Saturday, May 11, 2013

Will Andrew Weaver's Elections Endorsement of the BC Liberals' Haunt Green Campaign?

Remembering: Andrew Weaver Likes B.C. Liberals

by C. L. Cook - Pacific Free Press

This was a robo-call I received during the lately premier of British Columbia, Gordon Campbell's final election campaign. Campbell has since moved to London, England where he represents Canada.

[Of special significance in this elections cycle, as Dr. Weaver is a star candidate of the BC Green Party, a party supported by the BC Liberals ads, presumably in hopes of splitting the BC NDP vote in what corporate pollsters report as an anticipated close election.]

The Premier-Pipeline-Tanker Continuum: Christy Clark's Binding Agreements with Big Oil Spilled

The Truth About Christy Clark's Position on Pipelines, Tankers

by Kevin Logan - The

Christy Clark and the BC Liberals have made a lot of bold claims about their position on pipelines proposed for British Columbia. However, what they have neglected to tell British Columbians is that their government has entered into binding agreements that ensure the success of pipelines from Alberta to the BC Coast.

Everyone knows there has been a lot of politics surrounding pipeline developments in British Columbia, but very few are aware of the longstanding agreements, established by the BC Liberals, that ensure the success of the proposed pipelines and have thoroughly tied the hands of all BC Stakeholders leaving them with no capacity to actually impact the processes that will ensure the success of these developments.

The Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) and New West Partnership Agreement (NWPA) which it developed into absolutely confirm that no level of government in British Columbia can block pipeline development. Nor can they impede trade through the province or create any obstacle, whatsoever, that prevents pipelines from Alberta from reaching BC's tidal waters. Doing so would result in fines of up to 5 million dollars per infraction.

The June 2010 "Equivalency Agreement", done in secret by the BC Liberals with the Harper Conservative Government - and against the letter of the law - forfeits BC's ability to review, assess and decide on these pipeline proposals which threaten to transform the province as we know it.

The video presents these documents, and exposes the BC Liberal election posturing on pipelines as hollow and meaningless. These concepts, backed by government documentation, have been published online and are readily available for anyone interested.

Yet Christy Clark has never publicly acknowledged their existence. More importantly, she has also positioned her party for re-election on claims that run counter to these indisputable facts.

In fact, the material contained in the above video proves that Christy Clark's claims that she can block or prevent these pipeline proposals, based on her "tough NEW stance" and "5 conditions" is without merit, not based in reality and ignores the existence of these agreements of her government's own making.

The video closes with live footage from the most recent Estimates debate for the Ministry of Energy, where the Minister of Everything, Rich Coleman, is on tape discussing his government's "non-disclosure agreements" with the world's largest oil companies.

This fact has gone unreported and exposes the bold hypocrisy of the BC Liberal campaign, which has had the audacity to broadly claim the BC NDP is "concealing" their position on these pipeline developments.

There is not one mainstream media report that covers the "non-disclosure agreements" the world's largest oil and gas companies have with the BC Liberals, even though the minister responsible has made their existence known in the public debate contained in this video.

Stories on these topics (see below) have been published on the internet for over a year, yet no one has refuted them, and Christy Clark has never publicly acknowledged their existence.

They impact all British Columbians and are crucial to our future.


Kevin's career has been diverse, ranging from small business to NGOs through finance and government. Early on, he operated the research department for the Vancouver branch of international brokerage Richardson Greenshields. After leaving the finance industry he owned operated small businesses and eventually established a consulting company which contracts with both the private and public sectors. He served as a ministerial assistant to numerous ministers and a premier in the former BC NDP Administration. Kevin is also an independent researcher and writer who has administered many diverse and successful campaigns.

Source Material

BC EAO/NEB Equivalency Agreement:


Question Period clips with Christy Clark supporting pipelines:

"Non-disclosure" Clip with Rich Coleman and John Horgan:

CKNW Leaders Debate Clip:

Published Stories

The Myth of Liberal "Neutrality" on Enbridge:

Cross Border Deals undermine Clark's Tough New Stand on Enbridge:

Clark's "Tough New Stand" not only meaningless but EPICly duplicitous:

Dix committed to revoking Equivalency Agreement:

Who exactly is misleading voters and withholding information on pipelines in BC?

Related Stories

Dix Plan would allow BC'ers to decide:

BC Not Ready to Tip its Hand on Gateway Project:

B.C. government rethinks pipeline-approval process:

BC Pipeline Review Needed to Restore Legal Powers:

BC Still has option to order a Provincial Environmental Assessment on Enbridge Pipeline:

BC has surrendered its sovereignty in pipelines hearings, analyst warns:

Clark Attacks Dix on Kiner Morgan position at Leaders Debate:

The work of Robyn Allan:

BC Liberal You tube Channel:

NDP You tube Channel:

Non-violent protester shot in head by Israeli troops; 4 others wounded

Non-violent protester shot in head by Israeli troops; 4 others wounded

by IMEMC Staff

21-year old Ibrahim Awad was shot in the head at close range by a plastic-coated steel bullet fired by Israeli forces at a protest in Beit Ummar, in the southern part of the West Bank. A journalist was wounded in Bil’in and three were injured by pepper spray in al-Walaja, near Bethlehem.

Popular committee spokesman Yousef Abu Maria said the protest was held to challenge the ongoing violations of Palestinians’ rights by Israeli settlers in the Hebron area.

Anti wall and settlement protests were organized this week in the villages of al Nabi Saleh, Bil’in, Nil’in as well as Al Walaja in southern west Bank.

Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation when soldiers attacked villagers and their supporters at the village of Bil’in, Ni’lin and al Nabi Saleh.

In Bil’in and Ni’lin, residents and their international and Israeli supporters, managed to reach the wall. Soldiers stationed there fired tear gas and chemical water on protesters. Haytham Al Khatieb, a local journalist from Bil’in also sustained light wounds in his hand when soldiers shot him with rubber-coated steel bullets.

However at the nearby Al Nabi Saleh village Israeli soldiers attacked the unarmed protesters at the village entrance then invaded the village and fired tear gas into residents’ homes. Earlier in the week Israeli settlers from the illegal Halmish settlement near Al Nabi Saleh closed the road leading to the village and attacked residents cars and homes. Damage was reported but no injuries.

Elsewhere, In Al-Walaja village near Bethlehem, residents marched towards the gate installed on the eastern entrance of the village which separates the village from the nearby Cremisan Monastery. The gate is part of the separation wall built on the village's land.

The protest was called for by the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements as part of a week of popular resistance activities to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Palestinian dispossession in 1948 known by Palestinians as al-Nakba.

As soon as the protesters arrived at the gate, Israeli soldiers started pushing them backwards away from the gate, which was recently installed.

Protesters tried to force their way through, and three protesters suffered burns in the face as Israeli troops sprayed them with pepper spray.

The three young men have been transferred to the nearby Arabic Society Rehabilitation hospital for treatment, where their condition has been described as moderate.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Counting Down to the Coming Pandemic(s)

The Coming Pandemics

by Ralph Nader - CounterPunch

The deadly influenza virus H7N9 was first detected in China this March. “When we look at influenza viruses, this is an unusually dangerous virus for humans,” said Keiji Fukuda, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) assistant director-general for health security.

The new H7N9 avian influenza has infected more than 120 Chinese and taken nearly 30 lives, so far as is known. This strain of the flu has never been detected in humans before. Although Chinese health officials have not located the virus’s origins, they have determined that it comes from an assortment of birds – including domesticated ducks and chickens and migratory wild birds.

What is unique about H7N9 is that it does not seem to make the birds sick, so it is hard to track, unlike the 2003 H5N1 outbreak that killed chickens quickly and led investigators to the sources of the virus.

Another unsolved puzzle is why dead pigs and dead ducks in the thousands suddenly were seen floating down some of China’s rivers in March. Historically, influenza viruses that have spread around the world have started with Chinese chickens, spread to pigs, and then, due in part to the close living proximity of humans with their farm animals, spread to humans in China and then spread to other parts of the world.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is on high alert, receiving samples of the virus and beginning the process of preparing a vaccine. The CDC says that “influenza viruses constantly change and it’s possible that this virus could become able to easily and sustainably spread between people, triggering a pandemic.”

