Torture and Obama's Spare Change

Some Thoughts About Torture. And Mr. Obama.
by William Blum
Okay, at least some things are settled. When George W. Bush said "The United States does not torture", everyone now knows it was crapaganda. And when Barack Obama, a month into his presidency, said "The United States does not torture"1, it likewise had all the credibility of a 19th century treaty between the US government and the American Indians.

When Obama and his followers say, as they do repeatedly, that he has "banned torture", this is a statement they have no right to make. The executive orders concerning torture leave loopholes, such as being applicable only "in any armed conflict"2 What about in a "counter-terrorism" environment?
And the new administration has not categorically banned the outsourcing of torture, such as renditions, the sole purpose of which is to kidnap people and send them to a country to be tortured. Moreover, what do we know of all the CIA secret prisons, the gulag extending from Poland to the island of Diego Garcia? How many of them are still open and abusing and torturing prisoners, keeping them in total isolation and in indefinite detention? Total isolation by itself is torture; not knowing when, if ever, you will be released is torture. And the non-secret prisons? Has Guantanamo ended all its forms of torture? There's reason to doubt that.3 And what do we know of what's happening now in Abu Ghraib and Bagram?

And when Obama says "I don't believe that anybody is above the law", and then acts in precisely the opposite fashion, despite overwhelming evidence of criminal torture — such as the recently leaked report of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Bush Justice Department "torture memos" — it's enough to break the heart of any of his fans who possess more than a minimum of intellect and conscience. It should be noted that a Gallup Poll of April 24/25 showed that 66% of Democrats favored an "investigation into harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects". If the word "torture" had been used in the question, the figure would undoubtedly have been higher.
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WTF Langford? Turning Farms to Condos for Fun and Profit

Langford's latest land-use f--- up
by WTF Langford?
Vote in our survey! Comments welcome!

In case anyone needed evidence that the land-use process in Langford has devolved into bizarre, unintentionally-hilarious lunacy, here's People's Exhibit #217: the Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Developers have turned their covetous eyes to the farmlands of the Happy Valley, where they foresee a future of subdivisions, cheap condos and mega-dollar signs. But farmland is protected by the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve, and there are lots of rules about taking farmland out of the reserve to build condos and other crap. (This is a good thing; otherwise we'd be importing all our food from Brazil.)
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China: Battling for the Last of the Blood of the Earth

Defying the Economic Odds: The World Melts Down, China Grows
by Dilip Hiro
In the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, a new world order is emerging -- with its center gravitating towards China. The statistics speak for themselves. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts the world's gross domestic product (GDP) will shrink by an alarming 1.3% this year. Yet, defying this global trend, China expects an annual economic growth rate of 6.5% to 8.5%. During the first quarter of 2009, the world's leading stock markets combined fell by 4.5%. In contrast, the Shanghai stock exchange index leapt by a whopping 38%. In March, car sales in China hit a record 1.1 million, surpassing the U.S. for the third month in a row.

"Despite its severe impact on China's economy," said Chinese President Hu Jintao, "the current financial crisis also creates opportunity for the country." It can be argued that the present fiscal tsunami has, in fact, provided China with a chance to discard its pioneering reformer's leading guideline. "Hide your capability and bide your time" was the way former head of the Communist Party Deng Xiaoping once put it. No longer.
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Rivers at Risk: The Finale

Rivers at Risk
by SoRS
Save Our Rivers Society ( is proud to present the final installment of the documentary series that has taken viewers all around the province to witness precious rivers threatened by private power project proposals.
Rivers at Risk - Complete Series - click to view this 4 min film, entitled "Rivers at Risk: British Columbia" brings the series to a close with a visual tour of rivers in every corner of the province - shot by filmmaker Damien Gillis throughout the past several years - including those threatened by proposals and those already being torn apart by private river power construction.

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Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Damien Gillis, Elizabeth May, Janine Bandcroft May 4, 2009

This Week on GR
by C. L. Cook
This week, Damien Gillis of the Save our Rivers Society on British Columbia's controversial Run of Rivers scheme; Green Party of Canada leader and author, Elizabeth May on 'Losing Confidence' and Canada's crisis of democracy; and Victoria Street Newz publisher and broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft with news from Victoria's streets.
Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, 104.3 cable, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site,
Check out the GR blog at:
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Tell Her: Seven Jewish Children

Seven Jewish Children - a Play for Gaza
by Caryl Churchill
No children appear in the play. The speakers are adults, the parents and if you like other relations of the children. The lines can be shared out in any way you like among those characters. The characters are different in each small scene as the time and child are different.
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Please Release Me: You, Me, and the SPP

You, Me, and the S.P.P: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule
by Paul Manly
What do secrecy, police provocateurs, an assault on democracy and infringements on citizens’ rights have in common? The Security Prosperity Partnership.
'You, Me, and the S.P.P' is a feature length documentary which exposes the latest manifestation of a corporatist agenda that is undermining the democratic authority of the citizens of North America. Two processes, the Security Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and the Trade Investment Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) are rapidly eroding and eliminating standards, civil liberties, regulatory systems and institutions put in place over generations through the democratic process.
Proponents of the SPP say that it is needed to keep trade flowing. Opponents say, not only will it undermine the democratic authority of citizens, it threatens the sovereignty of the three NAFTA nations through the integration of military, security structures and regulatory regimes.
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Precrime and Punishment: The FBI's New Era of Terror

The FBI's Department of Precrime
by Tom Burghardt
From COINTELPRO to the illegal targeting of antiwar activists and Muslim-Americans, the FBI is America's premier political police agency. And now, from the folks who brought us Wi-Fi hacking, viral computer spyware and al-Qaeda triple agent Ali Mohamed comes the Bureau's Department of Precrime!

