Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Summary Instruction: How Israel Executes Its Palestinian Policy

The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel

by Ramzy Baroud  - ramzybaroud.net


January 17, 2017

For some, the ‘manslaughter’ conviction - following the murder by Israeli army medic, Elor Azaria, of already incapacitated Palestinian man, Fattah al-Sharif - is finally settling a protracted debate regarding where Israelis stand on Palestinian human rights.

Nearly 70 percent of the Israeli public supports calls to pardon the convicted soldier, who is largely perceived among Israelis as the "child of us all."

Israeli leaders are also lining up to lend their support to Azaria and his family. These sympathetic politicians include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and ministers Naftali Bennett and Miri Regev, among others. Leading opposition leaders are also on board.

Pro-Israeli pundits, who never miss an opportunity to highlight Israel's supposed moral ascendency took to social media, describing how the indictment further demonstrates that Israel is still a country of law and order.

They seem to conveniently overlook palpable facts. Reporting on the verdict, ‘The Times of Israel’, for example, wrote that "last time an IDF soldier was convicted of manslaughter was in 2005, for the killing of British civilian Tom Hurndall two years earlier."

Between these dates, and years prior, thousands of Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip alone, mostly in the Israeli wars of 2008-9, 2012 and 2014. Although thousands of children and civilians were killed and wounded in Gaza and the rest of the Occupied Territories and, despite international outcries against Israel's violations of international law, there is yet to be a single conviction in Israeli courts.

But why is it that some commentators suggest that the Azaria trial and the show of unity around his cause by Israeli society is an indication of some massive change underway in Israel?

Yoav Litvin, for example, argues in ‘TeleSur’ that the "precedent set by this case will further solidify the complete dehumanization of Palestinians and pave the way for further ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Occupied Palestinian Territories."

In an article, entitled: "Like Brexit and Trump, Azaria verdict exposes a moment of transition in Israel", Jonathan Cook also eluded to a similar idea. “The soldier’s trial, far from proof of the rule of law, was the last gasp of a dying order,” he wrote.

Neither Litvin nor Cook are suggesting that the supposed change in Israel is substantive but an important change, nonetheless.

But if the past and the present are one and the same, where is the 'transition', then?

The creation of Israel atop the ruins of Palestine, the ethnic cleansing that made Israel’s ‘independence’ possible, the subsequent wars, occupation and sieges are all devoid of any morality.

Indeed, Israel was established with the idea in mind that a "Jewish state" is possible without the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian Arabs.

In a letter to his son in 1937, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister after the country’s establishment in 1948, wrote: "We must expel the Arabs and take their places and if we have to use force, to guarantee our own right to settle in those places ­ then we have force at our disposal."

In the year that Israel was established, the United Nations defined genocide in Article 2 of the ‘Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’, as follows:

"Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.."

In other words, there is nothing new here since the ‘mainstreaming of genocide’ in Israel took place before and during the founding of the country, and ever since.

Fortunately, some Israeli leaders were quite candid about the crimes of that era.

"Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist," former Israeli leaders, Moshe Dayan said while addressing the Technion as reported in ‘Haaretz’ on April 4, 1969. “There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”

But throughout these years, Israel has managed to sustain a balancing act, generating two alternate realities: a material one, in which violence is meted out against Palestinians on a regular basis, and a perceptual one, that of a media image through which Israel is presented to the world as a 'villa in the jungle', governed by democratic laws, which makes it superior to its neighbors in every possible way.

Former Israeli President, Moshe Katsav, demonstrate the latter point best. "There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies," he was quoted in the ‘Jerusalem Post’ on May 10. 2001. “They are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy."

In fact, Israeli commentators on the Left often reminisce about the 'good old days', before extremists ruled Israel and rightwing parties reigned supreme.

A particular memory that is often invoked was the mass protest in Tel Aviv to the Israeli-engineered Sabra and Shatila massacres of Palestinian refugees in South Lebanon in 1982.

Protesters demanded the resignations of then-Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, and his Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon. Both men were accused of allowing the massacres of Palestinians by Christian Phalange to take place. An Israeli commission of investigation found Israel guilty of 'indirect responsibility', further contributing to the myth that Israel's guilt lies in the fact that it allowed Christians to kill Muslims, as Sharon complained in his biography, years later.

At the time, it did not occur to Israeli protesters as odd the fact that Begin, himself, was the wanted leader of a terrorist gang before Israel's founding and that Sharon was accused of orchestrated many other massacres.

Many in Israeli and western media spoke highly of the moral uprightness of Israeli society. Palestinians were baffled by Israel's ability to carry out war crimes and to emerge in a positive light, regardless.

"Goyim kill Goyim and the Jews are blamed," Begin had then complained with a subtle reference to what he perceived as a form of anti-Semitism. Aside from Sabra and Shatila, tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians were killed in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

Historical fact shows that Israel is not experiencing a real transition, but what is truly faltering is Israel’s balancing act: its ability to perpetrate individual and collective acts of violence and still paint an image of itself as law-abiding and democratic.

Zionist leaders of the past had played the game too well and for far too long, but things are finally being exposed for what they really are, thanks to the fact that Jewish settlers now rule the country, control the army, have growing influence over the media and, therefore, define the Israeli course and PR image.

“This new army (of settlers) is no longer even minimally restrained by concerns about the army’s ‘moral’ image or threats of international war crimes investigations,” wrote Cook.

And with that new-found ‘freedom’, the world is able to see Israel as it is. The balancing act is finally over.

- 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.

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Douglas Gook, John Helmer, Janine Bandcroft January 18, 2017

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook - Gorilla-Radio.com


January 18, 2017

Life has been anything but routine for the BC interior residents of Hazeltine Creek, Polley Lake, and Quesnel Lake. On August 4th, 2014 the Imperial Metals mine tailings dam burst, sending an estimated 25 million tons of extractive process contaminated sludge and heavy metals-laden toxins into the local watershed.

In what was deemed at the time the biggest spill of its kind into the environment of all time, the chemical impacts of the Mt. Polley Mine spill disaster made Imperial Metals, according to the National Pollutant Release Inventory, "the largest emitter of copper, arsenic and manganese in Canadian waters in 2014."

But, nearly two and half years after the fact, the governments charged with crafting and enforcing laws to protect the people and places of this Canada are yet to lay charges in enforcement of those laws regarding Imperial Metals.

It's fallen instead to MiningWatch Canada, the "[P]an-Canadian initiative supported by environmental, social justice, Indigenous and labour organisations from across the country" to launch a private prosecution. This past week, the federal government tried to torpedo that launch before it left the dock, moving to stay the case and prevent MiningWatch entering evidence.

Douglas Gook is a Quesnel-based ecology activist who's focused on Eco forestry alternatives in the woods there and beyond for more than forty years. He leads Forest Protection Allies, one of the many environmental organizations pressuring government to get effective cleanup processes going, and appropriate compensation for those effected by the Mt. Polley Mine disaster put in place. He attended the gallery in the MiningWatch case Friday, and was there when the federal government's stunning motion to the court was read.

Douglas Gook in the first half.

And; with mere days left before the inauguration of Donald Trump as America's 45th president, governments around the World are frantically arranging and rearranging ministries and departments in preparation of a new era in their US relations. Canada is no exception, but where most other countries are moving to align themselves more harmoniously with perceived Trump values, Ottawa appears to be taking the novel approach of charting a 180 degree course in the opposite direction. At least, this is how the elevation of the famously Russophobic Chrystia Freeland is being interpreted in some quarters.

John Helmer is a long-time, Moscow-based journalist, author, and essayist; the only one, his site, Dances with Bears informs “to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties.” He’s a former political science professor who's served as an advisor to the governments of Greece, the U.S., and in Asia where he regularly lectures on Russian topics. His book titles include: ‘Uncovering Russia,’ ‘Urbanman: The Psychology of Urban Survival,’ ‘Bringing the War Home: The American Soldier in Vietnam and After,’ and ‘Drugs and Minority Oppression’ among others.

John's latest article, 'Chrystia Freeland is the Body Double - Canada Plays Hillary Clinton Card at Russia; Kremlin Suspects Putsch Against Justin Trudeau' examines the meteoric rise to power of Canada's newest Minister of Foreign Affairs.

