Saturday, July 11, 2015

Evo Evokes Again Liberation Theology at Francis Meeting

Bolivian President Confuses Pope by Handing Him Famous Symbol of Anti-Religious Ideology

by Ben Mathis-Lilley and Juliana Jiménez Jaramillo - Slate

The pope seems briefly confused, likely because the hammer and sickle is the iconic symbol of Soviet Communism, an anti-religious ideology of which Francis' predecessor John Paul II was a famous opponent

In fact, Francis appears to respond initially to the item by saying "That is not okay." (In Spanish: "No está bien eso." The pope is a native of Argentina.)

Morales handing Pope cross 
resembling hammer and sickle

Putin Hits the BRICS

Putin Leads BRICS Uprising

by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch

There’s been a virtual blackout of news from this year’s seventh annual BRICS summit in Ufa, Russia. None of the mainstream media organizations are covering the meetings or making any attempt to explain what’s going on. As a result, the American people remain largely in the dark about a powerful coalition of nations that are putting in place an alternate system that will greatly reduce US influence in the world and end the current era of superpower rule.

Let’s cut to the chase: Leaders of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) realize that global security cannot be entrusted to a country that sees war as a acceptable means for achieving its geopolitical objectives. They also realize that they won’t be able to achieve financial stability as long as Washington dictates the rules, issues the de facto “international” currency, and controls the main levers of global financial power.

This is why the BRICS have decided to chart a different course, to gradually break free from the existing Bretton Woods system, and to create parallel system that better serves their own interests. Logically, they have focused on the foundation blocks which support the current US-led system, that is, the institutions from which the United States derives its extraordinary power; the dollar, the US Treasury market, and the IMF. Replace these, the thinking goes, and the indispensable nation becomes just another country struggling to get by.

This is from the Asia Times:

“Leaders of the BRICS… launched the New Development Bank, which has taken three years of negotiations to bring to fruition. With about $50 billion in starting capital, the bank is expected to start issuing debt to fund infrastructure projects next year. They also launched a foreign-exchange currency fund of $100 billion.

The two new endeavors are statements that the five largest emerging markets are both looking out for each other and, simultaneously, moving away from the western financing institutions of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

“The BRICS states intend to actively use their own resources and internal resources for development,” Putin said, according to Reuters. “The New (Development) Bank will help finance joint, large-scale projects in transport and energy infrastructure, industrial development.”…..Birthing the two initiatives in Russia had been Putin’s top priorities.”

(“Russia’s Putin scores points at Ufa BRICS summit“, Asia Times)

Can you see what’s going on? Putin has figured out the empire’s vulnerabilities and he’s going straight for the jugular. He’s saying: ‘We’re going to issue our own debt, we’re going to run our own system, we’re going to fund our own projects, and we’re going to do it all in our own currency. Kaboom. The only thing you’re going to be doing, is managing your own accelerating economic decline. Have a good day.’ Isn’t that the gist of what he’s saying?

So can you see, dear reader, why none of this is appearing on the pages of US newspapers or on US television. Washington would rather you didn’t know how they’ve bungled everything by alienating the fastest growing countries in the world.

The Ufa conference is a watershed moment. While the Pentagon is rapidly moving troops and military hardware to Russia’s borders, and one bigwig after another is bloviating about the “Russian threat”; the BRICS have moved out of Washington’s orbit altogether. They are following the leadership of men who, frankly speaking, are acting exactly like US leaders acted when the US was on the upswing.

These are guys who “think big”; who want to connect continents with high-speed rail, lift living standards across the board, and transform themselves into manufacturing dynamos. What do America’s leaders dream about: Drone warfare? Balancing the budget? Banning the Confederate flag?

It’s a joke. No one in Washington has a plan for the future. It’s all just political opportunism and posturing. Check this out from The Hindu:

“China and Russia have described BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) as the core of a new international order…

Russian President Vladimir Putin said… “There is no doubt — we have all necessary premises to expand the horizons of mutually beneficial cooperation, to join together our raw material resources, human capital and huge consumer markets for a powerful economic spurt.”

Russia’s Tass news agency also quoted Mr. Putin as saying that the Eurasian continent had vast transit potential. He pointed to “the construction of new efficient transport and logistics chains, in particular, the implementation of the initiative of the Silk Road economic belt and the development of transportation in the eastern part of Russia and Siberia. This may link the rapidly growing markets in Asia and Europe’s economies, mature, rich in industrial and technological achievements. At the same time, this will allow our countries to become more commercially viable in the competition for investors, for creating new jobs, for advanced enterprises,” he observed.”….

The summit also acknowledged “the potential for expanding the use of our national currencies in transactions between the BRICS countries.” (“BRICS, SCO, EAEU can define new world order: China, Russia“, The Hindu)

The dollar is toast. The IMF is toast. The US debt market (US Treasuries) is toast. The institutions that support US power are crumbling before our very eyes. The BRICS have had enough; enough war, enough Wall Street, enough meddling and hypocrisy and austerity and lecturing. This is farewell. Sure, it will take time, but Ufa marks a fundamental change in thinking, a fundamental change in approach, and a fundamental change in strategic orientation.

The BRICS are not coming back, they’re gone for good, just as Washington’s “pivot to Asia” is gone for good. There’s just too much resistance. Washington has simply overplayed its hand, worn out its welcome. People are sick of us.

Can you blame them?

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

Taking to the Waters of Howe Sound

LNG Opponents Take to Waters of Howe Sound for Flotilla

by Common Sense Canadian

My Sea to Sea and other groups fighting to save Howe Sound from a proposed LNG plant and dangerous tanker traffic are inviting citizens to join them on the water Saturday July 11.

“Are you ready to make some noise to Save Our Sound?” ask the Save Our Sound Day organizers.
“Vote with your boat and say NO to LNG tankers in Howe Sound!”

The flotilla will gather at Bowyer Island at 11 AM and travel along the proposed LNG tanker route.

WHEN: Saturday, July 11, 10:30AM-afternoon
WHERE: Bowyer Island, Howe Sound, Bowen Island

Organizers encourage participants to send hornblows to Premier Clark to let her know how they feel about the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant. Participants are asked to register by emailing with their planned departure point, number of guests and vessel – boat, kayak or paddleboard.

The program for the day is as follows (see corresponding map):

(1) 10:30am l Press Conference Horseshoe Bay.

All encouraged to attend regardless if you are joining flotilla

(2) 11am | Flotilla gathers east of Bowyer Island.

Monitor VHF Ch 69

(3) 12pm | Hornblows begin!

Flotilla leaves from Bowyer Island (#1) across the proposed LNG tanker route (#3) and up the Sound. The flotilla will traverse the Sound following the “No LNG Tankers” banners on the lead boats arriving at Bowen Island for a festival taking place all weekend.

Post photos and your message to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, using hashtags: .@christyclarkbc NO #LNG #yvr #climate #bcpoli #howesound

This is how we send our messages!

(4) Arrive at Bowen Island at 1pm
The Steamship Festival is taking place all weekend. Music, Art, Food, Car and Boat Show. Festival details.

NOTE – Important change to earlier plans:

Due to smoke concerns in the northern section of Howe Sound the Future of Howe Sound Society cancelld the “Save Our Sound” concert at Ekins point, instead the Flotilla will make it to Halkett Point and then head south along the Bowen Island East Shore to Snug Cove, Bowen Island where people can enjoy the free music festival at the Steamship Days.

Kayaks and paddleboards can send of the Flotilla and then meet again in Snug Cove, Bowen Island


WTF? Greece

Greek government approves brutal austerity measures in proposal to EU

by Alex Lantier - WSWS

10 July 2015

Greece’s Syriza-led government agreed to a massive new €13 billion (US$14.34 billion) package of austerity measures yesterday evening, less than a week after Sunday’s landslide “no” vote in a referendum on European Union (EU) austerity.

The proposal would be the deepest package of cuts since the EU austerity drive began in Greece in late 2009. It goes well beyond the proposed €8 to 9 billion in cuts initially demanded by the EU in talks with Syriza.

