Maíz
Melina Laboucan-Massimo

For updates on the situation:

Honduran Military's Police State Tactics Linked to North American "Security Strategies"

The Future of Honduran Public Insecurity: Violations of the Military Police of Public Order

by Karen Spring - Aqui Abajo

The militarization of Honduran streets shows no signs of stopping. On November 11th, the Honduran press announced that one thousand additional Military Police – a new, elite, hybrid military-police force – would be trained and sent to the streets. Four days later, the National Defense and Security Council headed by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez asked the National Congress to take the necessary measures to approve the Military Police as a permanent security force under the Honduran Constitution.

The recent push to consolidate the Military Police contributed to a minor police scandal that erupted last week when the National Director of the Police, Ramon Sabillon refused to step down after being illegally fired from his position.

The scandal was partially caused by fears amongst the National Police and some sectors of Honduran society that the permanent and growing status of the Military Police will render the National Police force obsolete.

With more soldiers in the streets, Honduras is becoming more and more militarized by the day. To date, there have been limited results in generating security and safer streets for it’s citizens.

Creation of Military Police Linked to Canada and US Regional Security Strategies

The Honduran Congress approved a temporary decree that created the Military Police for Public Order (PMOP) on August 22, 2013. Beginning early October of the same year, the hybrid military-police force was sent to the streets under the command of the Honduran Armed Forces. Known as the special security unit of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, its biggest promoter, the Military Police are military soldiers with military training funded by a Security Tax or the Tasa de Seguridad. Approved in June 2011, the Honduran Security Tax is believed to have been created to fund the security initiatives proposed under the Central American Security Strategy (CASS) of the Central American Integration System (SICA). Interestingly, the Tasa de Seguridad was approved by the Honduran Congress in the same month that SICA countries adopted the Central American Security Strategy.

The Security Tax is used to fund Honduran security institutions and strategy of the Hernandez government, supported by the U.S. and Canada.

SICA-CASS is an umbrella, multilateral security initiative formed under the leadership of former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Two major North American security initiatives in Central America are aligned with CASS: the US Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) and the Canadian Initiative for Security in Central America (CISCA). Both Canada and the US are joined by other countries committed to SICA-CASS including Japan, Columbia, and Germany, as well as International Financial Institutions like the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Juan Orlando Hernandez argues that the Military Police will ensure citizen security and safer streets particularly as the National Police are undergoing a purging or depuración process. According to the President, Hondurans no longer trust the police, and the Military Police can stop the violence and insecurity rampant in what some now call Honduras, the “murder capital of the world”.

(Publicly Known) Abuses Committed by the Military Police Since Their Creation

The Military Police are anything but a solution to the corrupt National Police force. Since being sent to the streets in October of last year, Military Police have been involved in various human rights violations, some against members of the political opposition. The following is a short list of these publicly known abuses:

* Raided the house of union leader and LIBRE member Marco Antonio Rodriguez, October 10, 2013.

In a Special Operation and within one week of being on the street, the Military Police (MP) raided the house of the Vice President of the National Child Welfare Union (SITRAPANI), Marco Antonio Rodriguez. MP pointing weapons at Rodriguez and his family members and forcing them to lie face down on the street. When asked to see the search warrant, the MP responded, “What search warrant, here we can do what we want.”

* Raided the house of FNRP activist, Edwin Espinal, October 23, 2014.

In another Special Operation, the MP broke down the doors to Espinal’s house accusing him of possessing illegal weapons and drugs. The search warrant presented to Espinal read “Robelo [as Espinal is known in his community] belongs to the LIBRE party and is one of the leaders of that area.” Along with GPS coordinates of the location of his house, the warrant also noted that: “outside, [the house] has a LIBRE flag."

* Evicted former President Zelaya, LIBRE Congressional representatives, and supporters from Congress, May 13, 2014.

Protesting the silencing of political debate in Congress, the political opposition in Congress led by President Manual Zelaya, ousted in a military coup in June 2009, were violently evicted by the MP. The MP shot several cans of tear gas and beat protestors and some LIBRE Congressional representatives.

* Beat up, mistreated, and detained children’s rights defender, Jose Guadalupe Ruelas, Director of Casa Alianza, May 8, 2014.

Source: HonduPresa

Driving home from a human rights forum, Ruelas was beaten and detained by MP after being ordered to stop at an MP check-point in Tegucigalpa. After stopping, a police motorcycle collided with Ruelas’ vehicle. Ruelas was violently removed from his vehicle, struck on his head, back, and legs, and detained.

* Two Military Police were arrested in western Honduras for permitting the escape of two individuals taking contraband into Guatemala, July 2014.

Two Military Police were arrested by Honduran police on charges of violation of official duties and evasion after allowing two individuals driving a truck carrying contraband to escape and cross the border into Guatemala.

*Shot at a public bus in Tegucigalpa after it failed to stop at a Military Police check-point, October 1, 2014

Source: El Heraldo

After failing to stop at a checkpoint managed by the Military Police in Tegucigalpa, the MP fired at the back window of a public bus carrying fourteen passengers. Four people were injured – two with bullet wounds, and two from broken glass.

