Saturday, September 26, 2015

Seeing and Saving the Central Walbran Valley

Save the Central Walbran Valley

by AncientForestAlliance

Send a message to the BC government at
To learn more, please see our media release here:
Video & editing by TJ Watt: 
DJI Phantom 2 w/ H3-3D gimbal and GoPro Hero 4 Black. 
Canon 5D MKII for ground shots.
Music courtesy of: Gidge - Fauna, pt 1 

Conservationists are employing a new tool in the battle to protect BC’s endangered old-growth forests – remotely-piloted drones. The Ancient Forest Alliance is using a small drone equipped with a GoPro camera to monitor and document the endangered old-growth forests of the Central Walbran Valley on Vancouver Island. 

This has allowed the organization to capture aerial video footage of old-growth forests threatened by logging on steep, rugged terrain that otherwise would take hours to hike to. Helicopter-based logging, or heli-logging, is expected for several of the eight proposed cutblocks in the Central Walbran Valley, including the first approved Cutblock 4424 (approved last Friday by the BC Forest Service), due to the difficulty of road access in the mountains.

Music -"Fauna, Pt I" by Gidge (Google PlayiTunes)


Friday, September 25, 2015

Volkswagen's ObNOxious Problem

The Emissionary Position: Volkswagen Takes the NOx

by Dave Randle - CounterPunch

For more than a quarter of a century, the world’s carmakers have been pursuing unrealistic targets, set for them by regulatory authorities with political origins and an eye on winning brownie points from increasingly vocal ecologists.

With its demand-driven rapid turnover of products, the auto-industry was the obvious subject of these targets. Power stations, whether coal, oil or gas-fired, don’t do rapid response and would take lifetimes to clean up their act in any meaningful way, and the so-called zero pollution of nuclear power, in a ironic parallel, gains the appellation by hiding the pollution away for future generations to solve.

An industry whose vital spark is innovation was inspired by the challenges and, in a few short years, enabled the century-old internal combustion engine to multiply its power output and reduce its unpleasant side-effects so dramatically – even miraculously – that it put the then game-changing new developments with hydrogen fuel cells and electric propulsion into a shade from which it is still trying to emerge.

Diesel engines used to be noisy and smelly. They are neither now. They used to be fairly rough old pluggers that went on for years and used far less fuel than their gasoline/petrol equivalents.

They still do that. It was not unusual for the old Peugeot/Citroën indirect-injection XUD diesel to knock up 200 thousand miles. When it was replaced by the HDi common-rail that brought in double the refinement and even better fuel consumption figures, even Citroën’s own people didn’t believe it would be as long-lived. A taxi local to me achieved 300 thousand before it was withdrawn on grounds of age.

That technology only brings us up to the end of the last century. What’s been achieved since is staggering, mainly thanks to ever greater refinements in electronics.

I remember the head of the UK Volkswagen press office, Paul Bucket, warning that it was inevitably a game of diminishing returns, at least five years ago.

But only recently the emphasis has moved back from diesel to petrol power. By using the kinds of pressure that exist in common rail diesels and studying optimum efficiencies, petrol engines have been developed that don’t need to be 2-litre plus to have any poke. They don’t need to be V6 or V8, either. The most exciting new engines are between 1.0 and 1.3 litres. They have three cylinders, and they can provide as much or more torque than a 2-litre four. They sound better and they rev better, thanks to the much reduced friction and weight of the missing pot.

Even more surprisingly, they come very close to diesel in terms of fuel economy, even with large people carrier bodies.

And, of course, gasoline doesn’t emit the nitrous oxide implicated in smog generation.

By the time the pressures on engineers to achieve results became too extreme to be achievable with current science, they were all fully versed in the worlds of electronics and digital jiggery pokery.

They thought, by programming their already heavily programmed motors to give the right answers when being interrogated by the test facilities, they would buy themselves the time to cure the N0x problem.

It might have worked. The VW group, fairly certainly, were not the only people doing it.

They got found out and will have to take the hit on the recalls and the fines. It’s unlikely the regulators will take the cars off the road, so the loyal customers will return after a period of contemplation.

They didn’t frack half the country creating poisonous water, and they didn’t bury nuclear waste in our children’s gardens.

In that quarter century they’ve done more than any other industry to ameliorate the impact of their products on the blue planet.

And they’ll crack this one too, in time.

Dave Randle is a British author and journalist with 30 years experience in print and online media. His latest book, Blinded with Science, is published by Bank House Books and is available from all major retailers. He can be contacted at
More articles by:Dave Randle

Thousand March in West Bank Funeral

Clashes as Thousands March in Khatatbeh's Funeral

by IMEMC News & Agencies 

Friday September 25

Thousands of Palestinians marched in the funeral of Ahmad Izzat Khatatbeh, 25, who died on Thursday from wounds sustained by Israeli forces at the Beit Furik checkpoint, in the occupied West Bank, last week.