The 13-page proposal was submitted to the EU, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB) before the midnight deadline previously set by the institutions.

In exchange for cuts, the Greek government is reportedly asking for a €53.5 billion ($59.2 billion) loan to the Greek state and some form of debt restructuring, allowing it to avoid state bankruptcy and remain in the euro currency area.

The austerity measures reportedly include sharp increases in the regressive VAT sales tax and an increase in the retirement age to 67 by 2022. The elimination of additional payments to the poorest pensioners will take place by the end of 2019, a year earlier than previously scheduled.

Plans for the privatization of state assets, including ports and airports, will go forward. The proposal also includes a reported increase of the corporate tax to 28 percent, rather than 29 percent, a reduction requested by the IMF.

In proposing the new austerity package, Syriza has with extraordinary rapidity repudiated the vote in Sunday’s referendum, which Syriza itself had called and presented as a model of democratic accountability. More than 61 percent of the population rejected precisely the measures that the government has now adopted.

Even as Syriza officially called for a “no” vote, Tsipras had no intention of fighting EU austerity. The prime minister expected to lose the vote and, in response, abandon office and leave it to another government to impose the cuts. (See also: Tsipras petitions EU for new austerity deal)

Following the vote, the Syriza-led government has moved as quickly as possible to reach an accommodation with the pro-austerity parties within Greece and approve a deal that would be acceptable to the European banks.

The measures were finalized in discussions between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Deputy Prime Minister Yiannis Dragasakis, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Economy Minister Giorgios Stathakis—all from the ruling Syriza (“Coalition of the Radical Left”) party—and adopted by the Greek cabinet on Thursday.

The government is planning to seek a vote in the Greek parliament today, relying on support from the openly pro-austerity New Democracy and PASOK parties. On Saturday, eurozone finance ministers are scheduled to meet to review the proposal, followed by a meeting Sunday of the EU leaders.

The new austerity proposal was rushed through amidst threats from European officials to entirely cut off funding for Greece and force the country out of the eurozone. In response to these threats, Syriza continually refused to take any measures that would threaten capitalist property relations and rejected any appeal to workers throughout Europe for a common struggle against austerity.

It is uncertain whether an agreement will be approved by the EU, even on the surrender terms being offered by Syriza. Sections of the European ruling class are discussing forcing Greece to default on its debts, expelling it from the euro zone, and pushing it through a drastic economic crisis by forcing it to restore a devalued national currency.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said yesterday that any significant restructuring of Greece’s debt was unlikely, as this would violate EU rules.

Other European officials have indicated a desire to reach agreement with the Greek government. Syriza members told the Guardian that French finance ministry officials had worked with Greek Finance Minister Tsakalotos to rewrite the austerity package Athens was proposing, in order to make it acceptable to the EU.

Donald Tusk, the chair of the EU summit, urged European officials to take certain measures to allow Greece to pay back its debt. “The realistic proposal from Greece will have to be matched by an equally realistic proposal on debt sustainability from the creditors,” Tusk said.

Germany has also come under pressure from the Obama administration to ensure that Greece is not pushed out of the eurozone. On Wednesday, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew publicly intervened to push for an agreement on austerity between Greece and the EU and call for some form of “debt restructuring.”

Criticizing those who “create more of these kind of life-and-death deadlines,” Lew said they were creating far greater economic and political risks, including a broader financial panic across southern Europe and the possible splitting of Europe. The US wants to ensure that Greece remains within NATO and continues to support the campaign of military and economic aggression against Russia.

With Greece’s banks still closed and depositors limited to €60 in daily cash withdrawals amid the crisis, the Greek economy is rapidly grinding to a halt.

The National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce released a report Wednesday that found that consumption had fallen 70 percent since the closure of Greece’s banks, costing €1.2 billion to the economy. Greeks are reportedly stocking up on key medicines as well as non-perishable foods, such as rice and pasta, fearing a possible collapse of supplies of imported food and medicine.

The Great Grecian Political Debacle: Greeks into the Streets

Debate Rages in SYRIZA Over Austerity Plan


During the early hours of Saturday morning, the Greek Parliament passed the motion by a majority vote of 250 - 300, but Dimitri Lascaris says this is one of the worst political debacles in modern European history.

Dimitri Lascaris is a partner with the Canadian law firm of Siskinds, where he heads the firm's securities class actions practice. Before joining Siskinds, he practiced securities law in the New York and Paris offices of a major Wall Street law firm. Last year, he was named by Canadian Business magazine as one of the 50 most influential business people in Canada, and was described by the magazine as "the fiercest advocate for shareholder rights" in Canada. He is currently prosecuting numerous securities class actions in Canada, including the Sino-Forest class action, in which his clients just negotiated the largest auditor settlement in Canadian history: a $117 million settlement with the accounting firm Ernst & Young.

Escaping Syria: Noose Rings Tighter Around Palestinian Diaspora

The Noose Tightening Around Syria's Palestinians

by Franklin Lamb

Yarmouk camp, Damascus - Several credible reports this week from Palestinian refugees in Syria and Europe, the latter among those who by various means managed to escape the Syrian conflict with their lives, illustrate the increasing pressure and dangers Palestinians are facing here just trying to survive. And the chances of survival are not likely to improve anything soon.

Three serious cases over the past few days were reported to the Beirut-Washington DC based Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program ( which since the beginning of this year has been able to modestly assist a number of Palestinians from Syria obtain visas and refuge in Europe. Providing some cash, sometimes intervention with the Kafkaesque problems they face at the Syria-Lebanon Masnaa border crossing and often contacting Lebanese General Security regarding those agencies seemingly ever changing requirements and unannounced restrictions. Problems for arrivals from Syria trying to reach European embassies in Lebanon have recently been compounded as the government imposes yet more strict measures for their entry and forward movement to Europe. SSSP has been able to provide some housing in South Beirut while Palestinians from Syria wait to receive their visas-usually a six day process- and then provides transportation to Beirut airport as the Palestinians seek a new life in Europe, pending return to their own country, Palestine.

What is happening this week to Palestinians at Syrian checkpoints between Damascus and the Turkish border has alarmed the Palestinian community here and their supporters. The reason is that once a Palestinian refugee arrives in Europe, the person can apply for refugee status; also for a child, parent or spouse, who, for various reasons were forced to stay behind in Syria. After some months, the European country normally issues visas in favor of the family members so they can travel and the family is reunited. So far so good, but perhaps no longer.

A related case involves minors who sometime arrive to Europe by themselves without a parent. Such as a precious and precocious 15 year old school-girl from Yarmouk camp, 'Farah' who last week traveled, on her own, ignoring this observers fatherly advice, and without a visa, made it to Turkey where she boarded an inflatable boat at Ayvalik with 30 other passengers, and since the motor conked out took turns rowing to the Greek island of Lesbos paying $1000 to a 'holding bank' in Turkey to be paid to the trafficker once she arrived in Lesbos and submitted a code from the bank ( the normal fare from Ayvalik, Turkey to the Greek island Lesbos, on a regular secure and insured tourist boat is 30 euros).

An addition to "Farah", record breaking numbers of migrants are arriving on Lesbos these days, overwhelming local authorities who identify, screen and register arrivals and send them on to the Greek mainland, usually Athens. On 7/5/2015, a record 1,600 Syrians and Palestinians, and some others, arrived at Lesbos in a 24 hour period, whereas the previous daily record was around 500 and where monthly arrivals have grown from 737 in January and 1,002 in February, to 3,348 in March. Almost 5,000 arrived in April and over 7,200 in May. As of this week, more than 6000 refugees have arrived at Lesbos and the numbers keep swelling, part of the 110,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria who have fled to Europe.

Trips such as these are dangerous. Palestinian refugees from Syria are increasingly trying, in the following order of preference, to travel to Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Belgium, Britain, and France to find safety and dignity. About 40,000 have succeeded to date (270,000 Syrians have applied for asylum in Europe so far). Thousands of other Palestinians forced to use 'death boats' have died trying. For example, on 11/10/2013, around 200 Palestinian refugees from Syria drowned. On 6/9/2014, a boat carrying 400 refugees, including a large number of Palestinian Syrians, capsized and only 11 survived. In addition, since late 2011 until today, approximately 3000 Palestinians have been killed inside Syria, without a ceasefire likely anytime soon.