John Helmer and Anatomy of a Canadian Coup in the second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us news of some of the good things scheduled for the coming week on and beyond the streets of our city. But first, Douglas Gook and the federal government's attempt to stay the toxic flow of information on the Mt. Polley mining spill disaster.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca.  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/

Monday, January 16, 2017

Trumping NAFTA? US Trade with Canada after Donald

US border tax aimed squarely at Canada

by Peter Ewart - 250 News


January 16, 2017

There has been much furor and controversy over the last while about president-elect Donald Trump’s threat to penalize any US company that attempts to move operations to another country. Now we have learned on Friday, January 13th that Trump’s threat also applies to auto companies moving some or all of their operations to Canada. This will be part of a “border adjustment tax” applied to auto products imported into the US.

Sean Spicer, spokesman for Donald Trump, stated that,

“’When a company that’s in the U.S. moves to a place, whether it’s Canada or Mexico, and any other country seeking to put U.S. workers at a disadvantage’, then the incoming U.S. president ‘is going to do everything he can to deter that’.” (1)

Presumably, this penalty will apply to other Canadian industries not just auto. What would be the result of this new policy? After all, many Canadian companies in different industrial sectors have operations in the US, and many US companies have operations in Canada. And some companies are “North American” in their scope. Aside from all the chaos this penalty will cause, the outcome would be a strong tendency for industrial and manufacturing operations in Canada to drastically decline over time and those in the US to increase (at Canada’s expense).

Indeed, the same threat has been applied to Mexico and is already having an effect. For example, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has frankly stated that the company may end all operations in Mexico if the Trump tariffs are too high and, instead, keep production in the US. Canada now faces exactly the same threat.

This, of course, fits in with former US senator Rick Santorum’s recent comment that,

“We (the US) are going to be aggressively going after jobs that are high tech and other types of manufacturing jobs and a lot of those are up in Canada.” (2)

It was always a deception that so-called “free trade” actually existed between Canada and the US, as evidenced by the longstanding Softwood Lumber dispute. In fact, like the other side of a coin, protectionism was always there. The difference now is that Trump is dramatically ramping up the protectionist side.

All of this calls into question Canada’s trading relationship with the US, including the original Free Trade Agreement as well as NAFTA. It also exposes the “North American project” of continentalism, i.e. putting Canada under US economic, political and military domination, as a trap and a disaster for Canada.

The Trump administration is threatening both Canada and Mexico with the tearing up of NAFTA unless it gets its way. It’s time for Canada to call Trump’s bluff. We need to move towards a more self-reliant economy and seek trade arrangements based on mutual benefit. That means we need our own nation-building project, one that is not hopelessly entangled with an increasingly erratic and aggressive US.

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

Notes

1) Olorunnipa, Toluse. “Trump team signals auto border tax could also hit Canada.” January 13, 2017.
2) Ewart, Peter. “Will the Trump administration view Canada as its 21st Century colony?” 250 News. November 21, 2016.

Arming Up on the Way Out: Obama's Grenade Over the Shoulder for Syria

Obama and Congress Just Made it Easier For Trump to Arm Syrian Rebels

by TRNN


January 16, 2017

Anti-aircraft weapons sent to vetted moderate rebels could end up in the hands of extremist groups as many work in coalition together, says journalist Ben Norton.


Ocean Desertification: A Bad Year for Sea Life

Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life

by Robert Hunziker  - CounterPunch


January 16, 2017

The waters of the Pacific off the California coast are transparently clear. Problem is: Clear water is a sign that the ocean is turning into desert, (Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA). From Alaska to Central America, and beyond, sea life has been devastated over the past three years like never before. Is it Fukushima, or nature running its own course, or some kind of perverse wrath emanating from global warming? For a hint, scientists refer to the lethal ocean warming over the past few years as “the Warm Blob.”
Photo NASA/Kathryn Hansen | CC BY 2.0 


After all, global warming hits the ocean much, much harder than land. Up to 90% of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming is absorbed by the ocean, which is fortuitous for humans. Just imagine the chaos if the situation were reversed: Mobs of regular ole people morphing into maddened gangs striving for food, huddled in far northern latitudes while Mid America scorches brittle crops in sandy soil, a dystopian lifestyle.

“Upper ocean heat content has increased significantly over the past two decades” (Source: Climate Change: Ocean Heat Content, NOAA, Climate.gov, July 14, 2015). More than 3,000 Argo floats strategically positioned worldwide measure ocean temps every 10 days.

Scientists classify the Warm Blob phenomenon as “multi-year ocean heat waves,” with temperatures 7° F above normal and up to 10°F above normal in extreme cases. How would humans handle temperatures, on average, 7° to 10°F above normal? There’d be mass migrations from Florida to Alaska, for sure. As it happens, sea animals do not do well. They die in unbelievably massive numbers; all across the ocean… the animal die-offs are unprecedented. Scientists are stunned!

After years of horrendous worldwide sea animal die-offs, 2016 was a banner year. Is this out of the ordinary? Sadly, the answer is: Yes.

The numbers are simply staggering, not just in the Pacific, but around the world, e.g., the following is but a partial list during only one month (December 2016): Tens of thousands of dead starfish beached in Netherlands; 6,000 dead fish in Maryland waterway; 10 tons of dead fish in Brazilian river; tens of thousands of dead fish wash up on Cornwall, England beach; schools of dead herring in Nova Scotia; 100 tons of fish suddenly dead in Indonesia; massive fish deaths ‘state of calamity’ in Philippines; thousands of dead crayfish float down river in New Zealand; masses of dead starfish, crabs, and fish wash ashore in Nova Scotia, and there are more and more….

In fact, entire articles are written about specific areas of massive die offs, for example: “Why Are Chilean Beaches Covered With Dead Animals?” Smithsonian.com, May 4, 2016. Chilean health officials had to resort to heavy machinery to remove 10,000 dead rotting squid from coastlines earlier in the 2016 year. Over 300 whale carcasses hit the beaches and 8,000 tons of sardines and 12% of the annual salmon catch… all found dead on beaches, to name only a few! You’ve gotta wonder why?

According to Nate Mantua, research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz, California:

“One of the things that is clear is there’s a lot of variation from year to year along the Pacific Coast, and some of that is tied into natural patterns, like El Niño,’ Mantua said. ‘But what we saw in 2014, ‘15 and the first part of ‘16 was warmer than anything we’ve seen in our historical records, going back about 100 years” (Mary Callahan, Year in Review: Ocean Changes Upend North Coast Fisheries, The Press Democrat, Dec. 25, 2016).

Fishermen bitterly claim the ocean is changing like never before. Meanwhile, scientists study those weird changes but do not fully understand the problem. Unfortunately, the general public does not see changes hidden within water; otherwise, they, the general public, might organize and demand their politicians in Washington, D.C. fight climate change/global warming. According to John Largier, professor of coastal oceanography at UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, “Climate change syndrome is definitely having an impact,” Ibid.

As it happens, the world climate system is interconnected, interwoven such that climatic stress originated at sea spills onto land, e.g., the Warm Blob was first observed and linked to a high-pressure ridge stationed over the north Pacific in 2011. This ridge diverted winter storms, thereby exacerbating California’s drought meanwhile weakening winds that ordinarily absorb ocean heat and stir up the cold water necessary for immensely productive Northern Coast breeding grounds for marine wildlife.

Morosely, too-warm ocean water serves as breeding ground for the infamous deadly “red tide,” a bloom of single-celled organism that thrives in warmer waters, producing a neurotoxin called domoic acid, resulting in enormous numbers of sea lion fatalities and massive destruction of Dungeness crab fisheries and all kinds of other trouble.

Too-warm water also contributes to the collapse of bull kelp forests, which are the ocean’s equivalent of the tropical rain forest; meanwhile, purple urchins thrive and multiply in explosive fashion in the poisonous environment, devouring remaining plant life. Thereby, out-competing hapless red abalone, the shellfish that people love.

Collapsing food chains are evident up and down the Pacific Coast earmarked by large die offs of Cassin Auklets, a tiny seabird, as well as massive numbers of Common Murres. The sea lions and fur seals suffer from starvation and domoic acid poisoning. In early 2013 scientists declared the sea lion die-off an “unusual mortality event.”

