Monday, January 15, 2018

America's Other Syrian Army: Turkish President Charges US Forming "Terror Army"

Erdogan: US Trying to Form 'Terror Army' in Syria

by Al Jazeera


January 15, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the US is working to form a "terror army" on his country's southern border by training a new force in Syria that includes Kurdish fighters.

"What we are supposed to do is to drown this terror army before in comes into being," he said in an address in the capital, Ankara, on Monday, calling the Kurdish fighters "back-stabbers" who will point their weapons to the US in the future.

His comments came after reports revealed Washington's plan to establish a 30,000-strong new border security force with the involvement of Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

According to media reports quoting US officials, the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group will recruit around half of the new force from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group of fighters dominated by the People's Protection Units (YPG).

YPG is considered by Turkey to be a "terrorist group" with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long fight inside the country.

PKK is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and its Western allies. More than 40,000 people in Turkey have been killed since the 1980s after the PKK launched its rebellion.

The US views the YPG as a highly effective fighting force against ISIL.
 
Erdogan said that Turkey's armed forces had completed preparations for an operation against the Kurdish-controlled region of Afrin in northwest Syria and the town of Manbij.

Warning Turkey's allies against helping "terrorists" in Syria, he said: "We won't be responsible for consequences".

In a statement late on Sunday, the Turkish foreign ministry had called "wrong and objectionable" any cooperation with the YPG.

"The establishment of the so-called Syria Border Protection Force was not consulted with Turkey, which is a member of the coalition," it said.

"To attribute such a unilateral step to the whole coalition is an extremely wrong move that could harm the fight against Daesh," the ministry added, using an alternative acronym for ISIL.

Turkish forces pounded US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria with artillery fire on Sunday, after the plan to establish the new force was announced.

Later on Monday, an official source in Syria's foreign ministry denounced the US plan about the formation of the border force.


"Syria strongly condemns the US announcement on the creation of militias in the country's northeast, which represents a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity and unity of Syria, and a flagrant violation of international law," said the source, according to state news agency SANA.
"Syria considers any Syrian who participates in these militias sponsored by the Americans as a traitor to their people and nation, and will deal with them on this basis." 

US' YPG move


US President Donald Trump decided to arm YPG fighters, despite Turkey's objections and a direct appeal from Erdogan at a White House meeting in May 2017.

The US arms shipments began before the launch of a months-long offensive to oust ISIL from the Syrian city of Raqqa, its self declared capital. The YPG played a prominent role in the eventual defeat of the group later in 2017.

Tensions between US and Turkey - two NATO allies - remain high, despite Trump saying last November that Washington would no longer supply weapons to the YPG.
 
A senior Syrian Kurdish official said on Sunday that fighting between the YPG and Turkish forces was already under way.

"There are attacks and clashes on the border between Turkey and the People's Protection Units YPG," Hediye Yusuf said on Twitter.

She called Turkey's operation against Afrin a "violation" that "undermines international efforts to reach a political solution in Syria".

Ankara has been reinforcing its southern border by sending armoured vehicles, tanks, and heavy machine guns, according to local media.

Turkey has been working closely with Russia and Iran to end the long-running Syrian war, despite Moscow and Tehran supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - and Ankara backing the anti-Assad opposition.

In 2016, Turkey began a military campaign called Euphrates Shield Operation, which targeted ISIL and the YPG. That eight-month battle officially ended in March 2017.

This Is What Democracy Looks Like (in Honduras)

Honduran Military Clash With Protesters, Over 20 Injured

by TeleSur


January 13, 2018

"We will continue, together with the people, in the streets until the right thing is done with respect at the polls," said former president Manual Zelaya.

More than 200 people were injured during Friday's protests in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to contest the controversial re-election of incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández.

According to a release from the country's Ministry of Security, state forces suffered the bulk of injuries, with the final number of casualties totaling 17 soldiers and six civilians.

“Everyone is going to die” said a Military Police soldier to Dixon who described the attack against him, “they kicked me, threw me on the ground, & put a boot on my neck” #Honduras #HondurasEnCrisis


Jari Dixon, LIBRE Congressman, injured
Friday in protest in #Tegucigalpa.

However, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other independent observers have countered the state's claims, pointing to the extreme measures used by security forces against protesters upon their approach to the Presidential Palace.

According to observers, four journalists from UNE TV were beaten, along with several others. Video and photographic evidence has also been provided which appears to show former president Manuel Zelaya, deposed in a coup in 2009, being attacked with tear gas launched by security forces.

Reports indicate that the incident occurred when Zelaya approached members of the Military Police, who threw the canister at him and then physically assaulted him, according to a report in El Heraldo. He was later led to safety by his bodyguards.

Lawmaker Jari Dixon, of the Liberty and Refoundation (Libre) party, was also injured during the protest. According to reports, Dixon was beaten by members of the security forces after he attempted to defend protesters who were being accosted.

"We will continue, together with the people, in the streets until the right thing is done with respect at the polls," Zelaya said.

Protesters were also attacked at a nearby Marriot hotel, as well as the Council of Private Enterprise, where 27 organizations convened in support of the incumbent president.

"We are going to prevent Hernandez from taking office on January 27," said Nasralla and Zelaya.

The national strike, which is set to run from January 20 to 27, is calling on Hondurans to deny Hernandez the presidency and recognize Nasralla as president because "the elections were fraudulent."

As part of the boycott, Nasralla and his team are urging Hondurans not to use public transportation, banks or pay tolls for the week. The opposition is also calling on Hondurans to boycott several US-based restaurant chains, including Wendy's, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald's, Denny's and Pizza Hut.

Gitmo Heart Beats

41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo

by Kathy Kelly - CounterPunch


January 15, 2018

January 11, 2018 marked the 16th year that Guantanamo prison has exclusively imprisoned Muslim men, subjecting many of them to torture and arbitrary detention.

About thirty people gathered in Washington D.C., convened by Witness Against Torture, (WAT), for a weeklong fast intended to close Guantanamo and abolish torture forever. Six days ago, Matt Daloisio arrived from New York City in a van carefully packed with twelve years’ worth of posters and banners, plus sleeping bags, winter clothing and other essentials for the week.

Matt spent an hour organizing the equipment in the large church hall housing us. “He curates it,” said one WAT organizer.

Later, Matt reflected that many of the prisoners whose visages and names appear on our banners have been released. In 2007, there were 430 prisoners in Guantanamo. Today, 41 men are imprisoned there. Shaker Aamer has been reunited with the son whom he had never met while imprisoned in Guantanamo. Mohammed Ould Slahi, author of Guantanamo Diary, has finally been released. These encouraging realities don’t in the slightest diminish the urgency we feel in seeking the release of the 41 men still imprisoned in Guantanamo.

Not even one of the 41 prisoners now in Guantanamo was captured by the U.S. military on a battlefield. Afghan militias and the Pakistani military were paid cash bounties for selling 86 percent of these prisoners into US custody. Imagine the “green light” given for other countries to practice buying and selling of human beings.

Aisha Manar, working with the London Campaign to Close Guantanamo, points out that “the rights violating practices surrounding Guantanamo are now a model for the detention and incarceration polices of the US and other states.”

This chilling reality is reflected in Associated Press reports revealing that the United Arab Emirates operates a network of secret prisons in Southern Yemen, where prisoners are subjected to extreme torture. This has included being trussed to a rotating machine called “the grill” and exposed to a roasting fire.

“Nearly 2,000 men have disappeared into the clandestine prisons,” the AP reports, “a number so high that it has triggered near-weekly protests among families seeking information about missing sons, brothers and fathers.”

