Friday, June 17, 2016

Roads to Moscow: Why Walk in Russia

Why go to Russia?

by Kathy Kelly - vcnv.org


June 17, 2016
 
Since 1983, Sharon Tennison has worked to develop ordinary citizens’ capacities to avert international crises, focusing on relations between the U.S. and Russia. Now, amid a rising crisis in relations between the U.S. and Russia, she has organized a delegation which assembled in Moscow yesterday for a two week visit.

 I joined the group yesterday, and happened to finish reading Sharon Tennison’s book, The Power of Impossible Ideas, when I landed in Moscow.

An entry in her book, dated November 9, 1989, describes the excitement over the Berlin Wall coming down and notes that “Prior to the Wall’s removal, President Reagan assured Secretary General Gorbachev that if he would support bringing down the Wall separating East and West Berlin, NATO would not move ‘a finger’s width’ closer to Russia than East Germany’s border. With this assurance Gorbachev gladly signed on.

Little could he or the world have guessed that this promise would soon be broken during the next administration – and that the redeveloping distrust between the countries would threaten to become a second cold War, due to NATO’s expansion up to Russia’s borders.”

Today, NATO and U.S. troops will conclude 10 days of military exercises, Anakonda, on Russia’s western border, involving 31,000 troops. The operation was named after a snake that kills by crushing its prey. Ongoing deployment of 4,000 additional NATO troops has been announced. U.S. and South Korean military exercises just completed at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea were dubbed “Decapitation” and mobilized 320,000 troops.

Conn Hallinan, in “Bear Baiting Russia,” notes that

“Russia has two bases in the Middle East and a handful in Central Asia. The U.S. has 662 bases in foreign countries around the world and Special Forces (SOF) deployed in between 70 and 90 countries at any moment. Last year SOFs were active in 147 countries. The U.S. is actively engaged in five wars and is considering a sixth in Libya. Russian military spending will fall next year, and the U.S. will out-spend Moscow by a factor of 10. Who in this comparison looks threatening?” 

It’s important for U.S. people to learn more, from ordinary Russian people, about their responses to troop build-up and new bases on their borders, threatening military exercises, and antagonistic arsenals of nuclear weapons on high alert. As President Vladimir Putin begins summoning a new Russian National Guard that could include 400,000 troops, it’s important to hear how Russian people feel about this development.

Rather than foster cartoonized versions of foreign policy, the media should help people recognize complexity in Russian society and include awareness of desires to live in peace on the part of people in both countries.
U.S. people committed to peace making might help ordinary Russians sense the complexity of U.S. society and better understand how U.S. military spending and build up toward war adversely affects civil society in the U.S.

Suppose someone in Russia were to ask me what I was doing before coming to Russia. In honesty, I'd explain that the previous week companions and I finished a 150 mile walk to a supermax prison in my home state of Illinois which could eventually subject 1900 people to tortuous years of solitary confinement, doubling the number of such cells in the U.S. Like the military-industrial complex in the U.S., the prison-industrial complex is now rooted in government salaries and corporate profits, and it's hard to uproot it.
Before joining the walk, I lived for several weeks in late May and early June with young volunteers in Kabul who long to "live without war." 15 years into the U.S. war in Afghanistan, the U.S. has “succeeded” in creating conditions for ongoing war.

NATO and U.S. officials claim that their military exercises in countries around the world will enhance international security, but those of us who are members of the delegation here in Russia believe that it’s essential to swiftly reverse the present trend toward Cold Wars with Russia and China. The fantasy of world domination endangers people throughout the world and within the U.S. as people again shudder over the possibility of war between nuclear armed powers.

This morning, Dmitri Babich, an active journalist for over 25 years focusing on Russian politics, said it’s important to name the problem we face, and he believes the fundamental problem is the U.S. insistence on being institutional supremacists, - exceptionalists.

In other words, the policy fantasy that stands in the way of addressing major world problems cooperatively is the idea that the United States can retain and expand the boundaries of “sole superpower” domination. United States policy should stop poking and provoking Russia and China along their frontiers, and instead seek negotiated peaceful coexistence.

Missiles fitted with thermonuclear warheads and on battle-ready status are unstable, and, at any time, can result in the catastrophic destruction of cities on both sides, and even the ending of civilized life on earth.
With active cooperation among the great powers and large reductions in wasteful competitive military spending, all countries could cooperatively address the threats from climate change, water shortages, regional underdevelopment, and economic pressures caused by population growth.

Ordinary people everywhere should do all that we can to demand that all international disputes be resolved by non-military means, avoiding all wars and achieving the deactivation of all nuclear weapons.

Sharon Tennison’s work to develop citizen-to-citizen diplomacy, since 1983, suggests that people could work together to tackle such problems.

But, informed public opinion in the U.S. and in Russia will be crucially needed.

My friend Brad Lyttle, a lead organizer of and participant in the “San Francisco to Moscow Walk” (1960 -1961) recently wrote to President Obama that there is no reason why the U.S. and Russia should continue to jeopardize the very existence of the human species with their huge nuclear arsenals.

“Work with President Putin to reduce and eliminate these,” wrote Brad. 
 “Emphasize a trustful and positive approach. Don't assume that the future needs always to be as bad as much of the past.”

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org)co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence www.vcnv.org

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Western Capitalism Reaches Its Barbaric Zenith

Predatory Capitalism and the Hidden Drivers Beneath Western Barbarism

by Mark Taliano - Global Research


June 16, 2016

Syria is on the front lines against the dictatorship of a globalizing economic ideology that favours the dominance of capital/markets over people and nation-states.

Wahhabi Saudi Arabia., the Gulf Monarchies, Israel, and NATO are trying to impose the hidden driver of imperialism, “International Capital”, on Syria.

Robin Mathews describes our own capture by international capital in “The Trans Pacific Partnership: Canada and Imperial Globalization”:

A characteristic of Imperial Globalization is criminal manipulation of people and events for the profit of a few. It includes massive ‘disinformation’ about equality, benefits, social development, law, improved standards of living, etc. The disinformation is spread by ‘authoritative’ news sources. In the hands of gigantic, wealthy, private corporations, globalization is a process which works to erase sovereign democracies and replaces them with ‘treatied’ sub-states, economic colonies ruled by faceless, offshore, often secret, unaccountable powers.

Whereas Canadians are led to believe that we live in a free and democratic society, we are increasingly engineered to accept the dictatorship of transnational capital as expressed through international banking institutions (as opposed to publicly-owned banking) and “free trade” agreements, all of which subordinate elected polties and serve the interests of an international oligarch class, to the detriment of Canadians. Both domestically and internationally, wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of the few.

So how did Syria, free from terrorists prior to the pre-planned, criminal, imperialist “interventions”, earn the distinction of being on the front lines against the West?

Syria insists on choosing its own path, as per international law, and refuses to be a vassal of US led forces of predatory capitalism that siphons the world’s resources for the benefit of a transnational oligarch class.

Supremacists, on the other hand, view international law as a disposable commodity.

Countries are opened up for the extraction of human and natural resources. Transnational banksters pry open previously sovereign countries with usurious loans bundled Structural Adjustment Plans that privatize and loot public assets for the benefit of the publicly bailed-out “private” Market.

When all else fails, when sanctions haven’t killed and demoralized enough innocent civilians – the “other” — non-compliant civilized nations — face Empire’s foot soldiers — the likes of which include ISIS, and al Qaeda/al Nursra Front in Syria.

Zafar Bangath, director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT), and president of the Islamic Society of York Region, Toronto, ON., explains that Empire is seeking to install a compliant puppet government in Syria; that it is seeking to destroy Syria; and that it seeks to protect Israeli supremacy. Already, he notes, the aggressors have inflicted about $100 billion worth of damage on the battered country.