The procession set off from the Rafidia Government Hospital to Khatatbeh's family home located near the village’s entrance. His body was carried on the shoulders of fellow residents to the cemetery, as they shouted slogans calling for revenge.

Mourners waved Palestinian flags as well as the flags of Palestinian factions during the funeral. Palestinian security sources told Ma'an that clashes erupted at the Beit Furik checkpoint between Israeli forces and dozens of youth following the march.

Israeli forces fired tear-gas bombs and stun grenades at youths causing severe tear-gas inhalation. Medical sources said that a youth identified as Hammudeh Walid Hanini was injured with live bullets in the leg before being taken to the Rafidia Government Hospital for treatment.

Israeli forces also fired rubber-coated steel bullets at youths who responded with rocks and set several tires on fire.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an News Agency that she was unaware of any Palestinian injuries during the clashes, adding that an Israeli soldier had been lightly injured.

Khatatbeh had died from his wounds after being shot three times in the shoulder, chest and abdomen, medical sources said on Thursday.

An Israeli army spokesperson said at the time that a petrol bomb was thrown at an Israeli army patrol in the area, near the illegal settlement of Itamar, with soldiers responding by shooting a Palestinian suspect and arresting another.

He was the third Palestinian to die at the hands of Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territory this week.

Diya Abdul-Halim Talahmah, 21, was killed during clashes with Israeli forces in Hebron on Monday. On Tuesday, Israeli forces shot Hadeel al-Hashlamon, 18, several times at a Hebron checkpoint and she died from her wounds shortly after.

At least 26 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of 2015, as rights groups criticize the excessive use of force used by soldiers in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Hill+Knowlton and the NDP, F'ing Up Your Democracy?

Are the NDP and Conservatives, while working under the guidance of Hill+Knowlton, collaborating to fix the 2015 Federal election?

by Walt McGinnis - Power to the People

 Sept 21, 2015

Hill + Knowlton and other political operatives were involved in questionable activities while working for the New Democratic Party in the 2013 election in British Columbia. They are now playing a major role in the 2015 Federal NDP and Conservative campaigns. It looks like the Federal NDP campaign team is scheming to give the victory to the Conservatives in the same manner the British Columbia NDP team did for the Liberals.

Hill+Knowlton is playing a major role in Canadian Politics. Senior NDP campaign advisor Brad Lavinge is also vice president for Public and Corporate Affairs of this PR firm.

Brad Lavinge: VP, Public and
Corporate Affairs Hill+Knowlton 
Strategist AND Senior Campaign 
Advisor New Democratic Party of Canada

They are a wing of the strangely named, Wire and Plastics Products (WPP), the largest public relations firm in the world. Some would say WPP is the public face of the global elite’s political agenda. Most NDPers would wonder what they have in common with the goals and aspirations of Hill+Knowlton.

Hill + Knowlton are remembered as the inventors of the incubator baby hoax, the Pearl Harbour event that created the public support of George Bush senior’s 1991 Gulf War. The US invasion of Iraq led to the death and suffering of millions of innocent people. If Hill +Knowlton could pull that one off then fixing an election would be a cinch.

Hill + Knowlton have very close associations with the Conservative Party of Canada. For instance on March 9, 2015, just before the election campaign got started, Jason MacDonald, Harpers former director of communications and chief spokesperson joined Hill + Knowlton as a vice president.

British Columbians began to question the honesty of politicians and their advisors after witnessing the strange results of the 2013 provincial election. There appears to have been high level political manipulations performed by people working for Hill + Knowlton and corporate funded public opinion pollsters, aided and abetted by British Columbia’s NDP and Liberal leaders. The NDP campaign manager Brian Topp was also a partner in the newly formed PR firm, Kool, Topp and Guy. Astonishingly they were incorporated on Jan 28, 2013 just two weeks before Topp arrived in BC and took over the NDP campaign.

Brian Topp, Don Guy, and Ken Boessenkool

Ken Boessenkool and Don Guy were key advisors for the Liberals while Topp ran the NDP campaign. A very strange situation indeed. Because Brad Lavinge was always in the back ground, no one knows exactly what role he played in the BC election. It looks like Hill + Knowlton was using Kool, Topp and Guy as their front men while Lavinge safely called the shots from the shadows.

This is a scenario of how Topp, Lavinge and company ensured a win for the BC Liberals. Firstly, they allowed strangely inaccurate if not outright fraudulent public opinion polls showing the NDP in the lead to go unchallenged. Then, they either did no polling themselves, or if they did, they suppressed the results. What further elevated suspicions that the election was not on the level was when the BC NDP’s “Report of the 2013 Election Review Panel” was released. Topp and company claimed that they did conduct polling. The problem is they never produced their results for anyone to see.

