Saturday, July 04, 2015

Forever War: Pentagon Version 20.15

The Pentagon’s “2015 Strategy” For Ruling the World

by Mike Whitney - Counterpunch

On Wednesday, the Pentagon released its 2015 National Military Strategy, a 24-page blueprint for ruling the world through military force. While the language in the report is subtler and less incendiary than similar documents in the past, the determination to unilaterally pursue US interests through extreme violence remains the cornerstone of the new strategy. Readers will not find even a hint of remorse in the NMS for the vast destruction and loss of life the US caused in countries that posed not the slightest threat to US national security. Instead, the report reflects the steely resolve of its authors and elite constituents to continue the carnage and bloodletting until all potential rivals have been killed or eliminated and until such time that Washington feels confident that its control over the levers of global power cannot be challenged. 

As one would expect, the NMS conceals its hostile intentions behind the deceptive language of “national security”. The US does not initiate wars of aggression against blameless states that possess large quantities of natural resources. No. The US merely addresses “security challenges” to “protect the homeland” and to “advance our national interests.” How could anyone find fault with that, after all, wasn’t the US just trying to bring peace and democracy to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria? 

In the Chairman’s Forward, Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey attempts to prepare the American people for a future of endless war:

“Future conflicts will come more rapidly, last longer, and take place on a much more technically challenging battlefield. … We must be able to rapidly adapt to new threats while maintaining comparative advantage over traditional ones … the application of the military instrument of power against state threats is very different than the application of military power against non state threats. We are more likely to face prolonged campaigns than conflicts that are resolved quickly … that control of escalation is becoming more difficult and more important.” (Document: 2015 U.S. National Military Strategy, USNI News) 

War, war and more war. This is the Pentagon’s vision of the future. Unlike Russia or China which have a plan for an integrated EU-Asia free trade zone (Silk Road) that will increase employment, improve vital infrastructure, and raise living standards, the US sees only death and destruction ahead. Washington has no strategy for the future, no vision of a better world. There is only war; asymmetrical war, technological war, preemptive war. The entire political class and their elite paymasters unanimously support global rule through force of arms. That is the unavoidable meaning of this document. The United States intends to maintain its tenuous grip on global power by maximizing the use of its greatest asset; its military. 

And who is in the military’s gunsights? Check out this excerpt from an article in Defense News: 

“The strategy specifically calls out Iran, Russia and North Korea as aggressive threats to global peace. It also mentions China, but notably starts that paragraph by saying the Obama administration wants to “support China’s rise and encourage it to become a partner for greater international security,” continuing to thread the line between China the economic ally and China the regional competitor.

“None of these nations are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or our allies,” the strategy reads. “Nonetheless, they each pose serious security concerns which the international community is working to collectively address by way of common policies, shared messages, and coordinated action.” (Pentagon Releases National Military Strategy, Defense News) 

Did you catch that last part? “None of these nations are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or our allies. Nevertheless, they each pose serious security concerns.” 

In other words, none of these countries wants to fight the United States, but the United States wants to fight them. And the US feels it’s justified in launching a war against these countries because, well, because they either control vast resources, have huge industrial capacity, occupy an area of the world that interests the US geopolitically, or because they simply want to maintain their own sovereign independence which, of course, is a crime. According to Dempsey, any of these threadbare excuses are sufficient justification for conflict mainly because they “pose serious security concerns” for the US, which is to say they undermine the US’s dominant role as the world’s only superpower. 

The NMS devotes particular attention to Russia, Washington’s flavor-of-the-month enemy who had the audacity to defend its security interests following a State Department-backed coup in neighboring Ukraine. For that, Moscow must be punished. This is from the report: 

“Some states, however, are attempting to revise key aspects of the international order and are acting in a manner that threatens our national security interests. While Russia has contributed in select security areas, such as counternarcotics and counterterrorism, it also has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and it is willing to use force to achieve its goals. Russia’s military actions are undermining regional security directly and through proxy forces. These actions violate numerous agreements that Russia has signed in which it committed to act in accordance with international norms.” (2015 NMS) 

Russia is an evildoer because Russia refused to stand by while the US toppled the Ukrainian government, installed a US stooge in Kiev, precipitated a civil war between the various factions, elevated neo Nazis to positions of power in the security services, plunged the economy into insolvency and ruin, and opened a CIA headquarters in the Capital to run the whole shooting match. This is why Russia is bad and must be punished. 

But does that mean Washington is seriously contemplating a war with Russia? 

Here’s an excerpt from the document that will help to clarify the matter: 

“For the past decade, our military campaigns primarily have consisted of operations against violent extremist networks. But today, and into the foreseeable future, we must pay greater attention to challenges posed by state actors. They increasingly have the capability to contest regional freedom of movement and threaten our homeland. Of particular concern are the proliferation of ballistic missiles, precision strike technologies, unmanned systems, space and cyber capabilities, and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) technologies designed to counter U.S. military advantages and curtail access to the global commons.” (2015 NMS) 

It sounds to me like the Washington honchos have already made up their minds. Russia is the enemy, therefore, Russia must be defeated. How else would one “counter a revisionist state” that “threatens our homeland”? 

Why with Daisy Cutters, of course. Just like everyone else. 

The NMS provides a laundry list of justifications for launching wars against (imaginary) enemies of the US. The fact is, the Pentagon sees ghosts around every corner. Whether the topic is new technologies, “shifting demographics” or cultural differences; all are seen as a potential threat to US interests, particularly anything related to the “competition for resources.” In this skewed view of reality, one can see how the invasion of Iraq was justified on the grounds that Saddam’s control of Iraq’s massive oil reserves posed a direct challenge to US hegemony. Naturally, Saddam had to be removed and over a million people killed to put things right and return the world to a state of balance. This is the prevailing view of the National Military Strategy, that is, that whatever the US does is okay, because its the US. 

Readers shouldn’t expect to find something new in the NMS. This is old wine in new bottles. The Pentagon has merely updated the Bush Doctrine while softening the rhetoric. There’s no need to scare the living daylights out of people by talking about unilateralism, preemption, shrugging off international law or unprovoked aggression. Even so, everyone knows that United States is going to do whatever the hell it wants to do to keep the empire intact. The 2015 National Military Strategy merely confirms that sad fact.

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

Creating Islamic "Terrorism" at Home: A CIA How To

The CIA's Creation of "Islamic Terrorism" on American Soil

by Dr. Paul L. Williams - Global Research

Islamic paramilitary camps have been set up in the United States and Canada to train African American Muslims in guerilla warfare. After months of training on firing ranges and obstacle courses, the black Muslims are sent to Pakistan where they receive advanced training in explosives. Many never return.

Stories about these camps are not new. They have been reported by the main stream media, including Fox News.

The origin of these compounds for would-be jihadis dates back to 1979, when the Agency sent hundreds of radical Islamic clerics to the United States in an effort to recruit African American Muslims for the holy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

The Tablighi Missionaries

By and large, these missionaries hailed from Pakistan and belonged to Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim movement with 150 members in 213 countries.[1] Upholding a strict interpretation of Islamic law (shariah), the Tablighi were united in their resistance to Western culture; their insistence that Muslims should avoid contact with all those who do not share their beliefs; and their approval of jihad by sword (jihad bin saif).[2] Members of the movement gathered every year for three days in the small Pakistani town ofRaiwind.

In 1979, Sheikh Mubarek Ali Gilani, a Tablighi missionary from Lahore, Pakistan, arrived in Brooklynwhere he called upon members of Dar ul-Islam, a notoriously violent street gang, to take arms in the great jihad. Scores answered his call and were headed off to Pakistan with payments of thousands of dollars in cash and promises of seventy houris in seventh heaven, if they were killed in action.[3]

Welcome To Islamberg

By 1980, the Agency realized that considerable expense could be saved by setting up paramilitary camps under the supervision of Shiekh Gilani in a rural area of the country. An ideal location was located near Hancock New York at the base ofPointMountain, where the east and west branches of the Delaware River converge to form the headwaters that flow throughPennsylvania and New Jersey to theAtlantic Ocean. The rocky terrain was infested with rattlesnakes, and the woods were home to black bears, coyotes, wolves, and a few bobcats. Islamberg, a seventy acre complex, came into existence.

