Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A "Disconcerting' Moral Compass: Israel's Future/Now

Israel’s Future is Terrifying: Moshe Ya’alon and Israel’s Disconcerting ‘Morality’

by Ramzy Baroud  - PalestineChronicle.com


May 31, 2016

Israeli society is constantly swerving to the Right and, by doing so, the country’s entire political paradigm is redefined regularly.

Israel is now ‘ruled by the most extreme rightwing government in its history’ has grown from being an informed assessment to a dull cliché over the course of only a few years.

Former Defense Minister, Ya’alon,
regarded by some as an example of
"professionalism and morality."

In fact, that exact line was used in May 2015, when rightwing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, formed his thin majority government of like-minded right-wingers, religious zealots and ultra-nationalists. The same sentiment, with almost the exact wording, is being infused again, as Netanyahu has expanded his coalition by bringing to the fold the ultra-nationalist, Avigdor Lieberman.

As of Wednesday May 25, Lieberman has also become Israel’s Defense Minister. Considering Lieberman’s rowdy and violent politics as demonstrated in his two terms as Foreign Minister (from 2009 to 2012 and, again, from 2013 to 2015), being a Defense Minister in Israel’s ‘most extreme rightwing government in history’ harbors all kind of terrifying prospects.

While many commentators rightly pointed to Lieberman’s past provocations and wild statements - for example, his 2015 statement threatening to behead Palestinian citizens of Israel with an axe if they are not fully loyal to Israel; advocating the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian citizens of Israel; his death ultimatum to former Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya, and so on - his predecessor, Moshe Ya'alon, was spared much blame.

Worse, the former Defense Minister, Ya’alon, was regarded by some as an example of professionalism and morality. He is 'well-regarded', wrote William Booth in the Washington Post, compared to the 'polarizing maverick' Lieberman. But ‘well-regarded’ by whom? By Israeli society, the majority of whom support the cold-blooded murder of Palestinians?

Israel has adhered to its own definition of political terminology for a long time. Its early ‘socialism’ was a blend of communal living, facilitated by military onslaught and sustained by colonialism. Its current definition of ‘left’, ‘right’ and ‘center’ are also relative, only unique to Israel itself.

Thanks to Lieberman - the former Russian immigrant, club bouncer-turned-politician who is constantly rallying the roughly one million Israeli Russian Jews around his ever-violent political agenda - Ya’alon is now an example of level-headedness and morality.

Indeed, the quote that has been reproduced numerous times in the media is that of Ya’alon stating the reason behind his resignation is that he has lost confidence in ‘Netanyahu’s decision- making and morals’.

Morals? Let’s examine the evidence


Ya’alon took part in every major Israeli war since 1973, and his name was later associated with the most atrocious of Israeli wars and massacres, first in Lebanon and, later, in Gaza.

His ‘morality’ never dissuaded him from ordering some of the most unspeakable war crimes carried out against civilians, neither in Qana, Lebanon (1996) nor in Shujaya, Gaza (2014).

Ya’alon refused to cooperate with any international investigation conducted by the UN or any other monitoring group into his violent conduct. In 2005, he was sued in a US court by the survivors of the Qana massacre in which hundreds of civilians and UN peacekeepers were killed and wounded in Israeli military strikes in Lebanon. In that case, neither Israeli nor American morality prevailed, and justice is yet to be delivered.

Ya’alon, who received military training early in his career at the British Army's Camberley Staff College, continued to rise in rank within the army until 2002 when he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces. He was in that post for nearly three years, as a result of which he ordered the assassination of hundreds of Palestinians and oversaw various massacres that were carried out by the Israeli army during the Second Intifada.

His post was terminated by the then Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, in 2005. In this case, too, it was immorality, not morality, that played a role in the conflict between him and his superiors. Ya’alon was - and remains - an ardent advocate for the illegal colonialization of Palestinian land. In 2005, he vehemently rejected the so-called redeployment from the Gaza Strip, in which a few thousands illegal settlers were relocated to Jewish colonies in the West Bank.

His war crimes caught up with him in New Zealand in 2006 - over the assassination of a Hamas commander, Saleh Shehade, together with 14 members of his family and other civilians. An arrest order was issued but revoked later, under heavy political pressure, allowing Ya’alon to escape the country.

He returned to the helm of the army in 2013, just in time to carry out the devastating war on Gaza in 2014, which killed 2,257 Palestinians in 51 days. The UN monitoring group, OCHA, estimated that over 70 percent of those killed were civilians, including 563 children.

The destruction of Shujaya, in particular, was a calculated strategy devised by Ya’alon himself. In a July 2013 meeting with UN Secretary-General, Ban-Ki-Moon, Ya’alon informed the UN chief that he would bomb the entire neighborhood in case of war. He did.

In May 2015, he was still unrepentant. Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, he threatened to kill civilians in case of another war on Lebanon. “We are going to hurt Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family,” he said.

“We went through a very long deep discussion. We did it then, we did it in (the) Gaza Strip, we are going to do it in any round of hostilities in the future,” he said.

He also spoke implicitly of dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran.

He repeatedly gave the Israeli Occupation army the green light to carry out ‘shoot to kill’ policy against Palestinians to fight rising ‘tension’ in the Occupied Territories.

These are the words of Ya’alon during a visit to a military base in Gush Etzion in November 2014:

“It must be clear that anyone who comes to kill Jews must be eliminated. Any terrorist who raises a gun, knife or rock, tries to run over or otherwise attack Jews, must be put to death.”

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in recent months in Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Many of those killed are stone-throwing children who are facing Israeli army vehicles along with thousands of trigger-happy Jewish settlers.

In his first public remarks since his resignation, Ya'alon accused a ‘vocal minority’ in Israel of targeting the country's "basic values", stating that the country's "moral compass" has been lost.

The odd thing is that many Israelis agree with Ya’alon. They see the man who has been accused of carrying out war crimes for most of his career as an example of morality and basic values.

While Lieberman has demonstrated to be a loose cannon and a political liability, Ya’alon has openly spoken of targeting children and repeatedly lived up to his promises.

When the likes of Ya’alon, a man with a blood-stained record becomes the face of morality in Israel, once can understand why the future of that country brings little hope, especially now that Lieberman has brought his Israel Our Home Party to Netanyahu’s terrifying nest of political parties.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.

Warfare States: NATO's False "Humanitarian" Narrative

US-NATO’s Fake “Humanitarian” “War on Terrorism”, Defiant Syria

by Mark Taliano - Global Research



May 31, 2016


There’s really no excuse for supporting the NATO/terror position. We’ve seen the destruction of Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, now Syria, all built on lies, all beneath the guise of “humanitarian interventions”.

Since people with any sense of historical memory can not legitimately plead ignorance, supporters of the terrorist invasion of Syria fall into the category of “fake humanitarians”. They aren’t “progressive” or “left” when they support the criminal violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Canadian peace activist Ken Stone, recently returned from Syria, expresses similar sentiments in his newly released book, Defiant Syria: Dispatches from the Second Tour of Peace to Syria. He explains,

The point for me is to ask why otherwise intelligent people can fall for such shit (referring to a 2015 New Internationalist magazine article: “The forgotten revolution of Syria”), and not once but repeatedly. It’s not as if Syria is the very first government targeted for regime change by the USA. It’s not that people are unaware of the fact that the first casualty of war is the truth … there is never a shortage of “leftists” in the West who can be either bought or convinced through incredible naivété, warped political outlook, or Eurocentric arrogance, that the motives of Empire are good.

People such as Ken, who have visited Syria and have seen with their own eyes the devastation wrought by Western-supported terrorists against civilization, have less tolerance for the lies, the propaganda, and the gullible, “fake humanitarians” who enable it all.

Stone doesn’t mince words when he describes some of his on-the-ground observations of Homs, Syria; observations fortified by his historical memory of NATOs imperial destruction elsewhere:

Judging from the many corpses found buried around the city, some of which were missing eyes and various internal organs, many have speculated that the mercenaries ran a lucrative trade in human organs, besides their human trafficking in Syrian women, boys, and children, and their other rackets such as rapine and pillage … The terrorist organizations were working in accordance with a well-rehearsed imperial script here in Homs. The KLA, NATOs foot soldiers in Kosovo (formerly part of Yugoslavia) also ran an organ smuggling operation out of a house in Pristina in 1999.