His assessment errs on the side of caution. A study by The Lancet, “Syria: end sanctions and find a political solution to peace” indicates that by the end of 2014, the cost of illegal sanctions imposed on Syria stood at US $143.8 billion, and that 80% of the population was living in poverty.

Meanwhile, President Assad is well aware of the imperial forces behind the mercenaries invading his country. In a speech to the newly elected members of the People’s Assembly, he elaborated upon the modus operandi of the invaders.

  • They seek to attack the constitution by means of a so-called “transition” stage
  • They seek to destroy the two pillars of the government: the army, and the diverse national, pan-Arab and religious identity of Syrians
  • They seek to rebrand the savage terrorists as “moderates” and then to eternally provide them with a cover of legitimacy
  • They seek to create chaos, sectarianism, ethnic enclaves that turns the people’s commitment from the homeland to conflicting groups that seek help from foreigners against their own people
  • They seek to be branded as “humanitarian” and “protectors” to save the people from (externally engineered) conflict and misery.

By imposing economic and armed terrorism on the people, by waging a phony war against their own proxies, and by destroying a countries infrastructure, the imperialists seek to be seen as saviours, humanitarians, protectors, who can then introduce the “free market” of international capital, which will be the coup de grace to effect the final destruction of the host country.

We’ve seen the same script play out most recently in Libya and Iraq.

Stephen Gowans explains in “Aspiring to Rule the World: US Capital and the Battle for Syria”:

Significantly, every country in which the United States has intervened militarily either directly or through proxies, or threatened militarily, since WWII has had a largely publicly owned economy in which the state has played a decisive role, or has had a at democratized economy where productive assets have been redistributed from private (usually foreign) investors to workers and farmers, and in which room for US banks, US corporations and US investors to exploit the countries’ land, labor, markets and resources has been limited, if not altogether prohibited. These include the Soviet Union and its allied socialist countries; China; North Korea; Nicaragua; Yugoslavia; Iraq; Libya; Iran; and now Syria. We might expect that a foreign policy dominated by a wealthy investor class would have this character.

Syria, then, is opposing international forces of Capital that threaten its very existence. These imperial forces are trying to impose a globalized dictatorship of Capital that expresses itself externally in the economic sanctions and the invading terrorists ravaging Syria, even as expresses itself through “internal imperialism” in Western countries such as Canada, where public resources are increasingly looted for the benefit of international investors, and oligarch classes, foreign and domestic.

Instead of worshipping at the altar of transnational predatory capitalism, which is spreading war and poverty throughout the world, we should be embracing “Life Capital”, and the forces of economic and political democracy that accompany it.


The original source of this article is Global Research

Copyright © Mark Taliano, Global Research, 2016

Winning the Budget War: Pentagon's Primary Strategy Keeps Money Coming

The Pentagon’s Real $trategy: Keeping the Money Flowing

by Andrew Cockburn - TomDispatch

June 16, 2016   

These days, lamenting the apparently aimless character of Washington’s military operations in the Greater Middle East has become conventional wisdom among administration critics of every sort. Senator John McCain thunders that “this president has no strategy to successfully reverse the tide of slaughter and mayhem” in that region. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies bemoans the “lack of a viable and public strategy.”

Andrew Bacevich suggests that “there is no strategy. None. Zilch.”

After 15 years of grinding war with no obvious end in sight, U.S. military operations certainly deserve such obloquy. But the pundit outrage may be misplaced.

Focusing on Washington rather than on distant war zones, it becomes clear that the military establishment does indeed have a strategy, a highly successful one, which is to protect and enhance its own prosperity.

Tomgram: Andrew Cockburn, Victory Assured on the Military's Main Battlefield -- Washington

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Because I'll be on the road for a few days, the next TD post will be on Tuesday, June 21st. Tom]

When it comes to Pentagon weapons systems, have you ever heard of cost “underruns”? I think not. Cost overruns? They turn out to be the unbreachable norm, as they seem to have been from time immemorial. In 1982, for example, the Pentagon announced that the cumulative cost of its 44 major weapons programs had experienced a “record” increase of $114.5 billion. Three decades later, in the spring of 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the military’s major programs to develop new weapons systems -- by then 80 of them -- were a cumulative half-trillion dollars over their initial estimated price tags and on average more than two years delayed. A year after, the GAO found that 47 of those programs had again increased in cost (to the cumulative tune of $27 billion) while the average time for delivering them had suffered another month’s delay (although the Pentagon itself swore otherwise).

And little seems to have changed since then -- not exactly a surprise given that this has long been standard operating procedure for a Pentagon that has proven adamantly incapable not just of passing an audit but even of doing one. What we’re talking about here is, in fact, more like a way of life. As TomDispatch regular William Hartung has written, the Pentagon regularly takes “active measures to disguise how it is spending the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars it receives every year -- from using the separate ‘war budget’ as a slush fund to pay for pet projects that have nothing to do with fighting wars to keeping the cost of its new nuclear bomber a secret.”

When it comes to those cost overruns, Exhibit A is incontestably the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a plane whose total acquisition costs were pegged at $233 billion back in 2001. That price now: an estimated $1.4 trillion for far fewer planes. (Even the F-35 pilot’s helmet costs $400,000 apiece.) In other words, though in test flights it has failed to outperform the F-16, a plane it is supposed to replace, it will be, hands down (or flaps up), the most expensive weapons system in history -- at least until the next Pentagon doozy comes along.

Today, Andrew Cockburn, whose recent book, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins (just out in paperback), is a devastating account of how U.S. drone warfare really works, suggests that this is anything but a matter of Pentagon bungling. Quite the opposite, it’s strategy of the first order. Tom 

The Pentagon’s Real $trategy: Keeping the Money Flowing

by Andrew Cockburn


Given this focus, creating and maintaining an effective fighting force becomes a secondary consideration, reflecting a relative disinterest -- remarkable to outsiders -- in the actual business of war, as opposed to the business of raking in dollars for the Pentagon and its industrial and political partners. A key element of the strategy involves seeding the military budget with “development” projects that require little initial outlay but which, down the line, grow irreversibly into massive, immensely profitable production contracts for our weapons-making cartels. 
If this seems like a startling proposition, consider, for instance, the Air Force’s determined and unyielding efforts to jettison the A-10 Thunderbolt, widely viewed as the most effective means for supporting troops on the ground, while ardently championing the sluggish, vastly overpriced F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that, among myriad other deficiencies, cannot fly within 25 miles of a thunderstorm. No less telling is the Navy’s ongoing affection for budget-busting programs such as aircraft carriers, while maintaining its traditional disdain for the unglamorous and money-poor mission of minesweeping, though the mere threat of enemy mines in the 1991 Gulf War (as in the Korean War decades earlier) stymied plans for major amphibious operations. Examples abound across all the services.

Meanwhile, ongoing and dramatic programs to invest vast sums in meaningless, useless, or superfluous weapons systems are the norm. There is no more striking example of this than current plans to rebuild the entire American arsenal of nuclear weapons in the coming decades, Obama's staggering bequest to the budgets of his successors.

Taking Nuclear Weapons to the Bank


These nuclear initiatives have received far less attention than they deserve, perhaps because observers are generally loath to acknowledge that the Cold War and its attendant nuclear terrors, supposedly consigned to the ashcan of history a quarter-century ago, are being revived on a significant scale. The U.S. is currently in the process of planning for the construction of a new fleet of nuclear submarines loaded with new intercontinental nuclear missiles, while simultaneously creating a new land-based intercontinental missile, a new strategic nuclear bomber, a new land-and-sea-based tactical nuclear fighter plane, a new long-range nuclear cruise missile (which, as recently as 2010, the Obama administration explicitly promised not to develop), at least three nuclear warheads that are essentially new designs, and new fuses for existing warheads. In addition, new nuclear command-and-control systems are under development for a fleet of satellites (costing up to $1 billion each) designed to make the business of fighting a nuclear war more practical and manageable.