Firing ranges and obstacle courses were set up in Islamberg along with a massive underground bunker and a landing strip. The residents lived in single-wide trailers that lined the hillside. The settlement contained a small shack that served as a laundry facility; a claptrap community center; a tiny grocery store, and a masjid. A sentry post was placed at the entranceway.[4]

The sound of gunfire and explosions emanating from the property alarmed local residents, who filed complaints with local and state law enforcement agencies. But a marked law enforcement vehicle never appeared at the compound.[5] Islamberg was off-limits to police inspection on the spurious grounds of “national security.”

The camp also came to contain an illegal cemetery where bodies were buried in unmarked graves.[6] This alone should have warranted a raid by the New York State Police. But not even dead bodies could prompt a police investigation.

When Islamberg was established, Gilani presented himself as an employee of the CIA and the future jihadis, who resided in the compound, called themselves CIA operatives.[7] Few in law enforcement doubted the professed credentials of the Muslim newcomers.

Communities of the Impoverished

Islamberg was a great success. Hundreds of African American Muslims made their way to Afghanistanand joined the ranks of the mujahedeen. Several were killed in action.[8] Others, including Clement Rodney Hampton-El, returned to the U.S. to plot the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York.[9]

Under the CIA’s directions, a host of other paramilitary camps were established in such places as Red House, Virginia; Commerce, Georgia; York, South Carolina; Dover, Tennessee; Buena Vista, Colorado; Macon, Georgia; Squaw Valley, California; Marion, Alabama; Talihina, Oklahoma; and Toronto, Ontario.[10]

Gilani placed Islamberg and the other camps under a governing organization called “Jamaat ul-Fuqra” or “the community of the impoverished.” He established the headquarters of this “charity” in Lahore. The American arm of Jamaat ul-Fuqra became the Muslims of the Americas,” a tax-exempt corporation with Gilani’s mosque in Brooklynas its address.[11]

Increased Need of Radicals

The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 did not spell an end to the CIA’s support of radical Islam. Throughout the 1990s, Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, travelled at the expense and bidding of the CIA throughout Central Asia, where he cultivated new armies of jihadis to destabilize the newly created republics. His efforts resulted in the uprising of the Chechens against the Russian Federation, the attempted toppling of the government in Uzbekistan, and the insurgence of the Uigurs in the Xinjiang provinceof China.[12]

A dutiful operative, Dr. Zawahiri met regularly with U.S.military and intelligence officials at the U.S.embassy in Baku, Azerbaijanto plan the Balkan operations in which the CIA worked with al Qaeda to overthrow the government of Slobodan Milosevic for the creation of “Greater Albania,” encompassing Albania, Kosovo, and parts of Macedonia. [13]

These operations, particularly in the Balkans, required the recruitment of more and more jihadis. Gilani’s camps continued to prosper. And more and more of his African American recruits appeared among the rank and file mujahedeen in various theaters of warfare throughout the world.

Dr. Zawahiri’s help was so valuable that he was granted permanent U.S.residence by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in January 2000.[14]

The Rise of ISIS

After 9/11, the Agency continued to cultivate Islamic holy warriors to maintain the “strategy of tension” in the Middle East, the Balkan states, and Central Asia and to mount new uprisings in Africa to expandU.S.hegemony. The grand purpose of these enterprises wasUSeconomic and political control ofEurasia. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Secretary of State and leading strategist for the Council on Foreign Relations, writes:

For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia. . . . Now a non-Eurasian power is preeminent in Eurasia – - – and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained. . . . To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three great imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep the tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.[15]

In accordance with the strategy of keeping “the barbarians from coming together,” ISIS forces were and are trained at a secret U.S. military base in the Jordanian town of Safawi.[16] The weapons for ISIS came, compliments of the Agency, from the arsenal of deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi. The shipment of these weapons to ISIS in Syria was supervised in 2012 by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it was alleged that he was having an affair with his biographer.[17]

Supply and Demand

In response to the increased demand, Gilani continued to churn out more and more African American jihadis. More and more training camps opened, including one in Texas.[18] More and more bodies were buried in unmarked graves. More and more complaints were made to law enforcement officials. And more and more graduates from the training camps made their way toPakistan.


Of course, there was blowback to the CIA’s establishment on Islamic paramilitary camps on American soil. Over the years, numerous members of Jamaat ul Fuqra have been convicted in U/S. court of such crimes as conspiracy to commit murder, firebombing, gun smuggling, and workers’ compensation fraud. Others remain leading suspects in criminal cases throughout the country, including ten unsolved assassinations and seventeen firebombings between 1979 and 1990.[19]

In 2001, a resident of the ul-Fuqra camp in California was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of a sheriff’s deputy; another was charged with gun-smuggling; and twenty-four from the camp in Red House, Virginia were convicted of firearms violations.[20]

By 2004 investigators uncovered evidence that purportedly linked both the Washington, DC “sniper killer” John Allen Muhammad and “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid to Gilani’s group and reports surfaced that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl had been captured and killed in the process of attempting to gain an interview with Sheikh Gilani in Pakistan.[21]

By 2015, Jamaat ul-Fuqra had been involved in more terror attacks on America soil (30 and counting) than all the other terrorist groups combined. Despite these attacks, the group has never been placed on the official US Terror Watch List, and the Muslims of the Americascontinues to operate as a legitimate non-profit, tax-exempt organization.[22]

The Warning

Investigators, including Patrick Walsh and William Krayer, who have visited Islamberg and other paramilitary settlements, believe that the next major attack on US soil will emanate from Gilani’s jamaats of homegrown terrorism. Based on the history of the CIA’s involvement in the creation of these camps, such an attack may occur in accordance with the Agency’s own design.

Dr. Paul L. Williams is the author of Operation Gladio: The Unholy Alliance between the Vatican, The CIA, and the Mafia.


[1] Alex Alexiev, “Tablighi Jamaat: Jihad’s Stealthy Legion,” Middle East Quarterly, no. 1 (Winter 2005)

[2] Jane I. Smith, Islam in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), p. 161.
[3] Robert Dannin, Black Pilgrimage to Islam (New York:OxfordUniversity Press, 2002),
[4] Douglas J. Hagmann, “Special Report: Jamaat ul-Fuqra Training Compound Inside the U.S.,” Northeast Intelligence Network, February 28, 2006.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Paul L. Williams, Crescent Moon Rising: The Islamic Transformation of America (Amherst,New York: Prometheus Books, 2013), p. 134.
[7] “Afghanistan Update,” Daily Telegraph (London), August 5, 1983; Los Angeles Times, August 5, 1983.
[8] Ibid
[9] Zachary Crowley, “Jamaat ul-Fuqra Dossier,” Center for Policing Terrorism, March 16, 2005.
[10] Gordon Gregory and Sonna Williams, “Jamaat ul-Fuqra,” Special Research Report, Regional Organized Crime Information Center, 2006.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, “Whistleblower: Al Qaeda Chief Was US Asset,” Huffington Post, May 21, 2013.
[13] Sibel Edmonds, “Know Your Terrorists: Ayman al-Zawahiri,” Boiling Frogs Post, February 16, 2013.
[14] Rory McCarthy, “The Real Ayman al-Zawahiri,” The Guardian, August 5, 2005. See also Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalization of War (Montreal: Global Research Rublishers, 2015), p. 111.
[15] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperative (New York: Basic Books, 1997), pp. 20, 40.
[16] “Americans Are Training Syria Rebels in Jordan,” Reuters, March 10, 2013.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Ryan Mauro, “Islamic Terror Enclave Discovered in Texas,” The Clarion Project, February 18, 2014.
[19] “Jamaat ul-Fuqra: Terror Group ofPakistan,”Institute ofContact Management, 2001.
[20] Ibid.
[21] “The Jamaat ul-Fuqra Threat,” Stratfor, Security Consulting Intelligence Resources, June 3, 2005.
[22] Patrick B. Briley, “AL Fuqra: U.S. Islamic Terror Network Protected by FBI, U.S. State Department, Liberty Post, July 28, 2006.

Who Can Liberate Palestine? Who Will?

If ISIS Doesn't Liberate Palestine, Who Will?

by Franklin Lamb - CounterPunch

Ein el Helwe Palestinian camp, Lebanon.