So far H7N9 has only spread to one case in Taiwan – a man who returned from a trip to China.

The problem with the reported numbers of cases is that the Chinese government often delays reports and does not have sufficient experts all over the country to test and provide full and timely information to the world.

Nor does the U.S. have adequate numbers of CDC specialists in China for early detection. The CDC informed us this month that they have “one U.S. direct hire and 3 local employees dedicated to the influenza program in China.” The agency added that it has a total of 54 staff members including one secunded to WHO, adding that “apart from the influenza team, others on the staff have supported the H7N9 outbreak efforts in their area of expertise such as lab, epidemiology, communications and assisting with the embassy’s committee tracking the outbreak.”

Given the immense stakes to the health of the American people, this is a tiny staff allocation – smaller than a normal Obama assassination team in a foreign country. The Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919, involving the H1N1 virus, took 1.9 million lives in the U.S. and, like many recurrent avian flu epidemics since then that experts believed started in China, the total loss of American life exceeds the loss of lives in all of America’s wars.

Clearly we are now better prepared scientifically and logistically for such epidemics, but the facility of international travel is much greater now as well. Yet, the budgets for detection and prevention of epidemics are much smaller than the bloated cost of a few F-35 fighter planes that Lockheed-Martin is still mired in producing.

What has got some leading U.S. health officials properly worried, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the great communicator and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is that H7N9 is showing some adaptation to humans, but doesn’t kill the birds. Though it could mutate further, Dr. Daniel Jernigan, deputy director of CDC’s influenza division, says the virus is presently “somewhere in that middle ground between purely avian and purely human,” which Dr. Fauci calls a red flag.

As if the looming presence of the H7N9 virus from China is not troubling enough, a deadly coronavirus has infected at least 23 people in Saudi Arabia, resulting in 13 Saudi deaths and five more in neighboring countries – a high-fatality ratio. Earlier this year two cases were documented in the U.K. of people who were recent arrivals from Saudi Arabia. This week, a patient, exposed to this coronavirus, suffering from acute respiratory illness has been reported in France.

WHO officials are urging all countries to report faster and more fully what they know about the spread of this virus in order to comply with international health regulations.

When all is said and done, the world is not devoting anywhere near enough resources to combat these viral and bacterial “terrorists.” Governments are far more frightful of sporadic, anthropomorphic, human-based physical terror – whether stateless or state-sponsored – than the grim annual toll of epidemics and the informed warnings by infectious disease specialists of a potential pandemic. They all agree; it is not a matter of if, it is only a matter of when!

For many years, I have urged the White House to take greater action and make more substantial preparations regarding infectious diseases. President Bill Clinton declined to speak to the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Philadelphia in 1998 when alarms over malaria and tuberculosis were rising. At the time, a traveling associate with Hillary Clinton told me that being at-risk from such infections on the First Lady’s journeys to developing countries was always foremost on their minds. Such concern did not materially change her husband’s public health priorities while in office.

To get President Obama’s attention, I sent him a letter from E.coli 0104:H4 warning about the “invisible terrorism from bacterium and viruses.” He and his assistants never responded.

In many areas, our country needs to reset its priorities. Both the White House and the Congress need more maturity regarding pandemic risks before it is too late.


Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

Harperites Pledge Ever Loyalty to Israel's Military Mobsters

Harper’s Conservatives Promote Military Ties to Israel

by Yves Engler

While the Harper Conservative government has loudly proclaimed its close ties to Israel, most Canadians would be surprised to learn the Tories have decided to make the two countries blood brothers. In the international affairs equivalent of a Mafia initiation ceremony Canada has sworn undying loyalty and to be a faithful soldier in Israel’s cause.

Think that’s an exaggeration? Consider the following:

• Since Stephen Harper took office the two nations defence ministers and top generals have repeatedly visited each other’s country. These visits have resulted in various accords and “the [two] countries have agreed to exchange secret defense information,” according to a June 2012 CBC summary of government briefing notes.

• The week before last the head of Canadian Forces visited Israel to deepen “cooperation between the two militaries.” Reportedly, Thomas Lawson met his Israeli counterpart, the Defense Minister and various other senior military officers. According to a Jerusalem Post summary, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called for Canada and Israel to “further increase their cooperation in the fight against terror in light of the upheaval in the Middle East and Iran’s role in fueling the region’s conflicts.”

• In 2008 Canada and Israel signed a wide-ranging public security agreement and for the first time in its history in 2011 Israel named a defense attaché to Ottawa. Until at least the end of 2010 the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv served as Israel’s Contact Point Embassy to NATO, the military alliance of Western nations. The embassy served as the liaison between Israel and NATO, assisting with visits of NATO officials to Israel. According to internal government documents examined by The Dominion, Ottawa worked to strengthen Israel’s partnership with the military alliance, helping its “pursuit of a Status of Forces Agreement, getting access to the NATO Maintenance Supply Agency, [redacted].”

• In February 2010 deputy foreign minister Peter Kent implied that Canada already considered Israel a member of NATO, which operates according to the principle that an attack on any member is considered an attack against all members. Reflecting the alliance’s purported principle, Kent said “an attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada” and in July 2011 defence minister Peter MacKay reiterated this position privately. According to briefing notes uncovered by CBC he told Israel’s top military commander, Gabi Ashkenazi that “a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada.”

• At the same time as official military relations have intensified there has been an increase in weapons sharing and relations between Israeli and Canadian arms manufacturers. At a November 2011 press conference with his Israeli counterpart defense minister MacKay described the two countries’ “growing relations in the defense sector.” Among the more significant examples, the Canadian military bought the Israeli-made Heron drone for use in Afghanistan and Israel’s Elisra Electronics Systems is working on upgrading a dozen Halifax-class warships.

• Despite the Israeli Defense Force’s many human rights violations, many Canadian companies sell weapons directly to Israel. According to a 2009 Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade report, more than 140 Canadian weapons makers export products to Israel. Last year British Columbia-based MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates won a $90+ million contract to supply Israel Aerospace Industries with satellite technology. The December 2011 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs detailed some Canadian military exports to Israel. “Ottawa’s Allen Vanguard Corporation provides ‘counterterrorist’ equipment and training. iMPath Networks of Ottawa and Halifax design solutions for real-time video surveillance and intrusion detection technology. Mecachrome Technologies, based in Montréal and Toronto, provides components for military aircraft. And MPB Technologies of Pointe Claire, Edmonton, Airdrie and Calgary manufacturers, among other things, communications equipment and robotics for [Israeli] military use. … British Columbia-based 360 Surveillance sells technology for Israel’s apartheid wall and checkpoints.”

• Taxpayers often underwrite ties between Canadian and Israeli military companies. The multimillion dollar Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation funds research projects (including many in the “security” field) between the two countries’ corporations. (For details see Kole Kilibarda’s Canadian and Israeli Defense -Industrial and Homeland Security Ties: An Analysis).

To the extent that the dominant media questions the Harper government’s pro-Israel policies they focus on public pronouncements, UN votes and other diplomatic moves such as foreign minister John Baird’s recent meeting with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in occupied East Jerusalem (a rare occurrence designed to further legitimize Israel’s illegal control over that part of the city). But, deepening Canadian security ties with Israel may be more significant than the Conservatives anti-Palestinian public statements and UN votes.

For instance, what role do growing ties between the two countries’ military leadership play in the Conservatives extremely hostile position towards Iran? Or, is there a connection between the Canada Israel public security agreement and the RCMP’s highly suspect recent claim that two operatives with “direction and guidance” from “al-Qaeda elements in Iran” planned to blow up a major Canadian bridge? Finally, what role do growing military ties play in spurring the Conservatives’ anti-Palestinian diplomatic moves?

Though little discussed, the military is an important element of the Conservatives ‘Israel no matter what’ policy. In addition to the Jewish establishment, Christian Zionism and the role Israel plays as a Western outpost in the Middle East, the Conservatives militaristic tendencies lead them to support that country. Harper’s government, for instance, is close to the Canadian military companies that sell to Israel and do business with that country’s top-flight weapons industry. Additionally, Canadian military leaders appreciate the tactical information and expertise Israel’s well-practiced military shares.