Nursing sea lion mothers are unable to find enough forage like sardines and anchovies. Pups, searching for food, strand on beaches filled with curious sunbathers with a natural proclivity to cuddle the hapless cuties that could easily result in fierce attacks. As it happens, lifeguards run along sandy beaches warning beachcombers beware!

Still, wildlife die-offs are an ancient phenomenon, mentioned by Aristotle in his Historia Animalium (4th Century B.C.). In the U.S. in 1884, hundreds of tons of dead fish bellied up in lakes around Madison, Wisconsin. This knowledge of the past gives one pause when considering whether an all-out alarm is warranted this time around. After all, isn’t it nature’s way?

No, this time it is different, much different. The all-out alarm is warranted with bells clanging! Yes, of course part of nature’s cycle over the eons involves wildlife die-offs. That’s nature, but nowadays nature is out-of-whack! Ring the bells; blast the sirens!

As published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Recent Shifts in the Occurrence, Cause, and Magnitude of Animal Mass Events, Vol. 112, no. 4, Aug. 5, 2014) it was found that worldwide animal die-offs are increasing in both number and magnitude, even after statistically correcting for the fact that mass deaths are now more likely to be documented than in the past.

“Every biologist I spoke with who is researching mass-mortality events said that many wildlife die-offs today really could be signals of serious problems with the ecological fundamentals of the planet” (Source: J.B. MacKinnon, On Animal Deaths and Human Anxieties, The New Yorker, April 21, 2015). That is the worst possible news you can ever hear.

As for only one example amongst many, the typical number of bird deaths per reported die-off was about 100 in the 1940s. Today it is 10,000 and reported much more frequently than 75 years ago.

Bottom line, the ecosystem is under fierce attack, and it is real, very real indeed with too much global warming, too much ag runoff, too much heavy-duty massive overfishing, likely too much nuclear radiation, and deadly acidification caused by excessive CO2 concentrations (already damaging pteropods at the base of the marine food chain) as the ocean absorbs anthropogenic CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, similar to the upper atmospheric conundrum where 400+ ppm of CO2 (anything over 350 ppm leads to serious planetary trouble over time) is already heating up the planet as the ocean absorbs 90% of that heat. Thank your lucky stars for that… but only transitorily!

As stated by the Environmental Defense Fund: “Oceans are at the Brink”- For decades, the ocean has been absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) dumped into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. It has absorbed a lot of the extra heat produced by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. But even the ocean has limits!

Going forward, how will the Trump administration confront this messy, possibly fatal and very complex situation, since fossil fuels are the main driver behind climate change/global warming?

Will the Trump administration initiate a nationwide renewable energy plan, similar to Communist China? Accordingly: (Michael Forsythe, China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020, New York Times, January 5, 2017)
Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com

More articles by:Robert Hunziker

Chrystia Freeland and What the Stéphane Dion Ouster Means for Canadian Foreign Policy

Chrystia Freeland is the Body Double - Canada Plays Hillary Clinton Card at Russia; Kremlin Suspects Putsch Against Justin Trudeau

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears


January 16, 2017

Moscow - Chrystia Freeland, a leading figure in the Ukrainian and Canadian campaigns against Russia, was promoted last week in Ottawa to become Canada’s foreign minister. She is now one step away in her plan to replace Justin Trudeau as prime minister, sources in Ottawa, Washington, and Moscow report.

There was a hitch in the plan, though. Freeland had been hoping for a senior ministry when Trudeau took power in November 2015. Instead, he gave her the low-ranked international trade portfolio to keep her out of Canada as often as possible. Freeland then counted on Hillary Clinton to win the US presidential election last November, in order to persuade Trudeau she had better relationships in the coming Washington administration than the incumbent foreign minister, Stéphane Dion. The election of Donald Trump, with whom Freeland has no relationship and no agreement either, disappointed but didn’t deter her.

Trudeau has also accepted the Freeland scheme, and also for a Clinton reason. Trudeau will be safer in the prime ministry, Ottawa sources believe, if Freeland follows the Clinton role model into public acrimony, private hysteria, then defeat.

The usually dignified Dion departed his office last week, not by saying he wished Freeland well, but that he wished her luck. He meant Freeland, whom he blamed along with Trudeau for his abrupt ouster, would need it.

“For one year”, Dion (right) said, intimating that he had been caught unawares,

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave me the honour of being his Minister of Foreign Affairs. As is his privilege, he has just entrusted this great responsibility to another person. I wish Chrystia the best of luck.” 

Freeland’s supporters crowded into the Canadian media to celebrate. Dion’s supporters say he was ambushed repeatedly during his short tenure, made to take the blame in public for policies decided by others, while being kept away from decisions that were Dion’s prerogative to take, but his rivals pre-empted. This version of Dion’s ambush gives all the credit for the conspiracy to Trudeau. Another Canadian source suggests Trudeau isn’t clever enough, and that more than half the credit for the plot should go to Freeland herself.

In Brussels, sources who report on NATO say that among the military alliance leaders Trudeau’s reputation for low intelligence “approaches, if it doesn’t exceed” that of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister who was NATO secretary-general between 2009 and 2014.

Officially, the Russian reaction to Freeland’s appointment as foreign minister has been as non-committal as  possible.

“We don’t know,” said the ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova on December 12, “what the [Canadian] priorities will be. I think that it is necessary to be guided by specific acts and the specific program which, probably, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada will build. After that, we will comment and, perhaps, take some actions.”

Responding to the fact that the Russian Government announced counter-sanctions against Canada, including a travel ban on Freeland in 2014, Zakharova said:

“I would like to remind everyone that in spite of the fact that many headlines say ‘the Foreign Minister of Canada is included in the Russian sanctions lists’, the situation is a little not so. [Freeland’s name] was not placed on the sanctions lists as the Foreign Minister of Canada; she was included in the lists in 2014 as a response measure of the Russian side. First came the sanctions lists accepted [from the US] by Canada concerning Russian citizens, including Russian officials. Respectively, the Russian list was retaliation for this action of Canada’s. I think that for the answer to when and under what circumstances people [like Freeland] can be removed from this list, it is necessary to look at the rule of reciprocity.”

For the current lists of Canadian sanctions against Russia, click to open.

Freeland reacted swiftly, announcing on the government television network CBC, “we wouldn’t look at lifting sanctions. The sanctions were imposed by the previous government but with strong support from us in opposition in response to very clear violations of international law by Russia with the invasion and annexation of Crimea and for a war against Ukraine in the Donbass.”

A year ago, Foreign Minister Seregei Lavrov had said Canadian sanctions were the result of a Russophobic government pushed by “rabid” Ukrainians”.

 “Canada is an influential, respected member of the [community of] international relations. We have had ups and downs in our relations from time to time. We saw such downs in the period of the government of Stephen Harper. The last two years were generally a period of lost opportunities with respect to Canada, when suddenly the previous [Harper] government sharply took a Russophobic line and curtailed bilateral ties, imposed sanctions against Russian individuals and legal entities, suspended cooperation in the intergovernmental commission on trade and economic issues.”
“We were surprised by the complete absence of any pragmatism in those impulsive actions that the previous government made. It took a course with totally blind adherence to the requirement of rabid representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada.”

Lavrov added that Russia was hoping that Trudeau’s takeover from Harper would correct the “mistakes of predecessors.”

In the year which has followed, President Vladimir Putin has almost totally ignored Canada and Trudeau. The Kremlin announced that he had sent greetings to Trudeau on December 30, 2015, and again last month. In the 2015 message Putin had told Trudeau “he expects to see constructive development of Russian-Canadian ties in the coming year in all areas – from trade and the economy to sport, with our traditionally fierce but friendly hockey battles.”

In Putin’s latest message, he added a birthday greeting for Trudeau (born on December 25, 1971), expressing “confidence that the strengthening of bilateral cooperation and the development of partnership in opening up the Arctic and in other fields meet the interests of the both countries’ people.”

During the election campaign of 2015, Trudeau had called for “pushing back against the bully that is Vladimir Putin”. Trudeau also claimed that after the election, when he met Putin at the G20 summit conference in Turkey on November 16 of that year (pictured below), he had “a fairly direct exchange with him where I pointed out that his actions in Ukraine were illegitimate and irresponsible.”




