Friday, June 19, 2015

Tabgha Shrine Torched: Hate Crime Suspected in Church Arson Attack

Jewish Extremists Torch Revered Christian Site in Northern Israel 

by The Palestine Chronicle

A suspected arson attack damaged a revered Christian shrine in northern Israel overnight, police said Thursday, as a church adviser pointed the finger at Jewish extremists.

The Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is where many Christians believe Jesus fed the 5,000 in the miracle of the five loaves and two fish.

“During the night a fire broke out at the Tabgha church,” a police statement said, indicating that police and fire service investigators were examining the scene.

“Graffiti in Hebrew was found on the wall of the church.”

A member of the Roman Catholic Benedictine order, which manages the site, said one of the buildings within the compound was completely destroyed in the blaze but the church itself was not damaged.

Policed, or Police State? Tale of a Trip to Canada and Back

Returning Home to the US is to Enter a Police State: What were you doing on your vacation?

by Dave Lindorff - This Can't Be Happening

A few weeks ago, I got a vivid comparative look at how far this country has moved towards becoming a police state. The occasion was a brief visit to Montreal, where my wife was to give a harpsichord recital at an early keyboard music conference.

US border crossing south of Montreal, heading into New York State. 
"Where have you been while in Canada, and what were you doing there?

At the Canadian border crossing, just above Lake Champlain, the Canadian official politely asked us our purpose in coming to Canada. Informed it was to perform harpsichord music at a music conference, he actually asked my wife what composers she was playing! (It was Gaspard le Roux) I tried imagining even being asked such a question by an American border official and simply couldn’t. The Canadian officer also asked us if were were bringing anything in with us. Told that we had a keyboard, he asked if we planned to sell it -- a fair question for a customs official. Then, assured we’d be bringing it back home with us, he waved us through with a smile.

On our way back into the US, we found ourselves being questioned by a grim-faced, beefy, cop-like guy, complete with sidearm, about where we’d been and what we’d done in Canada. Now this is getting draconian. We are both US citizens traveling back home from a visit to a country that is about as close an ally to the US as a country can be. There is no reason why an immigration official, having looked at our passports, should be asking us about our activities while in Canada. Hell, I could have said I was attending a conference on promoting world socialist revolution, or a global meeting of some white supremacist organization. It wouldn’t matter. He’d still have to grant us entry. I have every right to attend such political meetings in the US with impunity if I want to, and I have the same right as a US citizen to attend them abroad too.

The stupid thing, of course, about such questions, is that if I actually were doing something illegal -- say passing stolen state secrets so a spy connection in Canada, or meeting with some terrorist organization to plot a bombing in the US -- I certainly wouldn’t offer that information to a border patrol officer.

So why would we be asked by a border patrol official to report what we had been doing in Canada?

The only reason I can come up with is intimidation. We were being shown that our behavior as US citizens is being monitored, and that if we do things that the government finds bothersome, we will be questioned and monitored further. It wouldn’t surprise me that if I had actually attended a conference on promoting world revolution during my trip and had lied about it by saying all I’d done was attend a music conference with my wife, I could be accused of committing the felony of lying to a federal border official. It is, after all, a felony to lie to an FBI agent -- something that itself is incredibly draconian when you stop and think about it.

There were other differences too, of course (besides the much better roads up north, and the government-funded health care), between Canada and the US. Central Montreal is undergoing a lot of renovation at the moment, and given that it has a grid of one-way streets, with many of them temporarily closed at various points it can be difficult to maneuver one’s vehicle to a destination, or in our case, to find our way out of town to the highway back to the US border. But trying to locate a Montreal cop we could ask for directions was a challenge. While driving around for half an hour looking in vain for the way out of town, I didn’t see a police patrol car once. And no cops were to be seen patrolling on foot either.

Compare that to any US city. On my latest trip to New York, which has 50,000 cops for a city of 8 million people, I saw cops everywhere I looked (often in pairs!): in Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal you can see the next cop from whatever cop you’re standing nearest to, and often armed National Guard troops too. Up on the street, police cars and cops on foot are ubiquitous. So are video cameras. The same is true here in Philadelphia, where there are so many police driving around it’s hard to drive five blocks without seeing one.

Philadelphia, a city with a population of 1.5 million, employs over 6600 police officers. Montreal, a city of 1.8 million, in contrast, has only 4000 cops, and that’s not counting senior officers. To match Philly in cop density, Montreal would have to hire 3920 more cops, about doubling the size of its department. New York has 8 million people and 50,000 cops. To match its cop/resident ratio of 1/160, Montreal would need to almost triple the size of its police force.

America is awash in police. Even in my neighborhood, a suburb of Philadelphia called Upper Dublin -- a peaceful place with very little crime and almost no violent crime, with a population of 26,000 -- there are over 40 police officers. That’s one officer for every 650 people! These cops spend most of their time sitting around near intersections nabbing people for rolling stops and minor speeding violations, or dealing with accidents.

There’s also been a police hiring frenzy going on. It’s not just more police getting hired, but more to “serve” the same population. For example, in 1992, there were 332 cops per 100,000 residents. By 2008, that had risen to be 373 cops per 100,000 -- a total of 772,000 full-time, sworn uniformed cops with a license to kill and an increase police density relative to population of over 12%.

Friends in Canada tell me their own country is becoming more draconian of late under the conservative government of Stephen Harper. We certainly saw that on display in Toronto in 2010 as militarized city and national police brutally confronted protesters at the G-20 economic summit event held there. But there’s no question that things are much more advanced towards a police state here in the US.

Certainly if you have to tell a border agent what you were doing abroad before you can be waved back through into your own home country, things are going in a very bad way here.

Immigrant Detainee's Death In-Custody Prompts Solidarity Hunger Strikes, Demonstration

Hunger-striking friends of man who died in immigration custody speak out

by End Immigration Detention Network

June 19, 2015

Toronto - One week after the death of a 39 year old, Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan at the hands of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), immigrants imprisoned without trial or charges along with their families, and friends are refusing food today inside and outside of the Central East Correctional prison.

Detainees in Toronto East Detention Centre will be joining them. The one-day fast is to commemorate the death of their close friend, and to demand an end to immigration detention.

Detainees and End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN), Canada’s leading immigration detention watch group are also calling for a Coroner’s Inquest into Hassan’s death as well as the implementation of recommendations from Lucia Vega Jimenez’s death, a 90 day limit on immigration detention, an end to maximum security imprisonment and overhaul of the judicial process.

Detainees and EIDN are also calling on the SIU to speak to detainees who have not yet been interviewed, and for the Ontario government to take responsibility for its role in these deaths.

“When we woke up [on June 12th] they told us Hassan died from a stroke. A newspaper said he was being restrained and died. We're wondering who's next. Am I next? Are my fellow friends my brothers here next who's next ? We're on immigration hold, you don't know what's gonna happen so you have the fear of losing your life, being assaulted or being forced to get on a plane. There's a lot of concerns that we have” said T.R., one of the hunger fast participants, a 27 year old father who has lived in Canada for 12 years, and has been in detention for 5 months.

On June 11, 2015, Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan, jailed in Ontario’s maximum security Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) in Lindsay, died in a Peterborough hospital after being “restrained” by officers according to Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU). Few details have been released surrounding the events that led to the detainee’s death. This is the 12th such recorded death in immigration custody since 2000. No recommendations from inquiries or inquests into any of those deaths have ever been implemented.

Twain, another detainee on hunger strike adds,

“If anybody had criminal records they already paid their dues, but here they treat us so bad. It's messed up how things happened. He was sick already and had altercations with guards before. He was walking good before, like straight. After the first altercation his back was bent he wasn't walking straight anymore. After that he had another stroke. Last time he got beat up by guards in solitary and, rushed to hospital.This is what the guards told me. The situation in the hole is messed up. Only get a shower every other day. You sit there the guard walks by have to wait 30 minutes to an hour to wish for a guard to walk by in case something happens to you.”
“Immigration detention is getting way out of hand. they are locking us up and forgetting about us. I have seen 4 people held in detention with me pass away while in CBSA custody, there is no end to detention and I am worried the next one will be me” adds 50 year old Francis Davidson. 

Davidson has been in Canada 27 years and has been held in detention for the past 4 years. He continued, “I want immigration detention to end now. People have families. I have family and friends who care about me. My daughter asked if I can see her for her graduation and I don’t know, I can’t answer that and that affects my mind, my mental health. I need to get these stories out and I need to get more stories out.”

