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Hometown: Saskatchewan
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Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 13,806

Journal Archives

Noam Chomsky: The Middle East Is on Fire, Thanks to U.S.

The scholar speaks about America's past foreign policy blunders and the failures of the mainstream media.

By Dan Falcone and Saul Isaacson / Jacobin May 11, 2015

If you take a look after the nuclear agreement, immediately there's a lot of commentary. The New York Times had a front page, a think piece, from one of their big thinkers, Peter Baker. It says basically in agreement, you can't trust Iran. You know, they destabilize the Middle East, and then he gives a list of reasons - each of them very interesting. But the most interesting is that one of the main crimes of Iran is that they were supporting militias that killed American soldiers.

In other words when we invade and destroy another country, that's stabilizing, and if someone defends themselves that is destabilizing. That shows up in popular culture like this horrible film American Sniper. Take a look at it. The memoir is worse than the film, but it comes out that the first kill, the one he's really proud of, is a woman and a child who are holding a grenade when their town is being attacked by American marines.

And they are savages, monsters, we hate them, they have to be murdered, and everybody's applauding. I mean, even the New York Times arts pages was talking about what a wonderful film it was. It's just mind-boggling.

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/noam-chomsky-we-caused-chaos-middle-east?akid=13094.44541.DM2tTU&rd=1&src=newsletter1036189&t=3

Please note, I do not discount Canada's participation in any of this. We're just as much to blame in many cases.

Macedonian Women Form Human Shield Around Police to Keep Protests Peaceful

Posted 7 May 2015 10:29 GMT

In an extraordinary sight only one day after police violently dispersed demonstrators in Macedonia with water cannons, smoke bombs and batons, a group of women out to protest formed a human shield around officers to protect them from provocateurs throwing glass bottles.

The women in Skopje, Macedonia's capital city, were participating in a second day of protests demanding justice after leaked recordings seemed to show officials tried to cover up the 2011 murder of Martin Neshkovski at the hands of a police officer.

On May 6, several thousand more people marched in the streets of Skopje, and the movement spread to Bitola and Prilep. The government did not repeat its demonstration of force the day before, and protests were peaceful as intended.

But in Skopje after several hours, as the crowds started to thin, a number of participants warned about the increased presence of provocateurs. A group of “football fans” wearing hoods and masks started to coalesce and throw objects at the Parliament and the police cordon separating the building from the mass of people standing or sitting on the street, lawns and in a nearby park.


Neil Young Announces New Album ’The Monsanto Years’ Criticizing The Food Industry Giant

May 4, 2015 by Amanda Froelich

Legendary music icon Neil Young might be best known for his tracks ‘Heart of Gold’ and ‘Rockin In The Free World,’ but he is soon to gain even more attention from his latest record set for release. In collaboration with the Willie Nelson sons, Young has recently announced the debut of a new album called ‘The Monsanto Years’.

As you might have guessed, the album is made up of songs criticizing food industry giant Monsanto, which Neil has spoken out against for years. On June 16 the record will be released, with Young and Promise of the Real touring to support it.

Some of the track titles include “Seeds,” “Too Big to Fail,” “Monsanto Years,” and “Rock Starbucks.” This is one activist not afraid to sing his mind.


I didn't realize he was recording this with Willie Nelson's sons. Nice!


"Health Disaster in the Making: Hundreds of Schools Are Next to Fields Doused by Monsanto's Toxic

Weed Killers"

Prepare yourself for "superweeds."
By Mary Ellen Kustin, Soren Rundquist / Environmental Working Group May 9, 2015

Monsanto's Roundup Linked to Cancer - Again
Photo Credit: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

Genetically engineered crops, or GMOs, have led to an explosion in growers’ use of herbicides, with the result that children at hundreds of elementary schools across the country go to class close by fields that are regularly doused with escalating amounts of toxic weed killers.

GMO corn and soybeans have been genetically engineered to withstand being blasted with glyphosate – an herbicide that the World Health Organization recently classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” The proximity of many schools to fields blanketed in the chemical puts kids at risk of exposure.

But it gets worse.

Overreliance on glyphosate has spawned the emergence of “superweeds” that resist the herbicide, so now producers of GMO crops are turning to even more harmful chemicals. First up is 2,4-D, a World War II-era defoliant that has been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease and reproductive problems. Young children are especially vulnerable to it.

A new EWG interactive map shows the amounts of glyphosate sprayed in each U.S. county and tallies the 3,247 elementary schools that are located within 1,000 feet of a corn or soybean field and the 487 schools that are within 200 feet. Click on any county on the map to see how much GMO corn and soy acreage has increased there as well as the number of nearby elementary schools.

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/environment/monsanto-threatening-safety-children-its-toxic-weed-killers?akid=13089.44541.ba3q1s&rd=1&src=newsletter1036111&t=5

The wretched of the sea: An Algerian perspective

By Hamza Hamouchene
Source: Middle East Eye
May 10, 2015

In the last few weeks, the EU neighbourhood and the Western foreign policies alongside the ongoing economic domination of the African continent have yet again shown their deadly consequences in the immigration tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea.

