Friday, January 25, 2019

The Falling Apple of Legitimacy: Pierre and Justin Trudeau, Canadian Democrats and Citizens of the World

The Falling Apple of Legitimacy: Pierre and Justin Trudeau, Canadian Democrats and Citizens of the World

by C. L. Cook - Pacific Free Press

January 25, 2019

Canadian hipster and fashion plate, Justin Trudeau hit the curl of the pro-Venezuela coup meme now sweeping the Globe early. Addressing a St. Catharines, Ontario crowd, crammed into the gym at Brock University last week,1 the shirt-sleeved PM mustered to the marrow his democracy-defending indignation, damning the South American country's leader as a "dictator" not possessing electoral legitimacy.

Responding to a question from the floor, Trudeau incanted furiously,

"Anyone who contends they are a friend to the Venezuelan people should be very clear in standing up and condemning the Maduro government, that has been responsible for terrible oppression, for terrible marginalization, for a humanitarian crisis the likes of which South America has not seen in a long time, leading to mass exodus, [and] tremendous number of refugees fleeing all across South America.

"ALL because of an illegitimate dictator named Maduro, who is continuing to not respect their constitution, the rule of law, and the principles of what is fair and true for the future."

Quite a mouthful, and surprising in its vehemence, coming as it did from the man thought the ideal personification of Canada's renowned temperance and earnest-to-a-fault devotion to compromise and negotiated international diplomatic contretemps solution-finding. Disheartening too, for those sharing the prime minister's and El Gran Norte Blanco's avowed dedication to "the principles of what is fair and true", is Canada's ready recognition of coups, (past and present) across South and Central America and the terrible oppression, marginalization, and tremendous number of fleeing refugees they engender.2

We can all agree, the situation now is terrible and oppressive, and the people of Latin America have been marginalized something awful these past years. Watching them flee in their tremendous numbers towards the refuge America promises has since moved President Trump to stern actions to staunch the flow, stem the tide, and gird the loins of his nation's southern border, in steel and concrete where possible, in hopes the power of dissuasion will convince those desperately considering leaving the ills of their troubled lands to instead stay home and make their own societies greater. But, the situation hasn't always been so dire.

Latin America's Pink Tide hit the high water mark in 2009. Social reforms led by Cuba and Venezuela and taken up by Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, (and even to a lesser extent Peru) seemed to promise a better, fairer, truer future for the poor majority.

Manuel "Mel" Zelaya, (right) the telegenic, charismatic president of Honduras was, like Justin Trudeau, regarded a true blue, centrist democrat. Though a member of the landed gentry he'd made agrarian and wage reforms, and his modest efforts had begun to bear some fruit; remarkable considering the entrenched depth and long legacy of Honduras' political corruption. In the last year of his mandate, Zelaya hoped to strengthen the democratic trajectory he'd set in motion for the country.

Back in the 1970's and 80's, Honduras was the absolute centre of Latin America's Dirty War; the infamous Plan (Operation) Condor being conducted largely from America's embassy in Tegucigalpa and responsible for much, if not ALL, of the humanitarian crises of the era, (the likes of which, perhaps to which, Mr. Trudeau's Brock University anti-Maduro tirade alluded?).3

Those dark times, happily for the people of Honduras and their true friends lay far in the past in 2009. But, they wouldn't remain so.

The late, great William Blum describes what happened in Honduras next:

"It is a tale told many times in Latin America: The downtrodden masses finally put into power a leader committed to reversing the status quo, determined to try to put an end to two centuries of oppression … and before long the military overthrows the democratically-elected government, while the United States – if not the mastermind behind the coup – does nothing to prevent it or to punish the coup regime, as only the United States can punish; meanwhile Washington officials pretend to be very upset over this “affront to democracy” while giving major support to the coup regime."4

On the pre-dawn summer morning of June 28th, 2009, Honduran commandos, following orders issued by the country's Supreme Court, dragged Mel Zelaya out of bed, bundling the president into a jeep and spiriting him away to a waiting plane bound for Costa Rica. His crime: introducing a Non-binding referendum, putting before the people the prospect of establishing a constituent assembly and reforming the constitution along more democratic lines.

Mark Weisbrot describes the entirely predictable aftermath of the coup William Blum notes was "championed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton", (among other democratic paragons in El Norte and elsewhere) six months later, as elections to "legitimize" the coupsters approached.5

"The Obama administration has since been able to recruit the right-wing governments of Canada, Panama, and Colombia, and also Peru, to recognize the elections. But its support for these undemocratic elections – to which the OAS, European Union, and the Carter Center all refused to send observers – has left the Obama administration as isolated as its predecessor in the hemisphere."

More than its fellow "right-wing" governments, Canada under Conservative Party prime minister, Stephen Harper was first among equals to endorse the plotters, and quick to sign a Free Trade agreement with the new "government", sealing the deal as it were. But, in fairness to Harper, his Liberal opposition, where at this time young Justin was cutting his teeth as a new MP and party critic for youth and multiculturalism, would have done the same thing, if not so quickly. It merely follows a bipartisan pattern of Canadian political behaviour going way back.

Canadian journalist and author, Yves Engler, who's written the book on the hidden history of his country's malfeasant foreign policy, (several of them in fact) reminds how Pere Trudeau in 1971 similarly turned his back on the duly elected government of Chile, as real life dictator and serial war criminal, Augusto Pinochet inaugurated a fascist regime enduring almost two decades, all for the benefit of his class and the international investment community.6

Of Canada's contribution to Chilean suffering, Engler notes:

"Days after Pinochet ousted Allende, Andrew Ross, Canada's ambassador to Chile, cabled External Affairs:
"Reprisals and searches have created panic atmosphere affecting particularly expatriates including the riffraff of the Latin American Left to whom Allende gave asylum … the country has been on a prolonged political binge under the elected Allende government and the junta has assumed the probably thankless task of sobering Chile up." (emphasis added)
"Thousands were incarcerated, tortured and killed in "sobering Chile up." Within three weeks of the coup, Canada recognized Pinochet's military junta. Ross stated:
"I can see no useful purpose to withholding recognition unduly. Indeed, such action might even tend to delay Chile's eventual return to the democratic process."

