Saturday, May 27, 2017

teleSUR's Rolando Segura with the Syrian president in Damascus

Exclusive interview with Bashar al-Assad

by TeleSUR


May 25, 2017






teleSUR (TS): Mr. President, thank you for receiving us.

President Bashar al-Assad (BA): I welcome you and teleSUR TV in Syria. You are welcome.

TS: Let’s start directly with the latest developments. Russia has warned that there might be other alleged chemical attacks. What are the precautionary measures that Syria has taken in order to prevent that?
 
BA: First of all, terrorists have used chemical materials more than once in the past several years and in more than one region throughout Syria. We have asked the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send specialized missions to investigate what happened. And every time, the United States obstructed these investigations or prevented sending such missions in order to carry out such investigations. This is what happened last week when we called for investigations over the alleged use of chemical weapons in the town of Khan Sheikhoun. The United States and its allies prevented OPCW from taking that decision. As far as we are concerned, we still insist on an investigation, and we and our Russian and Iranian allies are trying to persuade OPCW to send a team to investigate what happened, because if it doesn’t, the United States might repeat the same charade by fabricating the use of false chemical weapons in another place in Syria in order to justify military intervention in support of the terrorists. On the other hand, we continue to fight the terrorists, because we know that the objective of all these American and Western allegations concerning chemical weapons is to support terrorists in Syria. That’s why we will continue to fight these terrorists.

TS: But the Pentagon says that Syria has chemical weapons. Is it true that Syria has kept one percent of the weapons it has committed itself to hand over and destroy four years ago?

BA: You and I remember well what happened in 2003, when Colin Powell showed the world in the United Nations what he claimed to be the evidence which proves that President Saddam Hussein possessed chemical, nuclear, and other weapons. However, when the American forces invaded Iraq, it was proven that all he said was a lie. Powell himself admitted that the American intelligence agencies deceived him with that false evidence. That wasn’t the first nor will it be the last time. This means that if you want to be a politician in the United States, you have to be a genuine liar. This is what characterizes American politicians: they lie on a daily basis, and say something and do something different. That’s why we shouldn’t believe what the Pentagon, or any other American institution says, because they say things which serve their policies, not things which reflect reality and the facts on the ground.

TS: What is the objective behind Syria’s desire to acquire the latest generation of anti-missile systems from Russia?

BA: We are already in a state of war with Israel; and Israel has been committing aggressions on the Arab states surrounding it since its creation in 1948. So, it’s natural that we should have such systems. However, the terrorists, acting on Israeli, American, Turkish, Qatari, and Saudi instructions have destroyed some of these systems. And it is natural for us to negotiate with the Russians now with a view to strengthening these systems, whether to face any Israeli threats from the air or the threats of American missiles. That has become a real possibility after the recent American aggression on al-Shairat airbase in Syria.

TS: What is the role that Israel, in particular, has played in this war against Syria? We know that Israeli attacks against the positions of the Syrian Arab Army have continued in recent weeks.

BA: It is playing this role in different forms; first, by direct aggression, particularly by using warplanes, artillery, or missiles against Syrian Army positions. Second, it is supporting terrorists in two ways: first by providing direct support in the form of weapons, and second by providing logistic support, i.e. allowing them to conduct military exercises in the areas it controls. It also provides them with medical assistance in its hospitals. These are not mere claims or assumptions. They are facts, verified and published on the internet which you can easily access as proven evidence of the Israeli role in support of the terrorists in Syria.

TS: How do you assess the current policy of Donald Trump in the world, and in Syria in particular?

BA: The American President has no policies. There are policies drawn by the American institutions which control the American regime which are the intelligence agencies, the Pentagon, the big arms and oil companies, and financial institutions, in addition to some other lobbies which influence American decision-making. The American President merely implements these policies, and the evidence is that when Trump tried to move on a different track, during and after his election campaign, he couldn’t. He came under a ferocious attack. As we have seen in the past few week, he changed his rhetoric completely and subjected himself to the terms of the deep American state, or the deep American regime. That’s why it is unrealistic and a complete waste of time to make an assessment of the American President’s foreign policy, for he might say something; but he ultimately does what these institutions dictate to him. This is not new. This has been ongoing American policy for decades.

TS: The American administration has opened a new front now with North Korea. Is it possible that this will affect the current American approach towards Syria?

BA: No, the United States always seeks to control all the states of the world without exception. It does not accept allies, regardless of whether they are developed states as those in the Western bloc, or other states of the world. Every state should be an American satellite. That is why what is happening to Syria, to Korea, to Iran, to Russia, and maybe to Venezuela now, aims at re-imposing American hegemony on the world, because they believe that this hegemony is under threat now, which consequently threatens the interests of American economic and political elites.

TS: Russia’s role in the Syrian conflict is very clear; but what is the role of China, this other great global power?

BA: There is great cooperation with Russia and China in terms of political action or political positions. Viewpoints are similar, and there is cooperation in the Security Council. As you know, the United States and its allies have tried several times to use the Security Council in order to legitimize the role of the terrorists in Syria and to legitimize their role in the illegitimate and aggressive intervention in Syria. That’s why Russia and China stood together, and China’s role, with the Russian role, was essential in this regard.

Moreover, some of the terrorists are Chinese nationals who came to Syria through Turkey. They pose a threat to us in Syria, but they pose an equal threat to China. China is aware of the fact that terrorism in any place in the world moves to any other place; and consequently, whether these terrorists are of Chinese or any other nationality, they might return to China and strike there as they have done in Europe, in Russia, and in Syria. We are now cooperating with China on security issues.

TS: Western and American media talk now about moderate terrorists and extremist terrorists. In reality, is there a difference between the two groups?

BA: For them, a moderate terrorist is that who carries out acts of beheading and slaughter but without carrying al-Qaeda flag, or without saying “Allah Akbar,” while an extremist terrorist is that who carries the flag and says Allah Akbar when carrying out acts of beheading and slaughter. This is the only difference. For the United States, all those who serve its political agenda against other states are classified as moderate opposition and not as extremist and terrorist, even if they commit the worst acts of terrorism. They are freedom fighters and not fighters in the cause of destruction and sabotage.

TS: There have been six years of war in Syria. What is Syria’s position now, particularly in the absence of statistics about human losses?

BA: The most painful loss in any war is human loss, the suffering which is inflicted any family when it loses one of its members; for the whole family is scarred for life. This is the natural feeling in a region like ours, where family ties are very strong. Nothing compensates that loss, and nothing exceeds the pain it causes. There are of course huge economic and infrastructure losses, but this infrastructure has been built for a little over 50 years by Syrian hands, not foreign hands. And we have the capacity to rebuild this infrastructure. The same goes for the economy, for the Syrian economy is based on Syrian capabilities first and foremost; and our economic ties with the West have always been limited. When the war is over, it will all be rebuilt. We do not have a problem with that. It is true that it takes time, but it is not impossible. So, the greatest and most painful loss for Syria is the human loss.

TS: Of the 86 states constituting the alliance waging war on Syria, are there any that would take part in the process of reconstruction?

BA: No, of course not. First of all, they do not want to rebuild Syria, but some companies in those countries, if they see that the wheel of the economy and rebuilding has started to turn, and since they are opportunists, they are certainly prepared to come and have a share of rebuilding Syria in order to make money. The Syrian people will certainly not accept this. All the states which stood against the Syrian people and took part in the destruction and sabotage will never take part in rebuilding Syria. That is final.

TS: But how was life during these past six years in this besieged country?

BA: Life has certainly been tough to every Syrian citizen. The terrorists have destroyed the infrastructure. In certain areas, electricity is on for one or two hours, and there are areas in which there’s no electricity at all. There are areas in which electricity has been cut off for more than two or three years. People don’t know television, children do not go to school, there are no medical clinics or hospitals, and nobody treats the ill. They live a prehistoric existence thanks to the terrorists. There are areas which did not have water for years, like what happened in Aleppo, which did not have water for many long years. Sometimes, they use polluted water for drinking, washing up, and other purposes. Life has been very tough.

TS: One of the main targets during these years has been the person of Bashar al-Assad. Have you ever felt fear during these years?

BA: When you are in the middle of the war, you do not feel fear. I believe this is something common to all people. But you have a general concern for the homeland; for what is the value of being safe, as an individual, as a citizen, while the country is under threat? You cannot feel safe. I believe that the feeling we have in Syria in general is concern for the future of Syria rather than personal fear. The evidence is that mortar shells fall anywhere, on any house; nevertheless, you see that life continues in Syria. The will to life is much stronger than personal fear. As a President, I take strength from the feelings of the general public, not from my personal feelings. I do not live in isolation from the others.

