The Mysterious Circumstance of the Death of Major Michelle Mendes

The Death of Major Michelle Mendes
by C. L. Cook
Another Canadian soldier died in Afghanistan yesterday. Major Michelle Mendes was found dead in her quarters Thursday. She is the 118th Canadian soldier to perish in the country since Canada's involvement in its occupation, and the third woman in uniform to die there.
 
Major Mendes was a career soldier. The CBC quotes her mother Diane Knight's comments from a 2006 interview, where she said her daughter wished to have "an entire career in the army."
 
State media organ, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) reports Mendes' death is the subject of a Canadian Forces probe, and confirms it was not caused by enemy action.
 
The thirty year old Defence Intelligence officer was found dead in her room at Kandahar airfield. Canadian Forces say she was a member of Task Force Kandahar, but offered little more information on the case. Spokesperson Major Mario Couture read a statement from Mendes' colleagues, saying;
 
"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of our lost comrade. Our primary focus at this time is to provide the best possible support to the family of our soldier and to her colleagues."
 
 
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The Horror Returns to Iraq

"... The Horrible Truth"
by Dahr Jamail  | t r u t h o u t
The US occupation of Iraq, which has become the full responsibility of President Barack Obama, is once again a bloodbath. Not that it had ceased to be violent, brutal and chaotic, for not one day has passed since the US invasion of Iraq was launched that hasn't found several Iraqis being senselessly slaughtered.
 
But rather than talking about three Iraqis being killed today, or two dozen, we are again talking about several dozen, and over 100 wounded, as we are seeing recently.
 
Each of these Iraqis have been killed as a direct result of the US occupation of Iraq - their blood splattered on the hands of President Obama, who, during a visit to Baghdad's airport on April 7, praised the US military for their "extraordinary achievement" in Iraq.
 
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Spies of Gaza: A New Front for Conflict

Middle East 'Spies': A New Front for Gaza's Conflict
by Ramzy Baroud
The reverberations of the Israeli war on Gaza are still felt throughout the Middle East. One could in fact speak of a silent war being waged in the region.  Now that Israel’s clear intentions in Gaza - discrediting Hamas and ultimately ousting them from their democratically elected position - resulted in utter failure, Israelis are hoping to exploit regional conflicts to rein in Hamas and other such organizations through alternative means.

In the past several years, Israel has suffered what may seem like insurmountable losses in their barrage of military conquests. In July and August of 2006, Israel unleashed its military fury against Lebanon for several weeks, with one major objective: to permanently "extract" Hezbollah as a fighting force from South Lebanon and undermine it as a rising political movement capable of disrupting, if not overshadowing, the "friendly" and "moderate" political regime in Beirut.
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An Uncertain Future for British Columbia's Seniors

Province falls short on promise of 5,000 long-term care beds, seniors’ access to home and residential care drops: study
by CCPA
A major study released finds that BC’s home and community health care system is in serious decline — the result of reduced access to services and poorly planned restructuring.

An Uncertain Future for Seniors: BC’s Restructuring of Home and Community Health Care 2001-2008 builds on past CCPA studies. It provides detailed evidence related to concerns raised recently by the BC Auditor General, the BC Medical Association and the BC Care Providers Association about the deteriorating state of seniors’ care in BC.

“When seniors can’t get timely access to these services, they end up in more expensive hospital beds,” says Jeremy Tate, co-author of the study and former Director of Health Facilities Planning at the Capital Regional District in Victoria. “Being in hospital is hard on the frail elderly, and it blocks beds that could be used by other patients. It’s also extremely expensive.”
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Rethinking Afghanistan

Rethink Afghanistan
by Robert Greenwald
Dear Friends, Colleagues and Supporters; the winner is you!  After all your efforts sending around the first parts of Rethink Afghanistan and the petition for Congressional oversight hearings, we're thrilled to announce there will be hearings before the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee this Thursday.  The more people who see Rethink Afghanistan, the more critical questions we raise, and the better chance we have of Congress asking these questions.

Check out: http://rethinkafghanistan.com/?utm_source=rgemail

To that end, we bring you the first of three Afghanistan debates between Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation and Lawrence Korb of the Center for American Progress.  Over 460 people submitted topics for these debates, with questions on everything from costs of war to regional diplomacy to the damage caused by predator drones.  Korb and vanden Heuvel picked the winning topic for the third debate, which came from Lee Fremault of Attleboro, Massachusetts, who asked, "Could you please compare and then contrast Afghanistan with Vietnam?"

 
 
 
Watch the first of these three debates: http://rethinkafghanistan.com?utm_source=rgemail
 
 
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Canada: Bill C-6 and Ditching Freedoms

Restricting Our Freedoms - Shawn Buckley About Bill C-6
by Shawn Buckley
"Bill C-6 not only abolishes the law of trespass, but also allows warrants to be issued to search private homes without evidence of criminal wrongdoing."  http://www.vitalitymagazine.com/apr09_helkefeat  

excellent 10 min video Restricting Our Freedoms - Shawn Buckley About Bill C-6
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7_0HlCwb8A&feature=channel_page
 
see also part 2 (10min)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ud4bYJXIrAE&NR=1
 
 
 
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Latest Langford Follies

Latest news bits from Vancouver Island
by Zoe Blunt

Farmland Gold Rush? Over half of Monday's Langford Council meeting was devoted to applications to remove farm land from the Agricultural Land Reserve. Owners want to build a whole bunch of new condos on several large sections of farmland and wetlands on Happy Valley Road, but (once again) there may be problems with the city not following the proper public procedures.
 