Page 2: “While the Provincial Office and Staff were extremely supportive through all of our work, a number of documents, including the campaign strategy, were not available and others, such as polling and focus group reports arrived late and could not be reviewed….”

So Topp claims they conducted internal polling but he was strangely not able to produce the results for the scrutiny of the members of the party. As well Topp claims there were focus group reports, but again he did not produce them for the Review Panel. A long time NDPer who quit the party over this scandal mused “it is interesting that NDP set up a Review Panel to look at what went wrong with their election campaign but the NDP would not provide the panel with the information needed for the review.”

If Topp did no polling that would be damming evidence of him betraying the party. On the other hand if it were proven that Topp and Lavinge were aware of polls showing the NDP were losing the election and they kept that secret, this would be irrefutable evidence of malfeasance.

That evidence comes from Don Guy, Topp’s partner, a professional pollster very closely associated with Brian Topp. His was Topps partner in the newly formed Public Relations Firm Kool, Topp and Guy. Guy was conducting internal polling for the Liberals during the campaign. Guys’ results were based upon using tried and true methods and were shown to be accurate. This makes one wonder what were the methods that the corporate funded polling companies used that showed a huge lead by the NDP. Crooked methods perhaps? In fact Guy claims he predicted the Liberal majority based upon his findings.

May 18, 2013, Ottawa Herald. It was the Liberals’ internal party polls that accurately pegged the result: a healthy Clark majority.

“We had it nailed,” Don Guy, one of the Clark team’s top strategists, said in an interview. “We couldn’t get anyone to believe us because of the public polls.”

Apparently Don Guy was telling everyone during the election campaign that the Liberals were winning and the NDP was losing but it seems no one was listening including his business partner Brian Topp. Other than an outright confession this is about as close as you can get of proof of Topp’s malfeasance.

Incredibly the leadership of the BC NDP had no questions about this situation and as well they suppressed these facts after the election in what looked like an attempt to cover up their tracks. One would think that the NDP would at least fire them all for good and pledge to never have anything to do with them again. On the contrary it seems the NDP were quite satisfied with Lavinge’s and Topp’s work. The Federal NDP hired Lavinge to run their election campaign. Brian Topp is now Rachel Notley’s chief of Staff in Alberta.

When I contacted a prominent NDPer about all this he said I should be worried about being sued for laying these allegations. I answered perhaps we all should be more worried about the chances that what I am saying is true. Tellingly no one from the NDP has attempted to refute these claims.

Brad Lavinge, while still on the Hill + Knowlton payroll, is acting as a “senior campaign advisor” for Mulcair, much like what Topp did in the BC campaign. Lavinge was mentioned in several reports explaining why the NDP was firing candidates who even mused about the legitimacy of the brutal regime running the Israeli government something that most NDPers are concerned about. It seems free speech and human compassion is a thing of the past for these democratic socialists. If you listen closely Mulcair sounds a lot more like Harper than the Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

Evidence shows that the 2013 election in BC was stolen for the Liberals by the NDP campaign team. Now it appears the Canadian Federal election is following the same script. The same people that fooled the voters in BC are now manipulating voters for the Federal election.

These are very dangerous times for democracy in Canada when it appears all the major parties are using the same PR firm, Hill + Knowlton as their chief advisor. As usual the corporate media is ready to spring into action for Hill +Knowlton to help spin the tale. Based upon what has happened in British Columbia election and its similarities to the Federal election, Canadians should be asking, will the 2015 Canadian Federal election be free and fair or will it be another political coup?

Walt McGinnis lives and works in Victoria BC.

Why Is Bill Maher Such An Ignorant Ass? Why Bill Maher Is An Ignorant Ass

Reza Aslan killed these two "journalists"

by CNN

You need to watch this! Reza Aslan killed these two "journalists". They weren't able to salvage a shred of dignity because they are simply stupid, ill-informed, racist. Party on CNN!

Reza Aslan killed these two "journalists"You need to watch this! Reza Aslan killed these two "journalists". They weren't able to salvage a shred of dignity because they are simply stupid, ill-informed, racist. Party on CNN!

Posted  Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Booming, Banging Year for American Military's Secret Military

U.S. Special Ops Forces Deployed in 135 Nations: 2015 Proves to Be Record-Breaking Year for the Military’s Secret Military

by Nick Turse - TomDispatch  

You can find them in dusty, sunbaked badlands, moist tropical forests, and the salty spray of third-world littorals. Standing in judgement, buffeted by the rotor wash of a helicopter or sweltering beneath the relentless desert sun, they instruct, yell, and cajole as skinnier men playact under their watchful eyes.

