Friday, February 24, 2017

World Class: Beijing Takes Its Place at the Top

Top Secret – Beijing has Become One of the Greatest Cities on Earth

by Andre Vltchek - NEO


February 20, 2017

Open your eyes and see for yourself. Unclog your ears and hear. Discard your preconceptions, of all those propaganda refrains that are accompanying the myriad of brainwashing tunes that are being spread by the Western indoctrination media.

For decades, smearing Beijing, while negating its greatness, has been one of the most effective weapons used by the US and Europe in their cultural anti-revolutionary war against all those great independent nations of the planet, especially China.

For those who want to taste the reality, the best advice would be: enter Beijing and let Beijing speak for itself, without an intermediary or ‘interpreter’. But could it be done? Aren’t biases already too deeply engrained in the psyche of most of the people worldwide, people that are bombarded by professional disinformation campaigns manufactured by the Empire and its mouthpieces?

“I used to cry almost every night, from hopelessness and pain,” I was once told by one of the greatest contemporary concert pianists, Yuan Sheng, who decided to return to his native Beijing many years ago.

“When I lived in New York, when I read and heard all those lies about my country and my city, I felt so helpless. I couldn’t explain the truth, as nobody around me was willing to listen.”

Old rattles have been played day and night on the BBC, the CNN and many other official channels of the West: the tear-jerking stories depicting the plights of the migrant workers, or some gruesome portrayals of China’s human rights record (all based on extremely arrogant Western dogmas, thoroughly incompatible with Chinese and Asian culture), or the mainstream interpretation of the Tiananmen Square events, or the loud and hypocritical laments about the disappearance of some old neighborhoods, and not to speak of the loud salvoes fired against Beijing’s ‘disastrous’ air pollution and traffic jams.

When a tremendous effort by the government had been made to accommodate the migrant workers arriving from the poorer provinces to Beijing and to other major cities, and when, simultaneously, the standard of living began to rise dramatically all over the Chinese countryside, the topic got quietly shelved. Hardly any credit has been given to the country’s leadership.

When new evidence about the 1989 Tiananmen events began to surface, when it was proved, again and again, that the West actually infiltrated and supported the so called ‘student pro-democracy movement’; and when the facts about the extremely violent nature of many of those ‘students’ became simply undisputable, the Western media clenched its fists and never backpedaled, never bothered to present arguments ‘from the other side’. On the contrary, it turned up the volume of its monotonous propagandist cacophony. Until now, in the eyes of the general Western public, Tiananmen Square is synonymous with ‘oppression’ and not with the great revolutionary history and stunning monumental beauty.

Brian Becker wrote for LiberationNews.org :

The fictionalized version of the “massacre” was later corrected in some very small measure by Western reporters who had participated in the fabrications and who were keen to touch up the record so that they could say they made “corrections.” But by then it was too late and they knew that too. Public consciousness had been shaped. The false narrative became the dominant narrative. They had successfully massacred the facts to fit the political needs of the U.S. government.

“Most of the hundreds of foreign journalists that night, including me, were in other parts of the… Those who tried to remain close filed dramatic accounts that, in some cases, buttressed the myth of a student massacre,” wrote Jay Mathews, the Washington Post’s first Bureau Chief in Beijing, in a 1998 article in the Columbia Journalism Review.

Mathews’ article, which includes his own admissions to using the terminology of the Tiananmen Square massacre, came nine years after the fact and he acknowledged that corrections later had little impact.

As for violations of human rights in China in general and Beijing in particular, only one (Western) view is commonly presented in the West. As Tom Zwart (professor of cross-cultural law and human rights at Utrecht University) wrote on January 21st, 2017 for China Daily:

“Generally, Western states seem to be strongly attached to promoting their own position and using it as a benchmark to judge others… While Western states are uncompromising about their own stance on human rights, China is keen on achieving harmony and therefore attaches less value to human rights dogma.”

That is certainly a nobler approach, but the loud shouting, simplifications and vulgar insults coming from the Western media, politicians and academia, are effectively indoctrinating billions worldwide.

But let’s return to Beijing.


The Demolition of several old hutons in the capital was never presented (by Western media) for what it really was: as part of the great effort to improve living conditions and sanitation of the poor people. Instead it was portrayed as some atrocious crime against the city’s history and culture. Never mind that all truly architecturally valuable old neighborhoods were painstakingly preserved and restored, as were actually almost all important structures of the capital. Never mind that when asked, most huton dwellers are actually grateful for being awarded with comfortable and modern flats.

What about pollution? I encountered people in all corners of the world, who swore that they would never set foot in Beijing, as the pollution levels there are hazardous, almost murderous. Most of these same people said that they’d have no objections to travel to much more polluted cities which are located in the ‘client’ states of the West and therefore managed to escape the toughest criticism: Jakarta, Manila, Phnom Penh and Bangkok, to give just a few examples.

There is hardly any mention, at least in the West, that for years and decades Beijing has been engaged in an epic fight against pollution and in support of the environment: the massive improvement of ecological public transportation (already 17 mostly modern metro lines are in service, countless trolley bus lines, encouragement of electric vehicles, wide sidewalks and introduction of shared bicycles, plus several revolutionary new forms of public transportation soon to be introduced). There are tough emission controls in place, and a ban on scooters. There is also the huge expansion of green areas around and inside the city, as well as the recently imposed ban on smoking (one of the toughest in the world).

It was recently reported by local Chinese media outlets (including China Daily) that:

“The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region saw improvements in air quality in 2016… the average concentration of PM2.5, a hazardous pollutant, has decreased by 33 percent compared to the level of 2013…”

Many other indicators have improved as well, although mentioning this fact on regular basis in the mainstream Western media would be ‘unacceptably pro-Chinese’.

*


In the last two decades, Beijing has become one of the world’s most exciting cities.

Its cultural life is second to none.

One of the curators of the National Center for Performing Arts (also known as “The Egg”, the largest opera house and performing center in the world) once explained to me:

“When I used to live in London, I was dreaming about all those great world-class musicians and performers. Now I’m having meetings and dinners with them, all the time. It is because almost all great artists want to come to Beijing; to perform here.”

One of the greatest (and free for all) museums on Earth, the China National Museum, is presently hosting two parallel world-class exhibitions: on the archeological treasures of Saudi Arabia, and the other on the collection from the Louvre Museum. In that institution, some of the greatest masterpieces of Salvador Dali rub shoulders with Chinese revolutionary art and anti-imperialist manifestos.

But now there are actually dozens of world-class museums and concert halls all over Beijing. In the iconic “798” (an old and massive weapons factory located on the outskirts of the city, which used to cover several square kilometers), literally hundreds of avant-garde art galleries are exhibiting everything from Western mainstream art including Andy Warhol or fashion images of Conde Nast, the most ‘outrageous’ and politically daring political art, critical of the West, of capitalism, in China, and even of the government itself, is on display. It is mind-blowing! There is nothing like this anywhere in the West. Beijing artists are without any doubt much more innovative, daring and free than those in Paris, London or New York.

And on the other side of the city, around the ancient lakes and canals, dozens of clubs are hosting great bands from Africa and other parts of the world.

A prolific writer based in China, Jeff Brown contributed to this essay:

“Beijing is one of the world’s greatest repositories of ancient history and modern humanities, showing off hundreds of world class museums, galleries, parks, temples, squares, shrines, monuments, mountains, lakes and rivers – all within a one-hour drive of the city center. You don’t need a car anyway. Beijing has the world’s largest metro system, 1,000 public bus routes and 66,000 licensed taxis to get you to all these myriad sites.

