by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch If there was a way the United States could achieve its long-term strategic objectives and, at the same time, avoid a war with Russia, it would so. Unfortunately, that is not an option, which is why there’s going to be a clash between the two nuclear-armed adversaries sometime in the near future.
Let me explain: The Obama administration is trying to rebalance US policy in a way that shifts the focus of attention from the Middle East to Asia, which is expected to be the fastest growing region in the coming century. This policy-change is called the “pivot” to Asia. In order to benefit from Asia’s surge of growth, the US plans to beef up its presence on the continent, expand its military bases, strengthen bilateral alliances and trade agreements, and assume the role of regional security kingpin.
The not-so-secret purpose of the policy is China “containment”, that is, Washington wants to preserve its position as the world’s only superpower by controlling China’s explosive growth. (The US wants a weak, divided China that will do what it’s told.)
Dehumanization and Neglect: A Protester’s Arrest Story on Burnaby Mountain
by Nina Jankovic - Vancouver Media Coop I was arrested on Sunday November 23rd for crossing an arbitrary police line at Burnaby Mountain.
It has recently come to light that the injunction zone had not been accurately marked, and therefore all 125 arrests up to (and including) November 27th are now considered to illegal.
This is a fantastic victory, but we still have quite far to go. I will continue to protest against Kinder Morgan and make it clear that they are directly destroying Coast Salish land as well as contributing to climate change.
So many people came out on Sunday - thank you. (photo credit: Madeleine Campbell)
Cage Match: Gitmo Case a Snapshot of America's Imperial Soul
by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque Andy Worthington asks a burning question: “Why is Shaker Aamer still at Gitmo?” And after detailing the case of Aamer — an innocent man sold to the American security forces by the human traffickers who partnered with the CIA in Afghanistan, a man who was cleared for release from the American concentration camp seven years ago — Worthington suggests the likely answer:
Aamer knows too much about the torture regime at Gitmo, and has been too vocal in standing up for fellow prisoners throughout his illegal captivity — and has made it clear he will continue to speak out against the inhumane conditions in the camp.
Worthington’s piece should be read in full, but here are a few excerpts:
Imagine being imprisoned, year after year, despite having been told that your captors had undertaken a high-level review process and no longer wanted to hold you?
At the United States’ detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, is facing just that situation. More than seven years ago, the George W. Bush administration approved Aamer for release from the detention facility. Five years ago, the high-level interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force, appointed by President Barack Obama when he took office, also approved him for release (PDF) and told him he would be freed, along with 125 others, once the necessary arrangements were made.
by Robert Parry - Consortium News Last summer, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel was swept up in the Western hysteria over Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Ukraine crisis, even running a bellicose cover demanding “Stop Putin Now” and blaming him for the 298 deaths in the July 17 crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine.
“Vladimir Putin has shown his true face. Once seen as a statesman, the Russian president has exposed himself as a pariah of the international community. The MH17 dead are also his; he is partially responsible for the shooting down of the flight,” a Der Spiegel editorial declared on July 28.
“Nobody in the West continues to harbor serious doubts that the plane was shot down with a Buk surface-to-air missile system — one that was almost certainly provided to the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine by Russia.”
Actually, by then, a number of people in the West, including U.S. intelligence analysts, were doubting the blame-Putin narrative because they could find no evidence that the Russians had supplied the ethnic Russian rebels with a sophisticated anti-aircraft missile system that could bring down a commercial plane flying at 33,000 feet.
At the time, I was being told by a source briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts that the emerging scenario pointed more toward an extremist group associated with the Ukrainian government although not under the control of Kiev’s senior leadership. But the major media in the U.S. and Europe refused to rethink the early “conventional wisdom.”
However, in October, Der Spiegel quietly reversed itself regarding Moscow supposedly supplying the Buk missiles, reporting that the German foreign intelligence agency, the BND, had concluded that Russia did not supply the battery suspected of bringing down the plane, saying the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian military missile captured by the rebels from a Ukrainian military base (although I was later told by a European official that the BND’s conclusion was less definitive than Der Spiegel reported).
More obfuscation in latest UN report on the human rights situation in Ukraine
by Roger Annis - New Cold War.org The latest monthly report on Ukraine by the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) has earned some headlines because it reports that significant numbers of people are still being killed by the war in the east of the country, notwithstanding a ceasefire agreement on September 5 to which the Ukrainian government committed itself.
The 49-page UN report covers the period Sept. 17 to October 31 and is based on the work of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU). The report says nearly 1,000 people, an average of 13 per day, were killed between Sept. 6 and Oct. 31.
“Since the beginning of the hostilities in mid-April until 31 October, at least 4,042 people were killed and 9,350 were wounded in the conflict affected area of eastern Ukraine”.
The report also says that the HRMMU and World Health Organisation consider these numbers to be conservative estimates.
“Both believe that the casualties have been under reported, and that their actual numbers are considerably higher.”
Because of the UN authorship of these monthly reports (this latest report is the seventh), readers will assume they are getting a balanced and unbiased view of the situation in Ukraine. But this is far from the case. A careful reader can quickly discern the very deep bias contained within.
Hundreds of people are expected to arrive at Burnaby Mountain today and Sunday to celebrate a significant victory against Kinder Morgan, and to resolve to continue the years-long campaign to stop the pipeline.
After three months of presence by caretakers on Burnaby Mountain, hundreds of residents showing up every day for two weeks of protests against Kinder Morgan drilling activity, and 125 arrests, the pipeline company removed their equipment and stopped their survey work.
It is very clear that local residents, led by Indigenous communities, oppose this tar sands pipeline. Indigenous leaders, academics, faith groups, seniors, mothers and daughters, immigrants, environmentalists have all faced arrest and made it clear they are willing to do what it takes to stop the pipeline from being built.