This is one of the questions ricocheting between Palestinians in Syria and Lebanon, posed also by ISIS (Da’ish) operatives, as the hot summer months and plummeting quality of existence raise tensions in the refugee camps and social gatherings.

With its resilience, on-the-ground “achievements”, adaptability, global franchising, copy-cat knock-offs, chameleon-like adaptations, combinations and permutations, and slick honing of medium and message, ISIS is offering oppressed and desperate populations in this region both hope and fantasy for escaping their deepening misery. The dream is to escape abject poverty and indignity by any means necessary, and joining ISIS or other like-minded cash-flush groups, which seem to appear out of thin air these days, is the most promising way to do it.

Some people in Lebanon and Syria are wondering why it took ISIS so long to present a detailed plan to Palestinian refugees to liberate their country, now in its 67th year of brutal Zionist occupation. This subjugation has has created an Apartheid state that, according to South African leader Bishop Desmond Tutu and others, exceeds even the crimes of the Afrikaner National Party. And like the Israelis, the ANP also began their racist occupation of a majority-indigenous “less civilized” population in 1948. South African apartheid ended in 1994, but in Palestine it continues to metastasize. ISIS representatives in the camps are pledging to destroy the Zionist occupation and boast about opening up Palestine to Full Return within two years.

Who is listening to Da’ish (ISIS)?

In the early days of the crisis in Syria, many Palestinians fleeing to Lebanon quickly returned to whatever fate held back in Syria after they saw the conditions in Lebanon’s camps. But as the fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces intensified in Damascus, they became trapped in the camps. Alongside their fellow Palestinians in Lebanon, these new refugees sank ever more deeply into dire poverty.

During recent discussions with a sampling of refugees from several camps in Lebanon and Syria, it’s not surprising that the main part of the conversation quickly moves to subjects long familiar to those of us who have lived among Palestinians in this region. The list of grievances is ever-expanding and ISIS supporters and recruiters take advantage of this in order to round up recruits and sympathizers to join their growing ranks.

These grievances include frustration and anger over the perceived pervasive corruption among political and religious “leaders” who basically speak gibberish while urging patience for the next life, or promise the fruits of countless ‘dialogue’ sessions among sworn political enemies that to date have achieved absolutely nothing to help those most in need. Lebanon’s Parliament has recently ruled against the right to work and home ownership, and this now ranks near the top of any list of refugee grievances. One could also add: severe camp overcrowding, lack of hygienic infrastructures, declining health care, rising illnesses among children due to respiratory diseases and more than a dozen easily preventable communicable illnesses, shortages of medicines, drugs and drug gang violence, increasing tension and gun battles among militia (this is almost weekly – most recently in the Ein el Helwe camp in Saida and this week, in the infamous Shatila camp), domestic violence, petty crime, increase in school dropout rates, and the almost total inability of UNWRA to fulfill its mandate. Typical of the latter, is the closure of some 700 schools in Gaza, which will impact UNRWA’s work in Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank, and Syria. There are also worries here that some UNWRA schools, even those now operating on two shifts, may soon close in Lebanon and Syria.

One of the most urgent crises in Lebanon’s camps is the fact that the few remaining Palestinian hospitals are also nearing collapse, particularly Haifa Hospital in South Beirut’s Burj al Barajneh camp. The two main Palestine Red Crescent Hospitals, Gaza and Akka, closed decades ago. These problems are just a sampling of what life has become for Palestinians currently living in Lebanon, and for almost 50,000 more that have come from Syria and are still stuck here.

Da’ish – ISIS – has started to capitalize on these problems, as pressures mount under the long hot summer days and adequate water and electricity becomes ever more scarce. Some camp residents speculate about what kind of ‘explosion’ will happen during or after Ramadan begins…

What is Da’ish (ISIS) offering Palestinians?

First and foremost, Da’ish pledges Full Return for the nearly 12 million Palestinian refugees scattered around the world. Approximately 6.4 million Palestinians had their homes and lands occupied in 1948 (55% of the total population), 4.5 million now live outside historic Palestine, and some 1.8 million live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Da’ish is also offering an alternative to the half-century of fake “peace processes” and an alternative what increasing numbers of refugees claim is the quisling position of the current PLO leadership.

Understandably, jihadist appeals are finding an audience. The reason for this was best expressed recently by Dr. Mohsen Saleh, of the Zaytona Center in Beirut: “The refugee issue is the core of the Palestinian issue… the issue of a people who were uprooted from the land in which they lived for thousands of years. These people existed before the Israelites came to Palestine, and were present during their existence in Palestine and after they were gone. The Zionist project could only materialize after destroying the social fabric of these people, destroying more than 400 (531 villages: Ed.) of their villages and cities, confiscating most of their land, and usurping their properties, buildings, factories, and endowments.”

On 29/10/2013, the London-based al-Hayat newspaper published a report, based on Zionist sources, documenting that the Palestinian ‘negotiating team’ had given its Israeli counterpart a “position paper” on the core issues of the conflict. Eyewitness accounts claim that the Palestinian team actually offered to waive the right of return for Palestine refugees to their land, stolen in 1948. The Palestinian ‘negotiating team’ would give the refugees several choices: return to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, accept cash reparations, move to a third country, or stay put in one of the 59 camps and three dozen settlements.

On 8/23/2013, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking to an Israeli delegation from the Meretz Party that visited him in Ramallah, reassured and guaranteed the Israelis that the PLO will not ask to return to Jaffa, Acre (on a clear day visible from villages, including Maron al Ras, in South Lebanon) and Safad (home for one third of the 1948 Nakba refugees who were forced to leave to Syria and Lebanon).

ISIS is making plain to all who will listen that they reject this ‘sellout position’ and that every Palestinian on this planet has the inalienable right of Full Return. This right can never be ceded by any leader and the Zionist regime which has put colonials from the West on their land has no right to even one grain of Palestinian soil.

There is fierce competition between Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS to woo Palestinians. Both groups vow that soon “the Zionist invaders will experience Allah’s wrath until they have been destroyed and Palestine is liberated.”

Meanwhile, Anthony Glees, Director of the Center for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, is warning that Zionists will be among the jihadis’ main targets in the coming days. Daesh spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani predicts that Ramadan will be a “calamity for kuffars.”

Peter Neumann, director of International Center for the Study of the Radicalization and Political Violence at King’s College London claimed this week that Jewish institutions in Europe and in Occupied Palestine will also pay the price for the growing battle for influence between Al Qaeda (al Nusra) and ISIS.

Jobs for all who need them?

Young, fit Palestinians are at last being offered a job in a country where they are forbidden by law to work or own a home. Da’ish is reportedly paying an average of $300 a month, promising two and sometimes three days off each week to visit one’s family, cash bonuses for marriage and one-time child subsidies of $400 per child. Subsidies for food of $70 a month are also being offered, in the face of the fact that UNWRA has just reduced monthly cash for food stipends to a mere $30 per month. One can imagine what some of the camp residents are thinking: which horse is the best bet for an improved life and for full return to our own country?

Based on conversations with recently-arrived Palestinian refugees from Syria, as well as old friends in Lebanon’s camps, this observer is confident that today only a small percentage of Palestinians are responding to the siren-call of ISIS.

But tomorrow?

Franklin Lamb’s most recent book, Syria’s Endangered Heritage, An international Responsibility to Protect and Preserve is in production by Orontes River Publishing, Hama, Syrian Arab Republic. Inquires c/o The author is reachable c/o

Friday, July 03, 2015

Wikileaks Strikes Again - TISA Trade Deal Secrets Revealed

TISA Exposed: 'Holy Grail' of Leaks Reveals Detailed Plot for Corporate Takeover

by Diedre Fulton - CommonDreams

Fifty-two-nation Trade in Services Agreement uses trade regulations 'as a smokescreen to limit citizen rights,' says labor leader

Days ahead of another round of secret international negotiations, WikiLeaks on Wednesday released what it described as "a modern journalistic holy grail: the secret Core Text for the largest 'trade deal' in history."

That deal is the Trade in Services Agreement, or TISA, currently being negotiated by 52 nations that together account for two-thirds of global GDP. Those nations are the United States, the 28 members of the European Union, and 23 other countries, including Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Taiwan, and Israel. According to WikiLeaks, TISA "is the largest component of the United States' strategic neoliberal 'trade' treaty triumvirate," which also includes the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP).