But "Farah" arrived at Lesbos safely last week and was ecstatic when she called me and reported that the six hour boat ride was "fun on the calm sea." Her good luck continued as she got off the boat and started to figure out what to do next, because some Danish tourists saw her and helped her. Three days later "Farah" arrived in Sweden to a new life and plans to apply in the next few days for her parents, in Yarmouk, to come as soon as possible and unite the family, as allowed in the case of minors by all European countries, but not Lebanon. But this young lady's dream may not come true.

As noted above, new procedures at Syrian checkpoints have potentially shattered "Farahs" and other Palestinians dreams of families being reunited in Europe. The reason is that this week credible reports that Palestinian family members who have received visas to join loved ones in Europe, including parents of minors in Europe, are being blocked at Syrian checkpoints and are being jailed or returned to Damascus. There has been no government regulation promulgated on this subject to date and details are still murky.

On 7/8/2015 this observer received a Skype call from an eight member Yarmouk family that the SSSP had helped to resettle in the Netherlands. They reported that their parents, while en route to Turkey to fly to the Netherlands, were stopped at a checkpoint in Syria north of Homs, arrested and jailed. After a few days friends arranged a bribe and they were freed, but they were warned by their jailers that "Palestinians can no longer leave Syria for Europe via Turkey or any other route." As with two other reported cases this week, the only explanation they were given was "if Palestinians left Syria they would lose the Right to Return to Palestine."

Of course this outrageous feeble excuse is patent nonsense. Every Palestinian refugee on earth from the Nakba or Naksa, and offspring, is invested at birth with the Full Right of Return and this right is inalienable and cannot to ceded, relinquished, bargained away or abolished by political leaders, neither by PA officials negotiating with the Zionist apartheid regime, or by anyone else. A Palestinians Full Right of Return is individual and vested in perpetuity--at birth.

But what the new "policy" here does mean is that "Farah" and other families from among the more than 110,000 Palestinians who have fled Syria (270,000 Palestinians are internally displaced inside Syria and most of the rest are under siege) may not be able to be reunited until the conflict ends or this new checkpoint practice is repealed. UNWRA and UNHCR have been informed of this recent devastating development and have pledged they will investigate. So should Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and like-minded humanitarian organizations.

Despite the fact that the Palestinian community in Syria, from the beginning of this conflict, vowed to avoid any involvement and to preserve the symbolism of their cause among the whole population, as well as maintain Palestinian relations with the Syrian government that has given them more civil rights than any other Middle East country, it does not appear likely that in near term scenarios for ending this conflict carry positive prospects for the Palestinians in Syria.
Myriad efforts to enlist the Palestinians in the Syrian conflict has not done much to alter the balance of power among the main belligerents here, but it has benefited the occupiers of Palestine and resulted in more suffering, which today includes the lack of basic family needs, such as food and water, fuel, electricity, healthcare and even ability to communicate with loved ones. In addition to Yamouk, the camps of Khan al-Sheikh, al-Narab and Handarat in the governorates of Damascus and Aleppo, which this observer has visited, are under siege and are facing death.

As a recent (7/8/2015) analysis by Al-Zaytouna Centre's Maher Shawish suggests, whether the conflict continues or the Syrian state disintegrates into sectarian and ethnic entities, Palestinian suffering will continue here, and their numbers will decline in Syria.

The deterioration of conditions of Palestinians in Syria could stop if the rival parties, with support from their regional and international sponsors, could arrive at a political settlement that preserves the Syrian state and its unity, as well as the central cause of people of good will in this region. The cause of Palestine.

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 10, 2015

Paddling for the Peace

10th Annual Paddle for the Peace


Join us to celebrate maintaining the integrity of the Peace River Valley at this unique event. Bring your canoes, kayaks or rafts and participate in a leisurely paddle down a portion of the incredibly scenic Peace River Valley, presently under threat by the unnecessary Site C dam.

Even if you don't have watercraft, please feel free to join us on shore at the launch or takeout.

When: Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Registration: In person, at the event 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
$10 per person; 13 and under free.

Launch: 12 noon at the Halfway River Bridge on Hwy 29 between Fort St. John and Hudson's Hope.

Free Breakfast: 9 - 11 a.m. at the launch site.

Take out: Bear Flat on Hwy 29, approximately 1.5 hr paddle downstream of the launch site. (There is a shuttle bus available to bring you back to get your vehicle from the launch site.)

Free BBQ Lunch: At the takeout site at Bear Flat.

This event is organized and sponsored jointly by the Peace Valley Environment Association, West Moberly First Nations and the Halfway River First Nations.

It is a wonderful opportunity to gather with hundreds of others who appreciate the Peace River Valley for a paddle down the river. Safety boats will accompany the paddlers.

Please feel free to visit for any further details as well as plenty of pictures of past events.

Please share this invite with your friends.

We look forward to seeing you there! :)

The Only Safe America is a Hegemonic America

Pentagon Concludes America Not Safe Unless It Conquers The World

by Paul Craig Roberts

The Pentagon has released its “National Military Strategy of the United States of America 2015,” June 2015.

The document announces a shift in focus from terrorists to “state actors” that “are challenging international norms.” It is important to understand what these words mean.

Governments that challenge international norms are sovereign countries that pursue policies independently of Washington’s policies. These “revisionist states” are threats, not because they plan to attack the US, which the Pentagon admits neither Russia nor China intend, but because they are independent. In other words, the norm is dependence on Washington.

Be sure to grasp the point: The threat is the existence of sovereign states, whose independence of action makes them “revisionist states.” In other words, their independence is out of step with the neoconservative Uni-power doctrine that declares independence to be the right of Washington alone. Washington’s History-given hegemony precludes any other country being independent in its actions.

The Pentagon’s report defines the foremost “revisionist states” as Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. The focus is primarily on Russia.Washington hopes to co-op China, despite the “tension to the Asia-Pacific region” that China’s defense of its sphere of influence, a defense “inconsistent with international law” (this from Washington, the great violator of international law), by turning over what remains of the American consumer market to China. It is not yet certain that Iran has escaped the fate that Washington imposed on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Ukraine, and by complicity Palestine.

The Pentagon report is sufficiently audacious in its hypocrisy, as all statements from Washington are, to declare that Washington and its vassals “support the established institutions and processes dedicated to preventing conflict, respecting sovereignty, and furthering human rights.” This from the military of a government that has invaded, bombed, and overthrown 11 governments since the Clinton regime and is currently working to overthrow governments in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, and Argentina.

In the Pentagon document, Russia is under fire for not acting “in accordance with international norms,” which means Russia is not following Washington’s leadership.

In other words, this is a bullshit report written by neocons in order to foment war with Russia.

Nothing else can be said about the Pentagon report, which justifies war and more war. Without war and conquests, Americans are not safe.

Washington’s view toward Russia is the same as Cato the Elder’s view toward Carthage. Cato the Elder finished his every speech on any subject in the Roman Senate with the statement “Carthage must be destroyed.”

This report tells us that war with Russia is our future unless Russia agrees to become a vassal state like every country in Europe, and Canada, Australia, Ukraine, and Japan. Otherwise, the neoconservatives have decided that it is impossible for Americans to tolerate living with a country that makes decisions independently of Washington. If American cannot be The Uni-Power dictating to the world, better that we are all dead. At least that will show the Russians.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

Paying the Pipers: Special Sitting of Legislature to Tie BC to Petronas Pipelines Forever

Legislature Meets July 13 to Sell Us Out - We'll have to Pay Petronas to stop FRACKING Us

by Bridge News Service, Independent Media from Canada

July 8, 2015

The British Columbia Legislature begins sitting Monday July 13 to ratify a landmark 'Agreement' between BC and corporate giant Petronas.

The Christy Clark agreement locks BC into a decades long tax and royalty plan. The taxes and royalties will be low ... so BC will get as little money as possible - and the deal cannot be changed without full compensation to the industry. We are being locked into an economic disaster.