Like a wanna-be gangster looking up to a Mafia boss, the Harperites are impressed by the large role Israel’s military plays in the country’s affairs.

Ordinary Canadians should be concerned. Very concerned.

Former Vice President of the Concordia Student Union, Yves Engler is an Ottawa and Montréal based activist and author.

Photo Tool: Biometrics for Every American by the Back Door

Horse Sense: big Brother by the Back Door

by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque

Not to be paranoid or anything….

Biometric Database of All Adult Americans Hidden in Immigration Reform

From Wired:
The immigration reform measure the Senate began debating yesterday would create a national biometric database of virtually every adult in the U.S., in what privacy groups fear could be the first step to a ubiquitous national identification system.

Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named “photo tool,” a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.

Employers would be obliged to look up every new hire in the database to verify that they match their photo …. Privacy advocates fear the inevitable mission creep, ending with the proof of self being required at polling places, to rent a house, buy a gun, open a bank account, acquire credit, board a plane or even attend a sporting event or log on the internet. Think of it as a government version of Foursquare, with Big Brother cataloging every check-in....

For now, the legislation allows the database to be used solely for employment purposes. But historically such limitations don’t last. The Social Security card, for example, was created to track your government retirement benefits. Now you need it to purchase health insurance.

David Bier, an analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, agrees with the ACLU’s fears.
“The most worrying aspect is that this creates a principle of permission basically to do certain activities and it can be used to restrict activities,” he said. “It’s like a national ID system without the card.”

Once again, we see an all-too-common, sinister dynamic at work: even when our guardians appear to be at least attempting to do something worthwhile -- in this case, sorting out a few of the difficulties faced by millions of immigrants living in legal limbo -- their efforts turn out to be a Trojan Horse, hiding nefarious intentions.

War without End: Keepin' the Afghan Gravy Train on the Track

A Novel Idea: Asking an Afghan About the Future of Afghanistan

by Greg Palast - Vice Magazine

"Now that the sonovabitch is dead, why is the US still angry with us?"

"Us", in this conversation, are the Taliban. The SOB in question is Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban’s frustration was relayed to me by Yahya Maroofi, Counsellor to Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai – Karzai's Kissinger, if Kissinger had a soul.

The Silk Road nation of Kazakhstan is an excellent place to encounter the dervishes of the Great Game for control of the camel-and-pipeline routes of the Central Asian steppes. Here we can witness the diplomatic-military idiocies of new empires pathetically attempting to ignore the dried skeletons of the imperial forces that went before them.

Maroofi was spending the day in Kazakhstan’s capital on his way to little-noticed peace negotiations – little noticed because neither Uncle Sam nor Great-Uncle Britain were invited. Attendance is limited to those frontline states that will be left holding the grenade when the US and UK pull out the pin with the removal of their troops in 2014. The lineup includes Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan (birthplace of the Boston Bombers) and the big new swinging dick on the block, Turkey, as well as Iran, the nation most feared and despised by the Taliban. The unannounced guests, of course, are the Taliban themselves.

I am moved to recount a bit of my lengthy talk with the Afghan minister after reading reams of meretricious bunkum about Afghanistan from the pens of US propaganda repeaters pretending to be reporters. My favourite is, “Hope Seen for Afghanistan After Coalition Leaves,” in the New York Times. To give us an expert view, two American reporters spend their 20-column inches taking down the words of General Joseph F Dunford Jr, commander of all “international forces” in Afghanistan.

Dunford just arrived in Afghanistan for the first time about 12 weeks ago. He may not know a Tajik from a camel fart, but he does speak fluent Pashto. (I made that last one up because I’m tired of Europeans making fun of Americans for being ignorant of foreign languages.) Notably, the Times article about the future of Afghanistan includes not one word from an Afghan.

But the General does have lots of medals (see?), so I suppose he's as good a source as any.

I did wonder why the Times flew reporters all the way to Kabul to speak to a bewildered US general when they could have saved time and painful immunisations by just copying the Pentagon press releases in Washington. The Times asked “Fighting Joe”, as he's called in his official bio, the only question of concern to US press: “Will the Afghan troops be able to resume lead responsibility" in killing Taliban? “Yes!” asserted the tourist-general.

So I figured, what the hell, let’s ask an Afghan about Afghanistan’s future. Maroofi, the minister into whose hands this future falls, takes a different tack entirely. He has no time for the American fixation on whether Afghans will fight the Taliban. He makes it clear that Afghans don’t want to fight the Taliban at all. And the Taliban don’t want to fight fellow Afghans.

But General Joe wants the Afghan army to prove its mettle in “fighting fellow Muslims and countrymen”, as the Times puts it. It appears the US has a great fear that, without US boots on the ground and drones in the sky, the war will end, and with it, the Great (and very lucrative) Game.

However, it is the hope of most Afghans, and the goal of the Karzai government, not to kill Taliban, but to bring them into the government.

Or, as Maroofi explains, to recognise publicly that “the Taliban are already in the government, in the Parliament, in control of governorships” – but not openly. The talks among the frontline nations are to bring the Taliban back to its roots as a political organisation, not an armed insurgency.

Maroofi notes that there are some kinks to work out: Currently, female members of the Afghan parliament are fearful of attending with their not-yet-public Taliban colleagues.

“Taliban are Pushtun. They are citizens of Afghanistan. They have to have a place in our democracy.” 

That’s not what Uncle Sam wants to hear. President Barack Obama, the Drone Ranger, wants to convert Afghan forces into a kind of drone army, remotely controlled killers keeping the pot boiling.

Afghans, however, have had enough of playing proxies in someone else’s war. And they see an opportunity to end the killing. It was taken as a matter of fact by all the Asian diplomats I met that, “The Taliban have been defeated” – militarily, that is; like the US army, they can’t advance or hold ground. They are facing fellow Pashtuns (Karzai is one, of course), not the Northern Alliance of minorities that once controlled their oppositon. The Taliban can’t party like it’s 1999.

Plus, the Taliban know there’s a four-trillion-dollar carrot awaiting those who sign on to a peace agreement. The US Air Force has conducted a complete aerial survey of Afghan resources and released Russian assays measuring the nation’s untapped mineral wealth in gold (in Badakshan), copper (Balkhab), iron (Haji-Gak), cobalt (Aynak), carbonatite (Khanneshin), tin (Dusar-Shaida) and more. Afghanistan could be the Saudi Arabia of rich rocks.

Left out of the published US reports (but something I dug out of old paper CIA files not purged from computers) was the most valuable stash of all: uranium, possibly the world’s largest deposit, which the Soviets secretly mined using only imported Soviet workers until they were chased back to Russia in 1988.

Cobalt mining beats the hell out of the opium trade (which is slipping to Myanmar, anyway). The Karzai government’s hope is to leave a path to wealth as its legacy, but that wealth can't be dug out until the soil above is free of landmines and maniacs.

Chinese state companies are today lining up in Kabul with shovels and signing bonuses. Maroofi likes Chinese companies – they're more likely to provide jobs than baksheesh. Unlike Western companies.

Baksheesh. Bribes. Corruption. It was this topic that set Maroofi on a long rip. Yes, Afghans have been showered with billions in bribes, backhanders and corrupt deals, but who's paying those bribes? Who's doing the corrupting?

“Karzai told Lockheed [Lockheed Martin, the defence technology company], ‘You give hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to my family and to my minister’s families because you expect to buy influence. You’re not getting influence, and you’re not getting your money back, either.'”

Maroofi gave me details – which I intend to hunt down, so watch this space – of questionable contracts that are poisoning the entire system of governance. And that’s the idea: to undermine the elected President.

[Lockheed’s response is that it is required by US law to give contracts to the “most qualified” bidder, regardless of familial relationships with government. (Any government, it seems: Lynn Cheney, Dick’s wife, was once on Lockheed’s Board of Directors.)]