"Together, the three treaties form not only a new legal order shaped for transnational corporations, but a new economic 'grand enclosure,' which excludes China and all other BRICS countries," declared WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assangein a press statement

What's more, it adds, "[a]ll three treaties have been subject to stringent criticism for the lack of transparency and public consultation in their negotiation processes."

The texts published Wednesday cover everything from financial services to telecommunications to migrant labor protections.

"TISA is exposed as a developed countries' corporate wish lists for services which seeks to bypass resistance from the global South to this agenda inside the WTO, and to secure an agreement on services without confronting the continued inequities on agriculture, intellectual property, cotton subsidies, and many other issues."
—Our World Is Not For Sale

Overall, the leak provides further evidence of how "a self-selected group of mainly rich countries" plans to "bypass other governments in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and rewrite its services agreement in the interests of their corporations," reads an expert analysis penned by University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey. "It also makes the new risks from TISA to governments' right to regulate in their national interest much clearer."

Or, as the Our World is Not For Sale network said in a statement: "TISA is exposed as a developed countries’ corporate wish lists for services which seeks to bypass resistance from the global South to this agenda inside the WTO, and to secure an agreement on services without confronting the continued inequities on agriculture, intellectual property, cotton subsidies, and many other issues." The group has been sounding the alarm on TISA since 2013.

As Common Dreams reported last month, previous leaks demonstrated TISA is aimed at further privatizing and deregulating vital services, from transportation to healthcare, with a potentially devastating impact for people of the countries involved in the deal, and the world more broadly.

For example, the Government Procurement (GP) annex, which covers purchasing by all government agencies of services such as construction or infrastructure maintenance, "creates an international legal regime which aims to deregulate and privatize the supply of services—which account for the majority of the economy across TISA countries," according to WikiLeaks.

In her analysis of that section, Third World Network legal adviser Sanya Reid Smith states that the GP text aims to "undermine the deliberate government policies of a number of developed and developing TISA countries which try to promote their domestic services companies and hence local employment including for Indigenous peoples, etc. through GP laws and policies."

Another section leaked Wednesday is TISA's Transparency Annex—but the "transparency" covered in the text has nothing to do with increasing public awareness about the corporate-friendly trade deal.

"There is deep irony whenever governments make commitments to 'transparency' in contemporary pro-corporate treaties that are negotiated under conditions of extraordinary secrecy."

In fact, WikiLeaks explains, "[t]he draft Annex aims to make governments more transparent to global commercial actors, creating obligations to notify and consult with transnational corporations on decisions and measures which may affect their interests."

"There is deep irony whenever governments make commitments to 'transparency' in contemporary pro-corporate treaties that are negotiated under conditions of extraordinary secrecy," the WikiLeaks analysis reads.

It continues:

"Transparency" in this TISA text means ensuring that commercial interests, especially but not only transnational corporations, can access and influence government decisions that affect their interests—rights and opportunities that may not be available to local businesses or to national citizens.

Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), spoke to that irony in a statement published alongside the TISA leak. "Once again WikiLeaks reveals what we cannot learn from our own government, a government that defaults to prefer giant trade deals that effect generations of Americans shrouded in secrecy until they are virtually adopted," he said.

Referencing the Trade Promotion Authority bill signed by President Barack Obama on Monday—which will allow Obama to ram the TISA, TPP, and TTIP through Congress with minimal input from lawmakers—Cohen added: "Today's leaks...reveal once again how dangerous Fast Track authority is when it comes to protecting citizen rights vs. corporate rights. This TISA text again favors privatization over public services, limits governmental action on issues ranging from safety to the environment using trade as a smokescreen to limit citizen rights... TISA is as big a blow to our rights and freedom as the Trans Pacific Partnership and in both cases our governments secrecy is the key enabler."

Deborah James of the OWINFS network doubled-down on that sentiment: "Given the added dangers of the recently-approved Fast Track provisions which would apply to a potential TISA, we call on governments to abandon negotiations on this corporate wish list and focus on strengthening public interest regulation and the democratic process."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Where's the Cash, Stephen? Harper Gov't's Missing $800 Million

Harper government and the missing $800 million pledged to BC Interior communities

by Peter Ewart  - 250 News

July 3, 2015

In the lead up to the 2006 federal election, the pledge to the communities of the BC Interior was unmistakable. “Conservative leader Stephen Harper announced earlier this week a long-term commitment of $1 billion to battle the pine beetle devastation”, the news stories read. But Harper also had a warning. The funds would be forthcoming only “if his party were to win the next federal election.”1

Harper, who was then in Opposition, scoffed at the federal Liberal government’s funding contribution of just $140 million to address the pine beetle problem, dismissing it as “paltry.” He further said that “B.C.s forestry communities need help and so far they haven’t received the assistance you would expect from a federal government.”

The Harper Conservatives then went on to win the 2006 election. After the election, BC Interior communities were assured by Cariboo-Prince George Conservative MP Dick Harris that his government would make good on its pine beetle funding commitments, claiming “that’s the attitude we want to bring to government – if you say something, you’d better be prepared to back it up.”2

Fast forward to 2015. The pine beetle has wiped out most of the region’s lodge pole pine forests and the forest industry is suffering a severe timber shortage. More mill closures and cutbacks loom on the horizon for communities like Quesnel, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and Prince George, all of which, over many decades, have provided lucrative revenues for both the federal and provincial governments, as well as corporate interests. Now these highly productive wood manufacturing centres face extremely difficult times.

So, what about the Harper government’s $1 billion funding promise to the region which was supposed to be released at a rate of $100 million a year for ten years? Where does it stand now? Unfortunately, something happened not long after the 2006 election. Only two installments (amounting to $200 million) were actually paid out before the tap was turned off and the funding was folded into other programs. In other words, $800 million is still owed.

Given the scale of the pine beetle destruction, this $200 million doesn’t look much different than what Harper called the former Liberal government’s “paltry” amount of $140 million. So much for receiving the assistance you would expect from a federal government. And so much for the Conservatives backing up their promises.

This issue has been raised before in 250 News,3 as well as by the Stand Up for the North Committee, Quesnel mayor Bob Simpson, and others in the region. Now, Prince George City Council and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako have passed a resolution calling on the federal government to pay up the $800 million still owing. As city councilor Albert Koehler has said, “we would like to have [the funding] flowing through the north somehow.”4

This resolution is a positive development and should be supported by everyone in the region, irrespective of their politics. And it, as well as what communities can do to grapple with this looming crisis, should be made a major federal election issue.

A promise is a promise.

Peter Ewart is a columnist and writer based in Prince George, British Columbia. He can be reached at:

1. “Harper commits $1billion.” Kamloops This Week. Sept 16, 2005
2. Prince George Free Press. May 5, 2006.
3. Ewart, Peter. “Conservative MPs … What about the promised $1 billion in pine beetle funding?” 250 News. August 29, 2012.…+what+about+the+promised+$1+billion+in+pine+beetle+funding%3F?id=&st=30
4. Macdonald–Meisner, Elaine. “Call for Feds to deliver promised funding.” June 30, 2015.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Hotting Up the Sixth Extinction: 2015 As the Beginning of the End for Humanity

Sixth Great Mass Extinction Event Begins; 2015 on Pace to Become Hottest Year on Record

by Dahr Jamail - Truthout

At the end of May, a few friends and I opted to climb a couple of the larger volcanoes in Washington State. We started on Mount Adams, a 12,280-foot peak in the southern part of the state.

We were able to drive to the Cold Springs Campground at 5,600 feet, where the climb would begin. This itself was an anomaly for late May, when the dirt road tended to still be covered with snowpack. But not this year, one in which Washington's Gov. Jay Inslee has already declared a statewide drought emergency, given this year's record-low snowpack.

In fact, we hiked up bare earth until around 7,500 feet before we even had to don our crampons (metal spikes that attach to climbing boots to improve traction), itself another anomaly. During a short visit to the Forest Service ranger station the day before, the ranger had informed us that we were already experiencing mid- to late-August conditions, though it wasn't yet June.