This massive nuclear buildup, routinely promoted under the comforting rubric of “modernization,” stands in contrast to the president’s lofty public ruminations on the topic of nuclear weapons. The most recent of these was delivered during his visit -- the first by an American president -- to Hiroshima last month. There, he urged “nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles” to “have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them.”

In reality, that “logic of fear” suggests that there is no way to “fight” a nuclear war, given the unforeseeable but horrific effects of these immensely destructive weapons. They serve no useful purpose beyond deterring putative opponents from using them, for which an extremely limited number would suffice. During the Berlin crisis of 1961, for example, when the Soviets possessed precisely four intercontinental nuclear missiles, White House planners seriously contemplated launching an overwhelming nuclear strike on the USSR. It was, they claimed, guaranteed to achieve “victory.” As Fred Kaplan recounts in his book Wizards of Armageddon, the plan’s advocates conceded that the Soviets might, in fact, be capable of managing a limited form of retaliation with their few missiles and bombers in which as many as three million Americans could be killed, whereupon the plan was summarily rejected.

In other words, in the Cold War as today, the idea of “nuclear war-fighting” could not survive scrutiny in a real-world context. Despite this self-evident truth, the U.S. military has long been the pioneer in devising rationales for fighting such a war via ever more “modernized” weapons systems. Thus, when first introduced in the early 1960s, the Navy’s invulnerable Polaris-submarine-launched intercontinental missiles -- entirely sufficient in themselves as a deterrent force against any potential nuclear enemy -- were seen within the military as an attack on Air Force operations and budgets. The Air Force responded by conceiving and successfully selling the need for a full-scale, land-based missile force as well, one that could more precisely target enemy missiles in what was termed a “counterforce” strategy.

The drive to develop and build such systems on the irrational pretense that nuclear war fighting is a practical proposition persists today. One component of the current “modernization” plan is the proposed development of a new “dial-a-yield” version of the venerable B-61 nuclear bomb. Supposedly capable of delivering explosions of varying strength according to demand, this device will, at least theoretically, be guidable to its target with high degrees of accuracy and will also be able to burrow deep into the earth to destroy buried bunkers. The estimated bill -- $11 billion -- is a welcome boost for the fortunes of the Sandia and Los Alamos weapons laboratories that are developing it.

The ultimate cost of this new nuclear arsenal in its entirety is essentially un-knowable. The only official estimate we have so far came from the Congressional Budget Office, which last year projected a total of $350 billion. That figure, however, takes the “modernization” program only to 2024 -- before, that is, most of the new systems move from development to actual production and the real bills for all of this start thudding onto taxpayers’ doormats. This year, for instance, the Navy is spending a billion and a half dollars in research and development funds on its new missile submarine, known only as the SSBN(X). Between 2025 and 2035, however, annual costs for that program are projected to run at $10 billion a year. Similar escalations are in store for the other items on the military’s impressive nuclear shopping list.

Assiduously tabulating these projections, experts at the Monterey Center for Nonproliferation Studies peg the price of the total program at a trillion dollars. In reality, though, the true bill that will come due over the next few decades will almost certainly be multiples of that. For example, the Air Force has claimed that its new B-21 strategic bombers will each cost more than $564 million (in 2010 dollars), yet resolutely refuses to release its secret internal estimates for the ultimate cost of the program.

To offer a point of comparison, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the tactical nuclear bomber previously mentioned, was originally touted as costing no more than $35 million per plane. In fact, it will actually enter service with a sticker price well in excess of $200 million.

Nor does that trillion-dollar figure take into account the inevitable growth of America’s nuclear “shield.” Nowadays, the excitement and debate once generated by President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” scheme to build a defense system of anti-missile missiles and other devices against a nuclear attack is long gone. (The idea for such a defense, in fact, dates back to the 1950s, but Reagan boosted it to prominence.) Nevertheless, missile defense still routinely soaks up some $10 billion of our money annually, even though it is known to have no utility whatsoever.

“We have nothing to show for it,” Tom Christie, the former director of the Pentagon’s testing office, told me recently. “None of the interceptors we currently have in silos waiting to shoot down enemy missiles have ever worked in tests.” Even so, the U.S. is busy constructing more anti-missile bases across Eastern Europe. As our offensive nuclear programs are built up in the years to come, almost certainly eliciting a response from Russia and China, the pressure for a costly expansion of our nuclear “defenses” will surely follow.

The Bow-Wave Strategy


It’s easy enough to find hypocrisy in President Obama’s mellifluous orations on abolishing nuclear weapons given the trillion-dollar-plus nuclear legacy he will leave in his wake. The record suggests, however, that faced with the undeviating strategic thinking of the military establishment and its power to turn desires into policy, he has simply proven as incapable of altering the Washington system as his predecessors in the Oval Office were or as his successors are likely to be.

Inside the Pentagon, budget planners and weapons-buyers talk of the “bow wave,” referring to the process by which current research and development initiatives, initially relatively modest in cost, invariably lock in commitments to massive spending down the road. Traditionally, such waves start to form at times when the military is threatened with possible spending cutbacks due to the end of a war or some other budgetary crisis.

Former Pentagon analyst Franklin “Chuck” Spinney, who spent years observing and chronicling the phenomenon from the inside, recalls an early 1970s bow wave at a time when withdrawal from Vietnam appeared to promise a future of reduced defense spending. The military duly put in place an ambitious “modernization” program for new planes, ships, tanks, satellites, and missiles. Inevitably, when it came time to actually buy all those fancy new systems, there was insufficient money in the defense budget.

Accordingly, the high command cut back on spending for “readiness”; that is, for maintaining existing weapons in working order, training troops, and similar mundane activities. This had the desired effect -- at least from the point of view of Pentagon -- of generating a raft of media and congressional horror stories about the shocking lack of preparedness of our fighting forces and the urgent need to boost its budget. In this way, the hapless Jimmy Carter, elected to the presidency on a promise to rein in defense spending, found himself, in Spinney’s phrase, "mousetrapped," and eventually unable to resist calls for bigger military budgets.

This pattern would recur at the beginning of the 1990s when the Soviet Union imploded and the Cold War superpower military confrontation seemed at an end. The result was the germination of ultimately budget-busting weapons systems like the Air Force’s F-35 and F-22 fighters. It happened again when pullbacks from Iraq and Afghanistan in Obama’s first term led to mild military spending cuts. As Spinney points out, each successive bow wave crests at a higher level, while military budget cuts due to wars ending and the like become progressively more modest.

The latest nuclear buildup is only the most glaring and egregious example of the present bow wave that is guaranteed to grow to monumental proportions long after Obama has retired to full-time speechmaking. The cost of the first of the Navy’s new Ford Class aircraft carriers, for example, has already grown by 20% to $13 billion with more undoubtedly to come. The “Third Offset Strategy,” a fantasy-laden shopping list of robot drones and “centaur” (half-man, half-machine) weapons systems, assiduously touted by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, is similarly guaranteed to expand stunningly beyond the $3.6 billion allotted to its development next year.

Faced with such boundlessly ambitious raids on the public purse, no one should claim a “lack of strategy” as a failing among our real policymakers, even if all that planning has little or nothing to do with distant war zones where Washington’s conflicts smolder relentlessly on.

Andrew Cockburn is the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine. An Irishman, he has covered national security topics in this country for many years. In addition to numerous books, he co-produced the 1997 feature film The Peacemaker and the 2009 documentary on the financial crisis, American Casino. His latest book is Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins (just out in paperback).

