Friday, January 20, 2017

Logan's Run: Losing It Twice, Liberal Trump Backlash Risks Blowback Lash

Going Over the Top in Trump-Bashing

by Norman Solomon  - Consortium News

January 19, 2017

Heading into the last week of the Obama administration, 35 Democrats in the House sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch urging her to appoint an independent Special Counsel because Donald Trump,

“has repeatedly engaged in actions constituting unauthorized foreign policy in violation of the Logan Act.”
President-elect Donald Trump. 

Democratic Party fury toward President-elect Trump has led some progressives to suggest a rash scheme for invoking an archaic law to punish his deviation from foreign policy orthodoxy, warns Norman Solomon. 

Dating back to 1799, the law has resulted in a grand total of one indictment (during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency) and no conviction. But the Logan Act remains a convenient statute to brandish against disruptors of foreign-policy orthodoxies.

The Jan. 12 letter — relying on an arcane and wobbly relic of a law — is an example of opportunism that isn’t even opportune. Worse, it’s an effort to spur Justice Department action that would establish a dangerous precedent.

When the letter charges that “in several cases Mr. Trump’s actions directly contravene and undermine official positions of the United States government,” the complaint rings hollow. In our lifetimes, countless private citizens — and quite a few members of Congress — have sought to contravene and undermine official U.S. positions. Often that has been for the better.

The members of Congress who signed the letter should know that. Many are ostensibly aligned with the kind of dissent that has been — and will be — essential to pull this country away from disastrous wars overseas. More than half of the letter’s signers — 19 of the 35 — are in the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

It should be obvious that the Logan Act is antithetical to free speech and other vital liberties. The law provides for up to three years in prison for “any citizen of the United States” who — without authorization from the U.S. government — “directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government,” with intent to influence that government “in relation to disputes or controversies with the United States.”

Freedom of Speech

Steve Vladeck, a professor of law at the University of Texas, points out that the First and Fifth Amendments “do not look too kindly on either content-based restrictions on speech (which the Logan Act clearly is), or criminal laws that do not clearly articulate the line between lawful and unlawful conduct (which the Logan Act may well not do).”

In recent decades, the specter of the Logan Act has been used to threaten legislators who went outside an administration’s policy boundaries. In 1975, Sens. George McGovern and John Sparkman faced accusations that they’d violated the Act by going to Havana and talking with Cuban officials. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan said that Jesse Jackson’s efforts in Cuba and Nicaragua may have violated the Logan Act.

Later in the 1980s, Reagan’s National Security Council considered invoking the Logan Act to stop House Speaker Jim Wright’s involvement in negotiations between the Sandinista government and the Contra forces that the CIA made possible in Nicaragua. Twenty years later, in 2007, another House speaker — Nancy Pelosi — faced accusations that she’d run afoul of the Logan Act by going to Damascus and negotiating with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

Now, it’s sad to see dozens of Democrats trying to throw the Logan Act at Trump when there are so many crucial matters to address — healthcare, civil rights, environmental protection, social programs and much more. While a multitude of legitimate and profound issues are at hand — with an urgent need to concentrate on blocking the GOP’s legislative agenda — the letter clamoring for a Logan Act investigation of Trump is an instance of counterproductive partisan zeal run amuck.

The idea that a U.S. citizen — whether Donald Trump, Jesse Jackson or anyone else — does not have a right to dialogue with officials of foreign governments is pernicious and undemocratic. We should assert that right, no matter who is in the Oval Office.

While some members of Congress are indignant that Trump’s actions “directly contravene and undermine official positions of the United States government,” the history of U.S. foreign policy warns against automatic deference to official U.S. positions. Citizens have often been wise when they sought to contravene and undermine the U.S. government’s positions.

Today, entrenched forces in Washington remain committed to foreign policies more in line with what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism” than the statecraft of real diplomacy. Citizens should push back against officials at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue who cite the Logan Act as an argument for conformity or use it as a tool for intimidation.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of the online activist group, which has 750,000 members. He is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. [This article first appeared as an opinion article at The Hill at]

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Icing Dissent: Trump Team Tests Repression Waters

On Verge of Trump Era, Republicans Push New Laws to 'Chill Protest' Nationwide

by Nika Knight - Common Dreams

January 19, 2017

Republican legislators are proposing laws that would criminalize nonviolent protest in North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Washington, and Iowa

Republican lawmakers around the country are pushing legislation that would criminalize and penalize nonviolent protest, apparently anticipating an upswell of civic engagement during the coming Trump administration.

Spencer Woodman reported at The Intercept Thursday on the anti-protest bills proposed in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, and North Dakota.

"Over the past few weeks, Republican legislators across the country have quietly introduced a number of proposals to criminalize and discourage peaceful protest," Woodman wrote.

Among a swath of bills proposed in North Dakota that would allow police to crack down further on public protests, the state legislature put forth one that would legalize running over protesters, as Common Dreams reported.

It appears GOP lawmakers in other states are thinking similarly.

Woodman summarizes:

In Minnesota, a bill introduced by Republicans last week seeks to dramatically stiffen fines for freeway protests and would allow prosecutors to seek a full year of jail time for protesters blocking a highway. Republicans in Washington state have proposed a plan to reclassify as a felony civil disobedience protests that are deemed "economic terrorism." Republicans in Michigan introduced and then last month shelved an anti-picketing law that would increase penalties against protestors and would make it easier for businesses to sue individual protestors for their actions. And in Iowa a Republican lawmaker has pledged to introduce legislation to crack down on highway protests.

"This trend of anti-protest legislation dressed up as 'obstruction' bills is deeply troubling," Lee Rowland, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told Woodman.

"A law that would allow the state to charge a protester $10,000 for stepping in the wrong place, or encourage a driver to get away with manslaughter because the victim was protesting, is about one thing: chilling protest," Woodman added.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Passion of the Chrystia: Freeland's Conversion on the Road to Davos

Canada's New Foreign Affairs Minister is on 2014 Russia Travel Ban List

by Roger Annis - New Cold War

Jan 11, 2017

Canada’s new, right-wing and pro-globalization minister of foreign affairs, Chrystia Freeland, is one of 13 pro-Ukraine coup extremists who are banned by the Russian government from travel to Russia as of March 2014. The ban measure nearly three years ago was a retaliatory measure against the decision of the Canadian government then led by Stephen Harper to join economic and political sanctions against Russia and Crimea that were levied by the United States and the European Union.
Image: Joseph Morris, Flickr

The U.S. and EU sanctions were enacted in retaliation against the Crimean people for conducting a referendum on March 15, 2014 on whether they wished to end the non-consensual affiliation of Crimea to Ukraine that was imposed by the leaders of the Soviet Union in 1954.

The referendum question asked if the Crimean people wished to secede from Ukraine and join (rejoin) the Russian Federation. It passed overwhelmingly. But rather comically, the NATO and EU countries stand by the 1954 decision of leaders of the Soviet Union.

The anti-Russia, pro-right wing Ukraine sanctions imposed by the Harper government in March 2014 and since then are still supported by all the parties in the Canadian parliament. Also supported unanimously is the Harper government’s 2014 decision, ongoing, to dispatch Canadian soldiers to train the Ukrainian army and extremist paramilitaries waging civil war in the east of the country.

Canada’s elected Parliamentarians unanimously supported the provocative move by the NATO military alliance in 2016 to establish four permanent ‘combat brigades’ along the Russian border in Poland and the Baltic states. Canada is leading the NATO brigade being established in Latvia.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked on January 10 how Freeland would conduct relations with Russia while banned from travel to there. He said, “As to how she gets along with Russia, well, she speaks fluent Russian.

“We continue to stand strongly with Ukraine and… continue to condemn in no uncertain terms the illegitimate and illegal actions of the Russians in Ukraine, in the Donbass and Crimea.”