* Gang raped a female sweatshop worker in San Pedro Sula, November 2014

A woman reported that she was picked up by the Military Police while waiting for a bus after leaving work in the northern Honduran city, San Pedro Sula. She was forced to get into the back of the truck and taken to an isolated area where she was raped by eight MP.

Within one year of being present in the streets, the variety and quantity of abuses committed by the Military Police are concerning, particularly as their presence is likely to increase. The promotion of the Military Police by the Honduran President and the National Defense and Security Council, is undoubtedly causing major tension between the National Police and the MP on the streets of Honduras. One example is a recent public shoot out that occurred between the military and the police, the result of a dispute over the police not permitting the military vehicle to pass.

This tension has the potential to create serious security concerns for Honduran citizens on top of the already grave insecurity crisis in the country.

UN Ukraine Report Described as Obfuscatory and Lacking Balance

More obfuscation in latest UN report on the human rights situation in Ukraine

by Roger Annis - New Cold

The latest monthly report on Ukraine by the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) has earned some headlines because it reports that significant numbers of people are still being killed by the war in the east of the country, notwithstanding a ceasefire agreement on September 5 to which the Ukrainian government committed itself.

A monitor of the OSCE mission in Ukraine examines 
the aftermath of shelling in July 2014, photo by OSCE 

The 49-page UN report covers the period Sept. 17 to October 31 and is based on the work of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU). The report says nearly 1,000 people, an average of 13 per day, were killed between Sept. 6 and Oct. 31.

“Since the beginning of the hostilities in mid-April until 31 October, at least 4,042 people were killed and 9,350 were wounded in the conflict affected area of eastern Ukraine”.

The report also says that the HRMMU and World Health Organisation consider these numbers to be conservative estimates.

“Both believe that the casualties have been under reported, and that their actual numbers are considerably higher.”

Because of the UN authorship of these monthly reports (this latest report is the seventh), readers will assume they are getting a balanced and unbiased view of the situation in Ukraine. But this is far from the case. A careful reader can quickly discern the very deep bias contained within.

The OHCHR does not formally recognize the governing authorities in the peoples republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. It considers the two territories to be under the control of lawless “armed groups”. There is not a word of explanation as to why such “armed groups” arose in the first place. Indeed, the agency considers the war by the governing regime in Kyiv that began in April as the legitimate act of a government under attack. In a clever but evil public relations ploy, Kyiv calls its war launched last April an “Anti-Terrorist Operation”.

The latest report touches ever so briefly on the reported use of cluster munitions by the Kyiv government. This war crime was reported on Oct. 20 by The New York Times and Human Rights Watch. As with other reported war crimes (shellings of towns and cities, discoveries of mass graves in the territories occupied by Kyiv), the OHCHR dances delicately around the issue, avoiding ascribing responsibility. Thus, the report says:

Due to their wide radius and indiscriminate impact, their use [cluster weapons] in areas with a civilian presence would constitute a violation of international humanitarian law and may amount to a war crime. The Government has denied the use of cluster munitions. Reports on the use of cluster munitions, as well as those of indiscriminate shelling, need to be investigated promptly and thoroughly.

Speaking of “prompt investigations”, the UN report makes no direct reference and provides no information on the investigation of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last July 17 that killed 298 passengers and crew. Only recently have a few (only very few) mainstream media outlets reported that the four countries that make up the “international investigation team”—Holland, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine (not Malaysia!)–signed an agreement last August 8 whereby any of them can veto the release of any information gathered. Meanwhile, much of the debris from the crash is still scattered on the fields of eastern Ukraine because the Kyiv government has never agreed to cease its military operations long enough to allow investigators to conduct their work thoroughly. The stalling and the rigged nature of the investigation are prompting rising concern and criticism in Malaysia.

The UN report says,

“The overall number of IDPs [internally displaced people] increased from 275,489 as of 18 September to 436,444 on 29 October, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. Of these 417,410 people have come from the conflict affected areas… as well as 19,034 IDPs from Crimea.”

Despite the enormity of these numbers and the numerous reports of the dire conditions that many face, including as winter sets in, the report provides less than two pages of analysis. Its language and description contrast sharply with those of Michael Bociurkiw, spokesperson for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He told a public forum in Ottawa on Oct. 30, “We are getting very, very close to a humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine”.

Rather tellingly, the report devotes one sentence to the externally displaced persons affected by Kyiv’s war, that is, the massive number of people who have been forced to seek refuge in Russia. The report cites the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in listing 454,339 people who have taken refuge there. The numbers reported by Russian government agencies is more than twice that. The report says there are an estimated 3.1 million people living in the territories of the peoples republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Additionally in the report, we read:

“There have also been allegations by victims and their relatives, as well as civil society representatives of secret and illegal places of detention being operated by the armed groups, as well as some being maintained by some volunteer battalions outside of judicial oversight. The HRMMU continued to receive credible reports of persons deprived of their liberty being subjected to torture and ill-treatment while being illegally held or detained by either the armed groups or by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies and some volunteer battalions.


“There has been no significant progress in the investigations of crimes committed during the Maidan protests, except for limited progress in the investigation into mass killing of protesters by officers of the former Berkut police unit, with three former officers having been accused of killing 39 protesters on 20 February 2014.