Thousands of people, mainly from Africa and Syria, risk their lives every year crossing the sea in fragile boats to flee war-torn areas, poverty, persecution and misery in order to reach the shores of Europe for a better and safer life. Sadly a significant number of them perish in the attempts to do so or end up in humiliating camps and prisons in southern European countries only to be deported and returned and see their dreams shattered.

What distinguishes this year’s tragedy from the previous ones is the sheer scale of it as the death toll of drowning this year now stands at over 1,500 – 50 times more than at the same point in 2014. This can be explained mainly by the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Libya and Mali as well as the inhumane decision by several European Union (EU) governments to refuse funding to the Italian-run rescue operation Mare Nostrum, preferring thus to let migrants die, something that was claimed would act as a deterrent for unwanted people who are trying to reach fortress Europe.

Harga in a way represents the pursuit of a future that came to a dead-end in the home-country. It is a means to overcome the restrictions on freedom of movement, precariousness of employment and the marginalisation by clientelist networks – in a nutshell everything that makes life unsustainable, in order to realise a life project that we think is impossible to achieve in Algeria given present conditions. One inhabitant of a marginalised village, Sidi Salem in Annaba, eastern Algeria, declared to his Harrag brother: “I lost the keys of my future in a cemetery in Algeria called Sidi Salem.”

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/the-wretched-of-the-sea-an-algerian-perspective/

Algeria, an Immense Bazaar: The Politics and Economic Consequences of Infitah

With the global neoliberal wave gaining momentum in the 80s, sweeping away the Soviet Union and the Eastern European bloc, eventually spreading to the whole world from Argentina to Poland and not sparing China in the way, and with the plummeting of oil revenues, the Algerian national development project was abandoned by the Chadli clique. It was dismantled as a process of deindustrialization and carried out to give way to neoliberal policies and the submission to the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its structural adjustment programs (1992-1993, 1994-1999). This had heavy consequences on the population: job losses (more than 500,000 in a few years), decrease of purchasing power, cuts to public spending, increasing precariousness of salaried workers, opening up of foreign trade, and the privatization of public companies. Algeria paid around ninety billion dollars in debt service between 1990 and 2004, and paid its debt several times. . . in fact, seven times. This does not constitute a necessary imperative, but a choice of a regime that abdicated to Western hegemony. Instead of reindustrializing the country and investing in Algerian youths who risk their lives to reach the northern shores of the Mediterranean in order to escape the despair of being marginalized and relegated to being Hittistes, the Algerian authorities offered financial support to the IMF, a neo-colonial tool of plunder that crippled the economy.

The dignitaries of the new neoliberal religion declared that everything was for sale and opened the way for privatizations. This allowed an explosion of import activity, which pronounced a death sentence on the productive economy. Rachid Tlemçani notes that by 1997, 7100 companies (5500 private) controlled the non-hydrocarbon foreign trade, the majority of which were specialized in import activities resulting in the transformation of the Algerian market into an immense bazaar for foreign goods with its reservoir of corruption.

Under President Bouteflika, from 1999, this neoliberal logic of undermining national production while promoting an import-import economy (imports increased from 9.3 billion dollars in 2000 to 27.6 billion in 2007, and 47.25 billion by 2011) was pushed even further, aiming for a complete integration into the global economy. This is evidenced by the dismantling of all custom barriers, the adherence to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), and the signature of an association agreement with the European Union.

It is in the name of the sacrosanct principles of the neoliberal dogma that industrial investment halted for thirty years. It is because of their profiteering disciples that industrial figures mutated into traders-importers. It is also in their name that the share of industry in GDP went down from twenty-six percent in 1985 to about five percent in 2009. The successive governments made all the necessary arrangements for the foreign investors to rush into Algeria.

Full article: http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/9851/algeria-an-immense-bazaar_the-politics-and-economi

Millions in other nations see these trade agreements as the POS cover to transfer more

money from the bottom to the top that they are, with no protections for the environment, health, jobs or anything else, because corporations trump all and will be able to (as NAFTA provides the same already) sue any gov't (it's taxpayers) that opposes any corporate decision. Corrupt or very poor gov'ts will have no chance against them, so of course the poorest of the poor will suffer even further. You really haven't read the opposition from around the world to all of this?

TPP Trade Deal Will Be Devastating for Access to Affordable Medicines

By Doctors Without borders


#noTTIP Train to transport 100 UK activists to confront trade negotiations in Brussels

“It’s unheard of to see so many people travelling to Brussels to lobby their MEPs like this, and that’s testament to just how hugely controversial and unpopular TTIP has become. David Cameron waxes lyrical about national sovereignty, but in pushing for this deal he is wilfully handing sovereignty to big business. The deal is not really about trade, it’s about entrenching the position of the one percent. It should be abandoned.”


Scramble to Conclude Suspicious EU-US Trade Deal

UK industry is in intensive care. Should we throw open the door and allow America’s big business battalions to muscle in under cover of a trade treaty?