Engler's books also chronicle in detail the painful truth, for those still harbouring the illusion of Canada's manufactured image as "international benefactor", of his country's perfidy in the service of trans-national corporate wealth and national political advantage to the disadvantage of the citizens of not only Latin America, but in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Caribbean, (including Cuba).

So, maybe it's not such a surprise witnessing Justin Trudeau's disdain for Nicolás Maduro performed as was so vividly done in St. Catharines after all, given his country's historical anathema for democracy as expressed abroad.

Postscript: Canada's foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland has announced Canada will soon host a meeting of the so-called "Lima Group", a collection of anti-democratic nations who have tried to hijack, with the aid of the Organization of American States, what little remains of national sovereignty among the remnant nations of Latin America's once swelling Pink Tide to decide Venezuela's future, "fair and true".


1. CBC News - 'Trudeau Takes Tough Stand on Maduro in Town Hall' -, January 16, 2019
2. Jeremy Schaill - 'Killing Asylum: How U.S. Policy Ravaged South America' - The Intercept, November 28, 2018
3. Branko Marcetic - 'Negroponte's Crimes' - The Jacobin, August, 2016
4. William Blum - "Why Do They Flee?' - The Anti-Empire Report June 26, 2018
5. Mark Wesbrot - 'Top Ten Ways You Can Tell Which Side the United States Government Is On In Regards to the Military Coup in Honduras' - Common Dreams December 16, 2009
6. Yves Engler - 'Remembering Canada’s support for the right wing coup in Chile' -, September 18, 2018

Who Is Wad Guano!? Defending Venezuela's Democracy

Mobilize and Defend Venezuela

by Andre Vltchek - Dissident Voice

January 25th, 2019

It is new and it is not new, but it is tremendously wicked and deadly – the latest type of coup the US invented and is now applying against Venezuela.

Of course, coups and attempted coups are what could be described as the ‘West’s specialties’, and have been utilized by the U.S., U.K. and other imperialist countries against innumerable unfortunate nations on all continents.

In Latin America, basically each and every country has suffered from them, from the Dominican Republic to Chile and Argentina; in Asia, from Indonesia to Thailand, and in the Middle East from Iran to Egypt and Syria.

The Mouth That Would Be King - 
Wad Guano Claims Venezuelan Throne

Whenever people of some country dared to vote in the socialists, Communists, anti-colonialists or simply some decent bunch of people who were determined to serve their own population, the West corrupted and deployed local elites and military, overthrew elected or revolutionary governments and installed brutal servile regimes. Thousands died, sometimes millions, but the Empire couldn’t care less; as long as it got its way.

There has been a clear pattern to how the West constructed its terror acts against almost all truly freedom-loving nations.

But what the West is now doing to Venezuela is something else, and totally extreme; the hostile acts against President Maduro and his comrades are stripped of all the scruples and cosmetic “refinements” of the past. They supposed to demonstrate in the cruelest terms who the real ruler of the world is, and who is ‘in charge’. This is ‘Western democracy at its best’!

In the past, the US tried to overthrow Chavez, it attempted to starve Venezuela, to make its medical system collapse, then to assassinate Maduro. It produced a ‘deficit’ of food, even toilet paper. It ordered its lapdogs in Latin America to antagonize the Bolivarian revolution.

Now, in the latest development, the regime in Washington has simply hand-picked its favorite traitor inside the socialist republic of Venezuela – a treasonous cadre named Juan Guaido, (who served, briefly, as President of the National Assembly of Venezuela), “recognizing him” as the “interim President of the country”.

Of course, before Guaido first declared himself, pompously, President of Venezuela, he was almost immediately put into his place by the Venezuela’s Supreme Court, which disavowed him as the chief of the National Assembly. So, let us call him former chief.

But the Western mass media propaganda campaign kicked into top gear, and overnight became utterly unscrupulous. As a result, it is now becoming almost impossible to read any information about the Supreme Court ruling, unless one goes to non-Western sources.

So, let’s go ‘there’. As reported by Iranian Tasnim, on January 22, 2019:

"Venezuela’s Supreme Court head Maikel Moreno announced on Monday that the judges had disavowed Juan Guaido as the chief of the opposition-controlled National Assembly."

And the RT, just one day earlier:

"Venezuela’s Supreme Court has declared all acts of the country’s National Assembly null and void, days after the opposition-held assembly declared President Nicolas Maduro’s election illegitimate."

Also, the Venezuelan foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, snapped at Guaido on 21st January, 2019:

"You see this man, who nobody knows in Venezuela—you ask in the streets, “Who is Juan Guaidó?” and nobody knows him—but he’s being pushed to say that he is the new president, by the U.S."

And he did say that! On the 23rd of January 2019, in front of his mob of supporters in Caracas.

And then, a day later, President Trump ‘recognized him’ as the country’s interim president. Canada did the same. The same did France, now a second-rate but increasingly rejuvenated imperialist and neo-colonialist power. Followed by that U.S. puppet – the Organization of American States (OAS), with such fascist countries on board, like Brazil, and Colombia now leading the pack.

Today, the world is clearly divided, as China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Syria, South Africa, Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, Uruguay and many others are firmly on the side of the legitimate revolutionary government of President Maduro.

Confrontation is inevitable

Venezuela ordered all US diplomats to leave and it cut off all diplomatic ties with Washington. US refused to make its embassy staff depart from Caracas, declaring that the Venezuelan government is ‘illegitimate’.

This amounts to a declaration of war. The US refuses to recognize the sovereignty of Venezuela. It reserves the right to tell the Venezuelan people who their real president is! It only recognizes its own, supreme control over the hemisphere and the Planet, showing spite for international law.

It is childish, arrogant, outrageous, and surreal. But it is really happening. And unless it is stopped, right there, in Caracas, this new form of ‘spreading coups’, and enforcing global dictatorship, may spread to all other parts of the world.