To their detriment, the fake “humanitarians” and pseudo “leftists” are shielded from such on-the-ground realities.

In a later chapter, “Palmyra: Bride Of The Desert”, Stone also bemoans the self-proclaimed “leftists” who cast the Russians as “imperialists” and as guilty as the West in the war against Syria – conveniently forgetting that Russia is legally in Syria, while NATO is not:

“It’s true,” he writes, “that Russia is unfortunately no longer a socialist country. However, it doesn’t act like an imperialist country either. Mr. Putin consistently respects the sovereignty of other countries, such as Syria, and speaks up at the United Nations for the observance of international law, which the USA, priding itself as “the exceptional country” and the “sole indispensable country”, tramples on almost every day.”

This resonates with the author’s earlier piece, “Western Hegemony vs Russian Sanity”, and the “Saker’s” observations of the differences between the “Anglo-Zionist Unipolar Imperial Model” and the “Russian Multipolar Model”.

Sustainable evidence demonstrates, for example, that the current Russian multipolar model respects the rule of international law, ideological and cultural pluralism, and the use of military force as a last resort.

The illegal Western war of aggression against Syria, on the other hand, is consistent with the “Anglo-Zionist Unipolar Imperial Model” which defies the rule of international law, negates ideological and cultural pluralism, and uses military violence as a first resort.

The West’s invasion contradicts the rule of international law: Russia is in Syria legally, whereas the West is not; it negates Syria’s ideological and cultural pluralism and seeks to replace with a Wahhabist stooge government or an assortment of stooge governments in balkanized states; and it demonstrates the West’s propensity to use military violence as a first resort – the invasion, after all, was planned well in advance.

Given the fact of the West’s criminality, consistent with the “Anglo-Zionist Unipolar Imperialist Model”, and the concurrent failures of the “fake humanitarians” and the fake “left” to reconcile themselves to evidence-based findings and historical memory, Stone reiterates some concrete steps that should be taken by those of us who support foreign policy trajectories consistent with peace and the rule of international law, rather than the current reality of war and barbarism.

Important steps would include normalizing diplomatic relations with Syria, ending illegal sanctions, withdrawing from all criminal military interventions against Syria, and withdrawing from NATO.

Canada needs to assert an independent foreign policy, and it needs to reject the current barbarity implicit in its status as a vassal appendage of the Anglo-Zionist Unipolar Imperial Model. This is what Real Change would look like.

The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Mark Taliano, Global Research, 2016

Fort McMordor and Political Incorrectness

The Sodom and Gomorrah of the Great White North

by Captain Paul Watson - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society


May 2016

Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau scolded Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May for suggesting that the tragic fires in Alberta were connected to climate change.

It appears that the Prime Minister likes to speak about climate change in the abstract but does not want to address the reality of the actual consequences of climate change.

Prime Minister Trudeau suggested that Elizabeth May’s statements were “inappropriate.”

Well he sure as hell is going to view my position as very inappropriate but there are some things about Fort McMurray and Alberta that simply need to be said.

Fort McMurray is a town that was established by the fur trade and built upon the bloody corpses of millions of wild animals. The name comes from a Hudson’s Bay fur trader named William McMurray. The place has been a blight on the landscape in the boreal forest ever since the fur traders forced the native Cree people to pack up and move along.

Calgary, is Canada’s petro-capital, hosts the cruel annual Stampede and is the home of the blue eyed Arabs in their white cowboy hats.

Alberta, a Province where oil is so revered that Edmonton named their hockey team – the Oilers.

Fort McMurray is the home base of the workers and company offices of those who devastated the natural environment with their obscenely destructive tar sands development projects.

Fort McMurray is a city of 80,000 that has been known as the “beating heart” of the Canadian oil industry.

The wealthiest per capita city in Canada with an average household income of $181,000 Canadians dollars.

A town with a birthrate above the national average.

A town with the largest number per capita of imported luxury cars.

A town of climate change deniers who have long held environmentalists in contempt and who laughed at the warnings that the planet is heating up and the ever-growing signs that consequences were fast appearing on the horizon.

Fort McMurray and Calgary, the two communities most responsible for the worst destruction of eco-systems in Canada – the scorched earth economic policies that ripped open the bowels of the land, destroyed rivers, lakes, forests and wetlands and caused the deaths of millions of animals.

Fort McMurray, a town that contributed so much to creating and spewing great volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and as fate has unveiled, the very town that is suffering the fire storm consequences of the seeds that it has sown.

In 2013 Calgary was hit with its worst flooding disasters in memory.

Yet the Prime Minister says there is no connection between these disasters and climate change.

Fort McMurray is now experiencing the highest temperatures and the lowest precipitation in its entire history. Temperatures this week were 31 degrees F. higher than average for the month of May.

To say there is no relationship to climate change is a delusional denial. Of course there is a connection and that connection is blazing forth dramatically in Fort McMurray where the entire population has been evacuated and over 1200 homes have been razed to the ground.

Of course we should feel compassion for the losses of the people who live there but it is insane to not discuss why this is happening and why it will continue to happen.

When humanity spits into the face of mother nature we should not be surprised to see the consequences of our collective arrogance and ecological ignorance spat back at us.

This horrendous fire, just like the flood that hit Calgary and the super storms, floods and tornadoes ravaging through communities around the globe are the consequences of the hundreds of millions of tons of carbon that we annually inject into the atmosphere and the irreparable damage we are doing to the natural mechanisms that absorb carbon, like the forests, wetlands and the ocean.

This fire is nature’s punishment for the sins of human avarice. Not in a theological sense, there is no divine plan here, just the natural chemical reaction caused by humanity’s activities.

In nature there is always an equal reaction to an action. The tar sands development was a huge action and the reaction is and will be equally huge as a consequence.

The disaster in Fort McMurray is man-made and the people suffering the most are some of the very people who participated in creating the circumstances that they are now experiencing.

Prime Minister Trudeau says that now is not the time to discuss this, but when is it time to discuss cause and effect. They did not want to discuss it in the past. They don’t want to discuss it now and they have no intention of discussing this in the future.

They can dismiss it as an act of God, a natural disaster or whatever they may choose to call it, but the writing is on the wall. Big oil, government, both Federal and Provincial, big banks, and jobs are the underlying cause of this disaster and that is a truth now written in the sky with broad brushstrokes of flame and smoke.

Austerity for Oil Companies Mean Production Cuts

3 Years Of Painful Cuts Sets Markets Up For Serious Supply Crunch

by Nick Cunningham - Oilprice.com

Total global oil production could decline for the next several years in a row as scarce new sources of supply come online.

According to data from Rystad Energy, overall global oil output will fall this year as natural depletion overwhelms all new sources of supply. But the deficit will only widen in the years ahead due to the dramatic scaling back in spending on new exploration and development.

Statoil says that global capex is set to fall for two years in a row, and is on track to fall for a third year in 2017 as more spending cuts are likely. “For the first time in history, we’ve seen cutting of capex two years in a row and potentially we risk a third year as well for 2017,” Statoil’s Chief Financial Officer Hans Jakob Hegge told Bloomberg in a recent interview. “It might be that we see quite a dramatic reduction in replacing the capacity and of course that will have an impact, eventually, on price.”

Oil companies are making painful cuts to spending, which will translate into much lower production than expected in the years ahead.

Although markets have dealt with the supply overhang for the better part of two years, the surplus could flip to a deficit as early as this year, as declines exceed new sources of production by a few hundred thousand barrels per day. That widens to more than a million barrels per day in both 2017 and 2018. To be sure, there are extremely large volumes of oil sitting in storage, which will take a few years to work through. That will prevent any short-term price spike even if depletion surpasses new production. But Statoil’s CFO said the world could start to see supply problems by 2020.