Some letters went missing, while Langford's chief planner, Matthew Baldwin told other letter-writers that Langford would not accept their comments.
 
Nevertheless, half a dozen people spoke up and about seventy more sent feedback to the Agricultural Advisory Committee in support of local farms and food security. It remains to be seen if the city will recommend removing the land from the Reserve so it can be developed.
 
 
Read the latest on ALR at Inside Langford: http://insidelangford.ca


 
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Casual Collateral: Targeting Civilians

Killing Civilians: How Safe Do You Actually Want to Be?
by Tom Engelhardt
Almost like clockwork, the reports float up to us from thousands of miles away, as if from another universe. Every couple of days they seem to arrive from Afghan villages that few Americans will ever see without weapon in hand. Every few days, they appear from a world almost beyond our imagining, and always they concern death -- so many lives snuffed out so regularly for more than seven years now. Unfortunately, those news stories are so unimportant in our world that they seldom make it onto, no less off of, the inside pages of our papers. They're so repetitive that, once you've started reading them, you could write them in your sleep from thousands of miles away.

Like obituaries, they follow a simple pattern. Often the news initially arrives buried in summary war reports based on U.S. military (or NATO) announcements of small triumphs -- so many "insurgents," or "terrorists," or "foreign militants," or "anti-Afghan forces" killed in an air strike or a raid on a house or a village. And these days, often remarkably quickly, even in the same piece, come the challenges. Some local official or provincial governor or police chief in the area hit insists that those dead "terrorists" or "militants" were actually so many women, children, old men, innocent civilians, members of a wedding party or a funeral.

In response -- no less part of this formula -- have been the denials issued by American military officials or coalition spokespeople that those killed were anything but insurgents, and the assurances of the accuracy of the intelligence information on which the strike or raid was based. In these years, American spokespeople have generally retreated from their initial claims only step by begrudging step, while doggedly waiting for any hubbub over the killings to die down. If that didn't happen, an "investigation" would be launched (the investigators being, of course, members of the same military that had done the killing) and then prolonged, clearly in hopes that the investigation would outlast coverage of the "incident" and both would be forgotten in a flood of other events.
 
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Glob and Maul: The Incurably Elitist Logic of the Toronto Globe and Mail

The Incurably Elitist Logic of the Toronto Globe and Mail
by Peter Ewart
From their offices in downtown Toronto, the editors of the Globe & Mail have written an editorial titled “Mixed PR is best” (April 21 edition) about the referendum on BC-STV coming up in British Columbia in May. 
 
In it, they lecture both the government and legislature of BC that, after the last referendum in 2005, they should have overridden the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly and “presented the voters … with a better plan for proportional representation.”
 
Let us dissect the logic of this strange creature of an editorial that has washed up on our shores.
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The RCMP in British Columbia: Burying the Dead in Custody

RCMP attempts to close death investigations overturned
by B.C.C.L.A.
In only ten short days in 2007, the RCMP moved to close conduct investigations into four deaths of prisoners in their custody in British Columbia. The BCCLA, which had filed appeals against all four decisions to close off the investigations, learned this week that the RCMP complaints commission had rejected the RCMP actions.
 
Ian Bush died in custody under suspicious circumstances in 2005


"This is a small victory in a complaints system we have no faith in,” says Robert Holmes, President of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. “Even though the deck is stacked against accountability, and it took almost two years to get to this point, we can find a silver lining that there will at least be some semblance of an investigation."

The report from the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP says that the effect of the RCMP terminating these in-custody death conduct investigations may not have been intended to avoid accountability, but “the result of this decision [by the RCMP] may be exactly that.”
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Reviewing the Predator State

Predator State
by Jim Miles
Not too many economists make much clarity these days, and the general run of the mill economists that populate the majority of political and business positions seem to be mired in their own illusions and myths about what the economy actually is.  James Galbraith stands out in contrast to that group and is able to see through the myths of the “free market” and provide well conceived, simple, and effective solutions to the problems of our current economy. 
 
In The Predator State, Galbraith follows in his father’s footsteps (whom I had the pleasure of reading and understanding many years ago) with a well structured, well argued, and clearly written examination of the supposed free market.

Galbraith stays within a well-defined focus, examining the myths of the market and solutions in economic terms, which necessarily reach over into other areas.  He does not dwell on these other areas, but in his final analysis he provides three lines of insight that indicate where others could expand on the topic, denouncing in effect the “hidden fist” that supports the U.S. economy.
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AIPAC, NSA Spying and the Corruption of Congress

AIPAC, NSA Spying and the Corruption of Congress
by Tom Burghardt
A major scandal involving a top Democrat, the Israeli lobby-shop AIPAC and charges that former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales sought congressional help to suppress media reports of systematic, illegal warrantless surveillance of Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA) broke on Sunday.
 
Representative Harman with former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon

Congressional Quarterly revealed that Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) "was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department [to] reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington."

The former ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Harman is the co-sponsor of the shameful "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act" (H.R.1955) and its mutant relative in the Senate (S.1959). In other words, Harman's "liberal" veneer is the perfect cover for currying favor with politically well-connected corporate grifters, major beneficiaries of the national security state's largesse.
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