TS: Western media have been waging a media campaign against you. Am I sitting now with this devil portrayed by the media?

BA: Yes, from a Western perspective, you are now sitting with the devil. This is how they market it in the West. But this is always the case when a state, a government, or an individual do not subjugate themselves to their interests, and do not work for their interests against the interests of their people. These have been the Western colonial demands throughout history. They say that this evil person is killing the good people. Okay, if he is killing the good people, who have been supporting him for the past six years? Neither Russia, nor Iran, nor any friendly state can support an individual at the expense of the people. This is impossible. If he is killing the people, how come the people support him? This is the contradictory Western narrative; and that’s why we shouldn’t waste our time on Western narratives because they have been full of lies throughout history, and not something new.

TS: What can Syria, too, do in order to put an end to this war ahead of the sixth round of Geneva talks?

BA: We said that there are two axes: the first is fighting the terrorists; and this is not subject to any discussion, and we don’t have any other choice in dealing with the terrorists except fighting them. The other axis, the political one, includes two points: first, dialogue with the different political forces over the future of Syria; and second: local reconciliations, in the sense that we negotiate with the terrorists in a certain village or city, depending on each case separately. The objective of this reconciliation is for them to lay down their weapons and receive an amnesty from the state, and consequently return to their normal life. This approach has been implemented during the past three or four years, has succeeded, and is ongoing now. These are the axes which we can work on in order to find a solution to the Syrian crisis.

TS: From the perspective of a country in a state of war, how do you see the situation in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela, where a number of acts very similar to those which caused the conflict in Syria have emerged?

BA: Of course, they should be similar, because the party planning and implementing these acts is the same. It is the United States as a maestro and the Western states constituting the choir. Latin America in general, and Venezuela in particular, used to be the backyard of the United States for decades. Through that backyard, Western states, particularly North America, or the United States, used to secure their economic interests through the influence of the big companies in your countries. Military or political coups in Latin America during the 1960s and the 1970s aimed at perpetuating American hegemony over the interests of your people. But Latin America freed itself during the past twenty years and gained its independent decision-making. Governments started defending the interests of their peoples, which is unacceptable to the United States. That’s why they are exploiting what’s happening in the world, starting with the orange revolution in Ukraine up to the recent coup there a few years ago, and what is taking place in the Arab countries, in Libya, Syria, Yemen and others, in order to implement it in Latin America. They started in Venezuela with the objective of overthrowing the national government, and it will spread over to other Latin American countries.

TS: Some people, particularly ordinary citizens in Latin America, think that a scenario similar to what’s happening in Syria could be repeated in Latin America. What do you think?

BA: This is true. That’s why I say since the party planning and implementing is the same, it’s natural that the scenario is not only similar, but identical. Some local elements might be different. In Syria, they said in the beginning that there were peaceful demonstrations, but in fact, when these peaceful demonstrations did not spread wide enough, they implanted individuals who fired on both sides, on the police and the demonstrations, and there were casualties. They started to say that the state is killing the people, and this scenario is being repeated everywhere. The same scenario will be repeated in Venezuela. That’s why the Venezuelan people have to be very careful. There is a difference between opposing the government and being against the homeland, a huge difference. On the other hand, no foreign state can be more concerned about Venezuela’s interests than the Venezuelan people themselves. Do not believe the West, for it’s not concerned either about human rights or about the interests of states. It is only concerned about the interests of part of the governing elites in its countries. And these governing elites are not necessarily politicians, they are economic companies too.

TS: I’m talking about Latin America, Venezuela, the Bolivarian Revolution which was your strong ally. How do you remember the late Hugo Chavez?

BA: President Chavez was a world-class distinguished personality. When we talk about Latin America, we immediately remember the late President Chavez and the late leader Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution. They are distinguished personalities who changed the face of Latin America. But of course the leader I knew personally and whom I met more than once and had a personal relationship with was President Chavez, when he visited us in Syria and I visited him in Venezuela. He visited us twice. When you meet him, you can tell that he is the son of the people. You do not feel that you are meeting a president or a politician, but a person who lived the suffering of his people. Everything he said, and every minute of his time, was about the details related to the people of his country. And when he talked with a head of another state, or an official from another state, he always thought of how to create common interests which reflect positively on his people. He was a real and strongly charismatic leader. And he was an extremely genuine person.

TS: They demonized Chavez before; and it is clear that it is Nicolas Maduro’s turn now.

BA: Of course, as long as President Maduro is walking the same patriotic line, the line of Venezuela’s independence, and acting in the best interest of his country’s people, it is natural that he should be the first target of the United States. This is self-evident.

TS: How does Bashar al-Assad envision the end of the war?

BA: Today, foreign intervention in Syria aside, the problem is not complicated, for the majority of the Syrians are tired of the war and want a solution. They want to return to safety and stability. There is a dialogue between us as Syrians, there are meetings, and people live with each other, i.e. there is no real barrier. The problem now is that with every step we make towards a solution and regaining stability, the terrorist gangs receive more money and weapons in order to blow the situation up. That’s why I can say that the solution should be stopping outside support to the terrorists. As far as we are concerned in Syria, reconciliation among all Syrians, and forgetting and forgiving all that happened in the past throughout this war, is the way to restore safety to Syria. Rest assured that Syria will be then much stronger than it was before the war.

TS: Are you prepared to have reconciliation with those who carried arms against the Syrian people?

BA: Of course, and this has actually happened in many and different places, and some of them have fought side by side with the Syrian Army, some fell martyrs, and some returned to their cities and live in the part under government control. We don’t have a problem. Tolerance is essential to end any war. And we are proceeding on that track.

TS: Mr. President, what is your message to Latin America and the world?

BA: Keep your independence. We, in the Arab region, are celebrating independence in more than one country. But this independence used to mean, in a number of countries in the region, the mere evacuation of occupying forces. But real independence happens when you are in possession of your national decision-making. For us, Latin America was a model of independence, in the sense that occupiers were evacuated, in case there were foreign forces, but at the same time there was national decision-making, openness, and democracy. You provided the world with an important model. So, keep it, because if the countries of the third and developing world wanted to develop, they should follow the model implemented in Latin America.

TS: Mr. President, thank you for giving teleSUR this interview, and thank you for your precious time and all the information that you have provided.

BA: Thank you for coming, and once again I welcome you in Damascus.

Degrees of Seperation? Manchester Bomber Links to MI5

Manchester Bomber May Have Been Groomed By UK Intelligence

by Whitney Webb - MintPress News 


May 27, 2017

The alleged perpetrator of last week’s bombing in Manchester has been linked to a Libyan terror group that has been aided in the past by British intelligence authorities - a fact that has been conveniently ignored by mainstream media, despite their intense coverage of the attack.



MANCHESTER As the worst terrorist attack to hit the United Kingdom since 2005, last week’s bombing of a concert in Manchester has since been a constant fixture of the news cycle both in the UK and abroad.

Absent from mainstream media accounts of the event – and the man allegedly behind it – are several key coincidences that have raised concerns, particularly regarding links between British intelligence and the alleged suicide bomber, British-born Salman Abedi.

Manchester bomber Salman Abedi
(Photo: Twitter)

Media reports have already established that Abedi, a Libyan national, was radicalized in the hotbed of radical extremism that Libya has become since the U.S.-NATO backed invasion that ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Though most mainstream accounts don’t mention the UK’s role in destabilizing and overthrowing the Libyan government in 2011 – that is, causing Libya’s current state of chaos by arming right-wing rebels who now make up al-Qaeda and ISIS – several have mentioned the link between Abedi and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

When the Western-orchestrated uprising began in 2011, Abedi and his father, Ramadan Abedi, returned to Libya to fight on behalf of the LIFG. As the West sought to overthrow Gaddafi, British intelligence agency MI5 established a “rat line” that sent anti-Gaddafi exiles living in England to the front lines in Tripoli and elsewhere.

As reported by Middle East Eye, MI5 utilized an “open door” policy that allowed Libyan exiles and British-Libyan citizens to freely travel to Libya to help topple Gaddafi, even though some had been subject to counter-terrorism control orders. One British citizen with ties to Libya was under house arrest at the time for suspected ties to extremist groups. However, he was allowed to travel to Libya with no questions asked.

