Saturday, February 16, 2008

The New Walls to Fall

Bringing Down The New Berlin walls

In his latest article for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes how the Palestinian breakout of Gaza offers inspiration for people struggling to bring down the new Berlin Walls all over the world.

By John Pilger

15/02/08 "ICH" -- -- The recent breakout of the people of Gaza provided a heroic spectacle unlike any other since the Warsaw ghetto uprising and the smashing down of the Berlin Wall. Whereas on the occupied West Bank, Ariel Sharon's master plan of walling in the population and stealing their land and resources has all but succeeded, requiring only a Palestinian Vichy to sign it off, the people of Gaza have defied their tormentors, however briefly, and it is a guarantee they will do so again. There is profound symbolism in their achievement, touching lives and hopes all over the world.

"[Sharon's] fate for us," wrote Karma Nabulsi, a Palestinian, "was a Hobbesian vision of an anarchic society: truncated, violent, powerless, destroyed, cowed, ruled by disparate militias, gangs, religious ideologues and extremists, broken up into ethnic and religious tribalism, and co-opted [by] collaborationists. Look to the Iraq of today – that is what he had in store for us and he nearly achieved it."

Israel's and America's experiments in mass suffering nearly achieved it. There was First Rains, the code name for a terror of sonic booms that came every night and sent Gazan children mad. There was Summer Rains, which showered bombs and missiles on civilians, then extrajudicial executions, and finally a land invasion. Ehud Barak, the current Israeli defence minister, has tried every kind of blockade: the denial of electricity for water and sewage pumps, incubators and dialysis machines and the denial of fuel and food to a population of mostly malnourished children. This has been accompanied by the droning, insincere, incessant voices of western broadcasters and politicians, one merging with the other, platitude upon platitude, tribunes of the "international community" whose response is not to help, but to excuse an indisputably illegal occupation as "disputed" and damn a democratically elected Palestinian Authority as "Hamas militants" who "refuse to recognise Israel's right to exist" when it is Israel that demonstrably refuses to recognise the Palestinians' right to exist.

"What is being hidden from the [Israeli] public," wrote Uri Avnery, a founder of Gush Shalom, the Israeli peace movement, on 26 January, "is that the launching of the Qassams [rockets from Gaza] could be stopped tomorrow. Several months ago, Hamas proposed a ceasefire. It repeated the offer this week . . . Why doesn't our government jump at this proposal? Simple: to make such a deal, we must speak to Hamas . . . It is more important to boycott Hamas than to put an end to the suffering of Sderot. All the media co-operate with this pretence." Hamas long ago offered Israel a ten-year ceasefire and has since recognised the "reality" of the Jewish state. This is almost never reported in the west.

The inspiration of the Palestinian breakout from Gaza was dramatically demonstrated by the star Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Aboutreika. Helping his national side to a 3-0 victory over Sudan in the African Nations Cup, he raised his shirt to reveal a T-shirt with the words "Sympathise with Gaza" in English and Arabic. The crowd stood and cheered, and hundreds of thousands of people around the world expressed their support for him and for Gaza. An Egyptian journalist who joined a delegation of sports writers to Fifa to protest against Aboutreika's yellow card said: "It is actions like his that bring many walls down, walls of silence, walls in our minds."

In the murdochracies, where most of the world is viewed as useful or expendable, we have little sense of this. The news selection is unremittingly distracting and disabling. The cynicism of an identical group of opportunists laying claim to the White House is given respectability as each of them competes to support the Bush regime's despotic war-making. John McCain, almost certainly the Republican nominee for president, wants a "hundred-year war". That the leading Democratic candidates are a woman and a black man is of supreme irrelevance; the fanatical Condoleezza Rice is both female and black. Look into the murky world behind Hillary Clinton and you find the likes of Monsanto, a company that produced Agent Orange, the war chemical that continues to destroy Vietnam. One of Barack Obama's chief whisperers is Zbigniew Brzezinski, architect of Operation Cyclone in Afghanistan, which spawned jihadism, al-Qaeda and 9/11.