Since 1949, metropolitan Beijing has planted over a half a billion trees, shrubs and flowering bushes, as well as millions of square kilometers of green belts along the fringes of the nearby Gobi Desert, to stop its southern advance and to reduce dust levels blowing in from the north. By 2050, Beijing will have planted 100 billion trees to its north, covering more than ten percent of the country’s landmass. This greenification program continues with a passion and love for nature. Beijing has identified and coddles, like rock stars, 40,000 urban trees that are over 100 years old, some dating back more than 1,000 years .

Contrary to ceaseless propaganda in the West, Beijing and all of China’s cities have shown nonstop improvement in air quality, and Beijing is spending billions to keep bettering its environment. This has been going on since the 1990s, something I can personally attest to. Tetovo, Cairo, Kathmandu, Accra, Manila, Delhi, Beirut, Ulaanbaatar, Baku, Dhaka and Sao Paulo, among others, all had higher 2016 pollution indexes than China’s capital, but only Beijing gets the mainstream media black eye. Why? Because Beijing is the heart and soul of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and thus, is not a NATO doormat and puppet, an intolerable affront to Western capitalism.”

Proud, forward-looking, full of hope and dreams, Beijing is marching forward.

The West which is clearly in permanent decay, is shooting its poisonous but powerless arrows tinted with nihilism and spite, towards the great capital of this enormous nation which, after a long and dark period of humiliation and suffering is finally reclaiming its rightful place in the world.

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, a writer of revolutionary novel Aurora and several other books. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

All That Glittering Columbus Gold Elusive for Mordashov

Canadian Dragon Versus Russian Raider - Alexei Mordashov Meets His Match at Columbus Gold, or Vice Versa

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears 


February 24, 2017 




Moscow - For the first time Canadian mine stock investors say that Russian mining and metals oligarch Alexei Mordashov has run into resistance to his takeover schemes by a combination of share dilution, insider rewards, and share price manipulation — tactics which have succeeded for Mordashov when he acquired the last three Canadian goldminers he took aim at.

Speaking of the takeover now under way by Mordashov’s London-listed Nordgold for Toronto-listed Columbus Gold, shareholders, analysts, insiders and stock promoters have been discussing on the Canadian Stockwatch bulletin board what they expect to happen next. A small stakeholder told others on the bullboard in December: “Can’t see any reason Nord does not move quickly on [Columbus Gold] as it will only get more expensive.”

A few days later, Brien Lundin, a gold stockpicker in the US, advised his clients to take advantage of the Russian interest: “I urge you to take advantage of any market-induced weakness to buy the company in advance of the feasibility study.” Another bullboard entry warned on February 9:

“Pretty obvious they’re going to take us out, put those 5 million Z’s [gold reserves] in their portfolio, and continue on with their growth plan. We’re the proverbial low hanging fruit, it’s now just a matter of price.”

The next day another commentator warned: “As for [Columbus Gold].. NORD has never failed to follow through on eventually taking over a company in which they have picked up a notable minority stake.” He drew the response:

“NORD would definitely like to steal it but they won’t be able to because too many other buyers want it also. So NORD may decide to sell instead at a premium and take their marbles somewhere else where they can get a better deal.”

The Canadian consensus is that Mordashov is making a raid on Columbus Gold.

“What I think we have to watch for is if they low ball us like they don’t want any partners, putz around for a year or so, then sell the whole shooting match to one of the above for a $ billion or better, screwing us out of our fair share. Got to keep a close eye on those Russians…”

Columbus Gold started in Vancouver in 2004, and is controlled by Robert Giustra, cousin of the well-known Canadian entrepreneur Frank Giustra (pictured below left). In 2010 Frank Giustra sold Mordashov (right) a controlling stake in the West African goldmine operations of Crew Gold for $215 million, making Giustra a 124% profit on an 8-month investment. Together, Mordashov’s goldmines have been consolidated into Nordgold, which listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2012 with a sale of just over 10% of the shares.

Mordashov has kept the rest, while the value of the shares and the company has been cut in half. The current market capitalisation of Nordgold is US$1.3 billion. Mordashov has lost that much in Nordgold’s asset value in five years.


Left: Frank Giustra with former US president Bill Clinton. 
Right: Alexei Mordashov with President Vladimir Putin


Mordashov started negotiating with Robert Giustra in 2013, buying a small stake in Columbus Gold, and a larger one in Columbus Gold’s stake in operating rights at the French Guiana goldfield known as Montagne d’Or; it is also known as the Paul Isnard project after the nearby town, and after a 19th century French mine prospector in the area. For details of Mordashov’s plans and Giustra’s reactions, read this report of December 22.


Robert Giustra (right) inspects drill samples in Guiana with 
Nikolai Zelensky, chief executive of Nordgold.


The Montagne d’Or deposit is estimated to hold between 4 million and 6 million troy ounces of gold. At the current gold price, they are worth US $5 billion to US$7.5 billion.

Just how valuable the mine will prove to be is scheduled to be disclosed publicly next month, when Columbus Gold and Nordgold release their bankable feasibility study for Montagne d’Or. That document will reveal new calculations of gold reserves, mine grades, and the commercial value of the project. After spending about US$36 million and releasing the study, Nordgold would then own a 55% share of the new project. At the start of this year, Nordgold also held 8.5% of Columbus Gold shares, the second largest shareholder behind IAMGold, a Canadian mining company, which controls about 10%.

Through Nordgold, Mordashov appears to be the second largest shareholder with 8.5% of Columbus Gold, a stake currently worth C$5.7 million ($4.2 million). Nordgold won’t be precise about the size of Mordashov’s shareholding today.

Before Columbus Gold, Mordashov’s goldmine purchases and takeovers in Canada have included US$500 million to buy Crew Gold into Nordgold. His takeover of High River Gold in 2012 cost about C$200 million ($148.3 million). This year’s takeover of Northquest has cost US$22 million. In each case, minority Canadian shareholders resisted Mordashov, claiming in and out of court and in filings to local stock market regulators, that he had made sweetheart deals with insiders, manipulated his target’s share price, and taken over at a fraction of the companies’ true worth.

The court claims were all dismissed; no wrongdoing by Mordashov has been adjudicated.

On December 22, Giustra was asked if a Mordashov takeover had been considered by the Columbus Gold board. Nordgold must “earn its interest [in Montagne d’Or] first,” he replied. “That will come in March of 2017. They have not made any offer to us. It’s not been the subject of any planning or strategy. Using reasonable assumptions I suspect there will be a dialogue at some point. It hasn’t happened yet.

The share price of Columbus Gold then took off, jumping by 2.3 times from 47 Canadian cents on December 21 to C$1.07 on February 10. Asked this week to explain, Giustra said nothing was happening, either inside Columbus Gold headquarters in Vancouver, nor at the mine site in Guiana. “We’ve outperformed the market and our peers consistently for the last 3 years,” Giustra emailed. “Nothing unusual here. Gold stocks were depressed in December and started a recovery around the time of your article through January; Columbus’ share price strengthened as a result, we just followed the general market.”

But there was a magnitude of difference which Canadian market observers didn’t miss. The Toronto gold index rose by 33%; Columbus Gold didn’t follow the market, it far outstripped it with a gain of 128%.