The Russian side says the conversation was brief, and no such statement was made. According to Putin, “the prime minister himself said when we were at G20 in Antalya that he thinks how we should re-establish the relations in full. We welcome this . . . and will get down to this task, to work together.”

Last Friday Freeland told Canadian reporters she had met Putin at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit meeting in Peru last November. This was the first time she had made the disclosure. “I’ve spoken with the top guy in Russia quite recently,” Freeland told her state radio.

“We spoke in Russian and we had quite a long conversation.” The Kremlin records no such conversation took place, a spokesman for the president said, adding:
“Vladimir Putin did not have a meeting with Freeland.”

Unofficially, the Russian assessment – based on contacts with the Foreign Ministry, veteran diplomats, and Russian oligarchs with Canadian business interests — is that Canada is a minor country whose international role-playing is either that of a foil to the US, as when Pierre Trudeau , Justin’s father, was prime minister and opposed the US on the Vietnam War; or the role of a puppet and echo of Washington.

The Russian oligarch connexions have included Roman Abramovich’s attempt at goldmining with Peter Munk, founder of Barrick Gold; Oleg Deripaska’s scheme for acquiring the Opel car company with Frank Stronach of the Magna Corporation; and Alexei Mordashov’s goldmining ventures with Frank Giustra. The contacts have all ended unsuccessfully, as the Russians see it.


From leftt: Peter Munk, Peter Mandelson, then EU commissioner for trade; 
Oleg Deripaska, on ill-fated trip to visit Deripaska’s assets in Siberia.


Their trip was exposed by a London newspaper and subsequent UK court rulings; for details of Munk’s and Deripaska’s scheming, read this.

Russian and Canadian sources also believe Freeland had been plotting Dion’s ouster since the two of them both contended for a senior ministry post in November 2015. Dion won; Freeland lost. Freeland is a bad loser and goes into hysterical rages when crossed, her associates at the Financial Times remember. Hillary Clinton, too — according to US press reports of her behaviour on election night last November, when she reportedly wept, swore, screamed, and was incapable of making the traditional concession speech.

Look carefully again at the official Canadian government photograph of the swearing-in of Trudeau’s first cabinet on November 4, 2015:




That’s Foreign Minister Dion to the right of Freeland, who sits between Dion and the prime minister. In the normal Canadian protocol, Freeland ranked 13th and should have stood in the second row behind Trudeau. Two other economic policymakers who were appointed above Freeland in rank – Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Minister of Economic Development Navdeep Singh Bains were obliged to stand behind her in the second row. Freeland also employed the Nancy Reagan ploy of being the only woman to wear red. For details of Freeland’s first see-red plot, read this.

Freeland’s political scheming has been spelled out by sources who know her and her husband, a New York-based journalist named Graham Bowley who reports mainly on the art market and the troubles of former comedian, Bill Cosby. Bowley also doubles as an expert on Russian cyber-warfare, and on how undemocratic Clinton’s defeat was in November.

Freeland wasn’t exceptional in expecting Clinton to win. Local polls show that 79% of Canadians thought the same. Sources in a position to know claim Freeland had been plotting Dion’s downfall in the expectation that she would appear to be the natural counterparty in Ottawa for Clinton in Washington. Without Clinton to boost Freeland’s further chances for a shot at the Canadian prime ministry, the sources believe Trudeau and his advisors are setting her up to fail with the Trump Administration.

Trudeau’s reading of the domestic polls is that foreign policy issues like the conflict with Russia and the wars in Syria and the Ukraine are of next to no importance to Canadian voters. Legalization of marijuana is more important, according to this poll in mid-December. The Canadian priority is the economy, the poll also reported. Two-thirds of Canadians now think Trudeau’s performance in office is more style than substance. That percentage is up eight points since the government’s one-year anniversary, just over a month ago.

Trudeau’s grip on popularity is misleading, reported the Toronto Sun two weeks ago.

“According to a Nanos-IRPP Mood of Canada survey released this week, just 15% of people rate the performance of the federal Liberal government as ‘very good’, a plunge of 22% in just one year. Overall, 54% of Canadians believe Trudeau and his Liberal government are leading the country in the right direction, down 9% over the same time period. ‘This concept of Justin Trudeau being exceptionally popular is actually empirically untrue because his scores, for example, on the performance of the federal government are very similar to (former Conservative prime minister) Stephen Harper at the same point in Stephen Harper’s mandate,’ Nanos said Wednesday. ‘So I think this survey is a bit of a reality check.’”

Canadian political analysts believe Freeland’s ambition to capitalize as Trudeau weakens will not be advanced by either Trump or Putin. According to one of the sources, “in her frustration, Freeland will make the personality mistakes for which she’s known. Trudeau, having neutralized Freeland’s capacity to do him harm, will then get rid of her, like he has Dion – with the offer of an ambassadorship she will consider beneath her dignity – and her pocketbook.”

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Enemy Ours: Casting Russia as the Next Super Villain

Making Russia ‘The Enemy’

by Robert Parry - Consortium News


December 15, 2016

The rising hysteria about Russia is best understood as fulfilling two needs for Official Washington: the Military Industrial Complex’s transitioning from the “war on terror” to a more lucrative “new cold war” – and blunting the threat that a President Trump poses to the neoconservative/liberal-interventionist foreign-policy establishment.


Wintery scene at Red Square in Moscow, 
Dec. 6, 2016.  (Photo by Robert Parry) 

By hyping the Russian “threat,” the neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks, who include much of the mainstream U.S. news media, can guarantee bigger military budgets from Congress. The hype also sets in motion a blocking maneuver to impinge on any significant change in direction for U.S. foreign policy under Trump.

Some Democrats even hope to stop Trump from ascending to the White House by having the Central Intelligence Agency, in effect, lobby the electors in the Electoral College with scary tales about Russia trying to fix the election for Trump.

The electors meet on Dec. 19 when they will formally cast their votes, supposedly reflecting the judgments of each state’s voters, but conceivably individual electors could switch their ballots from Trump to Hillary Clinton or someone else.

On Thursday, liberal columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. joined the call for electors to flip, writing: “The question is whether Trump, Vladimir Putin and, perhaps, Clinton’s popular-vote advantage give you sufficient reason to blow up the system.”

That Democrats would want the CIA, which is forbidden to operate domestically in part because of its historic role in influencing elections in other countries, to play a similar role in the United States shows how desperate the Democratic Party has become.

And, even though The New York Times and other big news outlets are reporting as flat fact that Russia hacked the Democratic email accounts and gave the information to WikiLeaks, former British Ambassador Craig Murray, a close associate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, told the London Daily Mail that he personally received the email data from a “disgusted” Democrat.

Murray said he flew from London to Washington for a clandestine handoff from one of the email sources in September, receiving the package in a wooded area near American University.


Former British Ambassador Craig Murray

“Neither of [the leaks, from the Democratic National Committee or Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta] came from the Russians,” Murray said, adding:

“the source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.”

Murray said the insider felt “disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.” Murray added that his meeting was with an intermediary for the Democratic leaker, not the leaker directly.

[Update: Murray subsequently said his contact with the intermediary at American University was not for the purpose of obtaining a batch of the purloined emails, as the Daily Mail reported, since WikiLeaks already had them. He said the Mail simply added that detail to the story, but Murray declined to explain why he had the meeting at A.U. with the whistleblower or an associate.]

If Murray’s story is true, it raises several alternative scenarios: that the U.S. intelligence community’s claims about a Russian hack are false; that Russians hacked the Democrats’ emails for their own intelligence gathering without giving the material to WikiLeaks; or that Murray was deceived about the identity of the original leaker.

But the uncertainty creates the possibility that the Democrats are using a dubious CIA assessment to reverse the outcome of an American presidential election, in effect, making the CIA party to a preemptive domestic “regime change.”

Delayed Autopsy


All of this maneuvering also is delaying the Democratic Party’s self-examination into why it lost so many white working-class voters in normally Democratic strongholds, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Rather than national party leaders taking the blame for pre-selecting a very flawed candidate and ignoring all the warning signs about the public’s resistance to this establishment choice, Democrats have pointed fingers at almost everyone else – from FBI Director James Comey for briefly reviving Clinton’s email investigation, to third-party candidates who siphoned off votes, to the archaic Electoral College which negates the fact that Clinton did win the national popular vote – and now to the Russians.