The report also says that an investigation is ongoing into the mass murders committed in Odessa on May 2 when right-wing mobs attacked opponents of the pro-European Union government that came into power in Kyiv in February.

Other examples of the UN’s obfuscation are contained in the UN News Center report announcing the OHCHR report. It reads:

According to the report, violations of international human rights and humanitarian law “persist” as the situation in the conflict-affected area in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk becomes “increasingly entrenched, with the total breakdown of law and order and the emergence of parallel governance systems.” The result, continued the report, has been a simmering conflict which has left 957 people dead in defiance of a 5 September ceasefire.

The report summarizes the origin of the conflict in the following words:

In late February 2014, the situation in Ukraine transcended what was initially seen as an internal Ukrainian political crisis into violent clashes in parts of the country, later reaching full-scale conflict in the east. The situation has since continuously deteriorated, with serious consequences for the country’s unity, territorial integrity and stability, culminating in the recent 2 November separatist vote described by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a “breach of the constitution and national law.”

Thus does a war by a government against a portion of its national territory become transformed into a “conflict” between “armed groups”. We read further:

“The OHCHR document – the seventh produced by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine – covers the period between 17 September and 21 October 2014 during which serious human rights abuses by the armed groups were reported, including torture, arbitrary and incommunicado detention, summary executions, forced labour and sexual violence as well as the destruction and illegal seizure of property.

Which “armed groups”, and where? The heavy inference throughout the report is that the “armed groups” of the pro-autonomy forces of eastern Ukraine are the primary culprits. Indeed, the report happily explains, that, “a number of positive measures have been adopted by the Government in Kiev amid the pressures of the crisis. Laws on IDPs, on corruption, and on reform of the Office of the Prosecutor have all passed the country’s legislature while Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently signed a decree tasking the Government to develop a national human rights strategy for Ukraine by 1 January 2015.”

Earlier this month, in the wake of Nov. 2 elections in the peoples republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, Poroshenko announced he would present to the new parliament a law to cancel the promise he made at the time of the signing of the Sept. 5 ceasefire to grant a vacuous status of ‘autonomy’ to the two rebellious regions. Voter turnout on Nov. 2 was reported to be very high, in contrast to the very low turnout for the national election on Oct. 26 in the areas of the two regions under the control of Kyiv.

Throughout the course of the war, the Poroshenko government and its police and judicial forces have enacted one draconian measure after another against civil and political freedoms, including authorizing police to shoot on sight anyone advocating “separatism” for eastern Ukraine. These receive scant mention in the UN report. The recognition and the recommended remedies of those rights abuses that are listed in the report amount to a slap on the wrist.

The report is published in the context of a mainstream media frenzy emanating from the corridors of power of the NATO countries in which Russia is blamed for all the ills in Ukraine. The liberal Observer (Guardian on Sunday) in the UK summed up the increasingly warlike and hawkish tone towards Russia in a Nov 16 editorial sub-titled, ‘World leaders must stand up to Putin to bring him to heel’. The newspaper proposes to bar Russia from international institutions, increase economic sanctions and step up military pressure and threats. “Increased financial pressure coupled with intensified diplomatic action and bolstered NATO support for European countries bordering Russia could convince Moscow that the costs of its antisocial behaviour are too high to bear.”

The ‘anti-social behaviour’ that so annoys the Observer/Guardian editors and the leaders of NATO is Russia’s refusal to police the pro-autonomy movement in eastern Ukraine to their liking. This is all the more hypocritical on their part considering that, as a recent article by Russian writer Boris Kagarlitsky makes clear, the Russian government can scarcely be accused of fomenting anti-austerity or socially progressive struggle in Ukraine.

Roger Annis is an editor of the new website The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond [please see below] where this article first appeared.

New website of Ukraine information and analysis is launched

November 26, 2014

Dear reader, following several months of preparatory work, a new website providing information and analysis of the war and political crisis in Ukraine is now online.

The website is titled The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond. You can read it, subscribe to it and like it on Facebook at this weblink.

The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond is a project of the international delegates who attended the antiwar, anti-fascist conference that took place in Yalta, Crimea on July 6 and 7, 2014. That conference adopted an antiwar declaration that serves as a guide to the information assembled and presented on the new website.

The website already contains a vast storehouse of information and analysis. The content is expanding daily. One feature designed to assist readers is ‘Editors’ picks’, a selection by our editors of the items posted to the website that are varied and that we consider particularly informative.

The information on the website is sorted by category for ease of access. There are 14 subject categories—from the obvious—‘Ukraine’, ‘Russia’, ‘News’, and’ Analysis’—to ‘Eastern Europe and Caucasus,’ and ‘Malaysian Airlines Crash’.

From the ‘About us’ section of the website:

We are open to reports from all sources, provided that they are relevant and contain verifiable factual claims, not unsupported opinion. To send reports, questions, or comments write to If you would like to contribute to our blog or become a regular author, please contact our editorial team.

Please inform your friends and associates of this new website. Please like us on Facebook. You can sign up to receive website postings by e-mail in a frequency of your choosing.