Maria Zaharova, spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, told CBC News on January 11 that the original Russian travel sanctions were a “countermeasure” in response to those Canada imposed on Russia. “Withdrawing her from the list is an issue of reciprocity, mirror-like,” Zaharova told CBC, adding that nothing prevents Freeland from meeting with Russian officials outside Russia.

“We are ready to co-operate and to improve relations with Canada,” she said. “We are ready to normalize relations with Canada.”

Of the 13 Canadians banned in March 2014, seven were ministers and other elected members of Parliament of the governing Conservatives, two were advisors to Harper and three were opposition MPs–Irwin Cotler and Chrystia Freeland from the Liberal Party and Paul Dewar from the New Democratic Party. (News story here.) The 13th person is Paul Grod, president of the extreme-right Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

The sanctions against Russia stem from the Russian government’s decision to recognize the democratic legitimacy of the Crimea referendum and accept Crimea into the federation. Today, two Crimean entities are affiliated to the Russian Federation: the Republic of Crimea and the Federal City of Sevastopol. The Russian Federation is divided into 85 republics and other constituents, including three federal cities–Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sevastopol.

Chrystia Freeland has been one of the most vocal extremists in Canada in support of the civil war being waged by the governing regime in eastern Ukraine. At the time of her banning from travel to Russia, she tweeted

“Love Russ lang/culture, loved my yrs in Moscow; but it’s an honour to be on Putin’s sanction list, esp in company of friends Cotler & Grod.”

Freeland has written frequent anti-Russia screeds in support of the Ukrainian government. Here are two of them, published not long before she became Canada’s Minister of International Trade following her Liberal Party’s election victory in October 2015: What does Putin want?, Jan 2015; and, The real fight in Ukraine, July 2015.

Freeland as key proponent of globalized capitalism

As part of the cabinet shuffle which assigned Freeland to foreign affairs, she will retain responsibility for existing trade agreements with the United States, including the 1994 North American Free Trade Pact.

Freeland was much in the news earlier this year when as minister of international trade, she tried to steer through a Canada-EU ‘free trade’ (unrestricted investment) deal with the countries of the European Union called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. The deal initially failed when the Wallonia region of Belgium rejected it, but subsequent arm-twisting by the EU and the Belgian government against the region saw Wallonia capitulate. The deal now awaits approval by the EU Parliament.

Canada’s capitalist class is worried that the Donald Trump presidency might affect their privileged access to the United States market as well as investment decisions in Canada by U.S. capitalists. This article in The Globe and Mail analyzes prospects for the auto assembly industry, by far the most important manufacturing industry in the province of Ontario. Some 110,000 workers are directly employed in auto and truck assembly and parts manufacture.

According to the Globe, more than $60-billion (Canadian) worth of cars and trucks assembled in Ontario are sold annually in the U.S.

U.S. and Japanese carmakers have invested disproportionately in manufacture in Ontario for the purpose of export into the U.S. because of the typically low (favorable) exchange rate of the Canadian dollar and because unlike in the United States, a large part of the the health care costs for auto industry employees is covered by Canada’s state-operated health care industry.

But Canada continues to lose place to Mexico. Canada is the tenth largest auto assembly country in the world; Mexico now sits at number seven. Canada’s share of North American vehicle assembly has dropped from 16 per cent in 1993 to 13 per cent in 2016, while Mexico’s share has grown during the same period from eight per cent to 22 per cent (Globe and Mail).

New motor vehicle sales (cars and trucks) in Canada in 2015 were 1.94 million, of which 78 per cent were manufactured in North America. About 2.3 million vehicles were manufactured in Canada that year.

A lengthy article on Chrystia Freeland’s past business and political career was published by Moscow-based writer John Helmer in November 2015 (here). Her meetings with Donald Trump or his billionaire cabinet members should be interesting: in 2012, she published a book titled ‘Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else’.

Chrystia Freeland has traveled a long way since publication of her 2012 book. She is a vociferous proponent in favour of expanded, unfettered, globalized capitalism, so-called free trade.

Related news:
 Freeland’s promotion a ‘very, very bold move’ in Canada-Russia relations, news article published by Canada’s anti-Russia, state-run broadcaster CBC, Jan 11, 2017

Chrystia Freeland and the plutocrats, by Konrad Yakabuski, columnist, Globe and Mail, Jan 11, 2017

This month last year, Chrystia Freeland was with her boss in Davos. The Swiss resort and site of the World Economic Forum, Ms. Freeland once wrote, is where the globe’s plutocrats go to “figure out their party line.” The onetime chronicler of the superrich had always seemed unusually at ease among the 0.1 per cent she claimed to criticize. By last year, as a key player in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet, she seemed utterly in her element among them.

After the event, Ms. Freeland posted photos on her website of her with George Soros and Richard Branson…

The Future of Now: Close Shaves for Modi's Demonetised Indians

Modis Operandi: When India went ‘Keshless’

by Satya Sagar - Pacific Free Press

January 18, 2017

Much later, historians in the 22nd Century would call it a ‘close shave’ for Indian democracy and a ‘hair razing’ experience for millions of citizens. And yet, when it happened real-time - everyone was simply lost for words.

The year was 2018 and in an emotional address on primetime TV, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had exhorted his countrymen to part with all their hair to ‘Save the Nation’. There was simply no precedent, in all of world history, for such a ‘barber-ous’ policy.

Cultivation or possession of black hair by Indian citizens had been made a criminal offence, punishable by up to 7 years in prison. Everyone would have to deposit their dark locks at specially designated centres, that would be open 10 AM to 5 PM on all days (except Tuesdays and national holidays).

The Hair Bank of India (HBI), set up to regulate all hair circulating in the country, explained only black hair from citizens above the age of 16 years would be confiscated by the state. All others could chill and let their hair down – nothing to worry at all (till the next bizarre Message to the Nation). The HBI would not disclose however, how much hair was already in their possession when the policy was declared, citing possible ‘threat to their lives’.

The new rules were in fact announced on 8 November 2018 – exactly two years after Modi’s shocking demonetisation decree - that had plunged the entire Indian economy into crisis, brought business to a halt and thrown millions out of jobs. There was already much misery in the nation, when Modi took to the airwaves.

“Mitron! Brothers and Sisters! We need every patriotic Indian to sacrifice their black hair to strike terrorism at its very roots” he said, not bothering to explain the connection between the first and second part of the sentence. Later one of his ministers explained the two were linked as ‘surgical’ skills were required to accomplish both tasks.

The constant use of theatre, along with such dubious logic, had become a trademark Narendra Modi strategy the Indian public was quite familiar with by now. In fact so much so, the method - dubbed ‘Modis Operandi’ - was already being taught in top business schools around the country and even abroad.

Modi bhakts believed this contribution alone entitled their leader to a Nobel Prize – in any field - economics, medicine, physics, peace whatever, as long as it was a real Nobel Prize (like the one given to ‘Barrack’).

Further, according to them, Modi was the greatest thinker India had ever produced since Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU). This man DDU, who Modi considered his political mentor, was famous for Earth-shattering wisdom like, “Ask not what your country can do for YOU, Ask what your country can DO to other countries!” or “Give me your blood, sweat and tears and I will give you FREE counselling on character building”.

It was not long before the HBI started issuing a series of amendments to the original order. One clarification said union cabinet ministers, holy men, RSS members above the rank of shakha pramukhs and movie stars were exempted from provisions of the new policy. Subsequently the agency excluded petrol pump owners, Marathi theatre personalities and the children/relatives of Bal Thackeray also – the last being justified by the claim that taking the ‘Bal’ out of a Thackeray could result in sudden death.

Being very obedient citizens thousands of Indians stood for long hours in the sun, waiting in queues to have their hair taken away – only to be disappointed when saloons turned them away. The government it seems had failed to ensure adequate supply of blades and sharp knives (these had already been allocated for use in the state assembly elections by the ruling party).