This malign circus has been silent on Palestine and Gaza and almost anything that matters, including the following announcement, perhaps the most important of the century: "The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction." Inviting incredulity, these words may require more than one reading. They come from a statement written by five of the west's top military leaders, an American, a Briton, a German, a Frenchman and a Dutchman, who help run the club known as Nato. They are saying the west should nuke countries that have weapons of mass destruction – with the exclusion, that is, of the west's nuclear arsenal. Nuking will be necessary because "the west's values and way of life are under threat".

Where is this threat coming from? "Over there," say the generals.

Where? In "the brutal world".

On 21 January, on the eve of the Nato announcement, Gordon Brown also out-Orwelled Orwell. He said that "the race for more and bigger stockpiles of nuclear destruction [sic]" is over. The reason he gave was that "the international community" (basically, the west) was facing "serious challenges". One of these challenges is Iran, which has no nuclear weapons and no programme to build them, according to America's National Intelligence Estimates. This is in striking contrast to Brown's Britain, which, in defiance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has commissioned an entirely new Trident nuclear arsenal at a cost believed to be as much as £25bn. What Brown was doing was threatening Iran on behalf of the Bush regime, which wants to attack Iran before the end of the presidential year.

Jonathan Schell, author of the seminal Fate of the Earth, provides compelling evidence in his recently published The Seventh Decade: the New Shape of Nuclear Danger that nuclear war has now moved to the centre of western foreign policy even though the enemy is invented. In response, Russia has begun to restore its vast nuclear arsenal. Robert McNamara, the US defence secretary during the Cuban crisis, describes this as "Apocalypse Soon". Thus, the wall dismantled by young Germans in 1989 and sold to tourists is being built in the minds of a new generation.

For the Bush and Blair regimes, the invasion of Iraq and the campaigns against Hamas, Iran and Syria are vital in fabricating this new "nuclear threat". The effect of the Iraq invasion, says a study cited by Noam Chomsky, is a "sevenfold increase in the yearly rate of fatal jihadist attacks".

Behold Nato's instant "brutal world".

Of course, the highest and oldest wall is that which separates "us" from "them". This is described today as a great divide of religions or "a clash of civilisations", which are false concepts, propagated in western scholarship and journalism to provide what Edward Said called "the other" – an identifiable target for fear and hatred that justifies invasion and economic plunder. In fact, the foundations for this wall were laid more than 500 years ago when the privileges of "discovery and conquest" were granted to Christopher Columbus in a world that the then all-powerful pope considered his property, to be disposed of according to his will.

Nothing has changed. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and now Nato are invested with the same privileges of conquest on behalf of the new papacy in Washington. The goal is what Bill Clinton called the "integration of countries into the global free-market community", the terms of which, noted the New York Times, "require the United States to get involved in the plumbing and wiring of other nations' internal affairs more deeply than ever before".

This modern system of dominance requires sophisticated propaganda that presents its aims as benign, even "promoting democracy in Iraq", according to BBC executives responsible for responding to sceptical members of the public. That "we" in the west have the unfettered right to exploit the economies and resources of the poor world while maintaining tariff walls and state subsidies is taught as serious scholarship in the economics departments of leading universities. This is neoliberalism – socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor. "Rather than acknowledging," wrote Chalmers Johnson, "that free trade, privatisation and the rest of their policies are ahistorical, self-serving economic nonsense, apologists for neoliberalism have also revived an old 19th-century and neo-Nazi explanation for developmental failure – namely, culture."

What is rarely discussed is that liberalism as an open-ended, violent ideology is destroying liberalism as a reality. Hatred of Muslims is widely advertised by those claiming the respectability of what they call "the left". At the same time, opponents of the new papacy are routinely smeared, as seen in the recent fake charges of narcoterrorism against Hugo Chávez. Having insinuated their way into public debate, the smears deflect authentic critiques of Chávez's Venezuela and prepare the ground for an assault on it.