TORONTO GOLD SHARE INDEX – UP 33% SINCE DECEMBER



ONE-YEAR SHARE PRICE TRAJECTORY FOR COLUMBUS GOLD – UP 128%


On January 10 an investor commented on the Stockwatch bullboard: “Boom! + .14 [share price up 14 cents] but can’t find any news. Volume is over a million shares ! What happened?” Another replied: “a >20% jump on the day suggests that someone knows that news is coming soon.” The Stockwatch site is a unique Canadian invention for small shareholders. It describes itself this way: “With over 1 million unique visitors a month, Stockhouse is Canada’s #1 financial portal and one of North America’s largest small cap investor communities. Our members are smart, affluent investors actively researching stock and looking for new opportunities. Stockhouse.com is the global hub for investors to find relevant financial news, access expert analysis and opinion and share knowledge and information with each other.”

On January 9, Columbus Gold announced it was giving its management 1.65 million stock options at a price of 65 cents. The number of shares represented just over 1% of the 151 million Columbus Gold shares on issue. That day, however, the market price for the shares was 89 cents. The insiders were getting a reward discount of 37%. “The management team awarded themselves a nice batch of options because they know a takeover is coming and can cash in on it,” claimed one of the bullboard commentators.” “This was/is a payoff for those close by,” suggested another.

A few days later, on January 18, Giustra announced a “$5 Million Bought Deal Short-Form Prospectus Offering”. Bought deal transactions can be understood here. In practice, they are the sale of shares to an institutional investor, bank or broker to raise cash, with the institution betting on making a profit when (if) the shares rise in market price and can be resold. What Giustra had done was agree with Beacon Securities of Toronto to take C$5 million for 8 million shares (5% of the issue) for 63 cents apiece.

The purpose of the financing, ostensibly according to Columbus Gold, was that “the net proceeds received by Columbus from the sale of the Offered Shares will be used to carry-out an exploration drilling program at its Montagne d’Or gold project in French Guiana, and for working capital and general corporate purposes.” Since Nordgold was financing the Guiana project, and is only days away from reporting the bankable results, Canadian market sources believe this was an odd thing to claim.

By coincidence perhaps, last April Beacon Securities was the independent valuer and adviser to Northquest Ltd. when Mordashov was taking it over. Beacon recommended accepting Mordashov’s buy-out offer, although minority shareholders of Northquest claimed it was a steal and went to court to stop it. Click to read.

On the Stockwatch bullboard a source claimed: “they [Columbus Gold] did a bought deal financing to get new shareholders in to fend off a Nord offer. Why do a dilutive financing when you know a big cheque could be coming from selling the French Guyana property to Nord?” No one has suggested that Beacon was buying the shares on behalf of Mordashov. Nordgold spokesman Olga Ulyeva (right) did not respond to questions. The Beacon share sale concluded on February 15. The deal price by then was more than 40% below the market value of the shares.

Mario Maruzzo, head of investment banking at Beacon in Toronto, was asked whether Beacon Securities was acting for a third-party client, and “whether there was, is, or is likely to be any relationship you know of between your role in the transaction and Nordgold, Alexei Mordashov, or an entity associated with them?”

There has been no reply by press time.

As the Columbus Gold share price was rocketing upwards on unusual volume of share buying, Mordashov got Nordgold to issue a statement on January 31 to address “media speculations”. The statement said: “Nord Gold SE… the internationally diversified gold producer, acknowledges recent speculation regarding a possible delisting of the Company’s global depositary receipts from the Official List and the London Stock Exchange. The Board of Directors continues to consider options for maximising shareholder value, including a potential delisting of the Company’s global depositary receipts, although no decision has been taken and there is no certainty that the Company will delist. The Company will keep the market updated.”

What was happening was that a very small number of shareholders, or Mordashov himself, had begun selling Nordgold shares. The share price reached $3.70 on January 13, its highest level since March of 2013. The price then started sharply downward to reach a low of $3.43 on February 22. The claim “there is no certainty that the company will delist” had not been believed in the market. Selling resumed the next day.


ONE-MONTH SHARE PRICE TRAJECTORY OF NORDGOLD


Was it Mordashov’s plan for de-listing Nordgold to lower the share price before he confirmed the de-listing and announced his offer price to buy out the minority shareholders who wanted to exit? A Canadian market analyst observes:

“Keep in mind that the only real buyer of Nord stock for two years now is the Nord Gold buyback at up to $4. Without that program, they would be trading at even a lower market cap. Yes, they certainly are frustrated enough to go private and probably their reputation as not being trustworthy for minority shareholders has played into the market cap.

A week later, on February 9, Mordashov fessed up. “The market capitalisation of the Company has failed to increase in line with the market,” a new company release said, “and in particular against its peers, during a period of a major gold price rally. As a result, the Board believes the market capitalisation does not accurately reflect the true value of Nordgold. The Directors believe that the principal reason for this undervaluation is the very low trading volumes and general lack of liquidity in the GDRs, caused by the Company’s capital structure, and that any changes in its performance are unlikely to overcome this structural disadvantage.”

“The Board’s decision to de-list comes having carefully considered these facts and that an equity placing, even at the current price, would result in the unacceptable dilution of current shareholders. The Board has agreed a key objective for the de-listing is therefore to eliminate the current public market value benchmark, which it believes does not fully reflect the fundamental value of the Company and to consider re-listing in the future, subject to market conditions.”

Mordashov offered to buy out shareholders before the de-listing at US$3.45. The share price on the day of his offer was 3 cents less, at US$3.42. But the market, anticipating Mordashov intended his buy-back at a low-ball price, had been selling off the peak of US$3.70. Was Mordashov at the same time buying up Columbus Gold shares, as its value rocketed? In Moscow for Nordgold, Ulyeva does not say what stake in Columbus the combination of Mordashov and Nordgold currently have.

A Canadian goldmining investor sums up:

“We know Mordy’s modus operandi and it is not partnering with, and or selling out to rival bidders. He will not sell the Isnard property [Montagne d’Or], but will buy it 100%. The question is — did Giustra actively seek to increase his shareholder base and pump up the stock to fend off a Columbus takeover so Mordashov is forced to pay a fair price for Isnard? Hard to tell. It looks like they did do the options just in case. There are all sorts of funds around the world looking for these arbitrage deals where a buyout is imminent. I suspect this played the biggest part in the stock price increase.”

Canada's Role in Taking Down Kwame Nkrumah, Africa's 'Man of the Millennium'

Canada’s Shameful Role in the Overthrow of Ghana’s President Kwame Nkrumah

by Yves Engler - Dissident Voice


February 23rd, 2017 

A half-century and one year ago today Canada helped overthrow a leading pan Africanist president. Ghana’s Canadian-trained army overthrew Kwame Nkrumah, a leader dubbed “Man of the Millennium” in a 2000 poll by BBC listeners in Africa.

Washington, together with London, backed the coup. Lester Pearson’s government also gave its blessing to Nkrumah’s ouster. In The Deceptive Ash: Bilingualism and Canadian Policy in Africa: 1957-1971, John P. Schlegel writes:

“[T]he Western orientation and the more liberal approach of the new military government was welcomed by Canada.”

The day Nkrumah was overthrown the Canadian prime minister was asked in the House of Commons his opinion about this development. Pearson said nothing of substance on the matter. The next day External Affairs Minister Paul Martin Sr. responded to questions about Canada’s military training in Ghana, saying there was no change in instructions. In response to an MP’s question about recognizing the military government, Martin said:

In many cases recognition is accorded automatically. In respective cases such as that which occurred in Ghana yesterday, the practice is developing of carrying on with the government which has taken over, but according no formal act until some interval has elapsed. We shall carry on with the present arrangement for Ghana. Whether there will be any formal act will depend on information which is not now before us.

While Martin and Pearson were measured in public, the Canadian high commissioner in Accra, C.E. McGaughey, was not. In an internal memo to External Affairs just after Nkrumah was overthrown, McGaughey wrote “a wonderful thing has happened for the West in Ghana and Canada has played a worthy part.” Referring to the coup, the high commissioner added “all here welcome this development except party functionaries and communist diplomatic missions.” He then applauded the Ghanaian military for having “thrown the Russian and Chinese rascals out.”