Even worse - They are going to FRACK US: FRACKING is the basis of this entire deal. The whole Christy Clark LNG DREAM is about Fracking British Columbia. They are going to FRACK US for Corporate Profit.

And the people we have elected - and pay - are going to do this to us, without even asking us what we want. THAT IS HOW CORRUPT AND UNDEMOCRATIC OUR POLITICIANS ARE.

And The Corporate Owned Media say nothing. The Media's job is to keep us uninformed about the important issues. And the media are VERY good at their job.

Fracking poisons our water, our air, our land, our crops, and other living things. WHY are these lunatics so determined to POISON everything?

When we want Petronas to STOP poisoning B.C. ...
We are going to have to Pay Them.

Under Free Trade and Investor Agreements, I believe we will have to PAY Petronas for 'lost profits' when we tell them to stop Fracking this beautiful province.

On July 8 I ASKED the BC government that question ... will we have to pay them to stop fracking us ... and I was told they will NOT answer the question. (I've dealt with various governments for years, and I have never heard that kind of an answer before.)

That is the deal Our Politicians intend to agree to.

The Sitting begins at 10AM, Monday July 13. The Bill should be introduced about 1:30. And they intend to push it through in two weeks or less.



Watch the corruption live at:

The Bridge News Service

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Disappearing Flight MH-17: Culprits of Malaysia Airline Shootdown Will Not Be Pursued

MH-17 Case Slips into Propaganda Fog

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

July 9, 2015

The Dutch investigation into the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine last July has failed to uncover conclusive proof of precisely who was responsible for the deaths of the 298 passengers and crew but is expected to point suspicions toward the ethnic Russian rebels, fitting with the West’s long-running anti-Russian propaganda campaign.

A source who has been briefed on the outlines of the investigation said some U.S. intelligence analysts have reached a contrary conclusion and place the blame on “rogue” elements of the Ukrainian government operating out of a circle of hard-liners around one of Ukraine’s oligarchs. Yet, according to this source, the U.S. analysts will demur on the Dutch findings, letting them stand without public challenge.

Throughout the Ukraine crisis, propaganda and “information warfare” have overridden any honest presentation of reality – and the mystery around the MH-17 disaster has now slipped into that haze of charge and counter-charge. Many investigative journalists, including myself, have been rebuffed in repeated efforts to get verifiable proof about the case or even informational briefings.

In that sense, the MH-17 case stands as an outlier to the usual openness that surrounds inquiries into airline disasters. The Obama administration’s behavior has been particularly curious, with its rush to judgment five days after the July 17, 2014 shoot-down, citing sketchy social media posts to implicate the ethnic Russian rebels and indirectly the Russian government but then refusing requests for updates.

But why the later secrecy? If Director of National Intelligence James Clapper decided that unverified information about the shoot-down could be released five days after the event, why would his office then decide to keep the U.S. public in the dark as more definitive data became available?

Over the past 11 months, the DNI’s office has offered no updates on the initial assessment, with a DNI spokeswoman even making the absurd claim that U.S. intelligence had made no refinements of its understanding about the tragedy since July 22, 2014.

I’m told that the reason for the DNI’s reversal from openness to secrecy was that U.S. intelligence analysts found no evidence that the Russian government had given the rebels sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles capable of downing an aircraft at 33,000 feet, the altitude of MH-17, and that an examination of U.S. satellite and electronic intelligence instead implicated extremists linked to Ukraine’s U.S.-backed regime, although not to Kiev’s political leadership.

At that point, admitting to an erroneous rush to judgment would have embarrassed the administration and undermined the “public diplomacy” campaign around the MH-17 case. By blaming Russia and its President Vladimir Putin last summer, the Obama administration whipped Europe into an anti-Russian frenzy and helped win the European Union’s support for economic sanctions against Russia. Keeping Putin on the defensive is a top U.S. priority.

As one senior U.S. government official explained to me, information warfare was the only area in the Ukraine crisis where Washington felt it had an edge over Moscow, which benefited from a host of other advantages, such as geography, economic and cultural ties, and military pressure.

‘False Flags’

It also appears that right-wing Ukrainian political forces, which seized power in the Feb. 22, 2014 coup, have understood the value of propaganda, including “false flag” operations that pin the blame for atrocities on their opponents. One of the most successful may have been the mysterious sniper attacks on Feb. 20, 2014, that slaughtered both police and protesters in Kiev’s Maidan square, with the violence immediately blamed on President Viktor Yanukovych and used to justify his overthrow two days later.

Later independent investigations indicated that extreme right-wing elements seeking Yanukovych’s ouster were more likely responsible. Two European Union officials, Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, were revealed discussing in a phone call their suspicions that elements of the protesters were responsible for the shootings.

“So there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet told Ashton, as reported by the UK Guardian. [A worthwhile documentary on this mystery is “Maidan Massacre.”]

Even U.S. officials have faulted the new regime for failing to conduct a diligent investigation to determine who was to blame for the sniper attack. During a rousing anti-Russian speech in Kiev last month, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power inserted one criticism of the post-coup regime – that “investigations into serious crimes such as the violence in the Maidan and in Odessa [where scores of ethnic Russians were burned alive] have been sluggish, opaque, and marred by serious errors – suggesting not only a lack of competence, but also a lack of will to hold the perpetrators accountable.”

In other words, regarding the Maidan sniper massacre, the Kiev regime wasn’t willing to reveal evidence that might undermine the incident’s use as a valuable propaganda ploy. That attitude has been shared by the mainstream Western media which has sought to glue white hats on the post-coup regime and black hats on the ethnic Russian rebels who supported Yanukovych and have resisted the new power structure.

For instance, since Yanukovych’s ouster nearly 1½ years ago, The New York Times and other mainstream outlets have treated reports about the key role played in the coup regime by neo-Nazis and other far-right nationalists as “Russian propaganda.” However, this week, the Times finally acknowledged the importance of these extremists in Kiev’s military operations. [See’s “Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists.”]

A similar propaganda fog has enveloped the MH-17 investigation, with the lead investigators – the Dutch, British, Australians and Ukrainians – all firmly in the pro-Kiev and anti-Moscow camp. (Specialists from the United States, Russia and Malaysia have also been involved in the inquiry.)

Not surprisingly, leaders in Ukraine and Australia, as well, didn’t wait for the investigation to reach a conclusion before placing the blame on Putin. Last October, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott used an Australian football term in vowing to “shirtfront” Putin about his supposed guilt in the MH-17 case.

Media Fakery

Keeping the later U.S. intelligence analysis secret also allows for the Putin-did-it propaganda campaigns to go forward in mainstream media outlets and various propaganda fronts. A good example was the Australian “60 Minutes” report in May presenting bogus video evidence supposedly corroborating “Russia-did-it” claims made by British blogger Eliot Higgins.

While the segment appeared to be authoritative – supposedly proving that Putin was responsible for mass murder – a closer examination showed that the program had relied on video fakery to mislead its viewers. The key scene supposedly matching up a video of a getaway Buk anti-aircraft missile battery with landmarks in the rebel-controlled city of Luhansk didn’t match up at all. [See’s “You Be the Judge.”]

After I revealed the fraud by showing how the two scenes were almost entirely different, the Australian show fell back on a claim that one utility pole in the getaway video looked like a utility pole that its reporting team has found in Luhansk. It is perhaps a sign of how crazy the anti-Russian propaganda has gotten that a major news program could feel that it can make such an absurd argument and get away with it.

In a rational world, matching up the two scenes would require all the landmarks to fit, when in this case none of them did. Further, to cite similarities between two utility poles as evidence ignored the fact that most utility poles look alike and there was the additional fact that none of the area around the two utility poles matched at all, including a house behind one that didn’t appear in the scene of the other. [See’s “A Reckless Stand-upper on MH-17.”]

However, as long as the U.S. government’s comprehensive intelligence information on MH-17 is kept secret, such sleights of hand can continue to work. I’m told that the Dutch report is likely to contain similar circumstantial claims, citing such things as the possible angle of the fired missile, to suggest that the ethnic Russian rebels were at fault.