A few days later and much further north on Mount Baker, a 10,781-foot glacial-clad volcano not far from the border of Canada, we experienced the same thing. We camped on terra firma at around 5,500 feet, in an area that normally would have found us camping on several feet of snowpack. When we headed up the peak, the route was already in late season (August) conditions. We found ourselves having to navigate around several large open crevasses where snow bridges that had offered access had already collapsed due to rising temperatures and melting snow.

During our descent after visiting the summit, two of my climbing partners punched through snow bridges over crevasses, and the lower part of the route was more like a Slurpee than a glacier. I would not have wanted to be on the mountain a day later than we were.

The signs of the increasing rapidity and intensification of our warming planet are all around us. And bigger-picture reports, studies and warnings are multiplying every day.

If current rates of ACD continue, "Life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on."

NASA recently released its global temperature data for the month of May, and it was 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the norm. The agency's data also revealed that 2015 has had the hottest five months of any year ever recorded. As of right now, 2015 is already hotter than last year, according to NASA; in fact, if it stays on the same track, it will be the hottest year ever recorded for the planet.

Things are bad enough that President Obama's science adviser issued a warning that anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is currently barreling forward so quickly that the entire state of California could be "overwhelmed": The state's efforts to adapt will be unable to keep pace with the rapidly intensifying developments on the ground. Essentially, this means the state does not have the financial nor physical resources to keep pace with rising seas, drought and wildfires that are all becoming the norm there.

Scientists like Bill Nye ("the Science Guy") are warning us to expect even more weather extremes as ACD progresses. For example, they predict the recent deluge of rain and flooding in Texas will become the norm for that state going forward.

A study recently published in Nature Climate Change has shown that if carbon dioxide and methane emissions are not dramatically cut extremely rapidly, ACD is set to bring about the most dramatic and encompassing rearrangement of ocean species in at least the last 3 million years. For example, the study shows that by 2100, the polar regions, which currently host some of the most diverse and widespread sea life on the planet, will likely be drained of much of their marine life.

It's not news that Arctic sea ice is melting at a record-breaking pace and that the odds of there being summer ice-free periods by next year are high. But an interesting twist resulting from this development is that this thinning Arctic ice, along with a lack of air support, has officially forced an end to trekking expeditions to the North Pole this year ... and quite likely, forever.

All of these changes are portentous.

However, the most important development this month is clearly a recently published study in Science that states, unequivocally, that the planet has officially entered its sixth mass extinction event. The study showed that species are already being killed off at rates much faster than they were during the other five extinction events, and warned ominously that humans could very likely be among the first wave of species going extinct.

The lead author of the study, Gerardo Ceballos of the Universidad Autónoma de México, told reporters that if current rates of ACD, deforestation and pollution are allowed to continue, "Life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on."

Another alarming feature of the study is that it is admittedly conservative. On page three it states: "We emphasize that our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis."

Study co-author Paul Ehrlich, a Bing professor of population studies in biology and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, told Stanford News, "[The study] shows without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event. There are examples of species all over the world that are essentially the walking dead."

As we explore ACD's impact upon the four quadrants of the planet this month, we see developments that certainly confirm the aforementioned report's findings.


As warming from ACD continues to fuel increases in diseases and pests, moose in North America are dying by the thousands, according to a recent scientific report.

Another report revealed recently that the warming waters in Long Island Sound are dramatically altering fish populations, as summer flounder and sea bass that usually prefer warm water are now appearing in the northern locale.

As California's mega-drought lumbers on, redwoods and other iconic trees in that state are now dying in record numbers. As one example, Monterey pines - in one area that covers nearly 15 square acres - are already as much as 90 percent dead.

Even more disturbing is a recent report that polar bears have been seen killing and eating dolphins. That in itself isn't news, but the fact that it happened this spring, instead of during the warmer summer months, has never been seen before.


Recent NASA data has given us some remarkable graphics that show how the world's aquifers are losing their water at "alarming" rates, according to scientists. The data shows that more than half of the planet's 37 largest aquifers are being depleted. Given that the groundwater reserves take thousands of years to accumulate, one of the scientists described the situation as "critical."

São Paulo, Brazil, a mega-city of over 20 million people, has been pushed to the verge of severe water rationing, as its largest water reservoir is on pace to dry up completely by August.

In Chile, most of the ski areas have completely bare slopes. Santiago, which sits below all the ski resorts, has seen a scant 1.2 centimeters of rain this year, which is a jaw-dropping 86 percent less than normal.

North Korea is facing its worst drought in recorded history, which has sparked fears of a worsening of already severe food shortages.

The worst regional drought in nearly 10 years is hammering southern Africa, causing Zimbabweans to go hungry as crop failure has become rampant. The drought threatens to persist.

Meanwhile Nicaragua, the country with the most abundant water sources in its region (it even has the word "agua" as part of its very name), is experiencing one of its worst water shortages in five decades.

California's drought has taken at least a $2.7 billion toll on the state's agriculture.

In the United States, a record drought in Oklahoma has given wheat farmers there a glimpse of what is to come, although recent wet weather has ended the drought for now. Scientists are warning that the region should brace itself for a growing number of hotter, drier days in the future.

Farms in Utah are being wracked by drought, as officials in that state have begun rationing water, causing farmers there to worry about even more cutbacks as summer progresses.

In California, the Salton Sea - the largest lake in the state - is drying out of existence, giving us another indicator of how deep the drought is now embedded in the state's climate.

In monetary terms, a recent report shows that California's drought has taken at least a $2.7 billion toll on the state's agriculture. Obviously, that number is sure to continue to rise.

As is happening globally now, residents in some towns in central California are suffering from a health crisis that stems from not having running water and breathing increasingly dusty air, due to the drought. Respiratory problems are becoming rampant throughout the state.

In Canada, John Pomeroy, the director of the Centre for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan, recently spent time high up in the Rocky Mountains, along the British Columbia-Alberta divide. He witnessed clear signs of the highly damaging drought plaguing his country. Due to record dry spells, dramatically decreased river flows and the shortage of runoff water, Pomeroy said that western Canada is likely in the midst of a long-term drought.

The flip side of the water climate coin is flooding. In the United States, unprecedented amounts of rainfall across Texas and Oklahoma recently are evidence of what happens when a warming atmosphere becomes saturated with more water vapor than it used to be able to hold: yet another harbinger of our future.

By the end of the century, it is feasible that Mount Everest could be entirely without glaciers.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that the latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report showed that this May was the wettest month ever recorded in the United States, despite the mega-drought in California and the West. Obviously, scientists have linked these phenomena to ACD.

Dramatic changes are happening in most of the planet's highest places, given the rapidly accelerating melting of glaciers. Even Mount Everest, the highest point on earth, is witnessing massive changes. A recent report in the journal The Cryosphere found that thousands of glaciers across the Himalayas will likely shrink by 70 to 99 percent by 2100.

Thus, by the end of the century, it is feasible that Mount Everest could be entirely without glaciers.

Another recent study linked intensifying weather events - like the extreme cold that wracked the eastern United States last winter and spring, along with the record flooding that hit Britain - to the rapid loss of Arctic ice. This doesn't bode well, as the Arctic summer sea ice will likely begin to vanish entirely for short periods, starting as early as next summer.

A unique photography project in Alaska has captured ACD impacts over time in a stunning way. The photos are hard to look at, but everyone should see them. They represent a kind of before-and-after view of what ACD is doing to one of the most beautiful areas on the planet. The project shows dramatically reduced glacial coverage in multiple areas of Alaska, including areas that used to be heavily glaciated, which are now completely ice-free.

The project became even more relevant when a recent report was published that shows how glaciers in Alaska have lost 75 gigatons (75 billion metric tons) of ice per year, from 1994 through 2013.

In comparison, this number is roughly half of the amount of ice loss for all of Antarctica (159 billion metric tons). This new data also indicates that the Alaska region alone likely contributed several millimeters to the global sea level rise in the past few decades.


The changing chemistry of the planet's atmosphere is causing new positive feedback loops to occur. For example, in Mexico City, warmer temperatures are exacerbating the already horrible smog in that mega-city, as higher temperatures mean that industrial pollutants are released more rapidly into the air.

Another recent report from NASA begins with this worrisome observation: "In the third week of May, it was warmer in Fairbanks, Alaska, than in Washington, DC. The small town of Eagle, Alaska, was hotter on May 23 than it has been on any day in Houston or Dallas this year. In what has become a frequent occurrence in the past few years, temperature profiles in North America appeared to be upside down."