Another detainee, 59 years old, a resident of Canada for 10 years and who has been in detention since December, 2014 added “I want to draw attention to the hopelessness felt by people who are detained and who are at the mercy of the government who lie and twist everything. CBSA counsel twists things around, they have explicitly lied at 3 of my hearings. It contributes to hopelessness because we are fighting things we cannot win.”

Syed Hussan, EIDN organizer says,

"Hassan’s death is a tragedy of epic proportions that's happened as a result of immigration and border laws which cannot be allowed to continue a single day longer, people can't just keep dying. It's time for everyone to work together to end the heartbreaking and destructive regime that is the immigration detention system in this country"

Media Release
June 19, 2015

All quotes were compiled by EIDN organizers over the free telephone line EIDN operates for detainees. Some names have been changed at the detainee's request.

Media Contacts:
Syed Hussan, Organizer, No One Is Illegal - Toronto / End Immigration Detention Network
Caileigh McKnight, Organizer, End Immigration Detention Network Peterborough 

Amnesty International Reports: US Police Rules of Engagement Don't Meet Int'l Human Rights Standards

Amnesty International: US police laws violate human rights standards

by Andre Damon - WSWS

19 June 2015

Laws governing the use of force by police in every state in the US, as well as the federal government, do not comply with international human rights agreements, Amnesty International said Thursday.

The human rights group’s report, entitled “Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force In The United States” is a devastating indictment of a government that uses the defense of human rights as a pretense for invading, bombing and destabilizing countries throughout the world.

Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement that international law dictates that “Police have a fundamental obligation to protect human life,” and that “deadly force must be reserved as a method of absolute last resort.”

“The fact that absolutely no state laws conform to this standard is deeply disturbing and raises serious human rights concerns,” he added.

Hawkins said in a separate interview with the Guardian that “while law enforcement in the United States is given the authority to use lethal force, there is no equal obligation to respect and preserve human life. It’s shocking that while we give law enforcement this extraordinary power, so many states either have no regulation on their books or nothing that complies with international standards.”

The Amnesty International report found, “No state limits the use of lethal force to only those situations where there is an imminent threat to life or serious injury to the officer or to others.”

Nine states and Washington, DC do not have any state laws governing the use of force by police whatsoever. It also found that thirteen states have laws on their books related to police use of force that are out of keeping with federal law as defined by the Supreme Court, rendering them in effect unconstitutional. But even federal rules for the use of force fall below international standards, the report said.

Extremely permissive state laws governing the use of force likely contribute to the extremely low rates at which police are convicted for murder and manslaughter. Despite as many as ten thousand or more deaths at the hands of police over the past decade, only 58 officers have been charged for any of these cases, and only 13 have been convicted of a crime.

Not a single police officer has been convicted for the high-profile police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York; Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio and countless others.

The UN Human Rights Committee has declared that “The deprivation of life by the authorities of the State is a matter of the utmost gravity” and that states must “take measures to prevent arbitrary killing by their own security forces.” The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials declares, “In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”

In contrast to international law, the report wrote, “None of the laws establish the requirement that lethal force may only be used as a last resort with non-violent means and less harmful means to be tried first. The vast majority of laws do not require officers to give a warning of their intent to use firearms.”

In addition, nine states allow the use of deadly force to suppress a riot or “mutiny.” Twenty-two allow officers to kill someone who is attempting to escape from jail or prison. Only eight states require that warning be given (when feasible) before lethal force is used; “however no state meets the requirement for a warning under international standards.”

The report adds that none of the states’ use-of-force laws “include accountability mechanisms, including for example the requirement of obligatory reporting for the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officers.”

The Amnesty International report notes the parallel between the failure of states to mandate that officers seek to preserve life in deciding whether to use deadly force and the routine practice by police of shooting their victims far more times than necessary to incapacitate them.

The report notes, “Michael Brown, for instance, was shot six times, and Kajieme Powell [who was killed the same month in St. Louis] was shot nine times. The firing of so many shots in an urban environment would often be reckless and puts bystanders at risk, and indicates an intentional lethal use of a firearm which under international law and standards may only ever be employed when strictly unavoidable to protect life.”

In addition to shootings, police regularly take lives by beating and tasing their victims to death. The report noted, “For example, at least 540 people in the United States died after being shocked with Tasers from 2001 through 2012.”

Despite repeated calls by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations for more federal oversight of police killings, the Obama administration has staunchly refused to implement a national database of police killings or federal requirements that police report deaths at their hands.

As a result, the only reliable lists of police deaths are those compiled by third parties, such as, the Washington Post and the Guardian. According to, officers killed 1,100 people last year, and are on track to kill just as many this year.

Even the extremely limited state laws that are on the books are routinely disregarded through internal and judicial review processes that are deliberately manipulated by police and prosecutors to protect killer cops.

The report states, “The officer’s own police agency usually conducts the investigation” following a police killing. It notes that prosecutors usually have close ties to the police, undermining their pretenses to impartiality. This has led to the highly manipulated grand jury proceedings that produced the exoneration of Darren Wilson, who killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Daniel Pantaleo, the killer of Eric Garner in Staten Island.

This week the New York Times gave a glimpse of the extent to which the US “justice system” is rigged in favor of the police. It noted that during the secret grand jury proceeding that exonerated Pantaleo, prosecutors coached witnesses to toe the police line, instructing them not to say that the victim was choked.

“A prosecutor also interjected when she told jurors how Mr. Garner was taken to the ground. ‘I said they put him in a chokehold,’ one witness recalled saying. ‘Well you can’t say they put him in a chokehold,’ she said a prosecutor responded.”

The ongoing wave of police killings, and the legal impunity given to killer cops, stands as a devastating indictment of American capitalism.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dipatches:Kevin Neish from Aboard the Marianne av Goteborg, Enroute to Gaza

Ship to Gaza is in Palermo, Sicily, Gaza Soon

by Kevin Neish

Hello Friends,

Well the Ship to Gaza, the Marianne av Goteborg, is now in Palermo Sicily in Italy. We had a beautiful crossing from Motril Spain, our last port. Unfortunately I was not able to find time to send any report from Motril, as I was very busy repairing the air conditioning on the ship, which had been officially declared beyond repair by the Spanish repairmen. Luckily I’m good at resurrecting the dead, so we now have air conditioning, which is crucial, as it is extremely hot and humid. 
This old fishing boat form the North Sea was never designed to sail in such hot weather, and neither was I, Canadian polar bears like me do not like a 50 degree engine room temperatures. 

Once again, as we are officially a “pleasure craft” we are 
moored in a very expensive marina surrounded by zillion dollar yachts, 
which as you can see, try to keep a safe distance from us!!

Many activists in Spain made references to the Internationale Brigades from Spain’s 1936 fight against Franco fascists in comparing them to us going to Palestine. As it happens I helped organize the placement of a memorial stone to two Canadian brothers from Cumberland, Gordon and Archie Keenen, who went to Spain in '36 with the Mackenzie Papineau battalion, where Gordon died at the battle of the Ebro River. 
The stone will be unveiled on June 18th during the Ginger Goodwin Miner’s Memorial event in the Cumberland cemetery. Unfortunately even though I purchased the stone and helped organise the event, I won’t be able to attend, as I was called away to sail on this ship to Gaza. I’d like to think that Gordon and Archie would understand. 
If you have the time please take in this wonderful weekend of progressive labour events in Cumberland. 

Here is a rather poor photo of what the stone looks like, 
but it is the words that are important.

On our way from Lisbon to Motril we passed a huge fortified point of land which was the site of the last battle of the Republican Spanish fighters against Franco’s fascist forces. The democratic Republican fighters would not surrender despite being vastly overpowered by Franco’s forces supported by Nazi Germany and fascist Italian fighters and weapons. So they were actually driven into the sea. 

Here’s a photo of myself with the last stronghold of 
1939 republican Spain in the background. 

One can only imagine what heroic battles took place on this cliff in 1939. And now today Spain is about to elect a progressive left wing government, so that is evidence that all evil eventually is defeated, as it will with the Zionists in Israel-Palestine. 
So we are on to Gaza in a day or so, with one more stop in Sicily and then on to Gaza Palestine.

Bye for now from Palermo.

Behind Asia-Pacific's Growing Tensions

Who's Behind Asia-Pacific's Growing Tensions?

by Tony Cartalucci - NEO

Increasing tension in the Asia-Pacific between China and nations surrounding its territory, appears to be an unstoppable and inevitable lead-up to regional conflict and perhaps even global war.

In reality, for those who have studied history, this is a familiar rerun. Change the characters and place current events in the context of the early 1900’s and we see the lead up to World War II and more specifically, the events that set the stage for the fighting in the Pacific.