Last October, the Dutch Safety Board’s initial report answered very few questions, beyond confirming that MH-17 apparently was destroyed by “high-velocity objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.” Other key questions went begging, such as what to make of the Russian military radar purporting to show a Ukrainian SU-25 jetfighter in the area, a claim that the Kiev government denied.

Either the Russian radar showed the presence of a jetfighter “gaining height” as it closed to within three to five kilometers of the passenger plane – as the Russians claimed in a July 21 press conference – or it didn’t. The Kiev authorities insisted that they had no military aircraft in the area at the time.

But the 34-page Dutch report was silent on the jetfighter question, although noting that the investigators had received Air Traffic Control “surveillance data from the Russian Federation.” The report also was silent on the “dog-not-barking” issue of whether the U.S. government had satellite surveillance that revealed exactly where the supposed ground-to-air missile was launched and who may have fired it.

The Obama administration has asserted knowledge about those facts, but the U.S. government has withheld satellite photos and other intelligence information that could presumably corroborate the charge. Curiously, too, the Dutch report said the investigation received “satellite imagery taken in the days after the occurrence.” Obviously, the more relevant images in assessing blame would be aerial photography in the days and hours before the crash.

The Dutch report’s reference to only post-crash satellite photos was also odd because the Russian military released a number of satellite images purporting to show Ukrainian government Buk missile systems north of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk before the attack, including two batteries that purportedly were shifted 50 kilometers south of Donetsk on July 17, the day of the crash, and then removed by July 18.

Russian Lt. Gen. Andrey Kartopolov called on the Ukrainian government to explain the movements of its Buk systems and why Kiev’s Kupol-M19S18 radars, which coordinate the flight of Buk missiles, showed increased activity leading up to the July 17 shoot-down.

The Ukrainian government countered these questions by asserting that it had “evidence that the missile which struck the plane was fired by terrorists, who received arms and specialists from the Russian Federation,” according to Andrey Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s Security Council, using Kiev’s preferred term for the rebels.

Lysenko added: “To disown this tragedy, [Russian officials] are drawing a lot of pictures and maps. We will explore any photos and other plans produced by the Russian side.” But Ukrainian authorities have failed to address the Russian evidence except through broad denials.

Where’s the Intelligence?

On July 29, 2014, amid escalating rhetoric against Russia from U.S. government officials and the Western news media, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity called on President Obama to release what evidence the U.S. government had on the shoot-down, including satellite imagery.

“As intelligence professionals we are embarrassed by the unprofessional use of partial intelligence information,” the group wrote.
“As Americans, we find ourselves hoping that, if you indeed have more conclusive evidence, you will find a way to make it public without further delay. In charging Russia with being directly or indirectly responsible, Secretary of State John Kerry has been particularly definitive. Not so the evidence. His statements seem premature and bear earmarks of an attempt to ‘poison the jury pool.’”

However, the Obama administration has failed to make public any intelligence information that would back up its earlier suppositions or any new evidence at all. One source told me that U.S. intelligence analysts are afraid to speak out about the information that contradicts the original rush to judgment because of Obama’s aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers.

If the Dutch final report emerges with carefully circumscribed circumstantial evidence implicating the pro-Russian rebels, the nuances will surely be carved away when the report is fed into the existing propaganda machinery. The conventional wisdom about “Russian guilt” will be firmed up.

A sense of how that will go can be seen in a recent New York Times article by David Herszenhorn on June 29: “Pro-Russian separatist leaders in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk have blocked access to Dutch law enforcement officials pursuing an investigation into the downing of a Malaysian jetliner nearly a year ago, the Netherlands Public Prosecution Office said. …

“The obstruction by separatist officials prompted the investigators, from the Dutch National Police and Ministry of Defense, to cut short their field work in Ukraine without conducting research into cellphone towers and cellular networks in the region, the public prosecution office said. …

“Based on preliminary analysis and intelligence, including from the United States government, the aircraft was widely believed to have been destroyed by a surface-to-air missile fired from territory controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces.”

While the thrust of Herszenhorn’s article made the ethnic Russian rebels look bad – and foreshadows some of the points likely to be featured in the Dutch investigative report – perhaps the most significant word in the story is “preliminary.” While it’s true that the U.S. government’s “preliminary” report on July 22, 2014, implicated the rebels, the more pertinent question – not asked by the Times – is why there has been no refinement of that “preliminary” report.

The Dutch Safety Board issued a brief progress report on July 1 noting that it had submitted a draft of its final report to “accredited representatives of the participating States on … June 2,” giving them 60 days to submit comments before a “definitive final” report is published in October.

Meanwhile, Dutch prosecutors handling the criminal investigation say they have no specific suspects, but lead investigator Fred Westerbeke claims the probe has a number of “persons of interest.” Westerbeke said the criminal probe will likely run through the end of the year or later.

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

Cat's Paws and Bad Intentions: Kiev's UAE Arms Buying Binge

NATO Finds Arab Backdoor to Arm Kiev

by Finian Cunningham - SCF

The announcement this week that the Kiev regime struck a major deal with the United Arab Emirates for military weapons raises strong suspicions that the US-led NATO alliance has found a new backdoor into Ukraine. We say «new» because it is believed that the US and its NATO allies, Poland and Lithuania, are already covertly supplying weapons to the Kiev regime.

Kiev President Petro Poroshenko hailed the new strategic partnership with the Persian Gulf kingdom while attending the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX) in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi. Poroshenko, who was royally received by UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nayhan, declared himself a «president of peace» but that Ukraine, or rather the rump state that his regime commands, needed strong defence because of its «Russian enemy».

A giveaway to the real significance of the surprise development is that Poroshenko and his Arab hosts also reportedly held discreet meetings with Pentagon officials and US weapons manufacturing executives during the weapons exhibition. That indicates that Washington is coordinating the expected arms transfers.

Although the Kiev-UAE partnership lacked any public detail, one can safely assume that the Arab supply of weapons to Ukraine is simply a conduit for American and NATO military support to the Western-backed junta, which seized power in Ukraine last year in an illegal coup. Its war of aggression on the separatist eastern Ukraine has inflicted at least 6,000 deaths, mainly among the ethnic Russian civilian population.

Earlier this month it soon became clear that Washington and its NATO allies would pay a heavy political price for an audacious move to openly increase their military involvement in the Ukraine conflict. When Washington announced that it intended to go ahead with Congressional provisions to send «lethal aid» to Kiev there was much international consternation over such a reckless move.

Moscow warned Washington that any further military support to the reactionary, anti-Russian Kiev regime on its western border would constitute a «disastrous escalation». US President Barack Obama then appeared to back off from the proposal to supply lethal munitions.

America’s normally servile European allies also baulked at the Washington arms move. Germany, France and even Britain indicated disproval by stating that they would not be following suite by sending arms to Ukraine. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was perhaps the most forthright in her reservations. While on an official visit to Washington she reiterated her «no weapons» position to US media while being received in the White House by Obama.

No doubt a disgruntled European public reeling from economic austerity, unemployment and seething contempt for unaccountable EU leaders had a concentrating effect on the various political capitals to not throw more fuel on an already raging Ukrainian fire. The idea of going along with incendiary American militarism in Ukraine and further antagonising Russia would provoke a political storm across Europe. Hence the usually trusty European «yes men» had to defy Washington’s recklessness.

That incipient divergence between the US and EU appeared to unnerve Washington, with the latter fearing that its anti-Russian axis and sanctions tactics might be unravelling. President Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry were at pains to emphasise American-European «unity» over Ukraine and alleged «Russian aggression» – in spite of the fact that European leaders were, publicly at least, repudiating Washington’s weapons policy.

So, rather than risking an open split in the NATO ranks, Washington and its allies seem to have found an ingenious way around that problem – by getting the UAE to be the front end for weapons supplied to the Kiev regime.