They were nevertheless very happy standing in queues, simply because – like with the Indian caste system- no matter how far behind you were, there was always some bloke who arrived a little later than you did. And after all, as DDU once said “Happiness lies in measuring the misery of thy neighbour”.

Many Indians however, did muster enough courage to say on television the policy was ‘good for the country’ but ‘poorly implemented’. What they said privately of course cannot be printed or circulated on social media – as that may lead to charges of sedition and make this article unfit for children to read.

Interestingly, some Indians even argued strongly in favour of the government’s idiotic move, claiming that Modi was cleverly diverting attention from real issues such as poverty, joblessness and ecological disaster. Acknowledging these, they said, might ‘alert the enemy’ to the nation’s vulnerabilities. This was, in other words, a major psyops program meant to make foes scratch their heads while Indians patted their own bald ones.

The suave and smooth-talking Indian Finance Minister said that Indians, minus the burden of hair, would be now much more relaxed and lighter. This could enable India to move faster and get ahead of the rest of the world. As everything in the universe was circular, by going very far ahead he claimed the country would actually return to its ‘Golden Hindu Past’.

Not surprisingly, there were also ‘anti-national’ sections of the population, who tried to subvert the new law’s noble objectives by any means. The Indian spirit of ‘jugaad’ – which basically means paying scant respect to both the Indian Penal Code and the laws of Nature - was on full display.

Many converted their black hair into white easily, using a variety of creams and lotions sold by a yoga guru – who advised the public to stand on their heads to avoid detection by the police in case his products did not work.

In the meanwhile - as people started asking whether Shaving the Nation was really the same as Saving the Nation - several conspiracy theories emerged. One was that a bunch of scientists, at a secret lab in the United States, had found a way of converting human hair into an extremely sought-after mineral used in the electronics and mobile phone industries. The Indian government’s move, it was believed, was to sell all the hair they could lay their scissors on to global buyers, to pay off India’s foreign debts.

“Yes, Indian citizens will be physically deficit because of our policy, but this will surely help reduce the country’s fiscal deficit” said a portly, balding ruling party spokesman with big eyes, on a TV talk show.

Government propaganda painted the vision of a future India where energy would be abundant – thanks to solar rays reflected from a billion plus shining Indian heads. ‘Give me HAIR and I will take you THERE!’ was the new Modi mantra, promoted everywhere by state agencies.

The hyper-patriotic media ran silly stories about how India would now definitely become the world’s biggest superpower since Indians had more facial and body hair than the Chinese, who despite their larger population had less to harvest.

It was somewhere in the middle of these completely nonsensical happenings that the big story broke – a small Gujarati newspaper had finally cracked the truth behind the regime’s ‘war on black hair’.

According to the Surat-based newspaper, the entire policy of confiscating the nation’s treasure of black hair was born out of linguistic confusion over the term ‘cashless’. It seems, given the number of Gujaratis in top government positions, at some point, they had started referring to it as ‘keshless’. For long it was just a little joke circulating within the top echelons of power.

Later, when the ‘cashless economy’ idea proved an obvious failure, top bureaucrats convinced Mr Modi to quietly shift the goalpost and call for a ‘keshless economy’ instead. The focus of attack would not be black ‘cash’ but black ‘kesh’ , which was the only thing of any value left with most Indians anyway.

The final push came when the idea was backed by a little-known, conservative think tank, which claimed Brahmins like Chanakya in ancient India had achieved wisdom and power by shearing hair, while ordinary mortals wasted time decorating their mane.

Modi liked the concept for purely political reasons. Since his rivals were much younger than him – the move would keep them busy guarding their black wealth - while he romped home to victory in the next general elections.

The Gujarati billionaire, who pushed the idea of demonetisation back in 2016 to boost his digital money business, was not very amused though. He apparently told Modi, “Oh tari !! Mein cashless kidhu tu, keshless nai.. babuchak !” or “What the hell! I said 'cashless' not 'keshless' you idiot!”

Modi’s response, according to very lowly placed sources, went something like this: "Listen, what the public really wants in this country is a 'Mukeshless Economy' and I am desperately trying to keep them distracted with various strategies. You are the idiot and an ungrateful one too".

Satya Sagar is a journalist and public health worker who can be reached at This article was written in response to Mr Modi’s statement in Chennai recently, at a memorial for the late Cho Ramaswamy, about the importance of ‘humour and satire’. He asked for it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Summary Instruction: How Israel Executes Its Palestinian Policy

The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel

by Ramzy Baroud  -

January 17, 2017

For some, the ‘manslaughter’ conviction - following the murder by Israeli army medic, Elor Azaria, of already incapacitated Palestinian man, Fattah al-Sharif - is finally settling a protracted debate regarding where Israelis stand on Palestinian human rights.

Nearly 70 percent of the Israeli public supports calls to pardon the convicted soldier, who is largely perceived among Israelis as the "child of us all."

Israeli leaders are also lining up to lend their support to Azaria and his family. These sympathetic politicians include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and ministers Naftali Bennett and Miri Regev, among others. Leading opposition leaders are also on board.

Pro-Israeli pundits, who never miss an opportunity to highlight Israel's supposed moral ascendency took to social media, describing how the indictment further demonstrates that Israel is still a country of law and order.

They seem to conveniently overlook palpable facts. Reporting on the verdict, ‘The Times of Israel’, for example, wrote that "last time an IDF soldier was convicted of manslaughter was in 2005, for the killing of British civilian Tom Hurndall two years earlier."

Between these dates, and years prior, thousands of Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip alone, mostly in the Israeli wars of 2008-9, 2012 and 2014. Although thousands of children and civilians were killed and wounded in Gaza and the rest of the Occupied Territories and, despite international outcries against Israel's violations of international law, there is yet to be a single conviction in Israeli courts.

But why is it that some commentators suggest that the Azaria trial and the show of unity around his cause by Israeli society is an indication of some massive change underway in Israel?

Yoav Litvin, for example, argues in ‘TeleSur’ that the "precedent set by this case will further solidify the complete dehumanization of Palestinians and pave the way for further ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Occupied Palestinian Territories."

In an article, entitled: "Like Brexit and Trump, Azaria verdict exposes a moment of transition in Israel", Jonathan Cook also eluded to a similar idea. “The soldier’s trial, far from proof of the rule of law, was the last gasp of a dying order,” he wrote.

Neither Litvin nor Cook are suggesting that the supposed change in Israel is substantive but an important change, nonetheless.

But if the past and the present are one and the same, where is the 'transition', then?

The creation of Israel atop the ruins of Palestine, the ethnic cleansing that made Israel’s ‘independence’ possible, the subsequent wars, occupation and sieges are all devoid of any morality.

Indeed, Israel was established with the idea in mind that a "Jewish state" is possible without the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian Arabs.

In a letter to his son in 1937, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister after the country’s establishment in 1948, wrote: "We must expel the Arabs and take their places and if we have to use force, to guarantee our own right to settle in those places ­ then we have force at our disposal."

In the year that Israel was established, the United Nations defined genocide in Article 2 of the ‘Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’, as follows:

"Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.."

In other words, there is nothing new here since the ‘mainstreaming of genocide’ in Israel took place before and during the founding of the country, and ever since.

Fortunately, some Israeli leaders were quite candid about the crimes of that era.

"Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist," former Israeli leaders, Moshe Dayan said while addressing the Technion as reported in ‘Haaretz’ on April 4, 1969. “There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”

But throughout these years, Israel has managed to sustain a balancing act, generating two alternate realities: a material one, in which violence is meted out against Palestinians on a regular basis, and a perceptual one, that of a media image through which Israel is presented to the world as a 'villa in the jungle', governed by democratic laws, which makes it superior to its neighbors in every possible way.