In many places, more than their particular brand of camouflage, better boots, and designer gear sets them apart. Their days are scented by stale sweat and gunpowder; their nights are spent in rustic locales or third-world bars.

These men -- and they are mostly men -- belong to an exclusive military fraternity that traces its heritage back to the birth of the nation.

Typically, they’ve spent the better part of a decade as more conventional soldiers, sailors, marines, or airmen before making the cut. They’ve probably been deployed overseas four to 10 times.

The officers are generally approaching their mid-thirties; the enlisted men, their late twenties. They’ve had more schooling than most in the military. They’re likely to be married with a couple of kids. And day after day, they carry out shadowy missions over much of the planet: sometimes covert raids, more often hush-hush training exercises from Chad to Uganda, Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, Albania to Romania, Bangladesh to Sri Lanka, Belize to Uruguay. They belong to the Special Operations forces (SOF), America’s most elite troops -- Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, among others -- and odds are, if you throw a dart at a world map or stop a spinning globe with your index finger and don’t hit water, they’ve been there sometime in 2015. 
Tomgram: Nick Turse, A Secret War in 135 Countries

It was an impressive effort: a front-page New York Times story about a “new way of war” with the bylines of six reporters, and two more and a team of researchers cited at the end of the piece. “They have plotted deadly missions from secret bases in the badlands of Somalia. In Afghanistan, they have engaged in combat so intimate that they have emerged soaked in blood that was not their own. On clandestine raids in the dead of the night, their weapons of choice have ranged from customized carbines to primeval tomahawks.” So began the Times investigation of SEAL Team 6, its nonstop missions, its weaponry, its culture, the stresses and strains its “warriors” have experienced in recent years, and even some of the accusations leveled against them. (“Afghan villagers and a British commander accused SEALs of indiscriminately killing men in one hamlet.”)

For all the secrecy surrounding SEAL Team 6, it has been the public face of America’s Special Operations forces and so has garnered massive attention, especially, of course, after some of its members killed Osama bin Laden on a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011. It even won a starring role in the Oscar-winning Hollywood film Zero Dark Thirty, produced with CIA help, about the tracking down of bin Laden. As a unit, however, SEAL Team 6 is “roughly 300 assault troops, called operators, and 1,500 support personnel”; in other words, more or less a drop in the bucket when it comes to America’s Special Operations forces. And its story, however nonstop and dramatic, is similarly a drop in the bucket when it comes to the flood of special operations actions in these years.

While SEAL Team 6 has received extensive coverage, what could be considered the military story of the twenty-first century, the massive, ongoing expansion of a secret force (functionally the president’s private army) cocooned inside the U.S. military -- now at almost 70,000 personnel and growing -- has gotten next to none. Keep in mind that such a force is already larger than the active-duty militaries of Australia, Chile, Cuba, Hungary, the Netherlands, Nigeria, and South Africa, among a bevy of other countries. If those 70,000 personnel engaging in operations across the planet -- even their most mundane acts enveloped in a blanket of secrecy -- have created, as the Times suggests, a new way of war in and out of Washington’s war zones, it has gone largely unreported in the American media.

Thanks to Nick Turse (and Andrew Bacevich), however, TomDispatch has been the exception to this seemingly ironclad rule. Since 2011, when he found special operations units deployed to 120 countries annually, Turse has continued to chart their expanding global role in 2012, 2014, and this year. He has also tried, as today, to assess just how successful this new way of war that melds the soldier and the spy, the counterinsurgent and the guerrilla, the drone assassin and the “man-hunter” has been. Imagine for a moment the resources that the media would apply to such an analogous Russian or Chinese force, if its units covertly trained “friendly” militaries or went into action yearly in at least two-thirds of the countries on the planet. Tom

U.S. Special Ops Forces Deployed in 135 Nations: 2015 Proves to Be Record-Breaking Year for the Military’s Secret Military

by Nick Turse

The Wide World of Special Ops

This year, U.S. Special Operations forces have already deployed to 135 nations, according to Ken McGraw, a spokesman for Special Operations Command (SOCOM). That’s roughly 70% of the countries on the planet. Every day, in fact, America’s most elite troops are carrying out missions in 80 to 90 nations, practicing night raids or sometimes conducting them for real, engaging in sniper training or sometimes actually gunning down enemies from afar. As part of a global engagement strategy of endless hush-hush operations conducted on every continent but Antarctica, they have now eclipsed the number and range of special ops missions undertaken at the height of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the waning days of the Bush administration, Special Operations forces (SOF) were reportedly deployed in only about 60 nations around the world. By 2010, according to the Washington Post, that number had swelled to 75. Three years later, it had jumped to 134 nations, “slipping” to 133 last year, before reaching a new record of 135 this summer. This 80% increase over the last five years is indicative of SOCOM’s exponential expansion which first shifted into high gear following the 9/11 attacks.