Several media reports have talked up a «new defence industry» in the UAE. But whatever new industry there may be in the oil-rich kingdom, it is largely a value-adding or marketing platform for established Western manufacturers. The UAE defence sector is dominated by US military imports and American weapons giants, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. The Emirati «partner» operations are a way for the royal rulers to claim kudos for diversifying the kingdom away from its economic dependence on oil exports by seemingly creating hi-tech sectors. For the Western weapons firms, the Arab retail image can provide a convenient public relations cover for global arms-dealing. American and European weapons can thus be sold to parts of the world where it might otherwise be viewed as unethical – thanks to these sales being booked as originating from the UAE.

The fact remains, however, that the United Arab Emirates is the world’s fourth biggest arms importer, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). That is an astounding record considering that the UAE population is some nine million, with only one million of those being Arab nationals, and the rest being expatriate cheap-labour workers from Asia and Africa. Expressed on a per capita basis, the UAE is by far the world’s biggest weapons importer. And this is a country that has never been at war since its founding in 1971 after Britain granted formal independence.

In its latest global trends report, SIPRI notes that the Persian Gulf Arab states have doubled their imports of weapons in recent years, from an already high base. Saudi Arabia is now the fifth biggest importer globally. Qatar, Bahrain and Oman are also major sales destinations for the Western arms industry.

The Arab Gulf weapons market is dominated by the US, with some 40 per cent of all sales. Other major exporters to the region are Germany, France and Britain. Russia has also a strong presence in the market. But the lion’s share goes to US and its NATO allies. Germany in particular has stepped up its arms exports to the Persian Gulf, which has caused political problems among the German population for the Merkel government as it is being seen to prop up autocratic and repressive regimes. Leopard tanks and armoured personnel carriers are lucrative German exports.

The Persian Gulf arab regimes are thus in effect NATO arsenals. And the tiny UAE with its $13 billion military budget is a NATO arsenal par excellence.

The Kiev regime’s new contract with the UAE for military weapons supply is thus a front for NATO supplying weapons to Ukraine. Conveniently for Western governments, the arrangement tends to obscure a NATO link in the eyes of their public, but only superficially.

That bodes badly for the shaky ceasefire that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin helped broker earlier this month. Putin has already deprecated the continuing hostile attitude of Poroshenko and other Kiev leaders, who routinely accuse Russia of aggression and talk with bravado of fighting a «total war». Washington and the EU are indulging this inflammatory rhetoric with renewed sanctions on Moscow and laying the blame for the conflict on Russia.

While Western taxpayers bail out the Kiev regime with a $40 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, the junta is evidently using the money to go on a weapons spree and to crank up its NATO-supplied war machine. The UAE weapons sales deal is just a backdoor for NATO to embark on further warmongering in Ukraine and toward Russia.

Looks More Like Class War: Osborne's Savage UK Budget Emergency

George Osborne’s Savage Cuts to Some of the UK’s Most Vulnerable People in His ‘Emergency Budget’

by Andy Worthington

July 9, 2015

George Osborne (far left) in a photo taken in Oxford in 1992, of the notorious Bullingdon Club, a drinking club for the university's privileged elite.What a horrible, despicable bunch of vicious bullies the Tories are, obsessed with making the poor poorer and the rich richer, while cynically dressing up their abuse in the language of fairness and aspiration.
Bullingdon Boys, Class of '92

In the Tories’ first budget since the electorate bizarrely freed them from the restraints of coalition with the Liberal Democrats, the Chancellor, George Osborne, delivered an ‘emergency budget’ that was, no doubt, supposed to make us feel that we are in a state of emergency, still in need of savage cuts for the health of the economy, even though the false and damaging rationale for austerity has been thoroughly discredited time and again by economists, who understand that it actually stifles economic health. How Osborne has got away with his cruelty and stupidity for so many years almost beggars belief, as he has not managed to save any money, despite making life miserable for millions, but our bent media urging people to turn on one another — and a sad propensity for British people to revert to Puritan self-flagellation when prompted — seem to be to blame.

And so Osborne’s budget hit poor people hard on a number of fronts, while hiding much of the pain behind one generous gesture inherited from the Lib Dems and another that is nowhere near as good as it sounds. The former is the raising of the threshold at which tax is paid, to to £11,000 a year, while the latter is the surprise announcement of what George Osborne described as a ‘National Living Wage.’

This was supposed to hide another policy tweak that is nakedly for the benefit of the rich — the raising of the threshold at which inheritance tax is paid, so that £1m houses can now be handed on to children without the state taking a penny, an increase from £650,000. Even the Daily Telegraph had trouble justifying that.

“Today’s emergency Budget has brought huge inheritance tax savings for people with expensive properties,” an article explained.

It was also supposed to divert us from noticing a cut in corporation tax, and while a clampdown on non-doms was promised, the non-doms’ lawyers will no doubt ensure that their wealthy clients yet again worm their way out of paying their share of the UK’s tax burden.

At the poorer end of society, Osborne cut maintenance grants for poorer students, and, with huge repercussions, reduced the benefit cap he previously introduced from £26,000 to £23,000 in London and £20,000 elsewhere, all under the pretence — backed, I’m sad to say, by a dim and malicious electorate — that most of that money goes to the benefit claimant rather than his or her landlord. As the Guardian explained in an editorial on the eve of the budget, the benefit cap is “a disgraceful policy that’s about to get worse,” and a scheme “cooked up out of slogans, which arbitrarily punishes children for being born into big families.”

Here’s more:

It did not start out with the hunt for a solution to any policy problem, but with the hunt for a slogan for Mr Osborne’s 2010 conference speech. “Nobody on benefits should be allowed to earn more than the average wage” sounds like a winning line. The difficulty is that the comparison is dishonest, as even Iain Duncan Smith was reported as objecting at the time. Median pay might have been £26,000 a year, but this was gross pre-tax earnings for an individual, as opposed to the disposable income of a whole family, which for working and workless alike has always also depended on child benefits and help with the rent. The result of this deliberate confusion is to arbitrarily punish children born into big families paying high rents. Experts calculated that, even in unfashionable parts of London, some youngsters would end up being raised on as little as 62p a day.

Tough choices are often required, but what marks this move out as nasty is the lack of any defensible principle. If the aim is, say, saving on housing benefit, that should be capped directly; likewise targeted cuts can always be made to any other benefit. Instead, in order to swell an inflammatory headline figure about maximal sponging, all the payments to a household are lumped together before this cap is applied. The effect is to sever the connection, which has existed since the workhouse, between the number of mouths to feed and the support provided. No wonder the supreme court ruled that the cap breached the UN convention on the rights of the child.

Overall, as the Guardian explained in another editorial yesterday, the cuts in George Osborne’s budget “are savage cuts, which will greatly impoverish many low-paid workers and disabled people, and most particularly poor children.” As for the supposed living wage, it is, in reality, nothing more than a moderate rise in the minimum wage — but only for those over 25. Those under 25 will continue to be treated as second-class beings.

In addition, as the Guardian explained, “this isn’t a living wage in the real sense of a pay rate carefully calculated in line with what workers need to live on. Mr. Osborne’s proposal is instead for a rebranded minimum wage, starting at £7.20 an hour next year, less than the real living wage of £9.65 in London and £7.85 elsewhere. Crucially, these numbers are calculated on the assumption that families can access the very tax credits that were being butchered while all attention was on Mr Osborne’s ‘living wage’. Before the budget, the Resolution Foundation had warned that deep cuts in tax credits would push the London living wage up to well above £11.”

The Guardian added that, for most low-paid workers, “cuts to benefits and tax credits will overwhelm the gain”, in some cases by thousands of pounds a year. The Guardian also explained, “For all the talk of rewarding hard work, the government is going to start snatching tax credits back at lower levels of earnings than presently, and will also snatch them away faster too, deepening the poverty trap.”

It was also noted, “Workers who fall sufficiently sick to satisfy an increasingly harsh bureaucracy that it simply isn’t feasible to class them as jobseekers are facing a benefit cut of around 30%, the sort of retrenchment more often associated with Greece. And where China once operated a one-child policy, Mr Osborne is now imposing a two-child rule on the poor. Tax credits will no longer be paid for third and fourth children, dismissing them as a luxury indulgence on the part of the parents, as opposed to young human beings with their own material needs and their own rights.”