Former Israeli President, Moshe Katsav, demonstrate the latter point best. "There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies," he was quoted in the ‘Jerusalem Post’ on May 10. 2001. “They are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy."

In fact, Israeli commentators on the Left often reminisce about the 'good old days', before extremists ruled Israel and rightwing parties reigned supreme.

A particular memory that is often invoked was the mass protest in Tel Aviv to the Israeli-engineered Sabra and Shatila massacres of Palestinian refugees in South Lebanon in 1982.

Protesters demanded the resignations of then-Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, and his Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon. Both men were accused of allowing the massacres of Palestinians by Christian Phalange to take place. An Israeli commission of investigation found Israel guilty of 'indirect responsibility', further contributing to the myth that Israel's guilt lies in the fact that it allowed Christians to kill Muslims, as Sharon complained in his biography, years later.

At the time, it did not occur to Israeli protesters as odd the fact that Begin, himself, was the wanted leader of a terrorist gang before Israel's founding and that Sharon was accused of orchestrated many other massacres.

Many in Israeli and western media spoke highly of the moral uprightness of Israeli society. Palestinians were baffled by Israel's ability to carry out war crimes and to emerge in a positive light, regardless.

"Goyim kill Goyim and the Jews are blamed," Begin had then complained with a subtle reference to what he perceived as a form of anti-Semitism. Aside from Sabra and Shatila, tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians were killed in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

Historical fact shows that Israel is not experiencing a real transition, but what is truly faltering is Israel’s balancing act: its ability to perpetrate individual and collective acts of violence and still paint an image of itself as law-abiding and democratic.

Zionist leaders of the past had played the game too well and for far too long, but things are finally being exposed for what they really are, thanks to the fact that Jewish settlers now rule the country, control the army, have growing influence over the media and, therefore, define the Israeli course and PR image.

“This new army (of settlers) is no longer even minimally restrained by concerns about the army’s ‘moral’ image or threats of international war crimes investigations,” wrote Cook.

And with that new-found ‘freedom’, the world is able to see Israel as it is. The balancing act is finally over.

- Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Douglas Gook, John Helmer, Janine Bandcroft January 18, 2017

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

January 18, 2017

Life has been anything but routine for the BC interior residents of Hazeltine Creek, Polley Lake, and Quesnel Lake. On August 4th, 2014 the Imperial Metals mine tailings dam burst, sending an estimated 25 million cubic metres of extractive process contaminated sludge and heavy metals-laden toxins into the local watershed.

In what was deemed at the time the biggest spill of its kind into the environment of all time, the chemical impacts of the Mt. Polley Mine spill disaster made Imperial Metals, according to the National Pollutant Release Inventory, "the largest emitter of copper, arsenic and manganese in Canadian waters in 2014."

But, nearly two and half years after the fact, the governments charged with crafting and enforcing laws to protect the people and places of this Canada are yet to lay charges in enforcement of those laws regarding Imperial Metals.

Listen. Hear.

It's fallen instead to MiningWatch Canada, the "[P]an-Canadian initiative supported by environmental, social justice, Indigenous and labour organisations from across the country" to launch a private prosecution. This past week, the federal government tried to torpedo that launch before it left the dock, moving to stay the case and prevent MiningWatch entering evidence.

Douglas Gook is a Quesnel-based ecology activist who's focused on Eco forestry alternatives in the woods there and beyond for more than forty years. He leads Forest Protection Allies, one of the many environmental organizations pressuring government to get effective cleanup processes going, and appropriate compensation for those effected by the Mt. Polley Mine disaster put in place. He attended the gallery in the MiningWatch case Friday, and was there when the federal government's stunning motion to the court was read.

Douglas Gook in the first half.

And; with mere days left before the inauguration of Donald Trump as America's 45th president, governments around the World are frantically arranging and rearranging ministries and departments in preparation of a new era in their US relations. Canada is no exception, but where most other countries are moving to align themselves more harmoniously with perceived Trump values, Ottawa appears to be taking the novel approach of charting a 180 degree course in the opposite direction. At least, this is how the elevation of the famously Russophobic Chrystia Freeland is being interpreted in some quarters.

John Helmer is a long-time, Moscow-based journalist, author, and essayist; the only one, his site, Dances with Bears informs “to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties.” He’s a former political science professor who's served as an advisor to the governments of Greece, the U.S., and in Asia where he regularly lectures on Russian topics. His book titles include: ‘Uncovering Russia,’ ‘Urbanman: The Psychology of Urban Survival,’ ‘Bringing the War Home: The American Soldier in Vietnam and After,’ and ‘Drugs and Minority Oppression’ among others.

John's latest article, 'Chrystia Freeland is the Body Double - Canada Plays Hillary Clinton Card at Russia; Kremlin Suspects Putsch Against Justin Trudeau' examines the meteoric rise to power of Canada's newest Minister of Foreign Affairs.

John Helmer and Anatomy of a Canadian Coup in the second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us news of some of the good things scheduled for the coming week on and beyond the streets of our city. But first, Douglas Gook and the federal government's attempt to stay the toxic flow of information on the Mt. Polley mining spill disaster.

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Trumping NAFTA? US Trade with Canada after Donald

US border tax aimed squarely at Canada

by Peter Ewart - 250 News

January 16, 2017

There has been much furor and controversy over the last while about president-elect Donald Trump’s threat to penalize any US company that attempts to move operations to another country. Now we have learned on Friday, January 13th that Trump’s threat also applies to auto companies moving some or all of their operations to Canada. This will be part of a “border adjustment tax” applied to auto products imported into the US.

Sean Spicer, spokesman for Donald Trump, stated that,

“’When a company that’s in the U.S. moves to a place, whether it’s Canada or Mexico, and any other country seeking to put U.S. workers at a disadvantage’, then the incoming U.S. president ‘is going to do everything he can to deter that’.” (1)

Presumably, this penalty will apply to other Canadian industries not just auto. What would be the result of this new policy? After all, many Canadian companies in different industrial sectors have operations in the US, and many US companies have operations in Canada. And some companies are “North American” in their scope. Aside from all the chaos this penalty will cause, the outcome would be a strong tendency for industrial and manufacturing operations in Canada to drastically decline over time and those in the US to increase (at Canada’s expense).

Indeed, the same threat has been applied to Mexico and is already having an effect. For example, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has frankly stated that the company may end all operations in Mexico if the Trump tariffs are too high and, instead, keep production in the US. Canada now faces exactly the same threat.

This, of course, fits in with former US senator Rick Santorum’s recent comment that,

“We (the US) are going to be aggressively going after jobs that are high tech and other types of manufacturing jobs and a lot of those are up in Canada.” (2)

It was always a deception that so-called “free trade” actually existed between Canada and the US, as evidenced by the longstanding Softwood Lumber dispute. In fact, like the other side of a coin, protectionism was always there. The difference now is that Trump is dramatically ramping up the protectionist side.

All of this calls into question Canada’s trading relationship with the US, including the original Free Trade Agreement as well as NAFTA. It also exposes the “North American project” of continentalism, i.e. putting Canada under US economic, political and military domination, as a trap and a disaster for Canada.

The Trump administration is threatening both Canada and Mexico with the tearing up of NAFTA unless it gets its way. It’s time for Canada to call Trump’s bluff. We need to move towards a more self-reliant economy and seek trade arrangements based on mutual benefit. That means we need our own nation-building project, one that is not hopelessly entangled with an increasingly erratic and aggressive US.

Peter Ewart is a columnist and writer based in Prince George, British Columbia. He can be reached at:


1) Olorunnipa, Toluse. “Trump team signals auto border tax could also hit Canada.” January 13, 2017.
2) Ewart, Peter. “Will the Trump administration view Canada as its 21st Century colony?” 250 News. November 21, 2016.