One of the main detention complexes is at Riyan Airport in Yemen’s southern city of Mukalla. Former detainees, speaking on condition of anonymity told of “being crammed into shipping containers smeared with feces and blindfolded for weeks on end. They said they were beaten, trussed up on the ‘grill,’ and sexually assaulted.”

A member of the Yemeni security force set up by the United Arab Emirates told AP that American forces were at times only yards away.

“It would be a stretch to believe the US did not know or could not have known that there was a real risk of torture,” said Amnesty International’s director of research in the Middle East, Lynn Maalouf.

On January 9, 2018, WAT members tried to deliver a letter to UAE Ambassador Yusuf Al Otaiba, seeking his response to these reports. Security guards took our pictures but said they were unable to accept our letter.

Two days later, joining numerous other groups for a large rally, we donned orange jumpsuits and black hoods, carried placards bearing the number “41” and displayed two main banners. One said: “It would take a genius to close Guantanamo.” And the other: “We are still here because you are still there.

Forty-one hearts still beat in Guantanamo prison cells. That’s forty-one too many.

KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org
More articles by: Kathy Kelly 

A version of this article was first published on The Progressive website.  

Looking Back, Moving Forward with the Women's March

Victoria Women’s March Returns: Look Back, March Forward

by Womens March Canada


January 20, 2018

Last year, thousands gathered in Centennial Square and marched in support of women’s rights and equality. On January 20th, 2018 the Victoria Women’s March returns with the theme “Look back, March forward” to celebrate the progress we have made and demand the changes that are still necessary to ensure equality, representation, safety, health and economic security for all women.

The Victoria March is a sister march to the now 29 marches planned across Canada, as part of Women’s March Canada.

Women’s March Canada focuses specifically on issues pertaining to Canadian women and minorities, issues of intersectional discriminations, as well as policies and laws that are still not inclusive or progressive enough.

This year’s global event is a follow up to last year’s global march event on January 21st, 2017 that included people of all backgrounds -- women and men and gender nonconforming people, young and old, of diverse faiths, differently abled, immigrants and indigenous -- who came together, five million strong, on all seven continents of the world.


The march on January 20th, 2018 will begin at 11:00 am at Centennial Square. 


This year will highlight speakers from organizations who are advocating for and supporting regional women’s issues with their voices their goals.

At 11:45 am the march will head down Government Street toward the Parliament building.


The march will end at approximately 1:00 pm at the Parliament buildings.

We hope to see you at the march! To RSVP for the event and for more information go to:
http://www.womensmarchcanada.com/womens-march-canada-victoria-march-2018


Press Release: For Immediate Release
Point of Contact: Cayla Naumann
victoria@womensmarchcanada.com

Saturday, January 13, 2018

How To: Engineering National Crises (Lesson #1)

How To Engineer A Crisis

by James Corbett - Episode 327 The Corbett Report


January 13, 2018

Are you a dictator in need of public support for your latest draconian clampdown on dissent? Or a deep state plotter hoping to topple a foreign government who doesn’t comply with your every wish? A low-level Machiavellian schemer looking for the ultimate trick for defeating your enemies without lifting a finger? Then look no further than this handy-dandy guide to “How To Engineer A Crisis.”


For those with limited bandwidth, CLICK HERE to download a smaller, lower file size version of this episode.

For those interested in audio quality, CLICK HERE for the highest-quality version of this episode (WARNING: very large download).

More Than Apologies Owed the 'Shitholes' of America's World

From Haiti to Africa, US Owes More Than a Trump Apology 

by TRNN


January 13, 2018

Donald Trump's racist "shithole" comments offer the US a new opportunity to reckon with its longtime destabilization and plunder of the countries he insulted, says Haitian writer Jean Saint-Vil.


Jafrikayiti (Jean Elissaint Saint-Vil) was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and currently lives in Canada. He hosts weekly radio programs in Ottawa and has been featured as political analyst on Canadian and international radio and television. He is the author of “LAFIMEN: Listwa Pèp Ayisyen Depi Nan Ginen”, CD1 (2003), CD2&3 (2006), CD4 (2010) – audio recordings narrating Haitian History in Kreyòl and “Viv Bondye ! Aba Relijyon!” (2000) – book in Kreyòl (Praise God Down with Religion) which deals with the history of Christianity and its influence on the lives of people of African Descent. His blog godisnotwhite.com, publishes regularly, in English, French and his native Kreyòl.

Anatomy of a Sh*thole: America's Historic Debt to Haiti

Haiti and America’s Historic Debt

by Robert Parry - Consortium News


January 12, 2018

(First published on Jan.13, 2010)

From the Archive: President Trump says his “tough” language on immigration, which reportedly included decrying “shithole” nations, didn’t apply to Haiti but he appears to know little of America’s debt to Haiti, which Robert Parry described in 2010.

In 2010, when announcing emergency help for Haiti after a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake, President Barack Obama noted America’s historic ties to the impoverished Caribbean nation, but few Americans understand how important Haiti’s contribution to U.S. history was.

In modern times, when Haiti does intrude on U.S. consciousness, it’s usually because of some natural disaster or a violent political upheaval, and the U.S. response is often paternalistic, if not tinged with a racist disdain for the country’s predominantly black population and its seemingly endless failure to escape cycles of crushing poverty.



Toussaint L’Ouverture, leader of Haiti’s
slave rebellion against France.

However, more than two centuries ago, Haiti represented one of the most important neighbors of the new American Republic and played a central role in enabling the United States to expand westward. If not for Haiti, the course of U.S. history could have been very different, with the United States possibly never expanding much beyond the Appalachian Mountains.

In the 1700s, then-called St. Domingue and covering the western third of the island of Hispaniola, Haiti was a French colony that rivaled the American colonies as the most valuable European possession in the Western Hemisphere. Relying on a ruthless exploitation of African slaves, French plantations there produced nearly one-half the world’s coffee and sugar.

Many of the great cities of France owe their grandeur to the wealth that was extracted from Haiti and its slaves. But the human price was unspeakably high. The French had devised a fiendishly cruel slave system that imported enslaved Africans for work in the fields with accounting procedures for their amortization. They were literally worked to death.

The American colonists may have rebelled against Great Britain over issues such as representation in Parliament and arbitrary actions by King George III. But black Haitians confronted a brutal system of slavery. An infamous French method of executing a troublesome slave was to insert a gunpowder charge into his rectum and then detonate the explosive.

So, as the American colonies fought for their freedom in the 1770s and as that inspiration against tyranny spread to France in the 1780s, the repercussions would eventually reach Haiti, where the Jacobins’ cry of “liberty, equality and fraternity” resonated with special force. Slaves demanded that the concepts of freedom be applied universally.

When the brutal French plantation system continued, violent slave uprisings followed. Hundreds of white plantation owners were slain as the rebels overran the colony. A self-educated slave named Toussaint L’Ouverture emerged as the revolution’s leader, demonstrating skills on the battlefield and in the complexities of politics.

Despite the atrocities committed by both sides of the conflict, the rebels known as the “Black Jacobins” gained the sympathy of the American Federalist Party and particularly Alexander Hamilton, a native of the Caribbean himself and a fierce opponent of slavery. Hamilton, the first U.S. Treasury Secretary, helped L’Ouverture draft a constitution for the new nation.

Conspiracies


But events in Paris and Washington soon conspired to undo the promise of Haiti’s new freedom. Despite Hamilton’s sympathies, some Founders, including Thomas Jefferson who owned 180 slaves and owed his political strength to agrarian interests, looked nervously at the slave rebellion in St. Domingue. Jefferson feared that slave uprisings might spread northward.