I have other, more personal complaints — about George Osborne’s plan to charge market rents to those in social housing who have managed to nudge their heads above the UK median income, and are portrayed by the Tories and by lazy journalists — yet again — as “high earners,” but these can wait for a follow-up article.

For now, it will be sufficient, I hope, to sign off by encouraging my fellow citizens, who are awake and who understand what is going on, to oppose the Tories’ plans with every fibre of their being. Labour — with the exception of Jeremy Corbyn — seems to have no idea how to establish a coherent opposition to the Tories’ obsession with implementing endless austerity, a version of what the Troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund has subjected Greece to, resulting in a strangled economy that can barely function, let alone pay off monstrous, unpayable debts. Here the mantra that the deficit must be reduced at all costs indicates an inflexible malaise at the heart of British politics, but also an ideological obsession on the part of the Tories with privatisation and low taxes for the rich that blinds them to the Greek-style reality that a mass of people strangled so violently that they have no money left over after working all week cannot support a fully functioning economy.

Note: For further analysis of the Bullingdon Club photo, see the following articles in the Daily Mail and the Guardian. Also see this Daily Mail article for a Bullingdon Club photo of an unbearably smug David Cameron in 1987, and an analysis of it here.

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, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ was released in July 2015). 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.

Shell Arctic Efforts Run Afoul with Leaky Icebreaker

Shell’s Renewed Arctic Drilling Campaign Faces Yet Another Setback As Key Ship Forced Back To Port

by Mike Gaworecki  - DeSmog Blog

July 8, 2015

Is Shell finally “Arctic Ready” after its doomed 2012 campaign? The company is set to begin drilling in the Arctic within the week, and it’s already not looking good.

The MSV Fennica, an icebreaker vessel bound for the Chukchi Sea, had barely left its berth in Dutch Harbor, Alaska last Friday when it had to immediately turn around. The crew discovered a 39-inch long, half-inch-wide breach in the Fennica’s hull, FuelFix reports.

There is no word yet from Shell on how long the repairs are expected to take, or how the company intends to proceed in the event that the Fennica is taken out of service for a long period of time. Any significant change to Shell’s Arctic drilling plans could force a new review by the US Department of the Interior.

The Fennica was not only tasked with keeping ice from collecting around the company’s drill site, but also carrying the capping stack to be used in case of a well blowout or other emergency, in addition to the equipment for deploying it.

A Shell spokesperson told FuelFix that the incident does not “characterize the preparations we have made to operate exceptionally well.”

But that’s not going to stop comparisons to the company’s accident-prone and ultimately aborted attempt to drill in the Arctic three years ago.

“Shell’s terrible safety history around the world makes today’s news no surprise, but is nonetheless disturbing,” David Turnbull, campaigns director for Oil Change International, told DeSmog.

“For the sake of the Arctic and for our climate, the President should put a stop to Shell’s dangerous experiment today, before an even greater mishap inevitably comes.”

Perhaps the most memorable mishap of Shell’s 2012 efforts was when its Kulluk drilling rig ran aground on Kodiak Island, an uninhabited island off of one of Alaska’s most pristine coastlines. The Kulluk slipped its cables while being towed out of Alaska waters on an expedited timeline because Shell wanted to avoid paying Alaska taxes in 2013.

In December 2012, we learned just how “Arctic Ready” Shell had been. Brendan DeMelle wrote here on DeSmog that the company’s oil spill response gear “failed spectacularly” in tests conducted in Puget Sound, a more hospitable environment than the Chukchi Sea, to say the least.
The containment dome — which Shell sought to assure federal regulators would be adequate to cap a blowout in the event of emergency at its Arctic operations — failed miserably in tests. The dome “breached like a whale” after malfunctioning, and then sank 120 feet. When the crew of the Arctic Challenger recovered the 20-foot-tall containment dome, they found that it had “crushed like a beer can” under pressure.

DeSmog put together a timeline of Shell’s 2012 drilling debacle in the Arctic.

A three-foot breach in the hull of a critical ship in its Arctic drilling fleet is but the latest of Shell’s current problems. “Kayaktivist” flotillas and other protests that greeted Shell’s Polar Pioneer drilling rig when it arrived in Seattle earlier this year made headlines around the world. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is against hosting Shell’s drill rig in the Port of Seattle, along with many other city and state officials.

Last week, the US Fish & Wildlife Service informed Shell that it could not bore two wells into the floor of the Chukchi Sea simultaneously, as planned. Shell had selected two drill sites a little less than nine miles apart, but regulations require at least 15 miles between active drilling rigs.

Nonetheless, Shell has vowed to forge on with its Arctic drilling campaign, per FuelFix, which reports that the company has moved several major assets to Alaska and spent as much as $1 billion on this year’s attempt.

Ecuador and Greece: Tales of Two Struggles

In Ecuador, Fight for Mankind; In Athens, Fight for Greece!

by Andre Vltchek - CounterPunch

Greece is white, it is European, and therefore eyes of entire Western “progressive” world are now directed towards Athens: will its government dare to default, would Greece leave euro-zone and eventually the European Union? As if the answer to this question could change the world; as if Athens is where the fate of humanity will be decided.

Some 10 thousand kilometers away, Ecuador is predominantly indigenous, and therefore, inhabited by ‘un-people’, to borrow from George Orwell’s colorful terminology. Battered by its own, mainly Euro-centric and pale-skinned ‘elites’ who are enjoying extremely close links with both EU and the United States, Ecuador and its determinedly left-wing government can count very little on international solidarity, especially on the camaraderie from ‘so-called progressive’ movements in the West.

After all, non-white, non-Western people are expected to suffer. Even the left in the West is ‘accustomed to’ their agony.

Frankly, almost nobody in Europe or in the United States wants those left wing governments in Latin America, in Asia or in Africa, to succeed. That is ‘well hidden secret’, or at least ‘an uncomfortable truth’!

China, South Africa, Venezuela, Ecuador and other countries all over the world have been addressed and treated in the most despicable, patronizing, and even racist way by so-called left wing individuals and groups in the West.

The Left got thoroughly defunct in both Europe and in North America. But it continues to be distressingly self-righteous, self-indulged, bossy and arrogant. It does not govern and does not inspire almost anybody, anymore. It became shamefully cowardly and lazy. But it behaves as if it would be holding some God-given right to judge and advice others: those who do fight, those who do inspire and those who do govern! It is evident that it wants non-Western socialist and communist governments and movements, those that are proudly governing all over the world, to go straight to hell!

“If we collapsed, let others collapse as well!” Is unpronounced motto.

It is because even the Left in Europe and US is constructed on Christian and Euro-centric mind frame, with exceptionalism and supremacist sentiments at its core.

Of course such things are never pronounced in Paris, London, Rome, or New York, but there is a perfect consensus there, that only the Western thinkers and leaders are qualified and should be trusted with ‘saving the world’. And only they ought to be allowed to decide, which country qualifies to be called socialist or communist, democratic or tyrannical, progressive or regressive.

Unable to lead, and most likely unwilling to govern, too lethargic and intellectually spent, most of Western ‘progressive’ thinkers are constantly regurgitating lunatic economic and political theories that no one in other parts of the world, especially the poor world, would ever take seriously, let alone want to implement. Those Western ‘progressive leaders’ are also demanding grotesque levels of purity from the Latin American and Asian left-wing leaders. Simultaneously, they demand great sacrifice from non-Western people: “Let us consume and live high-life, as poor us, we cannot help it. But let them care about environment and live in austerity.”


And so, while Greece votes on its financial future, Ecuador is facing one of the most vicious subversions in its history. It is facing it alone. It appears that everyone from non-Latin American left who matters is now in Athens. As far as I know, there are no solidarity ‘delegates’ descending on Quito!

Ecuador has now been abandoned, not unlike Venezuela was, for already quite some time.