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2016 Andrew Cockburn

Samantha's Power of Delusion

Samantha Power, Henry Kissinger & Imperial Delusions

by Daniel Kovalik - CounterPunch


June 16, 2016

Quite revealingly, the self-proclaimed crusader against genocide, Samantha Power, was awarded the 2016 Henry A. Kissinger Prize in Berlin.

That Power would be awarded a prize named after one of the world’s great g√©nocidaires, and that she would happily accept it, proves what many of us have believed all along – that she is more the clever apologist for U.S. crimes than a bona fide human rights advocate.

Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet shaking hands
with Kissinger in 1976, Archivo General Hist√≥rico del 
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, licensed under CC BY 2.0 

The problem with Power all along has been that her refusal to acknowledge the incontrovertible fact that the U.S., as exemplified by such figures as Henry Kissinger himself, is in reality the world leader in war crimes commission, and an active facilitator of genocide. The U.S. is not, as Power has claimed throughout her career, a force for halting such evils. However, Power has done an impressive job in advancing this myth, and in the process in perpetuating the false belief that the world would be better off if only the U.S. were more active militarily throughout the world. In so doing, Power, who is lauded as some great human rights advocate, probably does more than any other public figure to harm the cause of global human rights.

Power’s acceptance speech, entitled, “Remarks on ‘Twenty-First Century Realism’ at the Awarding of the 2016 Henry A. Kissinger Prize,” is very illustrative of the delusions Power promotes in the interest of U.S. power projection and the grave harms done by this projection. [1]

First of all, Power, in full agreement with Kissinger, condemns what she refers to as “the rise of extremist and isolationist voices in the U.S.” who dare challenge “the internationalist assumptions that have undergirded U.S. foreign policy across party lines since the Second World War.” This statement is pregnant with meaning and deserves some dissecting.

As an initial matter, it is stunning that Power would characterize those who call for the U.S. to stop, or even slow, its aggressive, interventionist policy around the globe as “extremist” when it so clear to any rational observer that it is this interventionist policy itself which is so extremist as to be insane.

Indeed, it is hard to point to any great successes, especially in terms of human rights, that the U.S.’s post-WWII “internationalism” (I would prefer to call it imperialist aggression) achieved, and Power in her speech tellingly does not point to even one such success. And, how could she with a straight face? The innumerable U.S. interventionist adventures since WWII have done nothing to advance human rights or even national security, at least if national security means the protection of U.S. citizens like you and me.

Rather, the U.S.’s “internationalism” has consisted of overthrowing constitutional democracies in countries like Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Chile (1973), Haiti (2004), Honduras (2009), just to name a few. It has consisted of carrying out mass slaughter in an attempt to put down national liberation struggles, for example in Vietnam and in Southern Africa, costing the lives of millions. And, it has involved sewing instability throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East, in such countries as Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Power’s complete blindness to such realities – though she ironically entitles her speech, “Twenty-first Century Realism” – is hard to fathom. For example, she explains the current rise of ISIL in Iraq as the product of “the deeply sectarian, corrupt, and abusive rule of Prime Minister Maliki . . . . “ There is no mention, however, of the 1991 and 2003 military interventions in Iraq by the U.S., nor of the intervening sanctions regime, which destroyed the social fabric of that country and left hundreds of thousands of civilians, including at least half a million children, dead. No, those acts of “internationalism” apparently do not deserve even a mention in Power’s distorted view.

In addition, Power does not mention the U.S. intervention in Libya in 2011, though that was an intervention which she and her soulmates Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice played a key role in bringing about. Again, the undisputed result of this intervention has been instability in Libya and surrounding countries, such Mali and Tunisia, and the accompanying rise of armed extremist groups in those countries. But again, this deserves no mention. Instead, Power attempts to explain the “instability roiling the Middle East” as the product of almost mystical forces beyond the purview of the U.S., thus criticizing those who would “presume that the United States had within our control to put the Arab Spring genie back in the bottle . . . .”

Power, repeating her long-time refrain which has given her the reputation as a human rights advocate, ends her speech by stating that “we no longer live in an era in which foreign policymakers can claim to serve their nations’ interests treating what happens to people in other countries as an afterthought. . . . What happens to people in other countries matters. It matters to the welfare of our own nations and our own citizens.” Of course, there is nothing particularly profound about this statement, and it would be hard to find many who would admit to disagreeing with it.

However, as with all Power says, what is absent is any discussion about how the actions of the U.S., and of even of Power herself, has undermined the welfare of people in other countries. For example, in addition to her role in pushing for the disastrous intervention in Libya, Power has also been active in giving diplomatic cover to the U.S.-backed Saudi slaughter in Yemen which continues to this day. Thus, in an episode quite reminiscent of those she criticizes in her Pulitzer-prize winning book, A Problem From Hell, Power helped the Saudis scuttle a resolution at the United Nations that called for an investigation into the civilian toll of the Saudi coalition war against Yemen [2], in which at least 6,000 civilians have been killed and 14 million civilians find themselves on the brink of starvation. In the end, even for Power, whether “people in other countries matter” inevitably depends upon who the people are, and whether the state impacting their interests is a friend of the U.S. or not.

In short, Power is really the perfect exemplar of U.S. foreign policy. She is a hypocrite and a phony idealist who believes her own lies about the role of the U.S., and even herself, in the world, and who does a great job of convincing the public that these lies are truth. But sadly — like Kissinger himself who will never be able to wash the blood of the Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, Chileans, Argentines and East Timorese off his hands, but who nonetheless is treated as an elder statesman — Power will most likely never be brought to account. She will continue to live out her days watching Boston Red Sox games and hanging out with the rich and powerful, while other, lesser criminals are sent to The Hague. Regrettably, this is what passes for human rights these days . . . .


Notes
[1] See, Power speech at http://usun.state.gov/remarks/7320

[2] https://news.vice.com/article/as-saudis-block-a-human-rights-inquiry-in-yemen-the-us-stays-quiet
 
Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
More articles by:Daniel Kovalik

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Marching to Thomson Prison

Activists Complete 150 mile March to Thomson Prison

by Buddy Bell - Creative Voices for Non-Violence


In late May and early June, Chicago group Voices for Creative Nonviolence held a 150-mile walk against indefinite detention, solitary confinement, and the racist U.S. prison system. For two weeks, a group of 20 justice seekers walked across the state of Illinois from east to west, interacting with hundreds of passers-by, carrying placards to give a momentary reminder to thousands of motorists, and holding public face-to-face discussions at churches and libraries. They began on May 28 at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago and then walked through Chicago’s west side, the western suburbs, on to DeKalb and the rural northwest part of the state.

The march swelled to 35 by the last day, June 11. When the walkers arrived in the small town center of rural Thomson, IL, they noticed that 18 police cars were staged in this town of 600 residents. Carrying placards saying "Education Not Incarceration" and "Hospitals Not Prisons", the activists continued walking the final mile up to the Administrative U.S. Penitentiary, Thomson, which is expected to open in 2017.

The word “administrative” is a euphemism for a facility which consists entirely of isolation cells, in this case 1,900 of them, according to the watchdog organization Solitary Watch. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons would try to fill these cells by taking prisoners from other prisons to bring them to Illinois, a state where activists have spent decades furthering a general awareness of solitary confinement. The general disgust with solitary confinement in Illinois recently forced the state assembly to consider a House Bill 5417, legislation that requires a documented reason for putting any prisoner in isolation confinement and which limits the duration of such confinement to not more than 5 days.