“If something is not done, and soon done,” Jefferson wrote in 1797, “we shall be the murderers of our own children.”

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the chaos and excesses of the French Revolution led to the ascendance of Napoleon Bonaparte, a brilliant and vain military commander possessed of legendary ambition. As he expanded his power across Europe, Napoleon also dreamed of rebuilding a French empire in the Americas.


 Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States


In 1801, Jefferson became the third President of the United States and his interests at least temporarily aligned with those of Napoleon. The French dictator was determined to restore French control of St. Domingue and Jefferson was eager to see the slave rebellion crushed.

Through secret diplomatic channels, Napoleon asked Jefferson if the United States would help a French army traveling by sea to St. Domingue. Jefferson replied that “nothing will be easier than to furnish your army and fleet with everything and reduce Toussaint [L’Ouverture] to starvation.”

But Napoleon had a secret second phase of his plan that he didn’t share with Jefferson. Once the French army had subdued L’Ouverture and his rebel force, Napoleon intended to advance to the North American mainland, basing a new French empire in New Orleans and settling the vast territory west of the Mississippi River.

In May 1801, Jefferson picked up the first inklings of Napoleon’s other agenda. Alarmed at the prospect of a major European power controlling New Orleans and thus the mouth of the strategic Mississippi River, Jefferson backpedaled on his commitment to Napoleon, retreating to a posture of neutrality. Still terrified at the prospect of a successful republic organized by freed African slaves Jefferson took no action to block Napoleon’s thrust into the New World.

In 1802, a French expeditionary force achieved initial success against the slave army, driving L’Ouverture’s forces back into the mountains. But, as they retreated, the ex-slaves torched the cities and the plantations, destroying the colony’s once-thriving economic infrastructure.

L’Ouverture, hoping to bring the war to an end, accepted Napoleon’s promise of a negotiated settlement that would ban future slavery in the country. As part of the agreement, L’Ouverture turned himself in. Napoleon, however, broke his word.

Jealous of L’Ouverture, who was regarded by some admirers as a general with skills rivaling Napoleon’s, the French dictator had L’Ouverture shipped in chains back to Europe where he was mistreated and died in prison.

Foiled Plans


Infuriated by the betrayal, L’Ouverture’s young generals resumed the war with a vengeance. In the months that followed, the French army already decimated by disease was overwhelmed by a fierce enemy fighting in familiar terrain and determined not to be put back into slavery.

Napoleon sent a second French army, but it too was destroyed. Though the famed general had conquered much of Europe, he lost 24,000 men, including some of his best troops, in St. Domingue before abandoning his campaign. The death toll among the ex-slaves was much higher, but they had prevailed, albeit over a devastated land.

By 1803, a frustrated Napoleon denied his foothold in the New World agreed to sell New Orleans and the Louisiana territories to Jefferson. Ironically, the Louisiana Purchase, which opened the heart of the present United States to American settlement, had been made possible despite Jefferson’s misguided collaboration with Napoleon.

Jefferson also saw the new territory as an opportunity to expand slavery in the United States, creating a lucrative new industry of slave-breeding that would financially benefit Jefferson and his plantation-owning neighbors. But nothing would be done to help Haiti. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Thomas Jefferson: America’s Founding Sociopath.”]

“By their long and bitter struggle for independence, St. Domingue’s blacks were instrumental in allowing the United States to more than double the size of its territory,” wrote Stanford University professor John Chester Miller in his book, The Wolf by the Ears: Thomas Jefferson and Slavery.

But, Miller observed, “the decisive contribution made by the black freedom fighters went almost unnoticed by the Jeffersonian administration.”

The loss of L’Ouverture’s leadership dealt a severe blow to Haiti’s prospects, according to Jefferson scholar Paul Finkelman of Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

“Had Toussaint lived, it’s very likely that he would have remained in power long enough to put the nation on a firm footing, to establish an order of succession,” Finkelman told me in an interview. “The entire subsequent history of Haiti might have been different.”

Instead, the island nation continued a downward spiral. In 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the radical slave leader who had replaced L’Ouverture, formally declared the nation’s independence and returned it to its original Indian name, Haiti. A year later, apparently fearing a return of the French and a counterrevolution, Dessalines ordered the massacre of the remaining French whites on the island.

Though the Haitian resistance had blunted Napoleon’s planned penetration of the North American mainland, Jefferson reacted to the shocking bloodshed in Haiti by imposing a stiff economic embargo on the island nation. In 1806, Dessalines himself was brutally assassinated, touching off a cycle of political violence that would haunt Haiti for the next two centuries.

Jefferson’s Blemish


For some scholars, Jefferson’s vengeful policy toward Haiti like his personal ownership of slaves represented an ugly blemish on his legacy as a historic advocate of freedom. Even in his final years, Jefferson remained obsessed with Haiti and its link to the issue of American slavery.

In the 1820s, the former President proposed a scheme for taking away the children born to black slaves in the United States and shipping them to Haiti. In that way, Jefferson posited that both slavery and America’s black population could be phased out. Eventually, in Jefferson’s view, Haiti would be all black and the United States white.

Jefferson’s deportation scheme never was taken very seriously and American slavery would continue for another four decades until it was ended by the Civil War. The official hostility of the United States toward Haiti extended almost as long, ending in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln finally granted diplomatic recognition.

By then, however, Haiti’s destructive patterns of political violence and economic chaos had been long established continuing up to the present time. Personal and political connections between Haiti’s light-skinned elite and power centers of Washington also have lasted through today.

Recent Republican administrations have been particularly hostile to the popular will of the impoverished Haitian masses. When leftist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide was twice elected by overwhelming margins, he was ousted both times first during the presidency of George H.W. Bush and again under President George W. Bush.

Washington’s conventional wisdom on Haiti holds that the country is a hopeless basket case that would best be governed by business-oriented technocrats who would take their marching orders from the United States.

However, the Haitian people have a different perspective. Unlike most Americans who have no idea about their historic debt to Haiti, many Haitians know this history quite well. The bitter memories of Jefferson and Napoleon still feed the distrust that Haitians of all classes feel toward the outside world.

“In Haiti, we became the first black independent country,” Aristide once told me in an interview. 
 “We understand, as we still understand, it wasn’t easy for them American, French and others to accept our independence.”

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

Citizen J.: The International Persecution of Julian Assange

The Persecution of Julian Assange

by Paul Craig Roberts - Dissident Voice


January 13th, 2018

We need a political intervention to make this situation end. He (Assange) is the only political prisoner in Western Europe.
Juan Branco                                  
      
                                  
The persecution of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, is now seven years old.

Ecuador has protected Assange for the past half decade from being turned over to Washington by the corrupt Swedish and British for torture and prosecution as a spy by giving Assange political asylum inside the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.

Ecuador has now given citizenship to Assange and attempted to provide his safe transit out of England by giving him diplomatic status, but the British government continued in its assigned role of jailer by rejecting Ecuador’s request for diplomatic status for Assange, just as the most servile of Washington’s puppet states rejected the order by the UN Committee on Arbitrary Detention to immediate release Assange from his arbitrary detention.

Assange got into trouble with Washington, because his news organization, Wikileaks, published files released by Bradley Manning.

The files were a tremendous embarrassment to Washington, because they showed how Washington conspires against governments and betrays its allies, and the files contained an audio/video film of US military forces murdering innocent people walking down a street and then murdering a father and his two young children who stopped to give aid to the civilians the American soldiers had shot.