MI5’s ties to the LIFG go back decades. One MI5 whistleblower asserted that the UK covertly funded the LIFG, which at the time was an al-Qaeda affiliate, in order to help them carry out a failed assassination attempt targeting Gaddafi.

In addition, the Telegraph reported that “A group of Gaddafi dissidents, who were members of the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), lived within close proximity to Abedi in Whalley Range” in Manchester.

“Among them was Abd al-Baset Azzouz, a father of four from Manchester, who left Britain to run a terrorist network in Libya overseen by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor as leader of al-Qaeda,” the report added.

This information suggests that the UK government knowingly and intentionally harbored al-Qaeda-linked terrorists within their borders, suggesting that the UK government’s private stance on al-Qaeda may be different than its public stance, as the ties between these men and the LIFG were hardly a secret.


Republican U.S. Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Marco Rubio of Florida,
Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and John McCain of Arizona, display
the ‘victory’ sign while on a 2011 visit to Libya.


If true, the UK government would not be alone in its attempts to legitimize the LIFG. In 2011, U.S. Senator and notorious war hawk John McCain met with the group and later asserted that they were not terrorists, but “patriots.” The U.S. government further cemented this perspective in 2015, when it removed the LIFG from its list of designated terror organizations.

In addition, Abedi had been reported to British authorities years ago, when he allegedly expressed support for suicide bombings. The authorities took no action. In fact, the British government allowed him to travel to Libya even after he was flagged as a potential terrorist.

This finding prompted journalist Max Blumenthal to pointedly ask in an article for Alternet:

“What did the British government know about Abedi and when did it know it? Was British intelligence attempting to groom Abedi as an informant?”

Such actions on behalf of British intelligence are hardly unheard of. Indeed, MI5 had tried the same with Mohammed Emwazi, better known as the Daesh member “Jihadi John.” MI5 hounded Emwazi for nearly four years in their attempts to recruit him as a spy, threatening him with harsh punishment if he refused to collaborate. Upon leaving the UK in 2013, Emwazi said he blamed MI5 for driving him to “the brink of madness.”

Listen to a troubled Emwazi describe an encounter with MI5 years prior to joining Daesh:





Other documents released by the human rights group Cage UK have revealed how MI5 has not only groomed extremists as collaborators but also worked to push young, vulnerable men down the path of extremism.

These findings suggest that Abedi may have been just another one of their pawns.




Whitney Webb is a MintPress contributor who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, 21st Century Wire, and True Activist among others - she currently resides in Southern Chile.

More articles by Whitney Webb 

Rachel Go to Hell (Or Rot in Edmonton)

Rachel Notley Can Go to Hell

by Rafe Mair - The Common Sense Canadian


May 23, 2017

You can go to hell, Rachel Notley. Now, everyone, repeat after me. OK? Here we go.

There is no risk in transporting Alberta’s bitumen through our forests, over our rivers, past our sparkling, azure lakes, through our cities, into Vancouver Harbour, over the Salish Sea, past the Gulf Islands, through the Straits of Juan de Fuca. No risk involved at all, just an absolutely certain ongoing series of accidents, small, big and enormous just waiting to happen like the flipped penny waits for heads to turn up.

In fact, I can tell you after listening to companies and governments lie through their teeth for a great many years that there’s a maxim here, the origin of which is credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson but may go back further: “The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons” – freely translated, the more they downplay and minimize the consequences, the worse they’re sure to be.

Ms. Notley is afflicted with the same problem as Premier Photo-Op in our province – she finds it not just difficult to tell the truth when a big fat lie is available, but impossible. Christy is still lying through her teeth, strictly by accident of course, alleging that LNG is a less harmful fossil fuel to burn than coal, which, besides being untrue, is rather like the ad years ago that went, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette”.

So let’s talk about that. Try telling the truth – it only hurts for a moment. Burned fossil fuels cause enormous, ultimately crippling damage to the atmosphere and, of course, our health. Not even kindly old Doc Weaver, who loves “run of river” and Independent Power Producers, would support burning LNG or bitumen – and he’s a climatologist with an infinitesimal sliver of a Nobel Prize to show for it.

Prime Minister Trudeau, Secundum, was once convinced that burning fossil fuels was terrible until he got urgent calls from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers after the Paris Conference on Climate – same guys who control Postmedia, Christy, and the oil-crazy BC Government.

What if BC shipped uranium through Alberta?

 


Photo: Flickr CC Licence / Premier of Alberta


Ms. Notley, all that codswallop you’ve been barfing about one province not being allowed to stop another province from getting products to market went out with the Stutz Bearcat and the tricycle. You see, we’re not talking products like those back in the good old days of Sir John A, the National Policy and shipping wheat. Bitumen isn’t a product like wheat or pickled prairie oysters but a deadly additive to the atmosphere which, after we let you ship it over and spread ruin in our precious province, is thrust into the atmosphere by your customers and comes quickly back to poison us! Didn’t you know that Premier? And didn’t you know that the Tar Sands whence springs this shit are the world’s worst polluter?

You’re of the Left, Madam, and they’re supposed to care about pollution, destruction and death. Gross indifference as you are displaying belongs to Bay Street and their deadly deniers on the right, including their ambitious acolytes, the ever self-gratifying Liberals.

Here you are, Premier Notley, the caring champions of fair play and decency behaving like greedy, uncaring capitalist porkers at the altar of oil just like the good ol’ boys in the Petroleum Club, whistling past the graveyard, sipping single malt Scotch. Sorry for the naughty but so expressive word, but Rachel Notley, aren’t you fucking well ashamed of yourself?

Here’s a question for you, Premier: BC has scads of uranium. What would you say if we wanted to ship raw uranium down Jasper Avenue in Edmonton, down the South Saskatchewan River, en route to, say, North Korea, to be used – cross our heart and hope to die – for peaceful purposes. Hell, what about uranium to our friends and allies in the good old US?

You’d just as soon ship the stuff to North Korea, you say?

You have a point there Rachel. But seriously, what’s the difference between bitumen and uranium, save in degree and not much of that, only being that uranium may kill us a bit faster than Tar Sands gunk?. Let me put it to you this way – there’s no way in the world you would expose Albertans to death and destruction so that BC can sell uranium without any supervision of its use, yet you have no qualms making British Columbians handle your cannon fodder so Alberta can get rich selling bitumen to countries who will put as much of it as they wish into the atmosphere – and this doesn’t even raise a blush.

I guess it’s sort of like Church on Sunday, foreclose farms the rest of the week.

The pot calling the kettle black

 


When it comes to building pipelines, Justin Trudeau has Rachel 
Notley’s back (Flickr CC Licence / Premier of Alberta)


What the hell, eh Premier, the constitutional lawyers at U of A support you, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers supports you, your customers in China support you and, of course, Trudeau the Turncoat supports you.

By the way, Premier Notley, when did Alberta become so dedicated to generosity in the name of patriotism?

When you were barely a teenager, I was attending myriad conferences drawing up the new constitution for the country. Most provinces, including British Columbia, believed that “have not” provinces like Atlantic Canada should get equalization payments from the better off, to give them a helping hand. Alberta? Their Ministers from the top down squealed like a piglet without a teat to suck and told poorer provinces, in patronizing terms, to manage their affairs more carefully like Alberta does – never mind that Alberta has all that oil.

Ah, yes, look at Alberta, once the miser, watching sister provinces eke livings from paltry resources, by an amazing conversion today the very soul of amicable sharing, now skulking about the portals of power with a dagger in one hand and a begging bowl in the other. I guess it all depends upon whose ox is being gored.

This isn’t the Canada I thought we were re-creating back in 1982. With all its flaws, I hoped we’d started down the road to fairness and respect. Now you, Rachel Notley – our own faithless government hoping for a share of your bounty – and Trudeau tell us that these new attitudes of respect and fair play for all, didn’t mean British Columbia, for heavens sake, and our love and respect for the land that we cherish is trumped by the Tar Sands, deadly pollution, environmental rape and the moneyed few.

Get stuffed


Don’t be so cocky, Rachel Notley. We British Columbians, all the way from those who arrived today to old farts like me who were born here, are about to learn what we’re made of.

We didn’t ask to have to defend our home and integrity from attacks from you and big oil any more than we did when Brian Mulroney tried to foist further Central Canadian domination on us with Meech Lake and Charlottetown 30 years ago. Nearly 70% of us told Lyin’ Brian to get stuffed back then and I have the gut feeling we’re about to tell you, Trudeau, the oil industry and the rest of the elite the same.