Some may believe this is a rerun of when Japan was the sole aggressor in the region, expanding beyond its means before finally meeting its match. Predicated on this misconception, these same people would believe that China has now traded places with Imperial Japan, and is expanding recklessly at the expense of regional and global peace and stability.

However, this is indeed a misconception.

World War II: Setting the Record Straight

To make this clear, we must consider the words of a contemporary of the period before World War II and the words of warning he offered regarding the true nature of tensions at that time. He was United State Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, two-time recipient of the Medal of Honor, and a man who fought America’s wars on multiple continents throughout his entire adult life and part of his childhood – he lied about his age to enlist in the Marine Corps early.

In his seminal writing “War is a Racket,” he speaks specifically of tensions in the Asia-Pacific at the time and offered advice on how to avoid what would be a catastrophic war (emphasis added):

At each session of Congress the question of further naval appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair admirals of Washington (and there are always a lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists. And they are smart. They don’t shout that “We need a lot of battleships to war on this nation or that nation.” Oh no. First of all, they let it be known that America is menaced by a great naval power. Almost any day, these admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and annihilate 125,000,000 people. Just like that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy. For what? To fight the enemy? Oh my, no. Oh, no. For defense purposes only.

Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers in the Pacific. For defense. Uh, huh.

The Pacific is a great big ocean. We have a tremendous coastline on the Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The maneuvers will be two thousand, yes, perhaps even thirty-five hundred miles, off the coast.

The Japanese, a proud people, of course will be pleased beyond expression to see the United States fleet so close to Nippon’s shores. Even as pleased as would be the residents of California were they to dimly discern through the morning mist, the Japanese fleet playing at war games off Los Angeles.

The ships of our navy, it can be seen, should be specifically limited, by law, to within 200 miles of our coastline. Had that been the law in 1898 the Maine would never have gone to Havana Harbor. She never would have been blown up. There would have been no war with Spain with its attendant loss of life. Two hundred miles is ample, in the opinion of experts, for defense purposes. Our nation cannot start an offensive war if its ships can’t go further than 200 miles from the coastline. Planes might be permitted to go as far as 500 miles from the coast for purposes of reconnaissance. And the army should never leave the territorial limits of our nation.

General Butler alludes to the fact that America’s posture in Asia-Pacific would inevitably provoke war. To answer why precisely the United States was conducting naval maneuvers off Japan’s shores before the outbreak of World War II, one must consider America’s openly imperialist “Manifest Destiny” which saw the seizure and occupation of islands across the Pacific, up to and including the Philippines which still to this day suffers the effects of constant US military, political, and economic meddling – but at the time the island nation was literally occupied as a conquered territory by the US.

The Pacific theater of World War II was then, not a battle between good and evil nor between democracy and empire – it was a battle between two empires who sought to impose their will upon lands beyond their borders.

One could argue though, that Japan’s actions may have been driven more by a need to counterbalance long-standing Western hegemony in the Pacific, rather than a desire to conquer the planet. While certainly the Japanese sought empire, much of what precipitated World War II was an attempt by the Japanese to push out Western imperialism that surrounded Japan and openly sought to eventually impose its rule upon Japan itself.

China Today

We can see something similar today in Asia Pacific. The stated goal of US foreign policy, particularly the “Pivot to Asia” is to reestablish American preeminence in the Pacific region, thousands of miles from American shores. There exists policy papers drafted from corporate-financier funded think tanks that openly call for the encirclement and isolation of China to thwart its rise as a regional economic and military power.

This is not because the United States fears Chinese troops storming the beaches of California, but because they fear China challenging and displacing American influence where it shouldn’t be in the first place.

The term “String of Pearls,” taken from the 2006 Strategic Studies Institute’s report “String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power across the Asian Littoral,” refers to a “string” of geopolitically important ports, pipelines, and other installations China is building stretching from the Middle East and North Arfica (MENA), past Pakistan, India, and Myanmar, and all the way back to China’s shores in the South China Sea.

The SSI report openly lays out plans to disrupt Chinese interests along this “string,” a strategy in 2006 that would tangibly manifest itself beginning with the US-engineered “Arab Spring” in 2011which saw extremists eventually pushed Chinese interests out of the MENA region, to various conflicts today regarding destabilization in Myanmar and Pakistan, as well as “island disputes” in the South China Sea.

In virtually every point along the “string” the SSI report covered, we now see concerted violence and political chaos whose source stems from US State Department-funded nongovernmental organizations and movements everywhere from the Middle East, to Baluchistan, Pakistan, to Myanmar, and of course to the governments of Japan and the Philippines, subservient to US interests since the end of the Second World War.

The SSI report would conclude by stating the following carefully coded wording:

The United States, through its diplomacy, economic policies, and military strategy has an unprecedented opportunity to shape and influence China’s future direction. Overcoming the potential challenges posed by the “String of Pearls” and the successful integration of China as a responsible stakeholder in the international system are necessary for the future prosperity and security of states in the region and across the globe.
Of course, by “international system,” SSI means that which Wall Street, Washington, London, and Brussels created, controls, and are the sole benefactors of. To ensure clarity on this point, an earlier paper written in 1997 by US policymaker Robert Kagan titled “What China Knows That We Don’t: The Case for a New Strategy of Containment,” on the same subject of “integrating China” into the existing “international order” states (emphasis added):

The present world order serves the needs of the United States and its allies, which constructed it. And it is poorly suited to the needs of a Chinese dictatorship trying to maintain power at home and increase its clout abroad. Chinese leaders chafe at the constraints on them and worry that they must change the rules of the international system before the international system changes them.

New Tensions Same as the Old Tensions

It’s very clear then that tensions in Asia Pacific, amid which the US attempts to pose as an indispensable mediator of, are in fact the intentional, premeditated consequences of long-standing, well-documented US foreign policy. It is clear that a rising China was not the cause of the last World War, nor will it be the cause of the next. The cause is rather the same tiresome special interests which have driven all of the World Wars – those centered in the West unable to accept regional influence and a multi-polar world, and those interests who will only settle for global hegemony.With the true perpetrators of rising tensions in the Pacific identified, and the consequences well-studied of when last these perpetrators stoked such tensions, those nations faced with the choice of playing proxies for Wall Street and Washington or readjusting and even profiting from the rise of China, have one last chance amid a closing window of opportunity to ensure history does not tragically repeat itself, yet again.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.
First appeared:

Bill C-51 Redax: Anonymous Claims Responsibility for Canadian Government Hack

Anonymous Claims Responsibility for Canadian Government Hack

by C. L. Cook -

The global Anonymous Collective claimed responsibility Wednesday, June 17th for a cyber attack targeting Canadian government websites and the country's senate.

A video purportedly released by the Anon collective said its actions were in response to the June 15th senate passing of the controversial Bill C-51, also known as the Anti-Terrorism Act.

A broad coalition of social justice, free speech, and media organizations harshly criticized the Act, saying it is a massive over-reach and will effect negatively the rights of Canadian citizens.

Similar legislation has been introduced in several western nations, prompting the Anons to call for a June 20th global demonstration against state intrusion into people's lives, and the undermining of  Magna Carta protections for the individual.

The Canadian senate passed Bill C-51 as Britain celebrated the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, or Great Charter of English Law.

Video released by "Anonymous"

Why Was BC's Agricultural Land Commission Chair Fired?

Shameful Firing of Bullock, Chair of BC's Agricultural Land Commission

by Farmland Protection Coalition

To Farmland Protection Coalition supporters,

It is spring, heading into a summer, the busiest season in farming, and yet again events affecting BC farmland are happening.

It is no coincidence that just before the Victoria Day long weekend, the BC Liberal government acted, making media coverage very slim of Richard Bullock, Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) being fired before his term was up without due cause.

CBC Radio did two very illuminating interviews with Richard Bullock since his termination:

The CBC Daybreak Kelowna interview, “’They screwed this organization badly,’ says former ALC chair Richard Bullock.”

The BC Almanac (Vancouver) interview, which brings out Richard Bullock’s view of the B.C. Cabinet’s removal of a vast area of Peace River ALR farmland for Site C dam as “a sin against humanity.”

Richard Bullock, in spite of a toxic political environment, was and continues to be, a powerful voice for protecting OUR farmlands throughout BC! Let's continue to thank him and show our continuing SUPPORT by signing the Thank You Richard Bullock card so you too can help his resolve to continue to speak out for the ALR as new threats arise. As you sign, be aware that Mr. Bullock is attentive to every name and location and comment included on the card.

Changes, in the form of the new regulations are coming soon, from Bill 24, the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act. Farmland defenders do not expect those changes to be positive. The new government regulations are expected to approve of nonfarming activities, even those in direct opposition to farming, will be allowed on ALR lands, especially those lands that are the majority of the ALR now contained in the new large more northerly Zone 2.