This is the role that journalism has played in the invasion of Iraq and the great injustice in Palestine. It also represents a wall, on which Aldous Huxley, describing his totalitarian utopia in Brave New World, might have written: "Opposition is apostasy. Fatalism is ideal. Silence is preferred." If the people of Gaza can disobey all three, why can't we?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Welcome to Bare Mountain! Action Updates and a View of the Destruction !

Media advisory
Press conference
10 am Thursday, February 14
Spencer Road and the TransCanada Highway, Langford
Interview opportunities: Tree sitters, Eric Pelkey of the Sencoten Alliance, Zoe Blunt.
Plus action updates and a view of the destruction

Interchange overkill destroys more than forests

Dozens of police with high-powered rifles raided the tree sit camp before dawn yesterday in a disturbing show of force aimed at a handful of peaceful protestors who were all asleep. The massive attack by police had more than 50 RCMP officers -- many with assault rifles drawn and pointed at the campers -- surrounding the camp before dawn. In the end, only three people were taken into custody by police.

This level of aggressive overreaction characterizes the whole Bear Mountain project, from the resort to the interchange. Bulldozing public participation along with rare ecosystems and heritage sites is a hallmark of this process, and it destroys more than forests. Observers have noted the loan for the interchange project is not yet approved by the province, but the city is already clearing the land, no doubt to remove any possibility of a negotiated settlement.

The area is sealed off by police tape and RCMP patrols. Earth-moving equipment was trucked in and the destruction has begun. From Leigh Road, we could see trees on the ridge above falling to a feller buncher - a giant tree-cutting machine.

We also saw welding and rock-drilling equipment being moved in behind police lines. It's possible that one of Langford's first acts of destruction was to weld shut the entrance of the Langford Lake Cave.

First Nations people whose families traditionally used the caves have been turned away from the site and threatened with arrest for "trespassing" in the area, which is still marked on city maps as Leigh Park.

But the developers have not yet won. These acts have outraged the community, and more people are coming out to protest today and in the days to come. The first rally kicks off this afternoon at 5 pm at Spencer Road and the TransCanada Highway in Langford. Witnesses and eco-defenders will be maintaining a presence on the site all day.

Zoe Blunt
(250) 885-8219


Petition Organizers Question Langford Moving Ahead With Project Despite Concerns Of Thousands Of Langford Residents About Political Process

February 13, 2008

Langford has demonstrated a lack of respect towards its citizens and the democratic process.

On February 13, Langford officially began work on the Spencer Road Interchange by calling in a large police presence, reported to number over 50, along with Langford Bylaw Officers to forcibly remove the half a dozen tree-sitters and tear out trees at the end of Leigh Road. This despite the fact that over 2250 Langford citizens (more than 10% of eligible voters) signed a petition asking for a public referendum to approve the $25 million borrowing for the project, that the financing for the interchange has not been secured, and that the bylaws creating the agreement to build the Interchange have not yet been adopted by Langford City Council.

"Langford has not received approval from the province's Inspector of Municipalities to borrow the $25 million, and yet they talk and act like everything is all approved. It is not," says Cheryl McLachlan, who took part in the canvassing. "Additionally, after adopting the Spencer Road Interchange bylaw in late January, Council in early
February repealed it and introduced a new bylaw to replace it that they have not yet adopted. At this time, even Langford has not given final approval to the project."

Steven Hurdle, who organized the petition, questions the timing of today's events. Hurdle states: "The City has made no attempt to open a dialogue with the thousands of Langford residents who signed the petition, other than Deputy Mayor Denise Blackwell's suggestion that those citizens might not have understood what they were doing.

Langford Councillors brag about how many public meetings they've held about the project but, up until the poorly advertised December 27th, 2007 special meeting of the council, these were all about building the Spencer Road interchange and none were about borrowing $25 million dollars or the lack of a public approval process.

I believe the signatories knew exactly what they were doing and they deserve to be
respected for taking a stand; they signed not because they thought their taxes would immediately go up but because they are concerned and want a say in their community. Some of the signatories would vote in favour, but they want a chance to have their say in a referendum."