According to a separate report from SAFE, a Washington-based think tank, the oil industry has cut somewhere around $225 billion in capex in 2015 and 2016, which will lead to global supplies 4 million barrels per day lower in 2018-2020, compared to what market analysts expected as of 2014.

Of course, these figures are not inevitable. A sharp rise in oil prices would spur new investment and new drilling. In other words, deficits create profit opportunities for drillers, ushering in new supplies. The price acts as a self-correcting mechanism.

The problem is that, unlike many other industries, resource extraction is extremely volatile, with supply responses very delayed. Many oil projects, after all, take years to develop. Supply overshot demand, crashed prices, and in response, supplies will undershoot demand in the next few years. The industry has always suffered from booms and busts, and there is little reason to think that it will change, at least in the short run.

But we tend to have a myopic view on what to expect. When oil prices go up, people buy fuel efficient cars. When they go down, SUVs are back in style. When the world is dealing with too much supply, market watchers predict oil prices will stay low for years to come. If spot oil prices suddenly rise, forecasts are revised sharply upwards.

Here’s another example: the WSJ reports that oil prices are entering a “sweet spot,” a range between $50 and $60 per barrel that could finally be good for the global economy – low enough to provide consumers with a bit of a stimulus, but high enough to keep the industry and capital spending afloat. Also, crude at $50, as opposed to $30, can provide a bit of inflation to the deflation-beset economies in Europe and Japan. “Crude between $50 and $60 would be the absolute sweet spot,” Mark Watkins, regional investment manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, told the WSJ. “Everybody wins there.”

That is all well and good, but who expects oil to trade between $50 and $60 for any lengthy period of time? If there is one thing that we have learned over the past two years, it is that nobody has a crystal ball on prices. And if the industry indeed cuts capex for three consecutive years, at a time when demand continues to rise, the one thing we can be sure of is more volatility.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Failure to Hold: Israel's Slipping Center

The Center Doesn’t Hold

by Uri Avnery - CounterPunch


May 30, 2016
 

“The best lack all convictions, while the worst 

Are full of passionate intensity!”


Is there a better description of what is happening in Israel now?

Yet these words were written, almost a hundred years ago, by the Irish poet W. B. Yeats.

Yeats was writing shortly after the terrible slaughter and destruction of World War I. He believed that the world was coming to an end, and expected the second coming of the Messiah.

As part of the chaos, he foresaw in the same poem that “the center cannot hold”. I believe he took this metaphor from the battlefields of former ages, when the opposing armies were arrayed in two lines facing each other, with the main force in the center, and the two flanks protecting it.

In a classic battle, each side tried to destroy one of the flanks of the enemy in order to encircle the center and attack it. As long as the center held, the battle was undecided.

In Israel, as in most modern democracies, the center is composed of two or more establishment parties, slightly left and slightly right. The leftist is the classic Labor party, now hiding behind the name “Zionist Camp” (which automatically excludes the Arab minority, some 20% of the electorate.) The rightist is the Likud, the present incarnation of the old “Revisionist” party founded nearly a hundred years ago by Vladimir Jabotinsky, a liberal nationalist, in the Italian Risorgimento style.

This was the Israeli center, supported by some conjuncture-born parties.

It ruled Israel since the day of its founding. One party constituted the government, the other acted as the loyal opposition, and they swapped roles every few years, as they should in a decent democracy.

On the ‘flanks” there were the Arab Parties (now united under duress), the small but principled Meretz on the left, and several religious and proto-Fascist parties on the right.

It was a “normal” set-up, like that in many other democratic countries.

No more.

On the center-left, a mood of resignation and defeat prevails. The old party has fallen into the hands of a number of political dwarfs, whose quarrels among themselves obliterate all its other functions.

The present leader, Yitzhak Herzog, the scion of a good family, carries by law the glorious title of “Leader of the Opposition”, but doesn’t even know what opposition is. Some call his party “Likud 2”. On all the vital subjects – such as peace with the Palestinian people and the Arab world, social justice, human rights, democracy, separation between state and religion, corruption – the party is mute. For all practical purposes, it is moribund or worse.

“The best lack all conviction,” as Yeats lamented. The best elements of Israeli society are dispirited, defeated, mute.

On the center-right, the picture is even worse, and much more dangerous. The Likud, once a liberal, democratic right-wing party, has fallen victim to a hostile takeover. Its extremist wing has pushed everyone else out, and now dominates the party completely. In the sense of the same metaphor, the right flank has taken over the center.

“The worst are full of intensity”. These rightist radicals are now in full cry. They enact atrocious laws in the Knesset. They back and encourage detestable acts by policemen and soldiers. They try to undermine the Supreme Court and the Army Command. They are intent on building more and bigger settlements. These dangerous barbarians are indeed “full of intensity”.

The addition of Avigdor Lieberman to the government completes the frightening picture. Even the former Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, a measured politician, publicly announced that this government includes fascist elements.

Why has this happened? What is the root cause?


The usual answer is “the people have moved to the right”. But that explains nothing. Why have they moved rightward? Why?

Some seek the explanation in the demographic schism in the Israeli Jewish community. Jews whose families come from Islamic countries (called Mizrahim) tend to vote for the Likud, Jews whose families come from Europe (Ashkenazim) tend to the left.

That does not explain Lieberman, whose party consists of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, about a million and a half, generally called “Russians”. Why are so many of them extreme rightists, racists and Arab-haters?

A class by themselves are young leftists, who refuse to support any party. Instead, they turn towards non-party activism, regularly founding new groups for civil rights and peace. They support the Palestinians in the occupied territories, fight for the “purity of our arms” in the army, and do wonderful work for similar causes.

There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of such associations, many of them supported by foreign funds, which do wonderful work. But they abhor the political arena, would not join any party, much less unite for this purpose.

I believe that this phenomenon comes close to the explanation of the trend. More and more people, especially young ones, turn their back on “politics” – by which they mean party politics – altogether. They do not “lack all convictions”, but believe that the political parties lack all honest convictions and they want nothing to do with them.

They don’t see that political parties are a necessary instrument for achieving change in a democracy. They see them as groups of corrupt hypocrites, lacking real convictions, and don’t want to be seen in such company.

Thus we come to an astonishing fact: developments in Israel resemble processes in many other countries, which have nothing to do with our specific problems.

A few days ago there were elections for the presidency of Austria. Until now, the Austrian presidency, a ceremonial office as in Israel, passed between the two main parties. This time something unprecedented happened: the two final candidates came from the extreme right and the Greens. The voters just eliminated all the candidates from the central establishment. Worse, the near-fascist candidate only lost by a tiny margin.

Austria? A country which enthusiastically welcomed (the Austrian) Adolf Hitler only 80 years ago, and suffered the full consequences?

The only explanation is that Austrians, like Israelis, are fed up with the established parties. The two nations, of equal size, which have nothing else in common, feel the same.

In France, the far-right anti-establishment politician Marine Le Pen is celebrating. In Spain, Holland and some of the Scandinavian states anti-establishment parties are winning.

In the UK, the mother of democracy, the public is about to vote for or against the Brexit, a cause identified with the establishment. To leave the European Union looks (to me, at least) totally irrational. Yet the chance of it happening seems real.

But why speak only about smaller countries? What about the lone superpower, the United States of America?

For months now, the world public has been watching with growing amazement the incredible ascent of Donald Trump. From day to day, the drama, which started as a comedy, becomes more frightening.

What, for god’s sake, has happened to this great nation? How can millions and millions flock to the banner of a loud-mouthed, vulgar, ignorant candidate, whose main – and perhaps only – asset is his distance from all political parties? How could he overcome, actually destroy, the Grand Old Party, a part of American history?

On the other side there is Bernie Sanders, a much more appealing character, but one also detested by his own party, with an agenda that is quite remote from that of the majority of Americans.

There is only one similarity between the two: they loathe their parties and their parties loathe them.

This seems to have become a world-wide pattern. All over South America, not so long ago a bulwark of the left, leftist parties are thrown out, and rightist figures take over.

Considering that this is happening at the same time in dozens of countries, large and small, which have absolutely nothing else in common – different problems, different issues, different situations – this is nothing short of amazing.