Arming Up on the Way Out: Obama's Grenade Over the Shoulder for Syria

Obama and Congress Just Made it Easier For Trump to Arm Syrian Rebels


January 16, 2017

Anti-aircraft weapons sent to vetted moderate rebels could end up in the hands of extremist groups as many work in coalition together, says journalist Ben Norton.

Ocean Desertification: A Bad Year for Sea Life

Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life

by Robert Hunziker  - CounterPunch

January 16, 2017

The waters of the Pacific off the California coast are transparently clear. Problem is: Clear water is a sign that the ocean is turning into desert, (Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA). From Alaska to Central America, and beyond, sea life has been devastated over the past three years like never before. Is it Fukushima, or nature running its own course, or some kind of perverse wrath emanating from global warming? For a hint, scientists refer to the lethal ocean warming over the past few years as “the Warm Blob.”
Photo NASA/Kathryn Hansen | CC BY 2.0 

After all, global warming hits the ocean much, much harder than land. Up to 90% of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming is absorbed by the ocean, which is fortuitous for humans. Just imagine the chaos if the situation were reversed: Mobs of regular ole people morphing into maddened gangs striving for food, huddled in far northern latitudes while Mid America scorches brittle crops in sandy soil, a dystopian lifestyle.

“Upper ocean heat content has increased significantly over the past two decades” (Source: Climate Change: Ocean Heat Content, NOAA,, July 14, 2015). More than 3,000 Argo floats strategically positioned worldwide measure ocean temps every 10 days.

Scientists classify the Warm Blob phenomenon as “multi-year ocean heat waves,” with temperatures 7° F above normal and up to 10°F above normal in extreme cases. How would humans handle temperatures, on average, 7° to 10°F above normal? There’d be mass migrations from Florida to Alaska, for sure. As it happens, sea animals do not do well. They die in unbelievably massive numbers; all across the ocean… the animal die-offs are unprecedented. Scientists are stunned!

After years of horrendous worldwide sea animal die-offs, 2016 was a banner year. Is this out of the ordinary? Sadly, the answer is: Yes.

The numbers are simply staggering, not just in the Pacific, but around the world, e.g., the following is but a partial list during only one month (December 2016): Tens of thousands of dead starfish beached in Netherlands; 6,000 dead fish in Maryland waterway; 10 tons of dead fish in Brazilian river; tens of thousands of dead fish wash up on Cornwall, England beach; schools of dead herring in Nova Scotia; 100 tons of fish suddenly dead in Indonesia; massive fish deaths ‘state of calamity’ in Philippines; thousands of dead crayfish float down river in New Zealand; masses of dead starfish, crabs, and fish wash ashore in Nova Scotia, and there are more and more….

In fact, entire articles are written about specific areas of massive die offs, for example: “Why Are Chilean Beaches Covered With Dead Animals?”, May 4, 2016. Chilean health officials had to resort to heavy machinery to remove 10,000 dead rotting squid from coastlines earlier in the 2016 year. Over 300 whale carcasses hit the beaches and 8,000 tons of sardines and 12% of the annual salmon catch… all found dead on beaches, to name only a few! You’ve gotta wonder why?

According to Nate Mantua, research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz, California:

“One of the things that is clear is there’s a lot of variation from year to year along the Pacific Coast, and some of that is tied into natural patterns, like El Niño,’ Mantua said. ‘But what we saw in 2014, ‘15 and the first part of ‘16 was warmer than anything we’ve seen in our historical records, going back about 100 years” (Mary Callahan, Year in Review: Ocean Changes Upend North Coast Fisheries, The Press Democrat, Dec. 25, 2016).

Fishermen bitterly claim the ocean is changing like never before. Meanwhile, scientists study those weird changes but do not fully understand the problem. Unfortunately, the general public does not see changes hidden within water; otherwise, they, the general public, might organize and demand their politicians in Washington, D.C. fight climate change/global warming. According to John Largier, professor of coastal oceanography at UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, “Climate change syndrome is definitely having an impact,” Ibid.

As it happens, the world climate system is interconnected, interwoven such that climatic stress originated at sea spills onto land, e.g., the Warm Blob was first observed and linked to a high-pressure ridge stationed over the north Pacific in 2011. This ridge diverted winter storms, thereby exacerbating California’s drought meanwhile weakening winds that ordinarily absorb ocean heat and stir up the cold water necessary for immensely productive Northern Coast breeding grounds for marine wildlife.

Morosely, too-warm ocean water serves as breeding ground for the infamous deadly “red tide,” a bloom of single-celled organism that thrives in warmer waters, producing a neurotoxin called domoic acid, resulting in enormous numbers of sea lion fatalities and massive destruction of Dungeness crab fisheries and all kinds of other trouble.

Too-warm water also contributes to the collapse of bull kelp forests, which are the ocean’s equivalent of the tropical rain forest; meanwhile, purple urchins thrive and multiply in explosive fashion in the poisonous environment, devouring remaining plant life. Thereby, out-competing hapless red abalone, the shellfish that people love.

Collapsing food chains are evident up and down the Pacific Coast earmarked by large die offs of Cassin Auklets, a tiny seabird, as well as massive numbers of Common Murres. The sea lions and fur seals suffer from starvation and domoic acid poisoning. In early 2013 scientists declared the sea lion die-off an “unusual mortality event.”

Nursing sea lion mothers are unable to find enough forage like sardines and anchovies. Pups, searching for food, strand on beaches filled with curious sunbathers with a natural proclivity to cuddle the hapless cuties that could easily result in fierce attacks. As it happens, lifeguards run along sandy beaches warning beachcombers beware!

Still, wildlife die-offs are an ancient phenomenon, mentioned by Aristotle in his Historia Animalium (4th Century B.C.). In the U.S. in 1884, hundreds of tons of dead fish bellied up in lakes around Madison, Wisconsin. This knowledge of the past gives one pause when considering whether an all-out alarm is warranted this time around. After all, isn’t it nature’s way?

No, this time it is different, much different. The all-out alarm is warranted with bells clanging! Yes, of course part of nature’s cycle over the eons involves wildlife die-offs. That’s nature, but nowadays nature is out-of-whack! Ring the bells; blast the sirens!

As published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Recent Shifts in the Occurrence, Cause, and Magnitude of Animal Mass Events, Vol. 112, no. 4, Aug. 5, 2014) it was found that worldwide animal die-offs are increasing in both number and magnitude, even after statistically correcting for the fact that mass deaths are now more likely to be documented than in the past.

“Every biologist I spoke with who is researching mass-mortality events said that many wildlife die-offs today really could be signals of serious problems with the ecological fundamentals of the planet” (Source: J.B. MacKinnon, On Animal Deaths and Human Anxieties, The New Yorker, April 21, 2015). That is the worst possible news you can ever hear.

As for only one example amongst many, the typical number of bird deaths per reported die-off was about 100 in the 1940s. Today it is 10,000 and reported much more frequently than 75 years ago.

Bottom line, the ecosystem is under fierce attack, and it is real, very real indeed with too much global warming, too much ag runoff, too much heavy-duty massive overfishing, likely too much nuclear radiation, and deadly acidification caused by excessive CO2 concentrations (already damaging pteropods at the base of the marine food chain) as the ocean absorbs anthropogenic CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, similar to the upper atmospheric conundrum where 400+ ppm of CO2 (anything over 350 ppm leads to serious planetary trouble over time) is already heating up the planet as the ocean absorbs 90% of that heat. Thank your lucky stars for that… but only transitorily!

As stated by the Environmental Defense Fund: “Oceans are at the Brink”- For decades, the ocean has been absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) dumped into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. It has absorbed a lot of the extra heat produced by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. But even the ocean has limits!

Going forward, how will the Trump administration confront this messy, possibly fatal and very complex situation, since fossil fuels are the main driver behind climate change/global warming?