America’s front pages have been splashed this past week with the CIA’s admission that it has been sending bucket-loads of US currency to President Karzai’s office. No one suggests Karzai touches the bricks: they are for his dispersal among warlords who need a little TLC. For example, Uzbek berserker Abdul Rashid Dostum boasted of billing the CIA $800,000 (£519,472) per month to stay on the government’s side.

But Karzai simply can’t control the bricks and boodle system gone wild. Maroofi is particularly incensed that, “These US companies give millions to governors they know are splitting the money with the Taliban.” One favourite racket is for the Taliban to take millions in bribes (via the governors) to let through shipments of material used to supply US forces in remote areas who are fighting the Taliban.

Right now, the Taliban are ready – if reluctantly – for the peace deal, in order to get a piece of the resource action. And they're astonished that, with that sonovabitch Osama dead, the US still holds a grudge.

Why? Face it: if Karzai can end the war, then the winner of the Great Game is… China. After all, the US has almost all the ore it needs under the States or within easy grabbing distance from Canada and Latin America. And unlike China, desperate for those gas pipelines from Kyrgyzstan and oil lines from the Caspian, the US has fracked natural gas and oil coming out its arse. Indeed, unleashing Afghanistan’s resource riches will only crash the price of commodity reserves held by US companies.

Afghanistan’s peace is China’s economic life-line and America’s commodity price recession.

General Joe is not worried. “You can accuse me of being an optimist and I’ll plead guilty,” that Afghanistan is set for war without end. For US corporations, that means a profit centre without end, because even after US troops go, the military-industrial gravy train – boarded by contractors, special ops mercenaries, “development” agencies and their fixers – will continue to roll.

Follow Greg on Twitter: @Greg_Palast

Previously - Boston, Bombs and Borat: From Kazakhstan with Truth

Israel Guards Against Peace Possibility

Israel again rebuffs peace with the Arab world

by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

Washington’s reputation as an “honest broker” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in tatters after four years of indulging Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s intransigence. The Obama administration desperately needs to resurrect a credible peace process.

Faced with a diplomatic impasse between Israel and the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, seized his chance last week. He extracted from the Arab League an agreement to dust off a decade-old regional plan, the Arab Peace Initiative, declaring the move “a very big step forward”.

Unveiled by Saudi Arabia in 2002, the plan promises Israel normal relations with the whole of the Arab world in return for its acceptance of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders, or 22 per cent of historic Palestine.

The new Arab overture, like its antecedent, has raised barely a flicker of interest from Israel. Tzipi Livni, Washington’s sole ally in Netanyahu’s cabinet, predictably lost no time in praising the plan. But the prime minister himself has studiously avoided mentioning it, leaving his aides to dismiss the initiative as a “trick” designed to ensnare Israel in injurious peace talks.
Exposing myths

His oblique response serves as a rejoinder to one of the conflict’s most enduring myths. Even before Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza in 1967, it presented itself as eager for acceptance from the Arab states. This fiction, which continues to shape Western perceptions, rests on two pillars.

The first assumes Israeli fervour to engage diplomatically with the Arab world. Or, as Israel’s then-defence minister, Moshe Dayan, famously told the BBC just days after the end of the June 1967 war: “We are awaiting the Arabs’ phone call.”

The second, articulated most clearly by Abba Eban, when he was foreign minister in the early 1970s, castigates the Arabs for “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity” to make peace with Israel.

And yet the historical record suggests the exact opposite. After their humiliation in 1967, the Arab states quickly conceded – at least, privately – that Israel was here to stay and began considering ways to accommodate it.

As Shlomo Ben-Ami, an Israeli historian who was foreign minister during the 2000 Camp David peace talks, observed: when the Arab states called, “Israel’s line was busy, or there was no one on the Israeli side to pick up the phone.”

“Occupation gene”

Such obduracy was confirmed in last month’s disclosure by WikiLeaks of classified US diplomatic cables from that period. In late 1973, a few weeks after the end of the October 1973 war, the Arab League quietly offered Israel a regional peace agreement that would recognize its pre-1967 borders. But the Arab states were rebuffed.

According to a cable from January 1975, US diplomats in the Middle East concluded that Israel’s leaders demonstrated “an extraordinary lack of understanding” of Arab intentions, preferring instead to gird “their loins for the fifth, sixth, seventh Israeli-Arab wars”. The cables describe Israel as hellbent on self-destruction, suffering, in the words of US officials, from a “Masada or Samson complex”.

This context should be borne in mind as Israel’s current opposition to peace talks is ascribed solely to the hawkishness of Netanyahu’s government. In truth, this is a pattern of behaviour exhibited by Israel over many decades – or what former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad termed last week Israel’s “occupation gene”.

The Saudi peace initiative of 2002 arrived at a time early in the second Intifada (Palestinian uprising) when Israelis were terrified by a wave of suicide bombings and the Israeli economy appeared close to collapse. Nonetheless, the then military chief of staff – today’s defence minister – Moshe Yaalon advised that Israel’s highest priority was not negotiations but a military campaign to “sear defeat deep into the Palestinian consciousness”.

At least, the newly revived Arab peace initiative has the advantage that it appears – unlike its predecessor – to have the enthusiastic backing of the White House.

Another difference, doubtless due to pressure from Kerry, is a concession from the Arab states that an agreement on Palestinian statehood will not require Israel to return to the 1967 lines. Approval of “minor” and “comparable” territorial exchanges brings the Arab League into line with the diplomatic positions of Abbas, US President Barack Obama and, ostensibly at least, several previous Israeli prime ministers.

But Netanyahu seems to be opposed even to testing the sincerity of the Arab initiative. His main objection – beyond a general antipathy to any proposal for Palestinian statehood – is reportedly that “minor” land swaps will not be generous enough to ensure Israel keeps all of its settlements.

Netanyahu’s inflexibility is being advanced even as he insists that there must be no preconditions on talks and warns that, without a peace agreement, Israel faces a future as a binational state.

Lame duck president

Kerry, meanwhile, has proffered his own warning: there is a two-year deadline to finding a solution to the conflict. Then the Obama administration’s lame-duck period begins.

What follows next is left unstated. But presumably once the US formally abandons the peace process, the status quo intensifies: a single state ruled over apartheid-style by Israel, with a Palestinian Authority consigned to irrelevance or oblivion.

Whatever his protestations, none of this will overly worry Netanyahu. After all, this is a government that last week found grounds for complaint in Google’s decision to confer the status of “Palestine” on a search engine designation.

The reality is that another round of failed peacemaking will do far more damage to the Palestinians and Washington’s reputation than to an Israel that never intended to pick up the phone in the first place.

A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi. The version here is published by permission of Jonathan Cook.

Israel Disappeared by USCIRF: Religious Persecution Watch Body Selectively Blind-Eyed

US watchdog turns blind eye to Israel’s religious rights violations

by Stuart Littlewood - deLiberation

It’s hilarious…

May 9th 2013 Occupied Palestine – IDF thuggery

I’m still rolling on the floor laughing my socks off at a report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

What’s the joke? Well, it’s no joke really. The USCIRF has just released its 2013 Annual Report on the world’s worst violators of religious freedom. And… you simply won’t believe this… it doesn’t even mention the worst offender of all, Israel.

Truly. It’s like Israel doesn’t exist…

I am regularly bombarded with reports of Israel’s religious persecution of Christians and their Muslim brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. This week included an account of how Israel continues to cause “countless difficulties” for Palestinian Christians and Muslims trying to reach their holy sites.

“It is not only that Israel has isolated our occupied capital from the rest of our country — forcing our people to apply for special military permits to access their families and holy places for religious occasions — but even Palestinians from Jerusalem were beaten when trying to reach the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” said Hanna Amireh, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and Head of the Presidential Committee on Church Affairs.

Jewish settlers Invade Aqsa Mosque 2 days ago 

The Israeli forces turned a religious occasion into a battle camp scenario, she said. 
“What was witnessed in Jerusalem was an attempt to cancel a tradition of 700 years. The Israeli government is doing everything possible in order to achieve its goal of changing Jerusalem’s landscape, by building more settlements, demolishing more Palestinian homes, revoking more IDs and by attempting to prevent the normal celebration of Christian and Muslim religious events.”
This week also saw Jewish settlers storming the Aqsa mosque. The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation accused Israel of pursuing a systematic policy of aggression against holy places in occupied Jerusalem.

