I watched American Sniper the other night and it really is the most puerile propaganda imaginable. It is not even as though it is simply unfair to the “enemy” – that is, mostly ordinary Iraqis, who are shown to be ruthless and heartless killers filled with irrational hatred for the American soldiers sent to liberate them from … well, in this re-write of history it is seemingly from al-Qaeda. It is equally unfair to the US soldiers there, presenting them either as good guys being heroes or as good guys being traumatised by their exposure to the natives’ savagery.
And, of course, it also massively distorts the truth about Chris Kyle – a man who at best was so blinkered by his own childish jingoism that, by his own account, he never entertained a doubt about killing “Arabs”, even women and children, and at worst was a psychopath whom the US army gave a licence to go on a killing spree.
But even if one ignores the movie’s politics and its absolute failure to grasp documented facts about the invasion of Iraq and instead assesses it purely on its technical aspects, it’s a pedestrian affair at most. The romantic scenes, for example, are cliched and poorly written.
In other words, the only reason audiences could be raving about American Sniper, ensuring it becomes one of the biggest-grossing films in history, is that it closely aligns with the mood of self-pity that currently dominates in the US: the sense that those dark-skinned foreigners we tried to liberate were not only evil but, worse, ungrateful too.
Victorians may wonder what the distant rumbling sound heard day and night is. That mechanized thunder is none other than the US Navy's EA-18G Growler warplane; and if you think it sounds menacingly loud now, it may be coming nearer soon to just about everywhere you are.
Dahr Jamail is an Olympic peninsula-based freelance journalist and author, whose book titles include: 'The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan,' 'Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Iraq,' and the contributed chapter, "Killing the Intellectual Class" for the anthology, 'Cultural Cleansing in Iraq: Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned and Academics Murdered.'
Jamail is also a Truthout staff reporter, and his latest book, 'The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible' is co-written with Truthout founding editor, William Rivers Pitt.
Among Dahr’s many journalism awards are: the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, The Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and four Project Censored awards. His work has appeared at Truthout, Inter Press Service, Tom Dispatch, The Sunday Herald in Scotland, The Guardian, Foreign Policy in Focus, Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique, The Huffington Post, The Nation, The Independent, Al Jazeera, and at his own website, DahrJamail.net.
Dahr Jamail in the first half.
And; Robert Wintner is an environmental defender, author, and the wildly successful entrepreneur behind Hawaii's Snorkel Bob's reef outfitter company. He is also the engine behind the Snorkel Bob foundation, whose many charitable projects help to bring the appreciation of the oceans and all its inhabitants to humans who would otherwise remain ignorant of the workings of the Planet's single-most essential biosphere.
Some of Robert Wintner's book titles include: 'In a Sweet Magnolia Time', 'Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing', 'The Modern Outlaws', and his latest, '1969 and Then Some.' Snorkel Bob is also the author of several reef photography books. Just out is 'Reef Libre: An In-Depth Look at Cuban Exceptionalism & the last, Best Reefs in the World' and its companion DVD, Reef Libre, the Movie.
Getting down, way down, with Snorkel Bob in second half.
And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with some of what's good to do in and around our town and beyond. But first, Dahr Jamail and a distant rumble growing nearer.
Canada leaps into the empire of chaos by Jim Miles - The Miles Report - Axis of Logic
To Members of Parliament, Canada:
Canada has always been a part of U.S. imperial ambitions, in spite of our pretensions otherwise. Locked in as we are to the U.S. economy and our dollar only relevant in comparison to the US$. Until the Harper regime, Canada was able to maintain that pretense. Our NATO political alignment, the NAFTA trade agreement, the North American Aerospace Defence Command - formerly NORAD - are a few big ticket acronyms that have kept us united and generally subordinated.
After achieving majority power in the last election, the Harper neoConservatives have been open advocates for causes that support U.S. imperial interests. That is not surprising when the history and roots of the Reform Party/Alliance Party/born-again-Conservative Party is examined. The strong attachments that the neoCons have to the U.S. Republican party has been well covered recently (see Party of One, Michael Harris, Viking, 2014; The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, Yves Engler, Fernwood Publishing, 2009; among many others). The neoCons share the Republican fundamentalist, right-wing, ‘might is right’, less government, corporate power agenda - and the electoral methodologies used to gain and stay in power.