The editors,
The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond

Friday, November 28, 2014

Inside Intel on Global Energy Developments: Iraq/Kurdistan

Global Energy Advisory – 28th November 2014

by Inside Intelligence with Southern Pulse -

Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict


Islamic State (IS) fighters have failed to seize control of the Northern Iraqi giant oil field at Kirkuk, after a tense battle on Wednesday. The Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga forces, with help from coalition air strikes, pushed back the IS attack on Kirkuk, though there has been damage to oil facilities.

IS is still attempting to take control of the Kirkuk oilfields. Kirkuk is a highly strategic location, which lies in the disputed northern territories between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the central authorities in Baghdad. When IS originally launched its attack on Iraq, Kurdish forces took advantage of Baghdad’s weakened position to take control of the disputed territories; however, in August, IS refocused its offensive on the northern territories, partly pushing back Kurdish forces.

Thanks to air strikes, Kurdish forces have regained a fair amount of control over these disputed territories, but IS clearly is eyeing oil-rich Kirkuk, at the heart of the area.

In the meantime, the Kurds continue to make headway in their designs for economic independence through oil exports and their battle to this end with Baghdad. Last week, we noted positive movement in a deal between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve the Kurdish export question.

There has been further development over the past week. The KRG has now received most of the promised oil payment from Baghdad in this temporary oil deal. An installment of $500 million was released by Baghdad earlier this week and has arrived in the KRG.

At the same time, Iraq’s state oil marketer, SOMO, will sell its first oil cargoes from the Turkish port of Ceyhan since March. This cargo should go out in November and is a direct result of the temporary Erbil-Baghdad deal. Italy’s Eni will load some 600,000 barrels in this deal.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA) is warning that the conflict in Iraq could threaten future oil production and drive up prices.

The IEA notes that Middle East supplies were expected to meet the bulk of increased global demand over the next 25 years; however, Iraq was expected to contribute about half of the region’s oil growth, which it cannot do without $15 billion in investment per year and as long as IS is terrorizing the region.

Deals, Mergers & Acquisitions

• Following news earlier this month of a merger of US oil services giants Halliburton and Baker Hughes, France’s Technip SA made a preliminary takeover offer of $1.83 billion in cash for smaller French oil services company CGG SA, but the offer was rejected. Technip had said it would break up CGG and sell its underground data-collection unit, which accounted for some 60% of the company’s revenue in 2013.

• Italy’s Eni has sealed a $6-billion deal with the government of Ghana to launch oil and gas exploration at the Offshore Cape Three Points block in the country’s western region. Eni will also deploy a third floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel to help boost production. Parliament still has to approve the deal, but if it goes through production on the block should begin in mid-2017. Eni is a major player in Ghana, where it has been in business since 2009, operating two additional offshore exploration blocks, OCTP and Keta.

• Malaysian SapuraKencana Petroleum (SKP) plans to acquire state oil firm Petroliam Nasional’s entire interest in three blocks offshore southern Vietnam for $400 million. SKP, via its wholly-owned unit SapuraKencana Energy Sabah Inc, will operate the blocks with participating interest of 70%, while Sabah’s O&G investment vehicle M3nergy Bhd will own up to 25% of the equity and Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd the remaining 5% stake.

• Genel Energy Plc, the largest producer in Iraqi Kurdistan, predicts a flurry of mergers that will reduce the number of producers in the area by three-quarters within in five years.

• Oil and gas firm San Leon Energy is extending its licenses to explore for shale gas in northern Poland, while other majors have pulled out due to challenging geology and a strict regulatory environment. San Leon’s results from three vertical wells near the Baltic Sea coast have largely been behind the decision to extend exploration licenses. It expects to complete its license renewals next year. Poland will see a new law take effect on 1 January 2015, simplifying license procedures. Another bill that will ease exploration taxes is also expected to be implemented mid-next year. Poland remains the leader in shale gas exploration in Europe, hosting 12 exploratory firms, nine of them foreign, operating 59 concession areas. An additional 40 companies are waiting for their license applications to be processed.

Discovery & Development

• Repsol has begun exploring for oil in the waters off the Canary Islands, amid a high level of opposition from environmentalists and the local government. Exploration is being conducted some 50 kilometers from the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, off the west coast of Africa. Repsol plans to invest $438 million in exploration here, estimating its chances of striking oil at around 17-19%. Environmental concerns are centered around possible harm to dolphins and other flora and fauna, which could impact the tourism industry.

• Israel’s Leviathan gas reservoir (621 billion cubic meters, 130 kilometers west of Haifa) will likely begin flowing by the beginning of 2018. US-based Noble Energy owns a 39.66% stake in the basin, along with Israeli partners Delek Drilling (22.67%) and Avner Oil Exploration (22.67%). Ratio Oil Exploration has a 15% stake. The partners plan to develop Leviathan in two phases, and the first gas will feed the domestic market through an FPSO. First-stage production capacity is expected to be around 18 billion cubic meters per year.

• Russian Lukoil plans to spend $14 billion in 2015, down from $16 billion this year, to improve its cash position amid a 30% drop in oil prices. This will mean less drilling in mature fields in Serbia, reduced exploration outside of Russia and downsized infrastructure projects.