Less than two weeks after the coup, the Pearson government informed the military junta that Canada intended to carry on normal relations. In the immediate aftermath of Nkrumah’s overthrow, Canada sent $1.82 million ($15 million today) worth of flour to Ghana and offered the military regime a hundred CUSO volunteers. For its part, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which had previously severed financial assistance to Nkrumah’s government, engaged immediately after the coup by restructuring Ghana’s debt. Canada’s contribution was an outright gift. During the three years between 1966 and 1969 the National Liberation Council military regime, received as much Canadian aid as during Nkrumah’s ten years in office with $22 million in grants and loans. Ottawa was the fourth major donor after the US, UK and UN.

Two months after Nkrumah’s ouster the Canadian high commissioner in Ghana wrote to Montréal-based de Havilland Aircraft with a request to secure parts for Ghana’s Air Force. Worried Nkrumah might attempt a counter coup, the Air Force sought parts for non-operational aircraft in the event it needed to deploy its forces.

Six months after overthrowing Nkrumah, the country’s new leader, General Joseph Ankrah, made an official visit to Ottawa as part of a trip that also took him through London and Washington.

On top of diplomatic and economic support for Nkrumah’s ouster, Canada provided military training. Schlegel described the military government as a “product of this military training program.” A Canadian major who was a training advisor to the commander of a Ghanaian infantry brigade discovered preparations for the coup the day before its execution. Bob Edwards said nothing. After Nkrumah’s removal the Canadian high commissioner boasted about the effectiveness of Canada’s Junior Staff Officers training program at the Ghanaian Defence College. Writing to the Canadian under secretary of external affairs, McGaughey noted, “All the chief participants of the coup were graduates of this course.”

After independence Ghana’s army remained British dominated. The colonial era British generals were still in place and the majority of Ghana’s officers continued to be trained in Britain. In response to a number of embarrassing incidents, Nkrumah released the British commanders in September 1961. It was at this point that Canada began training Ghana’s military.

While Canadians organized and oversaw the Junior Staff Officers course, a number of Canadians took up top positions in the Ghanaian Ministry of Defence. In the words of Canada’s military attaché to Ghana, Colonel Desmond Deane-Freeman, the Canadians in these positions imparted “our way of thinking”. Celebrating the influence of “our way of thinking”, in 1965 High Commissioner McGaughey wrote the under secretary of external affairs:

Since independence, it [Ghana’s military] has changed in outlook, perhaps less than any other institution. It is still equipped with Western arms and although essentially non-political, is Western oriented.

Not everyone was happy with the military’s attitude or Canada’s role therein. A year after Nkrumah’s ouster, McGaughey wrote Ottawa: “For some African and Asian diplomats stationed in Accra, I gather that there is a tendency to identify our aid policies particularly where military assistance is concerned with the aims of American and British policies. American and British objectives are unfortunately not regarded by such observers as being above criticism or suspicion.” Thomas Howell and Jeffrey Rajasooria echo the high commissioner’s assessment in their book Ghana and Nkrumah:


Members of the ruling CPP tended to identify Canadian aid policies, especially in defence areas, with the aims of the U.S. and Britain. Opponents of the Canadian military program went so far as to create a countervailing force in the form of the Soviet equipped, pro-communist President’s Own Guard Regiment [POGR]. The coup on 24 February 1966 which ousted Kwame Krumah and the CPP was partially rooted in this divergence of military loyalty.

The POGR became a “direct and potentially potent rival” to the Canadian-trained army, notes Christopher Kilford in The Other Cold War: Canada’s Military Assistance to the Developing World, 1945-1975. Even once Canadian officials in Ottawa “well understood” Canada’s significant role in the internal military battle developing in Ghana, writes Kilford, “there was never any serious discussion around withdrawing the Canadian training team.”

As the 1960s wore on Nkrumah’s government became increasingly critical of London and Washington’s support for the white minority in southern Africa. Ottawa had little sympathy for Nkrumah’s pan-African ideals and so it made little sense to continue training the Ghanaian Army if it was, in Kilford’s words, to “be used to further Nkrumah’s political aims”. Kilford continued his thought, stating: “that is unless the Canadian government believed that in time a well-trained, professional Ghana Army might soon remove Nkrumah.”

During a visit to Ghana in 2012 former Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean laid a wreath on Nkrumah’s tomb. But, in commemorating this leading pan-Africanist, she failed to acknowledge the role her country played in his downfall.

Yves Engler is the author of A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation. Read other articles by Yves.

Making Journalism Grate Again: David Brooks and the Doggerels of War

Angst in the Church of America the Redeemer: David Brooks on Making America Great Again

by Andrew J. Bacevich - TomDispatch

 
February 23, 2017
 
Apart from being a police officer, firefighter, or soldier engaged in one of this nation’s endless wars, writing a column for a major American newspaper has got to be one of the toughest and most unforgiving jobs there is. The pay may be decent (at least if your gig is with one of the major papers in New York or Washington), but the pressures to perform on cue are undoubtedly relentless.

Anyone who has ever tried cramming a coherent and ostensibly insightful argument into a mere 750 words knows what I’m talking about. Writing op-eds does not perhaps qualify as high art. Yet, like tying flies or knitting sweaters, it requires no small amount of skill. Performing the trick week in and week out without too obviously recycling the same ideas over and over again -- or at least while disguising repetitions and concealing inconsistencies -- requires notable gifts.

David Brooks of the New York Times is a gifted columnist. Among contemporary journalists, he is our Walter Lippmann, the closest thing we have to an establishment-approved public intellectual. As was the case with Lippmann, Brooks works hard to suppress the temptation to rant. He shuns raw partisanship. In his frequent radio and television appearances, he speaks in measured tones. Dry humor and ironic references abound. And like Lippmann, when circumstances change, he makes at least a show of adjusting his views accordingly.

For all that, Brooks remains an ideologue. In his columns, and even more so in his weekly appearances on NPR and PBS, he plays the role of the thoughtful, non-screaming conservative, his very presence affirming the ideological balance that, until November 8th of last year, was a prized hallmark of “respectable” journalism. Just as that balance always involved considerable posturing, so, too, with the ostensible conservatism of David Brooks: it’s an act. 
 
Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, At the Altar of American Greatness

The members of what TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East, calls “the Church of America the Redeemer” are in some disarray these days and in quite an uproar over the new Pope and his aberrant set of cardinals now ensconced in Washington. Perhaps there was no more striking -- or shocking -- evidence of that than the brief comments that hit the front page of the New York Times last week in an article on a month of “turmoil” in the Trump White House, but never became a headline story nationally. Amid the hurricane of news about the fall of national security adviser of 24 days Michael Flynn, the reported contacts of Trump associates with Russia, and a flurry of leaks to major papers from what are assumedly significant figures in the intelligence community (talk about "feud"!), one thing should have stood out. Here’s the passage from that Times piece: "Gen. Tony Thomas, head of the military’s Special Operations Command, expressed concern about upheaval inside the White House. 'Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil. I hope they sort it out soon because we’re a nation at war,' he said at a military conference on Tuesday. Asked about his comments later, General Thomas said in a brief interview, 'As a commander, I’m concerned our government be as stable as possible.'”