Saturday and Sunday's events will be family friendly events. Saturday features a celebration 'Frontline Beats Pipelines,' highlighting Indigenous and people of colour who have been at the forefront of the opposition to Kinder Morgan and the presence on Burnaby Mountain.
The Future of Honduran Public Insecurity: Violations of the Military Police of Public Order
by Karen Spring - Aqui Abajo The militarization of Honduran streets shows no signs of stopping. On November 11th, the Honduran press announced that one thousand additional Military Police – a new, elite, hybrid military-police force – would be trained and sent to the streets. Four days later, the National Defense and Security Council headed by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez asked the National Congress to take the necessary measures to approve the Military Police as a permanent security force under the Honduran Constitution.
The recent push to consolidate the Military Police contributed to a minor police scandal that erupted last week when the National Director of the Police, Ramon Sabillon refused to step down after being illegally fired from his position. The scandal was partially caused by fears amongst the National Police and some sectors of Honduran society that the permanent and growing status of the Military Police will render the National Police force obsolete.
With more soldiers in the streets, Honduras is becoming more and more militarized by the day. To date, there have been limited results in generating security and safer streets for it’s citizens.
For all of Brand’s joking and braggadocio, a sagacious theme runs through his new book: that a peaceful revolution must bring about a fairer sharing of the world’s resources, which depends upon a revelation about our true spiritual nature.
The political conversation on sharing is growing by the day, sometimes from the unlikeliest of quarters. And at the present time, there is perhaps no-one calling louder for a new society to be based on sharing than Russell Brand, the comedian-cum-activist and revolutionary. It is easy to dismiss much of Brand’s polysyllabic and self-referential meanderings, as do most of the establishment media in the USA and Britain, but this only serves to disregard his flashes of wisdom and the justified reasons for his popularity.
His latest book is clearly not meant to be taken entirely seriously as a roadmap to “systemic change on a global scale”, hence the various crude digressions and contradictions. Yet as pointed out by Evan Davies at the beginning of his second BBC Newsnight interview, Brand has probably engaged more young people in thinking about serious political issues than any politician, despite his infamous disavowal of voting in parliamentary elections.
On this basis alone, there’s every reason to take seriously Brand’s call for a revolution based on the principles of sharing, cooperation and love. But what does his idea of a caring, sharing revolution actually mean in practice?
In the wee hours of June 28th, 2009, Honduran president Manuel "Mel" Zelaya woke to find his room filled with soldiers, and his presidency finished. Zelaya, a moderately populist leader with a year left on his mandate, would spend the next two years in exile, trying to get back to Honduras and return democracy to his country.
But it was not to be. Thanks in part to the quick recognition of the military junta by Stephen Harper's government in Canada, (and bolstered by a hastily agreed Free Trade agreement) the coup garnered a financial footing, and measure of international legitimacy.
In the mean times since, globally Honduras' murder rate is Numero Uno, and it's now also one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalists, union member, or labour organizer.
On the bright side; it's a great place for Canadian mining interests to do business.
Karen Spring is a Central America-based human rights activist, working with grassroots organizations on various issues, mostly in Honduras. She's the author of the blog, Aqui Abajo providing, "Opinions, Experiences and Perspectives from the grassroots in Central America." Spring's recent article, 'Aura Minerals Ready to Dig up the Dead in Honduras' reveals just how low Canada's miners are willing to go.
Karen Spring in the first half.
And; the BC Liberals plan to make a decision about the long-contested proposed Site C dam project on the Peace River before Christmas; right before it, if past behaviours are any predictor. The as-yet unscheduled in-Cabinet decision follows a Joint Review Panel process meant to explore all interests in, and effects of, the proposed project.
Alison Thompson is Chair and Managing Director of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, or CanGEA. Thompson was in Victoria yesterday to give a press conference for a CanGEA report on a made-in BC alternative to placing a third dam on the river. It's a prospect for the Peace the Joint Review Panel itself admits has been woefully overlooked.
Alison Thompson and a renewable, cost effective alternative to Site C in the 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 city, and beyond there too, for the coming week. But first, Karen Spring and the dark, Canadian aura haunting the dead in Honduras.
by James Stafford - Oilprice.com When it takes up to four million pounds of sand to frack a single well, it’s no wonder that demand is outpacing supply and frack sand producers are becoming the biggest behind-the-scenes beneficiaries of the American oil and gas boom.
Demand is exploding for “frac sand”--a durable, high-purity quartz sand used to help produce petroleum fluids and prop up man-made fractures in shale rock formations through which oil and gas flows—turning this segment into the top driver of value in the shale revolution.
“One of the major players in Eagle Ford is saying they’re short 6 million tons of 100 mesh alone in 2014 and they don’t know where to get it. And that’s just one player,” Rasool Mohammad, President and CEO of Select Sands Corporation told Oilprice.com.
Frack sand exponentially increases the return on investment for a well, and oil and gas companies are expected to use some 95 billion pounds of frack sand this year, up nearly 30% from 2013 and up 50% from forecasts made just last year.
Canada-based Aura Minerals Ready to Dig up the Dead in Honduras
by Karen Spring - Aqui Abajo In April 2014, the community of Azacualpa blocked the entrance of the San Andres mine in La Unión, Copan, in western Honduras. The open-pit gold mine is owned by Minerales de Occidente, a subsidiary of Toronto-based mining company, Aura Minerals who acquired the mine in August 2009.
A few weeks after initiating the blockade, the community was violently evicted by Honduran military and police who beat protesters including minors, shot tear gas, and arrested those that stuck around to fight the eviction, or that lived close to where it took place.
Radio Progreso reports that various people were arrested and 21 community members face charges requiring them to sign before a Honduran judge every month.