The film revealed the heartlessness and criminal cruelty of the US troops, who were enjoying playing a real live video game with real people as their victims.

It was Manning who suffered, not the troops who committed murder. Manning was held for two years in conditions that experts said constituted torture while a case was framed against him. Some believe the harsh conditions affected his mind. Manning was convicted by a kangaroo court and sentenced to 35 years in prison, but Obama in an act of humanity unusual for Washington pardoned Manning.

Washington wanted Assange as well, and the chance came when two Swedish women who, attracted to Assange by his celebrity status, seduced him. The two women had not secured the cooperation they wanted from Assange in the use of condoms and, brainwashd by HIV fears, wanted Assange to join them in being tested.

Assange, misreading the extent of their fears, was too slow to comply, and the women went to the police to see if he could be required to be tested. According to the women, the police made up the charge of rape. The women themselves disavow the charge.

The charges were investigated, and the chief Swedish prosecutor Eva Finne dismissed the charges, saying “there is no suspicion of any crime whatsoever.”

Mysteriously, the case was reopened by another prosecutor, Marianne Ny, who many suspect was operating at the behest of Washington.

On November 30, two days after Assange began publishing the Cablegate materials leaked by Bradley Manning, Ny issued an Interpol “red alert” arrest warrant for Assange. This was an unusual request as no charges were outstanding against Assange, and hitherto extradiction from one country to another on an arrest warrant required actual charges, whereas Ny said she wanted Assange for questioning. Most everyone in the know understood that Washington had ordered Sweden to get its hands on Assange and to turn him over to Washington.

Assange challenged the legality of the arrest warrant in British courts, but the British court, many believe following Washington’s orders, ruled against the law and in favor of Washington. Assange assented to the arrest and presented himself to a British police station. He was placed in solitary confinement at Wandsworth prison. If memory serves, the daughter of Sir James Goldsmith paid his bond and he was placed under house arrest. When it became clear that the Swedish prosecutor wanted Assange for Washington, not for any charges against him in Sweden, Ecuador give him asylum, and he fled to the embassy in London.

Where he has been ever since.

Sweden has closed the case a second time, and Assange is no longer wanted for questioning in Sweden. Therefore, there is no longer any reason for the British to hold him for Sweden. But the British government never were holding Assange for Sweden. The British were holding him for Washington. And they still are. Even thought Sweden has closed a case based on a false report by police and have no basis for any charges against Assange, the British government says it will grab him the minute he steps outside the embassy.

The British are so desperate to serve their Washington master that once they even declared that they were going to violate diplomatic immunity and invade the Ecuadoran Embassy and seize Assange.

The British excuse for a once proud government’s continuing servitude to Washington as Assange’s jailer is that by taking asylum in the embassy Assange jumped bail and therefore the British have to arrest him for not surrendering a second time to the police for an investigation that has been closed.

Stefania Maurizi, an Italian investigative journalist for La Repubblica, smelling the stench of fraud that covers the entire case, has been trying for two years to get her hands on the correspondence between the UK, US, and Swedish governments pertaining to the case in order to pull back the shroud of the Washington-orchestrated propaganda that colors the case. A British tribunal refused to release any documents on the grounds that it had to protect the British Prosecution Service’s relationship with foreign authorities.

That tells you all you need to know. Julian Assange has lost seven years of his life because stinking dirty Washington wanted revenge on Assange for exercising the US Constitution-protected right of a free press, and the stinking dirty governments of Sweden and Britain did Washington’s dirty work. What we know for certain is that Assange is totally innocent and that there is no honor and no integrity in the US, Swedish, and British governments. Law means nothing to the scum that misrule these countries.

In the US and probably throughout Europe, politicians and feminists, with the exception of Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff, used the presstitute media to paint Assange as a rapist and as a spy. The feminists cared nothing about any truth; they just wanted a man to demonize. Truth was the last thing on politicians’ minds. They just wanted to divert attention from Washington’s crimes and betrayals of allies by portraying Assange as a threat and traitor to America. They were unconcerned that Assange could not be a traitor to America as he is not an American citizen.

In actual fact, there is no basis in law for any US claim against Assange. Yet because of Washington and its servile British puppet state, Assange remains interred in the Embassy of Ecuador in London. Clearly, honor and respect for law reside in Ecuador, not in the US, UK, or Sweden.

But facts, along with law and civil liberty, have ceased to mean anything in the Western world. The corrupt US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the arrest of Assange is a “priority.” The British police, mere lackeys of Washington, said that they would still arrest Assange, despite the case being dropped, if he left the embassy.

For the British, serving Washington is a higher calling than the honor of their country.

Paul Craig Roberts is an American economist, author, columnist, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and former editor and columnist for corporate media publications. He is the author of The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism.
Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Capitalism's Daughter: After a Century of Class War

World War I: Crime and Punishment

by Luciana Bohne - CounterPunch


January 12, 2018  

In 1887, Frederick Engels made a chilling prediction of the war that would come in 1914:

The only war left for Prussia-Germany to wage will be a world war, a world war, moreover of an extent of violence hitherto unimagined. Eight to ten million soldiers will be at each other’s throats and in the process they will strip Europe barer than a swarm of locusts.
The depredations of the Thirty Years’ War compressed into three to four years and extended over the entire continent; famine, disease, the universal lapse into barbarism.

This prediction was not the result of second sight. It was a conclusion derived from the premise that “war is the daughter of capitalism,” first proposed by Engels with Marx in The Manifesto of the Communist Party of 1848.

“The bourgeoisie is always in a struggle . . . against the bourgeoisie of all foreign states,” they wrote, and this struggle is so bitter as to lead inevitably to an “industrial war of annihilation among nations.”

In his study, The Great Class War, Jacques Pauwels supports this thesis, focusing on those who suffered the most and on those who profited the most. But his study goes further.

From Pauwels’ analysis, the war emerges as both a crime and a punishment—a crime perpetrated by the capitalist powers and a punishment for the betrayal of socialism, in which the working class of the whole world paid the highest price.

In 1914, the socialist leaders of the Second International voted in the parliaments of European (mostly) democracies to fund a fratricidal war, betraying the bedrock of socialist principles, international solidarity, in favor of social chauvinism.

Pauwels’ book is informed (in a scholarly way) by the outrage of this betrayal, echoing Lenin in 1914:

On the socialist, more than the horrors of war – we are, after all, for the holy war of all the oppressed for the conquest of their homelands–weigh the horror of the betrayal perpetrated by the leaders of contemporary socialism, the horrors of the failure of the current International.

Darker still than the evidence of collusion of the social democrats with the capitalist bourgeoisie, is Pauwels’ proposition that this price—the mass slaughter of proletarians– was one of the war’s intended results. The decimation of masses of workers and colonials and the weakening of the socialist movement, which had been gaining political strength since the end of the 19th century, could not be unwelcome to the bourgeoisies on both sides. It might have been included in the plan. From this reflection, comes Pauwels’ apt title, The Great Class War, a much-needed historico-materialist corrective to the chronically elegiac tone of historically unscientific and romanticized mainstream bourgeois narratives.

To be sure, as Pauwels illustrates, the war was a crime of unprecedented horror as even bourgeois historians, chroniclers, diarists, poets, novelists, painters, and musicians have acknowledged and documented. The indictment of the war as a crime has been etched in the collective memory on the Anglophone side by the words of the English poet, writer, and decorated war hero, Siegfried Sassoon. Sassoon threw the ribbon of his Military Cross into the Mersey River and made a stand against the war in 1917, submitting an explosive, potentially “treasonous,” and at the time scandalous statement to the British parliament:

I am making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority. . . . I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of aggression and conquest. (“Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration.”)

