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O! Canada '08: Reviewing the Unrecognizable Nation

O! Canada '08: Reviewing the Unrecognizable Nation
by C. L. Cook
The Century has not so far been kind to those Canadians pining reminiscent for the days the country was a liberal democracy; run by relatively responsible actors on the world stage, the brokers of peace, guarantors of civility and fair governance in a dangerous, chaotic world.
To be fair to the successors of Brian Mulroney, the prime minister who hitched the nation's wagon to America's seemingly forever rising star through the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), destiny dealt them a crummy hand; but both the Jean Chretien and Paul Martin administrations went beyond the investment oriented FTA (later to morph, with the inclusion of Mexico, into the tripartite NAFTA agreement) "committing" Canada to both America's foreign policy objectives, and the military methods it employs to achieve them.

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Trading Barbs: Obama's Nafta Slip

The Long Campaign: Obama's Fair Trade Challenge
by Jack Random
Many have lamented the long arduous campaign that will eventually lead to a temporary residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the one who survives.  It is a marathon, a grueling test of endurance, strength and resilience, a brutal and relentless assault on the psyche, and a journey through dark and dangerous terrain.  It is in short an excellent test of character for any man or woman who would be leader of a faltering superpower nation.  

Maybe there was a time when the press was sufficiently independent and vigilant to test a candidate in a more limited campaign – or maybe that is mere myth as well.  Maybe a long campaign in 2000 would have been adequate to expose the outright fraud of George W. Bush before he assumed the reigns of power and led the nation over a cliff.  

In the unpredictable annals of politics, it is not certain.  What has become clear in the 2008 campaign is that the candidates have evolved.  The electorate has had sufficient time to inform the candidates and shape their policies to the will of the people.  

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Picturing War in South America

What If Ingird Betancourt Had Been in Ecuador Saturday?
by Charles Hardy in Caracas
Since learning of the assassination of the FARC leader, Raul Reyes, in Ecuador Saturday morning, my mind has been spinning.
Today I have been thinking about how much easier is the work of a photographer than that of a writer. One snaps a picture and the picture is there; the writer has to assemble words to try to convey the same image. Even short stories require hundreds of individual words, each carrying a variety of meanings and interpretations. Writing is like working a jigsaw puzzle. Photography is taking the photo on the box.

Since Saturday, I have had a hard time sleeping through a complete night. I awake; grab a paper and pencil, or flip a switch on my tape recorder, or run and turn on the computer. I have started so many commentaries and have finished none. Hence the thought occurred to me that maybe I should try to be an amateur literary photographer, sharing snapshots of what is passing through my mind. Not looking for meaning, necessarily, but not avoiding the feelings that seem to be keeping me awake.
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Attack on Ecuador: Underestimating Rafael

The attack on Ecuador: Underestimating Rafael Correa
by Fidel Castro Ruz
I remember when he visited us, months before the electoral campaign when he was thinking of running as a candidate for the Presidency of Ecuador. He had been the Minister of the Economy in the government of Alfredo Palacio, a surgeon with professional prestige who had also visited us as Vice President, before becoming the President in an unexpected situation that took place in Ecuador. He had been receptive to a program of ophthalmologic operations that we offered him as a form of cooperation. There were good relations between our two governments.

A while earlier Correa had resigned from the Ministry of the Economy. He was unhappy with what he called administrative corruption instigated by Oxy, a foreign company that explored and invested important sums of money, but was holding on to four out of every five barrels of oil that it extracted. He didn´t talk about nationalization, but about taxing them heavily; these taxes would be assigned in advance to specific social investments. He had already approved the measures and a judge had declared them to be valid.

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War is Hell, But What the Hell Does it Cost?

One Week at War in Iraq and Afghanistan for $3.5 Billion
by William D. Hartung
War is hell -- deadly, dangerous, and expensive. But just how expensive is it?

In a recent interview, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz asserted that the costs of the Iraq war -- budgetary, economic, and societal -- could reach $5 trillion.