The timing of the removal of Richard Bullock as ALC Chair was probably intended to silence him on the upcoming new regulations. And the ALC was kept silent and unconsulted on the vast removal of ALR lands for the now approved Site C dam.

These actions, and many others, have shown just how directed the attacks are on the ALR and agriculture in BC.

STAY TUNED, we know that more changes are coming!

We will not be silent and we will fight, along side Richard Bullock, and other outspoken farmland defenders, to preserve OUR FARMLAND for NOW and for future generations!

FPC volunteers

Find us on Facebook

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Remembering Papas Fritas, Chile's Student "Zorro"

Exclusive: Chilean Robin Hood? Artist Known as "Papas Fritas" on Burning $500M Worth of Student Debt

by DemocracyNow!

You may know the adventures of Robin Hood and Zorro, outlaws fighting for the poor. Today we meet the newest member of that club, a Chilean activist who goes by the name Papas Fritas. Francisco Tapia, known as Francisco "Papas Fritas," or French fries, says he burned $500 million worth of debt papers from the private Universidad del Mar.

Chilean authorities are in the process of shutting down the university over financial irregularities. But that has not stopped the school from collecting on its student loans. During a recent student takeover of the school, Papas Fritas says he took the debt paper records, burned them and displayed the ashes inside a van as an art exhibition. "It is a concrete fact that the papers were burned. They are gone, burned completely, and there’s no debt," said Papas Fritas in his first U.S. broadcast interview. "Since these papers don’t exist anymore, there’s no way to charge the students."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A argumentação para não comer polvo

Luiz Antonio - A argumentação para não comer polvo

by Luiz

Gostaria que vocês vissem também essa maravilha que o artista Alfred Anthony, da California, compôs para

o Luiz Antonio.

Vejam também a bela música composta por David Turchick para o Luiz Antonio.

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, John Grant, Loretta Napoleoni, Janine Bandcroft June 17, 2015

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

How much do we citizens want to know? How much "truth" of the matter of just what underpins our comfortable lives can we "handle?" Jack Nicholson's infamous Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, in the film 'A Few Good Men,' lays out what has become in the real world a real doctrine for ilk Bill O'Reilly Scream TV adherents.

The colonel says, "You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall."

Listen. Hear.

It's the classic iteration of the "rough," but not necessarily good men George Orwell invoked when he reportedly said,

"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." But what happens when those rough men get too rough? 

And what happens when the violence they visit is visited not upon those others, but upon us?

John Grant is a Vietnam War veteran who covers the war and peace beat for This Can't Be, the five-time project Censored awarded web news site. His recent article, 'The Killer Elite, at Home and Abroad' is a necessary reflection on, and cautionary reminder of the fate of societies who lionize the rough men on the wall.

John Grant in the first half.

And; while we have our rough men, other nations have theirs; at least nationhood is what the Islamic State is aiming for - or as they would have it, The New Caliphate. Loretta Napoleoni is a best-selling author, columnist, and economist whose long-study of and expertise on terroirsm and its funding is sought by big media players like CNN, the BBC, and Sky News. Loretta's book titles include: 'Modern Jihad,' 'Terror Inc.,' 'Insurgent Iraq,' 'Terror Incorporated,' 'Rogue Economics,' 'Terror and the Economy,' 'Maonomics: Why Chinese Communists Are Better Capitalists Than We Are,' and her latest is the best selling 'Islamist Phoenix.'

Loretta Napoleoni and rising from the ashes of a shattered middle east in the second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us news of what's good to do, and otherwise, in and around our city's streets, (and beyond there too) in the coming week. But first, John Grant, tracking the Killer Elite.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: And now heard at Simon Fraser University's . He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:
G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Snowden's Curious Apple Endorsement

Snowden Does a Product Endorsement: Does Ed Snowden Really Trust Apple?

by William A. Blunden  - Dissident Voice

June 16th, 2015

In the wake of Congress passing the USA Freedom Act Ed Snowden composed an editorial piece that appeared in the New York Times. There are aspects of this article that may surprise those who’ve followed events since Snowden first went public two years back.

For example, Ed referred to the bill as a “historic victory” though there are skeptics in the peanut gallery like your author who would call it theater. That is, an attempt to codify otherwise expired measures which have been of little use according to their stated purpose.

The USA Freedom Act provides the opportunity for elected officials in Washington to do a victory lap and boast that they’ve implemented restructuring while former American spies, with a knowing wink, understand that what’s actually been instituted is “hardly major change.”

Moving onward through his laudatory communiqué, Ed warns that hi tech companies “are being pressured by governments around the world to work against their customers rather than for them.” He opted not to say who was being leaned on.

But wait, he did mention a name. It’s just that, in this specific case, it was in the context of a product placement for one of the world’s largest technical companies. Here’s the excerpt:

Basic technical safeguards such as encryption — once considered esoteric and unnecessary — are now enabled by default in the products of pioneering companies like Apple, ensuring that even if your phone is stolen, your private life remains private.

Let’s consider for a moment the underlying assumptions inherent to this narrative. The messaging scheme at work is one which allows business leaders to channel public outrage by depicting corporations as unwilling partners who’ve every intention of protecting the privacy of their users instead of knowingly cavort with spies.

CEOs like Tim Cook have gone so far as to publicly scold their industry for monetizing user data. Specifically, in a speech delivered at an event hosted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center Cook stated:

They’re [tech companies] gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.

Hold it right there.

Keep in mind that Apple is a colossal multinational company. It has no qualms about collecting information on users, using slave labor to save a buck, stockpiling profits overseas to avoid paying taxes, giving companies like Google unencumbered access to its user base, participating in a wage-fixing cartel, or cooperating with the NSA when executives (who chatted up spymasters on a first-name basis) thought that they could get away with it.

Can a profit-driven monolith like Apple be trusted to do the right thing when it’s just as easy to secretly continue doing otherwise? If we’ve learned anything from the Snowden revelations it’s that intelligence services exist primarily to pursue the interests of private capital. Why not have their cake and eat it too? Assuage the public with encryption marketing pitches and then bury their collusion even deeper. Issues like “trust” in the corridors of the C-suites are usually viewed as a mere public relations issue.

Apple wouldn’t lie to us again, right?

Bill Blunden is an independent investigator whose current areas of inquiry include information security, anti-forensics, and institutional analysis. He is the author of several books, including The Rootkit Arsenal and Behold a Pale Farce: Cyberwar, Threat Inflation, and the Malware-Industrial Complex. He is the lead investigator at Below Gotham Labs. Read other articles by William A..

Declaring War in Alaska: US Navy Attacks!

Bombing the Arctic: US Navy War Games in Gulf of Alaska Threaten One of World’s Most Pristine Areas

by Democracy Now!

The U.S. Navy is set to begin a major war exercise in the Gulf of Alaska amid protests from local communities concerned about environmental damage. The Navy is reportedly unleashing thousands of sailors, soldiers, airmen, marines and Coast Guard members along with several Navy destroyers, hundreds of aircrafts, untold weaponry and a submarine for the naval exercises.

The Gulf of Alaska is one of the most pristine places left on Earth; the region includes critical habitat for all five wild Alaskan salmon species and 377 other species of marine life. The Navy’s planned live bombing runs will entail the detonation of tens of thousands of pounds of toxic munitions, as well as the use of active sonar in fisheries. The Navy has conducted war games in the Gulf of Alaska, on and off, for the last 30 years, but these new exercises are the largest by far. They come at a time when scientists are increasingly worried about climate change causing Arctic melting. Meanwhile, the unprecedented melting has created an opportunity for the military to expand its operations into previously inaccessible terrain.

We are joined by Dahr Jamail, staff reporter at Truthout, whose latest piece is "Destroying What Remains: How the US Navy Plans to War Game the Arctic."

Forget Moral Deficit, Israel Racing Toward Economic Bankruptcy

Israel’s race to economic (and moral) bankruptcy

by Jonathan Cook

Two recent reports suggest that Israel could face catastrophic consequences if it fails to end the mistreatment of Palestinians under its rule, whether in the occupied territories or in Israel itself.

The Rand Corporation’s research shows that Israel could lose $250 billion over the next decade if it fails to make peace with the Palestinians and violence escalates. Ending the occupation, on the other hand, could bring a dividend of more than $120 billion to the nation’s coffers.

Meanwhile, the Israeli finance ministry predicts an even more dismal future unless Israel reinvents itself. It is likely to be bankrupt within a few decades, the finance ministry report says, because of the rapid growth of two groups who are not productive.