Although there are many ‘new elements’ at play, the situation, to a great extent, resembles the ‘Syrian scenario’, as was conveyed to TASS, on January 24, 2019, by Venezuela’s Ambassador to Russia Carlos Rafael Faria Tortosa:

"The Venezuelan authorities know that the US is trying to stage a Syrian scenario with “government in exile” in Caracas… After US Vice President Michael Pence called for overthrowing our government, our president decided to sever diplomatic relations with the US authorities and asked US diplomats to leave Caracas in the next 72 hours. This is an adequate response which our brave president provided to flagrant interference… No country can allow any other country to state their opinions about the internal affairs of the state, especially when it comes to calls for overthrowing [the authorities].

"We know what the next steps will be. The US will now have a justification [for their actions] that there are two governments in the country, like they did in our fraternal Syria with President Bashar Assad and its people. They created a government in exile, which led to great losses, to casualties, to demolition of the country’s infrastructure."

Will Caracas ask Moscow directly for help, as Syria did years ago, while fighting for its survival? It is not certain, yet, although this possibility certainly exists. Venezuela is counting on increasing support from Russia, Iran, China, Cuba and other socialist or independent countries.

For Venezuela, the only way to survive, is to cut off all its dependency on the West, immediately. Washington is threatening Caracas with further sanctions and even with an oil embargo.

There is no reason to panic. But Maduro’s government has to rapidly and fully realign itself. There are many countries outside the NATO realm which are willing to buy Venezuelan oil, and/or fairly invest in its infrastructure and industry. Russia, Iran, China and Turkey are the most important ones, but there are many others.

There has to be new strategy on how to alleviate the pain of the ordinary Venezuelans. This, too, has to come from ‘outside the Western sphere of control’, even outside Latin America; a continent known for its brutal European-descendant elites, consistent lack of solidarity, courage, and acceptance of the West’s rule (the greatest modern-day hero of South America, Hugo Chavez, died attempting to build an united, proud, socialist Latin America, just to be stabbed in his back and spat at by many of the servile Latin American nations. Cuba was fully abandoned after the destruction of the Soviet Union, and had to be saved by China).

The country has to mobilize; it has to fight. Fight for its survival. With all its allies united, ready to defend Venezuela, the same as it has been happening in Syria.

Venezuela suffers and struggles for humanity, not just for itself. With the name of Chavez and socialism on its lips.

Russia is standing by its ally, Venezuela. On 24 January, 2019, Sputnik reported:

"Russia warns the United States against military interference in Venezuela’s affairs, it would be a disaster, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday:

"As we see how the situation in Venezuela develops, we note the willingness of a certain group of countries, including the United States, to use different platforms such as the Organization of American States, to increase pressure on our ally Venezuela under different pretexts… But we have always supported and will support friendly Venezuela that is our strategic partner.""

From the country devastated by a similar destabilization campaign as the one that is taking place in Venezuela, the Syrian official press agency SANA carried a message of support for the legitimate Venezuelan government:

"The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in strongest terms going to extremes by the US and its blatant interference in the affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela which constitutes a flagrant violation of all international norms and laws and a brazen attack against the Venezuelan sovereignty," a source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said on Thursday.

"The source added that the destructive policies adopted by the US in different parts of the world and its disregard of the international legitimacy represents the main reason behind the tensions and the state of instability in our world…

"The Syrian Arab Republic affirms its categorical rejection of the blatant US interferences, and it renews full solidarity with the Venezuelan leadership and people in preserving the sovereignty of the country and foiling the hostile schemes of the US administration…"

In the past, countries accepted the Western terror unleashed against them as something inevitable. But now, the situation is changing. Russia, Cuba and Syria, Iran and China, and now Venezuela, are refusing to surrender, or even to “negotiate with the terrorists”.

Aleppo, which I described as “the Middle Eastern Stalingrad”, stood tall, fought, resisted and defeated vicious enemies. Now Caracas, the Latin American Leningrad, is under siege, starving, but determined to fight against foreign invasion and treasonous cadres.

All over the world, people have to mobilize and fight, by all means, against fascism and for Venezuela!

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel Aurora and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: Exposing Lies of the Empire. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism.
He can be reached through his website and his Twitter. Read other articles by Andre.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Coroner Yet Unconvinced by Official Skripal Narrative


by John Helmer - Dances with Bears

January 24, 2019

Moscow - The Wiltshire county coroner David Ridley admitted this week that he held a 14-minute hearing into the death of Dawn Sturgess, alleged victim of a Russian Novichok attack last July, but after six months of further investigations by police, military, intelligence and toxicology experts, he still cannot hold a formal inquest and decide what caused her death.

This admission by the coroner, scheduling of a new coroner’s court hearing on April 15, and likelihood that this too will be adjourned, now threaten the British Government’s narrative a Russian-produced nerve agent, sprayed on a door handle last March, was an attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, and four months later, a bottle containing the same poison killed Sturgess.

The admissions from Coroner Ridley on Monday were made as the European Union, prodded by the British Government, has announced new travel bans against the Russian military intelligence agency accused of the nerve agent attacks.

“Today’s new sanctions,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Monday, “deliver on our vow to take tough action against the reckless and irresponsible activities of the Russian military intelligence organisation, the GRU, which put innocent British citizens in serious danger in Salisbury last year.”

Coroner Ridley acknowledges there is no substantiation for Hunt’s allegations in a court of law. Not now, not yet.

There has been no physical evidence of Sergei Skripal since the afternoon of March 4, 2018, when he and his daughter Yulia Skripal, fell ill on a park bench in the centre of Salisbury, and were hospitalised with what the local police and medical personnel first suspected to be food, alcohol or drug poisoning. The British authorities then announced that the Skripals were suffering from nerve agent poisoning.

Ten days after the incident, on March 14, Prime Minister Theresa May (lead image) announced that,

“the Russian State was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter.” The murder weapon was, she said, “a Novichok, a military grade nerve agent developed by Russia.”

The Skripals recovered and were released from hospital, Yulia on April 10; Sergei on May 18, according to the official announcement. There is independent evidence confirming this for Yulia Skripal, but not for her father. Read the full archive of this case here.