It may not have looked like much, but it should have stunned the news media and the country. That it didn’t tells us a great deal about how the U.S. has changed since September 11, 2001. Thomas, the head of the crème de la crème, secretive military force (all 70,000 of them) cocooned inside the U.S. military, had just broken the unwritten rules of the American political game in a major way. He fired what amounted to an implicit warning shot across the bow of the Trump administration's listing ship of state: Mr. President, we are at war and you better get your house in order fast. Really? Direct public criticism of the president from a top commander in a military once renowned for its commitment to staying above the political fray? Consider that something new under the sun and evidence that what might once have been considered a cliché -- sooner or later wars always come home -- is now an ever more realistic description of just where we’ve ended up 15-plus years after the Bush administration launched the war on terror. Seven days in May? Maybe not, but when the nation's top special warrior starts worrying in public about whether civilian leaders are up to the task of governing, it's no ordinary day in February.

It’s true, of course, that in many graphic ways -- including the migration of spying devices developed on this country's distant battlefields to police departments here, drone surveillance flights not in Afghanistan but over this country, and the increasing militarization of our police -- our wars in the Greater Middle East have indeed made their way back to “the homeland.” Still, not like this, not directly into the sacrosanct heartland of democracy and of the political elite, into what Bacevich might call the precincts of the American political Vatican, where those like New York Times columnist David Brooks once happily opined about American “greatness.” It seems that we’re now plunged into the political equivalent of war in the nation’s capital, even if in the fog of battle it’s still a little hard to tell just who is who on that battlefield. Tom

Angst in the Church of America the Redeemer: David Brooks on Making America Great Again

by Andrew J. Bacevich

 

Praying at the Altar of American Greatness

In terms of confessional fealty, his true allegiance is not to conservatism as such, but to the Church of America the Redeemer. This is a virtual congregation, albeit one possessing many of the attributes of a more traditional religion. The Church has its own Holy Scripture, authenticated on July 4, 1776, at a gathering of 56 prophets. And it has its own saints, prominent among them the Good Thomas Jefferson, chief author of the sacred text (not the Bad Thomas Jefferson who owned and impregnated slaves); Abraham Lincoln, who freed said slaves and thereby suffered martyrdom (on Good Friday no less); and, of course, the duly canonized figures most credited with saving the world itself from evil: Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, their status akin to that of saints Peter and Paul in Christianity. The Church of America the Redeemer even has its own Jerusalem, located on the banks of the Potomac, and its own hierarchy, its members situated nearby in High Temples of varying architectural distinction.

This ecumenical enterprise does not prize theological rigor. When it comes to shalts and shalt nots, it tends to be flexible, if not altogether squishy. It demands of the faithful just one thing: a fervent belief in America’s mission to remake the world in its own image. Although in times of crisis Brooks has occasionally gone a bit wobbly, he remains at heart a true believer.

In a March 1997 piece for The Weekly Standard, his then-employer, he summarized his credo. Entitled “A Return to National Greatness,” the essay opened with a glowing tribute to the Library of Congress and, in particular, to the building completed precisely a century earlier to house its many books and artifacts. According to Brooks, the structure itself embodied the aspirations defining America’s enduring purpose. He called particular attention to the dome above the main reading room decorated with a dozen “monumental figures” representing the advance of civilization and culminating in a figure representing America itself. Contemplating the imagery, Brooks rhapsodized:

“The theory of history depicted in this mural gave America impressive historical roots, a spiritual connection to the centuries. And it assigned a specific historic role to America as the latest successor to Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome. In the procession of civilization, certain nations rise up to make extraordinary contributions... At the dawn of the 20th century, America was to take its turn at global supremacy. It was America's task to take the grandeur of past civilizations, modernize it, and democratize it. This common destiny would unify diverse Americans and give them a great national purpose.”

This February, 20 years later, in a column with an identical title, but this time appearing in the pages of his present employer, the New York Times, Brooks revisited this theme. Again, he began with a paean to the Library of Congress and its spectacular dome with its series of “monumental figures” that placed America “at the vanguard of the great human march of progress.” For Brooks, those 12 allegorical figures convey a profound truth.

“America is the grateful inheritor of other people’s gifts. It has a spiritual connection to all people in all places, but also an exceptional role. America culminates history. It advances a way of life and a democratic model that will provide people everywhere with dignity. The things Americans do are not for themselves only, but for all mankind.”

In 1997, in the midst of the Clinton presidency, Brooks had written that “America’s mission was to advance civilization itself.” In 2017, as Donald Trump gained entry into the Oval Office, he embellished and expanded that mission, describing a nation “assigned by providence to spread democracy and prosperity; to welcome the stranger; to be brother and sister to the whole human race.”

Back in 1997, “a moment of world supremacy unlike any other,” Brooks had worried that his countrymen might not seize the opportunity that was presenting itself. On the cusp of the twenty-first century, he worried that Americans had “discarded their pursuit of national greatness in just about every particular.” The times called for a leader like Theodore Roosevelt, who wielded that classic “big stick” and undertook monster projects like the Panama Canal. Yet Americans were stuck instead with Bill Clinton, a small-bore triangulator. “We no longer look at history as a succession of golden ages,” Brooks lamented. “And, save in the speeches of politicians who usually have no clue what they are talking about,” America was no longer fulfilling its “special role as the vanguard of civilization.”

By early 2017, with Donald Trump in the White House and Steve Bannon whispering in his ear, matters had become worse still. Americans had seemingly abandoned their calling outright. “The Trump and Bannon anschluss has exposed the hollowness of our patriotism,” wrote Brooks, inserting the now-obligatory reference to Nazi Germany. The November 2016 presidential election had “exposed how attenuated our vision of national greatness has become and how easy it was for Trump and Bannon to replace a youthful vision of American greatness with a reactionary, alien one.” That vision now threatens to leave America as “just another nation, hunkered down in a fearful world.”

What exactly happened between 1997 and 2017, you might ask? What occurred during that “moment of world supremacy” to reduce the United States from a nation summoned to redeem humankind to one hunkered down in fear?

Trust Brooks to have at hand a brow-furrowing explanation. The fault, he explains, lies with an “educational system that doesn’t teach civilizational history or real American history but instead a shapeless multiculturalism,” as well as with “an intellectual culture that can’t imagine providence.” Brooks blames “people on the left who are uncomfortable with patriotism and people on the right who are uncomfortable with the federal government that is necessary to lead our project.”

An America that no longer believes in itself -- that’s the problem. In effect, Brooks revises Norma Desmond’s famous complaint about the movies, now repurposed to diagnose an ailing nation: it’s the politics that got small.

Nowhere does he consider the possibility that his formula for “national greatness” just might be so much hooey. Between 1997 and 2017, after all, egged on by people like David Brooks, Americans took a stab at “greatness,” with the execrable Donald Trump now numbering among the eventual results.

Invading Greatness

Say what you will about the shortcomings of the American educational system and the country’s intellectual culture, they had far less to do with creating Trump than did popular revulsion prompted by specific policies that Brooks, among others, enthusiastically promoted. Not that he is inclined to tally up the consequences. Only as a sort of postscript to his litany of contemporary American ailments does he refer even in passing to what he calls the “humiliations of Iraq.”

A great phrase, that. Yet much like, say, the “tragedy of Vietnam” or the “crisis of Watergate,” it conceals more than it reveals. Here, in short, is a succinct historical reference that cries out for further explanation. It bursts at the seams with implications demanding to be unpacked, weighed, and scrutinized. Brooks shrugs off Iraq as a minor embarrassment, the equivalent of having shown up at a dinner party wearing the wrong clothes.