But it had never been “a war of defence and liberation,” Pauwels’ account points out. Apart from the obscenely lucrative profits that the war provided to armament and industrial barons on both sides (all extensively illustrated in Pauwels’ book) coupled with the exploitative lucre extracted from the suspension of workers rights (also richly illustrated) by the emergency war economy, the war consisted of the great capitalist powers’ race for the conquest of the colonies, their natural resources, markets, and cheap labor. What the social democrats failed or opportunistically refused to see Lenin grasped quite lucidly:

In reality, the object of the struggle of the British and French bourgeoisie is to seize the German colonies and to ruin a competing nation, which has displayed a more rapid rate of economic development. (From “The War and Russian Social Democracy,” November 1914)

It had always been, The Great Class War argues, an intention by the ruling political and economic elite to set the world to sword and fire, ending in a murderous determination on all political sides to go ahead with the crime of aggression, pit man against man and nation against all for which ten million ephemeral lives were lost—the urban poor, the peasants and near serfs, the colonial subjects, and, too, the officer class of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie. Initially swept into the war by the tide of propaganda of the upper-class culture of war idealism, Abrahamic-creed zeal, and national patriotism, the working class was urged with the collusion of the social democrat leaders of each belligerent nation, “Proletarians of the world, kill each other.”

The essential novelty—and it is a crucial one—of Pauwels’ study of WW I is the sustained, unflinching refusal to bend the knee to the authority of class-less perspectives from which the war has been traditionally represented even in the best accounts. His study relies on the method of Marxist class analysis, woefully absent from dominant narratives of history.

In fact, Pauwels’ calm and uncluttered reliance on the scientifically elegant Marxian theory of history announced dramatically in the opening sentence of the Communist Manifesto– “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”—reminds me of a literary anecdote.

Reading an early draft of Ernest Hemingway’s WW I novel, A Farewell to Arms, F. Scott Fitzgerald sent Hemingway a ten-page letter, proposing an ending in these words:

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure that it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.

At the bottom of the letter, Hemingway wrote a dismissive, “Kiss my ass.” After forty-seven attempts, Hemingway ended with a terse factual sentence of devastating emotional effect, “After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.” If Jacques Pauwels were a novelist and not a historian it would be tempting to call his book a “kiss-my- ass” sort of book, for its great merit is to reject the fanciful, windy notions of the “word-smiths” (I finally found a use for this dreadful phrase) of regime historians, who lavish words and wring their hands over the “tragic mistakes” that caused a war which supposedly no one wanted.

1918 marks the anniversary of the end of that first global industrial carnage. Why should we read yet another account? Because it is not “yet another account.” It is a Marxist historian’s publication, and such publications have dwindled to minimal numbers since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. But, more significantly, it reminds us of several useful things in our own imperialist context of Western desperation to prevent the rise of competing powers (especially China’s) that could challenge Western global hegemony.

There is no discontinuity between WWI and today’s imperialist wars. There is no discontinuity between the social democrats of 1914 and those of 2018 (just look at Bernie Sanders, Podemos, Syriza, and a plethora of born-again social chauvinists and imperialists of liberal strands). There is no discontinuity between the aggression on and the coveting of territorial possessions by the Western powers of 1914 and 2018: today the Western powers attack, subordinate, decimate, and even exterminate one group of peoples after another. There is no discontinuity between the Western powers of 1914 and 2018 in their readiness and willingness to inflict on the world an industrial war of apocalyptic proportions; have the Western powers not been aspiring for decades to guarantee for themselves the possibility of an unpunished first nuclear strike? Well then, there is no past here.

The Great Class War is present and vicious, and I recommend reading it. If we have the slightest hope of a discontinuity—of overcoming this homicidal capitalist-imperialist system—we must feed this hope with the rising consciousness that this system can be and was beaten in 1917, when soldiers, workers, and peasants united in Russia, demanded, “Peace, land, and bread.” That was the only unintended and undesirable effect by the planners of the Great War, and it is one they have rued and bitterly fought ever since.

Jacques Pauwels’ The Great Class War is a contribution to the ideological front in the struggle for a world without wars, for in resetting the story of that war in the Marxist frame, he loosens our ties to idealist interpretations that obscure the class nature of wars, naturalize war as an inevitable part of life, and force us to assume and share a guilt that largely rests on the shoulders of a profiteering and exploitative class, which holds the power of decision making through its control of political, economic, military, police, and media powers and grants us a vote that is largely cosmetic.

This is political consciousness-raising beyond the psychological notion of victimhood because it shows us the mistakes we have made—and must not repeat—and the victories we have achieved—and must strive for again—to liberate humanity from the scourge of war.

Luciana Bohne is co-founder of Film Criticism, a journal of cinema studies, and teaches at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. She can be reached at: lbohne@edinboro.edu
More articles by:Luciana Bohne
 

Hypocrisy and Bullying Mark Both the Guardian and Its Reporter Monbiot

Monbiot is not only a hypocrite, but a bully too

by Jonathan Cook


12 January 2018

It is time for George Monbiot’s legion of supporters to call him out. Not only is he a hypocrite, but he is becoming an increasingly dangerous one.

Turning a blind eye to his behaviour, or worse excusing it, as too often happens, has only encouraged him to intensify his attacks on dissident writers, those who – whether right or wrong on any specific issue – are slowly helping us all to develop more critical perspectives on western foreign policy goals than has been possible ever before.

I do not lightly use such strong language against Monbiot, someone I once admired. But his column this week drips with hypocrisy as he accuses the rightwing media of being the real villains when it comes to “no-platforming”.

Monbiot writes:

“But perhaps the real discomfort is that the worst no-platforming of all takes place within our newspapers. In the publications most obsessed with student silliness, there is no platform for socialism, no platform for environmentalism, no platform for those who might offend the interests of the proprietors. …

“I believe that a healthy media organisation, like a healthy university, should admit a diversity of opinion. I want the other newspapers to keep publishing views with which I fiercely disagree. But they – and we – should also seek opposing views and publish them too, however uncomfortable this might be.

What free speech advocate would disagree with that. Except it is Monbiot himself who has been using his prominent platforms, at the Guardian and on social media, to discredit critical thinkers on the left – not with reasoned arguments, but by impugning their integrity.

Denied a platform


It started with his unsubstantiated claim that scholars like Noam Chomsky and the late Ed Herman, as well as the acclaimed journalist John Pilger, were “genocide deniers and belittlers”. It now focuses on childish insinuations that those who question the corporate media’s simplistic narrative on Syria are Assad apologists or in Vladimir Putin’s pay.

But worse than this, Monbiot is also conspiring – either actively or through his silence – to deny critics of his and the Guardian’s position on Syria the chance to set out their evidence in its pages.

The Guardian’s anti-democratic stance does not surprise me, as someone who worked there for many years. I found myself repeatedly no-platformed by the paper – even while on its staff – after I started taking an interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict and writing about the discomforting issue of what a Jewish state entails. My treatment is far from unique.

Now the paper is denying a platform to those who question simplistic and self-serving western narratives on Syria. And Monbiot is backing his employer to the hilt, even as he professes his commitment to the publication of views he fiercely disagrees with. That’s the dictionary definition of hypocrisy.

‘Selfless’ White Helmets?


The latest instalment of the Guardian and Monbiot’s long-running battle to silence Syria dissidents arrived last month when Olivia Solon, the paper’s technology writer living in San Francisco, developed a sudden and unexpected expertise in a controversial Syrian group called the White Helmets.