Petitioner Herman Surkis, noting the strong police presence in today's events, wondered "How much is this huge police action going to cost Langford taxpayers, and could those costs have been avoided with a more respectful and diplomatic process?"

For more information contact:
Steven Hurdle
Petition Organiser

- 30 -

Beware of the Snakes in the Grass

by Paul de Rooij / February 12th, 2008

Sometimes it is necessary to warn others about individuals because of their questionable actions, habits or simple folly. It is particularly important to be aware of such persons when they seek to be active in solidarity organizations or claim to be one’s ally. Alas, this is the problem in the pro-justice groups in the UK where there are a few individuals who claim to be “jewish anti-zionists” — the echt anti-zionists. Add to that mix ultra-left-ism and suddenly one has a toxic brew and it is best to, at the very least, handle such individuals with care.

The case of Tony Greenstein

In January 2008, an activist group in Brighton, UK, sought to host an event with Gilad Atzmon, a world renowned Jazz saxophonist, thinker, and writer (a frequent contributor to Dissident Voice). A church hall was found as a venue for the talk, but the event was undermined when Tony Greenstein initiated a smear campaign. TonyG sent defamatory letters to the venue director and threatened that a group would picket the event; similar defamatory flyers were distributed in the area. Instead of attending the talk where TonyG could have debated Gilad, he chose to shut down the event by levelling vile accusations of anti-semitism, holocaust denial, etc. Now, we happen to live in what is putatively still a democracy, and one would expect people to behave accordingly, to act in a civil manner and to engage in an open discussion. What TonyG chose to do has all the hallmarks of totalitarian societies, where debate is barred, and where dissenters are vilified and threatened. The only missing stage prop would have been for TonyG to distribute his vile flyers wearing jackboots.

And what causes TonyG’s tantrums? Gilad Atzmon and Paul Eisen have written some essays in which they examine the origins of the “conflict” in Palestine by looking at our own society. Some see the “conflict” as a post-1967 issue where only the occupied West Bank and Gaza are matters of contention (Israel “proper” has already been conceded as a Jewish state), others take a broader post-1948 framework, but Gilad Atzmon and Paul Eisen look at the broader Jewish society. It is a fact that the most fascistic and violent settlers are those who emigrated from the United States. So, why is it that American zionists arriving in Israel are eager to dispossess and ethnically cleanse Palestinians? What is it in American society that explains this behaviour? Similarly, why are American Jews (or other diaspora Jews) so intent on promoting the Israeli colonial project? Why does the “Israel Lobby” receive such wide support and funding? Why do politicians throughout Europe form pro-Israel groups like Labour Friends of Israel, European Friends of Israel…? All of these questions are pertinent to the “conflict” and the continued grand larceny of Palestinian land. It would seem that examining our own society to determine where the Israel imperative comes from would be a worthwhile and welcome research exercise, and this is exactly what Gilad Atzmon and Paul Eisen have done. Paul Eisen’s contributions can be found here, and the article that seems to have upset TonyG most is “Jewish Power.” Similarly, Gilad Atzmon’s contributions can be found here, and TonyG seems most upset by “The Protocols of the Elders of London.”

If we read Gilad’s and Paul’s contributions, we will find a very productive discussion about “our” society. It is usually very easy to discuss and criticize others, but when it is closer to home it becomes more uncomfortable, and possibly the reason TonyG is upset. Another reason TonyG may dislike Gilad’s articles is that TonyG is a humourless person. Many of Gilad’s articles are suffused with humour, but such wit is usually taken as an insult by humourless and insecure people.

Tony’s tribe

TonyG is a member of “Jews against Zionism” (JAZ), a London-based groupuscle of former ultra-lefties who consider themselves to be the real anti-zionists. However, much of their evident activity seems to be directed against Gilad Atzmon and Paul Eisen who also happen to be anti-zionists! If JAZ actually spent the same effort railing against carnivore zionists as they expend against Gilad and Paul Eisen, then one could say that the groupuscle had some merit. However, most of their public effort is directed against Gilad.