• Ecopetrol and Canadian Talisman Energy have announced a discovery at the La Esperanza well in the eastern Colombian state of Meta, with initial tests showing an average production of 910 barrels of crude oil a day. Earlier this month, the two companies received permission to drill two more wells in the area.

• China’s CNOOC Ltd has announced a mid-sized oil discovery in the Lufeng 14-4 structure in the eastern section of the South China Sea. The Lufeng 14-4-1 well was drilled to a depth of 13,445 feet and encountered oil pay zones with a total thickness of 492 feet. Testing was around 1,320 boe/d. This is in the Pearl River Mouth basin.

Regulatory Updates

• We are unlikely to see a vote on Nigeria’s new Petroleum Industry Bill before general elections in February 2015. The bill is already five years in the making due to vast disagreements. It is a massive undertaking that would ostensibly overhaul the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and reform oil taxes and licenses.

• The parliament of emerging gas giant Tanzania will hold a debate on allegations of corruption in the energy sector, though the country’s prime minister has tried to block the session. Parliament has received a report on an investigation into allegations of corruption made by opposition MPs who claim that government officials fraudulently authorized payment of more than $120 million in public funds.

• An advisory body to Oman's government (the Shura Council) has suggested sweeping spending cuts and tax rises, including a levy on liquefied natural gas exports, to deal with declining state revenues as a result of slumping oil prices. Even if oil prices average $80 next year, Oman will likely see a deficit of $7.9 billion. The Shura Council suggests reforms that would expand non-oil tax revenues, including an expansion of tax categories, a review of tax rates, the addition of new tax sources and improvements to the efficiency of tax collection. The council is also recommending an increase in royalties paid for mineral exploitation to the maximum percentage (10% of sales revenues) stipulated in Oman's Mining Law. The council has also suggested a "fair tax" on LNG exports.

Warning! US Control of Gulf of Mexico Could Be Complete

Russian commander warns US could control whole Gulf of Mexico

by The Saker

How is that for a ridiculous headline? You like it?

Well, it is just a little variation of a BBC headline today:

Nato commander warns Russia could control whole Black Sea

Here is an except from this article:

Russia's top military commander, Gen Valerii Gerasimov, has warned that US "militarisation" of the annexed Florida Peninsula could be used to exert control over the whole Gulf of Mexico.
Well, the real excerpt was just slightly different:
Nato's top military commander, Gen Philip Breedlove, has warned that Russian "militarisation" of the annexed Crimea Peninsula could be used to exert control over the whole Black Sea. 
So is there a difference? Of course not. Except one: American exceptionalism, of course. 
Come to think of it, there is another difference: the US and NATO just tried to take control of Crimea via the Maidan color revolution whereas Russia did not try to take control of Florida. That, of course, also begs the following question: if the US and NATO suspect that Russia might use the Crimea Peninsula to control the whole of the Black Sea, then would it be most unreasonable to ask what exactly the US and NATO were hoping to achieve had they succeeded in taking over Crimea?

This is, of course, absolutely ridiculous and yet another example of the mind-blowing hypocrisy western corporate media. It goes like this: US in Gulf of Mexico - good. US in Black Sea - also good. Russia in Black Sea - bad. Russia in Gulf of Mexico - unthinkable.

And the worst here is not the imperial hubris and arrogance of the USA, it is the willing subservience of the Europeans to Uncle Sam. They all know it, but they pretend not to notice.

Still, does Gen Breedlove have a point? Oh yes, he sure does. 
Crimea will, indeed, give Russia total control of the Black Sea and even beyond. Russia will station at the very least one missile cruiser, several ultra-modern diesel attack submarines (ideal for brown and green water operations), supersonic medium range bombers armed with cruise missiles, coastal artillery and cruise missile batteries, fast attack craft, anti-submarine rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, etc. 
You can think of Crimea as a unsinkable mega-carrier. Kind of like Florida.

Defending Naziism at Home and Abroad: Canada's Bizarre Policy Entanglement

Canada’s bizarre foreign/domestic policies entanglement

by Jim Miles - Palestine Chronicle

Canada’s parliament is currently embroiled in a rather weird partisan sex scandal that makes all parties look like moral disasters (listen to Harper quote “Canadian values” now). While that has attracted all the attention of the media, a small news item emerged from RT News that managed to attract some small attention from the Canadian Press.

In a short item noted by the National Post, Canada’s representative at the Third Committee (1) of the UN General Assembly voted “No” for a policy statement with the voting title “Combatting glorification of Nazism, neo-nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

According to the Post, “Canada objected because the resolution has a “narrow focus” and it draws on the controversial declarations of the 2009 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, which Canada regards as anti-Semitic.” Well, no not really, as the focus of the statement is rather broad, and the declarations of the 2009 Durban Conference are not anti-Semitic and cover much territory.

The Post article continues with the Canadian spokesperson saying the resolution “regrettably includes references which are counterproductive to this goal, including by seeking to limit freedom of expression, assembly and opinion.” If the reader cares to read the resolution, it most certainly does not “limit freedom of expression, assembly and opinion.” Or is Canada becoming proud of its new fascistic warrior outlook in foreign policy?

