We live in surreal times. President Obama, who promised “hope and change,” has, instead, proven to be a worthy successor to George W. Bush as a warmonger and a defender of those in positions of power and authority who authorized the use of torture.
In addition, when it comes to another hallmark of Bush-era crimes — indefinite detention without charge or trial, for those that the Bush administration identified as “enemy combatants” — President Obama has gone further than his predecessor.
After the sustained paranoia of the first few years after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush found his policies challenged by the Supreme Court, and subjected to international criticism, and began to back down. Obama, however, having promised to close Guantánamo, but then having discovered that it was politically difficult to do so, has contented himself with finding justifications for continuing to hold the 166 men still at Guantánamo, possibly for the rest of their lives.
This is in spite of the fact that over half of them (86 men in total) were cleared for release by an inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force established in 2009 by President Obama himself, consisting of around 60 officials from the main government departments and the intelligence agencies, who met every week to examine the prisoners’ cases, and to decide who should be released, who should be tried, and — shockingly — who should continue to be held without charge or trial, on the basis that they were too dangerous to release, even though insufficient evidence existed to put them on trial.
These past dozen years in North America has witnessed a full-speed regression through the historic development of Western civilization, such as it is.
Beginning with the Bush claque's pre-emptive assault on the very foundations of secular democracy through the undoing of the Great Charter, Magna Carta, cornerstone of the English Common Law, the dismantling of an economic system that allowed a "Middle Class" of citizens be created to better distribute the wealth of society, to the coup de grace - erasure of the concept of the separation of Church and State. We stand today, in 2013, perched atop a precipice, looking down into the abyss; peering into the face of a new Dark Age.
In Canada, the famously devout christian prime minister, Stephen Harper has missed no opportunity to pour scorn upon our quaint notions of representative democracy, denigrating the power of the People's House as ably as any medieval theocrat at every opportunity.
While the recent stifling of the scribes, toiling soon one imagines in candlelit hovels, at Library and Archives Canada is outrageous it is merely another in a growing retinue of outrages committed by this government against our history, culture, and institutional underpinnings; all pointing to an antipathy to and intentional subversion of the nation.
But, Mr. Harper's 'New Government' regime has greater ambitions than the mere disintegration of Canada; he and they would too annihilate Science itself.
Katie Gibbs holds a Doctorate in Biology from the U. of Ottawa, and last summer led the 'Death of Evidence' rally, a mock funeral and mass held in our nation's capital to protest government cuts to research funding, the muzzling of public sector scientists, and the introduction of the profoundly anti-evidentiary, Bill C-38. Gibbs is now Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy, an organization advocating for the use of evidence in government decision-making on public policy, whose latest campaign Science Uncensored is taking action against policies barring public access to publicly-funded scientists and their findings.
Katie Gibbs in the first half.
And; one of the very first things the BC Liberals accomplished on coming to power in 2001 was an expansion of Grizzly Bear hunting for, mostly foreign, adventurers eager to prove their primitive mettle a sacred ritual of being hand-held and led to unsuspecting wildlife to enable their killing, from great distances, with high-powered rifles. The magnetic allure of the ancient art has so entranced successive BC Liberal leaders, both testicled and otherwise, that April Fools 2013 marks the continuity of this testosterone fed festival of death, officially known as the opening of the bear season.
Kiff Archer and Jason Moody live within the Great Bear Rainforest on the mid-coast of British Columbia, and are both with the newly formed, Central Coast Grizzly Patrol. They were here at the start of last Fall's hunting season to talk about the beginning of the Coastal First Nations Coalition and its unilateral declaration of a ban on trophy hunting in the territories. The province of BC does not however recognize the authority of the First Nations, nor does it honour their demands for a ban on the hunt.
Kiff Archer and Jason Moody still standing tall in defense of the bears and other "trophy" targets of the Great Bear Rainforest in the second half.