The walkers admonished the U.S. government for not releasing the remaining prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, who for 14 years have not been charged with any crime. It is thought that Thomson prison may still be part of a murky and politically expeditious plan to avoid releasing these detainees by simply moving them around. Similar to having people wait years and years without a speedy trial in Cook County jail, indefinite detention without charge or trial is a government crime, the brunt of which falls on poor people and on people of color, especially Black people, who on the national level in 2008 were 6 times more likely to go to prison than white people, according to the NAACP.

The walk to Thomson prison is a recently woven row in the vast tapestry of work being done to challenge the prison system. The more work that can be done to engage people on the issue of mass imprisonment, the better. Facilitating dialogue and sparking people’s imaginations can eventually lead to a diversion of public resources away from building prisons and into alternatives that help to build a healthier society.

Kabul, Afghanistan

In the Absence of Peace

by Sabia Rigby

“later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered
everywhere
everywhere
everywhere.”
-Warsan Shire


Do you believe that there are children as young as ten who think and learn about nonviolence and desire to shelter you from the grief and suffering of war…in Afghanistan?

Come hear the stories of the Afghan Peace Volunteers. They understand that they may never see the end of war; they tell me that they do not believe that there can be peace or that they believe in peace, since they have never lived without war.

Then why do this great and arduous work? Their answer, “We have not lost hope.” Later that afternoon, I was relating these conversations to Hakim, who has had countless conversations about this, he shared the question he asked the group, “…then what should we do, how should we conduct our lives in the absence of peace?”

The Borderfree Center is their answer of hope in action. A safe haven of twenty teams involved in permaculture, trainings on leadership, volunteerism, Dari, math, classes about green spaces, sustainability and how to care for the earth, equity and equality between people and nations, and nonviolence concepts, practices and influential people of nonviolent movements. The facilitators are as young as 13 years old, and yes, she is a girl, Muqadisa.

I sit here in Kabul at the Borderfree Center reminding myself to breathe and blink. I am in awe.

Zuhal shows a PowerPoint of photo after photo: famine, mutated humans, drone attacks and nuclear bombs and the shape they leave on human bodies, lives and the earth. She stops, stutters and cries in front of the group. Zuhal was affected by the Kunduz Hospital attack. There is not a human in the room outside of me that has not been affected by war.

The APVs know that the past is not easily brushed away like the naan (bread) crumbs after every meal. It is the ingredient that connects us to each other and to the planet. The more we try to separate ourselves from the past the more the past conspires to bring us back to each other. They are using the past as a teacher and a guide to lead lives that cultivate and benefit the earth and all living beings.

(https://www.facebook.com/Voices-for-Creative-Nonviolence-186632774722147/)

Copyright © 2016 Voices for Creative Nonviolence, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
1249 W Argyle St
Chicago, IL 60640
USA

Through Lies and Deception: Canadian Home Governance and Foreign Policy

Governing Through Lies And Deception

by Mark Taliano - Global Research


June 12, 2016

On September 16, 2005, Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister, Paul Martin, addressed “The High Level Meeting of the Sixtieth Session of the United Nations General Assembly”:

“Clearly, we need expanded guidelines for Security Council action to make clear our responsibility to act decisively to prevent humanity’s attack on humanity. The “Responsibility to Protect” is one such guideline. It seeks rules to protect the innocent against appalling assaults on their life and dignity. It does not bless unilateral action. To the contrary, it stands for clear, multilaterally-agreed criteria on what the international community should do when civilians are at risk.”

These “expanded guidelines” as expressed by Martin, were later exploited to launch the criminal invasion of Libya, in which Canada played an important role.

Instead of “protecting the Libyan people”, the guidelines were used to attack the wealthiest nation in Africa, to support proxy ground forces (al-Qaeda), and to destroy the country.

The notion that Libyans needed “protection” was engineered through a campaign to demonize Libya’s leader, Mohammar Gaddafi. The West used an arsenal of evidence-free allegations, largely unchallenged by corporate media, to press its case.

Maximilian C. Forte lists the lies in “The Top Ten Myths in the War Against Libya” :

  • Genocide
  • Gadaffi is “bombing his own people”.
  • “Save Benghazi”
  • African mercenaries
  • Viagara-fueled mass rape
  • Gaddafi – the Demon
  • Freedom Fighters – the Angels

The lies also masked Libya’s socially-oriented governance that boasted remarkable achievements:
  • Human Development Index (HDI), a measure of health, education, and income, ranked above the regional average
  • the highest standard of living in Africa
  • Free public health care, and free public education
  • 89% adult literacy rate (with girls outnumbering boys by 10% in secondary and tertiary education)
  • Subsidized, affordable food
  • Homelessness all but wiped out

In reality, then, the R2P legislation served as a cover to enable the inversion of its professed goal. Instead of protecting Libya and Libyans, it destroyed both.

Abayomi Azikiwe reports in “Libya War Continues Three Years After Gaddafi Assassination” that the demise of the Jamahiriya-Gaddafi rule has resulted in “on-going destabilization, with warring factions battling for control.”

Martin also explained that,


[T]he status quo and too often empty rhetoric must make way here for a new and pragmatic multilateralism measured by concrete results, not simply by promises. Our citizens want security, based on international law. They want opportunity, based on more effective aid. They want empowerment, based on respect for human rights.

This statement, too, has proven prophetic, in the sense that Canada is still practicing the opposite to what it proclaims to do.

Canada’s disregard for international law and order Canadian was also in full view when it supported the Canada-Honduras Free Trade deal not long after the democratically-elected Zelaya government was deposed by an illegal, Washington-orchestrated coup.

The author wrote in “Why Canada and the U.S. are on the ‘Wrong Side of Democracy’ “:


Living conditions in Honduras have gone from bad to worse since the democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya was ousted by a military coup in 2009. The rupture of democratic governance has set Honduras back decades,

and that

Hondurans have experienced increased levels of violence since the coup and unprecedented levels of murder and criminalization of politicians, human rights advocates, labor activists, journalists and indigenous leaders.

In fact, assassins recently murdered Honduran indigenous leader Berta Caceres, one of numerous murders that in all likelihood would not have occurred had it not been for the illegal coup, orchestrated by Washington.

Canada’s complicity in the “destabilisation” of Honduras is best illustrated through its ratification of the “Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act”.

On March 31, 2014, Member of Parliament (MP) Alex Atamanenko, of British Columbia Southern Interior, BC, explained the duplicity of ratifying the agreement:

Mr. Speaker, let me be clear. There are three fundamentally important criteria for assessing the merits of trade agreements.

First, does the proposed partner respect democracy, human rights, adequate labour and environmental standards, and Canadian values? If there are challenges in these regards, is the partner on a positive trajectory toward these goals?

Second, is the proposed partner’s economy of significant or strategic value to Canada?

Third, are the terms of the proposed agreement satisfactory?

The proposed free trade agreement with Honduras clearly fails this test.

Canada’s foreign policy duplicity is also inherent in its support another illegal government: that of the neo-Nazi infested regime, offspring of the Western-orchestrated coup that deposed the elected government of President Yanuyovch. George Freidman, founder and CEO of Stratfor intelligence described the coup as “the most overt coup in history.”

More recently, our duplicity was in full view when Defence Minister, Harjit Sajjan, stated publicly that “Assad must go”. This, despite the fact that engineering regime change in a sovereign, foreign country, contradicts international law; despite the fact that Canada’s previous bombing campaign against Syria (now more of a support role), was a clear violation of international law; and despite the fact that the current sanctions levied against Syria are illegal as well.

Clearly, Canada’s humanitarian proclamations are hollow facades engineered to fool Canadians into thinking that we have a benevolent foreign policy, even as evidence demonstrates the opposite.

Instead of supporting democracy and the rule of international law, our government practices public deception and subterfuge to conceal its criminal international policies which deny and negate both democracy and international law.