Under the circumstances, it’s easy to forget that, back in 2003, he and other members of the Church of America the Redeemer devoutly supported the invasion of Iraq. They welcomed war. They urged it. They did so not because Saddam Hussein was uniquely evil -- although he was evil enough -- but because they saw in such a war the means for the United States to accomplish its salvific mission. Toppling Saddam and transforming Iraq would provide the mechanism for affirming and renewing America’s “national greatness.”

Anyone daring to disagree with that proposition they denounced as craven or cowardly. Writing at the time, Brooks disparaged those opposing the war as mere “marchers.” They were effete, pretentious, ineffective, and absurd. “These people are always in the streets with their banners and puppets. They march against the IMF and World Bank one day, and against whatever war happens to be going on the next... They just march against.”

Perhaps space constraints did not permit Brooks in his recent column to spell out the “humiliations” that resulted and that even today continue to accumulate. Here in any event is a brief inventory of what that euphemism conceals: thousands of Americans needlessly killed; tens of thousands grievously wounded in body or spirit; trillions of dollars wasted; millions of Iraqis dead, injured, or displaced; this nation’s moral standing compromised by its resort to torture, kidnapping, assassination, and other perversions; a region thrown into chaos and threatened by radical terrorist entities like the Islamic State that U.S. military actions helped foster. And now, if only as an oblique second-order bonus, we have Donald Trump’s elevation to the presidency to boot.

In refusing to reckon with the results of the war he once so ardently endorsed, Brooks is hardly alone. Members of the Church of America the Redeemer, Democrats and Republicans alike, are demonstrably incapable of rendering an honest accounting of what their missionary efforts have yielded.

Brooks belongs, or once did, to the Church’s neoconservative branch. But liberals such as Bill Clinton, along with his secretary of state Madeleine Albright, were congregants in good standing, as were Barack Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton. So, too, are putative conservatives like Senators John McCain, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, all of them subscribing to the belief in the singularity and indispensability of the United States as the chief engine of history, now and forever.

Back in April 2003, confident that the fall of Baghdad had ended the Iraq War, Brooks predicted that “no day will come when the enemies of this endeavor turn around and say, ‘We were wrong. Bush was right.’" Rather than admitting error, he continued, the war’s opponents “will just extend their forebodings into a more distant future.”

Yet it is the war’s proponents who, in the intervening years, have choked on admitting that they were wrong. Or when making such an admission, as did both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton while running for president, they write it off as an aberration, a momentary lapse in judgment of no particular significance, like having guessed wrong on a TV quiz show.

Rather than requiring acts of contrition, the Church of America the Redeemer has long promulgated a doctrine of self-forgiveness, freely available to all adherents all the time. “You think our country’s so innocent?” the nation’s 45th president recently barked at a TV host who had the temerity to ask how he could have kind words for the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Observers professed shock that a sitting president would openly question American innocence.

In fact, Trump’s response and the kerfuffle that ensued both missed the point. No serious person believes that the United States is “innocent.” Worshipers in the Church of America the Redeemer do firmly believe, however, that America’s transgressions, unlike those of other countries, don’t count against it. Once committed, such sins are simply to be set aside and then expunged, a process that allows American politicians and pundits to condemn a “killer” like Putin with a perfectly clear conscience while demanding that Donald Trump do the same.

What the Russian president has done in Crimea, Ukraine, and Syria qualifies as criminal. What American presidents have done in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya qualifies as incidental and, above all, beside the point.

Rather than confronting the havoc and bloodshed to which the United States has contributed, those who worship in the Church of America the Redeemer keep their eyes fixed on the far horizon and the work still to be done in aligning the world with American expectations. At least they would, were it not for the arrival at center stage of a manifestly false prophet who, in promising to “make America great again,” inverts all that “national greatness” is meant to signify.

For Brooks and his fellow believers, the call to “greatness” emanates from faraway precincts -- in the Middle East, East Asia, and Eastern Europe. For Trump, the key to “greatness” lies in keeping faraway places and the people who live there as faraway as possible. Brooks et al. see a world that needs saving and believe that it’s America’s calling to do just that. In Trump’s view, saving others is not a peculiarly American responsibility. Events beyond our borders matter only to the extent that they affect America’s well-being. Trump worships in the Church of America First, or at least pretends to do so in order to impress his followers.

That Donald Trump inhabits a universe of his own devising, constructed of carefully arranged alt-facts, is no doubt the case. Yet, in truth, much the same can be said of David Brooks and others sharing his view of a country providentially charged to serve as the “successor to Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome.” In fact, this conception of America’s purpose expresses not the intent of providence, which is inherently ambiguous, but their own arrogance and conceit. Out of that conceit comes much mischief. And in the wake of mischief come charlatans like Donald Trump.

Andrew J. Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History, now out in paperback.

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

Copyright 2017 Andrew J. Bacevich

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Trump's Plug-Pulling on Two-State System Life Support

One State: Trump Has Reminded Palestinians What It Was Always About

by Jonathan Cook - CounterPunch


February 23, 2017  

Nazareth - For more than 15 years, the Middle East “peace process” initiated by the Oslo accords has been on life support. Last week, United States president Donald Trump pulled the plug, whether he understood it or not.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could barely stifle a smile as Trump demoted the two-state solution from holy grail. Instead, he said of resolving the conflict: “I am looking at two states or one state … I can live with either one.”

Given the huge asymmetry of power, Israel now has a free hand to entrench its existing apartheid version of the one-state solution – Greater Israel – on the Palestinians. This is the destination to which Netanyahu has been steering the Israel-Palestine conflict his entire career.

It emerged this week that at a secret summit in Aqaba last year – attended by Egypt and Jordan, and overseen by US secretary of state John Kerry – Netanyahu was offered a regional peace deal that included almost everything he had demanded of the Palestinians. And still he said no.

Much earlier, in 2001, Netanyahu was secretly filmed boasting to settlers of how he had foiled the Oslo process a short time earlier by failing to carry out promised withdrawals from Palestinian territory. He shrugged off the US role as something that could be “easily moved to the right direction”.

Now he has the White House exactly where he wanted it.

In expressing ambivalence about the final number of states, Trump may have assumed he was leaving options open for his son-in-law and presumed peace envoy, Jared Kushner.

But words can take on a life of their own, especially when uttered by the president of the world’s only superpower.

Some believe Trump, faced with the region’s realities, will soon revert to Washington’s playbook on two states, with the US again adopting the bogus role of “honest broker”. Others suspect his interest will wilt, allowing Israel to intensify settlement building and its abuse of Palestinians.

The long-term effect, however, is likely to be more decisive. The one-state option mooted by Trump will resonate with both Israelis and Palestinians because it reminds each side of their historic ambitions.

The international community has repeatedly introduced the chimera of the two-state solution, but for most of their histories the two sides favoured a single state – if for different reasons.

From the outset, the mainstream Zionist movement wanted an exclusive Jewish state, and a larger one than it was ever offered. Some even dreamed of the recreation of a Biblical kingdom whose borders incorporated swaths of neighbouring Arab states.

In late 1947, the Zionist leadership backed the United Nations partition plan for tactical reasons, knowing the Palestinians would reject the transfer of most of their homeland to recent European immigrants.

A few months later they seized more territory – in war – than the UN envisioned, but were still not satisfied. Religious and secular alike hungered for the rest of Palestine. Shimon Peres was among the leaders who began the settlement drive immediately following the 1967 occupation.

Those territorial ambitions were muffled by Oslo, but will be unleashed again in full force by Trump’s stated indifference.

The Palestinians’ history points in a parallel direction. As Zionism made its first inroads into Palestine, they rejected any compromise with what were seen as European colonisers.