The report, titled "Baked Alaska," includes a fascinating temperature anomaly map, and notes:

On May 23, the air temperature at Fairbanks International Airport reached 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), breaking the record of 80°F (26.7°C) from 2002. That same day, thermometers hit 91°F (32.8°C) in Eagle, marking the earliest 90-degree day in state history. The town had nine consecutive days above 80°F. In Barrow, Alaska, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, temperatures climbed to 47°F on May 21, close to 18°F above normal. Temperatures normally do not reach that high until mid-June.

Thus, not surprisingly, Alaska had its hottest May in recorded history.

India, ranked as the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, recently had to cope with one of the single deadliest heat waves to ever have hit the country, which killed over 2,500 people. The heat wave was at least the fourth deadliest in world history.

"Let us not fool ourselves that there is no connection between the unusual number of deaths from the ongoing heat wave and the certainty of another failed monsoon," Harsh Vardhan, India's earth sciences minister, told Reuters.

"It's not just an unusually hot summer; it is climate change."

As the heat and death toll continued to rise in India, scientists asked if this was really a glimpse of earth's future: a planet rife with skyrocketing temperatures and the human impacts to match.

Lastly in this section, a recent study published in Geophysical Research Letters shows that the warming generated by carbon dioxide released by burning coal exceeds the heat generated by said combustion in a mere 34 days. In other words, ACD does not take years or decades for its impacts to be felt, as was previously believed: Changes can happen alarmingly quickly.


As wildfires burn out of control from southern California all the way up the West Coast of the United States and across Alaska, a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists is worth highlighting. The group has warned of the direct links between ACD and drier soil, less moisture, changing precipitation levels and patterns, droughts, and the increasing frequency and severity of wildfires. Scientists emphasize that the connection between the fires and ACD must be recognized and confronted.

Denial and Reality

This month, the voices of climate denial did not fail to disappoint.

Not surprisingly, shareholders of the top two largest US oil companies, Exxon and Chevron, recently rejected proposals to add directors with expertise in studying ACD to their boards. It'd be bad for profits, of course.

The oil giants got some help from the US House of Representatives, which this month passed a bill that would make funding cuts to climate research done by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

On the other hand, Pope Francis let loose on ACD deniers in his recently released encyclical, in which he stated unequivocally that "the bulk of global warming" is anthropogenic, and called on everyone to take steps to mitigate the damage by reducing consumption and reliance upon fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, another recently published report has shown that as carbon dioxide levels continue to increase over time, the planet will become progressively less able to sequester carbon dioxide in the soil or deep in the oceans, as both carbon sinks become supersaturated.

"If all of the carbon of permafrost was released, at that point, this is not going to be a habitable planet for humans."

A climate researcher with the Woods Hole Research Center, Susan Natali, recently told a reporter that as global temperatures continue to increase, thawing permafrost is releasing larger amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, which of course cause temperatures to warm even further. Thus, the positive feedback loop feeds upon itself, a phenomenon that underpins runaway ACD.

"If all of the carbon of permafrost was released, at that point, this is not going to be a habitable planet for humans," Natali warned.

All of this information, taken together, paints an increasingly bleak scene for the planet and its species - including, of course, humans.

This could be why James Lovelock, the celebrated scientist and environmentalist who created the Gaia hypothesis, recently stated, "Saving the planet is a foolish, romantic extravagance."

He added that as climate disruption spins further out of control, "The civilizations of the northern hemisphere would be utterly destroyed, no doubt about it. But it would give life elsewhere a chance to recover. I think actually that Gaia might heave a sigh of relief."

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Vox Not Populi: Slick Propaganda Effort on Ukraine Misses the Point

Vox Publication Warns of World War Danger But Its Explanation Is a Tired Refrain

by New Cold

July 2, 2015

The online, corporate publication has published a lengthy analysis of the growing war danger in the conflict between the countries of the NATO military alliance and Russia, including the threat of nuclear weapons.

Vox feature warns the world of the Russian war threat

The article is titled ‘How World War Three became possible’ and was published on June 29.

A great many analysts and writers are warning of precisely the danger of generalized and even nuclear war as NATO expands eastward in Europe. The imperialist alliance is expanding its bases and its list of potential country members closer and closer to the Russian border. Key writings of these analysts are compiled on a special page on the New Cold website: Nuclear war danger.

Their warnings are confirmed by the news reports that the U.S. has embarked on a trillion-dollar “modernization” of its nuclear weapons arsenal and delivery systems. It is developing a new generation of hyper-sonic missiles where early detection of a firing is more difficult and is considering redeploying medium-range nuclear missiles to Europe. The U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal in Europe has declined in the past several decades due to European citizen protests and some international agreements, such as the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union.

But the conflict with Russia over Ukraine is serving as a pretext for the U.S. and NATO to reverse the course of a lessening of nuclear tensions and raise the spectre of new deployments.

Never mind all that and more, reports Vox. It begins its article with a familiar refrain, “It was in August 2014 that the real danger began and we heard the first warnings of war. That month, unmarked Russian troops covertly invaded eastern Ukraine, where the separatist conflict had grown out of its control…”

And further, “Western nations worry, with reason, that Russia could use the threat of war, or provoke an actual conflict, to fracture NATO and its commitment to defend Eastern Europe.”

Just in case the message isn’t clear, “Should the warnings prove right and a major war breaks out in Europe between Russia and the West, then the story of that war, if anyone is still around to tell it, will begin with Russian President Vladimir Putin trying to solve a problem. That problem is this: Putin’s Russia is weak.”

“Knowing his military is outmatched against the Americans, he is blurring the distinction between war and peace, deploying tactics that exist in, and thus widen, the gray between: militia violence, propaganda, cyberattacks, under a new rubric the Russian military sometimes calls ‘hybrid war’.” (For the record, the concept ‘hybrid war’ is a Western invention and obfuscation.)

Vox employs an interesting ruse to convince its readers. A crude, anti Russia argument would look unconvincing. Crude argumentation is losing credibility. Even Western governments are now openly admitting that their propaganda war over Ukraine is losing ground amongst their skeptical public. Alternative news sources, notably, are gaining favour. No, the war danger, we read, is due to the excessive zeal of Russian political or military leaders in which they might inadvertently stumble their way into war. Add that to a too-clever-by-half scheming that Russia can get around the nuclear weapons dominance of the U.S. by playing with less-than-all-out war plans which nonetheless involve deadly nuclear weapons and, voila, the new danger of world war.

“The Western side believes it is playing a game where the rules are clear enough, the stakes relatively modest, and the competition easily winnable. The Russian side, however, sees a game where the rules can be rewritten on the fly, even the definition of war itself altered.”

Then we enter the territory of SCARY HISTORICAL ANALOGY. “Today’s Russia, once more the strongest nation in Europe and yet weaker than its collective enemies, calls to mind the turn-of-the-century German Empire, which Henry Kissinger described as ‘too big for Europe, but too small for the world’.

“Now, as then, a rising power, propelled by nationalism, is seeking to revise the European order. Now, as then, it believes that through superior cunning, and perhaps even by proving its might, it can force a larger role for itself. Now, as then, the drift toward war is gradual and easy to miss — which is exactly what makes it so dangerous.”

Following that foray, Vox describes four scenarios of “How it could happen”, that is, a new world war could break out. Each scenario is founded on an initial act of Russian aggression.

Then we arrive at the ‘accident’ thesis: “If an accident or miscalculation were to lead to a border skirmish, all it would take is for the Kremlin to misperceive the fighting as the beginning of an assault toward Moscow and its own doctrine would call for using nuclear weapons. Indeed, it would be the only way to avoid total defeat.” There you have it: ‘It’s not that we here at Vox are clumsy, anti-Russia propagandists. No, no, we’re genuinely concerned that “something” untoward could happen.’

Part nine of the 12-part article returns us to the original theme: “The nuclear dangers: How Putin is pushing us back to the brink”. From there to the end it is full-on ‘Putin is playing with nuclear fire and, gosh, we folks here at Vox think you should know about it.’