Increasingly, our elected governments are ruling through lies and deceptions; the consent that they are engineering is not informed consent. “Democracy” and Canada’s current political economy flow in opposite directions.


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

Mass Die-offs at Clayoquot Sound Salmon Farms an Alarm for Wild Sea Life

Mass die-offs at Clayoquot Sound salmon farms: Salmon farm sewage adding to harmful algae blooms

by Clayoquot Action


June 13, 2016

Tofino—Norwegian salmon farming giant Cermaq is experiencing a mass die-off at their salmon farms in Ahousaht First Nations territory, in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. They are citing a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) called Chrysochromulina as the cause.

The die-off is on-going, with the waters of Millar Channel and Herbert Arm north of Tofino an odd hue of turquoise. Harmful algae blooms choke off oxygen in the water, affecting both farmed fish and surrounding sea life.

According to Cermaq, this bloom is unusually large and deep, so normal mitigation measures are not working.

“No-one has seen a professional diagnosis by a BC veterinarian confirming the cause of death”, said Bonny Glambeck, Clayoquot Action’s campaigns director.
“Were these fish already stressed by disease, with the algae bloom being the last straw?”

Clayoquot Action monitored four Cermaq sites on June 10th. At the Ross Passage farm, five out of ten net pens were emptied of fish. At the Millar Channel site, Cermaq employees were observed tossing dead fish into totes, which were then dumped into biowaste trailers. The trailers are being barged to Tofino and hauled away.

During the past decade, there has been a worldwide increase in marine microalgae that are harmful to finfish, shellfish and humans. Cermaq has had problems with HABs since at least 2001. Most recently, Cermaq lost 25,000 kilograms of farmed salmon at a Clayoquot Sound operation in October 2015.

Harmful algal blooms associated with intensive aquaculture operations have been recorded around the world. A major algae bloom devastated the Chilean salmon farming industry earlier this year, also killing massive amounts of sea life, causing economic hardship for inshore fishermen, and throwing the island of Chiloe into civic unrest.

It is well known that agricultural run-off increases the occurrence of HABs, due to increased nutrient loading. Unlike other farms, salmon feedlots deposit their agricultural waste directly into the oceans—many tonnes of salmon feces daily. In effect they are using the ocean as an open sewer.

“Die-offs at salmon farms are not good for anybody—not the fish that are dying, the rest of the fish in the pens, the workers cleaning up the mess, or marine life in the surrounding environment,said Bonny Glambeck, Clayoquot Action’s campaigns director. 
 “With all the negative impacts of industrial salmon farming, it’s time to legislate the removal salmon farms from the ocean into closed containment, so they can treat their sewage rather than pumping it directly into the ocean.”

-30-

For further information contact Bonny Glambeck: 250-534-9453 / bonny@clayoquotaction.org

Photos and video clips are available upon request.

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On to Syria and Libya: Allowing War Outlive ISIS

British Troops Enter Syria and Libya to Ensure That War Outlives ISIS

by Dan Glazebrook - CounterPunch


June 15, 2016

The Normandy landings, launched 72 years ago this week, saw the opening of a second front against the Nazis in Europe by the US and the UK after years of procrastination.

Despite the signing of a ‘mutual assistance’ agreement with Britain in 1941, and the Anglo-Soviet alliance in 1942, for years very little was done by the US or Britain to actually fight the Nazi menace.

In a joint communique issued in 1942, they agreed to open a second front in Europe that same year, an agreement they broke and then postponed repeatedly, leaving the Soviets to fight the strongest industrial power in Western Europe alone for three years – at an eventual cost of 27 million lives.

The US and Britain, it seemed, were following what International Relations theorist John Mearsheimer has termed a ‘bait and bleed’ policy, allowing Germany and the Soviet Union to “bleed each other white” whilst they themselves stood on the sidelines. “If we see Germany winning, we ought to help Russia,” declared US Senator (and later President) Harry Truman in June 1941, “and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and in that way let them kill as many as possible.” The British Minister for Aircraft Production Colonel Moore-Brabazon echoed his views the following month, telling a lunch party of government officials that the best outcome on the Eastern front would have been the mutual exhaustion of Germany and the USSR in order that Britain could then move in to dominate Europe. He was eventually forced to resign following uproar from a public determined to see their government do more to help the embattled Soviets.

In the end, it was not until well after the Nazis’ fortunes had been decisively reversed at Stalingrad that the long promised ‘second front’ actually materialized. Indeed, by this point the outcome of the war had effectively already been determined. D Day, then, was waged not to defeat the Nazis but to ensure the Soviet Union, who had borne almost all of the sacrifice, would not reap the fruits of their victory. As Soviet Admiral Kharlamov, head of the Soviet Military Mission in Britain during the Second World War, wrote,

“Certain circles, both in the United States and Britain, feared that should the Red Army defeat Germany single-handed, the Soviet Union would have enormous influence on the post-war development of and social progress in the European countries. The Allies could not allow that to happen. This is why they considered the opening of a second front in Europe not so much a military action but as a political measure aimed at preventing the progressive political forces from coming to power in European countries.” 

Documents declassified in 1998 revealed that Churchill had even ordered the drawing up of a plan that would see British and US troops push on beyond Berlin alongside a rearmed German army in a nuclear war against the Soviets.

History is now repeating itself, this time as farce. From 2014 until September 2015, ISIS appeared to sweep all before them, achieving hugely symbolic victories in Iraq’s Mosul and Fallujah, Syria’s Raqqa and Palmyra, and Libya’s Derna and Sirte. At the same time, under Saudi and Turkish tutelage, Al Qaeda’s ‘Al Nusra front’ was making gains in Syria, and the Ansar Sharia faction in Libya took Benghazi, paving the way for a major ISIS infiltration. The West did little to help. In Syria, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) had been left to fight such groups not only bereft of support from the West, but facing a West apparently determined to destroy them. Similarly, the Libyan National Army – representing the elected Libyan parliament – was hamstrung by an arms embargo scrupulously observed in relation to them, but regularly violated by the West’s gulf allies when it came to the ‘Libya Dawn’ sectarian militias who were attacking them. And even the US’ supposedly closest allies in the Iraqi army, the elite ‘Golden Division’, had trouble getting effective US support when they needed it.

Despite this, starting with last September’s Russian intervention in Syria, the tide has begun to turn against ISIS and Al Qaeda, paving the way for a string of victories by the Syrian Arab Army and the Libyan National Army in particular, and pointing, potentially, towards the full restoration of governmental authority in both countries.

In Libya, the key moment was in February 2016, when the Libyan National Army finally regained control of Benghazi from ISIS and Ansar Sharia after 18 months of intense fighting. Both the ISIS presence in Benghazi and the city’s liberation were predictably downplayed in Western media, despite the city’s fate having been apparently so important to British and US leaders back in 2011. On May 3rd, the Libyan National Army began its march West from Benghazi towards ISIS’ last Libyan holdout in Sirte.

In February, too, a massive Syrian army offensive towards Aleppo began to make serious gains, taking territory from Al Qaeda, ISIS and Ahrar Al Sham. On February 3rd, the supply route to Aleppo was severed, breaking a rebel siege of two government-held towns south of Azaz. Mass surrenders to the SAA followed, including 1200 in Hama. Then, exactly one month later, the world-historic city of Palmyra was liberated from ISIS by Syrian government forces backed with Russian air support. In what was presumably an attempt to appear relevant, the US had also launched two token airstrikes on the city, illustrating, said journalist Robert Fisk, that the US “want to destroy iSIS – but not that much”.

Today, ISIS’ original stronghold, the capital of its self-declared caliphate, is itself under threat. The Times reported earlier this week that a massively re-moralised Syrian army, is “storming towards the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa” and that “the Syrian regime’s elite Desert Hawks unit, backed by the Russian airstrikes, crossed the southern border of Raqqa province at the weekend – the first time that any of Assad’s forces have set foot there since being driven out by isis nearly two years ago.” They have been making swift advances.