The creation of a solidarity group with the Palestinians which is premised on the exclusion of all but a certain “in-group”, replicates the apartheid that we are supposedly fighting. In London there are several “Jews this/that groups” like “Jews against Zionism”, or “Jews for Justice”, etc. Instead of becoming part of a wider movement, they segregate themselves and recreate the tribal components that might actually be part of the problem. Many of the members of these groupuscles attend solidarity meetings and are easily detected because (1) they often preface their statements with “as a Jew I think…”; (2) they seek to “raise awareness” to issues dealing with “anti-semitism” or the holocaust; and (3) often raise objections about comments made about Israel, the Israel lobby, or media bias with statements such as “that is anti-semitic”, and thereby attempt to smother discussion.

While JAZ may be a worthwhile groupuscle if they actually confronted their own society, their activity becomes meaningless or detrimental if they merely segregate themselves, or if they primarily criticize others about their stance on zionism, anti-semitism, or the holocaust. While JAZ may be putatively in favour of a boycott of Israeli products or academia, they subvert the project by producing lists of recondite conditions which must be met to make a boycott acceptable. Such groups are also detrimental if their excessive zeal about anti-semitism results primarily in censoring discussion. By simply broadening the frame of reference of the Israeli colonial project to include analysis of the Jewish society, Gilad Atzmon and Paul Eisen earned themselves the vile “anti-semitic” label. Thus JAZ is accusing two Jews of being “anti-semitic”; this accusation is virtually the same as the “self-hating-Jew” accusation-of-last-resort flung by the usual zionist apologists. JAZ and TonyG are possibly indicating that Gilad and Paul are not part of their tribe but belong to some unacceptable “Other”.

Maybe Jews are too accustomed to requiring kosher labels in everything they consume. A visit to the supermarket shows that kosher products have a little label on the package. Maybe in societal discourse, magazines or intellectual life we are also starting to see the same phenomenon. Thus speakers at events will require their little stamp of approval before they are even allowed near the podium. This is already evident when Palestinians are invited to speak at events. Before they are accepted they will be asked what they think of the one-state vs. two-state solutions, and those who are critical of the one-state will not be invited, or even invited, but then dis-invited to really rub it in. Anyone having something positive to say about Hamas or Islamic groups will also suffer the same fate. And when anyone wants to discuss zionism, then the same censoring process seems to take place. JAZ and TonyG are there to hand out kosher labels to “anti-zionists”. Those who don’t pass their rigid qualification standards are then barred or vilified. Better yet, those who encompass Jewish society in their critique are branded with nasty labels, and the self-censoring crowd will not attend their events or read their articles. Maybe orthodoxy certificates have already become standard means to censor.

Against censorship and in favour of civil discourse

The attempts to bar or censor the Brighton event incensed me. Who is the little — and that is really the only adjective that comes to mind — squirt who has been vilifying Gilad Atzmon and Paul Eisen, sending out defamatory letters and picketing their events? I wrote a brief comment about TonyG’s efforts to bar Gilad Atzmon’s talk, and this elicited another TonyG-tantrum. Our email exchange quickly degenerated with TonyG’s brusque “don’t write to me again”. In the meantime he used sections of my direct email exchange with him to write a vile article castigating me for my defence of Gilad and PaulE — TonyG labelled me an apologist for holocaust deniers and anti-semites. Well thank you Tony, but I am not going to be too bothered by insults spewed by a pipsqueak who happens to have a criminal record; your desire to insult me also devalues the meaning of your favourite terms of abuse. First, I find it absurd and obscene that Gilad Atzmon and Paul Eisen are smeared with “anti-semite” labels, and I find it mildly amusing that my defence of their freedom of speech lands me with an “apologist for anti-semites”. Second, the holocaust has been milked for propaganda purposes as Norman Finkelstein’s masterful book The Holocaust Industry has demonstrated, and it is necessary to wrest the appropriation of the holocaust from zionist misuse. There is also a need to do away with the cult of exclusive remembrance — the genuflecting at Yad Vashem; the construction of hundreds of holocaust memorials, etc. There is a need to transform the lessons of the holocaust into a universal message where “never again” applies to all. Alas, taking this stance may cause TonyG to throw further tantrums.