By 2059, half the population will be either ultra-Orthodox Jews, who prefer prayer to work, or members of Israel’s Palestinian minority, most of whom are failed by their separate education system and then excluded from much of the economy.

Both reports should be generating a tidal wave of concern in Israel but have caused barely a ripple. The status quo – of occupation and endemic racism – still seems preferable to most Israelis.

The explanation requires a much deeper analysis than either the Rand Corporation or Israel’s finance ministry appears capable of.

The finance ministry report points out that with a growing population not properly prepared for a modern, global economy, the tax burden is falling increasingly heavily on a shrinking middle class.

The fear is that this will rapidly create a vicious cycle. Wealthier Israelis tend to have second passports. Overwhelmed by the need to make up the revenue shortfall, they will leave, plunging Israel into irreversible debt.

Despite this doomsday scenario, Israel seems far from ready to undertake the urgent restructuring needed to salvage its economy. Zionism, Israel’s official ideology, is predicated on core principles of ethnic separation, Judaisation of territory and Hebrew labour. It has always depended on the marginalisation at best, exclusion at worst, of non-Jews.

Any effort to dismantle the scaffolding of a Jewish state would create a political crisis. Reforms may happen, but they are likely to take place too slowly and incrementally to make much difference.

The Rand report also raises the alarm. It notes that both peoples would benefit from peace, though the incentive is stronger for Palestinians. Integration into the Middle East would see average wages rise by only 5 per cent for Israelis, compared to 36 per cent for Palestinians.

But, while its economists may have found it easy to quantify the benefits of ending the occupation, it is much harder to assess the costs in shekels and dollars.

Over the past six decades, an economic elite has emerged in Israel whose prestige, power and wealth depends on the occupation. Career military officers earn large salaries and retire in their early forties on generous pensions. Nowadays many of these officers live in the settlements.

The army top brass are the ultimate pressure group and will not release their grip on the occupied territories without a fight, one they are well placed to win.

Backing them will be those in the hi-tech sector who have become the engine of the Israeli economy. Many are former soldiers who realised the occupied territories were the ideal laboratory for developing and testing military hardware and software.

Israel’s excellence in weaponry, surveillance systems, containment strategies, biometric data collection, crowd control, and psychological warfare are all marketable. Israeli know-how has become indispensible to the global appetite for “homeland security”.

That expertise was on show this month at a Tel Aviv armaments expo that attracted thousands of security officials from around the world, drawn by the selling point that the systems on offer were “combat proven”.

To end the occupation would be to sacrifice all this and revert to the status of a tiny anonymous state with no resources or notable exports.

And finally the settlers are among the most ideologically committed and entitled sector of Israel’s population. Were they moved out, they would bring their group cohesion and profound resentments back into Israel.

No Israeli leader wants to unleash a civil war that could rip apart the already-fragile sense of unity among the Jewish population.

The reality is that most Israelis’ perception of their national interests, both as a Jewish state and as military superpower, are intimately tied to a permanent occupation and the exclusion of Israel’s Palestinian minority from true citizenship.

If there is a conclusion to be drawn from these two reports it may be a pessimistic one.

Israel’s internal economy is likely to grow gradually weaker, as the ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian labour forces are under-utilised. As a result, the focus of Israel’s economic interests and activity is likely to shift even more towards the occupied territories.

Far from Israelis rethinking their oppressive policies towards the Palestinians, the ideological blinkers imposed by Zionism could push them to pursue the benefits of the occupation even more aggressively.

If the watching world really wants peace, economic wishful thinking will not suffice. It is past the time simply for carrots. Sticks are needed too.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Judge Cites Cause for Charges in Tamir Rice Police Killing

Judge Says Probable Cause for Charging Officers Who Killed 12-Year Old Tamir Rice


June 16, 2015 
Black Agenda Report's Glen Ford says the officers who killed Tamir Rice must be charged for his death or new political leadership is needed in Cleveland if #BlackLivesMatter. 
[T]he audience will remember he's the 12-year-old boy in Cleveland who was shot down by a cop while he was playing with a toy gun in a neighborhood park.

Glen Ford is a distinguished radio-show host and commentator. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted America's Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television. In 1987, Ford launched Rap It Up, the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations. Ford co-founded the Black Commentator in 2002 and in 2006 he launched the Black Agenda Report. Ford is also the author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion.

Ukraine As Chess Square in America's Renewed Nuclear Brinkmanship

Explaining the Ukraine Crisis

by David Swanson - Consortium News

 June 16, 2015

I’m not sure if there’s been a better written book published yet this year than Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard and How the West Was Checkmated, but I’m confident there’s not been a more important one.

With some 17,000 nuclear bombs in the world, the United States and Russia have about 16,000 of them.

The United States is aggressively flirting with World War III, the people of the United States have not the foggiest notion of how or why, and authors Natylie Baldwin and Kermit Heartsong explain it all quite clearly.

Go ahead and tell me there’s nothing you’re now spending your time on that’s less important than this.

This book puts all the relevant facts — those I knew and many I didn’t — together concisely and with perfect organization. It does it with an informed worldview. It leaves me nothing to complain about at all, which is almost unheard of in my book reviews. I find it refreshing to encounter writers so well-informed who also grasp the significance of their information.

Nearly half the book is used to set the context for recent events in Ukraine. It’s useful to understand the end of the cold war, the irrational hatred of Russia that pervades elite U.S. thinking, and the patterns of behavior that are replaying themselves now at higher volume. Stirring up fanatical fighters in Afghanistan and Chechnya and Georgia, and targeting Ukraine for similar use: this is a context CNN won’t provide. The partnership of the neocons (in arming and provoking violence in Libya) with the humanitarian warriors (in riding to the rescue for regime change): this is a precedent and a model that NPR won’t mention. The U.S. promise not to expand NATO, the U.S. expansion of NATO to 12 new countries right up to the border of Russia, the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and pursuit of “missile defense” — this is background that Fox News would never deem significant.

U.S. support for the rule of criminal oligarchs willing to sell off Russian resources, and Russian resistance to those schemes — such accounts are almost incomprehensible if you’ve consumed too much U.S. “news,” but are explained and documented well by Baldwin and Heartsong.

This book includes excellent background on the use and abuse of Gene Sharp (an American advocate of non-violent struggle) and the color revolutions instigated by the U.S. government. A silver lining may be found, I think, in the value of nonviolent action recognized by all involved — whether for good or ill. The same lesson can be found (for good this time) in the civilian resistance to Ukrainian troops in the spring of 2014, and the refusal of (some) troops to attack civilians.

The Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003, and Ukraine II in 2013-2014 are recounted well, including detailed chronology. It’s truly remarkable how much has been publicly reported that remains buried.

Western leaders met repeatedly in 2012 and 2013 to plot the fate of Ukraine. Neo-Nazis from Ukraine were sent to Poland to train for a coup. NGOs operating out of the U.S. Embassy in Kiev organized trainings for coup participants. On Nov. 24, 2013, three days after Ukraine refused an IMF deal, including refusing to sever ties to Russia, protesters in Kiev began to clash with police.

The protesters used violence, destroying buildings and monuments, and tossing Molotov cocktails, but President Obama warned the Ukrainian government not to respond with force. (Contrast that with the treatment of the Occupy movement, or the shooting on Capitol Hill of the woman who made an unacceptable U-turn in her car with her baby.)

U.S.-funded groups organized a Ukrainian opposition, funded a new TV channel, and promoted regime change. The U.S. State Department spent some $5 billion. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who handpicked the new leaders, openly brought cookies to protesters. When those protesters violently overthrew the government in February 2014, the United States immediately declared the coup government legitimate.

That new government banned major political parties, and attacked, tortured, and murdered their members. The new government included neo-Nazis and would soon include officials imported from the United States. The new government banned the Russian language — the first language of many Ukrainian citizens. Russian war memorials were destroyed. Russian-speaking populations were attacked and murdered.

Crimea, an autonomous region of Ukraine, had its own parliament, had been part of Russia from 1783 until 1954, had publicly voted for close ties to Russia in 1991, 1994, and 2008, and its parliament had voted to rejoin Russia in 2008. On March 16, 2014, 82 percent of Crimeans took part in a referendum, and 96 percent of them voted to rejoin Russia. This nonviolent, bloodless, democratic and legal action, in no violation of a Ukrainian constitution that had been shredded by a violent coup, was immediately denounced in the West as a Russian “invasion” of Crimea.