This month, evidence released by the Wiltshire county council confirms that the interior of Skripal’s house on Christie Miller Road, northwest of the Salisbury city centre, was so badly contaminated by a nerve agent, the roof is now being demolished and replaced. The council has also revealed that “much of the interior [has been] gutted and rebuilt.”

The British authorities have failed to explain how the allegation of a Russian nerve agent attack on the outside door handle could have resulted in the contamination of the interior of the Skripal house; read more of the evidence. On September 5 Prime Minister May told the House of Commons that indictments of attempted homicide and chemical warfare offences against GRU agents were being drafted.

“Mr Speaker,” May declared, “this forensic investigation has now produced sufficient evidence for the independent Director of Public Prosecutions to bring charges against two Russian nationals for: 
  • the conspiracy to murder Sergei Skripal;
  • the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey;
  • the use and possession of Novichok; and
  • causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Yulia Skripal and Nick Bailey.”

After charging the alleged Russian assassins, May added: “The same two men are now also the prime suspects in the case of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley too. There is no other line of inquiry beyond this. And the police have today formally linked the attack on the Skripals and the events in Amesbury – such that it now forms one investigation. There are good reasons for doing so. Our own analysis, together with yesterday’s report from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, has confirmed that the exact same chemical nerve agent was used in both cases.”

Four months later, the prime minister’s allegations have not been presented to a British court.

Only two court hearings have been held on the Skripal case so far. The first took place in the High Court in London on March 20-22, 2018, when the Home Office applied for permission to obtain blood samples from the Skripals who were reported to be unconscious in Salisbury Hospital. The judge’s ruling approved the sampling procedures. Initial samples, he said, “tested positive for the presence of a Novichok class nerve agent or [sic] closely related agent,” the ruling said, without further precision or identification of the source of the “agent”.

Subsequent Swiss laboratory testing of these blood samples reportedly identified traces of the US and NATO-inventory nerve agent, BZ.

The second court hearing occurred in the Wiltshire and Swindon Coroner’s Court on July 19.

That was convened by Coroner Ridley (above) to investigate the cause of death of Sturgess after she and her companion, Charlie Rowley, were exposed to an alleged nerve agent at their home in Amesbury, nine miles north of Salisbury, on June 30. They were hospitalised; Sturgess died on July 8. A spokesman for Ridley said Monday:

“I can confirm the hearing lasted for 14 minutes.” Media reports of the hearing at the time did not reveal how brief it was, nor the evidence which was presented. According to the Salisbury Journal,
“The bottle believed to be the source of the deadly nerve agent that was later found in Ms Sturgess’s boyfriend Charlie Rowley’s home in Amesbury was made of glass, Mr Ridley said. Mr Ridley released Ms Sturgess’s body to her family, and said police and pathologists did not have ‘any problems’ with this. But he said a cause of death would not be confirmed until further tests had been carried out.”

On Monday this week, the coroner was asked to clarify what evidence was presented in his inquest file and in court regarding the bottle, its alleged nerve agent contents, and the location where it had been found by Rowley. Ridley’s spokesman replied:

“The Coroner has seen your e-mail. It is not appropriate for him to respond to such questions in relation to a live investigation.”

Did police testify at the 14-minute hearing last July? Ridley was asked. He replied:

“Police Officer evidence [was] given by way of statement which was read.” 

Rowley, the only surviving witness of what happened to Sturgess, did not testify, nor treating doctors and pathologists from Salisbury Hospital. For an outline of what British coronial law requires in these cases, click to read.

The cause of Sturgess’s death has been announced by Prime Minister May, Foreign Secretary Hunt, spokesmen for the Metropolitan Police, and the British media as the same Novichok which was allegedly sprayed on the Skripal front-door handle. Although the two incidents occurred almost twelve weeks apart in time and nine miles in geography, the British Government claims that Russian GRU agents were culpable in both.

Coroner Ridley’s inquest is legally required to test this claim by identifying precisely what caused Sturgess’s death; what was in the bottle recovered from the Amesbury home; where the bottle had come from, before it reached Sturgess and Ridley in Amesbury. A post-mortem on Sturgess was carried out on July 18, the day before the inquest opened — ten days after her death.

Ridley refused to explain this delay. This is significant because toxicology testing commenced immediately after Sturgess and Rowley were admitted to hospital. These tests continued to determine whether opiates, such as methadone and heroin, were present; Rowley has publicly admitted to being treated for heroin addiction with methadone; it was initially suspected by the hospital that he and Sturgess were suffering from an adverse drug combination or opiate overdose.

Because nerve agent traces dilute and disappear rapidly, blood sampling and testing of Rowley and Sturgess would have started after June 30, upon their hospitalization, and before July 8, when Sturgess died.

Ridley was asked what additional tests have been carried out and reported to him since he adjourned the inquest proceeding on July 19. He refuses to say. He does acknowledge that the decision on which experts to call for which tests is “a judicial decision made by the Coroner”; in short, it’s Ridley’s decision to make.

Ridley has been under orders from London to delay the inquest. According to his spokesman, “the coronial investigation is currently suspended pursuant to Para 1(2) of Schedule 1 to the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 until the next PIR [pre-inquest review] which is currently scheduled for 1000 on 15 April 2019. That hearing may go ahead or there may be a further request to suspend the coronial investigation.”

The statute provision referred to is this:


In other words, British government prosecutors have told Ridley not to proceed because a “person may be charged” with homicide or a “related offence”. This means that no one has been charged yet with an offence related to Sturgess’s death. Noone means no Russian GRU agents.

While the coroner has kept silent, Rowley, the media, the police, and the government have all reached conclusions which the coroner is refusing to make officially.

Rowley claims he found the lethal box and bottle and brought them to his home before opening the box and exposing Sturgess and himself to the bottle’s contents. However, he has given incomplete and ambiguous accounts of where he first found the box. On July 26, Rowley claimed he and Sturgess had been with friends in Salisbury city centre on June 27, and that he had found the box and bottle then. In a tour of Salisbury with an ITV reporter team Rowley claimed he could rule out several places where he might have found them, but he wasn’t certain he had retrieved them from charity bins behind shops on Catherine Street.