As we wrote at the outset of this commentary, go to the many serious writers at the Nuclear war danger web page to read about today’s war danger in Europe. If you want slick propaganda and have a lurid interest in hypothetical war games scenarios, Vox is a recommended read.

Say Anything: Can Canada Believe Trudeau's Promise?

Meet Canada’s Latest Liberal Man-Boy

by Murray Dobbin - CounterPunch

Here we go again — the Red Book 3.0. Yet another build-up of Liberal election promises just like the ones we’ve seen before (though I admit the one about changing the voting system might be hard to dodge).

The most infamous, of course, was Jean Chretien’s, which he held high and waved at every opportunity in the 1993 election. Co-authored by Paul Martin, it promised the world as we would like it: strong communities, enhanced Medicare, equality, increased funding for education, an end to child poverty. You could almost hear the violins playing. But what turned out to be the most remarkable thing about the book of promises was the record number that were ultimately broken: all of them.

The only time you can trust the federal Liberal Party is when they don’t have a majority — and even with a minority government they have to dragged kicking and screaming to do anything that does not please Bay Street. This fact needs to be repeated over and over again in the next few months leading up to the election as political amnesia is a dangerous condition to take with you into the voting booth.

It’s been 10 years since we had a Liberal government and even longer since we had a majority Liberal regime. A trip down memory lane might serve as a curative.

The effect of amnesia as it relates to the Chretien regime (actually the Martin regime) leaves most Canadians recalling Martin as the deficit dragon-slayer, saving us from our profligate, self-indulgent, entitlement culture and getting us back on the road to solvency. A few will actually recall that Martin chopped 40 per cent off the federal contribution to social programs — but even that memory is diluted by another one: the legendary “debt wall” built exclusively of hyperbole and hysteria over the three years preceding the 1993 election.

But few today would credit the fact, documented in my book Paul Martin: CEO for Canada?, that the 1990s under Martin’s guidance was the worst decade of the century (except for the 1930s) in terms of growth, productivity, productive investment, employment and standard of living.

Unemployment was higher during almost all of Martin’s reign than it was as a result of the 2008 financial crisis.

But what is worse, this so-called liberal actually made it happen. It was a deliberate strategy, fancied up in policy terms as a commitment to “labour flexibility.” The social and economic carnage and the increased personal misery (an additional 300,000 unemployed) was staggering.

Yet because it was all couched in double-speak, Martin and the Liberals were never held to account. The finance ministry’s senior officials convinced Martin that the principal cause of unemployment was not low demand but unmotivated workers. The solution — make them more “flexible.” The best way to do that was to ensure that unemployment remained high. The finance department’s operating policy assumption (radical compared to the U.S. and other G7 nations) was that the “natural” level of unemployment was eight per cent — much higher than the five to six per cent that conventional theory suggested. But the spin never mentioned this number. It was always about keeping inflation below two per cent, extremely low given the country was barely out of a recession. The Bank of Canada worked closely with the government, increasing interest rates whenever unemployment went below about nine per cent.

The cost to the economy was brutal. The federal Human Resources Development Department calculated that Martin’s excessive unemployment cost the country’s GDP $77 billion just in 1993. Pierre Fortin, a distinguished economist at the Université du Québec à Montréal, calculated the radical policy cost the economy $400 billion between by 1996. A Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) study calculated the total loss to all levels of government in foregone revenue and increased social security costs at $47 billion.

Martin pounded labour in other ways. He slashed UI eligibility and eliminated the federal government’s role in maintaining decent social assistance rates.

At the same time, he was making the largest cuts to federal spending in the country’s history — including a massive 40 per cent cut to Medicare, education and social assistance.

Throughout this period the Liberal a government and its cheerleaders in the media framed the exercise as “deficit fighting.” But according to then CAW economist Jim Stanford, had Martin simply frozen federal spending and allowed unemployment to drop to six per cent, the deficit would have disappeared just one year later than it did. Martin knew all of this but two years after launching his “labour flexibility” program he proudly revealed his actual goal in his 1995 budget speech to Parliament, announcing the massive cuts. He never mentioned the word deficit — because that was not his target.

All those cuts by Martin were intended, in his words, to “redesign the very role and structure of government itself. [A]s far as we are concerned, it is [the] redefinition of government itself that is the main achievement of this budget. This budget overhauls not only how government works but what government does.”

Martin’s biggest boast? “Relative to the size of our economy, program spending will be lower in 1996-97 than at any time since 1951.”

To guarantee his handiwork would not be challenged by any future government, Martin, in 2000, introduced the country’s largest ever tax cuts: $100 billion over five years with the vast majority of the total going to high income individuals and corporations.

Why is Paul Martin’s appalling record relevant today? Because Liberal and Conservative politicians with rare exceptions (like Stephen Harper) are largely at the mercy of their bureaucracies and the agenda of the economic elite at the moment. In Martin’s case he was easily manipulated by his deputy minister David Dodge, in spite of the fact that Martin had a reputation for being supportive of activist government. His first, 1993, budget actually increased spending.

One of the Liberals’ main election planks in the 1993 election was job creation. Supporting this goal was Martin’s junior finance minister Doug Peters — an exceptional economist with excellent standing on Bay Street having worked for the TD bank as its senior economist for many years before jumping into politics. But in the end Martin, a long-time corporate CEO, could not have made any other choice. Dodge just made it easy for him. Martin was a Liberal finance minister at a time of unprecedented corporate power and its merger with the state. His role was assigned to him before he even got there. (Dodge actually lobbied Chretien to appoint him.)

Liberal politicians, with few exceptions, are captive to their neoliberal advisors, bureaucratic apparatchiks and senior corporate power brokers as soon as they actually get into power. This political capture is a likely prediction for Justin Trudeau if he ever becomes prime minister. Martin was not a blank slate — he was sophisticated, self-confident, with strong personality and a well developed liberal vision. He lasted a year.

Justin Trudeau, the man/boy, seems to have never had an original idea in his life nor any discernible vision of the country that drives his politics. No matter how long he is on the scene as a potential PM I cannot get past reacting to him as if he is an MC at a high school prom.

He is all artifice. More than any Liberal party leader in the past 35 years Trudeau is an empty vessel with little choice but to be filled up by his party’s corporate brain trust.

Bay Street desperately wants back into the game and the Liberals are their only option. While they have been given lots of goodies by Harper, they have been cut off from their historic role as the principal source of federal policy making. (Harper doesn’t care what they think.) In addition, the federal bureaucracy has been made to reflect the ideology of pro-business “efficiency” to such an extent over the past 20 years a genuine small-l liberal would have to replace most of it to get any advice contrary to the status-quo.

Justin doesn’t have a chance. The promises he makes will not be his to keep.

MURRAY DOBBIN, now living in Powell River, BC has been a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for over forty years. He now writes a bi-weekly column for the on-line journals the Tyee and He can be reached at

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Getting 'To The Ends of the Earth' Made

To the Ends of the Earth

by WhiteGoldProductionsInc.

To the Ends of the Earth follows a group of concerned citizens and experts as they bear witness to humanity’s descent further down the “resource pyramid.”

At the top of the pyramid, energy is easy to find and cheap, and it requires minimal labour and has the highest capital and energy return on investment, as in the case of Saudi oil. In the middle of the pyramid, resources are more difficult and costly to extract, as in the case of the Alberta tar sands and shale gas:

“Drill, baby, drill” has become “mine, baby, mine,” “steam, baby, steam,” and “frack, baby, frack.”

At the bottom of the pyramid there are resources such as Utah’s oil shale, the economic feasibility of which, despite billions in investments, remains uncertain. After ten years of rather intensive global development, “unconventional resources” now comprise 42% of the planet’s energy mix.

We meet some fascinating people along the way. A petroleum geologist trying to hold his industry accountable for its practices, a university professor who risks losing her home to fight a pipeline, a woman who has already lost her home to a flood, an environmental lawyer who has switched from defending the fracking industry to fighting against it, a seal hunter worried about gargantuan oil spills in his home- one of the most pristine places on earth. All of these people give us a window into the new energy age we have stumbled unwittingly into.

Given that 95% of all economic transactions in our globalized economy bear the footprint of fossil fuels, does this spell the end of economic growth for our civilization?