You’re playing with fire, Rachel Notley, and, like Mulroney, you don’t understand that we have different values in what many call Cascadia – our land, trees, rivers, lakes and farms mean more than dollars; our Howe Sound, Burrard Inlet, Salish Sea, Gulf islands, Straits of Juan de Fuca, our entire magnificent coast up to Alaska, very much including our unique Haida Gwaii, mean a hell of a lot more to us than qualifying for Trudeau’s version of “good Canadians” by genuflecting before Alberta’s self-proclaimed right to place all that in jeopardy in order to get the Tar Sands into the atmosphere and the money into their pockets.

Premier Notley, You had better hope and pray that you don’t piss off the rest of British Columbians as much as you have me.

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com. More articles by Rafe Mair

Hollywood Plays Poverty Pimp Pushing "Glamorous Poor" Narrative

The West Spreading New Wave of Feel-Good Movies and False Hopes

by Andre Vltchek - Dissident Voice


May 27th, 2017

Watch blockbuster movies from the “south” and chances are you will start to believe that the world is not really such a desperate place. Perhaps you might even get convinced that under the present imperialist and turbo-capitalist global arrangement things can always get better.

If you live in a gutter somewhere in Sub-Continent or Africa, you could simply try hard, you could “believe in yourself and love yourself”, you could “listen to your instincts”, and everything may eventually fall into the right places.

You could get acknowledged, rewarded and even catapulted from your misery into some plush pastures that are covering the tall green hills of success.

Think twice! Or… don’t think at all – just bury your head in the sand.

There were always books written and films produced just in order to please the Western funding agencies and propaganda machine. I described the process, colorfully, in my recent political/revolutionary novel Aurora.

Just think about Kite Runner written by an Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini, or about all those bestsellers by Salman Rushdie or Elif Shafak, books about India or Turkey, but intended almost exclusively for a Western audience, and often despised in their native countries.

The works of Rushdie and Shafak can at least qualify as “literature”. But now both the Western markets and mainstream media are demanding more and more of ‘feel good’ rubbish books and movies from poor countries, more and more of those simple, picturesque and ‘positive’ stories that are actually confusing and give false hopes to the local population of many poor countries.

Do you still remember Slumdog Millionaire? How realistic a scenario was that? First of all, it was not even an Indian film; it was a 2008 British movie, directed by Danny Boyle, who also had directed Trainspotting. It took place in the Juhu slum of Mumbai.

In 2011, I filmed in the same Mumbai slum where the movie was produced. I asked many, how likely was such a ‘success scenario’ in that filthy and hopeless neighborhood? The dwellers of the Juhu slum just dismissed the entire charade with derogatory gestures; why even waste precious words?

Now more films are coming – more and more… and more! Feel good; feel very good about the world! Drop a few tears as you are departing from the cinema. Utter under your breath: “Everything is possible.” Collaborate with the establishment. Forget about the revolution, think ‘positively’ (the way the system wants you to think) and above all, think about yourself!

A film about a real Ugandan chess player Phiona Mutesi, created by the Indian director Mira Nair (Fire, Water among her other work), Queen of Katwe, is a tour-de-force of true individualism. And again, if you think you are actually watching a Ugandan or even Indian film, you are squarely wrong: it is supposed to feel like an African one, but it is a US movie, produced by Walt Disney Pictures. And it is actually intended and even proudly promoted as a “feel good movie“.

The plot is simple and predictable: a little girl grows up in total misery, in one of the toughest slums of Africa – Katwe, at the outskirts of Kampala. Her father has already died of AIDS, her mother is unable to pay the rent, and her older sister is barely surviving as a prostitute. Phiona, just 10-years old, is forced to drop from school.

Her life is approaching total collapse. But then, suddenly, a miracle! Hallelujah!

Phiona enrolls in a state-sponsored chess program. She is talented. She climbs and climbs, soon travelling to Sudan by a plane, and few months later, even to Russia.

It is supposed to be a ‘true story’. And yes, there was a poor girl, growing up in a Ugandan slum. She was talented although she never reached the zenith, and never won any gold medal.

In the film, she wins tournaments, makes loads of cash, and buys a villa (looking like a palace), for her family.

Is this what young poor girls watching the film in the Katwe slum should be aiming at? Would such a dream be realistic, or is this an absolute mirage?

I also filmed in Katwe, for my damning documentary Rwanda Gambit. And when I was a young kid, I could pass for a talented chess player, taking part in several tournaments and competitions. Somehow, the film – Queen of Katwe – did not make any sense.

To become chess champion takes much more than some luck and zeal. Like a concert pianist, a chess player has to spend years and years of hard training, literally killing himself or herself, to play at a certain level.

When I was a kid, my father, a scientist, was obsessed with turning me into a champ. Frankly, I was not too interested, although I worked hard, for years. I won a few medals, but never went further. Could Phiona, hungry, almost without a roof over her head, become a grand master, just after few months of unhurried coaching?

I wish she could. But I doubt it, knowing Uganda, knowing its slums, fully realizing how merciless their reality really is, and, of course, knowing chess.

Who benefits from such films? Definitely not the poorest of the poor, and definitely not Indians or Africans!

It appears that the only beneficiaries are those people who are trying to uphold the status quo, in the West and in the colonies. They don’t want people to realize: that there is almost no hope left, and only some radical change, a revolution, can reverse and improve things in their plundered countries.

A revolution is a ‘communal’ event. It is never about one person suddenly advancing, or getting ‘rescued’ or ‘saved’. It is not about one person or one family ‘making it’. It is about an entire nation fighting for its rights, for progress, and it is about social justice for all.

Little ‘success stories’ actually divide communities, offering false hopes.

Phiona’s story coming from pro-Western, turbo-capitalist Uganda, has nothing in common with the great communal projects in Venezuelan slums: like the classical Youth Orchestras, or cable cars, childcare centers, public libraries, community learning centers, and free medical posts.

No matter how ‘lovely’ is Mira Nair’s cinematography, winning the lottery, or getting lucky here and there, is not going to change the entire country. That is exactly why those small individualist acts and triumphs are being celebrated and glorified in the centers of Western imperialism. There, no real change is ever welcomed, whether it takes place at home or in the colonies. On the other hand, all selfish little victories are treated as sacred. One should live for himself or herself, disregarding the context.

How many other deeply ‘positive-thinking’/unrealistic/‘feel-good’/‘false-hope’ films have I seen, lately? Many.

For instance Lion, a 2016 Australian/UK co-production, about a poor Indian boy who jumps on a train, loses his hometown, and eventually gets adopted by a loving and dedicated Australian family.

It looks like a downpour, an avalanche of similar films and books and news stories. 


It looks like some kind of new wave of ‘positive thinking’, or ‘there is nothing really too wrong with our world that couldn’t be fixed by some personal luck and individualism’ dogma.

Most of the stuff is somehow connected to the epicenter of Western ideological indoctrination – the United Kingdom (a country, which is successfully nullifying all revolutionary zeal of its own citizens, of the immigrants arriving from desperate and colonized countries, and even those people who live in despair in various far away places).

The West is busy manufacturing ‘pseudo reality’. And in this grotesque pseudo-reality, several deprived individuals like starving chess players, street vendors and slum dwellers are suddenly becoming rich, successful and fulfilled. Millions of others, all around them, continue to suffer. But somehow, they don’t seem to matter much.

There is a new celebrity group in the making – let’s call them the ‘glamorous poor’. Those ‘exceptional individuals’, the glamorous poor, are easy to digest, and even to celebrate in the West. They are swiftly and cheerfully integrating into the ‘mainstream’ club of the global ‘go getters’ and narcissist rich.


• First published by NEO

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 the revolutionary novel Aurora and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: Exposing Lies Of The Empire and Fighting Against Western Imperialism. View his other books here. Watch his Rwanda Gambit, a documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo. He continues to work around the world and can be reached through his website and Twitter.
Read other articles by Andre.

Media Mainstream Turns on Brazil's Temer: Leaking Recordings and Retractions

Brazil's Most Important News Outlet Plays Kingmaker 

by TRNN


May 27, 2017

Globo TV withdraws support from President Michel Temer by leaking incriminating recording and issues retraction that implicated former president Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff: report from Mike Fox in Brazil.




