Saturday, December 09, 2006

Holocausts and Deniers: The MEMRI Nazi

Finkelstein (at 23 min 41sec of full interview video):

"I think it's important to separate the two issues. Number 1, there is the issue of the truth of the Nazi holocaust. In my opinion, rational people will not debate whether the Nazi holocaust happened. Of course the Nazi holocaust happened. It was a colossal crime that was committed against Jews, against Gypsies, against the handicapped, against many peoples. Among those people were the crimes committed, colossal crimes, against the Jews. Roughly speaking, you can say between 5 and 5 1/2 million Jews were exterminated during World War 2. That's the factual question and rational people, reasonable people, will not debate the factual question.

But then there is a second question, the political question, namely, the use to which the Nazi holocaust has been put. Is the Nazi holocaust being used as a way of enlightening people about human suffering and about crimes committed against innocent people? Or is the Nazi holocaust being used to confuse people and to deny crimes which are being committed now by Jews? That's a political question and we shouldn't confuse the two.

There are many people unfortunately who, because Israel has misused the Nazi holocaust, exploited the Nazi holocaust, they have decided to deny the Nazi holocaust ever happened. Now, to me, that's foolish. You can't deny facts. It happened. It was horrific. What you should do, in my opinion, is to expose the wrong purposes, the evil purposes to which these facts are being put. That's a separate question."

How MEMRI presents itself

[From the MEMRI website:]
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) explores the Middle East through the region's media. MEMRI bridges the language gap which exists between the West and the Middle East, providing timely translations of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish media, as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends in the Middle East. Founded in February 1998 to inform the debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East, MEMRI is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501 (c)3 organization.

The truth about MEMRI

MEMRI is a main arm of Israeli propaganda. Although widely used in the mainstream media as a source of information on the Arab world, it is as trustworthy as Julius Streicher's Der Sturmer was on the Jewish world.

The evidence

MEMRI recently posted what it alleged was an interview I did with Lebanese television on the Nazi holocaust. The MEMRI posting was designed to prove that I was a Holocaust denier. Below I juxtapose the MEMRI version of my interview (both the actual broadcast version as well as the transcript it prepared) against what I actually said in the interview.


1. Streicher was sentenced to death at Nuremberg.

2. "When the true history of this era is written...the dispatches of MEMRI will be copiously represented in every true scholar's footnotes" - Martin Peretz, Editor and Publisher, The New Republic. (Another of Peretz's notable predictions back in 1984 was that Joan Peters's From Time Immemorial "will change the mind of our generation. If understood, it could affect the history of the future.")

MEMRI's press release

The press release text: Lebanon's New TV: 'Contradictions, Lies, and Exaggerations' in Number Killed in 'Jewish Holocaust'

MEMRI's version of the video:

MEMRI Clip # 1180

Transcript: Finkelstein's NEW TV Interview, 06.21.2006

NOTE: Highlighted text indicates parts edited out by MEMRI with ellipses.

RUSH transcript

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: Thank you for having me.

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: The main reason I wrote the book is because I thought that the Nazi holocaust was being exploited by Israel and its supporters in the United States against the Palestinians and against basic principles of justice. That is, the Nazi holocaust is being used as a political weapon in order to silence criticism of Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories. There were also other reasons for writing the book. Obviously, there was a personal reason, namely my parents passed through the Nazi holocaust. Every member of their families was exterminated during the war and I felt it was important to accurately represent what happened to them during the Nazi holocaust. As for my credibility, I think that one should apply to everybody a single standard, namely evaluate the evidence, evaluate the argument. If the evidence is valid, if the argument seems reasonable, then your credibility is good. If the evidence seems weak, if the argument seems unreasonable, then your credibility is bad. I don't think it has much to do with whether or not you're a Jew.

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: My book is not really about the Nazi holocaust. There are very excellent historians who have done very excellent research on the subject. My book is mostly about the misuse or exploitation of the Nazi holocaust for political purposes. The main claims I make in the book are, first of all, that the notion of Holocaust uniqueness - that is, no group of people in the history of humankind has suffered the way Jews have suffered - has no basis in historical fact and is an immoral doctrine because it ranks human suffering, saying some suffering is better and some suffering is worse. The main purpose of this claim of Holocaust uniqueness is to immunize, to protect, Israel from criticism. The doctrine says: Because Jews have suffered uniquely, Israel should not be held to the same moral and legal standards as other peoples. The other point I examine in the book is the claim that "the whole world wanted to kill the Jews" and that's why the Nazi holocaust happened. The main argument I make in the book is that there's no evidence that the whole world wanted to kill the Jews. A very excellent formulation statement was that by the British historian Ian Kershaw. Kershaw wrote in one of his books, "the road to Auschwitz" - the Nazi concentration and death camp - "was built on hate but paved with indifference." I think that's the important lesson. There were a handful of fanatics who were driven by hate but it was the indifference of most of the world that enabled the fanatics to get their way.


Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: Yes, that's the quote I began my book with. [translation pause]

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: Well, one of the points I make in the book is that there has been a gross inflation of the number of survivors. In fact, as all serious historians have shown, Hitler's extermination of the Jews was very efficient, it was like a factory, an assembly line: Jews were processed to be murdered. When you have such an efficient system there can't be very many survivors. In fact, the best estimates show that by May, 1945, that is, at the end of World War II, about 100,000 Jews had survived the concentration camps, the ghettos and the labor camps. If 100,000 Jews survived the camps and ghettos in 1945, then 60 years later, roughly around now, there can't be more than a few thousand survivors still alive. But the Holocaust industry wanted to blackmail Europe in order to get compensation monies. And in order to blackmail Europe, they said there were hundreds of thousands, even over a million, needy Holocaust victims who were still alive. They inflated the number of survivors in order to blackmail Europe. But by inflating the number of survivors, they ended up diminishing the number of victims. They are the real Holocaust deniers.

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: I think there is a lot of misunderstanding on that topic. From the founding of Israel after World War II until June 1967 American Jews had very little interest in Israel. This was because American Jews wanted to succeed in American life. They were afraid that they would be charged with being loyal to another State, that is, the Jewish state of Israel. And so, they kept their distance from Israel because their interest was to succeed in America. After June 1967, when Israel became America's strategic outpost in the Middle East, it was only then, when it was safe and even beneficial to be pro-Israel, that American Jews became pro-Israel. It is incorrect to believe that American Jews were pro-Israel before they were pro-American. The first loyalty of American Jews has been to the state where they enjoy their power and their privilege, that is, the United States. Israel only came later when it was safe and profitable to be pro-Israel.

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: You must remember that the United States' main ally after World War II, its main ally in Europe was, Germany, West Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany. And many leaders of the Federal Republic of Germany and many members of the German elite had been members of the Nazi elites. And so you were not allowed to mention the Nazi holocaust because that was seen as undermining, as jeopardizing, the US-German relationship because it was reminding people of what these very same Germans had done just a few years earlier. So all talk of the Nazi holocaust was a taboo in American life. You weren't allowed to talk about it. For example, when I was growing up in the 1950s and the 1960s I used to hang out with a very smart crowd of people. I wasn't as smart as them, but I liked to be around smart people. People who are prominent professors, prominent in the professions, in medicine and law. Now, my friends and I, we talked politics, we talked history but I can tell you for certain that none of them ever asked me any questions about my parents. Even though both of them were survivors of the Nazi holocaust. No one back then was interested in the topic.


Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: No I do not. I do not believe that the Nazi holocaust is unique and I do not believe that the suffering of Jews is unique. I think there's no basis in the historical argument for the uniqueness of the Nazi holocaust. There are aspects, features of the Nazi holocaust, that are unique, just as there are aspects and features of other genocides that are unique but that does not mean the Nazi holocaust belongs in a separate category, apart from all the other sufferings in the history of human kind. I do not agree with that. On a moral level it's simply an abomination to rank suffering and say "one people has suffered more than another." How can you say it's more painful to die in a gas chamber than it is to die when your flesh is incinerated by napalm? Who is to decide which is a more painful suffering? That I think is absurd. The claim of unique suffering was used by Jews...


Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: Yes, I think there is something wrong when the United States has a museum devoted to what Germany did to the Jews but it does not have any museum devoted to what America did to its native population, the expulsion and extermination of the Native Americans. It does not have a museum devoted to what was done to Africans brought over here as slaves, yet it has a museum about what happened in Europe. What would Americans think if Germany, in its capital, were to create a museum commemorating slavery in the United States, commemorating the extermination of Native Americans but had no museum devoted to the Nazi holocaust. Of course, Americans would say "that's pure hypocrisy." Well, we are now guilty of the same hypocrisy. 00:19:00

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: What I said was, quoting from an Israeli newspaper, that whenever Israel commits atrocities it is able to mobilize all of its supporters in the United States, including the Holocaust Museum and including all of the organizations which are devoted to the Holocaust, it is able to mobilize all of these organizations in order to silence criticism of Israeli atrocities, and that's what happened after the Qana massacre [in 1996 – ed.], and that's what always happens. I can give you an example from this past week. There is a very big church called the Presbyterians and two years ago the Presbyterians passed a resolution which said it would not invest in companies that profit from Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The Jewish organizations got very angry. They started to say -- this Presbyterian resolution is just like the Holocaust, the Nazis boycotted Jewish businesses and now the Presbyterian Church is boycotting Israel economically. And this past week the Presbyterians were meeting again in Burmingham, Alabama to discuss whether to take back the resolution. I attended the convention to urge the Presbyterians to stay with the resolution. Do not take it back. But then all of these Rabbis and Jewish organizations, they came to the convention, and they talked on and on, that this resolution is the Holocaust all over again, it's another attack on the Jews, just like Hitler, and that's how they use the Nazi holocaust as a weapon. Just like they did after the Qana massacre. That's how they use it as a weapon to silence criticism of Israel's immoral and illegal policies against the Palestinians and the Lebanese people.


Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: I think it's important to separate the two issues. Number 1, there is the issue of the truth of the Nazi holocaust. In my opinion, rational people will not debate whether the Nazi holocaust happened. Of course the Nazi holocaust happened. It was a colossal crime that was committed against Jews, against Gypsies, against the handicapped, against many peoples. Among those people were the crimes committed, colossal crimes, against the Jews. Roughly speaking, you can say between 5 and 5 1/2 million Jews were exterminated during World War 2. That's the factual question and rational people, reasonable people, will not debate the factual question. But then there is a second question, the political question, namely, the use to which the Nazi holocaust has been put. Is the Nazi holocaust being used as a way of enlightening people about human suffering and about crimes committed against innocent people? Or is the Nazi holocaust being used to confuse people and to deny crimes which are being committed now by Jews? That's a political question and we shouldn't confuse the two. There are many people unfortunately who, because Israel has misused the Nazi holocaust, exploited the Nazi holocaust, they have decided to deny the Nazi holocaust ever happened. Now, to me, that's foolish. You can't deny facts. It happened. It was horrific. What you should do, in my opinion, is to expose the wrong purposes, the evil purposes to which these facts are being put. That's a separate question.


Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: There is no evidence at all that Swiss banks ever kept billions of dollars that belonged to Jews during World War II or before World War II. The basic facts are these. Number 1, most Jews before World War II were very, very poor. They lived in little villages in Eastern Europe. The villages were called shtetls. Most Jews were poor. Number 2, beginning in the early 1930s there was a worldwide depression, which means, even if you had money, you lost it during the depression. Number 3, if you had the money and you kept it, then you managed to escape during the Nazi holocaust. That's one of the advantages to being rich. You have enough money to buy your way out. So those Jews who had money and kept it after the Depression, they used the money to get out and then they withdrew their money from the banks after the war. When you add those 3 facts up: #1, most Jews were poor, #2, there is a depression, and #3, the rich Jews escaped, which means logically there could not have been very much Jewish money in the Swiss banks. This was all made up by the Holocaust blackmailers.

Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: The Swiss acknowledged 30 million dollars, and in fact, according to my own estimates based on the evidence, it couldn't have been more than 60 million dollars. But the Holocaust industry was able to get 1 1/2billion dollars from the Swiss banks. It was pure robbery. Let me make one other point. The Holocaust industry claimed it was demanding the money for what it called needy Holocaust victims but the victims never saw the money. Once these organizations got the 1.5 billion dollars, the organizations kept the money for themselves. It was not for the victims. These organizations don't care about the victims of the Nazi holocaust just as they never cared about the Nazi holocaust itself. It's a useful weapon. It was a good political weapon and then they discovered in the 1990s it was a wonderful economic weapon to blackmail Europe. They went after Switzerland because Switzerland was politically very weak. It had Swiss banks but it had no political power.


Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: Switzerland had economic relations with Germany during the war, it was involved in transactions with Germany during the war. Some were legal, some were not legal, they behaved like every other power would. Remember that the United States did not enter WW2 until 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Up until 1941 the United States banks also had relations with the Germans. That's the way big powers operate. The Swiss were no different. The record of the Swiss is no better and no worse than any other country. There were Jews who sent money to American banks. Those Jews died. The American banks never returned the money. There were many Jews who sent money to Jewish banks, Zionist banks in Palestine. Till this day, as we speak right now, the Israeli banks refuse to return the money to the relatives of those Jews who deposited money and died. The Swiss paid up in 1998. It's nearly 10 years later, the Israeli banks, Bank Leumi, will not pay back anything.


Questioner: [Arabic, translation coming soon] [translation pause]

Finkelstein: There is no evidence, as I said before, that much money was deposited in Swiss banks and there is no evidence that the Swiss bankers behaved any differently than the American bankers or the Israeli bankers. What happened in the 1990s was that among the main backers of former President Clinton, among the main backers of the Democratic Party, were powerful Jews like Edgar Bronfman, the president of the World Jewish Congress. Basically, a deal was made between people like Bronfman and President Clinton -- we will support you for president if in return you will support some of our activities.


Editor's note: Finkelstein's comment & readers' letters to the Tribune below the op-ed.

Judge Deeds, Not Words

By Norman G. Finkelstein

On the night of August 24, 2005, Israeli troops shot dead three teenage boys and two adults in a West Bank Palestinian refugee camp. An army communiqué claimed the five were terrorists, killed after opening fire on the soldiers. An investigation by Israel's leading human rights organization, B'Tselem, and its leading newspaper, Haaretz, found, however, that the teenagers were unarmed and had no connection with any terrorist organizations, while neither of the two adults was armed or wanted by the Israelis.[1]

In Israel, as elsewhere, it's prudent to treat official pronouncements with skepticism.

This is especially so when it comes to the "peace process."

Israel's announcement that it would withdraw from the Gaza Strip won high praise in the American media as a major step toward ending the occupation of Palestinian land. Human rights organizations and academic specialists were less sanguine, however.