For me, this is a riddle. Every few decades, new ideas come up and infect a large part of humanity. Democracy, liberalism, anarchism, social-democracy, communism, fascism, democracy again, and now this kind of chaos, mostly radical right-wing, are world-wide trends. They don’t yet have a name.

I am sure that many people, Marxists and others, have a ready-made explanation. I am not convinced by any. I am just baffled.

Coming back to us poor Israelis: I just published in Haaretz a practical plan to stem the deluge and push it back.

I am still committed to optimism.
 

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

More articles by:Uri Avnery

Stolen Victory: How America Lost Its Way

My Father’s Victory in the Pacific

by Greg Palast


May 30, 2016 

In 1995, in Chicago, veterans of Silver Post No. 282 celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their victory over Japan, marching around a catering hall wearing their old service caps, pins, ribbons and medals. My father sat at his table, silent. He did not wear his medals.

He had given them to me thirty years earlier. I can figure it exactly: March 8, 1965. That day, like every other, we walked to the newsstand near the dime store to get the LA Times. He was a Times man. Never read the Examiner.

He looked at the headline: U.S. Marines had landed on the beach at Danang, Vietnam.

As a kid, I was fascinated by my dad’s medals. One, embossed with an eagle and soldiers under a palm tree, said “Asiatic Pacific Campaign.” It had three bronze stars and an arrowhead.

My father always found flag-wavers a bit suspect. But he was a patriot, nurturing this deep and intelligent patriotism. To him, America stood for Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms.

My father’s army had liberated Hitler’s concentration camps and later protected black students on their way to school in Little Rock, Arkansas. His America put its strong arm around the world’s shoulder as protector. On the back of the medal, it read “Freedom from Want and Fear.”

His victory over Japan was a victory of principles over imperial power, of freedom over tyranny, of right over Japan’s raw military might. A song he taught me from the early days of the war, when Japan had the guns and we had only ideals, went,


We have no bombers to attack with,
We have no fighters to defend the flag with
But Eagles, American Eagles,
fight for the rights we adore!

“That’s it,” he said that day in 1965, and folded the newspaper.

The politicians had ordered his army, with its fierce postwar industrial killing machines, to set upon Asia’s poor. Too well read in history and too experienced in battle, he knew what was coming. He could see right then what it would take other Americans ten years of that war in Vietnam to see: American bombers dropping napalm on straw huts, burning the same villages Hirohito’s invaders had burned twenty years earlier.

Lyndon Johnson and the politicians had taken away his victory over Japan.

They stole his victory over tyranny. When we returned home, he dropped his medals into my twelve-year-old hands to play with and to lose among my toys.

A few years ago, my wife Linda and I went to Vietnam to help out rural credit unions lending a few dollars to farmers so they could buy pigs and chickens.

On March 8, 1995, while in Danang, I walked up a long stone stairway from the beach to a shrine where Vietnamese honor their parents and ancestors.

Halfway up, a man about my age had stopped to rest, exhausted from his difficult, hot climb on one leg and crutches. I sat next to him, but he turned his head away, ashamed of his ragged clothes, parts of an old, dirty uniform.

The two of us watched the fishermen at work on the boats below. I put one of my father’s medals down next to him. I don’t know what he thought I was doing. I don’t know myself.

In ’45, on the battleship Missouri, Douglas MacArthur accepted the surrender of Imperial Japan. I never thought much of General MacArthur, but he said something that stuck with me.

“It is for us, both victors and vanquished, to rise to that higher dignity which alone benefits the sacred purposes we are about to serve.”

********

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year on BBC Newsnight Review.

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BC Best for Polluters: Taxpayers on the Hook for More of Mine Site Clean-Ups

New Analysis – B.C. Ranks Worst in Canada for Unsecured Environmental Liability of Mine Sites

by MiningWatch Canada


May 30, 2016

There is a gap of at least half a billion dollars — and possibly over one billion — in unreported environmental liability that BC taxpayers may be on the hook for.


Ottawa - MiningWatch Canada today published a new analysis showing that British Columbia (BC) has the largest unsecured environmental liability for mine site clean-up costs when compared to the two other main mining jurisdictions in Canada: Ontario and Quebec.

BC’s total unsecured liability amounts to $1.5 billion, compared to $1.4 billion for Ontario and $1.2 billion for Quebec (see Table 1 in analysis, using provincial figures).

“This means that British Columbians are disproportionally more on the hook for cleaning up the mess left behind by the mining industry,” says Ugo Lapointe, Canadian program coordinator for MiningWatch Canada.

Lapointe adds:

“BC’s figure came as a surprise. But even more troubling is the fact that BC’s overall liability appears grossly underestimated. It does not include an up-dated evaluation for the clean-up costs of abandoned mine sites under public responsibility.”

In her recent report, BC’s Auditor General, Carol Bellringer, did not investigate the liability of abandoned mine sites, which is under the responsibility the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Operations.

Based on a cross-analysis of available data disclosed by different BC institutions in recent years, MiningWatch’s analysis reveals that BC’s current cost estimate for cleaning-up abandoned mine sites ($0.3 billion) does not include 27 abandoned mines and over 1100 mine site hazards.

“When looking at similar site categories in Ontario and Quebec, this represents a gap of at least half a billion, and possibly over one billion dollars, in unreported environmental liability that BC taxpayers may have to pay,” predicts Lapointe.

Lapointe adds,

“Both Quebec and Ontario have reviewed their cost estimates for cleaning up abandoned mine sites and saw them increase by over 300% in the last decade. Both are now over one billion dollars. BC has yet to conduct a similar detailed review for its abandoned mine sites liability.”

When taking into account water treatment costs, and considering the costs associated with one major mining spill every decade — half of what the Mount Polley Review Panel predicted — MiningWatch estimates BC’s total environmental liability for mines to be over $3.9 billion (see Table 4 in analysis).

“At the current rate to which BC collects revenues from mining royalties, it would take 40 years to cover this liability. Clearly, BC’s mining model is unsustainable and must change,” insists Lapointe.

MiningWatch supports both the Auditor General’s and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs’ (UBCIC) recommendations for a stricter, independent environmental oversight of the mining sector, as well as a much stronger financial security regime that would ensure that the public is never left to foot the bill to clean-up contaminated sites.

MiningWatch points to the Northwest Territories, Manitoba and Wisconsin as examples of jurisdictions not allowing new mines that require long term water treatment, as well as Quebec and Alaska for their stronger financial security regime.

In UBCIC’s recent report, the author and economist Robyn Allan also recommends insurance models that include national and international industry pools to cover damages from major accidents or spills. Such models already exist for other industries, but not yet in the mining sector.

The analysis is posted online here:
http://miningwatch.ca/sites/default/files/2016-05-30-bcminingliability-analysis_0.pdf

For information:

Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada,
e-mail ugo@miningwatch.ca,

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Je Suis Daniel Blake: Loach Palme d'Or Winner Indicts Systemic Economic Inequality

I, Daniel Blake

by Craig Murray


26 May, 2016

More space has been devoted by the mainstream media in the last week to the terrible effects of “austerity” on the vulnerable, than in total since the Westminster election.

That is entirely in the context of Ken Loach’s Cannes Palme d’Or winning film I, Daniel Blake.

The film itself will now get a much greater cinema distribution than it might otherwise have anticipated.

I think it is worth highlighting some excellent points made at the winners’ press conference:






Ken Loach:

We talked about finding a style that was absolutely clear and plain and unadorned…there’s a quotation from Bertolt Brecht…”and I always thought the simplest of words must suffice. When I say what things are like, it will break the hearts of all”. And the thing that we tried to do is to say what things are like, because it not only breaks your heart, but it should make you angry.

It is an issue not just for people in our country, but all across Europe. There is a conscious cruelty in the way we are organising our lives now, where the most vulnerable people are told that their poverty is their own fault. If you have no work, it’s your fault you haven’t got a job. Never mind that… throughout Europe there’s mass unemployment and in Britain there’s two million known unemployed but in reality four million. And the most vulnerable people are caught, disabled people are caught. The increase in suicides… in fact in the places where these assessments take place, some people who work there have been given instructions on how to deal with potential suicides, so they know this is going on… It is deeply shocking that this is happening at the heart of our world… the heart of it is a shocking, shocking policy.