Brazil's "soft coup" president Michel
Temer and co-conspirators Cunha, Calheiros






Guardian of the Right Laments Labour Surge

Guardian mourns Corbyn’s Polling Surge

by Jonathan Cook - Dissident Voice


May 27th, 2017

It is quite extraordinary to read today’s coverage in Britain’s supposedly left-liberal newspaper the Guardian. In the “man bites dog” stakes, the day’s biggest story is the astounding turn-around in the polls two weeks before the British general election.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has narrowed the Conservatives’ lead from an unassailable 22 points to 5, according to the latest YouGov survey.

It looks possible for the first time, if the trend continues, that Corbyn could even win the popular poll. (Securing a majority of the British parliament’s seats is a different matter, given the UK’s inherently undemocratic electoral system.)

Is the news that the “unelectable” Corbyn has dramatically closed the gap with the Tories front page news for the Guardian? Well, only very tangentially. It is buried in the paper’s lead story, which is far more interested in issues other than the new poll finding.

The story – headlined “May puts Manchester bombing at heart of election with attack on Corbyn” – largely adopts Conservative leader Theresa May’s line of attack against Corbyn for his suggestion that there might be a link between long-term western violence in the Middle East (now usually referred to as “intervention”) and terror attacks like the one in Manchester last week. Labour’s dramatic rise in the polls is briefly mentioned 12 – yes, 12! – paragraphs into the story. It is almost as though the Guardian does not want you to know that Corbyn and his policies are proving far more successful in the election campaign than the Guardian predicted or ever wanted.

In fact, the Guardian’s only story on the poll – buried deep on the inside pages – could not be less enamoured with the polling turn-around. The story – headlined “Labour poll rise suggests Manchester attack has not boosted Tories” – is again framed as a story about Conservative failure rather than the draw of Corbyn and his policies. Here is as excited as the Guardian can get about the Tories’ highly diminished 5-point lead:

It was always going to be the case that the polls would narrow during the course of the campaign, as Labour’s policies received greater media exposure, but the YouGov poll implies that public opinion is more volatile.

It sounds almost as though the Guardian, which has been denigrating Corbyn since his election as Labour leader nearly two years ago (along with the rest of the British media), does not want him to win.

Let’s put that another way. It’s almost as though Britain’s only supposedly left-liberal newspaper would prefer that May and the Conservatives won. This, let us remind ourselves, is the same Conservative party that has made the once-surging, far-right UKIP party largely redundant by adopting many of its ugliest policies.

But the Guardian has a chance finally to redeem itself in its editorial, entitled “There’s a message in the poll wobble“. Surely now it will celebrate the polling success of the underdog social democratic candidate for prime minister, Jeremy Corbyn, with his policies for a fairer, kinder Britain.

Oh, but wait! There is barely a mention of Labour’s poll surge here either. In fact, the Tories’ drop to a 5-point lead is not actually mentioned in the text. Instead, the story is once again framed in terms of May’s hubris and “complacency”, rather than Corbyn’s success.

The illustrative picture is even a close-up of May, not Corbyn. The Guardian editors’ optimism-crushing view for the left is:

Mrs May’s supremacy at the start of the campaign will not be easily overturned. Polling volatility should not be over-interpreted.

In fact, the editorial is far more interested in ignoring the poll and using it as a pretext to offer an often thinly veiled attack on Corbyn over the very policies now proving so attractive: for being “selective about the jihadi narratives” in explaining the Manchester attack; and for putting forward domestic policies whose “viability … might be open to debate and their arithmetic can be questioned”.

The editorial’s conclusion reveals where the Guardian really stands:

[May] presumes her credentials to do the top job speak for themselves. But she does not have a long record of achievement to justify that confidence. The Tories have gambled everything on the effectiveness of their messenger. They need a more substantial message.

Does it not sound here very much as if the Guardian’s top priority is that May become a better candidate, that she produce policies more effective at keeping Corbyn at bay? That the Guardian would prefer that Corbyn, rather than May, loses?

None of this would matter if we had a really democratic and pluralistic media. But we don’t. The Guardian is the only media outlet that should, according to its claimed ideology, support Corbyn. And yet it appears to be quietly aghast at the very thought.

If there is one thing to be gained from this election, it is the spotlight that has been shone on the parlous state of the corporate British media. Even the Guardian cannot hide where its true sympathies, and interests, lie.

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books).
Read other articles by Jonathan, or visit Jonathan's website.

A Coyote for the Killing

The Coyote Hunt

by Christopher Ketcham - CounterPunch


April 28, 2017 
 
I walked up the mountain in the howling snow and the drifts and the flashing of the moon behind the clouds, looking for coyote traps to sabotage. The coyote hunt was on that weekend, and I heard there were traps up on Hubbell Hill.

It was snowshoe, mitten, balaclava weather. I brought several flashlights in case one or the other went dead, and I wished I’d brought a gun, because you never know.

A 19-year-old folk singer in Canada was killed not long ago by coyotes. Nothing amiss with the animals. They were healthy and strong, no rabies, not starving, which are the usual reasons wild canids attack and kill people – and we should remember they almost never do so.

Photo: Sean Crane, Minden Pictures
(National Geographic)

Here in New York State I get into arguments with both sides, the hunters who kill with a passion and the animal rightsers whose love is as irrational. I’m told by the hunter crowd that coyotes in a ravening state will eat your balls off. God bless the coyotes! Let them feast – especially on New Yorkers, who are too many and need to be culled.

With the wind-ripped saplings of fir pulling like oarsmen, with the branches of the hardwoods toppling into the fat of the snow, with the light of the moon behind the storm emitting an obscene purple light, up the mountain I go. My snowshoes plummet and splash, the wind in the trees seems to cavitate the sky, the old oaks groan and call, and a cold white exploding pillow-fight of down blinds me.

Into the ice temple among the hemlocks: these last pillared behemoth remnants: the sad lone grandsons of the firs that once covered the Catskills, raped and pillaged for the chemicals in their bark, chemicals that tanned leather for a short while before the rapists moved on to other more efficient means of tanning.

Beyond the hemlocks, a bluestone wall is buried under a foot of snow or more, and beyond the wall is a vast field where the trees were cleared a hundred years ago.

And beyond that is the height of Hubbell Hill.

I went out one night during the annual February coyote hunt to a local restaurant off Route 28, in the valley below Hubbell Hill, where the owners, Tina and Doug, keep a stuffed coyote at the door to the kitchen. Doug, the chef, joined in last year’s contest, but he regretted he couldn’t make it this year. Last year he used a caller and a rabbit pantomime and scent to draw them toward his hunting blind.

Sometimes he uses a turkey call. “They come right to it,” he said. Then he excused himself to get back to the kitchen, as it was a busy night, and Tina, who was tending bar, explained that she was an animal lover – but the love did not extend, for some reason, to coyotes.

“I can’t stand killing. When the men go out and bring back a deer, I don’t wanna even look. But coyotes. I don’t know why. That’s the only animal I could shoot. I just hate them. Maybe it’s that screaming at night they do. I can’t think of anyone up here who likes coyotes.”

Her dishwasher, a fresh-faced man no older than 20, emerged from the kitchen and showed me a picture of a handsome coyote he trapped on Hubbell Hill. In the photo he holds the animal by its hindquarters so that its body stretches out and straightens, forelegs pointed down, as if diving into deep water.

Tina called across the room to a party who were celebrating a birthday. One of the men in the group had attended last year’s hunt in Sullivan County, the county to the south. Immediately he went to swiping at his smartphone, looking for a photo of the trophy he had gotten. It seemed that everybody in the place, at one time or another, had been busy trapping or shooting the poor dogs.

Tina said again, “It’s that horrible screaming at night.”

“Coyotes need to eat too,” I told her. She poured me another Jameson. We talked for a while. I told her that I had spent time around coyotes. We talked about how they sing complex songs – it isn’t screaming – how these are family groups singing together, talking with one another, establishing territory, how sometimes it’s a form of play, an expression of joy that has no purpose beyond expression.

We talked about the pups and their play, the way the families stick together, the cohesiveness and fidelity of coyote families. “It’s like they’re around a campfire, like us? Well.” She thought for a moment.

“Now I feel bad about bad-mouthing the coyotes.”

I told her I thought it was a form of madness to kill wild animals who no one would eat, whose only purpose in death was to serve as a stuffed manikin at the door of restaurants.