The main irony from this article was the vote count. 115 states voted for the resolution, 3 opposed it, and 55 abstained. Given Canada’s unqualified support of Israeli actions against Palestinians, the full irony is that Israel voted “yes” while Canada voted “no” along with the Ukraine and the U.S. (2) It raises the question as to what is really going on with Canadian foreign/domestic policy - or are the Harper Conservatives just being their typical neoconservative knee-jerk uncritical unanalytical selves? It is difficult to tell.

The current resolution refers to many previous UN resolutions and documents, the Nuremberg trials, and states in part:

Alarmed, in this regard, at the spread in many parts of the world of various extremist political parties, movements and groups, including neo-Nazis and skinhead groups, as well as similar extremist ideological movements….

Reaffirms the relevant provisions of the Durban Declaration and of the outcome document of the Durban Review Conference, in which States condemned. the persistence and resurgence of neo-Nazism, neo-Fascism and violent nationalist ideologies based on racial and national prejudice and stated that those phenomena could never be justified in any instance or in any circumstances;

Expresses deep concern about the glorification, in any form, of the Nazi movement, neo-Nazism and former members of the Waffen SS organization, including by erecting monuments and memorials and holding public demonstrations in the name of the glorification of the Nazi past, the Nazi movement and neo-Nazism, as well as by declaring or attempting to declare such members and those who fought against the anti-Hitler coalition and collaborated with the Nazi movement participants in national liberation movements;

So Canada is voting “no” to protect its neo-Nazi self? Or to protect the neo-Nazis in the Ukraine? To pretend it thinks independently of Israel? To indicate it is still a willing follower of the U.S.? All of the above?

Because this vote refers to the Durban conference frequently, it might be best to look there.

Indigenous rights are mentioned frequently throughout the Durban statement. This presents a triple entendre for Canada. Its own record on indigenous rights is terrible. Its support of Israel denies the indigenous rights of the Palestinians. Its anti-Russian rhetoric denies the indigenous rights of the former Russian states of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Another interesting aspect of the Durban document are its statements about globalization. The negative effects could include “poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, social exclusion, cultural homogenization and economic disparities which may occur along racial lines.” Canada’s recent acquisition to ‘free’ trade agreements with China and the EU are anything but free, except for the corporations to rule within their own set of ‘laws’ while ignoring domestic laws - including the indigenous rights of Canada’s First Nations. I find it interesting how all these become entangled with one another.

As for Israel, the Durban document states, “We recall that the Holocaust must never be forgotten….” as well as a single statement on Palestine under the “Indigenous people” section:

We are concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation. We recognize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State and we recognize the right to security for all States in the region, including Israel, and call upon all States to support the peace process and bring it to an early conclusion;

The document also includes statements about race, religion, women’s and children’s rights, xenophobia, discrimination, education and other elements of a just and fair society, hardly a “narrow focus.”

So what is Canada up to? 

Probably no good. Not denying fascism - in contradiction of its usual unqualified support of Israel; protesting against the recognition of the negative effects of globalization, in particular because of the “indigenous” components and its ramifications domestically and for Israel; attempting another poke in the eye for Putin (Russia voted “yes” for the document) while trying to be the tough guy on the block for the Ukrainian neo-Nazis.

Canada is trying to juggle multiple conflicting and entangled ideas. This document never made it to mainstream media - the Post only referenced it because RT News had picked it up and as the neo-cons main media support, was angling for anti-Putin comments on the blog. That would indicate the willingness of Canada’s mainstream media to avoid critical thinking and analysis of Canada’s entangled and bizarre foreign/domestic policies on multiple issues.

As usual for the ‘new’ Canada, command and control affects the news.

Now as I was saying about sex between MPs….


(1) The General Assembly allocates to the Third Committee, agenda items relating to a range of social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues that affect people all over the world.
(2) The 55 abstentions were mostly EU/NATO countries, an interesting avoidance of concerns about their own rising right wing movements and their relationships with Russia vis a vis the Ukraine.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Forgive Me Not: Rudeness and Polite Company

Rudeness in Polite Company

by Ray Grigg - Shades of Green

Illusions of all kinds are incompatible with the relentless search for the just-so-ness that Zen calls satori or enlightenment. So an environmental book written by a recognized Zen teacher should be a disquieting and illuminating confrontation with ourselves, an experience that is starkly honest, uncomfortable and liberating. This is the effect of reading Susan Murphy's book, Minding the Earth, Mending the World: Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis. Indeed, so many insights explode from its first few pages that ranking their importance seems like an exercise in futility. But a useful place to begin is in the Prologue with an interconnecting quotation and paragraph.

The quotation is from the American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), a single line that in itself should initiate an illuminating flash of awareness. “Life is so astonishing,” she writes, “it leaves very little time for anything else.” Try recovering from this statement before venturing into Murphy's following paragraph — one that deserves to be quoted in its entirety.

“Wonder,” writes Murphy in reference to Dickinson's quote, “is perfectly aware that we are all caught in a ridiculous posture right now. The posture of living 'normally' as we destabilize climate, trash seas and earth and atmosphere and decimate species, while chanting a mantra of perpetual growth and unrestrained human population increase and watching all these accelerate in runaway chain reaction. It is ridiculous to mention it, since no one can personally hope to change its course, and no one much wants to even to hear about it. Our position as a species is now so untenable that it verges on rudeness to mention it in polite company.”