Paul Laverty (scriptwriter):

After travelling the country, in Scotland and all the way down to England, travelling round foodbanks, listening to people’s stories, talking to welfare rights organisations, disabled groups, what was remarkable was how many of the most vulnerable people were the ones who bore the brunt of it. Now in this particular instance Daniel is a very competent man who has had a life of work, who’s got friends, who’s smart, intelligent, he’s had a very, very full life. But what really amazed us was talking to experts… the people who work with mental health, the stories we heard about that would just break your heart.

The people who are disabled, they have suffered six times more from the cuts than anyone else, and there was a remarkable phrase by one of the civil servants we heard who talked about the cuts, who said “low-lying fruit”, in other words the easy targets. So this story could have been much harsher, it could have been somebody with mental health difficulties… we could have told a story from someone who is much more vulnerable, much more heartbreaking.

I think it’s very important to remember too the systematic nature of it….talking to whistleblowers, people who worked inside the Department of Work and Pensions… there are several people we met, and they spoke to us anonymously, and they said they were humiliated how they were forced to treat the public. So there is nothing accidental about it, and it is affecting a huge section of the population.

I have inveighed long and hard against the massive increase in the wealth gap between the rich and poor in the UK and in the West in general. It is great to see popular resistance today in France to the extreme erosion of workers’ rights that has facilitated this.

In an indisputable measure of the growing inequality in society, the life expectancy gap between rich and poor is growing for the first time in 150 years. Let me say that again.

The life expectancy gap between rich and poor is growing for the first time in 150 years. 


Our desperately unequal society now becomes more unequal at an exponential rate. The UK has more than 100 billionaires, and it has foodbanks and children crying from hunger, not developing properly due to malnutrition.

I sense a true swelling of popular discontent that has the potential to break through the consent manufactured by a billionaire-owned media and billionaire-owned politicians.

NFL's Goal-Line Stand Against Science and Reason

NFL’s War Against Science and Reason

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News


May 25, 2016


Perhaps it’s because I just watched the movie, “Concussion,” which tells the story of the National Football League’s haughty denial of the science proving football-related brain damage – and the NFL’s abuse of the truth-tellers – but I still can’t understand why so many people side with Commissioner Roger Goodell in the absurd “Deflategate” case against Tom Brady.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Surely, the NFL’s four-game suspension of the New England Patriots quarterback on the charge of tampering with the air pressure of footballs is not as serious as the NFL covering up the dangers from concussions (reminiscent of how the cigarette industry long denied links between smoking and cancer), but the Brady case is a microcosm of how power works and how checks and balances, including the major news media, fail. 

What seems to have happened behind the scenes of Deflategate is that once the controversy got started with a leak from the NFL, followed by intense coverage before the 2015 Super Bowl game, the NFL didn’t want to admit its own stupidity, since none of the officials involved knew the basic physics of how environmental conditions can affect the air pressure of a football, a piece of knowledge that might have stopped this nonsense in its tracks.

However, as the controversy dragged on, another factor arose. Rival team owners – sitting on the NFL Management Council – saw an opportunity to diminish the Patriots who have been a dominant team in the NFL since Brady emerged as a starter in 2001. Goodell admitted as much in his ruling rejecting Brady’s appeal of the suspension. Goodell said he allowed the Management Council to weigh in, urging certain facts be viewed in a hostile way against Brady.

In other words, owners who had suffered painful losses at the hands of Brady and the Patriots were permitted inside the process for deciding whether the Patriots star quarterback would be banned for a quarter of a season, thus giving these rival teams a better chance to climb over the Patriots and possibly win a Super Bowl.

Goodell said the Management Council, which controls his $35 million salary, urged him to view the absence of two Patriots equipment employees at the appeal hearing as proof of Brady’s guilt (even though the employees had testified repeatedly in other venues and had consistently denied tampering with the game balls).

Recognizing how fiercely competitive — and how thoroughly unscrupulous — some of these team owners are, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they would exploit any chance to hurt a rival.

But what that means is that Goodell’s protestation about him punishing Brady and the Patriots over Deflategate “to protect the integrity of the game” is just another NFL lie. Indeed, the opposite is the truth: the entire episode has been an assault on the integrity of the game, already partly implemented by stripping the Patriots of a first-round pick in the recent NFL draft.

Media Failure


The major U.S. news media also bent to the power of the NFL or gave in to a bias against Brady and the Patriots. Despite all the attention that the “Deflategate” saga received, ESPN, the nation’s top sports network which has a cozy multi-billion-dollar relationship with the NFL, failed to conduct any serious assessment of the dubious science behind the charges that the Patriots deflated footballs for the AFC Championship game on Jan. 18, 2015.


 

New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady.


Over the past 16 months, ESPN essentially ignored the findings of many reputable scientists who disputed the NFL’s calculations. ESPN’s “Sport Science” did do a segment showing how miniscule the effect would be from a slight reduction in pounds per square inch of a football. But ESPN’s investigative unit “E:60” waited until the past few weeks before allowing on a cute spot showing how a seventh-grader named Ben Goodell (no relation to Roger) won a science-fair prize by demonstrating that weather conditions explained the drop in the footballs’ internal pressure.

But ESPN wasn’t alone in its journalistic negligence. Pretty much every mainstream news outlet, including The New York Times, has overwhelmingly taken the NFL’s side in this dispute. Yet, in doing so, the mainstream media ignored an interesting underlying story about how a giant corporation can do almost anything it wants even to one of its brightest stars (deeming him a perjurer and a cheater based on virtually no evidence) and there seems to be nothing anyone can do to stop it – although Brady is still placing some hope in the federal courts.

After Goodell oversaw the entire NFL investigation – from the accusation to the finding of guilt to the appeal – Brady did win one round when U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman reviewed the case and found the process so arbitrary that he rescinded the suspension. However, because the NFL had maneuvered to put the case in a notoriously management-friendly federal court district in Manhattan, the league prevailed 2-1 before a U.S. Court of Appeals panel.

This week, Brady’s lawyers, led by prominent attorney Theodore Olson, filed a motion seeking a rehearing before the full Court of Appeals. The motion condemned “Goodell’s biased, agenda-driven, and self-approving ‘appeal’ ruling,” noting that Goodell had altered the reasons and logic for punishing Brady, thus denying Brady his legal rights.

The filing also said the court’s 2-1 ruling in favor of the NFL “will harm not just NFL players, but all unionized workers who have bargained for appeal rights as a protection — not as an opportunity for management to salvage a deficient disciplinary action by conjuring up new grounds for the punishment.”

Olson noted, too, that the NFL officials didn’t know the physics of footballs. “As NFL officials later admitted, no one involved understood that environmental factors alone — such as the cold and rainy weather during the game — could cause significant deflation,” the filing said.

“Nor did any NFL official claim that the underinflated balls affected the game’s outcome, particularly since Brady’s performance in the second half of the AFC Championship Game — after the Patriots game balls were re-inflated — improved.” (The Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 and then went on to win the Super Bowl.)

But Brady’s lawyers and the seventh-grader with his science project weren’t the only ones to recognize the weakness of the NFL’s grasp of physics. In support of Brady’s request for a rehearing, a legal brief was filed this week with the U.S. Court of Appeals by 21 professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of California, Berkeley; University of Michigan; Stanford University; University of Southern California; University of Delaware; Purdue University; University of Pennsylvania; Boston College; and the University of Minnesota.

Noting that deflation happens naturally whenever a ball is moved from a warm to a cold environment, the scientists said, “This is not tampering. It is science. And it pervades the NFL. Games routinely are played with footballs that fall below the league’s minimum pressure requirement.”

The scientists added that “Courts should not be powerless to consider the absence of scientific proof when a proceeding is so interlaced with laws of science.” However, so far, the courts have only addressed procedural issues regarding the scope of Goodell’s powers, avoiding a full-scale testing of the NFL’s evidentiary case.