Special Operations Command’s funding, for example, has more than tripled from about $3 billion in 2001 to nearly $10 billion in 2014 “constant dollars,” according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). And this doesn’t include funding from the various service branches, which SOCOM estimates at around another $8 billion annually, or other undisclosed sums that the GAO was unable to track. The average number of Special Operations forces deployed overseas has nearly tripled during these same years, while SOCOM more than doubled its personnel from about 33,000 in 2001 to nearly 70,000 now.

Each day, according to SOCOM commander General Joseph Votel, approximately 11,000 special operators are deployed or stationed outside the United States with many more on standby, ready to respond in the event of an overseas crisis. “I think a lot of our resources are focused in Iraq and in the Middle East, in Syria for right now. That's really where our head has been,” Votel told the Aspen Security Forum in July. Still, he insisted his troops were not “doing anything on the ground in Syria” -- even if they had carried out a night raid there a couple of months before and it was later revealed that they are involved in a covert campaign of drone strikes in that country.

“I think we are increasing our focus on Eastern Europe at this time,” he added. 
“At the same time we continue to provide some level of support on South America for Colombia and the other interests that we have down there. And then of course we're engaged out in the Pacific with a lot of our partners, reassuring them and working those relationships and maintaining our presence out there.”

In reality, the average percentage of Special Operations forces deployed to the Greater Middle East has decreased in recent years. Back in 2006, 85% of special operators were deployed in support of Central Command or CENTCOM, the geographic combatant command (GCC) that oversees operations in the region. By last year, that number had dropped to 69%, according to GAO figures. Over that same span, Northern Command -- devoted to homeland defense -- held steady at 1%, European Command (EUCOM) doubled its percentage, from 3% to 6%, Pacific Command (PACOM) increased from 7% to 10%, and Southern Command, which overseas Central and South America as well as the Caribbean, inched up from 3% to 4%. The largest increase, however, was in a region conspicuously absent from Votel’s rundown of special ops deployments. In 2006, just 1% of the special operators deployed abroad were sent to Africa Command’s area of operations. Last year, it was 10%. 

U.S. Special Operations forces guide two of Cameroon’s 3rd 
Battalion Intervention Rapid (BIR) during a 2013 training event. 
(Photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Larry W. Carpenter Jr.)

Globetrotting is SOCOM’s stock in trade and, not coincidentally, it’s divided into a collection of planet-girding “sub-unified commands”: the self-explanatory SOCAFRICA; SOCEUR, the European contingent; SOCCENT, the sub-unified command of CENTCOM; SOCKOR, which is devoted strictly to Korea; SOCPAC, which covers the rest of the Asia-Pacific region; SOCSOUTH, which conducts missions in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean; SOCNORTH, which is devoted to “homeland defense”; and the ever-itinerant Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC, a clandestine sub-command (formerly headed by Votel) made up of personnel from each service branch, including SEALs, Air Force special tactics airmen, and the Army's Delta Force that specializes in tracking and killing suspected terrorists.

The elite of the elite in the special ops community, JSOC takes on covert, clandestine, and low-visibility operations in the hottest of hot spots. Some covert ops that have come to light in recent years include a host of Delta Force missions: among them, an operation in May in which members of the elite force killed an Islamic State commander known as Abu Sayyaf during a night raid in Syria; the 2014 release of long-time Taliban prisoner Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl; the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspect in 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya; and the 2013 abduction of Anas al-Libi, an al-Qaeda militant, off a street in that same country. Similarly, Navy SEALs have, among other operations, carried out successful hostage rescue missions in Afghanistan and Somalia in 2012; a disastrous one in Yemen in 2014; a 2013 kidnap raid in Somalia that went awry; and -- that same year -- a failed evacuation mission in South Sudan in which three SEALs were wounded when their aircraft was hit by small arms fire.

SOCOM’s SOF Alphabet Soup

Most deployments have, however, been training missions designed to tutor proxies and forge stronger ties with allies. “Special Operations forces provide individual-level training, unit-level training, and formal classroom training,” explains SOCOM’s Ken McGraw. “Individual training can be in subjects like basic rifle marksmanship, land navigation, airborne operations, and first aid. They provide unit-level training in subjects like small unit tactics, counterterrorism operations and maritime operations. SOF can also provide formal classroom training in subjects like the military decision-making process or staff planning.”

From 2012 to 2014, for instance, Special Operations forces carried out 500 Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) missions in as many as 67 countries each year. JCETs are officially devoted to training U.S. forces, but they nonetheless serve as a key facet of SOCOM’s global engagement strategy. The missions “foster key military partnerships with foreign militaries, enhance partner-nations' capability to provide for their own defense, and build interoperability between U.S. SOF and partner-nation forces,” according to SOCOM’s McGraw.