To the Ends of the Earth brings forward the voices of those who not only denounce the rise of extreme energy, but also envision the new world that is taking shape in its stead: a future beyond the resource pyramid, a post-growth economy.

Baskin's Modest Palestine Peace Proposal

Baskin’s Generous Offer: Making Peace with Israeli Occupation

by Ramzy Baroud -

It would be fair to assume that Gershon Baskin’s recent article in the Jerusalem Post - Encountering Peace: Obviously no peace now, so what then? (June 24) – is not a mere intellectual exercise aimed at finding ‘creative’ solutions to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Baskin is a regular contributor to the Jerusalem Post, a rightwing newspaper. He is more or less embodied in the Israeli political establishment, otherwise, he would have never been allowed to initiate the “secret back channel for the release (of captured Israeli soldier) Gilad Schalit” as he proudly states in his bio.

In the article, Baskin offers a way to manage the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem. Not an end to the occupation, but a gentler way to sustain it, if not profit from it. The co-chairman of ‘Israel Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives’ is indeed being ‘creative’, the kind of creativity that brought about the Village Leagues, Oslo and the Geneva Initiative without truly delving into the heart of the matter – the illegality and brutality of Israel’s occupation, sieges and wars.

Baskin’s reading of the situation is quite bleak. He carefully tries not to place any responsibility on any side for the lack of any political horizon, as a way to gain credibility. “Neither side seems to be particularly interested in escalation and violence,” he wrote, reaching a puzzling conclusion that seems at odd with reality, at least Palestinian reality: “Noteworthy is the sense that the young people on both sides have of being more interested in their daily lives than in national causes.”

One is not entirely certain how the daily lives of ‘Israeli youth’, who serve in the very military that is dedicated to subduing ‘Palestinian youth’ are in anyway comparable.

But that aside, Baskin has a solution, one that requires a degree of flexibility on the part of the Israeli government, to show more leniency in the way it manages its occupation of the Palestinians. Baskin calls on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take the initiative of making border areas places of trade and economic exchanges, and to make the permit system required of Palestinian to move about in their own occupied land more efficient.

Just in case, one would conflate Baskin’s imitative with Netanyahu’s gambit in 2008-09 of ‘economic peace’ – aimed largely at maintaining the profitable occupation, subduing the Palestinians and avoiding any political accountability – Baskin calls on Netanyahu to “be careful not to use concepts like ‘economic peace’ which are immediately interpreted as a means to replace ‘political peace,’ meaning the end of the occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state.”

“There should be no spin and no lies. There is no chance of negotiating peace now, so let’s see what can be done to improve the lives of people until there is a chance of making peace,” he wrote, more or less the same guiding principles behind Netanyahu’s ‘economic peace.’

Interestingly, the word settlements (as in ‘illegal settlements’ as designated by international law) is not mentioned by Baskin. Not once. And knowing of Netanyahu’s adamant position on the continued expansion of the illegal settlements, Baskin’s omission of the topic altogether must also mean that his proposal is not pre-conditioned on ending or at least freezing the theft of Palestinian land for settlement construction.

Another omission is that of any references to international law, and the Fourth Geneva Convention in particular. By treating Palestinians with respect (the ‘inefficiency’ at the Qalanidya checkpoint was Baskin’s main example) is not a favor that is to be bestowed by Netanyahu and his army, but has been long articulated in the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

Article 50, for example, reads, “The Occupying Power shall, with the cooperation of the national and local authorities, facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children.”

By ceasing to target Palestinian children, whether through arrests or violence, Israel would hardly be extending a hand for peace or co-existence. In other words, what Baskin is asking for by way to manage the Israeli occupation, is a requirement by international law that should have been put in place decades ago, as a prerequisite to ending the occupation.

Also not mentioned in Baskin’s ‘so what then?’ initiative is Gaza, whose children have been starved and killed with impunity throughout 9 years of a protracted and heinous siege that is only interrupted by deadly and more heinous Israeli wars. The latest UN report on Israel’s war on Gaza in 2014 leaves no doubt that Netanyahu, and his governments hadn’t the slightest intentions of honoring international law, respecting UN conventions on children or civilians during time of war, or reaching any political settlements, not now or ever.

But why did Baskin neglect Gaza altogether? It cannot be that the man who wrote and profited from a book about his Gaza-related adventures called, “The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas”, failed to understand the centrality of the Gaza siege to the overall Palestinian national discourse.

So what is really behind Baskin’s supposed bold proposal?

Baskin is very close to those in power. His initiatives are rarely his own, and the latest is a mere reflection of the political bankruptcy of Netanyahu’s government.

Baskin is, of course wrong. Palestinians have shown much willingness to end the conflict in a method that hinges on Israel’s respect for international law, including the ending of the construction of illegal settlements.

Now that Netanyahu’s government is stacked with more rightwing zealots - individuals who made careers and gained famed and notoriety, because of their insistence on the maintaining of the occupation, and feeding off, politically and financially, the illegal settlements - a return to the ‘negotiation table’ is unattainable.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, is finding itself in an impossible situation; whereas, on one hand it is reaping the ample benefits of being the caretaker government of an imagined ‘authority’, itself under Israeli occupation, and on the other, it is having to seek international recognition of a Palestinian state, a matter that is most upsetting for Israel.

Moreover, the United States, which seems to have given up on persuading Netanyahu to reengage in the ‘peace process’, has now moved on to more pressing matters in the region, which balances are more fractious than ever before.

The US is also mellowing down, at least for now, with its obsession with the perceived Iranian nuclear threat. If an agreement is reached between Iran and the US and its allies, then Israel would have no other option but to find another enemy to justify its military belligerence and heightened sense of political urgency.

Indeed, that new enemy is being quickly manufactured, as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and powerful US-based Zionists such as Sheldon Adelson seem to all agree that the non-violent civil society-empowered movement: BDS, aimed at boycotting, divestment and sanctioning Israel, is Israel’s greatest threat.

While Israel gears up for its new ‘existential’ battle against civil society organizations, it’s keen on normalizing the occupation of Palestine. This is why the ‘economic peace’ formula keeps resurfacing every now and then, the latest being Baskin’s elucidation.

But peace is not war, and Baskin should know that not a single past formula aimed at fashioning a ‘peaceful’ military occupation has ever worked. He also ought to remember that the so-called golden age of the Israeli occupation was precisely that few years that preceded the First Palestinian Uprising in 1987. It was then that all hell broke loose.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is:

Old Growth Logging in Clayoquot "Destroying Shark Creek"

Old Growth Logging Near Sulphur Pass in Clayoquot Sound

by Tribal Fire

These pictures were taken three days ago. The large old growth trees are being stockpiled and the land is drying out from the intense drought and winds taking place here on the coast. Shark Creek watershed is being destroyed. The logging is being contracted out to a company from Prince Rupert with only one permanent First Nations person working for Iisaak, Spencer Touchie from Ucluelet.

We do not support the plans for the ongoing commercial logging of old growth forests from Clayoquot Sound by Iisaak.

The following are some of the reasons for this:

1. Whole logs are being exported from Clayoquot Sound without processing here into lumber, nor are they being sold in this area for local purposes.
2. Old growth forests are endangered and very little remains of this unique ecosystem anywhere in the world at present.
3. Climate change is being exacerbated by the ongoing massive destruction of forests which sequester Carbon Dioxide. This is a most serious situation globally and we are experiencing the effects of this from drought and extreme weather in this area as well.
4. Old growth forests maintain watershed protection and hold moisture to ensure waterways are always flowing. Humans are not the only ones who require flowing rivers and streams.
5. These forests provide unique biodiversity that has hardly been studied enough to know what it maintains and ensures for the future. Many species depend upon it's integrity for nesting, forage, protection and survival.

6. Erosion due to logging in coastal areas where harsh weather conditions and heavy rains and winds from the ocean are a given. Landslides and siltation, blowdown and loss of soil cover are found especially in areas where these ancient forests have been disturbed.

7. These forests are a once only wonder of the world and once gone, they will never be again, have we lost our appreciation of a sense of wonder, especially for our children and grandchildren?

8. Species such as wild salmon, bears, cougar, marbled murrelets, eagles, herons, osprey, giant salamanders,
elk, deer, and many species of insects, mosses, lichens, ferns and a myriad of other plant, animal and bird life need these forests for survival.