In the western corporate media narrative, the White Helmets are a group of dedicated and selfless rescue workers. They are supposedly the humanitarians on whose behalf a western intervention in Syria would have been justified – before, that is, Syrian leader Bashar Assad queered their pitch by inviting in Russia.

However, there are problems with the White Helmets. They operate only in rebel – read: mainly al-Qaeda and ISIS-held – areas of Syria, and plenty of evidence shows that they are funded by the UK and US to advance both countries’ far-from-humanitarian policy objectives in Syria.

There are also strong indications that members of the White Helmets have been involved in war crimes, and that they have staged rescue operations as a part of a propaganda offensive designed to assist Islamic extremists trying to oust Assad. (Solon discounts this last claim. In doing so, she ignores several examples of such behaviour, concentrating instead on an improbable “mannequin challenge”, when the White Helmets supposedly froze their emergency operations, in the midst of rescue efforts, apparently as part of a peculiar publicity campaign.)

Guardian hatchet job


Whatever side one takes in this debate, one would imagine that Monbiot should have a clear agenda in support of hearing evidence from all sides. One might also imagine that he would want to distance himself from Solon’s efforts to tie criticism of the White Helmets to a supposed “fake news” crisis and paint those critical of the group as Putin-bots. According to Solon:

The way the Russian propaganda machine has targeted the White Helmets is a neat case study in the prevailing information wars. It exposes just how rumours, conspiracy theories and half-truths bubble to the top of YouTube, Google and Twitter search algorithms.

Those are the same algorithms that have been changed in recent months to make sure that prominent leftist websites are increasingly difficult to find on internet searches and their writers’ views effectively disappeared.

Yet Monbiot has been using social media to promote Solon’s cheerleading of the White Helmets and her hatchet job against on-the-ground journalists who have taken a far more critical view of the group.

As set out by Prof Tim Hayward, the Guardian’s response to criticism of Solon’s piece has been typical. The comments section below the article was hastily closed after many criticisms were voiced by readers. The journalists who were singled out for attack by Solon were denied a right of reply. A group of concerned academics led by Hayward who submitted their own article, which detailed publicly available evidence to counter Solon’s simplistic account of the White Helmets, were ignored. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s editors and the reader’s editor have ignored all efforts by these parties to contact them.

Given his claim to be an uncompromising defender of free speech and a fierce advocate of providing platforms to those who can back up their arguments with evidence, however discomforting, one might have assumed that Monbiot would at the very least have lobbied on behalf of Hayward and his fellow scholars. But not a bit of it. Yet again he has joined the dogs of the corporate media baying for blood. Instead he turned to Twitter to claim Hayward and Piers Robinson, an expert on propaganda, had “disgraced” themselves.

Undermining climate concerns


The many tens of thousands of leftists who defend Monbiot, or turn a blind eye to his hypocrisy, largely do so because of his record on the environment. But in practice they are enabling not only his increasingly overt incitement against critical thinkers, but also undermining the very cause his supporters believe he champions.

Climate breakdown is a global concern. Rewilding, bike-riding, protecting bees and polar bears, and developing new sustainable technologies are all vitally important. But such actions will amount to little if we fail to turn a highly sceptical eye on the activities of a western military-industrial complex ravaging the planet’s poorest regions.

These war industries fill their coffers by using weapons indiscriminately on “enemy” populations, spawning new and fiercer enemies – while often propping them up too – to generate endless wars.

The consequences include massive displacements of these populations who then destabilise other regions, spreading the effect and creating new opportunities for the arms manufacturers, homeland security industries, and the financial industries that feed off them.

A true environmentalist has to look as critically at western policies in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela and many other areas of the globe as he does at UK policy in the Welsh hills and the Lake District.

All indications are that Monbiot lacks the experience, knowledge and skills to unravel the deceptions being perpetrated in the west’s proxy and not-so-proxy wars overseas. That is fair enough. What is not reasonable is that he should use his platforms to smear precisely those who can speak with a degree of authority and independence – and then conspire in denying them a platform to respond. That is the behaviour not only of a hypocrite, but of a bully too.

In Answer to the Keepers of the Water: Keepers of the Athabasca Open Letter

In Answer to the Keepers of the Water: Keepers of the Athabasca Open Letter 

by Susanne Lawson


January 12, 2018

We are living in a broken system where government is failing the people, the environment and future generations. It is a system of plunder and monetary gain for the few in a short term profit game plan while all else suffers and in the end we all suffer as the failing system comes full circle.

I have never witnessed a systemic loss of all that is dear and important as what we are presently undergoing.

The debt load, the loss of fisheries and forests, the pollution of our waters and land and the epidemics of disease and suffering is almost unbearable with little positive change to bring about hope for the future.

I don't want to be a purveyor of doom, we certainly have done our best to bring positive change to no avail but it is time for truth and it is time to face the fact that this society has no true value other than to take whatever at the expense of all.

I would have thought we could intelligently address our challenges and find a way forward but it has become extremely evident that it is pointless dealing with government and this system the way it is. In just 50 years this province has turned into a wasteland that sustains nothing. The few pockets of good that remain are rapidly dwindling with nothing but debt to show for it.

To attempt to address the protection of the remnants of Douglas Fir on Vancouver Island through a process of government is like trying to stop the pollution and devastation and cancers wrought by the tar sands. It seems the only thing that will bring this to a halt is the failure of capital to gain from it.

We, the people, have paid for all this destruction at the hand of government and industry, subsidizing and keeping it going. It is a complete failure of this governing system in listening to and working for our benefit. Site C is just another massive mistake we will be in debt for and it goes on.

Unless we see some massive positive change for the better from this governing system, I see nothing but a failed and rotten social experiment gone horribly wrong.

Sincerely, Susanne Lawson


Keepers of the Water: Keepers of the Athabasca


OPEN LETTER: Concerns regarding the Mine Financial Security Program and implementation of the Tailings Management Framework for the Athabasca Oil Sands 


January 8, 2017
Andre Corbould,
Deputy Minister,
Alberta Environment and Parks
Ronda Goulden, ADM Policy and Planning,
Alberta Environment and Parks

Dear Mr. Courbould and Ms. Goulden,

Re: Concerns regarding the Mine Financial Security Program and implementation of the Tailings Management Framework for the Athabasca Oil Sands Keepers of the Athabasca (Keepers) have serious liability concerns, including health, financial and environmental, with Alberta’s Mine Financial Security Program (MFSP) and the implementation of the Tailings Management Framework(TMF).

In this letter we briefly detail these concerns and strongly recommend specific actions on the part of the Government of Alberta (GoA) and Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) to rectify the untenable situation we find ourselves in. These are not new issues, but ones that Keepers has engaged in with the GoA and the oil sands industry for several years. It is long past time for these issues to be rectified, as Alberta’s Auditor General (AG) and many others have stated.

With respect to the Mine Financial Security Program, Alberta’s Auditor General was very clear on the issue of publicly held financial and environmental liability over two years ago in his July 2015 report. The section titled ‘Systems to Secure Sufficient Financial Security for Land Disturbances from Mining’ (pp. 25-33) was critical of the amount the Alberta government collects from the oil sands industry to cover reclamation of mine sites should companies default on their reclamation obligations.

In 2014, $1.57B was being held for an estimated $20.8B cost to get these projects reclaimed, and the imbalance is still overwhelming. The report concludes that in order to ensure that the objectives of the MFSP are met, improvements in how security is calculated are required to prevent overestimation of the value of the
asset, among other recommended improvements. It states:

‘If there isn’t an adequate program in place to ensure that financial security is provided by mine operators to fund the conservation and reclamation costs associated with their mine operations, mine sites may either not be reclaimed as intended or Albertans could be forced to pay the reclamation costs’ (p 30). 