I have spent time with priests and members of their congregation in Occupied Palestine and it’s true that Israel is conducting a religious war. If you don’t believe me, go see for yourselves – but not by Israeli bus-tour, obviously.

Imagine the fuss if we road-blocked Jews from their synagogues in Golders Green, Hendon and Finchley.

The USCIRF report was sent to the President on 30 April with a covering letter hammering home the Commissioners’ recommendation that the Secretary of State re-designate eight countries as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs, “for egregious violations of religious freedom”. These are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.

The Commissioners also recommend that seven additional countries be designated as CPCs: Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

Israel is not even on the list of countries looked at, while the Commission’s press release emphasises how US foreign policy recognizes the critical role religious freedom plays in nations and prioritizes accordingly. “Religious freedom is both a pivotal human right under international law and a key factor that helps determine whether a nation experiences stability or chaos.

The letter is signed in all seriousness by USCIRF’s chairperson Katrina Lantos Swett. The report she presided over has allowed Fox News to point the finger at Iran, not Israel, and to give poor old Ahmadinejad another verbal blasting.

“Religious freedom,” says Fox, “is in short supply in the Middle East, according to the bipartisan US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has issued a report finding Iran chief among the nations where spiritual beliefs can bring prison sentences or worse.”

An article by Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett herself, called ‘US Promotion of International Religious Freedom’, explains that USCIRF was created in 1998 by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) to be “an independent watchdog of US government activity that identifies violations of religious freedom and develops policy solutions to advance religious freedom for everyone everywhere. USCIRF is separate and distinct from the State Department…

“Through our work, we have observed how governments engage in or allow at least three kinds of violations: state hostility toward religion, state sponsorship of extremist religious ideology, and state failure to prevent and punish religious freedom violations.

“Through state hostility, individuals or groups are persecuted on account of their beliefs. State sponsorship involves governments promoting including exporting violent and extremist religious ideas that include calls to violate the religious freedom and sometimes even the right to life of others. State failure refers to governments abandoning their duty to protect those whom others are targeting due to their beliefs, creating a climate of impunity in which religious dissenters are threatened, intimidated, or even murdered.

“In response to such violations, IRFA requires the President, who has delegated this authority to the Secretary of State, to designate as ‘countries of particular concern’, or CPCs, those governments that have engaged in or tolerated ‘particularly severe’ religious freedom violations.”

The IRFA defines “particularly severe” violations as ones that are “systematic, ongoing, and egregious”, including acts such as torture, prolonged detention without charges, disappearances, or “other flagrant denials of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons”. All these are an everyday fact of life to non-Jews living under the Zionist-Israeli jackboot in the Holy Land.

And after a country is designated a CPC, the President is required by law to take specific actions to encourage reform.

So now we begin to see why Israel is omitted. Mustn’t upset the Zionists’ racist programme steal and ethnically cleanse the Holy Land, must we? The irony seems totally lost on Lantos Swett and her colleagues.

Another reason is the appointment of Elliott Abrams, a Zionist hardliner, to the Commission. American readers will know all about Abrams, but for the benefit of fellow Brits and others these extracts from may help…

“In 1992 Abrams helped form the Committee for U.S. Interests in the Middle East, which was actually a committee to ensure that U.S. policy was aligned with the Likud Party in Israel. Other members included Perle, Feith, Gaffney, and John Lehman, among dozens of other neoconservatives and pro-Israel hawks. The committee spoke out against what it perceived as a dangerous distancing between the Bush Senior administration and Israel seen in the administration’s pressure for Israel to pull out of some occupied territories and halt its campaign to expand settlements in these zones.

“Abrams has long voiced his strong support for Likud positions on the Oslo peace process and ‘land for peace’ negotiations.

“As Abrams, who has argued against Jews dating or attending elementary schools with non-Jews, put it in his book Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America: ‘Outside the land of Israel, there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live. It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart—except in Israel—from the rest of the population’ (Free Press, 1997). Judaism, according to Abrams, demands ‘apartness’ — not in the sense of confining oneself to a physical ghetto, but all necessary measures should be taken to prevent ‘prolonged and intimate exposure to non-Jewish culture’. Abrams takes care to insist that his positions imply no ‘disloyalty’ to the United States, but at the same times insists that Jews must be loyal to Israel because they ‘are in a permanent covenant with God and with the land of Israel and its people. Their commitment will not weaken if the Israeli government pursues unpopular policies.’

That’s a frightening message for America and indeed Britain, where the Jewish influence continues apace.

The article continues: 
“Abrams was indicted by the Iran-Contra special prosecutor for giving false testimony before Congress in 1987 about his role in illicitly raising money for the Nicaraguan Contras. He pleaded guilty to two lesser offences of withholding information to Congress in order to avoid a trial and a possible jail term.”

Nice chap to have aboard, then. Abrams’ fellow Commissioners are…
Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett (Chair)
Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon and Rev. William J. Shaw (vice-Chairs)
Hon. Sam Gejdenson
Dr. Robert P. George
Dr. Azizah Y. al-Hibri
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser
Ambassador Suzan D. Johnson Cook

Why haven’t they examined the problem in their own country before condemning others?

I’m talking, of course, about the scourge of Christian Zionism which is rife in the US and is allowed to permeate and bully Congress, influence US foreign policy and thus encourage and fund the Zionist thugs of the Jewish State in their project to oust Christians and Muslims from Palestine and annex their lands.

Doesn’t this fall under “exporting violent and extremist religious ideas”, which Lantos Swett talks about?

American journalist and fearless champion of the truth, Grace Halsell, explained Christian Zionism’s message: 
“Simply stated it is this: Every act taken by Israel is orchestrated by God, and should be condoned, supported, and even praised by the rest of us. Never mind what Israel does, say the Christian Zionists. God wants this to happen…”

The problem, she said, was their belief system. “They believe that what Israel wants is what God wants. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to give the green light to whatever it is Israel wants and then conceal this from the American people. Anything, including lies, theft, even murder, is justified as long as Israel wants it.”

The credit for much of the world’s misery must go to Cyrus Scofield, who was commissioned by the Oxford University Press to re-write the King James Bible by inserting Zionist-friendly notes with the aim of changing the Christian view of Zionism and creating a pro-Zionist sub-culture within Christianity. Between them they distorted the Biblical message and produced a propaganda classic, the Scofield Reference Bible, which has oozed its nonsense for 100 years.

I commend to Lantos Swett and her fellow Commissioners ‘The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism’, a statement by the Latin Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches in Jerusalem. They are in the front line. They know the score. Here are the key passages…

We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.

We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine. This inevitably leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of the world.

We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war rather than the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation taught by Jesus Christ. Rather than condemn the world to the doom of Armageddon we call upon everyone to liberate themselves from the ideologies of militarism and occupation. Instead, let them pursue the healing of the nations!

America, heal thyself first.

Stuart Littlewood

9 May 2013

Thursday, May 09, 2013

BC Liberals Raw Log Export Champs

BC Liberal Government More Than Tripled Raw Log Exports to Foreign Mills

by Ancient Forest Alliance

The BC Liberal government more than tripled the amount of unprocessed, raw logs leaving the province to foreign mills during their reign of power, according to recent figures provided by BC’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (Min. of FLNRO) to the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA).

Ship loaded with raw logs awaits export. Nanaimo, V. Island, 2013Photo: TJ Watt

From 2002 to 2012, over 47 million cubic meters of raw logs were exported from BC to foreign mills in China, the USA, Japan, Korea, and other nations. This contrasts to about 14.8 million cubic meters from 1991 to 2001 under the NDP government. Over the past two years alone, in 2011 and 2012, record levels of raw logs were exported from BC, 13.2 million cubic meters in total. [see info sources and details below]

“The BC Liberals have decimated the province’s forestry workforce through massive raw log exports, industry deregulation, and unsustainable practices. 30,000 BC forest workers lost their jobs and over 70 mills were shut down under the BC Liberals, yet they've allowed companies to cut at near record levels,” stated Arnold Bercov, national forestry officer of the Pulp, Paper, and Woodworkers of Canada. “Under the BC Liberals, we lost both our forests and our jobs, it’s nuts.”