Now that the U.S. has increased the ‘arc of instability’ and made it into its ‘empire of chaos’, Canada is either front running the hubris leading this, or is a perfectly willing assistant to creating chaos. A series of recent events highlights this in the financial world as well as in the military geopolitical world.
It was October 2012. Roei Elkabetz, a brigadier general for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), was explaining his country’s border policing strategies. In his PowerPoint presentation, a photo of the enclosure wall that isolates the Gaza Strip from Israel clicked onscreen. “We have learned lots from Gaza,” he told the audience. “It’s a great laboratory.”
Elkabetz was speaking at a border technology conference and fair surrounded by a dazzling display of technology -- the components of his boundary-building lab. There were surveillance balloons with high-powered cameras floating over a desert-camouflaged armored vehicle made by Lockheed Martin. There were seismic sensor systems used to detect the movement of people and other wonders of the modern border-policing world. Around Elkabetz, you could see vivid examples of where the future of such policing was heading, as imagined not by a dystopian science fiction writer but by some of the top corporate techno-innovators on the planet.
Swimming in a sea of border security, the brigadier general was, however, not surrounded by the Mediterranean but by a parched West Texas landscape. He was in El Paso, a 10-minute walk from the wall that separates the United States from Mexico.
Just a few more minutes on foot and Elkabetz could have watched green-striped U.S. Border Patrol vehicles inching along the trickling Rio Grande in front of Ciudad Juarez, one of Mexico’s largest cities filled with U.S. factories and the dead of that country’s drug wars. The Border Patrol agents whom the general might have spotted were then being up-armored with a lethal combination of surveillance technologies, military hardware, assault rifles, helicopters, and drones. This once-peaceful place was being transformed into what Timothy Dunn, in his book The Militarization of the U.S. Mexico Border, terms a state of “low-intensity warfare.”
Urban transportation systems an emerging priority ahead of UN climate and sustainable development meetings
NEW YORK - More than $100 trillion in cumulative public and private spending, and 1,700 megatons of annual carbon dioxide (CO2); a 40 percent reduction of urban passenger transport emissions; could be eliminated by 2050 if the world expands public transportation, walking and cycling in cities, according to a new report released by the University of California, Davis, and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).
Further, an estimated 1.4 million early deaths could be avoided annually by 2050 if governments require the strongest vehicle pollution controls and ultralow-sulfur fuels, according to a related analysis of these urban vehicle activity pathways by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) included in the report.
"Transportation, driven by rapid growth in car use, has been the fastest growing source of CO2 in the world, said Michael Replogle, ITDP's managing director for policy and co-author of the report. "
Continuing to deliberate as this week gets underway, the jurors in the CIA leak trial might ponder a notable claim from the government: “This case is not about politics.”
The prosecution made that claim a few days ago in closing arguments — begun with a somber quotation from Condoleezza Rice about the crucial need to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
Of course prosecutor Eric Olshan was not foolish enough to quote Rice’s most famous line:
“We don’t want the smoking gun to become a mushroom cloud.”
During the seven days of the trial, which received scant media coverage, Rice attracted the most attention. But little of her testimony actually got out of the courtroom, and little of what did get out illuminated the political context of the government’s case against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling.
In late February, a conference is scheduled in New York City to discuss the risk of nuclear war if computers reach the level of artificial intelligence and take decisions out of human hands. But there is already the old-fashioned danger of nuclear war, started by human miscalculation, fed by hubris and propaganda.
That possible scenario is playing out in Ukraine, where the European Union and the United States provoked a political crisis on Russia’s border in November 2013, then backed a coup d’etat in February 2014 and have presented a one-sided account of the ensuing civil war, blaming everything on Russia.
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland press conference at U.S. Embassyin
Kiev, Ukraine, Feb. 7, 2014. (U.S. State Department photo)
Possibly the worst purveyor of this Cold War-style propaganda has been the New York Times, which has given its readers a steady diet of biased reporting and analysis, including now accusing the Russians for a resurgence in the fighting.