In a recent study entitled One Big Prison, B'Tselem observes that the crippling economic arrangements Israel has imposed on Gaza will remain in effect. In addition, Israel will continue to maintain absolute control over Gaza's land borders, coastline and airspace, and the Israeli army will continue to operate in Gaza. "So long as these methods of control remain in Israeli hands," it concludes, "Israel's claim of an 'end of the occupation' is questionable."[2]

The respected organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) is yet more emphatic that evacuating troops and Jewish settlements from inside Gaza will not end the occupation: "Whether the Israeli army is inside Gaza or redeployed around its periphery, and restricting entrance and exit, it remains in control."[3]

The world's leading authority on the Gaza Strip, Sara Roy of Harvard University, predicts that Gaza will remain "an imprisoned enclave," while its economy, still totally dependent on Israel after disengagement and in shambles after decades of deliberately ruinous policies by Israel, will actually deteriorate.[4] This conclusion is echoed by the World Bank, which forecasts that, if Israel seals Gaza's borders or curtails its utilities, the disengagement plan will "create worse hardship than is seen today."[5]

Matters are scarcely better in the West Bank. Although Israel has announced its intention to dismantle four of the 120 settlements there, this decision pales beside its relentless annexation of wide swaths of the West Bank.

A recent UN report finds that the wall Israel is constructing encroaches deeply into Palestinian territory, resulting in the isolation of tens of thousands of Palestinians and the confiscation of fully ten percent of West Bank land, "including the most fertile areas in the West Bank."[6]

According to Roy, Palestinians will have access to only half the West Bank once the wall is complete, "deepening the dispossession and isolation of Palestinian communities."[7]

Israel proclaims that it is building the wall for "security" reasons, but human rights organizations disagree. Its real purpose, they suggest, is "to make contiguous with Israel illegal civilian settlements" (HRW) and "to facilitate their future annexation into Israel" (B'Tselem).[8]

In a landmark July 2004 decision on the wall, the International Court of Justice unanimously agreed that establishment of these Jewish settlements "violates" (U.S. Judge Buergenthal) the Geneva Convention, and overwhelmingly ruled that construction of the wall was "contrary to international law."[9]

Yet, nowhere have official Israeli words about peace been more dramatically belied by bitter deeds than in Jerusalem.

In a recent report entitled The Jerusalem Powder Keg, the authoritative International Crisis Group finds that Prime Minister Sharon "risks choking off Arab East Jerusalem by further fragmenting it and surrounding it with Jewish neighborhoods/settlements." Hundreds of thousands of Arab Jerusalemites will be isolated from the West Bank and placed under stricter Israeli control inside the city's new borders, while tens of thousands of Arab Jerusalemites will be stranded on the outside and cut off from their city.

In the meantime Israeli plans, well underway, to incorporate far-flung illegal Jewish settlements into Jerusalem "would go close to cutting the West Bank into two."

Israeli annexationist policies in and around Jerusalem, according to Crisis Group, will have "arguably devastating consequences," not least because "it remains virtually impossible to conceive of a Palestinian state without its capital in Jerusalem."

Although Prime Minister Sharon gives lip-service to a two-state settlement, the actions of the Israeli government, Crisis Group concludes, "are at war with any viable two-state solution and will not bolster Israel's security; in fact, they will undermine it, weakening Palestinian pragmatists,… and sowing the seeds of growing radicalization."[10]

Those committed to a just and lasting peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict would do well to pay closer attention to Israeli deeds than to the official words accompanying them.

17 September 2005

Norman G. Finkelstein teaches at DePaul University in Chicago. His latest book is Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history.


These references are for fact-checking only.

1. Arnon Regular, "IDF chief to probe Tul Karm raid that killed five Palestinians," Haaretz (7 September 2005).
2. B'Tselem (Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), One Big Prison: Freedom of movement to and from the Gaza Strip on the eve of the Disengagement Plan (March 2005).
3. Human Rights Watch, "'Disengagement' Will Not End Gaza Occupation" (19 August 2005).
4. Sara Roy, "Praying with Their Eyes Closed: Reflections on the Disengagement from Gaza," Journal of Palestine Studies (Summer 2005).
5. World Bank, Disengagement, the Palestinian Economy and the Settlements (23 June 2004).
6. Report on UNCTAD's Assistance to the Palestinian People, prepared by the UNCTAD secretariat (21 July 2005).
7. Op. cit.
8. Human Rights Watch, Israel's "Separation Barrier" in the Occupied Territories: Human rights and international humanitarian law consequences (February 2004); B'Tselem, Behind the Barrier: Human rights violations as a result of Israel's separation barrier (2003).
9. Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (July 2004).
10. International Crisis Group, The Jerusalem Powder Keg (2 August 2005).

Finkelstein comments:

It is a convention that the author of a newly-published book on a topical issue receives special consideration from the op-ed page editor. I submitted this op-ed to the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. They all rejected it. I then followed up on the rejection from the Chicago Tribune, since Chicago is where I teach and the Tribune had earlier published an op-ed by Alan Dershowitz on this topic. The op-ed page editor, Marcia Lythcott ( just kept repeating, "I will not publish that op-ed." Readers might want to ask her and her editor, R. Bruce Dold (, why the Tribune is so vehement about not publishing an alternative viewpoint based on mainstream human rights sources.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Baker's Call

Baker Group Urges Major Policy Overhaul
Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (IPS) - Calling the situation in Iraq "grave and deteriorating," the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG) Wednesday urged a major overhaul of U.S. policies both in Iraq and the larger Middle East.

As anticipated, the 10-member group, which was co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, called for a phase-out of the U.S. combat role in Iraq between now and the first quarter of 2008 and an intensification of efforts to train and deploy Iraqi forces.

Among 79 recommendations included in its report, the ISG also called for urgently convening all of Iraq's neighbours, including Syria and Iran, as part of a comprehensive "New Diplomatic Offensive" designed to both stabilise Iraq and to address "key regional issues", including the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon, Syria, and President George W. Bush's June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine," the 142-page asserted in an implicit rebuke to Bush's neglect of these conflicts.

Calling on Washington to "act boldly", the report, which was adopted unanimously by the group's members, declared that "The United States does its ally Israel no favours in avoiding direct involvement to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict."

"You cannot look at this area of the world and pick and choose among the countries that you're going to deal with," Hamilton, the director of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre here, told a press briefing where the report was officially released. "Everything in the Middle East is connected to everything else, and this diplomatic initiative that we have put forward recognises that."

The report, which also called for increased U.S. military and other assistance for Afghanistan's government, was delivered to the White House at a breakfast meeting between the ISG and Bush early Wednesday. Bush thanked its members for their work and pledged to take its ideas "very seriously".

How seriously he will take them, however, is the subject of much speculation here. Just last week, for example, Bush appeared to rule out direct talks with either Damascus or Tehran, although the White House Wednesday stressed that it was prepared to engage the two countries as part of the "Iraq Compact Group" which last met, however, in 2004.

Most political analysts here insist that Bush's response could well depend on the degree to which Democrats rally behind the report and the reaction of key Republican lawmakers, who, shaken by their loss of Congress in last month's elections, have become increasingly impatient with the White House's insistence that its current strategy in Iraq and the region is working or needs only a few tactical adjustments.

The Congressionally-mandated ISG began work last March and included former Defence Secretary William Perry; former Attorney-General Edward Meese, and President Bill Clinton's chief of staff, Leon Panetta, and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, among others.

In addition to offering policy recommendations, its main purpose was to de-politicise the increasingly rancorous debate over Iraq by forming a consensus designed to appeal to centrists in both parties. "This country cannot be at war and be as divided as we are today," Panetta said.

The report thus explicitly ruled out policy options supported by the two parties' core constituencies. It warned, for example, that a "precipitate withdrawal of troops" from Iraq, as favoured by some Democrats, would result in "a significant power vacuum, greater human suffering, regional destabilization, and a threat to the global economy."

It also predicted that dividing Iraq into three autonomous regions, as proposed by the incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Joseph Biden, would "likely result in a humanitarian disaster or a broad-based civil war."

Conversely, it ruled out a "stay-the-course" solution as "no longer viable". "The United States must not make an open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in America," Hamilton said.