The ideas in this paragraph explode with a naked clarity that scatter the wreckage of our pretences across a traumatized planet. We now know too much about the relationship between our behaviour and the degradation of Earth's environment to attempt to hide evasive explanations under the transparent excuses. This is precisely the kind of confrontations that Zen fosters. From Zen's perspective, the issue isn't the disclosure of uncomfortable insights but the journey to profound honesty. We can only expand our awareness to the reality of things by perceiving beyond our illusions. Is this who we are as a species? Is this how we treat the astounding reality of life that fills and surrounds us with wonder and amazement? Is our behaviour now so rude, so destructive and so untenable that we are even an embarrassment to ourselves?

Embarrassment is a promising beginning. Unless we subject every facet of ourselves to the test of penetrating honesty — unless we learn to detach ourselves from our own sense of self-importance — we will not find our proper place in the great design of things. Honesty always comes coupled with humility. This means a brutal examination of our values, intentions, assumptions and identity, “Think twice before thinking,” is an old Zen aphorism. Filling can only occur after emptying. Until we are willing to discard every rationalization for our sense of self-importance, Murphy suggests, we cannot experience the freshness of a new awakening. A deflated sense of ourselves is a good place to begin.

“Were we ever not at least partly ridiculous,” Murphy asks, “we smallish, frightened, mortal, highly conscious mammals, with our opposable thumbs and opposable minds? And have we not always been at the mercy of forces — natural and human — that appear to lie far beyond the scale of any personal action in response? Wonder just uses that as an energizing and even humorous prompt to wake up a little more imagination and awareness.”

The awakening of imagination and the expansion of awareness in a proper human being seems to be endless process. And wonder, of course, comes with a belittling effect. It reveals awe. And hiding behind awe is a subtle admission of being ignorant, “smallish”, vulnerable, and poised on the edge of fear.

Admitting to our weaknesses, failings and fears is the only way to overcome them. We can't deepen and strengthen ourselves without journeying “fearward” into the dark corners of the secrets, lies and vulnerabilities that want to remain hidden. Awareness is both miraculous and terrifying, requiring both an open trust and a resolute bravery.

So, “Minding the Earth” — to return to the title of Susan Murphy's book — is really about minding ourselves. “Mending the World” is really about mending ourselves. We can neither mind nor mend the planet if we can't mind and mend ourselves. This is the theme that keeps emerging in Zen. As it asks in its traditional teachings, “If you do not get it from yourself, where will you go for it?” The condition of the world depends the condition in ourselves. We can only change the world if we can change ourselves.

This may explain why conversations about the environment are not appropriate in “polite company”. Our collective conduct as a species has been both amazing and deplorable. In the process of becoming the planet's consciousness and conscience — as we proudly like to believe — we have also become its most invasive and disruptive species, a dominant animal that bends everything possible to its own purposes.

Now our incredible ingenuity seems to be turning against itself. Our successes are becoming the source of our failures. And our planet's unfolding ecological crisis has become a stark reflection of ourselves. Any uneasiness about the condition of our outer world now reveals our inner character. Anything anxiety about our deteriorating environment becomes an affront to ourselves, an admission of our own intemperance, covetousness, selfishness, smallness, inadequacy, insecurity and fear.

No wonder then, to repeat Susan Murphy's incisive assessment, “our position as a species is now so untenable that it verges on rudeness to mention it in polite company.”

Pathology to the Max

The Pathology of Max Blumenthal

by Gilad Atzmon

The Jewish activist Max Blumenthal wrote an expansive book on Israeli racism, but he failed completely and categorically to grasp the culture that drives Jewish supremacy within the Jewish State, Jewish politics and beyond. Interestingly enough, Blumenthal has a lot to say about ‘German pathology,’ German people, the colour of German people’s skin and their ‘sickening society’. If anyone still had hope that there was something positive that Progressive Jews could add to the discourse, Blumenthal’s latest interview will end that idea. He exhibits the ultimate form of Jewish racism, goy hatred: in fact, far more insidious than hard-core right wing Zionism.

In an interview with Anna-Esther Younes published by the Jewish pro Palestinian site Mondweiss, Max Blumenthal said, “Based on what I knew about Germany and its national pathology and its failure to really take the right lessons from its own history. I was hardly surprised by the reaction that I received…”

“Are you calling us pathological?” wonders Younes.

“Yes, this is a sick society that hasn’t addressed the core political and psychological and social trends that lead to the Holocaust.”

Apparently, the ‘progressive’ Blumenthal has no inhibitions about diagnosing Germany’s ‘sick society’ and its ‘pathology.’ But he doesn’t stop there. Like a proper Zionist Jew, Blumenthal also divides the world into two primary categories, Jews and Gentiles: “when I was so promiscuously described as an anti-Semite, including by gentile politicians like Volker Beck, and that this behavior was considered perfectly normal in German society, I have to admit to some level of shock.”

Apparently Blumenthal, a Jew, is allowed to attribute the anti-Semitic label to others, but the Goy politician Beck is not permitted to participate in the game. And why? Because Beck’s penis wasn’t chopped by a rabbi. “In Germany” complains Blumenthal, “I apparently am not as Jewish as Volker Beck, a man who has never had a Bris or a Bar Mitzvah.” For those who do not know, Bris, stands for Brit-Milah-the Jewish circumcision ceremony, an ancient blood ritual that involves (occasionally) blood sucking.