If a court did undertake an assessment of the case’s merits, a number of interesting facts might come out that the major media has largely ignored. For instance, Olson’s filing noted that the work of the NFL’s consultants “hired to deny that environmental factors accounted for the pressure levels has been derided by independent physicists as junk science.”

The NFL hired Exponent, the same “science” consultant that took on the task of “disproving” the links between second-hand smoke and cancer. Exponent also has been the hired-gun for companies fighting accusations of toxic waste, asbestos exposure and car malfunctions.

In evaluating the NFL’s halftime football pressure tests of Jan. 18, 2015, Exponent accepted the parameters dictated by the NFL’s lawyers, including key ones regarding the sequencing of the halftime tests on a cold and rainy night in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The sequencing was important because the longer the balls were returned to a warm and dry room for examination the more the air pressure would go back up.

The timing distorted the comparative tests on several footballs used by the Indianapolis Colts which were tested later during halftime. Those footballs also registered below the legal level of 12.5 PSI on the one gauge that the NFL determined was accurate, but the drop-off was not as much as with the Patriots’ footballs that were tested earlier.

Ironically, the Colts, who were the ones who instigated the tests after intercepting a Brady pass and noting its below-12.5-PSI measurement, were allowed to continue using underinflated balls for the second half, meaning they played with underinflated footballs for both halves of the game while the Patriots’ footballs were pumped back up to above 12.5 PSI.

A Slanted Case


After the game, some NFL official leaked the initial finding of the Patriots having underinflated footballs in the first half but lied about the Colts’ footballs, claiming that they did not fall below the 12.5 PSI level. That falsehood, which was only corrected months later, led many football fans to jump to the conclusion that  Brady and the Patriots must be guilty.


 



In evaluating the halftime data, Exponent only took into account the field’s chilly temperature (not the rain and the pre-game conditioning of the balls which also could have contributed to a lower PSI), but concluded that all or virtually all of the loss in PSI occurred naturally. Still, that slight uncertainty gave the NFL the space it needed to conclude that something else (i.e. intentional tampering) had occurred.

Goodell and his team then seized on innocuous actions (such as the ball boy Jim McNally stopping in a bathroom on his way to the field) or innocent gestures (such as Brady autographing a football for locker-room attendant John Jastremski ) as proof of a vile conspiracy.

The NFL also twisted text messages between McNally and Jastremski out of context. For example, one exchange about why footballs in an earlier game against the New York Jets had been over-inflated by NFL officials (above 13.5 PSI) was cited as proof of a deflation conspiracy. But the import of the exchange was actually the opposite, since neither party made any comment about why they had failed to deflate the balls below the legal limit, which would have been a natural expectation if indeed there was a deflation conspiracy.

In denying Brady’s appeal, Goodell acknowledged as much stating that the only time that the Patriots could have deflated footballs was before the 2015 AFC Championship game because only then did McNally carry the balls unattended to the field (and stopped briefly in a bathroom).

While that admission by Goodell knocked the legs out from under the larger conspiracy theory of the Patriots routinely deflating footballs, it also left out a key fact: the reason that McNally was unattended was because the earlier NFC Championship game had gone into overtime, forcing a delay in the start of the AFC game.

When the NFC game ended abruptly, there was confusion and urgency in the referees’ lounge. Since it was the responsibility of McNally to get the balls to the field, he took them there without waiting for a referee to accompany him.

The point, however, is that this situation was an unanticipated anomaly. It’s absurd to think that Brady and the Patriots were counting on the NFC game going into overtime, which would then delay the start of their game and cause McNally to be left unattended so he could then slip into a bathroom and – instead of relieving himself as he testified that he did – deflate a bag full of game balls so they could have a miniscule effect on Brady’s passing game.

But the absurdity of the conspiracy theory only underscores the unrestrained power of the NFL as an institution. If it says up is down, then it must be believed.

If some court would require a full presentation of the evidence, the process might open the door to the NFL’s motives in pursuing this silly case with a Javert-like zeal – whether to cover up the league’s incompetence or to give rival owners a competitive edge over the Patriots.

The CTE Scandal


The NFL showed similar arrogance and disrespect for science in its handling of the concussion issue. As the movie “Concussion” shows – and a PBS documentary further demonstrates – the NFL tried to silence early discoverers of the brain damage caused by routine football contact.


 


Dr. Bennet Omalu


Though the movie adds a few fictional flourishes, it is essentially a true story about Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Pittsburgh pathologist from Nigeria who was assigned to examine the body of former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster and discovered a previously undiagnosed disease now known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.

When Omalu’s findings were published, the NFL handpicked three doctors to refute his findings and demand that they be retracted. It was a classic case of a powerful corporation trying to destroy a little-known scientist who uncovered an inconvenient truth. The personal attacks on Omalu and other doctors who built on his initial findings grew so ugly that Omalu has said he regretted ever being assigned Webster’s autopsy.

As the evidence of a CTE epidemic among NFL and other football players continues to mount, the NFL still keeps trying to rig the scientific investigation, according to a congressional report released this week.


“Our investigation has shown that while the NFL had been publicly proclaiming its role as funder and accelerator of important research, it was privately attempting to influence that research,” the study said.
“The NFL attempted to use its ‘unrestricted gift’ as leverage to steer funding away from one of its critics.”

For its part, the NFL rejected the charge by Democratic members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce but added “There is no dispute that there were concerns raised about both the nature of the study in question and possible conflicts of interest,” an apparent reference to the fact that Dr. Robert Stern was a neurologist at Boston University, which spearheaded studies that confirmed Dr. Omalu’s initial findings.

After Dr. Stern was awarded the CTE project, the NFL reneged on its commitment to provide $16 million for the work, the congressional study said.

“The NFL’s troublesome interactions with the NIH fit a longstanding pattern of attempts to influence scientific understanding of degenerative diseases and sports-related head trauma,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-New Jersey, who oversaw the study.

In other words, the arrogant NFL remains at war with science and facts, a reality underscored by its cover-up of concussion dangers and by its witch hunt against Tom Brady.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

Occupation at Secwepemc Nation: Williams Lake Band Office Stand for Transparency/Accountability

Press Releases from William Lakes Indian Band Office Occupation

by Warrior Publications


May 26, 2016

On Tuesday morning, members of the Secwepemc Nation evicted the Chief and Band Council of Williams Lake/Sugar Cane Indian Reserve from the Williams Lake/Sugar Cane Band Office and have continued to non-violently occupy the office since.

The RCMP, aiming their guns at the unarmed Secwepemc occupiers, immediately surrounded the building and arrested April Thomas, a Secwepemc woman who just returned from presenting the plight of the Secwepemc Nation to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva and is known in the community for her opposition to the elected band council system.

Those occupying the office are unarmed and have cited ongoing corruption, lack of transparency and accountability and regular forcible evictions in the midst of a growing housing crisis under the direction of the Williams Lake Indian Band Chief and Council as their reasons for closing the band office until further notice.

“The illegal eviction of Sheldon Wycotte and his family less than a week ago from the home his grandfather privately owned and helped build is further proof that Williams Lake Indian Band Chief and Council are in breach of their fiduciary obligations to act in the best interests of the people.
 There is no accountability or transparency in the decisions the Chief and Band Council makes, millions of dollars are missing and unaccounted for, our land is being sold out from underneath us and we are all suffering as a result.” – April Thomas, Williams Lake Community Member, Secwepemc Nation

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE, May 25, 2016

Media Contact:
April Thomas,
778-267-6619

OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM SECWEPEMC WOMEN’S WARRIOR SOCIETY


The Secwepemc Women’s Warrior Society has joined the non-violent occupation of the Secwepemc Williams Lake Indian Band Office to continue to fight for our Nation, our Women, our Youth, our Future Generations. A sacred fire has been lit to call our People together to address the corruption of the Elected Chief and Band Council system imposed on us by the colonial Canadian government.

RCMP officers, aiming their guns at the unarmed Secwepemc occupiers, have surrounded the building and have arrested and charged April Thomas, a Secwepemc woman who just returned from presenting the plight of the Secwepemc Nation to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva and is known in the community for her opposition to the elected band council system.