Novorossiyans, too, sought independence and were attacked by the new Ukrainian military the day after CIA Director John Brennan visited Kiev and ordered that crime. I know that the Fairfax County Police who have kept me and my friends away from John Brennan’s house in Virginia have had no clue what hell he was unleashing on helpless people thousands of miles away. But that ignorance is at least as disturbing as informed malice would be.

Civilians were attacked by jets and helicopters for months in the worst killing in Europe since World War II. Russian President Putin repeatedly pressed for peace, a ceasefire, negotiations. A ceasefire finally came on Sept. 5, 2014.

Remarkably, contrary to what we’ve all been told, Russia didn’t invade Ukraine any of the numerous times we were told that it had just done so. We’ve graduated from mythical weapons of mass destruction, through mythical threats to Libyan civilians, and false accusation of chemical weapons use in Syria, to false accusations of launching invasions that were never launched. The “evidence” of the invasion(s) was carefully left devoid of location or any verifiable detail, but has all been decidedly debunked anyway.

The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 20114, a passenger plane carrying 298 people, was blamed on Russia with no evidence. The U.S. has information on what happened but won’t release it. Russia released what it had, and the evidence, in agreement with eyewitnesses on the ground, and in agreement with an air-traffic controller at the time, is that the plane was shot down by one or more other planes. “Evidence” that Russia shot the plane down with a missile has been exposed as sloppy forgeries. The vapor trail that a missile would have left was reported by not a single witness.

Baldwin and Heartsong close with the case that U.S. actions have backfired, that in fact whether the people of the United States have any idea what is going on or not, the power brokers in Washington have Second Amendmented themselves in the foot. Sanctions against Russia have made Putin as popular at home as George W. Bush was after he’d managed to exist as president while planes were flown into the World Trade Center.

The same sanctions have strengthened Russia by turning it toward its own production and toward alliances with non-Western nations. Ukraine has suffered, and Europe suffers from a cut-off of Russian gas, while Russia makes deals with Turkey, Iran and China. Evicting a Russian base from Crimea seems more hopeless now than before this madness began.

Russia is leading the way as more nations abandon the U.S. dollar. Retaliatory sanctions from Russia are hurting the West. Far from isolated, Russia is working with the BRICS nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and other alliances. Far from impoverished, Russia is buying up gold while the U.S. sinks into debt and is increasingly viewed by the world as a rogue player, and resented by Europe for depriving Europe of Russian trade.

This story begins in the irrationality of collective trauma coming out of the holocaust of World War II and of blind hatred for Russia. It must end with the same irrationality. If U.S. desperation leads to war with Russia in Ukraine or elsewhere along the Russian border where NATO is engaging in various war games and exercises, there may be no more human stories ever told or heard.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook. [This story previously appeared at]

After the Boom: North Dakota's Crude Shale Oil Bonanza Bust Awakening

The Dark Side Of The Shale Bust

by Nick Cunningham - 

The fallout of the collapse in oil prices has a lot of side effects apart from the decline of rig counts and oil flows.

Oil production in North Dakota has exploded over the last five years, from negligible levels before 2010 to well over a million barrels per day, making North Dakota the second largest oil producing state in the country.

But the bust is leaving towns like Williston, North Dakota stretched extremely thin as it tries to deal with the aftermath. Williston is coping with $300 million in debt after having leveraged itself to buildup infrastructure to deal with the swelling of people and equipment heading for the oil patch. Roads, schools, housing, water-treatment plants and more all cost the city a lot of money, expected to be paid off with revenues from oil production that are suddenly not flowing into local and state coffers the way they once were.

Williams County Commissioner Dan Kalil says that a lot of unemployed people who flocked to North Dakota are left in the wake of the bust, something that the local government has to sort out.

"We attracted everyone who had failed in Sacramento, everyone who failed in Phoenix, everyone who failed in Las Vegas, everybody who had failed in Houston, everyone who failed in Florida," Kalil said in a June 3 interview with

"They all came here with unrealistic expectations. And it's really frustrating for those of us left to clean up the mess."

Output is still only slightly off its all-time high of 1.2 million barrels per day, which it hit in December 2014. But more declines are expected with drillers pulling their rigs and crews from the field. Rig counts in North Dakota have fallen to just 76, as of June 12, far below the 130 or so that state officials believe is needed to keep production flat.

But North Dakota was experiencing a lot of the negative side effects of an oil boom even before prices crashed. The massive increase in drilling brought a huge wave of cash and people to once sleepy towns, fueling a boom not only in oil, but also in violent crime, prostitution, and drug trafficking.

Now the state and the federal government are playing catch up with the crime wave.

A joint effort by the federal government and the state of North Dakota is seeking to crack down on crime in the Bakken. The U.S. Justice Department, in conjunction with North Dakota's Attorney General, announced the creation of a "strike force" on June 3 that would target organized crime in the oil producing state. The Justice Department stated that the strike force would be targeted at "identifying, targeting and dismantling organized crime in the Bakken, including human trafficking, drug and weapons trafficking, as well as white collar crimes."

The effort is a direct response to the rise in crime in North Dakota and Montana, which has been fueled by "dramatic influxes in the population as well as serious crimes, including the importation of pure methamphetamine from Mexico and multi-million dollar fraud and environmental crimes."

The Justice Department says that it has had success in Montana with Project Safe Bakken, a 2013 program under which federal and state authorities prosecuted hundreds of cases. The Strike Force in North Dakota is expected to yield similar results, the feds believe.

With the state's economy now almost entirely hitched to the fortunes of the oil industry, they are hoping for a rebound. With several smaller drilling companies having been forced out of the market, the discount that Bakken oil traded for relative to WTI has all but vanished, shrinking from several dollars per barrel down to just cents on the barrel. That could provide a floor beneath the price of Bakken crude, which, in the absence of a dramatic price rebound, is at least helpful for some companies.

The bust may not turn to boom again anytime soon, but with WTI now in the $60 territory, many are hoping the worst is over.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Rising Tide and 'Clean Pacific' Oil Spill Response Conference

Join Rising Tide on Wednesday where we'll be rallying outside the 'Clean Pacific' Oil Spill Response conference.

by Rising Tide Vancouver

Corporate greenwashers, Exxon, Kinder Morgan (Trans-Mountain Tarsands Pipeline) and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers are sponsoring the conference thinking they can convince us that “growth in crude transportation” is a good idea as long as a bit more money is spent to prepare for the inevitable spills.

Along with colonial government ‘hosts,’ they are ignoring indigenous leaders and impacted communities who are saying NO to pipelines and tankers in their territories.

When: Wednesday June 17 4:30 to 6:30 pm

Where: Canada Place – (999 Canada Pl. – Convention Centre East Building), Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories

Spread the word on Facebook:

Oil sands bitumen is extremely toxic, is destroying indigenous communities and their traditional lands, and is impossible to clean up – a large spill into the Fraser River or Salish Sea would be an unimaginable disaster. AND the most disastrous spill is the one that happens every day when oil is burned as intended – CO2 continues to spill into the atmosphere, worsening the climate crisis and acidifying the oceans causing irreparable damage to sensitive ecosystems that sustain us.

No amount of preparedness will be enough. Resources must be put into sustainable energy development and imagining alternatives to the oppressive capitalist system that continues to put the profits of oil companies before the lives of future generations.

We say keep it in the ground, where tar sands bitumen and fracked gas can’t spill into the water or the air!

Join us! Bring a sign!

Organized by Rising Tide Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories

A Stench of Hypocrisy: Cameron, Guantánamo, and the Magna Carta

800 Years of Magna Carta: The Stench of Hypocrisy Regarding Habeas Corpus for Shaker Aamer and Other Guantánamo Prisoners

by Andy Worthington

Sometimes the stench of hypocrisy is so overpowering that one wonders how those mired in it can avoid gagging while they deliver their outrageous lies.

That was the case today in Runnymede, west of London, where, 800 years ago today, the barons of England forced King John to sign Magna Carta (the Grand Charter), a document that arose out of their anger at being made to pay for the king’s foreign wars, and which, significantly, limited his power.

Its most famous clause — Clause 39 — introduced habeas corpus to the world — the right not to be imprisoned without a fair trial. It states, “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned … except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land,” and its lasting significance is generally considered with Clause 40 as well, which states, “To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay justice.”

In today’s Guardian, Owen Bowcott noted that clauses 39 and 40 “are jointly seen as embodying what have become the rights of habeas corpus — banning arbitrary detention — and trial by jury,” although, as he noted in response to the question, “Why do Americans revere Magna Carta far more than the English?”:

Magna Carta was resurrected by the 17th century chief justice, Sir Edward Coke, as an ancient source of rights and it was deployed in legal battles to resist excessive royal powers. Early colonists took Magna Carta and wrote their interpretation of its clauses into their founding charters.