Charles Rowley (right) at the charity bins on Catherine Street, 
Salisbury, with an ITV reporter, a month after Rowley allegedly 
found the box containing the bottle which, upon opening at his home, 
caused Sturgess’s fatal collapse. This chain of evidence 
has not yet been accepted by Coroner Ridley. 

ITV reported Rowley’s uncertainty.

“ ‘It’s a possibility that I may have found it here.” he tells us at some bins outside the back of some shops in the centre, but he says ‘I don’t know, all I can say is a vague description of an area and this being one of them…
It’s very frustrating… I’d like to be able to say exactly where I got it from but I can’t…. I’d love to be able to help as much as I can but it’s not helping if I make it up,’ he said. We took Charlie to other key locations in the city and he was able to rule them out”.

ITV also opened up the possibility that Rowley did not find the box and bottle, and that their subsequent appearance in the kitchen of his Amesbury home is unexplained. “None of the friends he was with that day,” ITV reported, “recall him finding anything like perfume.” According to the police display of the box, there cannot have been any doubt it was perfume.

Independent sources point out that missing from the labelling on this box is the estimation symbol required for all perfumes sold in the European Union and Russia. This can be evidence that the packaging originated in the US, or that the packaging is counterfeit, and the forgers forgot to include the estimation symbol.

The Murdoch media have been careless. The Sun, quoting police sources, reported on September 5 that the lethal container “was picked up by poisoning victim Charlie Rowley in Amesbury and taken home”.

The newspaper may have misheard the police identify a bin in Amesbury, or Rowley and the police may have changed their story. According to a press release by the Wiltshire police, on August 2,

“two bins have now been removed from a cordoned-off area in Salisbury…specialists began removing two bins from a cordoned-off area behind shops in Catherine Street, Salisbury, at approximately 1.00hrs this morning, Thursday, 2 August. The bins have been taken to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down for analysis.”
The police notice confirmed they weren’t sure where the bottle had come from. “Police searches are ongoing at a number of sites, including the Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury which has been identified as a location that Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley had visited prior to them falling ill.”

Note the date of the police disclosures – the evening of August 2. This was two weeks after Ridley had postponed his inquest. This reveals that the “Police Officer evidence” Ridley admits reading before the inquest opened cannot have identified the chain of evidence linking the Skripal case in Salisbury to the Sturgess case in Amesbury.

In their August 2 statement, the Wiltshire police also admitted they “are continuing to speak to Charlie Rowley about his recollections prior to him falling ill.” By this week, when Ridley was asked questions about the testing he had ordered on July 19, he will have received a report from the police and the Porton Down laboratory to say whether there is any corroboration of nerve agent traces from box or bottle in the Catherine Street bins.

The coroner has a problem: if the bins have tested negative at Porton Down, there is no chain of evidence admissible in the coroner’s court to link the bins in Salisbury to the death of Sturgess in Amesbury. The problem of admissibility is almost as great if the bins have tested positive for nerve agent traces, because the police have only Rowley’s uncertain word and no other evidence of when the box and bottle may have been slipped into the bin.

The elapse of time is problematic. If Ridley acknowledges this at the next hearing on April 15, there will be no link between the Skripal case and the Rowley-Sturgess case.

This is not what the British police were telling the British press as the prime minister was broadcasting in parliament. The Sun headlined its report of the police claims:

“First pics of Novichok perfume bottle Russian spy suspects used during Salisbury attack that killed Dawn Sturgess — Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were sensationally named by cops today as suspects in the Salisbury poisoning that left the dad and daughter fighting for life.” 

Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, 
Neil Basu, speaking in London on September 5. 

Basu headed Scotland Yard’s operations against organized crime until March 5, when he was promoted to become head of counter-terrorism operations; Basu’s promotion came the day after the alleged attack on the Skripal door handle. Source:

On September 5, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu gave a 3 minute-11 second briefing with illustrations of the box and bottle. Listen carefully as Basu reads from his prepared script.

Basu was certain on the point Rowley could not confirm; the only evidence Basu mentioned was Rowley’s. The box and bottle had been found by Rowley in a charity bin on Catherine Street on June 27, Basu’s script insisted. But Basu also issued a qualifier. The police “cannot account for the whereabouts of the bottle, the nozzle or the box between the attack on the Skripals on the 4th of March and when Charlie Rowley said [sic] he found it on Wednesday, the 27th of June. It’s crucial we find out where that box was. Did you see this pink box or the glass bottle during that time?” (Min. 02:18-36). Basu appealed for witnesses and “any information on where it may have been”.

Basu’s wording wasn’t accurate. According to Rowley, the box he brought home to Amesbury on June 27, then opened on June 30, was sealed in cellophane; to open the box for the bottle inside, Rowley has claimed he had to tear open the wrapper. This suggests noone had opened box or bottle at the time of the alleged Skripal attack. Its whereabouts on or before March 4 are as unsubstantiated as Basu has admitted for the weeks following.

Basu’s briefing is evidence of the opposite of the newspaper headline. When Basu was reading out his report, the police had no corroborating evidence of what Rowley had said about the bin; this means no corroboration from Porton Down of nerve agent traces in the bin. It also means the police have searched the CCTV records of the location on Catherine Street and have found no evidence that Rowley had been there on June 27.

The detailed recovery of CCTV evidence of the two Russians moving around Salisbury on March 4 indicates how much the police and prosecutors know about their movements on the day of their alleged attack. But if there is no CCTV evidence of the Russians on Catherine Street on March 4, and no CCTV evidence of Rowley at the same place on June 27, then there is no telling how the police came to find box and bottle in Rowley’s kitchen when Basu says they did.

Basu’s appeal for witnesses is indirect proof of what the police did not, and cannot, have reported to Coroner Ridley, at least in September.

Listen to Basu explaining how the box and bottle were found by police. At Min.1:09 he said a “small box labelled as Nina Ricci Premier Jour” had been found by police in a kitchen rubbish bag on July 10. At Min. 1:24 Basu said the police had found “a small glass bottle with a modified nozzle…on a kitchen worktop.” That discovery, Basu said, was on July 11. These dates indicate exceptional slowness on the part of the police to search Rowley’s home once nerve-agent poisoning had allegedly been diagnosed at the hospital.