A few days later, another storm. The usual crashing white wind of the Catskills, brought from the Great Lakes. It was a burning bush of white, and after it passed the coyotes sang and I went up to Hubbell Hill to sabotage whatever traps I could find.
 
Christopher Ketcham is a freelance writer. You can write him at cketcham99@mindspring.com or see more of his work at christopherketcham.com.
More articles by:Christopher Ketcham

Friday, May 26, 2017

Mr. Trudeau's Erroneous Equivalencies: Anti-Zion, Anti-Semite

Canadian Prime Minister Misleads on Zionism

by Yves Engler - Dissident Voice


May 26th, 2017

Canada’s Prime Minister would like us to believe that the ideology that shaped Israel is designed to fight anti-Jewish prejudice. But, even when anti-Semitism was a significant political force in Canada, Zionism largely represented a chauvinistic, colonialist way of thinking. On Israel Independence Day earlier this month Justin Trudeau delivered a speech by video to a rally in Montréal and published a statement marking the occasion.
“Today, while we celebrate Israel’s independence, we also reaffirm our commitment to fight anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism”, declared the PM in a rare reference by a top politician to Israel’s state ideology.
Israel apologists often link anti-Zionism and anti-Jewishness, but it’s disingenuous. Canadian Zionism has long been comfortable with anti-Jewish sentiment and it has never been primarily an anti-prejudicial ideology.

When anti-Semitism was a social force of consequence in Canada it was not uncommon for anti-Jewish politicians to back Zionism. During a July 1922 speech to the Zionist Federation of Canada, anti-Semitic Prime Minister Mackenzie King “was effusive with praise for Zionism,” explains David Bercuson in Canada and the Birth of Israel. King told participants their aspirations were “in consonance” with the greatest ideals of the “Englishman.”

According to Zachariah Kay in Canada and Palestine: The Politics of Non-Commitment, long-time Alberta Premier E.C. Manning “allowed his name to be associated with the [pre-state Zionist organization] Canadian Palestine Committee, but was known for anti-Jewish statements on his ‘back to the bible’ Sunday radio broadcasts.”

Known to support Zionism as a way to deal with the “Jewish problem,” in 1934 Prime Minister R.B. Bennett opened the annual United Palestine Appeal fundraiser with a coast-to-coast radio broadcast. Lauding the Balfour declaration and British conquest of Palestine, Bennett said, “scriptural prophecy is being fulfilled. The restoration of Zion has begun.”

At a policy level the government’s aversion to accepting post-World War II Jewish refugees was a factor in Canadian diplomats promoting the anti-Palestinian UN partition plan. An ardent proponent of the Zionist cause during the 1947 international negotiations dealing with the British mandate of Palestine, Canadian diplomat Lester Pearson believed sending Jewish refugees to Palestine was the only sensible solution to their plight.

Compared to six decades ago, anti-Semitism today barely registers in Canada. But, embers of anti-Jewish Zionism linger. Over the past decade the Charles-McVety-led Canada Christian College has repeatedly organized pro-Israel events – often with B’nai Brith – yet in the 1990s the College was in a dispute with the Canadian Jewish Congress over courses designed to convert Jews. Canada’s most influential Christian Zionist activist, McVety also heads the Canadian branch of Christians United for Israel, which believes Jews need to convert or burn in Hell upon the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

This dancing with the enemy is nothing new. Historically some Jews aligned with anti-Jewish Zionists. During World War I many Canadian Jewish Zionists enthusiastically supported Britain and recruited young men to help conquer Palestine, even though London was allied with Russia’s notoriously anti-Semitic czar. (At that time Zionism was commonly promoted as a way for Jews to escape czarist anti-Semitism.)

After World War II some Jewish Zionists tapped into anti-Jewish sentiment to advance their cause. In Canada’s Jews: a People’s Journey Gerald Tulchinsky reports,

“fully cognizant of the government’s reluctance to admit Jews to Canada, the [Zionist] delegation reminded [anti- Semitic Prime Minister Mackenzie] King that in the post war years, when ‘multitudes of uprooted people … would be knocking on the doors of all countries,’ Palestine could accommodate many of the Jews who might want to come to Canada.”

It is true that the Zionist colonies in Palestine absorbed tens of thousands of refugees after World War II and provided a safe haven to many Jews escaping Nazi persecution in the 1930s. But, it’s also true that Zionists were willing to stoke anti-Semitism and kill Jews if it served their nationalistic/colonialist purposes. To foil British efforts to relocate Jewish refugees fleeing Europe to Mauritius, in 1940 the Jewish Agency, the Zionist government-in-waiting in Palestine, killed 267 mostly Jews by bombing the ship Patria. In State of Terror: How Terrorism Created Modern Israel Tom Suarez concludes that the Zionist leadership was prepared to kill Jews if it aided the cause, because “persecuted Jews served the political project, not the other way around.”

Generally presented as a response to late 1800s European anti-Semitism — “Zionism … developed in the late 19th century in response to European antisemitism”, according to a recent story on the pro-Palestinian website Canada Talks Israel Palestine — the Theodore Herzl-led Zionist movement was, in fact, spurred by the Christian, nationalist and imperialist ideologies sweeping Europe at the time.

After two millennia in which Jewish restoration was viewed as a spiritual event to be brought about through divine intervention, Zionism finally took root among some Jews after two centuries of active Protestant Zionism. “Christian proto-Zionists [existed] in England 300 years before modern Jewish Zionism emerged,” notes Evangelics and Israel: The Story of American Christian Zionism. Until the mid-1800s Zionism was an almost entirely non-Jewish movement. And yet it was quite active. Between 1796 and 1800, notes Non-Jewish Zionism: its roots in Western history, there were at least 50 books published in Europe about the Jews’ return to Palestine. The movement reflected the more literal readings of the Bible that flowed out of the Protestant Reformation.

Another factor driving Jewish Zionism was the nationalism sweeping Europe in the late 1800s. Germany, Italy and a number of eastern European states were all established during this period.

Alongside nationalist and biblical literalist influences, Zionism took root at the height of European imperialism. In the lead-up to World War I the European “scramble” carved up Africa and then the Middle East. (Europeans controlled about 10 percent of Africa in 1870 but by 1914 only Ethiopia was independent of European control. Liberia was effectively a US colony.) At the Sixth Zionist Congress in 1903 Herzl and two-thirds of delegates voted to pursue British Secretary of State for the Colonies Joseph Chamberlain’s proposal to allocate 13,000 square km in East Africa as “Jewish territory … on conditions which will enable members to observe their national customs.”

As much as it was a reaction to anti-Semitism, Zionism was an attempt by European Jews to benefit from and participate in colonialism.

In Canada today Jewish support for Zionism has little to do with combating prejudice. If Zionism were simply a response to anti-Semitism, why hasn’t the massive decline of anti-Jewishness lessened its popularity in the Jewish community? Instead, the leadership and a significant segment of Canadian Jewry have become increasingly focused on supporting a highly militarized state that continues to deny its indigenous population the most basic political rights.

In 2011 the leading donors in the community scrapped the 100-year-old Canadian Jewish Congress and replaced it with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. As the name change suggests, this move represented a shift away from local Jewish concerns and towards ever greater lobbying in favour of Israeli policy.

With institutional barriers to advancement overcome a half century ago and an ever more secular society, Rabbis and Jewish organizations have to find a purpose. Israel has become many people’s primary connection to Judaism. In Understanding the Zionist Religion, Jonathan Kay wrote, “In some cases I have observed, it is not an exaggeration to say that Zionism is not just the dominant factor in Jews’ political lives—but also in their spiritual lives.”

Between the late 1960s and mid-2000s there was an inverse correlation between Jewish votes and pro-Israel governments. Though they were less pro-Israel, Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien gained more support from Canadian Jewry than Brian Mulroney or Stephen Harper in his first victory in 2006.

The political trajectory of the Montréal riding of Mount Royal provides an interesting insight into the Jewish community’s shift towards focusing on Israel. Repeatedly re-elected in a riding that was then 50% Jewish, Pierre Trudeau distanced Ottawa from Israeli conduct more than any other prime minister before or since. Still, Pierre Trudeau was incredibly popular with the Jewish community. Representing Jewry’s ascension to the heights of Canada’s power structures, Trudeau appointed the first Jew to the federal cabinet, Herb Gray, and brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which strengthened religious freedoms. But, of recent the riding has become a battleground.