Secwepemc families are being forcibly and illegally removed from their homes in the midst of a housing crisis, our People live in poverty and debt while millions of dollars borrowed from the federal and provincial governments for the illegal NSTQ treaty are unaccounted for, and those who attempt to defend their Territories, themselves or their families are targeted by the Chief and Band Council.

The structure of the Indian Chief and Band Council system, created and enforced by the Federal Canadian colonial government allows for decisions to be made by the Chief and Council without the knowledge and consent of the People. This is unacceptable. After exhausting all other means to address our ongoing concerns, we stand here now demanding to be heard. We will not tolerate the use of the RCMP in internal Nation matters, and we will certainly not tolerate the continued use of the RCMP in dealing with the unsettled land issue.

Our Lands were never ceded or surrendered and cannot be ceded or surrendered without the full, free, prior and informed consent of our People. The actions of the Chief and Band council, without the consent of the people, are therefore illegal and we do not recognize them. This includes all unlawful evictions of Secwepemc families and any and all decisions in regards to resource extractive industry, the NSTQ Treaty and our Territories.

All decisions made in regards to the Nation and our People must be made with the consent of our People, there is currently no participatory decision making protocol or policy that allows for this within the Elected Chief and Council system. Until the People are included in the decision making of the Nation, all decisions made by any other body claiming to represent Williams Lake Indian Band or the Secwepemc Nation are declared null and void.

We will continue to occupy the Williams Lake Indian Band office until further notice. We ask that Anne Louie, elected Chief, meet with us in person immediately to begin discussions in reference to our concerns. In solidarity with the INAC occupations across Canada and Indigenous resistance worldwide.

BC Hydro Denies SLAPPing Site C Protesters, Though Suit Threat Hangs

Lawsuit still 'hanging over' former Site C protest campers - BC Hydro denies SLAPP suit claims

by Jonny Wakefield - Alaska Highway News


May 27, 2016

Nearly three months have passed since Site C opponents packed up their camp at the historic Rocky Mountain Fort site on the banks of the Peace River, which blocked construction on the controversial dam for 62 days.

While the camp has gone away, BC Hydro’s civil suit against six of the campers hasn’t.

Two of those campers say the Crown corporation's lawsuit, which led to an injunction to remove the camp in February, is still on the books and doesn't appear to be going anywhere.

Critics of the project have said the court action smacks of a SLAPP suit—a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. BC Hydro denies the claim, saying it supports protest against the dam that doesn't disrupt construction.

Ken Boon, a Peace Valley farmer and prominent dam critic, said BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald visited his home in Bear Flats on a recent trip to Fort St. John.

"That was one of the topics that came up, that civil suit," he said in an interview.
"We asked if BC Hydro would consider dropping that civil suit, because the conditions in that civil suit are over. It seems to me like the civil suit should be null and void."

Boon stressed that BC Hydro took no issue with their continued advocacy against the dam—so long as it doesn’t physically impede construction.

He said McDonald asked if they would consider "signing a document…stating something to the effect that we wouldn’t do any further action.” While he said he didn't speak for the other defendants named in the suit, "there’s no real interest from anybody that we spoke to to sign some kind of document just to make that civil suit go away."

It remains to be seen how the suit will impact future protests against the dam.

BC Hydro could pursue damages through the lawsuit, Boon said. "They could potentially squish anyone of us like a bug and we’d be done. That just doesn’t seem right for (a Crown corporation) to be behaving in that way," he said.

Helen Knott, another camper named in the civil case, said the lawsuit is "kind of hanging over everyone" involved in the protest.


"In the initial claim, there were damages in that, but they haven’t moved forward on anything," she said, adding it "feels like it’s a preventative measure."

Jason Gratl, who represented the six Site C defendants in the injunction hearing, said injunctions granted on a temporary basis tend to have lasting impacts.

"Practically speaking, they turn out to be permanent injunctions because neither the project proponent nor the defendant protesters have any incentive to take the civil action through to trial," he said in an interview.

"It just stays there,” he added, because defendants typically don’t have the funds to fight the matter in court, while “the cost of litigation for the plaintiffs far exceeds the anticipated reward."

Site C spokesperson Dave Conway disputed the claim that BC Hydro is involved in a SLAPP suit.

"Recent articles confuse lawful and peaceful protest with the physical blockade of construction work," he wrote in an email.
"BC Hydro repeatedly asked the protesters to allow the construction work to continue, but they refused. We were left with no choice but to commence a civil claim and apply to the court for an injunction."

He said BC Hydro has established a "safe protest zone" near the entrance to the dam site.

"BC Hydro understands that some individuals have strong opinions on Site C and we fully respect the rights of those individuals to express their views," he said.
"While we would prefer not to go to court, we also have an obligation to our customers to deliver this important public project on time and on budget."

Site C, the third dam on the Peace River, will flood around 83-kilometres of river valley and generate 1,100 megawatts of power.

Campers at the Rocky Mountain Fort—the site of a former fur trade post—said they were blocking construction until the outcome of two First Nations lawsuits aimed at stopping the dam.

reporter@dcdn.ca


Hitler's Hand in the American Election

Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump

by Jeffrey St. Clair - CounterPunch


May 27, 2016

Marco Rubio was the first to warn us. In March, Little Marco admonished all Americans to scrutinize Trump’s hands before giving him their vote, hands which Rubio rather giddily alleged served as a signifier of the tycoon’s secret short-comings.

So look closely at those mitts and digits: the short, rather stubby fingers, the neatly polished nails, the fleshy palms, all immaculately bronzed, as if dipped in a fine shellac.

What are we to make of them? Is there a political precedent for such wonderfully manicured but physically diminutive political paws?



Adolf Hitler’s hand print, taken at 
Hotel Kaiserhof, Berlin.

For purposes of edification, let us consult a little known encounter between two of the 20th century’s most consequential philosophers, one celebrated, one infamous.

The setting is Germany. The year is 1933. The scene is the Heidelberg house of Karl Jaspers and his Jewish wife and collaborator Gertrude. A guest is coming for dinner, an old friend and fellow phenomenologist who had just been appointed rector of Freiburg University. The meal is meant to be a celebration of their friend’s lofty new post.

The guest is, of course, none other than Martin Heidegger, author of the opaquely written but massively influential Being and Time. What Karl and Gertrude Jaspers don’t know, but will soon discover to their disbelief, is that their friend and intellectual sparring partner has just joined the National Socialist Germany Workers Party and arrives at their doorstep wearing a shiny Nazi pin on his lapel.

A debate between the two big brains soon erupts over a meal of Sauerbraten and potato dumplings. When Jaspers assails Heidegger’s pact with the Nazis, Heidegger waves his hand dismissively and ominously advises Karl and Gertrude that it is now time for “one to step in line.”

Jaspers counters: “But my dear friend, you can’t possibly mean that. It’s like 1914 all over again. The deceitful mass intoxication! What about the pursuit of knowledge, which the Nazis demean? What about education, which Hitler lacks and thus reviles?”
Heidegger cuts Jaspers off abruptly. “Education is irrelevant,” the moral philosopher of Nazism shouts.
“Just look at his wonderful hands!”

Moral: the smaller the hands, the more fanatic the compensation.


[Cautionary note: You might want to size up Hillary’s diminutive hands before you cast that fatal ballot.]


Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net.

 Further Reading.

Karl Jaspers, “A Philosophical Autobiography,” The Philosophy of Karl Jaspers, ed. by P.A. Schlipp (Open Court, 1981).

Sarah Bakewell, At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails. (Other Press, 2016).

Friday, May 27, 2016

Unheard World War

Eerie Silence About a New World War

by John Pilger  - Consortium News


May 27, 2016

Returning to the United States in an election year, I am struck by the silence. I have covered four presidential campaigns, starting with 1968; I was with Robert Kennedy when he was shot and I saw his assassin, preparing to kill him. It was a baptism in the American way, along with the salivating violence of the Chicago police at the Democratic Party’s rigged convention. The great counter revolution had begun.

Mushroom cloud from atomic bomb dropped
on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.