FBI Director James Comey

While there may be some validity to these various complaints, the excessive frenzy that has surrounded the still-unproven claims that the Russian government surreptitiously tilted the election in Trump’s favor creates an especially dangerous dynamic.

On one level, it has led Democrats to support Orwellian/ McCarthyistic concepts, such as establishing “black lists” for Internet sites that question Official Washington’s “conventional wisdom” and thus are deemed purveyors of “Russian propaganda” or “fake news.”

On another level, it cements the Democratic Party as America’s preeminent “war party,” favoring an escalating New Cold War with Russia by ratcheting up economic sanctions against Moscow, and even seeking military challenges to Russia in conflict zones such as Syria and Ukraine.

One of the most dangerous aspects of a prospective Hillary Clinton presidency was that she would have appointed neocons, such as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and her husband, Project for the New American Century co-founder Robert Kagan, to high-level foreign policy positions.

Though that risk may have passed assuming Clinton’s Electoral College defeat on Monday, Democrats now are excitedly joining the bash-Russia movement, making it harder to envision how the party can transition back into its more recent role as the “peace party” (at least relative to the extremely hawkish Republicans).

Trading Places


The potential trading places of the two parties in that regard – with Trump favoring geopolitical détente and the Democrats beating the drums for more military confrontations – augurs poorly for the Democrats regaining their political footing anytime soon.



Red Square in Moscow with a winter festival to the left 
and the Kremlin to the right, on Dec. 6, 2016. 
(Photo by Robert Parry)

If Democratic leaders press ahead, in alliance with neoconservative Republicans, on demands for escalating the New Cold War with Russia, they could precipitate a party split between Democratic hawks and doves, a schism that likely would have occurred if Clinton had been elected but now may happen anyway, albeit without the benefit of the party holding the White House.

The first test of this emerging Democratic-neocon alliance may come over Trump’s choice for Secretary of State, Exxon-Mobil’s chief executive Rex Tillerson, who doesn’t exhibit the visceral hatred of Russian President Vladimir Putin that Democrats are encouraging.

As an international business executive, Tillerson appears to share Trump’s real-politik take on the world, the idea that doing business with rivals makes more sense than conspiring to force “regime change” after “regime change.”

Over the past several decades, the “regime change” approach has been embraced by both neocons and liberal interventionists and has been implemented by both Republican and Democratic administrations. Sometimes, it’s done through war and other times through “color revolutions” – always under the idealistic guise of “democracy promotion” or “protecting human rights.”

But the problem with this neo-imperialist strategy has been that it has failed miserably to improve the lives of the people living in the “regime-changed” countries. Instead, it has spread chaos across wide swaths of the globe and has now even destabilized Europe.

Yet, the solution, as envisioned by the neocons and their liberal-hawk understudies, is simply to force more “regime change” medicine down the throats of the world’s population. The new “great” idea is to destabilize nuclear-armed Russia by making its economy scream and by funding as many anti-Putin elements as possible to create the nucleus for a “color revolution” in Moscow.

To justify that risky scheme, there has been a broad expansion of anti-Russian propaganda now being funded with tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money as well as being pushed by government officials giving off-the-record briefings to mainstream media outlets.

However, as with earlier “regime change” plans, the neocons and liberal hawks never think through the scenario to the end. They always assume that everything is going to work out fine and some well-dressed “opposition leader” who has been to their think-tank conferences will simply ascend to the top job.


Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on Feb. 7, 2014. (U.S. State Department photo)

Remember, in Iraq, it was going to be Ahmed Chalabi who was beloved in Official Washington but broadly rejected by the Iraqi people. In Libya, there has been a parade of U.S.-approved “unity” leaders who have failed to pull that country together.

In Ukraine, Nuland’s choice – Arseniy “Yats is the guy” Yatsenyuk – resigned amid broad public disapproval earlier this year after pushing through harsh cuts in social programs, even as the U.S.-backed regime officials in Kiev continued to plunder Ukraine’s treasury and misappropriate Western economic aid.

Nuclear-Armed Destabilization


But the notion of destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia is even more hare-brained than those other fiascos. The neocon/liberal-hawk assumption is that Russians – pushed to the brink of starvation by crippling Western sanctions – will overthrow Putin and install a new version of Boris Yeltsin who would then let U.S. financial advisers return with their neoliberal “shock therapy” of the 1990s and again exploit Russia’s vast resources.

Indeed, it was the Yeltsin era and its Western-beloved “shock therapy” that created the desperate conditions before the rise of Putin with his autocratic nationalism, which, for all its faults, has dramatically improved the lives of most Russians.




Bright lights on Red Square, Dec. 6, 2016. 
(Photo by Robert Parry)

So, the more likely result from the neocon/liberal-hawk “regime change” plans for Moscow would be the emergence of someone even more nationalistic – and likely far less stable – than Putin, who is regarded even by his critics as cold and calculating.

The prospect of an extreme Russian nationalist getting his or her hands on the Kremlin’s nuclear codes should send chills up and down the spines of every American, indeed every human being on the planet. But it is the course that key national Democrats appear to be on with their increasingly hysterical comments about Russia.

The Democratic National Committee issued a statement on Wednesday accusing Trump of giving Russia “an early holiday gift that smells like a payoff. … It’s rather easy to connect the dots. Russia meddled in the U.S. election in order to benefit Trump and now he’s repaying Vladimir Putin by nominating Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.”

Besides delaying a desperately needed autopsy on why Democrats did so badly in an election against the also-widely-disliked Donald Trump, the new blame-Russia gambit threatens to hurt the Democrats and their preferred policies in another way.

If Democrats vote in bloc against Tillerson or other Trump foreign-policy nominees – demanding that he appoint people acceptable to the neocons and the liberal hawks – Trump might well be pushed deeper into the arms of right-wing Republicans, giving them more on domestic issues to solidify their support on his foreign-policy goals.

That could end up redounding against the Democrats as they watch important social programs gutted in exchange for their own dubious Democratic alliance with the neocons.

Since the presidency of Bill Clinton, the Democrats have courted factions of the neocons, apparently thinking they are influential because they dominate many mainstream op-ed pages and Washington think tanks. In 1993, as a thank-you gift to the neocon editors of The New Republic for endorsing him, Clinton appointed neocon ideologue James Woolsey as head of the CIA, one of Clinton’s more disastrous personnel decisions.

But the truth appears to be that the neocons have much less influence across the U.S. electoral map than the Clintons think. Arguably, their pandering to a clique of Washington insiders who are viewed as warmongers by many peace-oriented Democrats may even represent a net negative when it comes to winning votes.

I’ve communicated with a number of traditional Democrats who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because they feared she would pursue a dangerous neocon foreign policy. Obviously, that’s not a scientific survey, but the anecdotal evidence suggests that Clinton’s neocon connections could have been another drag on her campaign.

Assessing Russia


I also undertook a limited personal test regarding whether Russia is the police state that U.S. propaganda depicts, a country yearning to break free from the harsh grip of Vladimir Putin (although he registers 80 or so percent approval in polls).


Couple walking along the Kremlin wall, 
Dec. 7, 2016. (Photo by Robert Parry)

During my trip last week to Europe, which included stops in Brussels and Copenhagen, I decided to take a side trip to Moscow, which I had never visited before. What I encountered was an impressive, surprisingly (to me at least) Westernized city with plenty of American and European franchises, including the ubiquitous McDonald’s and Starbucks. (Russians serve the Starbucks gingerbread latte with a small ginger cookie.)

Though senior Russian officials proved unwilling to meet with me, an American reporter, at this time of tensions, Russia had little appearance of a harshly repressive society.

In my years covering U.S. policies in El Salvador in the 1980s and Haiti in the 1990s, I have experienced what police states look and feel like, where death squads dump bodies in the streets. That was not what I sensed in Moscow, just a modern city with people bustling about their business under early December snowfalls.

The police presence in Red Square near the Kremlin was not even as heavy-handed as it is near the government buildings of Washington. Instead, there was a pre-Christmas festive air to the brightly lit Red Square, featuring a large skating rink surrounded by small stands selling hot chocolate, toys, warm clothing and other goods.