That's a hard number to comprehend. Figuring out how many times $5 trillion would circle the globe (if we took it all in one dollar bills) doesn't really help matters much, nor does estimating how many times we could paper over every square inch of Rhode Island with it. The fact that total war costs could buy six trillion donuts for volunteers to the Clinton, Obama, McCain, and Huckabee campaigns -- assuming a bulk discount -- is impressive in its own way, but not all that meaningful either. In fact, the Bush administration's war costs have already moved beyond the human scale of comprehension.

But what if we were to try another tack? How about breaking those soaring trillions down into smaller pieces, into mere millions and billions? How much, for instance, does one week of George Bush's wars cost?

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Biased, Ignorant and Ineffective: Harper Government Responds to Gaza Atrocities

Canada’s Response to Israel’s Actions in Gaza – Biased, Ignorant and Ineffective
by Jim Miles
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier issued a news release expressing his concern about the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip[1]
It does nothing to help resolve the situation and only demonstrates that the Canadian government is only putting out more face-saving rhetoric for the international community and to placate the home crowd with platitudes about the non-existent peace process. 
It is an empty statement, devoid of any real suggestions to improve the situation in Gaza.

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Attica on the Levant: Attacking the Prisoners

Attacking The Prisoners
by Media Lens
Israel has drawn international criticism for its latest series of onslaughts against the 'prison' of Gaza, the crowded home to 1.4 million Palestinians. Since last Wednesday (February 27), 112 Palestinians have died under Israeli air attacks and 'incursions' by Israeli troops. The dead include many women and children, such as four boys who had been out playing football and even babies killed in their homes.
Last Saturday alone saw the deaths of 60 Palestinians under Israeli attacks. Three Israelis have died - one a civilian killed during a rocket attack by Hamas last Wednesday and, since then, two Israeli soldiers.

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How could they have known?

How could they have known?
by William Blum 
It wasn't on Oprah or Fox News.
Hillary Clinton and many other members of Congress claim that their support of the invasion of Iraq was based on faulty intelligence reports. How could they dispute the research and analysis of all those experts, so well trained and experienced in their fields?

Well, apart from the fact that American intelligence agencies and their reports were by no means of one opinion (one well-publicized CIA paper, for example, predicted all manner of devastating consequences which could result from an invasion and occupation) ... [1]

Apart from the fact that there were several public statements, including some on American TV, from Saddam Hussein's deputy prime minister, and other statements made by Iraqi scientists to American media and to American intelligence that Iraq no longer had any weapons of mass destruction ... [2]

Apart from the fact that UN nuclear inspectors had determined before the war that Iraq did not have a nuclear weapons program ... [3]

Apart from the fact that Colin Powell, speaking in February 2001 of US sanctions on Iraq, said: "And frankly they have worked. He [Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."[4]

Apart from all that, this question must be asked: What did the millions of Americans who marched against the war before it began know that all those members of Congress didn't know? At a minimum, they knew that nothing the Bush administration had told them came anywhere close to justifying dropping bombs on the innocent people of Iraq. They also knew that nothing the Bush administration had told them could be trusted. All it took to reach this advanced stage of awareness was not being born yesterday.

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Kosovo Cowboys and Caracas

by Charles Hardy
I watched four teenagers burst out laughing as they read the headline, “U.S. mistakenly kills nine civilians.” It was a great example of a gross understatement. There was nothing new in this “news” article about the U.S.’s war in Iraq: simply the tip of an iceberg of dead civilians.

I wonder how those same teenagers would have reacted two weeks earlier (February 19) to the headline that the U.S. supported the independence of Kosovo?
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Frankenstein or Prometheus? The Monster Must Die!

The Monster Must Die! Clemenstein, or the Post-Modern Prometheus
by Robert Lipsyte
The genius of Roger Clemens lies in the fact that he created the monster of himself. He is both Dr. Clemenstein, inventor of a more powerful man, and Clemenstein, the age-defying result, an ogre who defines ur-masculinity today.
He is a big, white Republican who makes his own rules, lies, cheats, and mixes family values and intimidation. Roger Clemens also manipulated and sacrificed associates to accomplish his mission. He was able to do this not only because scientific additions made him bigger and stronger, but because subtractions enabled him to believe in the preeminence of the creature he had become. The drugs went in and the soul came out.

We will see him go down. 
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