Conservationists and forestry workers have found common ground in opposing raw log exports and have joined together in numerous rallies and protests over the past decade for sustainable forestry. The BC Liberal government expedited raw log exports by removing the local milling requirements (appurtenancy) that historically tied companies with logging rights on Crown lands to also provide BC milling jobs; by removing vast areas of Tree Farm Licences that once regulated private forest lands on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast; by issuing record numbers of log export permits on Crown lands; by removing log export restrictions from vast regions of BC’s northern coast; and by overruling the recommendations of their own Timber Exports Advisory Committee.

At the same time the BC Liberal government failed to create any regulations or adequate incentives to retool old-growth mills to handle second-growth logs or to develop value-added facilities. “The BC Liberal government has been a failure on both counts: to ensure that BC logs go to BC mills that can process them, and to foster new mills and value-added facilities to handle logs currently without BC processors,” stated Bercov.

“If we’re going to protect our endangered old-growth forests while maintaining forestry employment levels, we need to do more with less – that is, we need to develop a value-added, sustainable second-growth forest industry. Ramping-up raw log exports while overcutting our forests goes precisely in the opposite direction, it’s doing less with more,” stated Ken Wu, executive director of the Ancient Forest Alliance. “The BC Liberal government’s forestry policies can be summed up as: liquidate the old-growth, close the old-growth mills; liquidate the second-growth, export the raw logs; remove the TFL’s and sell-off prime forest lands for real estate development. The BC Liberals have acted as the despoilers of beautiful British Columbia for both natural and human communities.”

Additional BackGround Info


Year Crown lands (m3) Private Lands (m3) TOTAL (m3)

2002 1.5 million 2.3 million 3.8 million
2003 1.5 million 2.1 million 3.6 million
2004 1.2 million 2.3 million 3.5 million
2005 1.8 million 3.0 million 4.8 million
2006 1.5 million 2.8 million 4.3 million
2007 0.9 million 2.6 million 3.5 million
2008 1.0 million 1.9 million 2.9 million
2009 1.3 million 1.4 million 2.7 million
2010 2.5 million 2.0 million 4.5 million
2011 4.0 million 2.8 million 6.8 million
2012 4.0 million 2.4 million 6.4 million

Total 21.2 million 25.6 million 46.8 million (rounded sum)

47,025,665 (exact sum)

Source: Ministry of Forest, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) - data provided to the Ancient Forest Alliance in April, 2013

See a chart on historic log export levels (eg. through the 1990`s under the NDP government) on page 20 of the Log Exports Review at:!publish/web/exports/generating-more-wealth.pdf

See the decline in forestry employment levels in BC, most dramatic during the reign of the BC Liberal party:

BC gets about 0.84 Jobs per 1000 cubic meters harvested (see:

At its core, the massive export of raw logs has been driven by a combination of the BC Liberal government’s deregulation of the forest industry and by the industry’s unsustainable depletion of the biggest best old-growth trees at the lower elevations.

The overcutting of the prime stands of old-growth redcedars, Douglas-firs and Sitka spruce in the lowlands that historically built the wealth of the forest industry – and for which coastal sawmills were originally built to process - has resulted in diminishing returns as the trees get smaller, lower in value, different in species, and harder to reach high up the mountainsides and in the valley headwaters. Today, more than 90 per cent of the most productive old-growth forests in the valley bottoms on B.C.’s southern coast are gone.

Coastal mills generally haven’t been retooled to handle the changing profile of the forest with smaller trees as the lowland ancient forests have been depleted. Today hemlock and Amabilis fir stands (“hem-bal” in industry jargon) constitute most of the remaining old-growth stands, and Douglas-fir, cedar, and hemlock constitute most of the maturing second-growth stands. At a critical juncture in 2003 the BC Liberal government removed the local milling requirements (through the Forestry Revitalization Act), thus allowing tenured logging companies to shut down their mills instead of being forced to retool them to handle the changing forest profile. This allowed the companies to then export the unprocessed logs to foreign countries.

In a report for the B.C. Ministry of Forests (Ready for Change, 2001), Dr. Peter Pearse described the history of high-grade overcutting in BC`s coastal forests: “The general pattern was to take the nearest, most accessible, and most valuable timber first, gradually expand up coastal valleys and mountainsides into more remote and lower quality timber, less valuable, and costlier to harvest. Today, loggers are approaching the end of the merchantable old-growth in many areas ... Caught in the vise of rising costs and declining harvest value, the primary sector of the industry no longer earns an adequate return ...”

B.C.’s coastal forest industry, once Canada’s mightiest, is now a remnant of its past. Over the past decade, more than 70 B.C. mills have closed and over 30,000 forestry jobs lost. As old-growth stands are depleted and harvesting shifts to the second-growth, B.C.’s forestry jobs are being exported as raw logs to foreign mills due to a failure to retool old-growth mills to handle the smaller second-growth logs and invest in related manufacturing facilities.

In his 2001 report, Pearse also stated: “Over the next decade, the second-growth component of timber harvest can be expected to increase sharply, to around 10 million cubic metres ... To efficiently manufacture the second-growth component of the harvest, 11 to 14 large mills will be needed.” Today, more than a decade later, there is only one large and a handful of smaller second-growth mills on the coast.

While old-growth forests are being liquidated, second-growth stands are also currently being overcut at a rapid pace mainly for raw log exports, thus limiting future options in general for a sustainable forest industry.

Authorized by the Ancient Forest Alliance, registered sponsor under the Election Act
Ancient Forest, Alliance, Victoria Main PO, PO Box 8459, Victoria, BC, V8W 3S1 Canada

Mr. Krauthammer's Benign Imperium

American Militarism: Part 2 - (Charles Krauthammer)

by Walter C. Uhler

In 1990, thirteen years before President George W. Bush made his fateful decision to order an illegal, immoral war of choice in Iraq, prominent neoconservative columnist Charles Krauthammer had helped to pave the way for such wars by writing an article for Foreign Affairs which urged the United States to “unashamedly” lay “down the rules of world order and … [be] prepared to enforce them.” His views were embraced by many influential neoconservatives.

In 2001, two years before President George W. Bush ordered an illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq, Mr. Krauthammer blithely asserted, “we are not just any hegemon. We run a uniquely benign imperium.”

But, once in Iraq, nearly 4,500 American soldiers died under that so-called “uniquely benign imperium”. And under that “uniquely benign imperium” tens of thousands of American soldiers suffered serious wounds, not including PTSD.

In addition to widespread destruction, Mr. Krauthammer’s “uniquely benign imperium” was directly responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children. Beyond provoking outrage and an increase in terrorism around the world, his “uniquely benign imperium” precipitated widespread ethnic cleansing in Iraq and caused millions of Iraqis to vacate their homes to move to other parts of the country or the world. 

Moreover, as Ned Parker has written in the March/April 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, “the country has become something close to a failed state. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presides over a system rife with corruption and brutality…. The Iraqi state cannot provide basic services, including regular electricity in summer, clean water, and decent health care…” Thus, one could say that Mr. Krauthammer’s “uniquely benign imperium” broke Iraq, but didn’t fix it.

Unfortunately, the only thing that the Bush administration and neoconservatives like Mr. Krauthammer “fixed” was the intelligence used to justify the invasion. During the fall of 2002, while I was writing in The Philadelphia Inquirer to warn our citizens about the perils of initiating a preemptive war when the intelligence is not rock solid, (see ) Mr. Krauthammer was expressing his certainty that Iraq already possessed chemical and biological weapons and might acquire nuclear weapons. Consequently, he urged President Bush to launch a preemptive war against Iraq, lest evil Saddam Hussein use these weapons.

Subsequent events would prove me right about questionable intelligence and him wrong. Like so many other armchair militarists, Mr. Krauthammer never satisfactorily answered the question posed by UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix: “Could there be 100 percent certainty about the existence of weapons of mass destruction but zero percent knowledge of their location?” Being wrong, however, has seldom slowed neoconservatives like Mr. Krauthammer.