Granted, my time and contact with Russians were limited – since I don’t speak Russian and most of them don’t speak English – but I was struck by the contrast between the grim images created by Western media and the Russia that I saw.

It reminded me of how President Ronald Reagan depicted Sandinista-ruled Nicaragua as a “totalitarian dungeon” with a militarized state ready to march on Texas, but what I found when I traveled to Managua was a third-world country still recovering from an earthquake and with a weak security structure despite the Contra war that Reagan had unleashed against Nicaragua.

In other words, “perception management” remains the guiding principle of how the U.S. government deals with the American people, scaring us with exaggerated tales of foreign threats and then manipulating our fears and our misperceptions.

As dangerous as that can be when we’re talking about Nicaragua or Iraq or Libya, the risks are exponentially higher regarding Russia. If the American people are stampeded into a New Cold War based more on myths than reality, the minimal cost could be the trillions of dollars diverted from domestic needs into the Military Industrial Complex. The far-greater cost could be some miscalculation by either side that could end life on the planet.

So, as the Democrats chart their future, they need to decide if they want to leapfrog the Republicans as America’s “war party” or whether they want to pull back from the escalation of tensions with Russia and start addressing the pressing needs of the American people.

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).image_pdf

Dissent Abnormal: Identifying Putin's Media Stooges

The Abnormalizaton of Dissent

by James Corbett - The Corbett Report


December 13, 2016

The spin, lies, manipulation and deceptions are coming so fast and thick it’s increasingly difficult to document them all, let alone analyze them. But in the broad sweep of recent events we can see a common theme emerging: the abnormalization of dissent. And when political ideology boils down to nothing more than “real” and “fake” the control of political discourse through language itself is almost complete. Can outright censorship be far behind?




CLICK HERE for the YouTube version of this video 


SHOW NOTES:
MEPs sound alarm on anti-EU propaganda from Russia and Islamist terrorist groups

House Quietly Passes Bill Targeting “Russian Propaganda” Websites

What I Learned From the Prop or Not Propaganda List

The Kremlin’s Trojan Horses (Atlantic Council)

Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House

Tucker Carlson destroys Dem. Congressman over supposed Russian interference in the election

Clinton allies look to leverage Electoral College

Fake News King Brian Williams Lectures MSNBC Viewers on Dangers of Fake News During Election

Italy’s Most Popular Political Party Is Leading Europe In Fake News And Kremlin Propaganda

Hillary Clinton slams ‘fake news’

Manufacturing Normality

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Friday, January 13, 2017

Meet Mr. Mercer, Trump's Shadow Saviour

The Bizarre Far-Right Billionaire Behind Trump's Presidency

by TRNN


January 13, 2017

When all seemed to be falling apart for Trump this summer, one shadowy billionaire offered up his own massive political infrastructure, which included Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, and saved Trump’s campaign from demise.




Fed Moves to Gag Mining Watchdog in Mt. Polley Disaster Case

Mount Polley Disaster Stunner: Federal Government Moves To Stop MiningWatch Presenting Evidence To Court

by MiningWatch Canada


January 13, 2017

Williams Lake, B.C.The federal Crown announced this morning that it is moving to stay MiningWatch’s charges against the B.C. government and Mount Polley Mining Corporation (MPMC)—owned by Imperial Metals—over the largest mine waste disaster in Canadian history.

If successful, the Crown action would prevent MiningWatch from presenting evidence to the Court about the 2014 spill’s damages to downstream waters and fish habitat, in violations of the Fisheries Act (see backgrounder below).

“We were stunned that the federal Crown does not even want us show the Court that there was enough evidence to justify proceeding with a prosecution against both the B.C. government & MPMC for the worst mining spill in Canadian history,” says Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch.

The Court will decide in the next few weeks if the Crown is allowed to enter a stay of charges so early in the process, without even first hearing the evidence from the private prosecutor (MiningWatch).

MiningWatch is concerned that by staying these proceedings without clear justifications, the Crown is sending the wrong signal to industry across Canada and further undermines public confidence in the ability of our regulatory system to effectively protect our environment.

Says Lapointe,

“We initiated this private prosecution out of concern that it has now been over two and a half years since the Mount Polley disaster happened and yet, despite clear evidence of violations of Canadian laws, no charges have been brought forward by any level of government.”

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada Deskbook describes private prosecutions as “a valuable constitutional safeguard against inertia or partiality on the part of authorities.” MiningWatch’s lawyer, Lilina Lysenko, says, “Staying the charges prior to having the opportunity to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to proceed could undermine this constitutional safeguard if it is done without good reason.”

This decision also raises serious questions about the federal Crown’s real intention to lay, or not, its own charges against B.C. government and MPMC. Lapointe explains,

“Soon to be three years after the fact, they still haven't filed their own charges. What confidence can the public have that if they can't even say when, or if, they will file their own charges? They're welcome to take over the case, but to prosecute it, not to stay, dismiss or stall the proceedings.”

Call to action


MiningWatch is calling on the public to seek answers and clear commitment from the federal government to enforce its own environmental laws when they are violated. Please take the time to write to both Hon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca) and Hon. Dominic Leblanc, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (dominic.leblanc@parl.gc.ca). Let them know you want the Canadian Fisheries Act to be enforced promptly in the case of the Mount Polley Mine disaster in British-Columbia. More actions will follow.

MiningWatch's legal action is supported by multiple local, provincial, and national organizations, including West Coast Environmental Law-Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (main funder), Amnesty International Canada, Sierra Club BC, Wilderness Committee, First Nations Women Advocating for Responsible Mining, Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake, Quesnel River Watershed Alliance, Fair Mining Collaborative, Rivers Without Borders, British Columbia Environmental Network, Clayoquot Action, Forest Protection Allies, Kamloops Area Preservation Association, Kamloops Physicians for the Environment Society, Alaska Clean Water Advocacy.


BACKGROUND

With the support of multiple organizations, MiningWatch filed a private prosecution in October 2016 claiming that the massive 2014 spill destroyed or altered large swaths of fish habitat, in clear violations of sections 35(1) and 36(3) of the federal Fisheries Act (see also backgrounder online).

On August 4 2014, Mount Polley Mine’s tailings dam collapsed and sent up to 25 million cubic metres (10,000 Olympic-size pools) of wastewater and mine waste solids into downstream waters, destroying or affecting over 2,612,470 m2 of aquatic and riparian habitats—equivalent to about 500 football fields or 1500 ice hockey rinks.

Impact assessment reports of the spill commissioned by BC’s Ministry of Environment and MPMC indicate strong evidence of an impact to sediments, both physically and chemically, within Hazeltine Creek, Polley Lake, and Quesnel Lake.

Chemical impacts are most evident in elevated copper, but also in concentrations of iron, selenium, arsenic, vanadium, manganese, and other contaminants. In some instances, concentrations consistently exceeded provincial Sediment Quality Guidelines (and above background levels).

The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) reports that the Mount Polley Mine represented the largest emitter of copper, arsenic and manganese in Canadian waters in 2014 due to the tailings spill.

Studies also indicated effects to benthic invertebrates, which are also protected under the Fisheries Act. Effects are ranging from an absence of organisms, lower density and taxon richness, and limited differences in community composition.

MiningWatch is taking action now because it is concerned that, almost two and a half years after the disaster, governments have failed to lay charges and enforce the law, despite clear and ample evidence to justify proceeding. MiningWatch fears that this sends the wrong signal to the industry across the country and undermines public confidence in the capacity of our regulatory system to work effectively to protect our environment.

Under specific provisions of the Canadian Criminal Code and the Fisheries Act, any citizen can initiate a private prosecution if he or she believes, on reasonable grounds, that a person has committed an indictable offence. In order words, the legislation specifically provides an incentive for private persons to enforce federal laws like the Fisheries Act in order to ensure the protection of public resources, such fish and fish habitat, even if against the Federal or Provincial Crown. As stated in the Public Prosecution Service of Canada Deskbook, private prosecutions are “a valuable constitutional safeguard against inertia or partiality on the part of authorities.”