Indeed, the tone of both the report and Wednesday's briefing was both urgent and grim, as both co-chairs stressed repeatedly that the time for reversing the situation in Iraq was fast running out and may in fact already have done so.

"We believe that the situation in Iraq is very, very serious," noted Hamilton. "We do not know if it can be turned around, but we think we have an obligation to try, and if the recommendations that we have made are effectively implemented, there is at least a chance that you can see established a stable government in Iraq and stability in the region."

On Iraq itself, the report stressed that the U.S. should draw down virtually all of its combat troops over the next 15 months at the same time that it increases the number of U.S. trainers and troops "embedded" with Iraqi army units from the current 4,000 to as many as 20,000.

It did not rule out a substantial increase in the 140,000 troops currently deployed to Iraq, as a number of Republican hawks – and some retired generals -- have recently urged to curb violence in Baghdad, but warned that any major increase will not be sustainable in the medium or long term.

Stressing that no military solution in Iraq was possible, the report called for the U.S. to "engage all parties in Iraq, with the exception of al Qaeda" and for Bush to state that Washington does not seek either permanent military bases there or control of its oil.

It also urged Washington to set a series of specific objectives -- or "milestones" -- for furthering national reconciliation, security, and governance. If, however, the Iraqi government fails to make "substantial progress" toward their achievement, "the United States should reduce its political, military, or economic support," the report said.

As for the New Diplomatic Offensive, which is likely to prove the most controversial part of the report, the ISG stressed that it should go "beyond the primarily economic Compact for Iraq" by addressing political, diplomatic, and security issues throughout the region.

It called for the U.S. to "immediately seek the creation of the Iraq International Support Group" to include all of the country's neighbours, as well as key countries in the region and the world. All of Iraq's neighbours, including Syria and Iran, according to the ISG, "favor a unified Iraq that is strong enough to maintain its territorial integrity, but not so powerful as to threaten its neighbours."

"Under the aegis of the New Diplomatic Offensive and the Support Group, the United States should engage directly with Iran and Syria in order to try to obtain their commitment to constructive policies toward Iraq and other regional issues," the report stated, noting that Washington should "consider incentives to engage them constructively, much as it did successfully with Libya."

According to Baker, who met earlier in the fall with senior representatives from both countries, "we didn't get the feeling that Iran is chomping at the bit to come to the table with us to talk about Iraq, and, in fact, we say (in the report) we think they very well might not." On the other hand, he said, "there's some strong indications that (Syria) would be in a position to help us and might want to help us."

As to the wider regional context, including the Arab-Israelis conflict, the ISG called for "the unconditional calling and holding of meetings, under the auspices of the United States or the Quartet between Israel and Lebanon and Syria on the one hand, and Israel and Palestinians (who acknowledge Israel's right to exist) on the other... as soon as possible."

The aim would be "to negotiate peace as was done at the Madrid conference in 1991, and on two separate tracks -- one Syrian/Lebanese, and the other Palestinian." (END/2006)

Canada's Defence Capability Plan

Defence plan outlines military strategy

David Pugliese
CanWest News Service; Ottawa Citizen

Monday, December 04, 2006

Canada won't face a large-scale conventional military threat over the next 20 years but its troops will continue to operate overseas in failed states, having to deal with global terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, according to the military's long-range defence plan to be presented to government.

The Defence Capability Plan, or DCP, outlines the Canadian military's course for the next two decades as well as equipment to be purchased and gear to be sold off or mothballed.

The plan is ''based on an assessment that no large-scale conventional military threat to Canada currently exits; that the United States will remain our principal defence and security partner; and that the Canadian Forces will continue to deploy overseas in an environment marked by failed states, global terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,'' according to DCP planning records produced earlier this year for Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor and obtained by the Citizen through the Access to Information law.

Defence sources also confirmed those key assumptions are at the heart of the plan.

Military officers and defence bureaucrats say they view the DCP as different from similar previous plans put forward under the Liberal government since they have received assurances from the Harper government this scheme will be fully funded with billions of dollars of new money.

That, they say, is different from past practices. For instance, the Liberals announced in 2004 that they were fast-tracking a scheme to purchase new fixed-wing search and rescue planes to replace the aging Buffalo aircraft which do the job now. But that plan went nowhere.

Military officers expect the Harper government's adoption of the DCP will mean quick action on the search-and-rescue aircraft since much of the ground work needed to acquire the planes has already been done.

The strategy outlined in the DCP is divided into several phases, each five years long. The first phase, actually already underway, focuses on new structures and equipment purchases announced this summer. The second phase calls for further integration of the Canadian Forces, a third phase introduces major new capabilities in the future such as laying the groundwork for the purchase of high-tech warships to replace the navy's frigates. The fourth and final phase is the end-state of a ''more effective Canadian Forces,'' according to the planning documents.

Much of the plan is based on initiatives already put into motion by Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier such as the creation of new formations like Canada Command and a special forces command.

But the DCP also incorporates the Conservative's ''Canada First'' strategy, the term the Tories use for its overall approach to defence. Included in that is an increased military presence in the Arctic, as outlined by the Conservatives during the election campaign, as well as increases in the size of the Canadian Forces.

According to sources the plan sets out an ambitious and realistic capability investment and transformation strategy.

The plan was ready in draft form in the spring and military planners have spent months adapting it to include the Conservative's defence proposals.

The DCP was originally supposed to be ready by the end of the summer for government approval. Military officials now say they expect Cabinet to approve the plan by the end of the year or early next year.

Etienne Allard, spokesman for Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor, declined to discuss when the capability plan might be made public. The Conservative government ''is in the process of reviewing the future needs and priorities of the Canadian Forces,'' he stated in an email.

The DCP proposes moving ahead with the purchase of a utility aircraft for operations in the Arctic. Work was already underway in the military on such an acquisition when the Conservatives took power earlier this year. As well, the plan is proposing a new fleet of patrol vessels for the north. The establishment of an arctic warfare school is also seen as key.

At a defence conference in September, Vice Admiral Drew Robertson, the head of the navy, outlined the idea of the arctic ships but said work on those vessels is still in its infancy. ''What we have to do is figure out precisely what problems we're trying to solve because that will dictate the range of ships that might be of greatest use,'' he said in an interview with the Citizen.

Also included in the DCP is the relocation of the Joint Task Force 2 special operations base. The unit has outgrown its Ottawa base in Dwyer Hill, according to officers.

Doug Bland, director of the defence management studies program at Queens University, said it is not expected the DCP will contain any surprises but instead build on the transformation plan Gen. Hillier has already put into motion as well as incorporate the Conservatives defence election promises.

Bland said a key aspect of the DCP should be the increase in the size of the Canadian Forces.

Ottawa Citizen

© CanWest News Service 2006

Continental Integration of Military Command Structures: A Threat to Canada's Sovereignty

by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, May 12, 2006

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The issue of continental integration of military command structures has been on the US-Canada agenda since April 2002. Until recently, it has barely been mentioned by the Canadian media.

Territorial control over Canada is part of Washington's geopolitical and military agenda as formulated in April 2002 by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "Binational integration" of military command structures is also contemplated alongside a major revamping in the areas of immigration, law enforcement and intelligence.

Since 2002, Ottawa has been quietly negotiating a far-reaching military cooperation agreement. In November 2004, Global Research published a detailed article on the subject, an abridged version of which was accepted for publication as an Op Ed piece in the Toronto Star. That article never appeared in print. More generally, the Canadian media has failed to provide coverage of an issue which strikes at the heart of Canada's territorial sovereignty.

What the current news coverage fails to acknowledge is that the US Military can cross the border and deploy troops anywhere in Canada, in our provinces, as well station American warships in Canadian territorial waters. This redesign of Canada's defense system has for the last four years been discussed behind closed doors, not in Canada, but at the Peterson Air Force base in Colorado, at the headquarters of US Northern Command (NORTHCOM).