“Coke, who was widely regarded as the most learned lawyer of his day, rescued Magna Carta from obscurity and transformed it from a somewhat technical catalogue of feudal regulations into the foundation document of the English constitution,” [Lord] Sumption [who is a British Supreme Court Justice and a medieval historian] said. “It is really Coke’s idea of Magna Carta that has been exported to the world, and not the version that King John or his barons would have recognised.”

Significantly, of course, the right not to be arbitrarily imprisoned only applied initially to a small and privileged part of the population, and it was not until the 17th century — as Lord Sumption noted — that the procedure for issuing a writ of habeas corpus was first codified, in the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, and further struggles were required before the right not to be arbitrarily imprisoned applied to everyone, whatever their sex or status.

It has, of course, occasionally been suspended, when the authorities have claimed that there is some sort of unprecedented emergency. In the Second World War, the US suspended habeas corpus for 110,000 Japanese Americans who were imprisoned in internment camps, only apologizing and offering compensation many years later.

More recently, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the US claimed that those seized in its “war on terror” could be held without rights — at Guantánamo and in other facilities, as well as in “black sites” run by the CIA — and although the prisoners were eventually granted habeas corpus rights by the Supreme Court, in Rasul v. Bush in June 2004, Congress then passed legislation designed to curtail this rights, in the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006, and it was not until June 2008, in Boumediene v Bush, that the Supreme Court ruled that Congress had acted unconstitutionally, and once more granted the men habeas corpus rights.

Although the Boumediene ruling led to 38 prisoners having their habeas corpus petitions granted by judges, in a series of rulings in 2010 and 2011, the appeals court judges — in the D.C. Circuit Court — vacated three of those rulings, reversed three others and, most importantly, changed the rules regarding the habeas petitions so that the lower court judges had to give a presumption of accuracy to whatever information the government came up with that purported to be evidence — however ridiculous it may have been.

As a result, no habeas corpus petitions have been granted since July 2010, effectively gutting habeas corpus of all meaning for the Guantánamo prisoners — and when the Supreme Court was repeatedly given the opportunity to challenge the Circuit Court’s rulings, they refused to do so.

And so, on the day that Magna Carta — and habeas corpus — was so lavishly celebrated at Runnymede, by the Queen, by David Cameron and by Loretta Lynch, the US Attorney General, who flew in for the occasion, the stench of hypocrisy primarily related to the 116 men still held at Guantánamo, and, on the British side, to Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison. In Shaker’s case, he has the support of numerous groups, individuals and organisations: MPs, who set up a Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group, tabled a Parliamentary motion that was supported by the government, and visited the US last month to call for his release, the Daily Mail, and campaign groups — We Stand With Shaker, which I established with Joanne MacInnes last November, and the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign.

These are men who are still so thoroughly deprived of their rights that there is no mechanism that can automatically lead to their release — no sentence to come to an end, because almost all the prisoners have never been charged or tried, and no end of hostilities, because they have never been held as prisoners of war according to the Geneva Conventions.

Only political will can secure their release, and with opposition from Republicans, and an unwillingness to spend political capital on President Obama’s part, 51 of the 116 men still held — including Shaker Aamer — continue to be held even though they were approved for release over five years ago by the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that the president established shortly after taking office in January 2009. Moreover, some of the men, like Shaker Aamer, were approved for release under President Bush years before — in 2007, in Shaker Aamer’s case.

So to hear David Cameron talk of the importance of Magna Carta on its anniversary, and to try to bask in its reflected glory, is hypocrisy of a particular stinking variety, not just because Shaker Aamer remains imprisoned in Guantánamo, but also because a number of foreign nationals have, in some cases, been held for over 13 years in the UK without charge or trial — sometimes in prison, sometimes under forms of house arrest — on the basis of secret evidence that cannot be tested, and without any figure of authority ever having spoken a single word to them, or asked them a single question. See some of my many articles here, here and here.

In addition, of course, under David Cameron, measures have been introduced to strip people of their citizenship, with no legal process whatsoever, if they are suspected of terrorism by the security services and by the home secretary, and the Tories’ latest wheeze is to scrap the Human Rights Act, a proposal of such idiocy that, for it to proceed, we would have to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, the Council of Europe and the EU, even though Tories were deeply involved in drafting the Convention after the Second World War.

In his speech, David Cameron had the nerve to say:

Eight hundred years ago, on this day, King John put his seal to a document that would change the world.

We talk about the ‘law of the land’ and this is the very land where that law – and the rights that flow from it – took root.

The limits of executive power, guaranteed access to justice, the belief that there should be something called the rule of law, that there shouldn’t be imprisonment without trial, Magna Carta introduced the idea that we should write these things down and live by them.

With legal aid and judicial review threatened or being shut down by Cameron’s government, and Shaker Aamer abandoned in Guantánamo, there wasn’t a line in the above that rang true, and later in his short and profoundly cynical speech the Prime Minister also spoke about the government’s current plans, pretending that his plans to destroy our rights are actually some sort of necessary reform.

“But here in Britain, ironically, the place where those ideas were first set out,” he said, “the good name of ‘human rights’ has sometimes become distorted and devalued. It falls to us in this generation to restore the reputation of those rights — and their critical underpinning of our legal system.”

In response, as the Guardian reported:

Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs Allan Hogarth said Cameron’s use of the anniversary of Magna Carta to justify scrapping the HRA would “have those 13th-century barons spinning in their highly-ornate, lead-lined coffins”, adding: “Any move to scrap the Act would be a real blow for human rights in this country and around the world.”

As the Guardian also noted, Liberty’s director Shami Chakrabarti “accused the prime minister of hypocrisy” following his speech. She said, “The Prime Minister could give a masterclass in bare-faced cheek, using Magna Carta day to denigrate our Human Rights Act. But we will take no lessons in rights and freedoms from a leader ‎who wants to dilute them to the detriment of everyone in the UK and wider watching world.”

Loretta Lynch was more low-key, but even so it was impossible for her to discuss Magna Carta without the spectre of Guantánamo hovering over her.

She noted that the fundamental principles of the Magna Carta have “given hopes to those who face oppression. They have given a voice to those yearning for the redress of wrongs” — and I’m sure those still held in Guantánamo, if they ever get to hear her words, will agree that they are “yearning for the redress of wrongs,” but that, despite the show in Runnymede today, they actually have no voice, and no expectation that fine words will lead to them being freed or receiving anything resembling justice.

On the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the 51 men approved for release in Guantánamo — including Shaker Aamer — and the other 65 men (except those facing trials), who are all still held deliberately without charge or trial, deserve better; in fact, deserve the freedom from arbitrary detention that was promised in Runnymede 80 years ago. Free them now!

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers). He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, the co-director of “We Stand With Shaker,” calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

A Greek Bearing No Gifts: Syriza's "Troika Solution"

Syriza: Plunder, Pillage and Prostration: (How the ‘Hard Left’ embraces the policies of the Hard Right)

by James Petras

Greece has been in the headlines of the world’s financial press for the past five months, as a newly elected leftist party, ‘Syriza’, which ostensibly opposes so-called ‘austerity measures’, faces off against the “Troika” (International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and European Central Bank).

Early on, the Syriza leadership, headed by Alexis Tsipras, adopted several strategic positions with fatal consequences - in terms of implementing their electoral promises to raise living standards, end vassalage to the ‘Troika’ and pursue an independent foreign policy.

We will proceed by outlining the initial systemic failures of Syriza and the subsequent concessions further eroding Greek living standards and deepening Greece’s role as an active collaborator of US and Israeli imperialism.

Winning Elections and Surrendering Power

The North American and European Left celebrated Syriza’s election victory as a break with neo-liberal austerity programs and the launch of a radical alternative, which would implement popular initiatives for basic social changes, including measures generating employment, restoring pensions, reversing privatizations, reordering government priorities and favoring payments to employees over foreign banks. The “evidence” for the radical reform agenda was contained in the ‘Thessaloniki Manifesto’ which Syriza promised to be the program guiding their newly elected officials.

However, prior to, and immediately after being elected, Syriza leaders adopted three basic decisions precluding any basic changes: Indeed, these decisions set it on a reactionary course.

  • First and foremost, Syriza accepted as legitimate the foreign debt of over $350 billion dollars, although most had been signed by previous government Kleptocrats, corrupt banks, business, real estate and financial interests. Virtually none of this debt was used to finance productive activity or vital services which would strengthen the economy and Greece’s future ability to payback the loans.