In the 1950s, after Israel’s creation, the resistance under Yasser Arafat espoused a single secular democratic state in all of historic Palestine. Only with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Palestinians’ growing isolation in the early 1990s, did Arafat cave in to European and US pressure and sign up for partition.

But for Palestinians, Oslo has not only entailed enduring Israel’s constant bad faith, but it has also created a deeply compromised vehicle for self-government. The Palestinian Authority has split the Palestinian people territorially – between Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza – and required a Faustian pact to uphold Israel’s security, including the settlers’, at all costs.

The truth, obscured by Oslo, is that the one-state solution has underpinned the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for more than a century. It did not come about because each expected different things from it.

For Israelis, it was to be a fortress to exclude the native Palestinian population.

For Palestinians, it was the locus of national liberation from centuries of colonial rule. Only later did many Palestinians, especially groups such as Hamas, come to mirror the Zionist idea of an exclusive – if in their case, Islamic – state.

Trump’s self-declared detachment will now revive these historic forces. Settler leader Naftali Bennett will compete with Netanyahu to take credit for speeding up the annexation of ever-greater blocs of West Bank territory while rejecting any compromise on Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Palestinians, particularly the youth, will understand that their struggle is not for illusory borders but for liberation from the Jewish supremacism inherent in mainstream Zionism.

The struggle Trump’s equivocation provokes, however, must first play out in the internal politics of Israelis and Palestinians. It is a supremely clarifying moment. Each side must now define what it really wants to fight for: a fortress for their tribe alone, or a shared homeland ensuring rights and dignity for all.


A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.


Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.
More articles by:Jonathan Cook

Meanwhile in Malmö: What's Really Happening in Sweden?

What is actually happening in Sweden?

by Jake Hanrahan - VICE News


February 23, 2017

[World News - Malmö in Sweden is at the centre of an international debate about crime and refugees.

The debate started after Donald Trump referred to a non-existent "incident" in Sweden in a speech in Florida last week.

VICE News's Jake Hanranhan was in Malmö last month and is keen to shed light on what he found when reporting there.] 

Thread: Both left and right are talking a lot of nonsense about the situation in #Malmo. I was there four weeks ago, reporting on the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Ahmed Obaid, an Iraqi-Swede immigrant with a bright future ahead of him. Here’s some actual info for anyone not interested in the shrieking leftist eye covering or racist right wing exaggeration that is surrounding #Malmo atm.

Ahmed (police, family & gang members all agree he was innocent & not affiliated with gangs) was one of three murders in Malmo in Jan 2017. In that month, there were 13 shootings, a small IED explosion and a hand grenade thrown into the lobby of a police station.

Statistically this was a sharp increase in violence. People pretending there's no problem with gang violence in #Malmo need to get real.

The problems in #Malmo stem from many things. One big issue is how the Swedish government seems to have pushed its large migrant population in #Malmo into a corner and tried to forget about them. This, coupled with the lack of employment and easy access to weapons across from Denmark and from the Balkans, has of course created a problem.

The unemployment rate for foreign-born men between 16 and 64 in #Malmo is 30%. That compares with 8% nationally. High unemployment means more chaos, as is pretty much the case universally. This, of course, is not exclusive to migrant communities. A lack of skilled work, discrimination, housing issues, failed assimilation and ridiculously lenient laws toward violence (sorry lefties) all plays a role in the very real problems Malmo is facing.

They don’t have enough officers, are under resourced & with Sweden's laws their power to lock up criminals they do catch, is diminished. There’s also a huge lack of support for the police in #Malmo from the Swedish government.

Police in #Malmo seized ~600 weapons in 2016. Some semi-auto rifles & hand grenades. From ’16 there’re also 13 currently unsolved murders. Whilst reporting in #Malmo, I spoke to the family of Ahmed Obaid, a gangster parading around the streets in a bullet proof vest, and with a policeman about all of this.

They all agreed, that yes, there IS a big problem in #Malmo and it is being largely ignored.

Unfortunately it’s now blown up (excuse the pun) in a way that isn’t currently shedding light on anything of substance. You have the right wing pretending there are no go zones (there’s aren’t, that’s bullshit), non-stop rape and daily explosions, and you have the left who’re pretending it’s all milk, honey and racist propaganda.




Jake HanrahanVerified account
@Jake_Hanrahan

Journalist & filmmaker. VICE News and HBO, mostly. Conflict, crime, politics. jpjhanrahan@gmail.com

Midlands, UK
jakehanrahan.com 
 
Joined September 2009

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Iraq Friendships: Staying Human Despite the Cost

Friendship in Defiance of War

by Kathy Kelly - VCNV


February 21, 2017

Before making their home in Damascus, Gabe Huck and Theresa Kubasak had regularly visited Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, where they developed lasting friendships and deepened cultural awareness. Iraq was steadily deteriorating under thirteen years of U.S./UN imposed economic sanctions.

Despite iron clad determination by U.S. policy makers to isolate Iraq, Gabe and Theresa repeatedly challenged the economic sanctions by carrying medicines and medical relief supplies to Iraqi children, families and hospitals.

They also helped organize opportunities for scores of other U.S. and U.K. people to visit Iraq as part of Voices in the Wilderness (VitW).

Voices delegations politely but firmly notified U.S. authorities that they would break the economic sanctions by personally carrying duffel bags filled with children’s vitamins, antibiotics, medical textbooks, surgical kits, first aid material and medical relief supplies, all of which the economic sanctions prohibited.

Evidence for prosecution of one delegation included a bottle of water and a blank video that had been purchased in Baghdad. Punishment ostensibly imposed to force the Iraqi government’s compliance with weapons inspectors had directly contributed towards the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children under age five.

The VitW campaign succeeded in sending 70 delegations to Iraq, all of which prompted greatly needed education and public discussion in cities and towns across the U.S. and the U.K. Leslie Stahl posed the question in a Sixty Minutes segment that aired in May of 1996: Were the deaths of over one half million children under age five an acceptable price to pay for a dubious policy?

“Yes, Leslie,” said Madeline Albright, who was the U.S. Secretary of State.

“I’m a humanitarian person, and it’s a difficult choice to make, but the price, we think the price is worth it.”

Gabe and Theresa begged to differ.

Voices in the Wilderness (VitW) was based in a second floor apartment on Chicago’s north side, a few miles south of Gabe’s and Theresa’s home in Evanston. Eyes lit up inside “the office” whenever Gabe and Theresa came up the stairs. Along with their encouragement and wisdom, they would always bring fresh baked pastries or a loaf of bread. About a dozen young people had poured energy and determination into strengthening VitW efforts to defy the sanctions against Iraq. They in turn drew immense inspiration and guidance from Gabe and Theresa.

“I think I understand,” a young nurse from the U.K. murmured, as he sat at the bedside of a dying child in the pediatric ward of a major hospital in Baghdad. “It’s a death row for infants, isn’t it?” A death row for infants.

Travelers to Iraq encountered brutal, lethal punishment of children. Every hospital visit was nothing less than shocking. By the time the U.S. military had geared up for the 2003 Shock and Awe campaign, Iraqis had already been pummeled, starved, humiliated and bereaved. “You come and you say, you will do, you will do,” said one Iraqi teenager, addressing a delegation of U.S. people visiting her high school class.

“But nothing changes. Me, I am sixteen. Can you tell me, what is the difference between me and someone who is sixteen in your country? I’ll tell you. Our emotions are frozen. We cannot feel!” 

She sat down, suddenly overcome by feelings of anguish.