The creation of NORTHCOM announced in April 2002, constitutes a blatant violation of both Canadian and Mexican territorial sovereignty. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced unilaterally that US Northern Command would have jurisdiction over the entire North American region. Canada and Mexico were presented with a fait accompli. US Northern Command's jurisdiction as outlined by the US DoD includes, in addition to the continental US, all of Canada, Mexico, as well as portions of the Caribbean, contiguous waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans up to 500 miles off the Mexican, US and Canadian coastlines as well as the Canadian Arctic.

NorthCom's stated mandate is to "provide a necessary focus for [continental] aerospace, land and sea defenses, and critical support for [the] nation’s civil authorities in times of national need."

(Canada-US Relations - Defense Partnership – July 2003, Canadian American Strategic Review (CASR),

Rumsfeld is said to have boasted that "the NORTHCOM – with all of North America as its geographic command – 'is part of the greatest transformation of the Unified Command Plan [UCP] since its inception in 1947.'" (Ibid)

In my "censored" Toronto Star article, I had warned that the process of Bi-National Integration implying the integration of military command structures was slated to be completed in May 2006:

"What we are dealing with is a "military marriage' characterized by the integration of the two countries' command structures.

Missile Defense is part of "the vows" of this "military marriage", something which nobody in Canada wants to talk about.

This military marriage has certain underlying obligations and commitments.

If Canada accepts to join NORTHCOM and integrate US command structures, it not only "promises to cherish" Star Wars, it also becomes an official member of the Anglo-American military axis, integrated by Israel (unofficially) and Australia.

Canada thereby becomes a pro-active partner in America's ongoing military adventure, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iran, North Korea and beyond, not to mention the preemptive use of nuclear weapons in conventional war theaters directed "against rogue enemies and terrorists".

Shortly prior to the Bush-Martin meetings in Ottawa in November 2004, it was decided to extend the Binational Planning Group arrangement until May 2006. In other words, what is really at stake is the process leading up to a formal announcement of Canada's accession to NORTHCOM, prior to the May 2006 cut-off date." (emphasis added, For the comnplete article click here)

While Canada's accession to NORTHCOM has not yet been formally implemented, it is on the agenda of the new conservative government, coinciding with the completion of the BPG's mandate.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 12 May 2006


Below are the links to the original articles published by Global Research:

Is the Annexation of Canada part of Bush's Military Agenda? - by Michel Chossudovsky - 2004-11-24 (detailed analysis of the Bi-National Planning Group and the process of integration of military command structures).

Canada and America: Missile Defense and the Vows of Military Integration - by Michel Chossudovsky - 2005-02-23, article accepted on three occasions by the Toronto Star, never published. Recipient of Project Censored Award, University of California at Sonoma.


See Prof. Michael Byers incisive Op Ed in the Toronto Star

Continental integration by stealth

As Ottawa prepares to renew NORAD agreement, a bi-national panel suggests nothing less than the complete integration of Canada's military, security and foreign policy into the decision-making and operating systems of the U.S., writes Michael Byers
Apr. 28, 2006. 01:00 AM

They seem harmless enough at first: two mid-level Canadian Forces officers and a mild-mannered bespectacled American consultant explaining the work of their 48-member Bi-National Planning Group to audiences across Canada. Their professed goal is to improve co-operation between the Canadian and U.S. militaries, the better to defend both countries.

Yet a close reading of their final report released last month, reveals that their actual intent — or at least the intent of the politicians who set their mandate — is far from benign. They seek nothing less than the complete integration of Canada's military, security and foreign policy into the decision-making and operating systems of the U.S.

In 2002, it was revealed that Ottawa and Washington were contemplating a "combined defence plan" that would have placed our forces under the umbrella of the U.S.'s new Northern Command (NORTHCOM).

Opposition to the plan quickly led to its being shunted out of view and into the newly created Bi-National Planning Group (BPG). Based at the headquarters of NORTHCOM and the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) in Colorado Springs, the planning group was intended to devise counterpoints to critics' concerns, while postponing formal decision-making until a more politically opportune moment.

Today, two Canadian elections later, the authors of the BPG report can hardly believe their luck. Prime Minister Stephen Harper may have only a minority government, but there is little doubt he desires closer ties with Washington.

The BPG recommendations are far-reaching. They aim at "enhanced co-ordination and co-operation among our foreign policy, defence and security organizations" at "the level (although not necessarily the form) of co-operation that now exists in NORAD."

In NORAD, the defence of Canadian and U.S. airspace is assigned to a single command which, while supposedly based on the equality of the two countries, is always headed by a senior U.S. officer.

The BPG is, in actuality, advocating co-operation at the level of a single, U.S.-dominated command for all of Canada's territory and our surrounding seas. Under this plan, the entire Canadian Forces, unless deployed overseas in operations not led by the U.S., could find themselves under American "operational control" with Americans making all key day-to-day decisions.

Not to worry, the BPG assures us calmly: "Command" will remain in Canadian hands. And that's true, insofar as Canadians would retain responsibility for administrative tasks such as hiring, promotion and pensions.

The BPG also recommends closer co-operation in security and foreign policy: "Canada and the U.S. must continue to act as partners; indeed ... the partnership must be expanded, to shape the future of North American defence and security, using all of the instruments of diplomatic, economic, informational and military power."

It is in the context of information-sharing that the BPG recommends the immediate extension of NORAD into the maritime domain as part of next month's renewal of the NORAD agreement.

Ottawa intends to follow this recommendation when it brings the new NORAD agreement, complete with a provision on maritime surveillance sharing, before Parliament in one or two weeks.

In normal circumstances, the instantaneous sharing of information on ships approaching North America might make sense.

In an age of sea-launched cruise missiles, approaching vessels could pose security threats on timelines that are too short for conventional communication protocols.

But the BPG changes the circumstances by indicating that maritime surveillance sharing is intended as a forerunner for much closer co-operation:

It calls the upcoming NORAD agreement renewal "an important step toward enhancing the defence and security of our continent. To continue this momentum a `Comprehensive Defence and Security Agreement' is the logical next step ... "

The BPG presents four alternatives for the new agreement. The first is an expanded NORAD responsible for "all-domain warning" — in the air, at sea, on land and in cyberspace — but with its response capability limited to the air. This new, surveillance-focused NORAD would exist in parallel with Northern Command and the recently established Canadian-run Canada Command.

The second alternative involves a NORAD command that would provide both "all-domain warning and response to asymmetric threats and attacks." Under this approach, NORTHCOM and Canada Command would continue to exist separately with "the capability to respond unilaterally to threats against their respective countries."

However, in reality, the single command would prevail in most defence matters on the North American continent, including armed responses at sea and on land. It would also, inevitably, be dominated by the U.S., a fact which the BPG admits would generate "concerns over sovereignty."

The third alternative gives primacy to NORTHCOM and Canada Command and demotes NORAD to a "Standing Combined Task Force" responsible for providing "bi-national, all-domain awareness and warning" to each national command and, "where appropriate, a combined and co-ordinated response to threats and attacks against Canada and the United States."

As the BPG explains, this alternative "relies upon the ... commitment of those commands toward a continental approach to defence and security." But don't be misled: It still envisages a comprehensive system for surveillance sharing as well as "combined" responses.

The fourth, most ambitious alternative involves "a truly integrated approach to continental defence and security through a deliberate melding of defence and security functions." This would be achieved by "establishing a single organization responsible for all-domain, bi-national warning and execution in the realms of defence and security."

This fourth alternative — full integration — is presented as the ultimate goal of improved co-operation."

The BPG report thus reveals that expanding NORAD to include maritime surveillance sharing is intended to create momentum toward complete military, security and foreign policy integration.