It would seem that the Israeli genocidal project against the Palestinians should trigger vigorous action — implement boycotts, stop the preferential access Israelis have to Europe, etc. It is necessary to confront the collusion of European governments with the Israeli colonial project. Instead one finds contemptible groupuscles engaging in vilification campaigns and disruptive tactics at the time when clear action is needed. Maybe this is where TonyG really demonstrates his true colours — his actions distract Palestine solidarity organizations from the most important task on hand. And wouldn’t that be what zionist groups actually desire?

Tony Greenstein is a contemptible person who has wasted much time, degraded civil discourse, and insulted important pro-justice activists. Palestinian solidarity organizations should be aware that individuals may be disruptive due to their personal insecurity and emotional hang-ups, but they also may be deliberate agents provocateurs. Or as our African friends like to say, beware of the snakes in the grass.

Paul de Rooij can be reached at Read other articles by Paul.


Police Assault Langford Tree-Sit

by C. L. Cook

Word came early this morning: Royal Canadian Mounted Police tactical teams and support officers from the Westshore detachment, moved in on a half-dozen protesters occupying a tree-sit in a small forested area slated for destruction to make way for a highway overpass. Three arrests were made and there are, as yet unconfirmed, reports of injuries sustained by the arrestees. The tree-sit has been continuously occupied since April of last year in efforts to raise public awareness and bring pressure to bear against what the activists say is the needless destruction of an area of unique geological and environmental importance and cultural significance to First Nations.

The proposed highway is meant to alleviate traffic congestion created by the sprawling ex-urban development known as Bear Mountain, but is recognized as the necessary gateway for a redoubling of development on Spaet Mountain, (renamed Bear Mountain for the Jack Nicklaus-designed center-piece golf course the upscale housing project surrounds).

The controversial project just outside Victoria, British Columbia has drawn sharp criticism for a number of reasons: The initial land purchase deal, tainted by perceptions of conflicts of interest regarding "gifted" crown land; a city councillor who made more than a million dollars on the deal, (and stands to gain millions more) failing to recuse himself on at least one crucial green-lighting vote; environmental impact assessments that failed to note a network of karst cave structures running below the proposed route of the highway; failure to adequately consult with local First Nations bands on cultural and historical issues at the site; and, shoddy archeology, combine to make Bear Mountain the poster-child of wrong-headed development.

As if to amplify the greed and stupidity of the Langford city mayor and council, the RCMP ride to the rescue in overwhelming force sets a startling new tone for contentious land use issues on Vancouver Island, of which there are many. Kalanu, one of three sitters up on the platforms in the canopy when the raid occurred, described between fifty and seventy police, many armed with assault rifles, "bean bag" shotguns, and accompanied by snarling police dogs, aiming their weapons at him, warning his safety could not be guaranteed if he did not exit the tree.

The sitters had liaised with local RCMP several times before the assault and had made clear theirs was a strictly non-violent protest. They reassured the police there were no weapons in the camp, but that meant little to the planners of a police production that must be worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Officers from up island and the mainland were brought in to join the Westshore detachment, and a police spokesperson told the press they would continue on at Langford to ensure security for an unspecified period yet. That bill will have to be picked up by the tax-payers of Langford, as will the costs for continued police oversight of the final destruction of the forest and sub-alpine meadows tree-sitters had protected for nearly a year.

As of writing, the entire area is a cordoned and flagged "red zone" against protest, or "trespass"; anyone caught there is subject to arrest. Much as the Republican regime of George W. Bush in the south has done with pesky policy protesters, the RCMP concede a tiny, gravel patched area away from the clear-cutting going on in the woods as an "O.K." protest corral.