Will the Trump administration initiate a nationwide renewable energy plan, similar to Communist China? Accordingly: (Michael Forsythe, China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020, New York Times, January 5, 2017)
Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at

More articles by:Robert Hunziker

Chrystia Freeland and What the Stéphane Dion Ouster Means for Canadian Foreign Policy

Chrystia Freeland is the Body Double - Canada Plays Hillary Clinton Card at Russia; Kremlin Suspects Putsch Against Justin Trudeau

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears

January 16, 2017

Moscow - Chrystia Freeland, a leading figure in the Ukrainian and Canadian campaigns against Russia, was promoted last week in Ottawa to become Canada’s foreign minister. She is now one step away in her plan to replace Justin Trudeau as prime minister, sources in Ottawa, Washington, and Moscow report.

There was a hitch in the plan, though. Freeland had been hoping for a senior ministry when Trudeau took power in November 2015. Instead, he gave her the low-ranked international trade portfolio to keep her out of Canada as often as possible. Freeland then counted on Hillary Clinton to win the US presidential election last November, in order to persuade Trudeau she had better relationships in the coming Washington administration than the incumbent foreign minister, Stéphane Dion. The election of Donald Trump, with whom Freeland has no relationship and no agreement either, disappointed but didn’t deter her.

Trudeau has also accepted the Freeland scheme, and also for a Clinton reason. Trudeau will be safer in the prime ministry, Ottawa sources believe, if Freeland follows the Clinton role model into public acrimony, private hysteria, then defeat.

The usually dignified Dion departed his office last week, not by saying he wished Freeland well, but that he wished her luck. He meant Freeland, whom he blamed along with Trudeau for his abrupt ouster, would need it.

“For one year”, Dion (right) said, intimating that he had been caught unawares,

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave me the honour of being his Minister of Foreign Affairs. As is his privilege, he has just entrusted this great responsibility to another person. I wish Chrystia the best of luck.” 

Freeland’s supporters crowded into the Canadian media to celebrate. Dion’s supporters say he was ambushed repeatedly during his short tenure, made to take the blame in public for policies decided by others, while being kept away from decisions that were Dion’s prerogative to take, but his rivals pre-empted. This version of Dion’s ambush gives all the credit for the conspiracy to Trudeau. Another Canadian source suggests Trudeau isn’t clever enough, and that more than half the credit for the plot should go to Freeland herself.

In Brussels, sources who report on NATO say that among the military alliance leaders Trudeau’s reputation for low intelligence “approaches, if it doesn’t exceed” that of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister who was NATO secretary-general between 2009 and 2014.

Officially, the Russian reaction to Freeland’s appointment as foreign minister has been as non-committal as  possible.

“We don’t know,” said the ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova on December 12, “what the [Canadian] priorities will be. I think that it is necessary to be guided by specific acts and the specific program which, probably, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada will build. After that, we will comment and, perhaps, take some actions.”

Responding to the fact that the Russian Government announced counter-sanctions against Canada, including a travel ban on Freeland in 2014, Zakharova said:

“I would like to remind everyone that in spite of the fact that many headlines say ‘the Foreign Minister of Canada is included in the Russian sanctions lists’, the situation is a little not so. [Freeland’s name] was not placed on the sanctions lists as the Foreign Minister of Canada; she was included in the lists in 2014 as a response measure of the Russian side. First came the sanctions lists accepted [from the US] by Canada concerning Russian citizens, including Russian officials. Respectively, the Russian list was retaliation for this action of Canada’s. I think that for the answer to when and under what circumstances people [like Freeland] can be removed from this list, it is necessary to look at the rule of reciprocity.”

For the current lists of Canadian sanctions against Russia, click to open.

Freeland reacted swiftly, announcing on the government television network CBC, “we wouldn’t look at lifting sanctions. The sanctions were imposed by the previous government but with strong support from us in opposition in response to very clear violations of international law by Russia with the invasion and annexation of Crimea and for a war against Ukraine in the Donbass.”

A year ago, Foreign Minister Seregei Lavrov had said Canadian sanctions were the result of a Russophobic government pushed by “rabid” Ukrainians”.

 “Canada is an influential, respected member of the [community of] international relations. We have had ups and downs in our relations from time to time. We saw such downs in the period of the government of Stephen Harper. The last two years were generally a period of lost opportunities with respect to Canada, when suddenly the previous [Harper] government sharply took a Russophobic line and curtailed bilateral ties, imposed sanctions against Russian individuals and legal entities, suspended cooperation in the intergovernmental commission on trade and economic issues.”
“We were surprised by the complete absence of any pragmatism in those impulsive actions that the previous government made. It took a course with totally blind adherence to the requirement of rabid representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada.”

Lavrov added that Russia was hoping that Trudeau’s takeover from Harper would correct the “mistakes of predecessors.”

In the year which has followed, President Vladimir Putin has almost totally ignored Canada and Trudeau. The Kremlin announced that he had sent greetings to Trudeau on December 30, 2015, and again last month. In the 2015 message Putin had told Trudeau “he expects to see constructive development of Russian-Canadian ties in the coming year in all areas – from trade and the economy to sport, with our traditionally fierce but friendly hockey battles.”

In Putin’s latest message, he added a birthday greeting for Trudeau (born on December 25, 1971), expressing “confidence that the strengthening of bilateral cooperation and the development of partnership in opening up the Arctic and in other fields meet the interests of the both countries’ people.”

During the election campaign of 2015, Trudeau had called for “pushing back against the bully that is Vladimir Putin”. Trudeau also claimed that after the election, when he met Putin at the G20 summit conference in Turkey on November 16 of that year (pictured below), he had “a fairly direct exchange with him where I pointed out that his actions in Ukraine were illegitimate and irresponsible.”

The Russian side says the conversation was brief, and no such statement was made. According to Putin, “the prime minister himself said when we were at G20 in Antalya that he thinks how we should re-establish the relations in full. We welcome this . . . and will get down to this task, to work together.”

Last Friday Freeland told Canadian reporters she had met Putin at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit meeting in Peru last November. This was the first time she had made the disclosure. “I’ve spoken with the top guy in Russia quite recently,” Freeland told her state radio.

“We spoke in Russian and we had quite a long conversation.” The Kremlin records no such conversation took place, a spokesman for the president said, adding:
“Vladimir Putin did not have a meeting with Freeland.”

Unofficially, the Russian assessment – based on contacts with the Foreign Ministry, veteran diplomats, and Russian oligarchs with Canadian business interests — is that Canada is a minor country whose international role-playing is either that of a foil to the US, as when Pierre Trudeau , Justin’s father, was prime minister and opposed the US on the Vietnam War; or the role of a puppet and echo of Washington.

The Russian oligarch connexions have included Roman Abramovich’s attempt at goldmining with Peter Munk, founder of Barrick Gold; Oleg Deripaska’s scheme for acquiring the Opel car company with Frank Stronach of the Magna Corporation; and Alexei Mordashov’s goldmining ventures with Frank Giustra. The contacts have all ended unsuccessfully, as the Russians see it.

From leftt: Peter Munk, Peter Mandelson, then EU commissioner for trade; 
Oleg Deripaska, on ill-fated trip to visit Deripaska’s assets in Siberia.

Their trip was exposed by a London newspaper and subsequent UK court rulings; for details of Munk’s and Deripaska’s scheming, read this.

Russian and Canadian sources also believe Freeland had been plotting Dion’s ouster since the two of them both contended for a senior ministry post in November 2015. Dion won; Freeland lost. Freeland is a bad loser and goes into hysterical rages when crossed, her associates at the Financial Times remember. Hillary Clinton, too — according to US press reports of her behaviour on election night last November, when she reportedly wept, swore, screamed, and was incapable of making the traditional concession speech.