One way the Times has falsified the Ukraine narrative is by dating the origins of the crisis to several months after the crisis actually began. So, the lead story in Saturday’s editions ignored the actual chronology of events and started the clock with the appearance of Russian troops in Crimea in spring 2014.
The allocution I give today is going to be a bit different from the sort that usually concludes a sentencing hearing, because this is an unusual case touching upon unusual issues. It is also a very public case, not only in the sense that it has been followed closely by the public, but also in the sense that it has implications for the public, and even in the sense that the public has played a major role, because, of course, the great majority of the funds for my legal defense was donated by the public.
And so now I have three duties that I must carry out. I must express my regret, but I must also express my gratitude. And I also have to take this opportunity to ensure that the public understands what has been at stake in this case, and why it has proceeded in the way that it has.
Because, of course, the public didn’t simply pay for my defense through its donations, they also paid for my prosecution through its tax dollars. And the public has a right to know what it is paying for. And Your Honor has a need to know what he is ruling on.
The Bureau of Prisons contacted me today, assigning me a prison number and a new address: for the next 90 days, beginning tomorrow, I’ll live at FMC Lexington, in the satellite prison camp for women, adjacent to Lexington’s federal medical center for men.
Very early tomorrow morning, Buddy Bell, Cassandra Dixon, and Paco and Silver, two house guests whom we first met in protests on South Korea’s Jeju Island, will travel with me to Kentucky and deliver me to the satellite women’s prison outside the Federal Medical Center for men.
In December, 2014, Judge Matt Whitworth sentenced me to three months in federal prison after Georgia Walker and I had attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of Whiteman Air Force base, asking him to stop his troops from piloting lethal drone flights over Afghanistan from within the base.
Judge Whitworth allowed me over a month to surrender myself to prison; but whether you are a soldier or a civilian, a target or an unlucky bystander, you can’t surrender to a drone.
Friends. Currently, the NYC-registered pusher-tug, Nathan E Stewart and its 10,000-capacity barge are moored at Burnaby Mountain, - at the Kinder Morgan terminal, where it is loading up for its voyage north. The barge/tug combo was anchored near 2nd Narrows for the past few days, and has now moved to the terminal. I expect it to head north soon.
Following are links I have compiled that will familiarize you with the enormity of the risk this vessel poses, and its regular schedule through these, our waters.
Over the past few years I have been tracking the New York City-registered tugboat Nathan E Stewart and its two 300-ft 10,000 ton capacity petroleum-tanker barges, DBL 54, and DBL55 which currently run a regular scheduled traffic, directly past Bella Bella, and on through BC's protected Inside Passage and Great Bear Rainforest. (It only runs one barge at a time, but I have seen it pushing each of these barges)
This "pusher tug/barge combo" (the tug fits into a deep notch built into the stern of the tanker, from where it pushes the barge along) departs loaded several times a month, from either Everett, or Anacortes Washington,or Burnaby Mountain, Vancouver, and then heads up through Georgia Strait, often through Sabine Channel, through Johnstone Strait, Fitz Hugh, right past Bella Bella, and on up to Alaska.
I've also tracked it down to Portland Oregon, where its 2 barges, DBL 54, and DBL 55, are registered.
In the dead of night, they swept in aboard V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Landing in a remote region of one of the most volatile countries on the planet, they raided a village and soon found themselves in a life-or-death firefight.
It was the second time in two weeks that elite U.S. Navy SEALs had attempted to rescue American photojournalist Luke Somers. And it was the second time they failed.
On December 6, 2014, approximately 36 of America’s top commandos, heavily armed, operating with intelligence from satellites, drones, and high-tech eavesdropping, outfitted with night vision goggles, and backed up by elite Yemeni troops, went toe-to-toe with about six militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
When it was over, Somers was dead, along with Pierre Korkie, a South African teacher due to be set free the next day. Eight civilians were also killed by the commandos, according to local reports. Most of the militants escaped.
That blood-soaked episode was, depending on your vantage point, an ignominious end to a year that saw U.S. Special Operations forces deployed at near record levels, or an inauspicious beginning to a new year already on track to reach similar heights, if not exceed them.