Meeting in Victoria tonight, a group of forty or fifty activists planned strategy. While the loss of the woods is a tragic loss, the real battle is for what remains of the wild lands surrounding the city and slated next for destruction. And if today's scene is any indication, the game plan of ex-NHLer Len Barry and his consortium of developers is to destroy everything worth saving first, and leave it to the "greenies" to cry about the despoiling while he and his investors cash in on the last of the wilderness lands on southern Vancouver Island.



good evening,

As you may have already heard by now, the tree sit has been forcefully removed from the end of Leigh Rd. and the destruction of this sacred area has already begun.
Last night I went to sleep up in the first tree sit platform. We knew we were facing some kind of showdown this morning, but we assumed it was going to be another attempt by the city to survey. We thought maybe they would be accompanied by RCMP officers willing to arrest people for obstruction.
Well, this morning, just before dawn, I watched from my platform as a half dozen flashlights appeared in the kitchen area below me. I watched as more flaslights arrived and began to quickly scatter throughout the forest. As the sun came up I noticed about a dozen RCMP officers at the bottom of my tree, and they noticed me. In the next hour, as they attempted to talk me down, more offiers arrived, some armed with assault rifles (weapons that look like machine guns) and 'less-lethal' bean bag shotguns.
I asked them if they had an injunction and they informed me that I was to be arrested for mischief, though they could not name which section of the criminal code they were referring to.
I continued to refuse and they continued to move forward.
At one point I saw one of the SWAT team members fiddling with something on his assault rifle, as another officer infomed me that there was no one left in the woods but myself and lots of cops. I was told that neither my lawyer, my support team or media would be allowed in the forest. At this point I was getting quite worried for my safety. I was again informed that the only safe way for me to come down would be voluntarily, and when I notced a half dozen people in climbing gear I made the decision to come down from the tree and try to find out whether everyone else had gotten arrested or whether a call had been made for more support to show up.
I was handcuffed, read my rights, had my knife taken away and was led out of the forest.
On my way out i passed literally dozens of SWAT team looking fellas, some with dogs, everyone with lots of gear, spread out all around the woods, keeping a perimter and standing guard at every possible trail junction.
To say it was overkill is an understatement.
As I was lead away I could hear my brothers, Noah and Luke, shouting from their platforms, and the last thing I heard from Luke was him yelling "Free the Buffalo!!" (refering to me if you couldn't guess).
Noah held out for a few hours before they extracted him, and Luke held out another couple hours after that. It sounds like Luke had a bit of fun with the traverse lines before they finally got him down. The climbers would ascend one tree, and Luke would traverse to the other.
We learned this from a few brief phone calls Luke made from his cell phone before we lost contact with him. Otherwise, none of us had any contact with the other tree sitters after I was led out. A huge perimeter was set up, those of us arrested were told we would be arrested again if we came anywhere near it, and even the press were not allowed anywhere near the area.
Not soon after I came out, a huge feller/buncher machine came by. This is a giant machine capable of harvesting many trees at once. It has to be one of the more destructive pieces of machinery I've ever seen. I started yelling at the driver to go home, that we weren't letting him in, and two other people stood in the middle of the road to block it's path. One of those two people was Ingmar, who has been quoted in the media enough times over this issue that he has been targeted as a 'leader'. The RCMP wasted no time in slamming Ingmar to the ground and hauling him off to jail.
Three of my brothers, who I love dearly, are still in jail as of this writing, and we have no idea when they will be let out. We are told they are waiting to be processed by a justice of the peace over the phone from Vancouver and that it may happen tonight, and it may happen tomorrow morning. Several of us went down to the police station as soon as they took Luke out and asked about the arrestees and given many conflicting stories from the officers as to when we could expect to see our brothers again.
From there we went to the storage facility where our belongings from the treesit were being stored. We managed to claim some equipment and personal gear, but a few personal backpacks and sleeping bags, not to mention a half dozen bikes and the Food Not Bombs bike cart were taken to the dump. Our ropes and climbing harnesses (with the exception of the one I wore out of the forest) have been seized as evidence.
Two of the other campers (who were woken earlier today with machine guns and attack dogs in their face, arrested and released) have had their sleeping bags thrown away. This on top of the fact that their home has just been bulldozed.
I still have not had a chance to properly grieve the loss of this beautiful place, and I have no idea what to do next. I feel, to quote one of the other tree sitters, like I have lost a limb. This land is more than sacred to me and I when I finish this email, a long, brutal day will wind down and I will shed many tears.
And I will think of my heroes, my brothers, Luke and Noah and Ingmar, and hope they will be released tonight and be able to sleep tonoght with people who love them. (Of which there are many.)
We lost a great deal today, more than most people will ever know. The owls returned to nest this week, along with other migratory birds, and I could hear them chirping even as the trees were being cut. Yesterday I was ecstatic to discover new young nettle plants sprouting near the kitchen. Today I am devastated because it is all gone. So much food and medicine. Gone. Another piece of priceless First Nations heritage, gone. It is too much for me and I am going to wrao it up here, as I've said enough.
Many thanks to everyone who came out this morning to witness and who have vowed to continue fighting. This is not over. This is far from over. A serious crime against nature has been committed today and we will never forget that.
Much love and respect and see you all soon.