While MiningWatch is prepared to carry the case to full trial if necessary, it also recognizes that the cost and expense associated with prosecuting a case against a mining corporation and the Provincial Government can be immense. For this reason, it will be asking for the Federal Crown to carry the prosecution forward. If Canada’s unique environmental values and waters are to be fully protected, it can only occur if the government stands against violations of its own laws and uses all the means and resources it has at its disposal to do so.

Ironically Numb: La La Land's Past and Present America

Nostalgia Numbs: The Ironies of “La La Land”

by David Yearsley - CounterPunch


January 13, 2017    

Irony is the not-so-new normal.

Somewhere back in the swirling dry-ice mists of history, round about the time of the one-and-only Clinton Administration, this venerable figure-of-speech stretched its wings and its brand and became a full-fledged lifestyle choice providing post-moderns with essential protection for life, liberty, and pursuit of nostalgia.

 

Still from “La La Land.” 

Aided by irony, you could wear suede shoes and wide-wale bell bottoms, mix old-fashioned cocktails from overpriced mason jars, enjoying it all while meaning none of it. The performance was the key: cloaked in paradox, these linoleum counter-revolutionaries were safe—they’d say “empowered”—to mock their own poses.

There was an unacknowledged anti-political dimension to this: how to make sense of poor boy from Hope, Arkansas claiming to be a young and groovy populist but then going on to make war on black America, firing off missiles in the Middle East, expanding NATO in search of a new Cold War, and jumping into bed and into closets with corporations and interns? The answer to all this was ironic: buy a camo flak jacket or make kindred gestures more defeatist than defiant.

Next thing you know it’s 2017. Donald Trump is about to be president and has taken irony to a whole new realm called by some “post-truth”. American leaders have long been contemptuous of honesty, especially about themselves and their country, but Trump enjoys flaunting his scorn for reality: he’s lived so long in his own irony bubble that he no longer knows or cares what the difference between disdain and belief might be. That’s what makes him the hippest man in America.

Like the fabricated images we see riffling in the breeze on a vintage Hollywood back lot that is a favorite location of the film, this is the backdrop for La La Land, the movie musical that took home a magnificent seven Golden Globes last weekend and is poised to rake in still more pseudo-honors at the upcoming Academy Awards.

This cinemascope entertainment makes for a fun two-hours, but it must be enjoyed with a big tub of buttered irony if the kernels and condiments of its nostalgia are to go down the gullet without provoking a spluttered cough or requiring a life-saving Heimlich maneuver from the usherette.

The genre of La La Land is inherently backward-looking, the film soaked with references to the movie industry’s past and the musical’s marquee moments. There are the obligatory riffs on Singin’ in the Rain, An American in Paris, Top Hat and probably dozens of other bits of more recent, but no less nostalgic cast. These are fetchingly embroidered into the love story of the main characters, the doctrinaire old-school jazz-pianist, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and the aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone): even their romance is overtaken by retrospect as the movie gives in to the seductions of its own reverie.

Lit by the afterglow of the Golden Age past and the glimmer of a what-might-be future, La La Land celebrates its own self-regard by gently mocking the here-and-now of its Los Angeles. When in this lightly ironic mode the film is at its best.

At an overlook in Hollywood Hills where the couple breaks into their first duet and soft-shoe number, the would-be lovers comment disdainfully on the sprawling city of lights below. The movie loops back on itself for a later return to the location, during the day rather than in romantic twilight: the pair scoffs at the city once again, as if to say “Who would live—and love—in such a place?” Nostalgia numbs the senses, and is therefore the drug that allows the pursuit of celebrity. Accordingly, the movie’s centerpiece song, “City of Stars” is a wistfully circling minor key melody above a repetitive piano figure that is jaunty and sentimental: it doesn’t think, it dreams.

The film’s most impressive cinematic feat comes right at the opening with “Another Day in the Sun.” Motorists stuck in a teeth-grinding L. A. traffic jam escape their cars for a high-energy production number that weaves between vehicles and courses up and down the on-ramp—all in a single take with the camera itself joining the ecstatic choreography. Making fun of the perfect Californian weather and the relentless freeway stasis that defines the city derided by Mia and Sebastian from the Hollywood Hills, this tableau gives new meaning to the phrase show-stopper. Gridlock spawns blastoff before the film has even properly begun. This wholesome escapist fantasy also laughs at the chases and crashes in which Hollywood automobiles usually star: the only time there is traffic in La La Land is when it helps the story.

These petty ironies orbit around a much weightier one. The appealing chemistry between the leads is at its best when Stone and Gosling are verbally sparring, on a date at a classic movie, flirting, or arguing—not when they are dancing or singing. That the movie more-or-less overcomes this dilemma is a tribute to the generally snappy script and the verve of the direction. While one can admire the effort and native talent of both stars in their homages to Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly and many others, they are not equipped for their roles: the crescendo never comes; no one is swept off her feet; gestures are made but not followed through on. Stone is a real star even when not fully in her element, but when doing their songs and dances she and Gosling seem more to be hitting their marks in a meta-musical. In this sense the musical’s main song rightly judges the movie around it: the leads are stars, not singers and dancers.

There are still more massive ironies, none more debilitating than the fact that it’s a strident—not stride—white pianist who anoints himself the apostle of jazz who will save it from the menace of pop culture. This Sebastian loves bebop not Bach. He worships Miles, Coltrane and other icons of what he calls “pure jazz.” Yet Sebastian’s own waltz—the one that first draws Mia to him in a restaurant where he is shackled in seasonal servitude to the Christmas Carols and that he plays again at the crux of the film—is sickly saccharine stuff, the work of the musical’s composer, Justin Hurwitz. As supposed savior of what some have called America’s Classical Music, Sebastian is stuck in a movie musical that, in contrast to the so many Broadway shows, will never birth a jazz standard. Real jazz musicians are occasionally wheeled into frame like stage sets in order to add a whiff of authenticity, but there no attempt is made to marry the art form with the real musical content of the movie. The film seems to confirm what its lead character fears: Americans don’t like jazz.

Writer-director Damien Chazelle is to be applauded for his virtuosically impressive direction and the cleverness of his script, but his attitude towards jazz appears as white as Fred Astaire’s waistcoat—perfect for Hollywood. In Chazelle’s Whiplash (2014) it was the malign and musically tiresome Buddy Rich who was the idol of the young, beset drummer. In La La Land Gosling’s Sebastian professes to love Monk, and tries to figure out one of his piano licks by constantly rewinding the cassette player in his 1970s convertible while stuck in that opening traffic jam. But what Sebastian sings and plays himself is pure schlock.

The filmmakers are clearly aware that they are on dangerous ground when it comes to race, especially in Los Angeles. When Seb first breaks into “City of Stars” he is shuffling down Santa Monica pier trying some Astaire tricks with a fedora that apparently fell like manna from the heaven. On his stroll he encounters a black couple and dances cheek to cheek with the woman for a few bars, before the man takes muted umbrage.

The role of Sebastian’s music-school comrade and former bandmate Keith is taken by that anodyne avenger, John Legend. He is made to espouse a supposedly progressive view of jazz that claims it must either evolve or die. Soon enough the unbending musical moralist, Sebastian is buying dark suits and touring with Keith’s band ironically called the Messengers— the “Jazz” of Art Blakey’s seminal ensembles having been lopped off. Still more ironical is the fact that Legend’s production number Start a Fire (co-written by Legend and Hurwitz) makes for the film’s best, most energetic music—all nostalgic funk and fusion, big haired back-up singers and Solid Gold-style dancers.

Soon after this ironic high, Sebastian plays the piano at Keith’s wedding to a white woman, the interracial marriage is a pretty transparent ploy to soften the racial dissonance at the heart of the film. At the backyard ceremony, Sebastian doesn’t seize the opportunity to break into Monk’s Ruby, My Dear but claws at his signature waltz, as sickly sweet as bad wedding cake. Irony makes even this palatable.
 