If anyone believed Blumenthal that he was an anti Zionist, he has a surprise for you. Just a little opposition in Germany made Blumenthal unsure about his commitment to the ‘anti’ club. “My Jewish identity can be negated, simply because I’ve defined it outside the frontiers of Israeli nationalism and to some extent, against Zionism.”

There you go. Blumenthal, by his own admission is not so sure anymore that he is an anti Zionist, he is only to a “certain extent.” Blumenthal is correct. The shameless performance put on by David Sheen and Max Blumenthal as they chased a leading German politician into the toilet provides proof that both Sheen and Blumenthal are actually far more abhorrent, aggressive and intrusive than the most repugnant Israeli or Zionist. Sheen and Blumenthal’s behavior puts anti-Semitism in context. It is hard to imagine a worse display of manners.

As if being Germans is not bad enough, in the eyes of Blumenthal, the Germans are also guilty of being ‘White.” To the question “does that make Germany a Jewish friendly country?” Blumenthal answers, “Germany is the whitest country in the world. It’s so white that it doesn’t know that it’s white or what whiteness is.” This is actually the most inclusive notion of Whiteness I have ever come across. It implies that in Germany, whiteness has no binary meaning. However, I suggest that Blumenthal looks in the mirror.

Younes, probably overwhelmed by Blumenthal’s unique convoluted brand of anti intellectual aggression, asked Blumenthal to elaborate on the meaning of ‘Whiteness.’ Blumenthal replied, “whiteness is the supreme embodiment of privilege. Whiteness is expressed through the wielding of power against calls for equality and the simultaneous denial of the very existence of the privilege to do so — a willful lack of self-awareness.”

Reading these lines by Blumenthal I am perplexed by the total lack of self-awareness on Blumenthal’s part. What did Blumenthal think to himself when he and Sheen were filming and chasing the German MP to the toilet while loudly celebrating their own privilege of being Jews? Did they think that a Palestinian might do the same thing? Would Ramzy Baroud or Azmi Bishara even consider behaving in such a rude way? Not in million years. And the reason Blumenthal and Sheen feel entitled to act so badly is simple. The two are operating with an impunity that is driven by a unique sense of choseness, i.e., Jewish privilege.

For a second it may seem as if Blumenthal is critical of the primacy of Jewish suffering “The completely mono-cultural narrative on what it means to be a German holds that the Holocaust towers above all other crimes, that those who perished in it were the ultimate victims of history, and that the Jewish nation that rose up in its wake must therefore float above the weight of history.”

What is going on? I am slightly confused. Blumenthal is a devoted Nazi hunter and an open enemy of historical revisionism. A few years ago, Blumenthal produced a Zionist Text Book video that attempted to discredit historical revisionist David Irving. This video is worth watching. “Inadvertently or not, Germany is instrumentalizing the Holocaust and Zionism to compromise the citizenship rights of Muslim and Arab immigrants, to silence their narratives, and to complicate their naturalization process.” But Blumenthal here is actually talking about himself; it is he who has been instrumentalizing the Holocaust to serve the goal of his own (Jewish progressive) narrative.

It takes a few paragraphs before Blumenthal squirts the full Jewish progressive mantra. “They (the Germans) simply can not accept that Jews are normal people capable of being oppressors like everyone else; of practicing apartheid or developing a class of extremists who behave almost identically to Christian neo-Nazis.” Precious.

This is probably the best summary of Jewish progressive nonsense. Jews are like everyone else, they are ordinary people and don’t you ever dare question their choseness. Don’t you ask what is unique about their lobby, don’t you ever look into the role of their elite and its domination in culture or banking etc.’ But then, if Jews are just so ordinary, how did they manage to mount the political pressure on the German political system that drove Blumenthal and David Sheen out of Germany? Instead of answering this simple and crucial question, the Progressive Jew Blumenthal prefers to smear the entire German people as a ‘pathological,’ ‘sickening society,’ driven by whiteness. This tactic is appalling yet symptomatic of Progressive Jewish ID politics.

If you think that you have enough evidence of the depth of Blumenthal’s racially driven thinking, read this. When asked about support in Germany, “I’ve met quite a few white Germans who are supportive of the idea of Palestinians having basic human rights and are actually willing to do something about it…Genuinely left-wing anti-racists tend to be supportive of Palestinian rights.” But I wonder, is Blumenthal anti racist? For an anti racist enthusiast his language is suffused with racial expressions and biological determinist ideas. Blumenthal refers to skin colour. He talks about the pathology of nations and peoples but at the same time he defies any attempt to criticise the ideology of his own ‘chosen’people.

Max Blumenthal is not anti racist; he is instead an exemplary specimen of a supremacist Jew. I believe that Blumenthal would do himself and his people a great favour by avoiding cameras and microphones, because reading the comments on Mondoweiss reveals that Blumenthal is not alone - the Jewish progressive crowd of Mondoweiss also cannot grasp how racist, aggressive and supremacist Blumenthal’s views are.