During the 2015 federal election Mount Royal was the only riding in greater Montréal the Conservative Party seriously contested. Even though Liberal party candidate Anthony Housefather is a staunch Israel advocate, he won his seat because of non-Jewish voters.

A similar dynamic is at play in the centre of Canadian Jewish life. Possibly the best placed of any in the world, the Toronto Jewish community faces little economic or political discrimination and has above average levels of education and income. Yet it’s the North American base of the Zionist extremist Jewish Defense League. It’s also a power base for an explicitly racist, colonialist, institution. In what was “reported to be the largest kosher dinner in Canadian history”, three years ago 4,000 individuals packed the Toronto Convention Centre to raise money for the Jewish National Fund in honour of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

No matter what Justin Trudeau says, Zionism and anti-Jewish prejudice have little to do with each other.

Yves Engler is the author of A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation. Read other articles by Yves.

Stephen Hawking Should STFU!

Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep Quiet

by David Macaray - Dissident Voice


May 26th, 2017

Back in the 1970s, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist named William Shockley created quite a stir when he suggested that certain races (i.e., black people) were “genetically inferior” to whites and Asians, and that in order for the human race to have any chance of “improving” itself, people with IQs lower than 100 should submit to voluntary sterilization. Other than that, nothing he said was particularly controversial.

What made Shockley’s pronouncements so outrageous, besides their obvious inflammatory nature, was their provenance.

After all, this wasn’t some hack, ex-Navy science fiction writer like L. Ron Hubbard introducing a new, screwball religion (“Scientology”) to the masses. This was a brilliant scientist talking.

Shockley won the 1956 Nobel Prize in physics, and now he was going on record with a profoundly radical and transformative theory.

It was big news.


Of course, what followed was predictable. His fellow scientists pointed out that, while Shockley may have been a “genius” when it came to semiconductors and transistors, he was woefully unprepared and unqualified to speak on the topic of genetics. Indeed, he was so far outside his element, his so-called “findings” were embarrassing. Which brings us to Stephen Hawking, the world’s favorite theoretical physicist.

Fearing that the Earth will one day be destroyed by a colliding asteroid, or by widespread epidemics, or by over-population, or the cumulative effects of climate change, Hawking was recently quoted as saying,

“I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go into space.” 

Moreover, he insists that we must do it—must accomplish our evacuation—within the next 100 years.

There are at least two problems with this nutty advice.

(1) Hawking is talking about stuff he’s not qualified to talk about—stuff that would cause a “lesser mortal” to be laughed off the podium, and 

(2) trying to convince the people of Earth that future life on our planet is not worth investing in is not only exhibitionist and irresponsible, it’s dangerously defeatist.

When Hawking talks about black holes, or time-travel, or multiple universes, his remarks, while unproven and basically unprovable, are intriguing and fascinating. For one thing, very few people are “smart” enough to step forward and refute what he says, and for another, all that far-out stuff about worm-holes and six dimensions is very cool—way cooler than garden variety terrestrial science.

But just because Hawking is a genius doesn’t mean everything he says is accurate.


Instead of focusing our resources on saving and protecting Earth, he wants us to abandon it. Really, Stephen? You honestly think that pulling up stakes is the answer? Surely, he has to know that you can’t do both—that you can’t commit yourself totally to saving the planet while simultaneously putting your resources into finding a new one.

Also, who’s going to break the news to Sudan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Guatemala, et al? Who’s going to tell them that, after giving the matter careful thought, we’ve decided to pack up and move to a better neighborhood, all because some weirdo physicist convinced us it was our only choice? As for all that lofty talk about fighting world poverty and reducing carbon emissions; forget about it.

And, of course, it goes without saying that the rich and well-connected will be the first to jump ship. The poorest and most desolate Earthlings will be condemned to remain. They will euphemistically be referred to as the “stay-behinds.”

Donald Trump will have his own word for them. “Losers.”


David Macaray is a playwright and author, whose latest book is How to Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows: Weird Adventures in India: Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims When the Peace Corps was New. Everything you ever wanted to know about India but were afraid to ask. He can be reached at: dmacaray@gmail.com. Read other articles by David.

Ape Goes to the Walk 4 the Salish Sea! Kick-Off in Victoria

Ape Goes to the Walk 4 the Salish Sea! Kick-Off in Victoria

by Ape - Gorilla-Radio.com


May 25 @ 8:00 amMay 28 @ 6:00 pm


Went down to the Kick Off Thursday morning. Keynote addresses by City of Victoria Mayor, Lisa Helps, NDP MLA Carol James, and Federal Green Party leader, Elizabeth May. Bobby Arbess played MC and delivered a memorable imprecation for the protection of the Salish Sea.

[Musical interludes by Luke Wallace with his tunes,  ‘The Non-Violent Anti-Petroleum Blues’ and ‘I Will Hold On, I Am Not Lost,’ plus an appearance by Victoria originals, The Raging Grannies]


“This is a global movement and not just a fight against another dirty pipeline… This is not simply an indigenous issue; climate change and the catastrophic impacts that we have witnessed to date and the potential impacts that will manifest in the future, are a matter of grave concern of all people around the world.”
-Stewart Phillip, Grand Chief of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs




We are all Coast Protectors and the Salish Sea and all the waters flowing down through the Fraser river basin and surrounding communities are at risk from the Kinder Morgan pipeline/tanker expansion. Now is the time to walk the talk on climate justice/clean energy, indigenous rights, marine protection and local democracy.

That’s why we’re calling on defenders of this coast, its ecosystems, people, communities and economies to join us on the Walk for the Salish Sea: a four day march against Tar Sands, Kinder Morgan and all fossil fuel expansion in the absence of indigenous consent, sound science and ecological balance.

From May 25th-28th, we will march from Songhees territory in Victoria to the Kinder Morgan terminal on Tsleil-Waututh territory in Burnaby to show our support for and solidarity with the 22 municipalities, 59 First Nations and hundreds of thousands of British Columbians who oppose the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion.

Our walk will bear witness to the demise of our planet from on-going capitalist- industrial expansion for corporate profit with its disproportionate impacts on the lives, lands and cultures of indigenous peoples who are on the frontlines of this struggle to curb tar sands expansion from Alberta’s downstream Cree and Chipwyan communities to this coast. We join hearts and hands between First Nations, settlers and peoples world-wide struggling for environmental justice and a safe, sustainable future.
The mobilization will include honouring of traditional welcoming protocols, large marine wildlife puppets, roaming bank actions, evening programs, info workshops, communal camping and dinners, ceremony, a rally aboard BC Ferries and nightly entertainment.

Route details and maps will be posted shortly. Allies are encouraged to make the entire journey or to join for any portion of the walk they can. Participants are welcome to walk, run, bike, roller-blade, skateboard, paddle or use wheelchairs – any human-powered, ecologically sound mode of transportation is welcome.

Through-walkers, going overnight for any portion of the trip are welcome to have their belongings carried on our support vehicle and will not have to worry about carrying gear.

Partner organizations and community groups not along our route are also encouraged to mobilize independently from any point of origin, to join in the Walk and/or meet us at ground zero – the Kinder Morgan Terminal – on May 28th, for the mass convergence.

This event is organized by 100% volunteer-activist labour as part of the Walk 4 the Salish Sea! endorsed by the following organizations including: Social Environmental Alliance ( SEA) Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC)- Coast Protectors, Pull Together ( Raven Trust, Sierra Club BC, Force of Nature Alliance) Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE) Greenpeace (Victoria volunteer group), Leap-Victoria, Victoria Council of Canadians, Turning the Tide, KAIROS, BC/Yukon chapter, KAIROS Metro Vancouver chapter, Wilderness Committee, Greenpeace Canada, North Shore No Pipeline Expansion (NSNOPE), Non-violence International Canada, Climate Convergence Vancouver, Georgia Strait Alliance, Quaker Indigenous Rights Committee of the Canadian Friends Service Committee (QIRC-CFSC), Mining Justice Committee, Community Action Bus.

FUNDRAISING

A major objective of the walk is to generate public awareness and direct financial support for Indigenous-led initiates to stop construction of the Kinder Morgan TMX. Proceeds from fundraising will go to UBCIC Coast Protectors and Frontline Indigenous Resistance Initiatives to resist the Kinder Morgan Expansion.

WALK DONATIONS:

Donations to help cover Walk expensies for food, lodging, support vehicles, first aid, gifts/honorariums, art supplies, port-a-potties, sound equipment, insurance etc. can be made directly by interac etrsansfer to walk4salishsea@gmail.com. With thanks!