Hundreds of billions of Euros were stashed away in foreign bank accounts and foreign real estate or invested in overseas stocks and bonds. After affirming the ‘legitimacy’ of the illicit debt, Syriza followed up by declaring its ‘willingness’ to pay the debt. The ‘Troika’ immediately understood that the new Syriza government would be a willing hostage to further coercion, blackmail and debt payments.

  • Secondly, and related to the above, Syriza declared its determination to remain in the European Union and Eurozone and thus accepted the surrender of its sovereignty and ability to fashion an independent policy. It declared its willingness to submit to the dictates of the Troika. Once under the thumb of the Troika, Syriza’s only policy would be to ‘negotiate’, ‘renegotiate’ and make further concessions to the EU overseas banks in a totally one-sided process. Syriza’s rapid submission to the Troika was their second strategic, but not their last, betrayal of its electoral program.

Once Syriza demonstrated to the Troika, its willingness to betray its popular program, the Troika escalated its demands and hardened its intransigence. Brussels discounted Syriza’s leftist rhetoric and radical theatrical gestures as blowing smoke in the eyes of the Greek electorate. The EU bankers knew that when it came time to negotiate new loan agreements, the Syriza leadership would capitulate. Meanwhile, the Euro-American Left swallowed Syriza’s entire radical rhetoric without looking at its actual practice.

  • Thirdly, on taking office, Syriza negotiated a coalition with the far-right, pro-NATO, xenophobic, anti-immigrant Independent Greeks Party, guaranteeing that Greece would continue to support NATO’s military policies in the Middle East, the Ukraine and Israel’s brutal campaign against Palestine.

  • Fourthly, the bulk of Prime Minister Tsipras cabinet appointees had no experience of class struggle .Worse still, most were academics and former PASOK advisers without any capacity or willingness to break with the dictates of the Troika. Their academic ‘practice’ consisted largely of theoretical ‘combat’, ill-suited for real-world confrontation with aggressive imperial powers.

From a Scratch to Gangrene

By capitulating to the EU from the outset, including accepting to pay the illegitimate debt, hooking up with the Far Right and submitting to the dictates of the Troika, the stage was set for SYRIZA to betray all its promises and to worsen the economic burden for its supporters. The worst betrayals include: (1) not restoring pension payments; (2) not restoring the minimum wage; (3) not reversing privatizations; (4) not ending austerity programs; and (5) not increasing funds for education, health, housing and local development.

The Troika and its publicists in the financial press are demanding that Syriza cut the Greek pension system even further ,impoverishing over 1.5 million retired workers. Contrary to the media’s planted ‘examples’ of fat pensions enjoyed by less then 5% of pensioners, the Greeks have suffered the deepest pension reductions in Europe over the past century. In just the last past 4 years the Troika cut Greek pensions eight times. The vast majority of pensions have been slashed by nearly 50% since 2010.The average pension is 700 Euros a month but 45%of Greek pensioners receive less than 665 Euros a month - below the poverty line. Yet the Troika demands even greater reductions. These include an end of budget subsidies for pensioners living in extreme poverty, an increase in the retirement age to 67, an abolition of pension provisions tied to hazardous occupations and for working mothers. The earlier regressive measures, imposed by the Troika and implemented by the previous right-wing coalition regime, severely depleted the Greek pension fund.

In 2012, the Troika’s ‘debt restructuring’ program led to the loss of 25 billion Euros of reserves held by the Greek government in government bonds. Troika austerity policies ensured that the pension reserves would not be replenished. Contributions plummeted as unemployment soared to nearly 30% (Financial Times 6/5/15 p4). Despite the Troika’s frontal assault on the Greek pension system, Syriza’s “economic team” expressed its willingness to raise the retirement age, cut pensions by 5% and negotiate further betrayals of pensioners facing destitution. Syriza has not only failed to fulfill its campaign promise to reverse the previous regressive policies, but is engaged in its own ‘pragmatic’ sellouts with the Troika.

Worse still, Syriza has deepened and extended the policies of its reactionary predecessors. (1)Syriza promised to freeze privatizations: Now it vows to extend them by 3.2 billion Euros and privatize new public sectors. (2) Syriza has agreed to shift scarce public resources to the military, including an investment of $500 million Euros to upgrade the Greek Air Force. (3) Syriza plundered the national pension fund and municipal treasuries of over a billion Euros to meet debt payments to the Troika. (4) Syriza is cutting public investments in job creating infrastructure projects to meet Troika deadlines. ( 5) Syriza has agreed to a budget surplus of 0.6% at a time when Greece is running a 0.7% deficit this year - meaning more cuts later this year. (6) Syriza promised to reduce the VAT on essentials like food; now it accepts a 23% rate.

Syriza’s foreign policy mimics its predecessors. Syriza’s far right Defense Minister, Panos Kammenos, has been a vocal supporter of the US and EU sanctions against Russia- despite the usual flurry of Syriza’s faked “dissent” to NATO policies, followed by total capitulation – to remain in good standing with NATO. The Syriza regime has allowed each and every well-known kleptocrat and tax evader to retain their illicit wealth and to add to their overseas holdings with massive transfers of their current ‘savings’ out of the country. By the end of May 2015, Prime Minister Tsipras and Finance Minister Varofakis have emptied the Treasury to meet debt payments, increasing the prospects that pensioners and public sector workers will not receive their benefits.

Having emptied the Greek Treasury, Syriza will now impose the “Troika solution” on the backs of the impoverished Greek masses: either sign-off on a new “austerity” plan, lowering pensions, increasing retirement age, eliminating labor laws protecting workers’ job security and negotiating rights or face an empty treasury, no pensions, rising unemployment and deepening economic depression. Syriza has deliberately emptied the Treasury, plundered pension funds and local municipal holdings in order to blackmail the population to accept as a ‘fait accompli’ the regressive policies of hardline EU bankers – the so-called “austerity programs”.

From the very beginning, Syriza gave into the Troika’s dictates, even as they play-acted their ‘principled resistance’. First they lied to the Greek public, calling the Troika ‘international partners’. Then they lied again calling the Troika memorandum for greater austerity a ‘negotiating document’. Syriza’s deceptions were meant to hide their continuation of the highly unpopular ‘framework’ imposed by the previous discredited hard rightwing regime.

As Syriza plundered the country of resources to pay the bankers, it escalated its international groveling. Its Defense Minister offered new military bases for NATO, including an air-maritime base on the Greek island of Karpathos. Syriza escalated Greece’s political and military support for EU and US military intervention and support of “moderate” terrorists in the Middle East, ludicrously in the name of “protecting Christians”. Syriza, currying favor with European and US Zionists, strengthened its ties with Israel, evoking a ‘strategic alliance’ with the terrorist-apartheid state. From his first days in office, the hard right Defense Minister Kammenos proposed the creation of a “common defense space” including Cyprus and Israel – thus supporting Israel’s air and sea blockade of Gaza.


Syriza’s political decision to ‘embed’ in the EU and the Eurozone, at all costs, signals that Greece will continue to be vassal state, betraying its program and adopting deeply reactionary policies, even while trumpeting its phony leftist rhetoric, and feigning ‘resistance’ to the Troika. Despite the fact that Syriza plundered domestic pensions and local treasuries, many deluded Leftists in Europe and the US continue to accept and rationalize what they choose to dub its “realistic and pragmatic compromises”.

Syriza could have confiscated and used the $32 billion of real estate properties owned by the Greek Armed Forces to implement an alternative investment and development plan – leasing these properties for commercial maritime ports, airports and tourist facilities.

Syriza buried Greece even deeper into the hierarchy dominated by German finance,by surrendering its sovereign power to impose a debt moratorium, leave the Eurozone, husband its financial resources, reinstate a national currency, impose capital controls, confiscate billions of Euros in illicit overseas accounts, mobilize local funds to finance economic recovery and reactivate the public and private sector. The fake “Left sector” within Syriza repeatedly mouthed impotent “objections”, while the Tsipras -Varofakis sell-out charade proceeded to the ultimate capitulation.

In the end, Syriza has deepened poverty and unemployment, increased foreign control over the economy, further eroded the public sector, facilitated the firing of workers and slashed severance pay- while increasing the role of the Greek military by deepening its ties to NATO and Israel. Equally important, Syriza has totally emptied leftist phraseology of any cognitive meaning: for them - national sovereignty is translated into international vassalage and anti-austerity becomes pragmatic capitulations to new austerity. When the Tsipras – Troika agreement is finally signed and the terrible toll of austerity for the next decades finally sinks into the consciousness of the Greek public, the betrayals will hopefully evoke mass revulsion. Perhaps Syriza will split, and the “left” will finally abandon their cushy Cabinet posts and join the disaffected millions in forming an alternative Party.