Also, twenty-four hours appear to have elapsed in the official evidence log for the police to find the objects, box and bottle, although they were no more than a metre from each other in Rowley’s small kitchen.

At Min.2:08 of his briefing Basu claimed that testing of the bottle revealed “a significant amount of Novichok”. Nothing Basu or media reports of what the police have been saying is evidence admissible in Coroner Ridley’s court for when and how the box, bottle and Novichok arrived at Rowley’s kitchen before Sturgess collapsed.

The mystery of the box and bottle whereabouts is compounded by the geography of Salisbury and by the allegations which the police and press have broadcast about the alleged Russian attack on the Skripals.


This map, published on September 5 by ITV, was based on police releases of CCTV images and is an officially authorized reconstruction of events in the Salisbury city centre. It indicates that the Russian “suspects” arrived at the railway station from London at 11:48 on March 4; took between 10 and 30 minutes to walk from the railway station northwest towards Christie Miller Road before reversing their direction southeastwards, walking for another 60 minutes or so, and returning to the railway station at 13:50.

The police allege the Russian attack on the Skripal house occurred between 12:10 and 12:40. Local residents report that the walking time from the railway station to Christie Miller Road is about 20 minutes, and the time required to walk from Christie Miller Road to Catherine Street, about 30 minutes.

The Russians were also recorded on CCTV as being on Fisherton Street, just north of Queen Elizabeth Gardens at 13:05. Other reports indicate that on March 4, before their collapse, the Skripals fed ducks in the Gardens. On June 27 Rowley has testified that he, Sturgess and friends also spent time in the Gardens. The ITV map confirms that the police have released no CCTV imagery of either the Russians or Rowley on Catherine Street, which is about 10 minutes’ walk from the Gardens.

For an independent analysis of the CCTV images of the Russians and their movements in real time on March 3, the day before the alleged attack, read this. For analysis of their movements on March 4, click to read Rob Slane’s report of October 3, and his report of October 7. Slane’s reporting casts doubt on the accuracy of the times of movement captured by CCTV images released by the police.

Simply, the Skripal house, where the alleged Russian agents are accused of having sprayed the outside door lever between 12:10 and 12:40 on March 4, is to the northwest of the Salisbury railway station, where the agents went after their assassination attempt. If, as the British police claimed on September 5, the assassins did not bolt directly for the train to London, and thence to Heathrow airport for an Aeroflot flight back to Moscow, they would have made a lengthy detour to the east of the city centre to Catherine Street, in order to get rid of an incriminating box containing a bottle of Novichok.

This detour, if it happened at the speed the CCTV images already show of the Russians walking around Salisbury, would have taken them at least an hour. While this is unlikely practice for professional assassins, if they had done so in order to dispose of their weapons, the police would already have CCTV images of this detour; just as the police have reported, and published, images of the Russians “in the vicinity” of the Skripal house earlier that day. The later images, if they exist, will either be confirmed by Coroner Ridley, or he will have to rule that no connexion is proved between the March 4 and June 27 incidents; at least not the connexion on which the British Prime Minister and her Government insist.

For additional details of the box and bottle – including the implied evidence of two bottles – read this.

The Basu briefing of September 5, and the police appeal for witnesses, suggest that the box and bottle found their way into the bin after the Russians had left Salisbury. Whether that is true or false, probable or improbable, Coroner Ridley is legally required to decide when the box and bottle made their appearance in Salisbury; how they came to Amesbury; and what caused the death of Sturgess. There is no escaping the law for the coroner, that is, unless the inquest is adjourned sine die – without a date for resumption.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Venezuela Coup: An International Plague of Consent Spreading

Is the US Orchestrating a coup in Venezuela?


January 23, 2019

Lucas Koerner in Venezuela analyzes the current developments with TRNN’s Sharmini Peries and Greg Wilpert

Guantánamo at 17

More Video and Radio from the Resistance to the Continued Existence of Guantánamo on the 17th Anniversary of Its Opening

by Andy Worthington

January 23, 2019

How time flies. It’s almost a week since I left the US after my annual visit to call for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on and around the anniversary of its opening, and here I am still posting videos and audio links of shows I took part in.

That’s a good sign, however. On the last two anniversaries, the focus on Guantánamo had almost entirely disappeared.

Two years ago, we were caught in the limbo between the outgoing administration of Barack Obama and the imminent arrival of Donald Trump, and last year, after Trump’s first year in office, the outrage and exhaustion was such that Guantánamo barely got a look-in.

A year on, and you’d be excused for thinking that the situation would only be worse, but although that certainly seems true when it comes to Trump — now obsessed with his Mexican wall, and having shut down the federal government for the longest period in US history (marking a calendar month today) — it is not true of those opposing him on many fronts, including Guantánamo.

This year, there was real energy in the anniversary events calling for the closure of Guantánamo — the annual panel discussion at New America, at which myself and Tom Wilner, representing the Close Guantánamo campaign, were joined by Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch, the annual vigil outside the White House, at which speakers from over a dozen organizations spoke, and, earlier, at a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, co-sponsored by Amnesty International USA and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, at which former prisoner Mohamedou Ould Slahi spoke by video link from Mauritania.

I posted links and commentary about some of these events in earlier articles, here and here (as well as my photos of the vigil here), and am now picking up the story after my return to New York, during my last few days in the city before my return home. On Tuesday January 15, a day of aching cold, I wandered up through Manhattan from Third Avenue, between 46th and 47th Streets (where I’d been at RT’s studios — more on this later!) to West 59th Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, for a half-hour interview for public access TV with Paul DeRienzo, who had interviewed me for Pacifica’s WBAI radio station on the previous Saturday, at the Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s studios, a busy non-profit community media center, which has been in existence for 28 years.

The interview was a freewheeling investigation into the disaster area that is Guantánamo, looking back, for example, on the colossal mistakes that were made in rounding up the men and boys who ended up in Guantánamo. We also discussed the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program, and the role played by significant individuals like John Yoo, who wrote the notorious “torture memos” in 2002, which sought to re-define torture so that the CIA could use it with impunity, and I also spoke about the difference between the torture programs implemented at Guantánamo, and those used in the CIA “black sites.”