Many people worldwide may have been tempted, through mainstream media coverage, to think that only one person lived in Iraq, Saddam Hussein. Voices delegation members cultivated a passion to tell people about what they had seen and heard while visiting Baghdad, Basra, Mosul and other Iraqi cities. Gabe and Theresa exemplified a beautiful ability to explore history, culture, complexity, diversity and nuance, wherever they traveled. To this day, they maintain close friendships with people they first met during their visits to Baghdad. Always, their concern for children occupied the forefront of their distress and commitment.

Their research and study, along with their good humor, helped all of us gain needed maturity as we tried to campaign for ending the hideous economic war and prevent a new round of bombing and invasion.

Having watched them in action through many years of Voices witness and work, I wasn’t surprised by their readiness to become rooted in Damascus, intent on finding ways for ordinary U.S. people to begin reparations to Iraqis whose lives have been forever altered and traumatized by successive U.S. military and economic wars. But I often feel mesmerized by their seemingly endless capacity to learn, grow and serve. I remember visiting them in Damascus when they were learning Arabic. Utterly diligent in their studies, they knew they must give immovable priority to daily lessons.

Yet they also managed to invite young people to study with them, sharing with others their remarkable tutor, Mazen. Young people who went to study Arabic in Damascus could count on Gabe and Theresa for help with housing and orientation. What’s more, they would be treated to enlivening trips and boundless encouragement.

Eventually, these two efficient and hospitable teachers began to imagine practical, sustainable ways to help Iraqi youngsters, displaced by war, continue their studies. In September, 2016, a UNHCR report “highlighting education as an overlooked casualty of the global refugee crisis,” (NYT, 9/15/2016) noted that:

Nearly two-thirds of the six million school-age children classified as refugees have no school to attend… Roughly 1.75 million refugee children are not enrolled in primary school and 1.95 million refugee adolescents are not in secondary school, the refugee agency report said.

“It is essential that we think beyond basic survival,” said Filippo Grandi, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees.

Gabe and Theresa had identified one of the most grievous results of war and displacement. A new generation becomes undereducated, less able to care for their families and meet basic needs.

Ever appreciative of challenges and confident in their exceptional capacity to team up, they explored the many strands needed to develop potential for Iraqi youngsters to attend Universities in the U.S. The Iraq Student Project became a growing tapestry.

For Gabe and Theresa, and eventually a stalwart group of supporters who sometimes participated in springtime visits to Syria, Damascus was an idyllic setting in which to pursue a project that put them in touch with resilient and fascinating young people. Never Can I Write of Damascus…celebrates a plethora of sights, sounds, aromas, delicacies and intricacies of the city as experienced over the seven years when Gabe and Theresa resided there. But the Iraqi Student Project also connected them to a staggering array of bureaucratic requirements. With numerous forms to fill out and interviews to face, they doggedly pursued University admission and a U.S. student visa for each student who entered the U.S.

I marveled at their indefatigable, constant attentiveness to so much detail. They look back on those rigors with good humor and a gentle irony. Characteristically, they turn adverse experiences into a means for deepening needed empathy. Gabe recently suggested that I read a novel, The Corpse Washer, by Sinan Antoon. (It’s one of several books discussed in an annotated bibliography at the end of their book). Antoon writes with heart-wrenching sensitivity about how difficult it becomes to cross a divisive border following a war:

(p. 149) "I felt as if we had been struck by an earthquake which had changed everything. For decades to come we would be groping our way around in the rubble it left behind. In the past, there were streams between Sunnis and Shi'ites, or this group and that, which could be easily crossed or were invisible at times. Now, after the earthquake, the earth had all these fissures and the streams had become rivers. The rivers became torrents filled with blood, and whoever tried to cross drowned. The images of those on the other side of the river had been inflated and disfigured...concrete walls rose to seal the tragedy."

Pope Francis exhorts listeners to overcome the fears that drive people to seal themselves off from others. With the walls come weapons and the weapons lead to war. “Why,” Pope Francis asked, when addressing the U.S. Congress in 2015, “would anyone give weapons to people who use them for war?” The answer, he said, was simple.

“The answer is money, and the money is drenched in blood.”

Weapons and bloodshed have wreaked new chaos and havoc, destroying the lives and homes of people throughout Syria and beyond. Gabe and Theresa left Damascus in 2012. Since that time, thousands more have been displaced. The UN estimated in April 2016 that at least 400,000 Syrians have been killed. The rivers have become torrents of blood.

When I last visited with Gabe and Theresa, they shook their heads in silent sorrow, contemplating the ruinous debacle of endless war. Nevertheless, they and their friend Mazen have discovered ways, in Istanbul, to assist young refugees seeking continued education.

When walls arise that would seem to seal the tragedy of war in concrete boundaries, Gabe and Therese find ways to cross the borders. Never Can I Write of Damascus invites us to do the same.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Mark Lakeman, Cyrus Molavi, Christina Nikolic Feb. 22, 2017

This Week on GR

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


February 22, 2017

Where will it all end? When will we finally turn the corner on the Fossil Fuel Age, and begin the long work of repairing the damage we clever apes have wrought against the environment? No time soon, if the extractive industries have their say; and they’re just about the only ones who have the ear of government at all levels in this country, and abroad.

Seattle’s Sightline Institute reports plans to send more than a million barrels of oil per day through the Pacific Northwest. Oil coming from shale fracking in North Dakota and Alberta’s Tar Sands, and destined for Asia’s Satanic Mills.

So, how far will Big Oil and Gas take the Fossil Fuel Age? To the end of the Earth.

Listen. Hear.

David Lavallee is a Canadian filmmaker whose first documentary, ‘White Water, Black Gold’ garnered awards at numerous film festivals, and was broadcast around the World. He’s a Pull Focus Film School grad, and a product of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s Producer Emergence Program. David is now in the process of producing his next film, ‘To the Ends of the Earth,’ an investigation into the lengths the latter day oil barons will go to keep their energy domination going.

David Lavallee in the first segment.

And; you don't need a street light to see Victoria is rapidly and, some would argue, radically changing. One community here is hoping it can prove a catalyst in changing the way Victorians navigate their way in, through, and around the city.

You've likely seen some of the effects of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition's efforts to make our berg better for bikes already. From promoting bike lanes and "sharrows", and the much touted "Biktoria" campaign, to lobbying for infrastructure projects like the Galloping Goose and Lochside Trails the GVCC "works with businesses and city stakeholders to create the conditions for safer, more inclusive cycling infrastructure across Greater Victoria." Cyrus Molavi, a Director on the board of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition joins us today.

Cyrus Molavi, pedaling for a more bike-friendly Victoria in the second half.


And; intrepid horticultural innovator and green business entrepreneur, Christina Nikolic will be here with Left Coast News and Events updates at the bottom of the hour.

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

Sliding Right: Ecuador Following South American Counter-Revolutionary Trend?

Ecuador Elections Appear Headed Towards Run-off 

by TRNN


February 20, 2017

Despite Rafael Correa's success in improving infrastructure and social spending, the recent recession and attacks by private mass media have dampened enthusiasm for his former vice president Lenin Moreno.




Gregory Wilpert a German-American sociologist who earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Brandeis University in 1994. Between 2000 and 2008 he lived in Venezuela, where he taught at the Central University of Venezuela and then worked as a freelance journalist, writing on Venezuelan politics for a wide range of publications and also founded Venezuelanalysis.com, an English-language website about Venezuela. In 2007 he published the book Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chavez Government (Verso Books). He moved back to the U.S. in 2008 because his wife was named Consul General of Venezuela in New York and he taught political science at Brooklyn College. Since 2014 he has been living in Quito, Ecuador where he headed up the launch of teleSUR English and his wife took the position of Venezuelan Ambassador to Ecuador. Since early 2016 he has been working as a producer for The Real News.