And; Victoria Street Newz publisher and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us newz from our city's streets and beyond. But first, Katie Gibbs and removing the Harper muzzle on Canada's public science and policy informants.
As President Obama enters his second term with a new Cabinet, the foreign policy legacy of the past four years weighs heavily on their strategic decisions and their empire-building efforts. Central to the analysis of the next period is an evaluation of the past policies especially in regions where Washington expended its greatest financial and military resources, namely the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.
We will proceed by examining the accomplishments and failures of the Obama-Clinton regime. We will then turn to the ongoing policy efforts to sustain the empire-building project. We will take account of the constraints and opportunities, which define the parameters resulting from imperial military ambitions, Israeli-Zionist influence in shaping policy and the ongoing anti-imperialist struggles.
We will conclude by examining likely polices and outcomes resulting from current strategies.
Last October three scholars issued a report, which found that 79% of Republicans were explicit racists. This past January a university poll found that as many as 64% of Republicans could be considered “birthers.” (Most birthers are pathetic racist morons who, obsessed by their need to delegitimize America’s first black president, refuse to accept any evidence which proves that President Barack Obama was born in the United States.) However, both of these morally bankrupt values pale in significance, when compared with the overwhelming support that Republicans continue to give to President Bush’s illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq.
Ten years ago this week, President George W. Bush gave the order for American troops to bomb and invade Iraq. From August 2002 through March 2003, Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell emphasized two primary reasons for invading Iraq: the threats posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD, especially nuclear weapons) and Iraq’s ties to al-Qaeda.
Old men cannot help feeling sad – not just at the physical ramifications, the illnesses you know will come all too soon or the fact that the fateful day is not far off.
It’s not even the mistakes made, the people hurt by what you’ve said and done or the opportunities missed. These things are balanced off by the knowledge that your fate is that of every living thing in the world and your family.
To have the love of my life, four children (one deceased), eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild balances the unbalanceable equation. For me, the truly horrid part is to see that not only have humans learned no lessons, we continue to go backwards at an unsustainable rate.
We have freely elected governments in both Ottawa and Victoria that not only refuse to understand the consequences of their deliberate, greedy ways, but actually believe that their actions are helpful to mankind. They have all, I assume, been taught to tell the truth but they consistently lie, such that one cannot accept a word they say. Worse, they have created an atmosphere where everyone, especially big business, must also lie – although which came first I cannot say.
The past week has been especially hard for this old guy to handle.
Cyprus is preparing for total financial collapse as the European Central Bank turns its back on the island after its parliament rejected a scheme to make Cypriot citizens pay a levy on savings deposits in return for a share in potential gas futures to fund a bailout.
On Wednesday, the Greek-Cypriot government voted against asking its citizens to bank on the future of gas exports by paying a 3-15% levy on bank deposits in return for a stake in potential gas sales. The scheme would have partly funded a $13 billion EU bailout.
It would have been a major gamble that had Cypriots asking how much gas the island actually has and whether it will prove commercially viable any time soon. In the end, not even the parliament was willing to take the gamble, forcing Cypriots to look elsewhere for cash, hitting up Russia in desperate talks this week, but to no avail.
The bank deposit levy would not have gone down well in Russia, whose citizens use Cypriot banks to store their “offshore” cash. Some of the largest accounts belong to Russians and other foreigners, and the levy scheme would have targeted accounts with over 20,000 euros. So it made sense that Cyprus would then turn to Russia for help, but so far Moscow hasn't put any concrete offers on the table.
Plan A (the levy scheme) has been rejected. Plan B (Russia) has been ineffective. Plan C has yet to reveal itself. And without a Plan C, the banks can't reopen. The minute they open their doors there will be a withdrawal rush that will force their collapse.
In the meantime, cashing in on the island's major gas potential is more urgent than ever—but these are still very early days.
Vancouver -In February 2013, the BC Tap Water Alliance began investigating logging proposals by B.C. Timber Sales in South Pender Harbour’s water supply, McNeill Lake, now under the authority of the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD). The Alliance was shocked to discover that the B.C. Liberals altered the status of the McNeill Watershed Reserve four years ago in March, 2009.