The video is below, via YouTube, and I hope you have time to watch it and will share it if you find it useful.

On the morning of January 16, I undertook a radio interview — with Bob Connors and Tom Walker for the Peace and Justice Report on WSLR, a community radio station in Sarasota, Florida. Bob and Tom interviewed me for the first time last year, and it was great to talk to them again. We discussed the Guantánamo story in depth, and I was also delighted that they played two songs by my band The Four Fathers, ‘How Much Is A Life Worth?’ and ‘Close Guantánamo.’

The show is available here, on the Peace and Justice Report page, under Jan. 16, and the interview starts around 20 minutes in.

On Thursday morning — my last day in the US — I undertook another radio interview, with Linda Olson-Osterlund, on KBOO FM, a community radio show in Portland, Oregon. Linda and I have been speaking several times a year for ten years now, and it’s always good to talk to her. She was guest-presenting a show called ‘Voices from the Edge,’ and the show is available here, and here as an MP3.

Linda also played a song by The Four Fathers, closing her show with ‘Fighting Injustice,’ a live favourite, and a personal mantra for me, with its chorus, “If you ain’t fighting injustice, you’re living on the dark side.”

That’s about it for now — although I hope that, sometime soon, the video from my talk at Revolution Books in Harlem, on Sunday January 13, will be available — and, as hinted at above, there’s also something very interesting forthcoming from RT!

For now, however, I’ll leave you with the links above, and, for Spanish speakers, an article based on a phone interview I undertook just before the anniversary, which appeared in the newspaper El Diario on January 11.

* * * * *

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration. If you can help, please click on the button.

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 music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in 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), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, the resistance continues.

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, The Complete Guantánamo Files, 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.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Dahr Jamail, Andy Worthington, Janine Bandcroft January 24, 2019

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

January 24, 2019

It doesn't matter who or what is to blame; or even if laying blame is appropriate. The fact is, the planet is changing, and that change is quickening. The predicted emerging climate is favourable to neither us, nor most of the rest of nature. In short, whether recognized or not, humanity is headed for an extinction whose eventuality is not a matter of "if", but "when". So then, how do we go on from here?

Dahr Jamail is a journalist and author who has, as staff writer at Truthout, been writing about climate change for the past decade or more. His book, 'The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Destruction' is newly released and a firsthand account of visiting and revisiting places on an extincting planet.

Listen. Hear.

But lest you despair, consider what End of Ice reviewer, David Swanson observes,

"There is no preventing utter disaster. Yet there is urgency. The need is to work to slow the collapse and to mitigate its impacts and provide aid to each other as it washes over us."

Dahr Jamail in the first half.

And; as the Earth is an island, isolated from the rest of creation by that unfathomable ocean, the frigid vacuum of space, it too contains within it islands unreachable. One such place is Guantánamo Bay, Cuba where reside the prisoners of the forever Global War on Terror in the infamous mother of America's Black Site gulags.

Andy Worthington is an investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. A recognized authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror”, Andy is co-founder of Close Guantánamo, and We Stand With Shaker, campaigns dedicated to bringing justice for inmates of there past and present. The London-based Worthington is also a singer, songwriter, founding member of the band, The Four Fathers and urban photographer.

Andy Worthington and renewing resistance to Guantánamo in the second half.

And; Victoria-based activist and long-time Gorilla Radio contributor, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour with the Left Coast Events Bulletin of some of the good things to be gotten up to in and around our town in the coming week. But first, Dahr Jamail and is the End of Ice the end of us?

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Thursday between 11-Noon Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

Grieving an Extincting Planet

In Facing Mass Extinction, We Must Allow Ourselves to Grieve

by Dahr Jamail - Truthout

January 18, 2019

In this excerpt from The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption, author Dahr Jamail explains how he learned to process the heartbreaking truth of inevitable climate destruction and the possibility of mass extinction.

In 2015, my best friend, Duane French, came down with pneumonia and was taken to the hospital. Pneumonia on its own is bad enough, but for someone who has been quadriplegic for more than forty years, it is also life threatening.

I met Duane when I first moved to Alaska in 1996, then I became his personal assistant. Duane is now one of the oldest living quadriplegics on the planet and he has always been one of my heroes.

He broke his neck in a diving accident when he was just fourteen and spent his adolescence in a rehabilitation hospital with mangled Vietnam veterans returning from the war. Duane decided not to allow something like a broken neck and confinement to an electric wheelchair stop him from working to help pass the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Since then, he has run more than one state government division that assists people with disabilities.

Struggling to breathe, Duane was moved to the ICU shortly after being admitted to the hospital. His partner, Kelly, his personal assistant Sakhum, and I took twelve-hour shifts by his bed. Three weeks went by as one antibiotic after another failed. Duane’s heart rate was over one hundred beats per minute for weeks on end. He was barely eating, and he began spending more and more time wearing a breathing mask.

Knowing the odds were heavily stacked against him, I sat at his bedside and gave him my full attention. When he slept, I watched his chest rising and falling, savoring the fact that he was still alive. When it was my turn to rest, I would go to bed in Kelly and Duane’s guest bedroom back at their home, knowing that Duane was still alive. But he continued to decline and, as he did, every moment with him was an ever more precious gift.

It was easier for me to sit by his bed than anywhere else on Earth. My heart was breaking; yet I did not want to miss one single second of Duane’s life. I had no idea if he would survive, and that became less relevant as each moment I had with him became increasingly inestimable.

Duane’s condition grew worse. There appeared to be nothing left to do. The nurse administered morphine to calm his struggles to breathe.

Duane ended up, miraculously, pulling through, but the experience stayed with me as I wrote this book. Reflecting on what is happening to the planet, I realize that the intimacy I shared with Duane when I thought I was losing my best friend is the intimacy we should have with the Earth. When I thought I was losing Duane, I did not want to leave anything that was in my heart for him unsaid, nor were there any wrongs left to make right. In an analogous way, we may be watching Earth dying, so we each get to ask ourselves: what am I called forth to do at this time?

Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has written how,

“the most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When our mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” 

Only by sharing an intimacy with the natural world can we begin to know, love, and care for her. By regaining this intimacy we can begin to understand the ramifications of what it is to lose so much of Earth’s ice, species, and biosphere. For so long we have lived in a world where many never experience this intimacy, love, and connection before it’s too late.

For decades, many of us have turned a blind eye to what is happening to the planet. But now, given that Earth may well be dying, we may be ready to stand up to protect what we love. An extraordinary alchemy can take place when people follow their inner directives to stand up and face squarely the dire odds of biosphere survival. These actions involve extraordinary outer and inner courage, which can nurture a profound activism. The gifts provided by the crisis at hand are the conditions that make possible widespread shifts in political identity, purpose, and consciousness.

No one knows if the biosphere will completely collapse. Our future is uncertain. Given the fact that a rapid increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere coincided with previous mass extinctions and that we could well be facing our own extinction, we should be asking ourselves, “How shall I use this precious time?” Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us of the value just in being present with what is happening to the planet:

“When your beloved is suffering, you need to recognize her suffering, anxiety, and worries, and just by doing that, you already offer some relief.”

Reporting on the catastrophic impact of climate disruption for this book involved trips to the front lines of collapsing geo- and biospheres and interviews and reports about near-apocalyptic scenarios: about rapidly thawing permafrost, the release of methane into the atmosphere, the flooding of coastal cities, the increasing likelihood of billions of people dying in the not-so-distant future. Though I learned to find a way of looking unwaveringly at what was happening to the planet, I fell into a deep depression and I began to wonder whether there was any point in even writing about this.

I had hoped my work in Iraq would contribute to ending the US occupation of that country. I had hoped, too, that writing climate dispatches and bludgeoning people with scientific reports about increasingly dire predictions of the future would wake them up to the planetary crisis we find ourselves in. It has been very difficult for me to surrender that hope. But I came to understand that hope blocked the greater need to grieve, so that was the reason necessitating the surrendering of it.

Back home from Denali, I had to continue to find a way to balance what I was experiencing. I resumed my weekend forays into the nearby Olympic National Park. Again drawn to the mountains, I hiked through old-growth forests up into alpine basins filled with mountain lakes and hemmed in by rugged peaks. Scrambling up steep rocky slopes toward another summit and finding a cliff ledge to perch on for a lunch of nuts, dried salmon, and coffee, I breathed in the scene below: a valley running toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the glacier just below the summit of Mount Carrie, a raven flying above. I savored every moment.

Each trip sparked my curiosity about another peak or valley. When I returned home, I cleaned my gear and replenished the food bag, and the maps came out again, and I would begin packing for my next hike or climb. These forays into the mountains are my way of being with the Earth in order to remain connected to my sorrow for what is happening, as well as to honor her.

We are already facing mass extinction. There is no removing the heat we have introduced into the oceans, nor the 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere every single year. There may be no changing what is happening, and far worse things are coming. How, then, shall we meet this?

“The question is not are we going to fail. The question is how,” author and storyteller Stephen Jenkinson, who has worked in palliative care for decades, states.

“The question is, What shall be the manner of our inability to care for what was entrusted to us? The question is our manner of failing.” 

Jenkinson, who now makes his living by teaching about grief and the acceptance of death as an integral part of living, spoke eloquently about grief and climate disruption during a lecture he gave at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. When he talks about our failure to care for what is entrusted to us, he is also saying that the time to change our ways is long past. “Grief requires us to know the time we’re in,” Jenkinson continues. “The great enemy of grief is hope. Hope is the four-letter word for people who are unwilling to know things for what they are. Our time requires us to be hope-free. To burn through the false choice of being hopeful and hopeless. They are two sides of the same con job. Grief is required to proceed.”

Each time another scientific study is released showing yet another acceleration of the loss of ice atop the Arctic Ocean, or sea level rise projections are stepped up yet again, or news of another species that has gone extinct is announced, my heart breaks for what we have done and are doing to the planet. I grieve, yet this ongoing process has become more like peeling back the layers of an onion— there is always more work to do as the crisis we have created for ourselves continues to unfold. And somewhere along the line I surrendered my attachment to any results that might stem from my work. I am hope-free.

A willingness to live without hope allows me to accept the heartbreaking truth of our situation, however calamitous it is. Grieving for what is happening to the planet also now brings me gratitude for the smallest, most mundane things. Grief is also a way to honor what we are losing.

“Grief expressed out loud for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them,” thinker, writer, and teacher Martín Prechtel writes.
“Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.” 

My acceptance of our probable decline opens into a more intimate and heartfelt union with life itself. The price of this opening is the repeated embracing of my own grief. Grief is something I move through, to territory on the other side. This means falling in love with the Earth in a way I never thought possible. It also means opening to the innate intelligence of the heart. I am grieving and yet I have never felt more alive. I have found that it’s possible to reach a place of acceptance and inner peace, while enduring the grief and suffering that are inevitable as the biosphere declines.

I believe everyone alive is feeling this sorrow for the planet, although most are not aware of it. Rather than grieving for her, many are given pills for depression, or find other ways to self-medicate. To live well involves making amends to the Earth by finding gratitude for every bite of food and for every stitch of clothing, for every element in our bodies, for it all comes from the Earth. It also means living in a community with others who are remaking themselves and their lifestyle in accord with what is.

“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well,” Czech dissident, writer, and statesman Václav Havel said, “but the certainty that something is worth doing no matter how it turns out.” 

Writing this book is my attempt to bear witness to what we have done to the Earth. I want to make my own amends to the Earth in the precious time we have left, however long that might be. I go into my work wholeheartedly, knowing that it is unlikely to turn anything around. And when the tide does not turn, my heart breaks, over and over again as the reports of each succeeding loss continue to come in.

The grief for the planet does not get easier. Returning to this again and again is, I think, the greatest service I can offer in these times. I am committed in my bones to being with the Earth, no matter what, to the end.

The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption

From award-winning Truthout staff reporter Dahr Jamail, The End of Ice is “assiduously researched, profoundly affecting, and filled with vivid evocations of the natural world." (Kirkus Reviews)