REGISTRATION

Registration for those who who need overnight lodging or billeting or would like to partake in communal dinners, can now sign up for the Walk on our website at walk4salish sea.ca

PULLING TOGETHER for Indigenous Rights!

Participants are also encouraged to contribute to the Pull Together campaign to support the Coldwater and Tsleil-waututh legal challenges to the Kinder Morgan pipeline/tanker expansion, and to seek online sponsorship for your walk (run, ride etc.) from friends, colleagues, comrades, and family. All you need to do is get on the Pull Together site:

https://fundraise.raventrust.com/campaign/pull-together-against-kinder-morgan/c111605

1. Click Become a Fundraiser
2. Click AS an individual
3. Build your individual profile
4. Click Join a Team
5. Join the Walk 4 the Salish Sea Team
6. Make your donation and recruit family and friends to make donations in support of your efforts.

Donations are tax-deductible, 100% secure and will be matched dollar-for dollar by an anonymous donor.

Together, employing every tool at our disposal, we can defeat this pipeline, protect the Salish Sea, turn the tide on fossil fuels and support a big victory for indigenous rights and climate justice!

ROUTE and PROGRAM INFORMATION ( in progress)

People of all ages and abilities, are welcomed to join The Walk 4 the Salish Sea! for whatever duration and distance best matches your fitness level and plans for the weekend of Thursday May 25-28th.

This mass mobilization against tar sands and Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion for decarbonzation and decolonization and an urgently needed transition from dangerous fossil fuel dependency begins at Mile “0” at the beginning of the Trans Canada Highway in Victoria to the Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby.

Route itinerary and program ( further details tba)

NOTE: All times approximate. Walk may travel swifter or slower due to numbers, traffic and weather.

Day 1 Thursday May 25th
Mile “0” (Lekwungen territory) to Island View Beach, up the Lochside trail ( access Ardesier St, off Douglas).
Walking distance: 23 km, ~6 hours.
7:45 am – Registered participants check-in, load support vehicle
8 am – Circle and Traditional welcome and blessing from beloved Lekwungen Elder Joan Morris
9 am – Drummers escort Walkers and Orcas Sounding through downtwon, up Government St, to Douglas, to Ardesier to the Galloping Goose, heading northbound.
12:40 pm – Walk arrives at Lochside Park for lunch
3:30 pm – Walk arrives at Island View Beach ( W̱SÁNEĆ territory)
7 pm – Tsawout First Nations Gathering Strength gymnasium, 7728 Tetayut Rd, Saanichton, Standing with First Nations Against Kinder Morgan: Dinner and fundraiser for Coast Protectors and Pull Together campaign for Coldwater and Tslei-waututh First Nations fighting Kinder Morgan in court. Speakers include: Tsawout Elders Belinda Claxton and Mavis Underwood, Elizabeth May, Tsartlip Chief Don Tom, Adam Olsen, Caitlyn Vernon, former Douglas Treaty co-ordinator Eric Pelkey Tsartlip carver Charles Elliot, Alicia Cormier. Performances by: Phil Vernon, Bill Henderson, Luke Wallace. and Willy Thomas Pow Wow Singers. See the facebook event page here.

Day 2 Friday May 26th
Island View Beach to Ladner United Church (Tsawassen First Nations Territory).
Walking Distance: 30 km, ~7.5 hours.
7 am – Morning circle and breakfast
8 am – Noon, Walk to Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal
1 pm – Ferry departs for Tswawassen
1:30 am – Oil-Free Salish Sea rally aboard BC Ferries including Sisters of Mercy Choir, Raging Grannies, Luke Wallace and speakers
2:45- 5:45 pm – Walk to Ladner, staying at Ladner United Church
-Dinner, talking circle and sleep

Day 3 Saturday May 27th
Ladner- East Van (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm /Musqeaum and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) First Nations Territory).
Walking Distance: 18km, ~5 .5 hours.
7 am – Morning Circle and Breakfast.
8 am – Walk to Ladner Exchange- take bus through Massey Tunnel.
Cross Knight St. Bridge, up Victoria.
12:20-1:20 – Lunch at John Hendry Park in East Van.
3 pm -Arrive at Grandview Cavalry Baptist Church.

Day 4 Sunday May 28th:
RSVP & share on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1842294959356318/
REMEMBER TO PACK A LUNCH and WATER!
Grandview Park to Kinder Morgan Westridge Terminal, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqeaum First Nations territory.
Walking Distance: 10 km, ~4 hours.
9 am – Meet Grandview Park (1657 Charles St, @ Commercial, Vancouver) Ceremony, drumming, short speeches, welcoming of Walkers. Music by Solidarity Notes Choir & others. Large performance art piece by the 100-200 member group: Orca Soundings, highlighting the endangered southern resident orcas.
9:30 am – Walk leaves along E. Hastings to Kinder Morgan Westridge Terminal -səlil̓wətaʔɬ /Tsleil-Waututh and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm /Musqeaum First Nations territory.
Join spots:
11:30am – East Hastings St. @ Ingleton Ave. (3802 Hastings St, Burnaby)
12:45pm – East Hastings St. @ Holdom Ave, Burnaby (Capitol Hill Elementary School, 5697-5801 Hastings St, Burnaby)
1:30pm: Westridge Park (320 Cliff Ave, Burnaby)
1:30 – 2:30 pm – The Walk will proceed to the gates of the Kinder Morgan Westridge Marine Terminal for drumming, decoration of the gates and symbolic blockade
2:30 – 5 pm – FOSSIL FUEL FREEDOM FEST: Celebrate Resistance!! Westridge Park (320 Cliff Ave, Burnaby)
Includes infotables, music/dancing, kid’s activities, Indigenous rights, climate justice, Kinder Morgan pipeline and mass non-violent direct action teach-in. Volunteers needed! Please email: walk4ssvolunteer@gmail.com
Speakers / Music to include:
– co-MC’s: Audrey Siegl & Stephen Collis
– Coast Salish welcome – Cedar George-Parker, Tsleil-Waututh FN
– Grand Chief Stewart & Joan Phillip, UBCIC
– Slam Poets
– Brandon Gabriel & Kachina Bige, Kwantlan First Nation
– Music by Luke Wallace, Emily Kelsall, Buckman Coe, The Racket & other awesome people!
– Kanahus Manuel, Secwepemc First Nation
– Chief Lee Spahan, Coldwater FN
– Elizabeth May MP Saanich-Gulf Islands
– Briony Penn (Orca Soundings)
– Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan
– Kennedy Stewart MP-Burnaby South

CORE MESSAGES

1) Respect for Indigenous laws and rights:
Without free, prior, and informed consent, government approval for pipeline/tanker expansion is a violation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, section 35 of the Canadian constitution on Aboriginal Rights and Title, Douglas Treaty rights and principles of Indigenous laws that require indigenous leaders to be ecological stewards of their lands. Consent means the ability to say “no”. We stand against any development which does not have the consent of the sovereign indigenous nations on whose territory it occurs.

2) Climate leaders don’t expand fossil fuel infrastructure:
It makes no sense to fight climate change while increasing infrastructure for some of the planet’s dirtiest oil! We call on the federal and provincial governments to abandon fossil fuel expansion and immediately invest in clean energy infrastructure and job creation that curbs greenhouse gas emissions, not increases them.

3) Water is life:
The risks to rivers, salmon habitat, drinking watersheds, the coast, surrounding communities and local economies from inevitable spills are not acceptable A massive bitumen spill in the Salish sea or anywhere en route, traversing thousands of salmon and orca supporting habitats from Alberta to the coast of BC, cannot be cleaned up, ever!

4) Leave it in the Ground

Indigenous communities downstream from Alberta’s tar sands have been suffering from the impacts of contaminated water, loss of traditional livelihood, hunting and fishing territory and higher than average cancer rates and lower life expectancy, than elsewhere in Canada. The movement for climate justice and opposition to pipelines must include the call to stop all new tar sands and fossil fuel infrastructure at the source.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

This event will be taking place on the territories of the Lekwungen (Songhees and Xwsepsum/Esquimalt), W̱SÁNEĆ, səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Coast and Straits Salish Nations.

We respectfully recognize that Indigenous resistance to the Kinder Morgan pipeline/tanker expansion is one manifestation of Indigenous resistance to colonization that has been happening since first contact and continues today.

For more information call : 778-265-3564