Consequently, even if he tried, Mr. Krauthammer could never atone for his decision to urge his “uniquely benign imperium” to wage war and inflict widespread death and destruction on another country. His obnoxious jingoism and mistaken certainty about Iraq’s WMD are indelible stains on his reputation.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t even try to atone. Rather than admit mistakes, Mr. Krauthammer flagrantly doubles down on them.

Last week, The Philadelphia Inquirer published his latest double-down, under the title “Reassessing Bush’s legacy.” Writing as if his mind had been deprived of oxygen, Mr. Krauthammer began his double down with a lame talking point straight out of the Bush campaign: “He kept us safe.”

But, how could anyone claim that President Bush “kept us safe,” when the worst terrorist attack in America’s history took place nearly nine months after Bush became president? Moreover, how could anyone claim that Bush “kept us safe,” when Bush’s own intelligence services produced a National Intelligence Estimate in 2006, which concluded that America’s invasion of Iraq had actually made the world a more dangerous place, due to the proliferation of terrorists and terrorism that it precipitated?

Had Mr. Krauthammer actually engaged in something more than sophomoric apologetics for Bush, he might have found evidence indicating that the Bush administration’s early obsession with regime change in Iraq displaced the attention that should have been given to al Qaeda. Thus, rather than spouting banal propaganda about keeping us safe, Mr. Krauthammer might have urged Americans to investigate the degree to which negligence by the Bush administration permitted al Qaeda to successfully attack America on 9/11.

But, that’s not the only problem with Mr. Krauthammer’s reassessment of Bush’s legacy. A visitor from Mars could read it and not know why Bush gave the order to invade Iraq. In his reassessment of Bush’s legacy, Mr. Krauthammer claimed the Iraq war only had three parts: (1) the initial toppling of the regime, (2) the disastrous occupation and (3) the surge.

No, it did not! It has, at least, five parts. Mr. Krauthammer overlooked the first part, the part that any competent military historian would call the casus belli — the reasons or justifications for going to war. (The fifth part, victory or defeat, has yet to be determined.)

Mr. Krauthammer’s failure to mention the casus belli was predictable. First, he’s no military historian. Second, he has no interest in reminding the public that he advocated false casus belli for preemptive war. Third, for militarists who believe that the United States should “unashamedly” lay “down the rules of world order and … [be] prepared to enforce them,” almost any casus belli will suffice.

For the record, let it be said that the Bush administration spent months attempting to convince Americans that Iraq, led by evil Saddam Hussein, possessed weapons of mass destruction and had ties to al-Qaeda. They were the Bush administration’s foremost casus belli — and, after the invasion and a thorough search, they were proven to be false.

Mr. Krauthammer’s failure to mention these casus belli is a serious matter, if only because Americans never would have supported an invasion of Iraq, had they not been led to believe that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD and had ties to al Qaeda.

But, that’s not all. Mr. Krauthammer also exaggerated the role played by Bush’s “surge.” He credited it for producing “the greatest U.S. military turnaround since the Inchon landing.”

Yet, anyone possessing even the most rudimentary knowledge about the war in Iraq knows that five factors — the Sunni Awakening, the American soldiers who decided to buy off the enemy, the stand-down ordered by Muqtada al-Sadr, the pacification resulting from ethnic cleansing and the “surge” – combined to allow the U.S. to avoid outright defeat in Iraq before Bush left office.

Contrary to Mr. Krauthammer’s effusive praise for the surge, scholars involved in a 2013 Brown University study of the war have concluded: “Studies have shown that the drop in sectarian violence after 2007 was not a result of the US and Iraqi military surge, but a consequence of ethno-religious homogenization. As each group and sub-group claimed its own territory, there was no one left to kill.” (In the process of correcting Mr. Krauthammer, they, too, appear to have exaggerated.)

Although such errors of commission and omission by Mr. Krauthammer call into question his competence or integrity, they have one thing in common. All are designed to allow the Bush administration and neoconservatives like him to slither away from their responsibility for America’s illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq and – worst of all – the prospect of America’s defeat in that war.

Slithering away from responsibility for America’s invasion and possible defeat in Iraq also explains the two most outrageous assertions made by Mr. Krauthammer.

The lesser of these outrageous assertions appears in his Inquirer column that reassessed Bush’s legacy. It occurred when Mr. Krauthammer asserted: “Bush bequeathed to Obama a strategically won war.”

Mr. Krauthammer asserted that the war was “strategically won,” because the surge of 26,000 additional American troops succeeded in providing a safer environment; an environment in which Iraq’s warring factions might achieve political reconciliation. As General Raymond Odierno put it on 13 March 2008, “To capitalize on the reduction of violence in 2007, Iraqi leaders must make deliberate choices to secure lasting strategic gains through reconciliation and political progress.”

But, how could the war have been “strategically won” when, before reconciliation and political progress could even take hold, Bush was compelled to sign a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in December 2008 that would remove all U.S. troops by the end of 2011?

According to Middle East scholar, Juan Cole, “Bush had to sign what the [Iraq] parliament gave him or face the prospect that U.S. troops would have to leave by 31 December, 2008, something that would have been interpreted as a defeat.” Bush was compelled to sign what the Iraqi parliament gave him, because Iraqi officials had already notified the United Nations that they would not renew the UN mandate authorizing foreign troops on Iraqi soil after its expiration at the end of 2008.

Thus, boxed into a corner by the expiring UN mandate, Maliki’s unanticipated determination to rid Iraq of all U.S. troops, and his own impending departure from office, Bush agreed to the delayed removal of all American forces before there was even a hint of reconciliation or political progress in Iraq.

Why, then, would Mr. Krauthammer make the outrageous claim that “Bush bequeathed to Obama a strategically won war?” Why? Because, Mr. Krauthammer also claimed: “Everyone involved, Iraqi and American, knew that the 2008 SOFA calling for full U.S. withdrawal was meant to be renegotiated.”

“Everyone?” That’s nonsense, especially when one considers the words of the woman who actually participated in the SOFA negotiations, Ms. Emma Sky. After acknowledging the gravity of the SOFA negotiations — “if we didn’t get it, the U.S. would have to withdraw 150,000 troops within two or three months” — Ms. Sky asserted that the SOFA signed by Bush marked a change from the surge/counter-insurgency strategy to a strategy designed to foster stability. Right or wrong, those hardly are the words of someone who “knew” that the SOFA needed to be renegotiated.

In addition, Mr. Krauthammer inexplicably overlooked the obvious and enormous Iraqi popular and political support for getting rid of the “American occupiers” — both before and after the SOFA was negotiated. As a reporter for National Journal put it in 2011, “The opposition from across Iraq’s political spectrum meant that Maliki would have needed to mount a Herculean effort to persuade the fractious parliament to sign off on any troop extension deals. His closest advisers conceded that such a deal would have virtually no chance of passing.”

Such evidence, of course, begs the question: “Precisely who constituted the ‘everyone’ who ‘knew’ that the SOFA was meant to be renegotiated?” Was it Mr. Krauthammer and his fellow neoconservatives – their heads exploding over Iran’s growing influence and the loss of 50 American bases?

Nevertheless, notwithstanding the gaping holes in his mendacious claim that “Everyone involved, Iraqi and American, knew that the 2008 SOFA calling for full U.S. withdrawal was meant to be renegotiated,” Mr. Krauthammer brazenly touts that claim to support his most outrageous claim: President Obama “lost” Iraq.

Writing in the Washington Post on 3 November 2011, Mr. Krauthammer blamed President Obama for losing Iraq, largely because of his failure to negotiate a new Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that would keep American troops in Iraq. His column completely ignores the question of why President Bush signed a SOFA removing the troops in the first place. Bush agreed to remove all troops by the end of 2011, notwithstanding his earlier insistence that, “Setting a date for withdrawal is setting a date for failure – and that would be irresponsible.”

Worse, Mr. Krauthammer’s column completely ignores the elephant in the room: widespread Iraqi opposition to keeping American troops in Iraq. Thus, it’s another piece of work by Mr. Krauthammer that is riddled with intellectual incompetence or dishonesty for the sake of ideological consistency.