Clearly, the Auditor General recognizes that the problems with the MFSP are both environmental and financial in nature, and will be borne by Alberta taxpayers and citizens, yet a response from the GoA to the AG’s report still has not been issued, and no date has been set for its issuance. The time for excuses for this failure to respond has long since passed.

Recommendation 1: 


Keepers strongly recommends that a date be set for issuance of a response to the AG’s report and that the date by conveyed to the public. The TMF identifies a further source of financial and environmental security that is not covered by the MFSP, namely, exceedance of a management threshold for fluid tailings, and directs the GoA to amend the MFSP in order to account for this additional liability (p. 34). Keepers and other environmental organizations participated in a Mine Financial Security Program (MFSP) Working Group that also included representatives from First Nations, the AEP, the Alberta Energy Regulator, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Industry, and researchers, between April and July 2017, to express our views about how this additional liability should be handled under the MFSP. Not only has the MFSP not been amended, even the report from the working group, due in August 2017, has not been issued, and no date for its issuance has been forthcoming, despite several inquiries.

Recommendation 2:


Keepers strongly recommends the immediate issuance of the report from the Working Group and an indication of when the MFSP will be amended. The fundamental principle of the MFSP is that the mining company is responsible to ‘carry out suspension, abandonment, remediation, and surface reclamation work to the standards established by the province of Alberta and to maintain care, and custody of the land until a reclamation certificate has been issued’ and must have the financial resources to carry out their obligations.
The MFSP is meant to ensure that the GoA holds sufficient financial resources to reclaim mine sites in case the operators do not do so. The Tailings Management Framework states:

‘The Government of Alberta regulatory requirements for mine reclamation financial security ensure that there are no unsecured liabilities associated with mineable oil sands deposits’ (p. 34). 

This program is not functioning as it is being represented to the public, as is amply demonstrated by the changing economic times we find ourselves in.

Recommendation 3:


In light of the serious flaws and omissions in the MFSP program, Keepers strongly recommend that the GoA abandon its asset-to-liability approach to mine financial security and move incrementally toward a full financial security approach to all liabilities, including all tailings volumes, grounded in an accurate estimate of the costs of reclamation, in order to protect the environment, human health and taxpayers from the multiple
liabilities posed by oil sands projects.

Further to the implementation of the TMF, this document devotes 2/3 of a page (p. 37) to the potential problem of the amount of process-affected water held on mine sites, lists some of the requirements under which release to the environment may be considered, and directs the GoA to develop the details of these requirements after the implementation of the TMF. At present, a pilot project for the release of treated process-affected water to the environment is being developed, and we are told that others are “waiting in the wings”.

Keepers hold that it is not acceptable to pursue such pilot projects without having first conducted pilot projects for such environmentally sustainable treatment technologies as full containment drying of tailings, or green chemistry treatments, of which several have been suggested but not fully tested.

Furthermore, pilots should not be conducted for release until the supplemental requirements are in place and other problems corrected, some of which are detailed below.

The TMF states,

‘Such applications (for release of new wastewater streams) would ... require considerable analyses including (but not limited to) the evaluation of potential ecosystem and human health risks’ (p. 37). 

Companies are not in a position to produce such applications at present, both because of the current state of scientific and human health research, and because the monitoring system for the oil sands region is incomplete. Researchers from outside Alberta, including Environment Canada have shown that contamination from bitumen mines has travelled into surrounding waterways. Furthermore, an independent 3rd party human health study to determine what health impacts have already been felt by residents of the region, has not been conducted. Residents and others have been asking for such a study since clusters of rare forms of cancer were identified in the Fort Chipewyan region several years ago.

Thus, we believe that the following statement is premature:

“... it will be important for some proportion of appropriately treated process affected water to be returned to the natural environment ... it is my expectation all affected parties will work collaboratively on the development of a robust framework for water release” (memorandum from Andre Corbould to Jim Ellis, President and CEO, Alberta Energy Regulator, July 26, 2017) 


Recommendation 4:


Keepers strongly recommends suspending the current Syncrude pilot project and not allowing any release to the environment until the means for assessing potential ecological and human health effects of treated process-affected water have been developed and published.


Thank you for your attention to these matters,
Jule Asterisk, Executive Director

Cc:
Premier Rachel Notley
Kem Singh, Executive Director, Land Policy Branch Alberta Environment and Parks
Fred Wrona, ADM and Chief Scientist, Alberta Environment and Parks

Stirs the Monster: Methane Leviathan Rising

Global Warming Stirs the Methane Monster

by Robert Hunziker - CounterPunch


January 12, 2018

It’s January, yet methane hydrates in the Arctic are growling like an incensed monster on a scorching hot mid-summer day. But, it is January; it’s winter, not July!

On January 1st Arctic methane at 2,764 ppb spiked upwards into the atmosphere, which, according to Arctic News:

“Was likely caused by methane hydrate destabilization in the sediments on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.” (Source: Unfolding Arctic Catastrophe, Arctic News, January 2, 2018)

Once again, with emphasis, it’s January; it’s winter, and there’s little or no sunshine above the Arctic Circle.

So, what gives? Why are alarming levels of methane spewing into the atmosphere in the dead of winter?

For starters, record low sea ice volume, which has been dropping like a leaden weight for years because of human-generated (anthropogenic) global warming. That’s a recipe for trouble, big time trouble as methane hydrates (lattices of ice that entrap methane molecules) get exposed to warmer water. In that regard, average sea ice volume throughout 2017 was at record lows.

Making matters worse yet, extraordinarily warm water currents flow into the Arctic from nearby ocean waters that have been absorbing 90% of global warming. Ergo, Arctic water in thin ice does not cool down without a lot of thick ice to melt the warm water currents. So, abnormally warm water remains into winter months and, in time, reaches sediments at the bottom of the ocean, disrupting methane hydrates, which have stored tonnes of methane over millennia. However, in due course, all hell breaks loose with large-scale methane eruptions, one of those “Naw, it can’t be happening” moments.

Here’s the problem: On average, sea surface temps were 23.35°F warmer during the period October 1 to December 30, 2017 compared to the 30-year average temperature. On October 25th, the sea surface was as warm as 63.5°F. For the Arctic, that’s hot, not just warmer. And, that brings forth a big-gulp question: What’s going to happen in summertime when methane hydrates are more exposed?

After all, methane (CH4) is a dominating greenhouse gas that makes carbon dioxide (CO2) look like a piker during initial years and packs the walloping risk of runaway global warming, which, in turn, threatens agricultural sources of food… not a good scenario. Imagine the chaos, considering the fact that “runaway” means totally out of control!

In all, an impending disaster seems destined to happen, but nobody knows when. It will likely occur unexpected by an ill advised, crass, blundering, philistine society blindsided by a scorched planet and extensive loss of foodstuff. Chaos spreads throughout when all of a sudden, unexpectedly, crops fail. One bad crop season follows another and another. For example, Syria, where its 2006-11 devastating drought caused 75% of Syria’s farms to fail and 85% of livestock to die. That’s a wipeout!

In the end, as crops fail, it’s too late to take remedial action beyond dealing with dystopian warring factions locked in bloodthirsty combat over morsels of foodstuff.

Not only that, one more nasty early warning sign of trouble is right around the corner: The National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) January 3rd year-end headline reads: “Baked Alaska and 2017 in Review,” stating: “… notably high temperatures prevail over most of the Arctic, especially over Central Alaska.” That’s permafrost country! That’s where tonnes and tonnes and tonnes of methane lies in-waiting to spring loose into the atmosphere. After all, global warming is the kissing cousin to methane buried in permafrost.