And JCETs are just a fraction of the story. SOCOM carries out many other multinational overseas training operations. According to data from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), for example, Special Operations forces conducted 75 training exercises in 30 countries in 2014. The numbers were projected to jump to 98 exercises in 34 countries by the end of this year.

“SOCOM places a premium on international partnerships and building their capacity. Today, SOCOM has persistent partnerships with about 60 countries through our Special Operations Forces Liaison Elements and Joint Planning and Advisory Teams,” said SOCOM’s Votel at a conference earlier this year, drawing attention to two of the many types of shadowy Special Ops entities that operate overseas. 
These SOFLEs and JPATs belong to a mind-bending alphabet soup of special ops entities operating around the globe, a jumble of opaque acronyms and stilted abbreviations masking a secret world of clandestine efforts often conducted in the shadows in impoverished lands ruled by problematic regimes. The proliferation of this bewildering SOCOM shorthand -- SOJTFs and CJSOTFs, SOCCEs and SOLEs -- mirrors the relentless expansion of the command, with its signature brand of military speak or milspeak proving as indecipherable to most Americans as its missions are secret from them.

Around the world, you can find Special Operations Joint Task Forces (SOJTFs), Combined Joint Special Operations Task Forces (CJSOTFs), and Joint Special Operations Task Forces (JSOTFs), Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs), as well as Special Operations Command and Control Elements (SOCCEs) and Special Operations Liaison Elements (SOLEs). And that list doesn’t even include Special Operations Command Forward (SOC FWD) elements -- small teams which, according to the military, “shape and coordinate special operations forces security cooperation and engagement in support of theater special operations command, geographic combatant command, and country team goals and objectives.”

Special Operations Command will not divulge the locations or even a simple count of its SOC FWDs for “security reasons.” When asked how releasing only the number could imperil security, SOCOM’s Ken McGraw was typically opaque. “The information is classified,” he responded. “I am not the classification authority for that information so I do not know the specifics of why the information is classified.” Open source data suggests, however, that they are clustered in favored black ops stomping grounds, including SOC FWD Pakistan, SOC FWD Yemen, and SOC FWD Lebanon, as well as SOC FWD East Africa, SOC FWD Central Africa, and SOC FWD West Africa

A U.S. Army Special Forces soldier readies himself to jump out of
C-130J Super Hercules over Hurlburt Field, Fla., March 3, 2012. 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

What’s clear is that SOCOM prefers to operate in the shadows while its personnel and missions expand globally to little notice or attention. “The key thing that SOCOM brings to the table is that we are -- we think of ourselves -- as a global force. We support the geographic combatant commanders, but we are not bound by the artificial boundaries that normally define the regional areas in which they operate. So what we try to do is we try to operate across those boundaries,” SOCOM’s Votel told the Aspen Security Forum.

In one particular blurring of boundaries, Special Operations liaison officers (SOLOs) are embedded in at least 14 key U.S. embassies to assist in advising the special forces of various allied nations. Already operating in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Poland, Peru, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, the SOLO program is poised, according to Votel, to expand to 40 countries by 2019. The command, and especially JSOC, has also forged close ties with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency, among other outfits, through the use of liaison officers and Special Operations Support Teams (SOSTs).

“In today’s environment, our effectiveness is directly tied to our ability to operate with domestic and international partners. We, as a joint force, must continue to institutionalize interoperability, integration, and interdependence between conventional forces and special operations forces through doctrine, training, and operational deployments,” Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee this spring. 
“From working with indigenous forces and local governments to improve local security, to high-risk counterterrorism operations -- SOF are in vital roles performing essential tasks.”

SOCOM will not name the 135 countries in which America’s most elite forces were deployed this year, let alone disclose the nature of those operations. Most were, undoubtedly, training efforts. Documents obtained from the Pentagon via the Freedom of Information Act outlining Joint Combined Exchange Training in 2013 offer an indication of what Special Operations forces do on a daily basis and also what skills are deemed necessary for their real-world missions: combat marksmanship, patrolling, weapons training, small unit tactics, special operations in urban terrain, close quarters combat, advanced marksmanship, sniper employment, long-range shooting, deliberate attack, and heavy weapons employment, in addition to combat casualty care, human rights awareness, land navigation, and mission planning, among others.

From Joint Special Operations Task Force-Juniper Shield, which operates in Africa’s Trans-Sahara region, and Special Operations Command and Control Element-Horn of Africa, to Army Special Operations Forces Liaison Element-Korea and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula, the global growth of SOF missions has been breathtaking. SEALs or Green Berets, Delta Force operators or Air Commandos, they are constantly taking on what Votel likes to call the “nation’s most complex, demanding, and high-risk challenges.”