-in solidarity with all life,

“Our work will be unfinished until not one human being is hungry or
battered, not one single person is forced to die in war, not one innocent languishes imprisoned and no one is persecuted for his or her beliefs."
Leonard Peltier

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tony Blair on his Money Run

Is this it?

Saturday February 9, 2008
The Guardian

Soul survivor ... John Pilger

Is there something I should know?
We're invited to be obedient and passive and to believe there is nothing we can do to influence the course of apparently invincible events - whether they're the criminal disasters in the Middle East, or the distortion of resources and wealth in our own societies. Then suddenly we glimpse the possible in the action of those with nothing, such as the heroism of the people of Gaza in breaking out of the prison of their homeland. They ought to inspire us to break down our own walls.

What difference does it make?

Information is power, words are weapons. In my own experience, letting people know about faraway places and their struggles helps to stir and - perhaps - galvanise popular action, to connect us.

Who wants to be a millionaire?

This is the song Tony Blair hums every morning when he rises and tots up his latest windfall - a million for telling business groups in China nothing they didn't know, three or four million for buying JP Morgan influence in whatever corridors of power he imagines still welcome him. That this criminal, awash in a nation's blood, is so enriched and deluded that he believes he should be president of Europe is a shame upon all of us in Britain who deny his prosecution.

What does your soul look like?

In the 1960s, when I was reporting the great civil rights revolution in the United States, I first heard Sam Cooke sing A Change is Gonna Come. Up until then, Cooke had recorded mostly dance and gospel numbers, then suddenly, here was perhaps the greatest single piece of black music, as stirring as Paul Robeson's anthems.


The cadence of Cooke's voice, the plaint, the restrained anger, the sheer power became a call-to-arms for African Americans and for millions all over the world, struggling to be free. The idea for my latest film, The War on Democracy, had its roots in the first time I heard Cooke. And in the film's final soundtrack Sam Cooke's voice speaks for those reclaiming hope in Latin America.

War (what is it good for)?

I believe in people fighting to defend themselves against invaders and plunderers. In 1975, in Vietnam, I stood where five all-women anti-aircraft gunners had brought down bombers that came day after day (of a kind flown by the current presidential pretender John McCain). They were 18 and 19 years old, and today their graves overlook what the American pilots used to call the "Street Of No Joy". There was honour for them, and none for the McCains who dropped their incendiaries on houses of straw, hospitals, churches. If turning back rapacious invaders makes war "good", its execution is bad. Having attended a number of wars, I have seen napalmed and cluster-bombed children and, worse, felt the grief of their protectors. That's why the likes of Blair, who bomb at a safe distance from their own children, are "paramount" war criminals, to quote the Nuremberg Tribunal.

Where the hood at?

My own "hood" has rested all over the world, but rests easily in London, the greatest multicultural city, and in Sydney, where I grew up in the salt spray off the South Pacific.

Do you like rock music?

I like it a lot. When Bill Haley and his Comets came to Australia in the 1950s I climbed the chicken wire that separated our teenage horde from our new hero.

· The War On Democracy is out now on DVD