DAVID YEARSLEY is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His recording of J. S. Bach’s organ trio sonatas is available from Musica Omnia. He can be reached at dgyearsley@gmail.com
More articles by:David Yearsley

A Story Left Untold: Canada's Absent Maritime Workers and the Wreck of the Nathan E. Stewart

CBC Daybreak North and a Neglected Issue of Vital Northern Concern

by Ingmar Lee - 10,000 Ton Tanker


January 13, 2017

Photo April Bencze Heiltsuk Nation
Andrew Kurjata, the writer of this piece works for CBC "Daybreak North." Over the past 4 years have repeatedly appealed to Daybreak North to cover the issue of the "Nathan E Stewart" and the implications of the American Alaska-bound tanker traffic that exploits the BC Inside Passage as a private petroleum conduit. 
 
Over the past 4 years I have repeatedly appealed to CBC "Daybreak North" to cover the issue of the "Nathan E Stewart" and the implications of the American Alaska-bound tanker traffic that exploits the BC Inside Passage as its petroleum conduit.

It was only after the wreck of the Nathan E Stewart that CBC Daybreak North began covering the issue, - albeit with a blatant, sanitized slant focused on talking points provided by the Texas-based Kirby Corporation that owned the tug, the Kinder Morgan- owned "clean-up" service, WCMRC which provided a chimera of "cleanup" operations in progress around the wreck, and by Big Oil government lackies, all of which was designed to sanitize and minimize the implications of the disaster.

CBC and Daybreak North never once sought to examine the outrageous Alaska-bound tanker business that conducts as many as 50 round trips up and down the BC Inside Passage annually. It did not notice the political wrench that the wreck of the Nathan E Stewart presented to Justin Trudeau's tightly-scheduled roll-out of pipeline/tanker announcements. Neither did CBC or Daybreak North examine the farcical, utterly hopeless, ineffectual, and impotent "clean-up" of the disgusting, poisonous, devastating, yet comparatively minuscule slick that spewed out of the wreck.

Initially, I approached CBC with polite, concise, factual reports about the tanker traffic, and how it operated, providing not a single Canadian job, -not even to Canadian pilots- paid no tarriff or fee, offered no stops in Canada, and carried on average, one quarter of the petroleum spill volume that was released into the sea by the Exxon Valdes, - on every trip! But they were not interested at all.

Daybreak North has consistently, unfailingly refused to give me any airtime on this issue. They have never returned my calls, or ever showed the slightest interest in this most serious clear and present danger that threatens the natural splendours of this coast. I challenge anyone to name a bigger threat.

CBC Daybreak North purports to cover "northern" issues, and although it runs a branch in Prince Rupert which purports to cover coastal issues, the station is based, managed and tightly controlled from Prince George, -which of course, is amongst the very few BC communities which remains transfixed in the thrall of Big Oil.

If I am being muzzled and blacklisted by Prince George CBC message-management, then I expect that they are also muzzling others amongst the vast majority of British Columbians who oppose, or are concerned about the Big Oil Assault on this province.

I believe that CBC Prince George harbours entrenched remnants of obsequious status-quo, business-as-usual conservative-slanted stenographer lackies that survived the Stephen Harper eviscerations of the CBC.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dirty, Dirty Tricks: Getting All J. Edgar on Trump's Ass

Pulling a J. Edgar Hoover on Trump

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News


January 12, 2017  


The decision by the U.S. intelligence community to include in an official report some unverified and salacious accusations against President-elect Donald Trump resembles a tactic out of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s playbook on government-style blackmail: I have some very derogatory information about you that I’d sure hate to see end up in the press. 
Legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

In this case, as leaders of the U.S. intelligence community were pressing Trump to accept their assessment that the Russian government had tried to bolster Trump’s campaign by stealing and leaking actual emails harmful to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Trump was confronted with this classified “appendix” describing claims about him cavorting with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room.

Supposedly, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan included the unproven allegations in the report under the rationale that the Russian government might have videotaped Trump’s misbehavior and thus could use it to blackmail him. But the U.S. intelligence community also had reasons to want to threaten Trump who has been critical of its performance and who has expressed doubts about its analysis of the Russian “hacking.”

After the briefing last Friday, Trump and his incoming administration did shift their position, accepting the intelligence community’s assessment that the Russian government hacked the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta. But I’m told Trump saw no evidence that Russia then leaked the material to WikiLeaks and has avoided making that concession.

Still, Trump’s change in tone was noted by the mainstream media and was treated as an admission that he was abandoning his earlier skepticism. In other words, he was finally getting onboard the intelligence community’s Russia-did-it bandwagon. Now, however, we know that Trump simultaneously had been confronted with the possibility that the unproven stories about him engaging in unorthodox sex acts with prostitutes could be released, embarrassing him barely a week before his inauguration.

The classified report, with the explosive appendix, was also given to President Obama and the so-called “Gang of Eight,” bipartisan senior members of Congress responsible for oversight of the intelligence community, which increased chances that the Trump accusations would be leaked to the press, which indeed did happen.

Circulating Rumors


The stories about Russian intelligence supposedly filming Trump in a high-end Moscow hotel with prostitutes have been circulating around Washington for months. I was briefed about them by a Hillary Clinton associate who was clearly hopeful that the accusations would be released before the election and thus further damage Trump’s chances. But the alleged video never seemed to surface and the claims had all the earmarks of a campaign dirty trick.

However, now the tales of illicit frolic have been elevated to another level. They have been inserted into an official U.S. intelligence report, the details of which were leaked first to CNN and then to other mainstream U.S. news media outlets.

Trump has denounced the story as “fake news” and it is certainly true that the juicy details – reportedly assembled by a former British MI-6 spy named Christopher Steele – have yet to check out. But the placement of the rumors in a U.S. government document gave the mainstream media an excuse to publicize the material.

It’s also allowed the media to again trot out the Russian word “compromat” as if the Russians invented the game of assembling derogatory information about someone and then using it to discredit or blackmail the person.

In American history, legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was infamous for using his agency to develop negative information on a political figure and then letting the person know that the FBI had the dirt and certainly would not want it to become public – if only the person would do what the FBI wanted, whether that was to reappoint Hoover to another term or to boost the FBI’s budget or – in the infamous case of civil rights leader Martin Luther King – perhaps to commit suicide.

However, in this case, it is not even known whether the Russians have any dirt on Trump. It could just be rumors concocted in the middle of a hard-fought campaign, first among Republicans battling Trump for the nomination (this opposition research was reportedly initiated by backers of Sen. Marco Rubio in the GOP race) before being picked up by Clinton supporters for use in the general election.

Still, perhaps the more troubling issue is whether the U.S. intelligence community has entered a new phase of politicization in which its leadership feels that it has the responsibility to weed out “unfit” contenders for the presidency. During the general election campaign, a well-placed intelligence source told me that the intelligence community disdained both Clinton and Trump and hoped to discredit both of them with the hope that a more “acceptable” person could move into the White House for the next four years.

Hurting Both Candidates


Though I was skeptical of that information, it did turn out that FBI Director James Comey, one of the top officials in the intelligence community, badly damaged Clinton’s campaign by deeming her handling of her emails as Secretary of State “extremely careless” but deciding not to prosecute her – and then in the last week of the campaign briefly reopening and then re-closing the investigation.

Then, after the election, President Obama’s CIA began leaking allegations that Russian President Vladimir Putin had orchestrated the hacking of Democratic emails and provided them to WikiLeaks to reveal how the DNC undermined Sen. Bernie Sanders’s campaign and what Clinton had told Wall Street bigwigs in paid speeches that she had sought to keep secret from the American people.

The intelligence community’s assessment set the stage for what could have been a revolt by the Electoral College in which enough Trump delegates could have refused to vote for him to send the election into the House of Representatives, where the states would choose the President from one of the top three vote-getters in the Electoral College. The third-place finisher turned out to be former Secretary of State Colin Powell who got four votes from Clinton delegates in Washington State. But the Electoral College ploy failed when Trump’s delegates proved overwhelmingly faithful to the GOP candidate.

Now, we are seeing what looks like a new phase in this “stop (or damage) Trump” strategy, the inclusion of anti-Trump dirt in an official intelligence report that was then leaked to the major media.

Whether this move was meant to soften up Trump or whether the intelligence community genuinely thought that the accusations might be true and deserved inclusion in a report on alleged Russian interference in U.S. politics or whether it was some combination of the two, we are witnessing a historic moment when the U.S. intelligence community has deployed its extraordinary powers within the domain of U.S. politics. J. Edgar Hoover would be proud.

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).