A chilling new report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reveals the breadth and scope of the FBI's Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW), the Bureau's massive data-mining project.

With more than a billion records "many of which contain information on American citizens," EFF is calling on Congress to demand FBI accountability and strict oversight of this Orwellian project. By all accounts IDW is huge and growing at a geometric pace. According to the Bureau's own narrative,

The IDW received its initial authority to operate in September 2005, and successfully completed a Federal Information Security Management Act audit in May 2007. As of September 2008, the IDW had: 7,223 active user accounts; 3,826 FBI personnel trained on the system, and 997,368,450 unique searchable documents. The IDW transitioned to the operations and maintenance phase during FY 2008. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Investigative Data Warehouse," no date)
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IPPs: Green or Greenwash?

IPPs: Green or Greenwash: Water diversions will hurt environment
by Chris Genovali, Paul Paquet and Misty MacDuffee
The media have recently published many opinion pieces and news articles promoting independent power projects (IPPs) as crucial to solving climate change. While we acknowledge the urgency of addressing climate disruption, we do not support large scale run-of-river power projects as a solution.

IPP advocates don't appear to understand the broader ecological problems well enough to foster the dramatic changes needed to transform entrenched cultural imperatives that are the fundamental issues driving this crisis. Specifically, the unsustainable consumption of resources by a culture that believes in limitless economic and population growth will never be curtailed by continually meeting growing demand.

If we are serious about controlling carbon emissions, we should first diminish energy consumption through measures that recognize conservation as an energy resource. For example, the public subsidies flowing to companies like Plutonic Power, as well as revenue from the carbon tax, should be redirected into initiatives such as expanding public transit and green retrofits of homes and commercial buildings. Transportation and buildings are identified as two large sources of greenhouse gas emissions by the B.C. government's Climate Action Team.
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Men with Guns Welcome You to Canada

by MNN
The behind the scenes dictators are slowly tightening the screws.  A boa constrictor starts by wrapping itself around you, gradually starts to constrict, tightens almost without notice and then strangles you until you're dead.  The plan is to hypnotize us into accepting this death hold without resisting.  

For the next month Mohawks of Akwesasne will be protesting colonial Canadian border guards arming themselves with Beretta 9 mm handguns in the middle of our community.  They hope to start on June 1.  Akwesasne is on both sides of the foreign Canada-U.S. border and home to the whole community regardless of this "imaginary line".  We never gave our consent for these carpet baggers to carry weapons in our midst to protect their illegal extortion business.  Their actions constitute a violation of our law and international law.

All three band and tribal councils set up by Canada and the U.S. took part in the rally, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA), the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs.  
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Hope Fleet to Gaza

Hope Fleet to Gaza
by Free
In most of the world, May 1st is a day of international labor solidarity. It is a day of joy as workers picnic together with their families and celebrate the achievements of one of the most phenomenal movements of the 20th century.

It is fitting, then, that the Free Gaza Movement chooses May 1 to announce the launching of the HOPE FLEET TO GAZA. We are leaving on June 1 as an act of solidarity with the Palestinians, a people who have been massacred, terrorized and suffocated by the Israeli military.

We sail again to break Israel’s blockade of 1.5 million civilians, 80% unemployed because of Israel’s draconian siege. 
“I believe the Israeli government policies are against international law, against human rights, against the dignity of the Palestinian people,” said Mairead Maguire whose efforts for a peaceful solution to the violence in Northern Ireland earned her the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize. “And I feel grateful to be able to go again on one of these boats to visit the people of Gaza.”
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Tar Sands and Pipelines: The Ugly Truth for Western Canada

Updated Continental Maps: Tar Sands and Associated Pipelines
by Oilsand
These maps show the proposed growth of the tar sands, according to announced and officially proposed mega project components of the gigaproject. Updated from the original maps put out on two years ago, the following maps were produced with the Indigenous Environmental Network.

Recently while speaking on the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline cutting through the Rocky Mountains and about to enable tar sands oil super tanker traffic on British Columbia's still mainly pristine Central Coast, Jim Prentice (the Federal Minister for the Environment) said of future proposed developments:

“It is a destination that will see us at the forefront of the industries where we currently excel, oil, natural gas, pipelines, hydro electricity and the orderly development of the oil sands.” Prentice went on to say “We will not aggravate an already weakening economy in the name of environmental progress.”
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