The first to be assassinated that year, Martin Luther King Jr., had dared link the suffering of African-Americans and the people of Vietnam. When Janis Joplin sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” she spoke perhaps unconsciously for millions of America’s victims in faraway places.

“We lost 58,000 young soldiers in Vietnam, and they died defending your freedom. Now don’t you forget it.” So said a National Parks Service guide as I filmed last week at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. 

He was addressing a school party of young teenagers in bright orange T-shirts. As if by rote, he inverted the truth about Vietnam into an unchallenged lie.

The millions of Vietnamese who died and were maimed and poisoned and dispossessed by the American invasion have no historical place in young minds, not to mention the estimated 60,000 veterans who took their own lives. A friend of mine, a Marine who became a paraplegic in Vietnam, was often asked, “Which side did you fight on?”

A few years ago, I attended a popular exhibition called “The Price of Freedom” at the venerable Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The lines of ordinary people, mostly children shuffling through a Santa’s grotto of revisionism, were dispensed a variety of lies: the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved “a million lives”; Iraq was “liberated [by] air strikes of unprecedented precision.” The theme was unerringly heroic: only Americans pay the price of freedom.

No Debate about Endless War


The 2016 election campaign is remarkable not only for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders but also for the resilience of an enduring silence about a murderous self-bestowed divinity. A third of the members of the United Nations have felt Washington’s boot, overturning governments, subverting democracy, imposing blockades and boycotts. Most of the presidents responsible have been liberal – Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama.

President Barack Obama and a boy from the education documentary “Waiting for Superman” fist-bump in the Oval Office, Oct. 11, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The breathtaking record of perfidy is so mutated in the public mind, wrote the late Harold Pinter, that it “never happened. … Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. It didn’t matter.”

Pinter expressed a mock admiration for what he called “a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Take Obama. As he prepares to leave office, the fawning has begun all over again. He is “cool.” One of the more violent presidents, Obama gave full reign to the Pentagon war-making apparatus of his discredited predecessor. He prosecuted more whistleblowers – truth-tellers – than any president. He pronounced Chelsea Manning guilty before she was tried. Today, Obama runs an unprecedented worldwide campaign of terrorism and murder by drone.

In 2009, Obama promised to help “rid the world of nuclear weapons” and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. No American president has built more nuclear warheads than Obama. He is “modernizing” America’s doomsday arsenal, including a new “mini” nuclear weapon whose size and “smart” technology, says a leading general, ensure its use is “no longer unthinkable.”

James Bradley, the best-selling author of Flags of Our Fathers and son of one of the U.S. Marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima, said,

“[One] great myth we’re seeing play out is that of Obama as some kind of peaceful guy who’s trying to get rid of nuclear weapons. He’s the biggest nuclear warrior there is. He’s committed us to a ruinous course of spending a trillion dollars on more nuclear weapons. Somehow, people live in this fantasy that because he gives vague news conferences and speeches and feel-good photo-ops that somehow that’s attached to actual policy. It isn’t.”

Obama’s Legacy


On Obama’s watch, a second Cold War is under way. The Russian president is a pantomime villain; the Chinese are not yet back to their sinister pig-tailed caricature – when all Chinese were banned from the United States – but the media warriors are working on it.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders has mentioned any of this. There is no risk and no danger for the United States and all of us. For them, the greatest military build-up on the borders of Russia since World War Two has not happened. On May 11, Romania went “live” with a NATO “missile defense” base that strengthens the ability of first-strike American missiles to strike at the heart of Russia, the world’s second nuclear power.

In Asia, the Pentagon is sending ships, planes and special forces to the Philippines to threaten China. The U.S. already encircles China with hundreds of military bases that curve in an arc up from Australia, to Asia and across to Afghanistan. Obama calls this a “pivot.”

As a direct consequence, China reportedly has changed its nuclear weapons policy from no-first-use to high alert and put to sea submarines with nuclear weapons. The escalator is quickening.

It was Hillary Clinton who, as Secretary of State in 2010, elevated the competing territorial claims for rocks and reef in the South China Sea to an international issue; CNN and BBC hysteria followed; China was building airstrips on the disputed islands. In its mammoth war game in 2015, Operation Talisman Sabre, the U.S. practiced “choking” the Straits of Malacca through which pass most of China’s oil and trade. This was not news.

Clinton declared that America had a “national interest” in these Asian waters. The Philippines and Vietnam were encouraged and bribed to pursue their claims and old enmities against China. In America, people are being primed to see any Chinese defensive position as offensive, and so the ground is laid for rapid escalation. A similar strategy of provocation and propaganda is applied to Russia.

A ‘Feminism’ of Bloody Coups


Clinton, the “women’s candidate,” leaves a trail of bloody coups: in Honduras, in Libya (plus the murder of the Libyan president) and Ukraine. The latter is now a CIA theme park swarming with Nazis and the frontline of a beckoning war with Russia. It was through Ukraine – literally, borderland – that Hitler’s Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, which lost 27 million people. This epic catastrophe remains a presence in Russia. Clinton’s presidential campaign has received money from all but one of the world’s ten biggest arms companies. No other candidate comes close.

Sanders, the hope of many young Americans, is not very different from Clinton in his proprietorial view of the world beyond the United States. He backed Bill Clinton’s illegal bombing of Serbia. He supports Obama’s terrorism by drone, the provocation of Russia and the return of special forces (death squads) to Iraq. He has nothing to say on the drumbeat of threats to China and the accelerating risk of nuclear war. He agrees that Edward Snowden should stand trial and he calls Hugo Chavez – like him, a social democrat – “a dead communist dictator.” He promises to support Clinton if she is nominated.

The election of Trump or Clinton is the old illusion of choice that is no choice: two sides of the same coin. In scapegoating minorities and promising to “make America great again,” Trump is a far-right-wing domestic populist; yet the danger of Clinton may be more lethal for the world.


“Only Donald Trump has said anything meaningful and critical of U.S. foreign policy,” wrote Stephen Cohen, emeritus professor of Russian History at Princeton and NYU, one of the few Russia experts in the United States to speak out about the risk of war.

In a radio broadcast, Cohen referred to critical questions Trump alone had raised. Among them: why is the United States “everywhere on the globe”? What is NATO’s true mission? Why does the U.S. always pursue regime change in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine? Why does Washington treat Russia and Vladimir Putin as an enemy?

The Trump Hysteria


The hysteria in the liberal media over Trump serves an illusion of “free and open debate” and “democracy at work.” His views on immigrants and Muslims are grotesque, yet the deporter-in-chief of vulnerable people from America is not Trump but Obama, whose betrayal of people of color is his legacy: such as the warehousing of a mostly black prison population, now more numerous than Stalin’s gulag.

This presidential campaign may not be about populism but American liberalism, an ideology that sees itself as modern and therefore superior and the one true way. Those on its right wing bear a likeness to Nineteenth Century Christian imperialists, with a God-given duty to convert or co-opt or conquer.

In Britain, this is Blairism. The Christian war criminal Tony Blair got away with his secret preparation for the invasion of Iraq largely because the liberal political class and media fell for his “cool Britannia.” In the Guardian, the applause was deafening; he was called “mystical.” A distraction known as identity politics, imported from the United States, rested easily in his care.

History was declared over, class was abolished and gender promoted as feminism; lots of women became New Labour MPs. They voted on the first day of Parliament to cut the benefits of single parents, mostly women, as instructed. A majority voted for an invasion that produced 700,000 Iraqi widows.

The equivalent in the U.S. is the presence of politically correct warmongers on the New York Times, the Washington Post and network TV who dominate political debate. I watched a furious debate on CNN about Trump’s infidelities. It was clear, they said, a man like that could not be trusted in the White House. No issues were raised. Nothing on the 80 per cent of Americans whose income has collapsed to 1970s levels. Nothing on the drift to war.

The received wisdom seems to be “hold your nose” and vote for Clinton: anyone but Trump. That way, you stop the monster and preserve a system gagging for another war.

John Pilger is an Australian-British journalist based in London. Pilger’s Web site is: www.johnpilger.com