In thrall of America as the “uniquely benign imperium” possessing the right to dictate and enforce America’s rules for its new world order, Charles Krauthammer didn’t need to question whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction or pause before recommending that Bush initiate a preemptive invasion of Iraq.

But, when the facts on the ground in Iraq caused all of Mr. Krauthammer’s well-known beliefs to tumble like a house of cards, in public — he simply doubled down. Having never learned that it is far easier to start a war than end one, slithery Mr. Krauthammer found himself compelled to launch an exculpatory “reassessment” of Bush (and thus himself) which incorrectly, if not dishonestly, shifted blame to the “weak” president who wisely opposed the war and presided over the troop withdrawal while sheltering the “strong” president who not only sent troops into battle foolishly, but who also authorized their withdraw, tail between his legs.

Our Man in Hollywood: Bigelow Outed as CIA Tool

Newly Declassified Memo Shows CIA Shaped Zero Dark Thirty's Narrative

by Adrian Chen - Gawker

Kathryn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden revenge-porn flick Zero Dark Thirty was the biggest publicity coup for the CIA this century outside of the actual killing of Osama bin Laden. But the extent to which the CIA shaped the film has remained unclear. Now, a memo obtained by Gawker shows that the CIA actively, and apparently successfully, pressured Mark Boal to remove scenes that made them look bad from the Zero Dark Thirty script.

The CIA's whitewashing effort is revealed in a cache of documents newly released under a Freedom of Information Act request about the CIA's cooperation with Bigelow and Boal. The documents include a 2012 memo—initially classified "SECRET"—summarizing five conference calls between Boal and the CIA's Office of Public Affairs in late 2011. "The purpose for these discussions was for OPA officers to help promote an appropriate portrayal of the Agency and the Bin Ladin operation," according to the memo. (Hundreds of pages of CIA documents about the film were released last year; the memo obtained by Gawker was approved for release late last month.)

During these calls, Boal "verbally shared the screenplay" for Zero Dark Thirty in order to get the CIA's feedback, and the CIA's public affairs department verbally asked Boal to take out parts that they objected to. According to the memo, he did.

Here are the key changes:

The much-discussed opening scene of Zero Dark Thirty features the main character Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, observing a detainee at a CIA black site as he is water-boarded and shoved into a tiny box during an interrogation. It appears that an early version had Maya participating in the torture. But during their conference calls, the CIA told Boal that this was not true to life. The memo reads: "For this scene we emphasized that substantive debriefers [i.e. Maya] did not administer [Enhanced Interrogation Techniques] because in this scene he had a non-interrogator, substantive debriefer assisting in a dosing technique."

According to the memo, "Boal said he would fix this." Indeed, in the final film Maya doesn't touch the prisoner during this scene. The decision to have Maya abstain from the torture was as significant artistically as it was factually. Her ambivalence was a key part of her character, and critics picked over every detail of the torture scenes, including Maya's status as an observer rather than a participant, for meaning in the debate over torture that the movie sparked.

Wired's Spencer Ackerman, for example, interpreted Maya's complex relationship to on-screen torture as a sign of a complex inner life: "Maya is... a cipher: she is shown coming close to puking when observing the torture. But she also doesn’t object to it." Of course, the scene reads a bit differently if the choice was dictated by a CIA propaganda officer.

The CIA also took issue with an interrogation scene that featured a dog intimidating a detainee. Boal took it out: "We raised an objection that such tactics would not be used by the Agency," the memo reads. "Boal confirmed in January that the use of dogs was taken out of the screenplay."

The CIA might not have done it, but threatening detainees with dogs was a well-known feature of the War on Terror, even allowed in certain circumstances by U.S. Army interrogation manuals. The technique was pioneered in Guantanamo Bay and cruelly elaborated upon at Abu Ghraib. Some of the most disturbing photos from the Abu Ghraib scandal featured military dogs menacing naked prisoners.

The CIA also successfully pressed for a change outside of interrogation scenes. One scene in the early script featured a wild party in Islamabad, and the CIA asked Boal to take it out. He did.

From the memo:
"One scene early in the film that was objected to was a rooftop party in Islamabad where an officer, after drinking fires a celebratory burst of AK-47 gunfire into the air. We insisted mixing drinking and firearms is a major violation and actions like this do not happen in real life. We requested this be taken out of the film. Boal confirmed he took this out of the film."

To be fair, drunken firearms abuse was more a Blackwater thing.

Another minor issue was the fact that Maya analyzed videos of detainee interviews in order to track down Osama bin Laden's courier. The CIA told Boal that they didn't videotape interviews and use them in analysis. (This is itself a lie of course—the CIA did record 92 tapes, totaling hundreds of hours, of the interrogation and torture of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. It subsequently destroyed them.) But Boal explained "visually this is the only way to show research in an interesting cinematic way," according to the memo. The CIA "did not request Boal take this scene out of the movie," and it remained.

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The document reveals the extent to which CIA access was a quid pro quo arrangement, in which Boal made substantive changes to his script to appease them. "As an agency, we've been pretty forward-leaning with Boal," wrote a CIA flack to her peers in documents released last year. "He's agreed to share scripts and details about the movie with us so we're absolutely comfortable with what he will be showing."

Reached for via email, Mark Boal wouldn't comment on the record. But a person with knowledge of the Zero Dark Thirty production process confirmed that specific changes had been made to the script after suggestions from the CIA, including Maya's lack of participation in the torture scene. But this person said these changes were only due to security or accuracy concerns, and the CIA had no input on creative decisions.

Update: in an email, Boal wrote:
We honored certain requests to keep operational details and the identity of the participants confidential. But as with any publication or work of art, the final decisions as to the content were made by the filmmakers.
 Here's the memo, pen mark-up is ours.

The Blackfire Mine and Canada's Diplomatic Support for Lethal Oppression in Mexico

Report Reveals How Canadian Diplomacy Supported Deadly Blackfire Mining Project 

by United Steelworkers - Common Frontiers - MiningWatch Canada

Ottawa/San Cristobal de las Casas - Documents released from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) in response to a request under the access to information act reveal that Canadian authorities put public resources at the service of Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration despite connections with suspects in the murder of a local activist, mine suspension, and widely reported allegations of corruption.

“Our analysis of these documents found that mere days after a damning report about the company was circulated to the highest echelons of the Canadian government, Canadian authorities sought advice for the company about how to sue the state of Chiapas under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for having closed the mine,” observes Rick Arnold, who participated in a 2010 fact-finding delegation to Chiapas. “It’s as if people’s lives don’t matter to the Canadian Government, only narrow commercial interests.”

On November 27, 2009, Mariano Abarca was murdered in front of the restaurant that he owned and operated in the town of Chicomuselo in Mexico’s most southerly state of Chiapas. Abarca was a father of four and an active citizen who had fought for lower electricity rates. At the time he was murdered, he was leading a fight against Blackfire’s barite mine given concerns over social and environmental impacts.

One week after his murder, Chiapas environmental authorities suspended the mine. Days later, the Globe and Mail reported that Blackfire had been making payments into the personal bank account of the mayor of Chicomuselo. An RCMP investigation into the allegations is ongoing.

“From these records, we learn that even before my father’s death, the Canadian Embassy was closely monitoring the conflict in Chicomuselo,” remarks José Luis Abarca, son of Mariano.
“But they completely disregarded the concerns that my father and others were raising, giving credence only to the company’s version of the story. One has to wonder how things might have been different today, if they had taken us seriously.”

DFAIT records show that the Embassy received 1,400 letters expressing dire concern for Abarca’s life following his arrest in August 2009. One month earlier, Abarca had complained to an Embassy official that Blackfire workers were armed and intimidating mine opponents. Nonetheless, when Embassy officials visited Chiapas weeks before Abarca’s death, they appear only to have inquired into concerns about the security of Blackfire’s investment.

“The picture we’ve been able to piece together is deeply troubling, given Canada’s role as a top investor in Mexico’s mining industry and conflict-ridden projects from Chiapas to Chihuahua,” says Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada.
“The Blackfire story highlights the need to reign in Canadian government promotion for our overseas mining sector given how this may be enabling much of the destructive practices that we’re seeing.”