It is part of a deliberately fostered trend that includes Canada's involvement in the U.S.-led counterinsurgency in southern Afghanistan, the instantaneous sharing of NORAD aerospace surveillance for U.S. missile defence, and the Harper government's support for Bush administration foreign policies on climate change, nuclear proliferation, and the Middle East.

We are being subjected to continental integration by stealth. Indeed, the BPG report warns of a "small but vocal minority" concerned about Canadian sovereignty and recommends the use of an "incremental" approach.

Beware the gentle proponents of closer military co-operation. Canada, once proudly independent, is in danger of allowing itself to be suffocated in America's embrace.

Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia.

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Monday, December 04, 2006


NAFTA Super-Disasta

American Free Press | December 4, 2006
Mark Anderson

American Free Press has learned that a group of foreign companies, which
currently lease a toll road in Indiana and are looking at buying up other
highways across the country, has its eyes on the Trans-Texas Corridor, or
TTC. The TTC is a planned toll road system through the Lone Star State that
will largely be used for trucking foreign merchandise into the United States
on the wings of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

It will be a major leg of the so-called "NAFTA Superhighway," and, according
to watchdog groups, it will lead to more cheap goods flooding the country
and will be devastating to the U.S.-based trucking industry.

In the April 17, 2006 edition, AFP reported that ITR Concessions LLC, a
partnership of Cintra of Spain and the McQuarie Bank of Australia, spent
$3.85 billion to lease the Indiana Toll Road from the state for 75 years.

Now that same coalition is branching out into Texas. On Nov. 21, the
Internet version of The Lone Star Iconoclast, a Crawford, Tex.-based
publication, reported that Todd Spencer, the executive vice president of the
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, or OOIDA, "is asking
truckers to bypass the Indiana Toll Road that has been leased to the Spanish
consortium, Cintra, the same outfit that Gov. [Rick] Perry and TXDOT (The
Texas Department of Transportation) contracted with to operate the hated
Trans Texas Corridor."

According to Spencer, McQuarie will also be involved in the TTC. Steve
Bonney, a Lafayette, Ind., farmer who helped fight this arrangement in
Indiana courts, revealed then that some of that money would be used to
extend Interstate 69 from Indianapolis to the Kentucky border. From there
I-69 would proceed into south Texas by the Mexican border, eventually
becoming yet another conduit in the vast network of "NAFTA tollways" being
envisioned. Interstate 69 ends to the north in Port Huron, Mich., at the
Canadian border.

An Oct. 26 OOIDA pre-election news bulletin noted, "Texas lawmakers made a
very big mistake when they overwhelmingly voted in 2003 to move forward with
Gov. Rick Perry's plan for the Trans-Texas Corridor-they did it despite
overwhelming public sentiment against the effort. The corridor
is an intermodal route that would cut across Texas from the Mexican border
to Oklahoma and include toll lanes."

Cintra is teaming up with Zachry, a San Antonio firm, for the project's
planning phase.

"The Associated Press released an analysis of a campaign ad . . .
erroneously stating that Spain-based Cintra holds a 65% equity position in
Cintra Zachry LP. That's wrong. The correct equity position is 85% with
Zachry Construction holding the small 15% equity balance, noted a report on, a web site that is monitoring the growth of the NAFTA
Superhighway. features a map on its web site that reveals various TTC
segments that crisscross Texas.

Activist Sal Costello of People for Efficient Transportation, based in
Austin, Tex., told AFP that while much of the Texas public is perhaps dimly
aware of the TTC, the concept behind the TTC is becoming better known and
opposition to it is increasing, especially since the Nov. 7 gubernatorial

In the lead-up to the election, three of the four candidates, particularly
Independent Carol Strayhorn, opposed the TTC and made it one of their top
campaign issues. Not surprisingly, incumbent Perry, who was reelected, did
not mention the TTC. Despite this, the mainstream media throughout Texas
largely ignored the issue.

Costello told AFP that officials would like Americans to believe that work
has not commenced on the TTC. However, he said ground has actually been
broken on the TTC. He pointed out that highway 130, a north-south segment
that will stretch 49 miles when completed sometime in 2007, is already
partially finished.

Costello also said that while some TTC sections represent new tollway
construction, existing freeways already paid for with tax dollars are being
converted into tollways. "It's a combination of a land grab, which is the
TTC, and a road grab, which is the conversion of our freeways," he said.

Traditionally, motorists use tollways as an alternative to other
taxpayer-financed interstates. However, if these Texas developments
continue, Costello said, most drivers there will be forced to use tollways.
Furthermore, voter-approved bond dollars for more traditional Texas
transportation needs are being diverted into toll road plans.

The TTC is one of many planned routes for which land will have to be gobbled
up to lay pavement, to run utility lines and to construct new railroad
routes on the way to Kansas City, Mo., a major hub for these free trade

Even though Kansas City is some 1,000 miles away from the Southern border,
it will function as a U.S. Customs inspection point. Activists believe it is
likely that eminent domain land grabs will soar in the coming years as the
project steams on. Texas was not among the states with eminent domain
restrictions on the ballot Nov. 7.

Spencer noted the TTC will largely be used by truckers from Mexico, who will
be transporting goods from Mexico, China and other nations where people work
for slave wages.

"The Bush Administration is bending over backwards to accommodate Mexican
trucks coming into the United States," said Spencer. "Worldwide, trucks are
the weapons of choice of terrorists. Nobody is going to check [what is
really in that truck]. We evidently have a lot of people in the U.S. who
have lost their minds."

Spencer said Mexican truckers will be able to go anywhere once they cross
the border. Since Mexico does not have stringent safety regulations, there
is no way to verify the safety of Mexican trucks or drivers. He doubts that
anyone will do background checks on drivers before they can enter the United

Spencer said the TTC will be devastating to domestic truckers and freight

TXDOT wants to charge truckers 40 cents a mile to travel the TTC. "This is
the equivalent of about $2.40 (per gallon) in just new fuel taxes," said
Spencer. "If gas were $2.60 a gallon, that would be equivalent to gas at $5
a gallon."

Furthermore, an anti-competition clause in the Cintra contract reportedly
prohibits Texas from making improvements to parallel routes. Therefore,
highway users "will be forced to use the TTC toll roads even if Texas has to
close down lanes on existing highways," said Spencer.

Some whopper TTC routes may be one-quarter-mile wide, with up to six lanes,
in each direction and room for utility lines and rail lines.

Spencer told AFP that international investors are drooling at the prospects
of acquiring U.S. toll roads in 35 states, including in Pennsylvania where
State Rep. Rick Geist of the House Transportation Committee plans early in
2007 to introduce House Bill 1 to sell or lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike to
the highest bidder. Spencer said the terms "sell" and "lease" are synonymous
when it comes to toll road deals, since many agreements last for 75 years or

"This is the latest Wall Street craze," Spencer said. In Illinois, elected
officials have been resisting a proposed toll bridge, largely funded by
foreign investors, over the Mississippi River from Illinois to St. Louis,
Mo. Spencer thinks Illinois officials will be lobbied hard to change their

"Goldman Sachs made more than $20 million on the Indiana Toll Road deal,"
Spencer told AFP. "This is U.S. transportation policy coming right from the
White House-sell our roads."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Gorilla Radio for Monday, December 4th, 2006

PEJ News
- C. L. Cook - This week on GR; Bill Jeffery of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest and Parliament's failure to deliver safe food policy for Canadians. Activist and citizen journalist, Aaron Sussman and when outrage is not enough. And; Janine Bandcroft bringing us up to speed with some of the good things to get up to in and around Victoria in the coming week.