Look carefully again at the official Canadian government photograph of the swearing-in of Trudeau’s first cabinet on November 4, 2015:

That’s Foreign Minister Dion to the right of Freeland, who sits between Dion and the prime minister. In the normal Canadian protocol, Freeland ranked 13th and should have stood in the second row behind Trudeau. Two other economic policymakers who were appointed above Freeland in rank – Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Minister of Economic Development Navdeep Singh Bains were obliged to stand behind her in the second row. Freeland also employed the Nancy Reagan ploy of being the only woman to wear red. For details of Freeland’s first see-red plot, read this.

Freeland’s political scheming has been spelled out by sources who know her and her husband, a New York-based journalist named Graham Bowley who reports mainly on the art market and the troubles of former comedian, Bill Cosby. Bowley also doubles as an expert on Russian cyber-warfare, and on how undemocratic Clinton’s defeat was in November.

Freeland wasn’t exceptional in expecting Clinton to win. Local polls show that 79% of Canadians thought the same. Sources in a position to know claim Freeland had been plotting Dion’s downfall in the expectation that she would appear to be the natural counterparty in Ottawa for Clinton in Washington. Without Clinton to boost Freeland’s further chances for a shot at the Canadian prime ministry, the sources believe Trudeau and his advisors are setting her up to fail with the Trump Administration.

Trudeau’s reading of the domestic polls is that foreign policy issues like the conflict with Russia and the wars in Syria and the Ukraine are of next to no importance to Canadian voters. Legalization of marijuana is more important, according to this poll in mid-December. The Canadian priority is the economy, the poll also reported. Two-thirds of Canadians now think Trudeau’s performance in office is more style than substance. That percentage is up eight points since the government’s one-year anniversary, just over a month ago.

Trudeau’s grip on popularity is misleading, reported the Toronto Sun two weeks ago.

“According to a Nanos-IRPP Mood of Canada survey released this week, just 15% of people rate the performance of the federal Liberal government as ‘very good’, a plunge of 22% in just one year. Overall, 54% of Canadians believe Trudeau and his Liberal government are leading the country in the right direction, down 9% over the same time period. ‘This concept of Justin Trudeau being exceptionally popular is actually empirically untrue because his scores, for example, on the performance of the federal government are very similar to (former Conservative prime minister) Stephen Harper at the same point in Stephen Harper’s mandate,’ Nanos said Wednesday. ‘So I think this survey is a bit of a reality check.’”

Canadian political analysts believe Freeland’s ambition to capitalize as Trudeau weakens will not be advanced by either Trump or Putin. According to one of the sources, “in her frustration, Freeland will make the personality mistakes for which she’s known. Trudeau, having neutralized Freeland’s capacity to do him harm, will then get rid of her, like he has Dion – with the offer of an ambassadorship she will consider beneath her dignity – and her pocketbook.”

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Enemy Ours: Casting Russia as the Next Super Villain

Making Russia ‘The Enemy’

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

December 15, 2016

The rising hysteria about Russia is best understood as fulfilling two needs for Official Washington: the Military Industrial Complex’s transitioning from the “war on terror” to a more lucrative “new cold war” – and blunting the threat that a President Trump poses to the neoconservative/liberal-interventionist foreign-policy establishment.

Wintery scene at Red Square in Moscow, 
Dec. 6, 2016.  (Photo by Robert Parry) 

By hyping the Russian “threat,” the neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks, who include much of the mainstream U.S. news media, can guarantee bigger military budgets from Congress. The hype also sets in motion a blocking maneuver to impinge on any significant change in direction for U.S. foreign policy under Trump.

Some Democrats even hope to stop Trump from ascending to the White House by having the Central Intelligence Agency, in effect, lobby the electors in the Electoral College with scary tales about Russia trying to fix the election for Trump.

The electors meet on Dec. 19 when they will formally cast their votes, supposedly reflecting the judgments of each state’s voters, but conceivably individual electors could switch their ballots from Trump to Hillary Clinton or someone else.

On Thursday, liberal columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. joined the call for electors to flip, writing: “The question is whether Trump, Vladimir Putin and, perhaps, Clinton’s popular-vote advantage give you sufficient reason to blow up the system.”

That Democrats would want the CIA, which is forbidden to operate domestically in part because of its historic role in influencing elections in other countries, to play a similar role in the United States shows how desperate the Democratic Party has become.

And, even though The New York Times and other big news outlets are reporting as flat fact that Russia hacked the Democratic email accounts and gave the information to WikiLeaks, former British Ambassador Craig Murray, a close associate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, told the London Daily Mail that he personally received the email data from a “disgusted” Democrat.

Murray said he flew from London to Washington for a clandestine handoff from one of the email sources in September, receiving the package in a wooded area near American University.

Former British Ambassador Craig Murray

“Neither of [the leaks, from the Democratic National Committee or Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta] came from the Russians,” Murray said, adding:

“the source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.”

Murray said the insider felt “disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.” Murray added that his meeting was with an intermediary for the Democratic leaker, not the leaker directly.

[Update: Murray subsequently said his contact with the intermediary at American University was not for the purpose of obtaining a batch of the purloined emails, as the Daily Mail reported, since WikiLeaks already had them. He said the Mail simply added that detail to the story, but Murray declined to explain why he had the meeting at A.U. with the whistleblower or an associate.]

If Murray’s story is true, it raises several alternative scenarios: that the U.S. intelligence community’s claims about a Russian hack are false; that Russians hacked the Democrats’ emails for their own intelligence gathering without giving the material to WikiLeaks; or that Murray was deceived about the identity of the original leaker.

But the uncertainty creates the possibility that the Democrats are using a dubious CIA assessment to reverse the outcome of an American presidential election, in effect, making the CIA party to a preemptive domestic “regime change.”

Delayed Autopsy

All of this maneuvering also is delaying the Democratic Party’s self-examination into why it lost so many white working-class voters in normally Democratic strongholds, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Rather than national party leaders taking the blame for pre-selecting a very flawed candidate and ignoring all the warning signs about the public’s resistance to this establishment choice, Democrats have pointed fingers at almost everyone else – from FBI Director James Comey for briefly reviving Clinton’s email investigation, to third-party candidates who siphoned off votes, to the archaic Electoral College which negates the fact that Clinton did win the national popular vote – and now to the Russians.

FBI Director James Comey

While there may be some validity to these various complaints, the excessive frenzy that has surrounded the still-unproven claims that the Russian government surreptitiously tilted the election in Trump’s favor creates an especially dangerous dynamic.

On one level, it has led Democrats to support Orwellian/ McCarthyistic concepts, such as establishing “black lists” for Internet sites that question Official Washington’s “conventional wisdom” and thus are deemed purveyors of “Russian propaganda” or “fake news.”

On another level, it cements the Democratic Party as America’s preeminent “war party,” favoring an escalating New Cold War with Russia by ratcheting up economic sanctions against Moscow, and even seeking military challenges to Russia in conflict zones such as Syria and Ukraine.

One of the most dangerous aspects of a prospective Hillary Clinton presidency was that she would have appointed neocons, such as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and her husband, Project for the New American Century co-founder Robert Kagan, to high-level foreign policy positions.

Though that risk may have passed assuming Clinton’s Electoral College defeat on Monday, Democrats now are excitedly joining the bash-Russia movement, making it harder to envision how the party can transition back into its more recent role as the “peace party” (at least relative to the extremely hawkish Republicans).

Trading Places

The potential trading places of the two parties in that regard – with Trump favoring geopolitical détente and the Democrats beating the drums for more military confrontations – augurs poorly for the Democrats regaining their political footing anytime soon.