Throughout 2016, then, the national armed forces of Libya and Syria, representing the elected governments of both countries, have been on a roll; and the days of ISIS and their sectarian bedfellows may well be numbered. So it is interesting that it is precisely this moment – not when ISIS were making gains, but now that they are facing defeat – that British troops have deigned to openly enter the fray.

The same edition of the Times that reported that the SAA were “storming towards …Raqqa” also carried, as its front page story, the news that “British special forces are on the frontline in Syria defending a rebel unit”, noting that “the operation marks the first evidence of the troops’ direct involvement in the war-torn country rather than just training rebels in Jordan.” And the same newspaper had reported the previous week that British special forces undertook their first known combat mission in Libya on May 12th, in support of the ‘Libya Dawn’ faction of the Libyan civil war. Libya Dawn is an umbrella group of mainly Misrata-based militias that emerged following the elections of June 2014 under Qatari patronage to fight against the newly elected secular parliament, and its armed forces, the Libyan National Army (LNA). The Times tacitly acknowledged that, up until now, the LNA has been fighting ISIS alone, noting that “MIsrata had largely ignored the metastasis of ISIS in Sirte, 170 miles away, since the first terrorist cells embedded themselves there in 2013”. Now, however, alongside the British ‘boots on the ground’ that Cameron vowed would never step foot in Libya, they have suddenly found themselves the ‘chosen force’ to liberate the country.

As in 1945, having sat back whilst a vicious and genocidal group laid waste to thousands upon thousands of soldiers fighting alone against them, the Cameron regime now wants to deny those armies the fruits of their heroic sacrifices. Cameron would rather see Raqqa and Sirte liberated by a ragtag of militias with little to unite them other than their sectarianism, than to see the authority of the elected governments restored. With British troops now in combat roles alongside the insurgents in Syria, however, this raises the prospect of a direct confrontation with Russian forces. Just like Churchill in 1945, it appears he is quite prepared to risk this. Back then, saner heads prevailed. The question is – where are those heads now?


A version of this article originally appeared at: Rt.com

Dan Glazebrook is a political journalist and author of Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis
More articles by:Dan Glazebrook

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Dave Diewert, Natalie Knight, Heather Fraser, Janine Bandcroft June 15, 2016

This Week on GR

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


June 15, 2016

Welcome to British Columbia foreign investor capitalists, California retirees, and the rest of the retinue of monied carpetbaggers driving the price of life through the Lotus Land roof. With tourist season upon the Garden City, homeless "campers" are being encouraged to get out of Victoria, while on the mainland, where NDP premier-in-waiting, John Horgan informs, "Vancouver's housing prices have increased between 20-30% each year, and by more than 40% in the city's suburbs just last year" it seems a crisis is brewing.

The young, says Horgan, and families rearing young, are taking the hint, and deserting the city; leaving the new land-millionaires to their own devices.

But, who will be metro's baristas; and from whence will suburbia's dogwalker supply be drawn?

Listen. Hear.

Critical questions indeed, but gentrification and the pressures it places on working, and low-income households - and the unhoused - is hardly new. It is, according to my first guests, a question of displacement, and can be traced to the roots of Canadian capitalism, with its original displacement of First Peoples, that quote, "relied on the theft of Indigenous land and the extraction of natural resources since it began."

Dave Diewert and Natalie Knight are members of the editorial collective for the Volcano newspaper. Diewert was too an editor with the Volcano's progenitor street paper, The Downtown East, and is an organizer with the Alliance Against Displacement, a "pan-regional anti-displacement network of local communities, organizations, and activists fighting displacement on the ground." Natalie Knight is Yurok from northern California living now in Coquitlam as a guest there on unceded Coast Salish territories.


Dave Diewert and Natalie Knight in the first half.

And; as more and more children become environmentally sensitive, those who question the role vaccination may play in the burgeoning allergy and autism rates are dismissed as conspiracy theorists, or worse. It's a frustration Heather Fraser knows all too well; so when the author, speaker, artist and activist supporting vaccine choice and natural health was offered a chance to appear last month on a major radio network's Toronto affiliate, in a province challenging parents' vaccination choices, she jumped at the chance, hoping to provide some much needed balance to the debate. What she got however was a lot less than that.

Heather Fraser and an axing of the vaccination counter-narrative in the second half.


And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us news of good things going on on the streets of our city, and beyond there too, in the coming week. But first, Dave Diewert and Natalie Knight, behind the Volcano and allied against displacement in Vancouver.
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/
G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Alleged Orlando Killer's Confused Allegiances: Religiously Motivated Terrorist, or Self-Hating Gay?

Orlando Shooter Proclaimed Allegiance to Rival Terrorist Organizations

by TRNN


June 14, 2016

Vijay Prashad says that terms like "radical jihadist terrorism" ​explain nothing and only spread fear​.




Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College. He is the author of twenty books, including The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (LeftWord and University of California Press, 2016) and co-editor of Land of Blue Helmets: The UN in the Arab World (University of California Press, 2016) as well as editor of Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation. Vijay is the Chief Editor of LeftWord Books (leftword.com) and is a columnist for Frontline and AlterNet as well as a frequent contributor to The Hindu, Himal and Counterpunch.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Pulse Attack: Love and Resistance to Terror

Love and Desire: The Truest Resistance to Terror and Power  

by Chris Floyd  - Empire Burlesque


13 June 2016

The victims in Orlando were killed because of who they loved, who they desired, and for no other reason. The massacre was not “an attack on our country.” It was a savage hate crime against gay people by a known homophobe (and aspiring policeman) trained in the use of weapons by the world’s largest corporate security firm. Although like so many “lone wolf” terrorists (and would-be terrorists), the Orlando killer was “on the FBI’s radar,” we don’t yet know — and may never know — if he, like many of his predecessors, had been encouraged and enabled by the FBI to pursue a terrorist action. But that he was driven primarily by hatred of homosexuality seems certain.

We are told that at one point in his shooting spree, Omar Mateen phoned emergency services and pledged his allegiance to ISIS. This may be so. In any case, one can accept that he made such a call and such a pledge, having apparently undergone some a recent ‘radicalization’ that no one had noticed before, which led him to follow ISIS’s well-known suggestion that any Muslim carrying out a violent act should feel free to do so in their name, even if they have no connection to the organization. (And as expected, ISIS, after some delay, has now claimed ownership of the attack.) But this does not automatically turn the crime into a case of “international terrorism”; it simply adds a provocative patina to the long-held personal hatred of homosexuals that Mateen had clearly exhibited over the years. By all indications, the crime remains, at its core, an act of individual violence against LGBT people — not in order to advance the establishment of an Islamist caliphate in some way, but solely to express an overwhelming hatred against a group of people on account of their sexual preference. This is the classic definition of a hate crime.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that there are mighty efforts underway to force the narrative squarely into the “Terror War” paradigm, much as the case in San Bernadino, where what looked to be in many ways an “ordinary” workplace dispute (“ordinary” because workplace killings are so frequent in America today that many of them don’t even make the news) was also turned into a raging red flag for the Terror Warriors. In the latest killing, we have already seen the predictable demonizing of 1.6 billion people for the act of one man. We have seen the incredibly variegated shadings and understandings of a global religion reduced to a single, sinister monolithic mass. We have seen the propaganda bull-roarer of “ISIS” used as if that organization sprang full-blown from the stones of the earth, instead of being incubated in the American prisons of occupied Iraq after a war of aggression that left a million innocent people dead. We have seen this horrific incident in Orlando— this shattering human tragedy cutting a swath through so many actual, real lives — sucked up into the airless, dehumanizing Terror War echo chamber, where it will be drained of all meaning and converted into rhetorical firewood for the partisan furnaces of our imperial factions, with both sides bent on war and domination, regardless of the cost to their own people and others.