It had been demoted to a Section 17 Land Act Reserve status that now gives the Ministry of Environment discretionary power to permit resource uses such as timber sales.
Former premier, Campbell poses for police in Hawaii
As summarized in the Alliance’s February 27th four page letter of complaint to Doug Konkin, the Deputy Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (see backgrounder web link), the small community watershed was protected by way of powerful Crown land legislation since at least 1974.
Designation as a Section 16 Watershed Reserve under the Land Act prohibits Crown land dispositions, such as timber sales. The Alliance asked that Konkin intervene by preventing the proposed timber sales, and has yet to receive a reply from the Deputy Minister.
The top US commander in Europe told a Senate hearing Tuesday that the US military and NATO are drawing up plans for direct military intervention in Syria.
Adm. James Stavridis, head of the Pentagon’s European Command, speaking at a hearing by the Senate Armed Service Committee, said that the US military is “looking at a variety of options” and is “prepared if called upon to be engaged.”
Declaring that there was “no end in sight to a vicious civil war,” Stavridis told the panel that “the option of assisting the opposition forces in Syria in ways that would break the deadlock are being actively explored by NATO members,” the Washington Post reported.
The admiral added that US and NATO discussions have included providing “lethal support” to the anti-government militias and using direct military force to impose “no-fly zones” in Syria and enforce “arms embargoes” against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Asked by committee chairman Senator Carl Levin (Democrat, Michigan) whether the discussions included “going after Syria’s air defenses,” Stavridis answered “Yes,” to which Levin replied, “Good.”
That’s the question Ecojustice hoped to help answer when we undertook our latest research. What we uncovered was unsettling, to say the least.
Our research showed that toxic emissions from oilsands facilities in Northern Alberta are polluting the nearby Athabasca River, contaminating a waterway that’s home to more than half of the province’s fish species.
Photo Dan Woynillowicz, The Pembina Institute - oilsandswatch.org
The Athabasca River is Alberta’s longest and only major free-flowing river, and it holds ecological, cultural and commercial significance for the people that live along its shores. It is also a vital life source for many wildlife species.
Saudi claims of “busting a spy ring” involving Iranian and Lebanese nationals this week smell of yet more dirty tricks by the creaky House of Saud.
But the repeated formula for attempting to smear Iran used by the Saudis and their Western and Israeli partners is in danger of becoming a parody.
Saudi authorities detained 18 individuals across the kingdom this week, who, it is claimed, were working for a “foreign state” in a plot to target vital installations.
“Sixteen Saudis, an Iranian and a Lebanese were arrested in coordinated and simultaneous operations in four regions of the kingdom,” including the capital Riyadh and the holy city of Mecca, the Saudi interior ministry said in a statement.
Wow. Do you feel the bombast in those words “coordinated and simultaneous operations”?
The suspects “gathered information on vital installations which they provided to the country” they had been working for, added the Saudi intelligence experts.
Iran was not mentioned specifically, but the inclusion of an as-yet unnamed Iranian national is something of a finger of accusation that tries to be subtle, but is, in fact, a clumsy attempt to fabricate.
Those who hoped that Barack Obama would be arriving in Israel to bang Israeli and Palestinian heads together, after four years of impasse in the peace process, will be sorely disappointed.
The US president’s trip beginning today may be historic – the first of his presidency to Israel and the Palestinian territories – but he has been doing everything possible beforehand to lower expectations.
At the weekend, Arab-American leaders revealed that Obama had made it clear he would not present a peace plan, because Israel has indicated it is not interested in an agreement with the Palestinians.
Any lingering doubts about Israel’s intentions were removed by the announcement of a new cabinet, hurriedly sworn in before the president’s visit. This government makes Benjamin Netanyahu’s last one, itself widely considered the most hardline in Israel’s history, look almost moderate.