These forces carry out operations almost entirely unknown to the American taxpayers who fund them, operations conducted far from the scrutiny of the media or meaningful outside oversight of any kind. Everyday, in around 80 or more countries that Special Operations Command will not name, they undertake missions the command refuses to talk about. They exist in a secret world of obtuse acronyms and shadowy efforts, of mystery missions kept secret from the American public, not to mention most of the citizens of the 135 nations where they’ve been deployed this year.

This summer, when Votel commented that more special ops troops are deployed to more locations and are conducting more operations than at the height of the Afghan and Iraq wars, he drew attention to two conflicts in which those forces played major roles that have not turned out well for the United States. Consider that symbolic of what the bulking up of his command has meant in these years.

“Ultimately, the best indicator of our success will be the success of the [geographic combatant commands],” says the special ops chief, but with U.S. setbacks in Africa Command’s area of operations from Mali and Nigeria to Burkina Faso and Cameroon; in Central Command’s bailiwick from Iraq and Afghanistan to Yemen and Syria; in the PACOM region vis-à-vis China; and perhaps even in the EUCOM area of operations due to Russia, it’s far from clear what successes can be attributed to the ever-expanding secret operations of America’s secret military. The special ops commander seems resigned to the very real limitations of what his secretive but much-ballyhooed, highly-trained, well-funded, heavily-armed operators can do.

“We can buy space, we can buy time,” says Votel, stressing that SOCOM can “play a very, very key role” in countering “violent extremism,” but only up to a point -- and that point seems to fall strikingly short of anything resembling victory or even significant foreign policy success. 
“Ultimately, you know, problems like we see in Iraq and Syria,” he says, “aren't going to be resolved by us.”

Nick Turse is the managing editor of and a fellow at the Nation Institute. A 2014 Izzy Award and American Book Award winner for his book Kill Anything That Moves, he has reported from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa and his pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Intercept, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. His latest book is Tomorrow's Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2015 Nick Turse

BC Government Sanctioned Destruction: Clear-Cut Loggers Eye Last of Vancouver Island's Ancient Forest

Spectacular ancient grove discovered in threatened Walbran Valley forest: Environmentalists document "Black Diamond Grove" in recently approved cutblock

by Wilderness Committee

VICTORIA Environmental activists with the Wilderness Committee and Sierra Club BC have found a remarkable old-growth forest grove in the Central Walbran Valley, an area threatened by planned logging.

The Black Diamond Grove is located inside logging company Teal Jones' cutblock 4424, which was approved for logging by the BC government on September 18th despite widespread public opposition.

The grove, named for the steep slope it sits on, is unique because of its diversity of tree species.

Old-growth trees in Black Diamond Grove, 
part of the recently-approved cutblock 
in the central Walbran Valley. 
(Credit: Mark Worthing)

"We knew there were impressive old-growth trees in this area, but we were really blown away once we got in and explored," said Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee.
"This type of old-growth is far too rare. There is absolutely no way the Black Diamond Grove should be logged."

In addition to the monumental cedars that the Walbran Valley is famous for, the grove also contains massive Sitka spruce, hemlock, amabalis fir and even Douglas-fir trees.

The crown jewel of the Black Diamond Grove is the Leaning Tower Cedar, a western redcedar tree approximately three metres wide at its base. The Leaning Tower Cedar could be as old as 1,000 years – hundreds of years older than Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa, a protected landmark.

Among countless other benefits, old-growth forests store more climate-changing carbon than younger forests. BC's coastal old-growth stores more carbon than any forest on the planet.

"Old-growth forests are our best ally in the fight against climate change, but we lose that benefit as companies like Teal Jones liquidate the last of it," said Mark Worthing, Biodiversity Outreach Coordinator at Sierra Club BC.
"If the government's new Climate Leadership Team is serious about addressing climate change, protecting old-growth forests like the Black Diamond Grove is one of the simplest, easiest things it can do."

Teal Jones' plans to move into the Central Walbran have highlighted the plight of the last relatively intact unprotected old-growth forests on Vancouver Island, and have galvanized environmental groups and citizens who believe these ancient forests must be protected.

Many grassroots activists are considering blockades to stop the new logging, while the local group Friends of Carmanah-Walbran announced plans this week to establish a new Witness Camp in the Valley.

Sierra Club BC and the Wilderness Committee do not participate in civil disobedience but will continue to maintain a presence in the Walbran to monitor the situation and report back to the public. The organizations have been active on the issue throughout the summer, holding public meetings, rallies and building public support for the protection of the Walbran.

Thousands of citizens have written to BC Forest Minister Steve Thomson, calling on the government to put a hold on logging in the Central Walbran. The Minister has rejected multiple requests for meetings with the Wilderness Committee.

The Walbran is located in unceded Nuu-chah-nulth territory.