And, of equivalent concern on a worldwide basis:

“In 2016 – now and at least for another year, the hottest year on record – global sea ice extent suffered a precipitous drop, plummeting from a fairly average 2015 value to a new record low. Now, as we wrap up 2017, data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) shows that annual average global sea ice extent has dropped again, hitting an even lower record value.” (Source: Global Sea Ice Hits New Record Low for 2nd Year Straight, The Weather Network, January 8, 2017)

Meantime, the two poles, north and south, are in the early stages of collapse. Scientists know it, and there is lots of chatter about geo-engineering and assorted methodologies to fix anthropogenic global warming before it consumes civilization in a fireball, but those proposals are in dreamland for the moment.

Hopefully, one of their fix-it ideas works “to scale” because the planet is likely too big for geo-engineering schemes to work without some kind of unintended consequence, which may be worse than the original fix. In fact, nobody really knows for sure what will happen when the biosphere is forced to behave according to computer-designed plans. It’s an enormous undertaking!

Therefore, it is recommended that today’s push-button, screen-watching youth learn survival skills rather than playing games for hours on end, endlessly, moronically pre-occupied with electronic fantasylands, because one day in the near future that fantasy turns to harsh reality, likely hitting hard, really hard.

After all, eco-migrants, numbering tens of thousands, are already worldwide a phenomena, especially along the southern and eastern Mediterranean Sea regions, where land is turning bone dry faster than anywhere else on the planet.

It’s the start of the Great Global Warming Migration scenario… but, pray tell, where to go?  


Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at rlhunziker@gmail.com.
More articles by:Robert Hunziker

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Message from a Freedom Fighter: Meeting Ahed Tamimi

Abby Martin Meets Ahed Tamimi

by Abby Martin - The Empire Files - Telesur

 

January 10, 2018


Recently, the struggle for Palestinian human rights gained international attention surrounding a new icon of resistance--16 year old Ahed Tamimi. While in the West Bank in late 2016, Abby Martin interviewed Ahed Tamimi about her hardships and aspirations living under occupation and it becomes clear why her subjugators are trying to silence her voice.

Her brother Waad and father Bassem also talk about their experiences with Israeli soldiers harassing their village and targeting their family. In this exclusive episode, Abby outlines the Tamimi family's tragic tale and unending bravery in the fight for justice and equality in Palestine and how the story of their village of Nabi Saleh is emblematic of the Palestinian struggle as a whole.



FOLLOW // @EmpireFiles // @AbbyMartin // @telesurenglish

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Tightening Circle of Acceptability: Israel Shutting Gates to Refugees and Disagreeable Jews

Basking in Trump Support, Israel Shuts Its Gates to Refugees and Disagreeable Jews Alike

by Whitney Webb - MintPress News


January 10, 2018

Many Jews are now banned from entering Israel solely because of their ideological differences with the Israeli government. Ironically included among banned groups is the American Friends Service Committee, recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize for aiding Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany.

Though the Israeli government is enjoying a time of nearly unprecedented cooperation with the current U.S. president and his administration, several recent stories have derailed its carefully honed image of a homeland for the Jewish people regardless of race, national origin or political persuasion.

Israel has long been a country that prides itself on welcoming all Jews and offering support to all refugees in conscience of the Jews’ own plight during the Second World War. But a series of damaging stories have shown the current government taking a hard turn against Israel’s heritage as such a haven.

First, Israel ordered the deportation last Tuesday of thousands of African migrants who have been termed “infiltrators,” not immigrants, by Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority. Based on concerns repeatedly voiced by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a major motivator for the edict was the fear that the unchecked influx of African migrants could present a threat to Israel’s social fabric and Jewish character. Seemingly ignored is the fact that such an influx is now all but impossible, given the massive border wall Israel has constructed along its border with Egypt. 

An Israeli government minister, speaking to this effect, called the migrants “a cancer.” Similar statements have been made of Israel’s Arab population, including Jewish Arabs.

The majority of the estimated 38,000 migrants are from Eritrea and Sudan, where they have fled war and persecution, and clearly meet the legal definition of a “refugee” according to the 1951 Refugee Convention, an agreement that Israel not only signed but reportedly helped to draft.

However, Israel has managed to avoid its legal obligations by leaving asylum requests unanswered, preventing the migrants from being recognized as refugees. Since 2015, Israel has granted only eight Eritreans and two Sudanese asylum from amongst tens of thousands of applications.

Making migrants miserable


Unwilling to deport them to their home nations outright – which would put Israel in direct violation of the Refugee Convention for those migrants who fled war and persecution – Israel has instead relied on making migrants’ lives miserable by largely barring them from meaningful employment; confiscating 20 percent of any wages they do manage to earn; and even sending them to 12-month stints in a special migrant detention center known as Holot, in order to convince them to leave of their own accord. However, in some cases, migrants have been sent back to the very countries they fled, such as Sudan, after being told they were being sent to another country, such as Uganda or Ethiopia.

Though some media outlets have argued that the deportation edict has only targeted the migrants because they are not Jewish, the experience of African Jews within Israel suggests that something else may be to blame.

Many Jews of African descent, including African-Americans, have been accused of “faking” their conversion to Judaism or deported outright (even when having a valid visa). A “birthright” trip for a group of Ugandan Jews was also recently canceled by the Israeli government. Notably, this fate has not befallen any of the tens of thousands of North American Jews — who have been granted Israeli citizenship in recent years with few, if any, obstacles.

Even those African Jews who have been granted asylum have been unfairly targeted by the Israeli government. Many Ethiopian Jews, though granted residency in Israel, were forcibly sterilized – often without their consent or through coercion – as part of an “unspoken” Israeli government policy that targeted this group of immigrants exclusively.

As a result, the birth rate of Israel’s Ethiopian Jews has been on the decline. It is thus becoming increasingly evident that the Israeli state is concerned with maintaining not merely a majority Jewish population but a majority white Jewish population.

Bent on ideological, racial and ethnic purity


However, a Jew’s being of the “right” ethnicity is not enough to secure his or her welcome in modern Israel. Israel’s recent decision to ban numerous activists who are part of organizations affiliated with or supportive of Boycott-Divest-Sanctions (BDS) — the global movement seeking to protest the Israeli occupation of the West Bank through non-violent and economic means — has made this clear.

Many Jews – most notably those who are members of the group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) – are now banned from entering the country solely because of their ideological differences with the Israeli government. Code Pink, run by a Jewish-American activist, is also banned. And another group ironically included in the ban, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), is best known for having won a Nobel Peace Prize for aiding Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany.

Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, wrote on Facebook:

“As someone with considerable family in Israel, this policy will be a personal hardship, but I am also heartened by this indicator of the BDS movement’s growing strength, and hope that it will bring the day closer when just as I go to visit my friends and family in Israel, so will Palestinian friends and colleagues be able to return home.”

Though emboldened by a friendly administration in Washington, the Israeli government’s recent decisions to mass-deport migrants and crack down on its ideological opponents is likely to backfire, only proving its critics right by exposing its preoccupation with cultivating not only religious but racial and ideological purity within Israel’s population.

This troubling reality contradicts the image Israel has long sought to cultivate in the West, one of a nation to which refugees are welcomed in solidarity and one that offers a home to any and all Jews.

However, reality seems to be catching up to Israel – and fast.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, and 21st Century Wire among others. She currently lives in Southern Chile.