Chris Cook
hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, 104.3 cable, and on the internet at: He also serves as a contributing editor at the progressive web news site: You can check out the GR blog at:

Gorilla Radio for Monday, December 4th, 2006

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
December 3, 2006

If we are what we eat, then most Canadians have no idea of just what consistutes their...constitutions. Canada is experiencing a health crisis. Diabetes rates are skyrocketting for both types I and II; heart disease, and the myriad health complications associated with obesity are making ill and killing thousands of citizens every year, and yet the country is getting fatter by the day. And the forecast for future generations doesn't look good if current trends continue. But how to address the issue?

Bill Jeffery is the National Coordinator for the Canadian office of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit health advocacy organization specializing in nutrition and food safety issues in Canada and the United States. The centre is a supporter of MP Tom Wappel's proposed Bill C-283, an act to amend food labelling laws in this country.

Bill Jeffery in the first half.

And; the ancient Chinese curse is a wish one's enemies live in "interesting times." I don't remember getting on the wrong side of the ancient Chinese, but I'm not alone in that: Today we all live in the most interesting times ever seen. Wars and rumours of war, pestilence, famine, and death stalk the planet, unchallenged by any adequate power of good; but, it is also a time of unprecedented access to myriad new mediums of communication, where the outrages perpetrated against men, women, and children, some seemingly for no better reason than terrorizing the people, are answered with moral outrage expressed across those emerging mediums.

Aaron Sussman, one of those voices of outrage says; while anger is good, and motivational, outrage isn't enough. Aaron is co-creator of Incite Magazine, a radio host at A Crowded Fire, heard on WESU radio, and a contributing writer to, the Atlantic Free Press, Alternet's WireTap, and the web sites, Dissident Voice, Online Journal, Eat the State,, among others. Aaron Sussman going beyond outrage in the second half.

And; Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with all that's good to do in and around Victoria this week. But first, Bill Jeffery, exploring what's on the Canadian plate.

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Some past guests include: M. Junaid Alam, M. Shahid Alam, Joel Bakan, Maude Barlow, David Barsamian, Rhoda Berenson, William Blum, Luciana Bohne, William Bowles, Vincent Bugliosi, Helen Caldicott, Noam Chomsky, Michel Chossudovsky, Diane Christian, Juan Cole, David Cromwell, Murray Dobbin, Jon Elmer, Reese Erlich, Anthony Fenton, Jim Fetzer, Laura Flanders, Chris Floyd, Connie Fogal, Susan George, Stan Goff, Amy Goodman, Robert Greenwald, Denis Halliday, Chris Hedges, Sander Hicks, Julia Butterfly Hill, Robert Jensen, Dahr Jamail, Diana Johnstone, Kathy Kelly, Naomi Klein, Anthony Lappe, Frances Moore Lappe, Jason Leopold, Jeff Leys, Dave Lindorff, Jim Lobe, Jennifer Loewenstein, Wayne Madsen, Stephen Marshall, Linda McQuaig, George Monbiot, Loretta Napoleoni, John Nichols, Kurt Nimmo, David Orchard, Greg Palast, Mike Palecek, Michael Parenti, Robert Parry, Kevin Pina, William Rivers Pitt, Justin Podur, Jack Random, Sheldon Rampton, Paul Craig Roberts, Paul de Rooij, John Ross, Danny Schechter, Vandana Shiva, Norman Solomon, Starhawk, Grant Wakefield, Paul Watson, Bernard Weiner, Mickey Z., Dave Zirin, and many others.

Stay informed. Subscribe and get the best of PEJ News by email. Free.

10 Reasons to Support Tom Wappel’s Bill C-283

Centre for Science in the Public Interest’s

10 Reasons to Support Tom Wappel’s Bill C-283 on September 18, 2006
Summary of Bill C-283, An Act to Amend the Food and Drugs Act (food labelling):

• Restaurant menus: Requires large chain-restaurants to post the number of calories in standard menu items beside the corresponding price on fast food restaurant menu boards and, at table service restaurants (where more spacious menus are used), also the amount of sodium, and the sum of saturated plus trans fat per serving. Single restaurants, small chains and non-standard menu items are exempt.

• Fresh meat labels: Requires that all labels of fresh meat, poultry and seafood (i.e., not just processed meats) sold in large retail stores disclose nutrition facts required for most other foods by regulations promulgated in December 2002.

• Ingredient labelling on packages of manufactured foods: Requires that pre-packaged, multi-ingredient foods show the percentage-by-weight of key ingredients (especially ones relevant to health, e.g., added sugars, fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains).

1. It ensures practical health information is available to consumers. Bill C-283 will ensure that life-saving information is on food labels and menus where Canadians can effectively use it to choose more healthful foods.

2. These label/menu reforms have impressive support from civil society and experts. The measures advocated in Bill C-283 are supported by more than two dozen health and citizens groups collectively representing more than 2 million Canadians.1

One or more of the three measures proposed in Bill C-283 is echoed in seven Canadian and US expert reports.2

3. Restaurants, meat packers and food processors have ignored or resisted calls for objective
health information on labels and menus.

● The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice Association’s voluntary nutrition information program does not encourage chains to furnish nutrition information on menus (where it can be effectively used by consumers) but, instead, comparatively useless “fine-print” disclosures on web-sites, brochures and the bottoms of tray liners (e.g., at McDonalds) where it is barely visible to consumers, especially prior to purchase; only Extreme Pita, Subway and White Spot chains voluntarily provide some nutrition facts on menus.

● Meat packers won an exemption from the December 2002 nutrition labelling regulations by pleading inability to develop accurate nutrition information for various cuts and species of meat until 2005; Bill C-283 would provide them until 2009 to complete their calculations. Yet, e.g., the Beef Information Centre website, now updated to 2004, indicates that trimmed lean T-bone has four times as much saturated fat as eye of round3 -- a fact not evident from visual inspection of meat.

● Some manufacturers refuse to provide quantitative ingredient information they obviously possess, even at the request of consumers.

4. Consumers grossly underestimate fat, salt and caloric content of restaurant foods and over-estimate the calorie-burning potential of exercise. A study published in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health found that saturated fat and calorie content of typical restaurant foods are actually double, and sodium is quadruple what consumers estimate, and providing accurate information significantly influenced consumers’ food choices.4 Also, e.g., an adult would have to run for two hours to burn the calories in a Quarter Pounder with cheese Extra Value Meal (i.e., with medium fries and a Coke).5

5. Canadian law is inadequate to prevent consumer deception, even about the amounts of ingredients with important health implications. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency: “In principle, any emphasis regarding the presence of an ingredient…should be accompanied by a statement regarding the amount of that ingredient…present in the food.” A major World Health Organization expert report concluded that fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes; fruits and vegetables also help reduce the risk hypertension and of certain forms of cancer.6 But, without rules like those proposed in Bill C-283, the food industry markets products like strawberry-kiwi juice made mostly from apple and grape juices (Dole), whole grain crackers made with mostly refined flour (Christie), and vegetable soup whose first ingredient is beef broth (Campbell). And, unbeknownst to many Canadians, e.g., fruit jam with pectin can have as little as 27% fruit7, there is no minimum vegetable content for vegetarian lasagne or tomato sauce, and “fruit drinks/punch” may contain virtually no real juice.8

6. Providing Bill C-283 information will involve trivial costs. Manufacturers obviously know the percentage-by-weight of ingredients used to make their processed foods. Nearly all large chain restaurants already have (or can readily calculate) nutrition information for their standardized menu items; most provide it on demand or on web-sites anyway. And nutritional profiles of meat, poultry and seafood are already provided on some meat industry web-sites. Menus and labels of affected products can be modified during the next three years while replenishing label stocks or updating menus. According to our estimates, analytical costs, where necessary, would be less than 1/10th of 1% of unit retail costs, even in the worst case scenario.