For Immediate Release - September 24, 2015
For more information, please contact:

Torrance Coste | Vancouver Island Campaigner, Wilderness Committee

Mark Worthing | Biodiversity Outreach Coordinator, Sierra Club BC

Licensed to De-Live: Killing Nations to Protect Them

License to Kill 

 by Luciana Bohne - CounterPunch

Sept. 24, 2015

Let’s face it: the United States feels entitled to a license to kill.

On 23 September, Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations, insisted that the Russian veto power in the Security Council was endangering its legitimacy. Russia had vetoed four Security Council resolutions on Syria.

Understandably, the US rabid dogs of war are straining at the chain to which international law constrains them. How dare Russia oppose US plans for regime change in Syria and impede a further blood bath to achieve it?

An indefatigable humanitarian warmonger, Power resents Russia’s opposition to a resolution to bomb the hell out of “atrocities” in Syria, without specifying that the main “atrocity” in her government’s eyes is President Assad.

No, no—it’s her humanitarian concern over the 250,000 Syrian already dead [she means to add more by bombing in their names]; it’s the refugees’ flight she means to stem [by blocking their path with bombs].

Russia is preventing all this humanitarianism: “It’s a Darwinian universe here,” she tells The Guardian. “If a particular body reveals itself to be dysfunctional, then people are going to go elsewhere, and if that happened for more than Syria and Ukraine and you started to see across the board paralysis … it would certainly jeopardise the security council’s status and credibility and its function as a go-to international security arbiter. It would definitely jeopardise that over time.”

She’s right to say, “It’s a Darwinian universe,” but it’s one for which the US is solely responsible, set on insuring the survival of its species along a path of death, destruction, and chaos, shredding international law as it goes. Soberly (how alien feels the voice of reason compared to the screeching tantrums of American functionaries), Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s UN Ambassador, responded to Power’s allegations by pointing out the obvious:

Some countries were trying to involve the Security Council in regime change operations in Syria and we were telling them that it’s not the business of the Security Council to go into regime change mode. This is a fundamental difference and it’s not the fault of the Security Council that this difference is there.

It certainly isn’t. The task of the United Nations, as per its Charter, is “to prevent the scourge of war”; the task of the Security Council is to resolve disputes, authorizing war only after all other options for peace fail. This awesome responsibility is subject to veto.

The veto is a restraining mechanism for members too fond of wars. Besides, nowhere in the Charter does it say that a single member should take it upon itself to go on humanitarian crusades for unilaterally perceived and selectively declared atrocities or genocides, but this option is what the US is beginning to argue for—an option that would permit the removal of the veto in cases of Right to Protect (R2P), the US policy which materialized out of the NATO assault on Yugoslavia. You kill a nation in order to protect it. And Russia is crazy enough to oppose this humanitarian medicine. Legalistic perverts.

Stalin was prescient at Yalta. He accepted to participate in the United Nations only if each of the five permanent members of the Security Council would be allowed veto power. His great concern was prevention of war, which, he argued, could only be achieved through unity and unanimity among the Big Three. Samantha Power’s teleprompters work her up in a lather, conveniently forgetting to tell her that the UN Charter is a treaty signed by the US in the name of the people of the United States and is, therefore, the law of the land, as per the US Constitution. Arbitrarily removing Russia from its veto rights in the Security Council violates the UN Charter and, thus, it’s unconstitutional.

But what does this lot of inept, ignorant, amoral, public-relations careerist frauds care about the Constitution—or about truth and justice and a harmonious world? They are drunk with the wine of desolation. Lies and injustice are for them signs of superior intelligence—a joke on the credulous mob. Injustice is a source of strength and happiness, and the privilege of the strong. As the Empire crumbles, only might makes right.

In Plato’s Republic, this was the view of Thrasymachus, who voiced the cynicism of a morally and politically deteriorating Athenian state and empire. Socrates counter posed the idea of justice as the bedrock of a harmonious social order, monitored by reason to keep the appetites in check. But the Empire is insatiable—it knows only appetite: more oil, more forests, water, and gas, more copper, iron, gold. As the appetite grows, reason wanes, and the result is a war against humanity and the planet, waged by moral midgets the likes of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama and the minions who descend like locusts to serve them. “The sleep of reason breeds monsters,” said Goya. These’RThem—our “public” servants outsourced to Appetite, Inc., the devouring breed.

How refreshing to think of a sensual, passionate quotation by D.H. Lawrence, embracing truth and justice, in contrast to the appetitive society’s lust for pleasure in power, a cold and death-embracing passion—a “waste of shame”:

The profoundest of all sensualities is the sense of truth and the next deepest sensual experience is the sense of justice.

Luciana Bohne is co-founder of Film Criticism, a journal of cinema studies, and teaches at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. She can be reached at:
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