There is no hope that this latest incident will stop or even slow the the death spiral of the Terror War, as it circles round and round and down and down in an ever-widening gyre. There is every indication that it will make things worse, that the war-profiteers and the fear-profiteers and the power-grabbers will wring every bit of poison from it that they can to fuel the War Machine and the Domination Agenda. For we should not forget where the Terror War comes from, where ISIS comes from, where al Qaeda comes from, where the machinery of “radicalization” comes from: as I wrote after the Paris attacks, it comes directly from the decades-long policies of Western nations, particularly the US, to deliberately torment, encourage, enable and empower religious extremism in order to undermine secular opposition to American dominion over the world’s economy, politics and natural resources. (For more detail on that sordid history, see this piece by Ben Norton. For more on the more recent consequences of these policies — particularly their relevance to the upcoming election, do yourself a favor and get a copy of Diane Johnstone’s Queen of Chaos.)

But see how powerful and prevalent the Terror War paradigm is, how it informs — and deforms — all our discourse today: even my attempt here to delineate how the Orlando massacre falls outside that paradigm has been sucked into it. But this is hard, perhaps impossible, to avoid: the Terror War — and the Dominationist agenda behind it — has now become our national life, the American way of being in the world. To speak of American policy and society means you cannot escape the Terror War, because it pervades everything, especially in politics.

(Which is one reason why Bernie Sanders’ ‘revolution’ was doomed from the start: you will never be able to enact any far-reaching reforms on the domestic front unless you dismantle the War Machine that looms over our whole society like a mushroom cloud, devouring precious resources, destroying lives, distorting our political and economic infrastructure beyond all sustainability, and sickening our society with the poisonous radiation of imperialism and authoritarianism.)

The man who committed the atrocity in Orlando happened to be a Muslim; but there are also Christians actively working to kill vast numbers of homosexuals “legally,” spearheading efforts in Africa to pass laws making homosexuality a capital crime. If these laws take hold, these politically-connected American Christians will be responsible for far more deaths, for many more years, than Mateen managed to cause in a single night. Yet there has not been any universal condemnation of all Christians, of Christianity itself, because of this, or any other hate crime or act of terrorism that has been committed by people calling themselves Christians. (Including the millions of people killed by the state terror perpetrated and/or abetted by America’s leaders, all of whom have claimed to be Christians). The increasingly virulent and violent homophobia in Russia is likewise being driven by a supposed adherence to Orthodox Christianity.

The tragedy in Orlando is a nightmare collision of homophobia and Islamophobia. As we can see in the crocodile tears of people like Mike Huckabee, at the moment Islamophobia is in the ascendant. Huckabee claims to be saddened by the violent, sudden death of homosexuals in Orlando; yet he believes, fervently believes, that homosexuals should burn in anguish for all eternity. In his mind, every one of the victims — killed in the midst of their sin, drinking and dancing and lusting — are right now, this minute, howling in hellfire. Because of who they loved, who they desired, and for no other reason.

Among the “peoples of the Abrahamic faiths” — and among all those who seek to control and dominate others for power and profit — there is nothing more disturbing, more enraging, more frightening than human love and desire. It dissolves barriers, tears down walls, disobeys laws, is fluid, flowing, uncontrollable. For that reason, we should honor it and support it, now more than ever. It is a form of true dissent, a true — perhaps the truest — expression of resistance against all the forces that seek to extinguish the human spirit.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Seeing BS with CBS News' New Comments Trick

CBS and its (new?) Matrix trick

by OFFGuardian


June 6, 2016

Many of our readers will be familiar by now with the common practice of our mainstream media – the Guardian has become notorious for it — of censoring political comments which challenge the US/NATO approved narrative on international affairs. As Off-Guardian has learned from Shawn Irwin, a social media contact who’s shared his screenshots with us, the CBS has come up with a new twist on this.

If your comments on the CBS news site happen to displease the resident censor, a.k.a. moderator, they will be silently removed from the stream of readers’ comments while still appearing on your own computer screen.

In other words, your post shows up on your screen, but if someone else tries to view it either as a visitor to the site or as a reader who’s logged in under his or her name, it’s not there. Thus, unless you actually log out and then log in under another name, what you see on your screen will give you the impression that your comment is still there, for all other readers to see and respond to if they so wish.

In reality, the politically unwelcome comment will have been removed; a discovery one can make only by chance, as Mr Irwin did a few weeks ago. Nor is his experience unique. Jesse Marioneaux has also shared with us screenshots of his comments appearing on his screen, yet invisible to other readers of the same thread.

How this is done, what the technical means used may be, whether other news outlets are also using this method of “perception management” I leave to others to speculate upon. But, here’s what it looks like in practice.

The first screenshot below shows Mr Irwin’s post (under the moniker LucifersShadow) sandwiched between a post by Catapologisttx and one by Olyboy. The text of the vanishing post reads:

“Building walls won’t change that.” But dropping bombs will? This raving &*^% also said that – I’ve Restored the US as the ‘Most Respected Country in the World – I am not sure what drugs he has been doing lately, but nations all over hate the USA because of its repressive, imperialistic policies and preference of using violence, that is bombing, drones, etc, rather than diplomacy. Obama: “We have to twist arms when countries don’t do what we need them to.” Arrogance. . . Obama, along with George Bush, and Hillary Clinton are both war criminals. You do not need to choose between twiddle-dee-dee and twiddle-dee-dumn.

Do a search on you tube for Green Party debate and Libertarian Party debate, and you will find some decent candidates for once.

Here’s what it looks like when Irwin views the page, logged in under his alias. 





If you go to the relevant CBS page and search for that comment, what you will see is this: 





Note how the censored comment has completely vanished, with not trace of it, no alert that it’s been deleted, while the site lets us see the record of two deleted comments which had, to all appearances, at some point taken the place of the disappeared one.

To make sure that what had happened was not merely a glitch or a fluke, Irwin then posted the same comment as Archeus-Lore, a second alias he uses, and with the same result. In both cases, what a CBS moderator took umbrage at was the description of US policies as repressive and imperialistic, the observation that the US is the most hated country in the world, and his characterization of Obama, George Bush, and Hillary Clinton as war criminals.

As Jesse Marioneaux’s screenshots of his vanishing comment show, however, our MSM moderators seem to have a very broad set of criteria on what is to be allowed and what censored from the readers’ comments. In this case, merely quipping “This country’s looking like a joke”, was deemed worthy a Matrix-effect bit of censorship. The first screenshot below shows the page as it appears when Mr Marioneaux accesses it, logged in under his name.



Here is what the same page looks like when you or I access it:




So, if you happen to look for a comment you made on one of American (or British?) news sites and can’t find it because you’ve logged out (but do see it when you log in), it’s neither your eyes nor your mind that are playing tricks on you. It’s the new censorship state and its collaborator “free press” using their latest techno-wizzardry to keep the public docile and unaware of the degree of control they now exercise over our over freedom of speech.

The idea is, clearly, to manage our perceptions, regulate which opinions are allowed to circulate in the public sphere and which are not, and to conceal the extent of the censorship-culture that continues to erode whatever’s left of democracy in the West.

We are making this available for public scrutiny in the hope that organizations which advocate and protect the freedom of speech, such as the American Civil Liberties Union in the USA, for instance, will look into this and other censorship and perception-management techniques used by the corporate media, investigate whether they might be acting in co-ordination with government agencies, and determine if these practices are constitutional and at all compatible with the requirements of democracy.