7. Providing nutrition information is not expensive, withholding it is. Every year, diet-related cases of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer cost the Canadian economy $6.6 billion9 and lead to tens of thousands of premature deaths. Four diet-related risk factors (blood pressure, cholesterol, overweight, and low fruit/vegetable intake) cause a reduction of healthy life expectancy by nearly five years.10 “Nutrition Facts” now required on most prepackaged foods (even without fresh, un-ground meat) are predicted to prompt dietary changes yielding $5 billion in cumulative economic benefits (i.e., reduced health care costs and
increased productivity) during the next two decades – recouping approx. 5% of the costs of diet-related disease and 20 times the costs of changing labels. Bill C-283 measures can amplify those benefits with even cheaper implementation costs.

8. There is space on labels and menus to provide vital health information. Persistent suggestions by food industry associations that there is insufficient space to furnish important health information on labels and menus is false, on its face.

9. Quantitative ingredient information is not protected by food companies’ intellectual property rights. Food companies have never demonstrated any legal basis (credible or otherwise) for their claim to a right to conceal information about the amounts of ingredients they use in foods intended for human consumption. In fact, some form of quantitative ingredient declaration is already required by law on food labels throughout the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Thailand.

10. Consumers are entitled to know what is in our food and our children are entitled to a healthcare system not overburdened by preventable illness. Canadians are entitled to know what’s in our food especially when it affects our health. As baby boomers age, healthcare demands will become increasingly difficult for their working children and grandchildren to sustain. Boomers should support Bill C-283 to ensure they can make informed decisions about their own health.

1 These groups include: National Federation for Seniors and Pensioners, Community Nutritionists Council of British Columbia, L'Association des Diététistes au Québec,
Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health, Canadian Women's Health Network, Canada's Association for the Fifty-Plus, Canadian Society for Exercise
Physiology, Association of Ontario Health Centres, Canadian Paraplegic Association, Canadian Assn. for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity,
Centre for Health Promotion Studies (University of Alberta), Sport PEI, Eastern Health and Community Services Board (Clarenville, Newfoundland), DAWN Canada:
DisAbled Women’s Network Canada, DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network of Ontario, Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, Multicultural Health Brokers Coop,
Union des consommateurs, Toronto Food Policy Council, HEAL Network of Northern British Columbia, National Eating Disorder Information Centre, National Retired
Workers Advisory Council, Nutrition Services (Whitehorse Regional Hospital), Edmonton School Lunch Program, Edmonton City Centre Church Corporation, Palliser
Health Region (Alberta), Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, Canadian Teachers' Federation, and Centre for Science in the Public Interest.

2 Raine, K, Overweight and Obesity in Canada: A Population Health Perspective, (Ottawa: Canadian Population Health Initiative of the Canadian Institute for Health
Information, 2004) which states, at 60: “Policy Option No. 9: Based upon extensive evidence generated from knowledge and experience with other health issues in Canada
(such as tobacco) and from other countries, apply promising practices for population-based policy change to promote healthy weights. Policies that could be considered

• Expand food and nutrition labelling to food-service operations, including fast food.”
National Academies Institute of Medicine, Industry Can Play a Role in Preventing Child Obesity: Fact Sheet (Washington: IOM, 2004) which recommends in part: “ Fast
food and full service restaurants should expand healthier meal, food, and beverage options (including children's meals) and provide calorie content and general nutrition
information at the point of purchase.
Dr. Sheela Basrur, Chief Medical Officer Of Health, 2004 Report Of The CMOH: Healthy Weights, Healthy Lives, (Toronto: CMOH, 2004) at 50 and 53 which
recommends, in part: “To create a national environment that promotes healthy weights, Health Canada should:…broaden mandatory nutrition labelling to: • cover fresh meat,
poultry and seafood (i.e., foods that were exempted from mandatory nutrition labelling rules finalized in January 2003)

• require large chain restaurants to disclose basic nutrition facts (e.g., calories) about the foods they serve... To help create an environment that promotes healthy weights, the food industry should:…Increase user-friendly food labelling on large chain restaurant menus and take-out/deli foods.”

Press release: “Report Card on Health - Heart and Stroke Foundation Warns Fat Is the New Tobacco” issued by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada setting out the
Foundation’s “Call to Action” which recommends, in part: “Improve nutritional labeling and information in quick serve restaurants. Statistics show that on any given day,
30% of kids living in North America visit a fast food restaurant. Their parents should have access to nutrition information on the overhead and table menus to help make
informed choices at the point of purchase.”

Irene Strychar, E.D., R.D., “Fighting Obesity: A Call to Arms” (2004) 95 Canadian Journal of Public Health 12-14 which recommended that: “Restaurants should provide
caloric and fat content of menu items.”
BC Healthy Living Alliance, “Regulatory and Economic Interventions” which recommends: “Advocate for the federal implementation of a standardized system of nutrition
information for products that includes all foods (not just packaged), including at point-of-purchase.”

H. Krueger and Assoc., Risk Factor Interventions: An Overview of Their Effectiveness, (Vancouver: CCS & BC Cancer Agency, February 2005) which concluded at 183:
“The most promising interventions to pursue in an initial obesity control campaign include: Increased attention to the environmental signals concerning diet and activity,
from the nutrition labelling of products and menu items to…”
3 See:
4 Scot Burton, et al., “Attacking the Obesity Epidemic: The Potential Health Benefits of Providing Nutrition Information in Restaurants,” American Journal of Public Health
2006;96(9): 1669-75.
5 Running and other heavy activities burn 450-720 calories per hour. See: Snyder CH, The Extraordinary Chemistry of Ordinary Things, 3d Ed. (Toronto: John Wiley, 1998)
at 398. The total calorie count for a Quarter Pounder with Cheese Extra Value Meal is: 1,090.
6 WHO, Report of the Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation on Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, (Tech. Rpt. 916), (Geneva: WHO, 2003).
7 Food and Drug Regulations, C.R.C., c. 870, section B.11.202.
8 Food and Drug Regulations, C.R.C., c. 870, section B.11.150.
9 In 2000, the Federal Government estimated that the economic burden of diet related disease was $5.3 billion due to heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. See:
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada and Health Canada, Costs and Benefits of Nutrition Information (Ottawa: AAFC, May 2000) at 4. More recently, Health Canada
estimated that the total economic burden of diet-related disease was $6.6 billion. See: Diane Gorman, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health, “Speech at the Stakeholder
Meeting on the Review of Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating,” (Ottawa: Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, January 20, 2004) at 3. Available on the
Internet at: and see Health Canada (2003)
Economic Research Analysis Section, Policy Research Division, Strategic Policy Directorate, Population and Public Health Branch. Custom tabulations.
10 See: World Health Organization, The World Health Report 2002, (Geneva: WHO, 2002). Esp. see Table 4 in the annex which shows that loss of healthy life expectancy
due to all risk factors is 9.4 disability-adjusted-life-years averaged for Canadian men and women at and Table 10
which shows that, in developed countries, 50% of all-risk-attributable Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) were lost due to blood pressure, cholesterol, overweight, low
fruit and vegetable intake, and certain rare types of childhood and maternal undernutrition at 50% of 9.4 years is
4.7 years.
For more information contact:
Bill Jeffery, L.LB., National Coordinator, Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)
Suite 4550, CTTC Bldg., 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5R1 Tel.: 613-244-7337 Fax: 613-244-1559
CSPI is a non-profit health advocacy organization specializing in nutrition and food safety issues with offices in Ottawa and Washington, D.C.
CSPI's Ottawa health advocacy is funded primarily by 100,000 subscribers to the Canadian edition of Nutrition Action Healthletter.
CSPI does not accept funding from industry or government.