Red Square in Moscow with a winter festival to the left 
and the Kremlin to the right, on Dec. 6, 2016. 
(Photo by Robert Parry)

If Democratic leaders press ahead, in alliance with neoconservative Republicans, on demands for escalating the New Cold War with Russia, they could precipitate a party split between Democratic hawks and doves, a schism that likely would have occurred if Clinton had been elected but now may happen anyway, albeit without the benefit of the party holding the White House.

The first test of this emerging Democratic-neocon alliance may come over Trump’s choice for Secretary of State, Exxon-Mobil’s chief executive Rex Tillerson, who doesn’t exhibit the visceral hatred of Russian President Vladimir Putin that Democrats are encouraging.

As an international business executive, Tillerson appears to share Trump’s real-politik take on the world, the idea that doing business with rivals makes more sense than conspiring to force “regime change” after “regime change.”

Over the past several decades, the “regime change” approach has been embraced by both neocons and liberal interventionists and has been implemented by both Republican and Democratic administrations. Sometimes, it’s done through war and other times through “color revolutions” – always under the idealistic guise of “democracy promotion” or “protecting human rights.”

But the problem with this neo-imperialist strategy has been that it has failed miserably to improve the lives of the people living in the “regime-changed” countries. Instead, it has spread chaos across wide swaths of the globe and has now even destabilized Europe.

Yet, the solution, as envisioned by the neocons and their liberal-hawk understudies, is simply to force more “regime change” medicine down the throats of the world’s population. The new “great” idea is to destabilize nuclear-armed Russia by making its economy scream and by funding as many anti-Putin elements as possible to create the nucleus for a “color revolution” in Moscow.

To justify that risky scheme, there has been a broad expansion of anti-Russian propaganda now being funded with tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money as well as being pushed by government officials giving off-the-record briefings to mainstream media outlets.

However, as with earlier “regime change” plans, the neocons and liberal hawks never think through the scenario to the end. They always assume that everything is going to work out fine and some well-dressed “opposition leader” who has been to their think-tank conferences will simply ascend to the top job.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on Feb. 7, 2014. (U.S. State Department photo)

Remember, in Iraq, it was going to be Ahmed Chalabi who was beloved in Official Washington but broadly rejected by the Iraqi people. In Libya, there has been a parade of U.S.-approved “unity” leaders who have failed to pull that country together.

In Ukraine, Nuland’s choice – Arseniy “Yats is the guy” Yatsenyuk – resigned amid broad public disapproval earlier this year after pushing through harsh cuts in social programs, even as the U.S.-backed regime officials in Kiev continued to plunder Ukraine’s treasury and misappropriate Western economic aid.

Nuclear-Armed Destabilization

But the notion of destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia is even more hare-brained than those other fiascos. The neocon/liberal-hawk assumption is that Russians – pushed to the brink of starvation by crippling Western sanctions – will overthrow Putin and install a new version of Boris Yeltsin who would then let U.S. financial advisers return with their neoliberal “shock therapy” of the 1990s and again exploit Russia’s vast resources.

Indeed, it was the Yeltsin era and its Western-beloved “shock therapy” that created the desperate conditions before the rise of Putin with his autocratic nationalism, which, for all its faults, has dramatically improved the lives of most Russians.

Bright lights on Red Square, Dec. 6, 2016. 
(Photo by Robert Parry)

So, the more likely result from the neocon/liberal-hawk “regime change” plans for Moscow would be the emergence of someone even more nationalistic – and likely far less stable – than Putin, who is regarded even by his critics as cold and calculating.

The prospect of an extreme Russian nationalist getting his or her hands on the Kremlin’s nuclear codes should send chills up and down the spines of every American, indeed every human being on the planet. But it is the course that key national Democrats appear to be on with their increasingly hysterical comments about Russia.

The Democratic National Committee issued a statement on Wednesday accusing Trump of giving Russia “an early holiday gift that smells like a payoff. … It’s rather easy to connect the dots. Russia meddled in the U.S. election in order to benefit Trump and now he’s repaying Vladimir Putin by nominating Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.”

Besides delaying a desperately needed autopsy on why Democrats did so badly in an election against the also-widely-disliked Donald Trump, the new blame-Russia gambit threatens to hurt the Democrats and their preferred policies in another way.

If Democrats vote in bloc against Tillerson or other Trump foreign-policy nominees – demanding that he appoint people acceptable to the neocons and the liberal hawks – Trump might well be pushed deeper into the arms of right-wing Republicans, giving them more on domestic issues to solidify their support on his foreign-policy goals.

That could end up redounding against the Democrats as they watch important social programs gutted in exchange for their own dubious Democratic alliance with the neocons.

Since the presidency of Bill Clinton, the Democrats have courted factions of the neocons, apparently thinking they are influential because they dominate many mainstream op-ed pages and Washington think tanks. In 1993, as a thank-you gift to the neocon editors of The New Republic for endorsing him, Clinton appointed neocon ideologue James Woolsey as head of the CIA, one of Clinton’s more disastrous personnel decisions.

But the truth appears to be that the neocons have much less influence across the U.S. electoral map than the Clintons think. Arguably, their pandering to a clique of Washington insiders who are viewed as warmongers by many peace-oriented Democrats may even represent a net negative when it comes to winning votes.

I’ve communicated with a number of traditional Democrats who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because they feared she would pursue a dangerous neocon foreign policy. Obviously, that’s not a scientific survey, but the anecdotal evidence suggests that Clinton’s neocon connections could have been another drag on her campaign.

Assessing Russia

I also undertook a limited personal test regarding whether Russia is the police state that U.S. propaganda depicts, a country yearning to break free from the harsh grip of Vladimir Putin (although he registers 80 or so percent approval in polls).

Couple walking along the Kremlin wall, 
Dec. 7, 2016. (Photo by Robert Parry)

During my trip last week to Europe, which included stops in Brussels and Copenhagen, I decided to take a side trip to Moscow, which I had never visited before. What I encountered was an impressive, surprisingly (to me at least) Westernized city with plenty of American and European franchises, including the ubiquitous McDonald’s and Starbucks. (Russians serve the Starbucks gingerbread latte with a small ginger cookie.)

Though senior Russian officials proved unwilling to meet with me, an American reporter, at this time of tensions, Russia had little appearance of a harshly repressive society.

In my years covering U.S. policies in El Salvador in the 1980s and Haiti in the 1990s, I have experienced what police states look and feel like, where death squads dump bodies in the streets. That was not what I sensed in Moscow, just a modern city with people bustling about their business under early December snowfalls.

The police presence in Red Square near the Kremlin was not even as heavy-handed as it is near the government buildings of Washington. Instead, there was a pre-Christmas festive air to the brightly lit Red Square, featuring a large skating rink surrounded by small stands selling hot chocolate, toys, warm clothing and other goods.

Granted, my time and contact with Russians were limited – since I don’t speak Russian and most of them don’t speak English – but I was struck by the contrast between the grim images created by Western media and the Russia that I saw.

It reminded me of how President Ronald Reagan depicted Sandinista-ruled Nicaragua as a “totalitarian dungeon” with a militarized state ready to march on Texas, but what I found when I traveled to Managua was a third-world country still recovering from an earthquake and with a weak security structure despite the Contra war that Reagan had unleashed against Nicaragua.

In other words, “perception management” remains the guiding principle of how the U.S. government deals with the American people, scaring us with exaggerated tales of foreign threats and then manipulating our fears and our misperceptions.

As dangerous as that can be when we’re talking about Nicaragua or Iraq or Libya, the risks are exponentially higher regarding Russia. If the American people are stampeded into a New Cold War based more on myths than reality, the minimal cost could be the trillions of dollars diverted from domestic needs into the Military Industrial Complex. The far-greater cost could be some miscalculation by either side that could end life on the planet.

So, as the Democrats chart their future, they need to decide if they want to leapfrog the Republicans as America’s “war party” or whether they want to pull back from the escalation of tensions with Russia and start addressing the pressing needs of the American people.

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