I was recently invited to speak on an important television channel based in Iran, to talk about Palestine and Greece. I refused. My argument was clear: both Palestine and Greece already received enough solidarity from ‘us’, in Latin America. Now our revolutions are facing great threats. They are being attacked. We are human, too! We also need help; we need solidarity.

To give credit where credit is due, Iranian editor put me on hold, after expressing her concern about the situation in Latin America. Few minutes later she came back to me, via Skype: “I talked to our director and he told me to interview you on Ecuador. He said: they are our brothers. We fall together, or we will survive together!”

Naturally, such statements and gestures are remembered for the rest of the life!

But that’s Teheran, not London or Paris or Chicago!


My priority now is Ecuador. My priority is Latin America. This is where I see great battle for the future of humanity taking place. Here and in Asia. Definitely not in Europe!

Latin American governments here are not perfect. Chinese government is not perfect either. But they are doing all they can, after decades and centuries of plunder, after Europe, the United States, in unison with local elites and multinational companies, were pillaging and raping everything “south of the border”.

Corruption could not be eradicated in one year, or in one decade. Imported religious and moral corruptions were shaping entire “Latin America” (which is, thankfully, becoming less and less ‘Latin’ these days) by murderous and greedy Westerners, for generations. Things can improve, greatly, in one decade or even in one year, but horror structures built during long centuries could not be fully reversed. ‘The Process’ has to be in place for many years, uninterrupted.

Yes, we are not perfect, but we are trying to get better as we go. We are moving forward! We are trying to, going and falling, passing through fire, filth, conspiracies and intrigues. We are moving forward, damn it!


Ecuadorian elites are protesting and they are sabotaging everything great that was done by Correa and his administration. Many think that the coup is in the air.

Not one word about progress; new highways and airports, modern hospitals and schools, medical posts, countless playgrounds for children, free culture, libraries… Right wing in Ecuador owns most of the media. Not much positive is written about Ecuador by Western ‘progressive’ media outlets, either. We at Counterpunch being a great exception!

Not much good is written about China, Vietnam, Eritrea, South Africa, Zimbabwe or Iran. To Western purists, all these countries are not good enough, not socialist enough, not as they define socialism or communism, not as they define democracy! 6 or 7 thousand years of Chinese culture mean nothing. Everything has to be measured and defined only by Western standards.

Russia is different: it is not socialist at all (although it adopted great internationalist Soviet foreign policy), but it is predominantly white, and so it gets plenty of emotional support, fiery speeches and declarations of love and support.

Many Chinese comrades I spoke to in Beijing fully gave up on the Western left; they see it, mainly, as the most reactionary force (ideologically), when it comes to non-white left wing countries and governments. And I couldn’t agree more!


Greece should default. That fortress, fascist European Union, should not bully it.

But Greece should fight for internationalist, global ideals.

While we all know, that what it is fighting for is just its own gain… or for survival of its high standards of living.

When things were going well, when money was flowing in, when Greek farmers began driving latest models of German cars on smooth motorways, Greek people were not protesting. And they were not asking where the money came from. It mainly came from plundering on non-Western world, of ‘non-people’. That was fine, wasn’t it?

I was in Greece, recently. I spoke to many people, including those from their left, mainly from the left. Almost nobody had any clue about what is going on in Latin America. No one cared. Even in Turkey they are monitoring what goes on in Caracas or La Paz.

But not in Athens – in Athens nobody gives a flying f…!

Many were still complaining bitterly about illegal immigration from Africa! Don’t those writers who are now writing flattering essays, glorifying Greek people, know that? Or they pretend not to see and hear?

Greece is fighting for its own goals. Its incomes dropped, from 1.400 to 800 euros a month, per capita, in many cases. Terrible, but in many African nations where money to support Greek farmers often came from (by EU finishing African agriculture), incomes are sitting at around 30 euros per month. I tried to address these issues in Athens, but encountered stone faces and total bewilderment, even hostility. I was told: “But we are used to different standards!”

And therefore I repeat: what is happening in Greece is not some left wing, internationalist revolution.

Greeks are fighting for Greece.

Latin America is fighting for humanity! It never exploited anybody. It sent doctors, teachers, all over the world. It sent oil to the poor, even in the United States. It supplied unfortunate countries like East Timor with trainers. It offered solidarity to Palestine, Iran, so many others!


If Ecuador will get under direct fire, I will go back, and I will stand by it, doing all I could to support it. And if the Western Left will do nothing to help, I will break, fully and categorically, all my ties with it!

As many wrote: Greece will survive. “It is, after all, in Europe”. Even when it is down, it is, somehow, up.

We, “down here”, will not have another chance. And if we fall, entire non-Western world will fall with us!

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”.Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

Joining Forces to Save the Herring

Heiltsuk, Haida, Nuu-Chah-Nulth Join Forces to Protect Herring

by Damien Gillis - The Common Sense Canadian

Three powerful coastal First Nations are banding together to protect Pacific herring – a marine resource integral to all of their cultures. The Nuu-chah-nulth of West Vancouver Island and the Haida today signed onto a declaration by the Heiltsuk Nation of BC’s central coast to defend herring against unsustainable commercial fisheries.

“Today, we have taken the first step in what will be a long and important journey,” said kil tlaats ’gaa Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation.

This declaration is a commitment by our Nations to collaboratively protect herring stocks using our traditional laws. Our success in implementing this declaration will benefit all British Columbians by ensuring the health of the herring, and by extension, every species that depends on them.

Council of the Haida Nation President Peter Lantin standing in solidarity with Heitlsuk protestors outside of Canfisco – a key processing plant for commercially caught herring (Dan Pierce)

The signing comes amid the Assembly of First Nations gathering in Ottawa and on the heels of a seminal potlatch in Bella Bella last week during which the Haida and Heiltsuk celebrated a historic Peace Treaty between their two nations. The president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Debra Foxcroft, joined in the festivities too, along with hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, each of whom vowed to work together to protect indigenous title and rights and the environment in the face of intense pressure for industrial development.

“For decades our herring have been overfished and mismanaged by the DFO,” said Foxcroft on signing the herring declaration. “The last two years have been particularly contentious. Just when it looked like herring in our territories were starting to recover, the Minister decided to open our territories to commercial roe herring fisheries in 2014, contrary to the recommendation of the Minister’s own senior staff in DFO to keep our territories closed until the herring recovered.

“The Minister acted on her own accord, and in doing so forced our Nations to go to court to protect herring in our territories. After two successful Federal Court injunctions overturning the Minister’s decisions in 2014 and 2015, we seek a new way of doing business with Canada that will properly manage herring as they try to rebuild.”
Declaration follows intense standoff, legal battles

While the Haida and Nuu-chah-nulth were able to halt planned commercial fisheries in their territories this past Spring through the courts, the Heiltsuk had to take to the waters and occupy the local DFO office to protect herring stocks. The result was an intense standoff, documented in these pages, which saw the gillnet fishery scrapped – but only after a stealth seine opening by DFO during which commercial boats scooped up 680 tonnes of herring from Spiller Channel in Area 7.

Even with the pressure of the DFO occupation and the backing of other nations like the Haida and Nuu-chah-nulth for province-wide protests, it was ultimately the lack of available fish that forced the gillnet fleet to depart empty-hulled – vindicating First Nations’ and independent scientists’ contention that a commercial fishery is unsustainable at this point.

Fighting for a sustainable alternative

Heiltsuk fisherman Jordan Wilson reels some unique “spawn on bough” roe (Ian McAllister)

The Heiltsuk and other coastal nations employ a sustainable fishery in which herring lay their prized roe on kelp and hemlock boughs, swimming free to spawn another day. By contrast, the commercial seine and gillnet fisheries capture and kill millions of herring just to harvest roe from a small percentage of mature female fish. “Our nation has a proven Aboriginal right to fish and harvest spawn-on-kelp and it is our responsibility to ensure this fishery remains sustainable,” explained Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation.

“This Declaration provides guidance on effective legal and policy frameworks that will ensure that we, as stewards of our lands and waters, continue to protect our resources for future generations.”

The Heiltsuk are currently in negotiations with DFO for a co-management agreement that could help to ease tensions in advance of next year’s herring season.