Critics claim that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being cooked up between the EU and the United States could:

Weaken workers’ rights and put millions of jobs at risk;
Reduce environmental protection and food safety regulation;
Lead to more privatisation of public services like education and our prized National Health Service (NHS);
Give new powers for corporations to sue European governments, including the UK, in secret courts.
They complain that world leaders are working alongside major corporations at breakneck speed to get this deal sewn up, and refuse to give details.

An especially prickly issue is the imposition of investor-to-state dispute settlement rules (ISDS) enabling foreign investors to sue the host government.


New levels of TTIP rejection revealed by Commission’s public consultation

Tuesday, 13 January, 2015

The extent of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’s (TTIP) unpopularity across Europe was exposed today as the European Commission published the results of its largest public consultation in history. The results of the consultation, launched last year, were scheduled to be published in late 2014, but were delayed following an unprecedented number of largely negative responses.

The results of the consultation, which focused on ‘investment protection’ under the controversial trade deal, showed that

of the 149, 399 responses, 97% of participants have voiced either a general rejection of TTIP or opposition to ISDS in TTIP.
the largest number of responses, 52,008 or 34.8% of the total, came from the UK.
Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now (formerly World Development Movement) said:

“‘Investment protection’ is an innocuous sounding euphemism for corporations being able to bully governments behind closed doors for billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, so it’s little wonder that so many people across Europe are opposed to it. This public consultation has demonstrated once more the extent of TTIP’s unpopularity with European citizens."



Those are just a few examples ............ there are hundreds.

By George Monbiot

Source: The Guardian
January 15, 2015

If a government proposes to abandon one of the fundamental principles of justice, there had better be a powerful reason. Equality before the law is not ditched lightly. Surely? Well, read this and judge for yourself. The UK government, like that of the US and 13 other EU members, wants to set up a separate judicial system, exclusively for the use of corporations. While the rest of us must take our chances in the courts, corporations across the EU and US will be allowed to sue governments before a tribunal of corporate lawyers. They will be able to challenge the laws they don’t like, and seek massive compensation if these are deemed to affect their “future anticipated profits”.

I’m talking about the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and its provisions for “investor-state dispute settlement”. If this sounds incomprehensible, that’s mission accomplished: public understanding is lethal to this attempted corporate coup.

The TTIP is widely described as a trade agreement. But while in the past trade agreements sought to address protectionism, now they seek to address protection. In other words, once they promoted free trade by removing trade taxes (tariffs); now they promote the interests of transnational capital by downgrading the defence of human health, the natural world, labour rights, and the poor and vulnerable from predatory corporate practices.

So keep marching, keep signing, keep joining the campaigns that have come together under the Stop TTIP banner. In an age of ecocide, food banks and financial collapse, do we need more protection from predatory corporate practices, or less? This is a reckless, unjustified destruction of our rights. We can defeat it.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/trade-secrets/

Published on
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
by Common Dreams

byBernie Sanders


The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy. It will also negatively impact some of the poorest people in the world.

The TPP is a treaty that has been written behind closed doors by the corporate world. Incredibly, while Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry and major media companies have full knowledge as to what is in this treaty, the American people and members of Congress do not. They have been locked out of the process. Further, all Americans, regardless of political ideology, should be opposed to the “fast track” process which would deny Congress the right to amend the treaty and represent their constituents’ interests.

The TPP follows in the footsteps of other unfettered "free trade" agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA and the Permanent Normalized Trade Agreement with China (PNTR). These treaties have forced American workers to compete against desperate and low-wage labor around the world. The result has been massive job losses in the United States and the shutting down of tens of thousands of factories. These corporately backed trade agreements have significantly contributed to the race to the bottom, the collapse of the American middle class and increased wealth and income inequality. The TPP is more of the same, but even worse.

During my 23 years in Congress, I helped lead the fight against NAFTA and PNTR with China. During the coming session of Congress, I will be working with organized labor, environmentalists, religious organizations, Democrats, and Republicans against the secretive TPP trade deal.

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/12/31/ten-reasons-why-tpp-must-be-defeated

History Handbook: The Passion for Free Markets

By Noam Chomsky

April 25, 2015

The “American passion for free trade” entails that the U.S. government may violate trade agreements at will. No problem arises when communications, finance, and food supplies are taken over by foreign (mainly U.S.) corporations. Matters are different, however, when trade agreements and international law interfere with the projects of the powerful. Similar troublemaking beyond the hemisphere has also been no slight problem, and continues to spread “dangerous” ideas among people who “are demanding a decent living.


NAFTA's Chapter 11 Makes Canada Most-Sued Country Under Free Trade Tribunals

Canada is the most-sued country under the North American Free Trade Agreement and a majority of the disputes involve investors challenging the country’s environmental laws, according to a new study.

The study from the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) found that more than 70 per cent of claims since 2005 have been brought against Canada, and the number of challenges under a controversial settlement clause is rising sharply.


“Thanks to NAFTA chapter 11, Canada has now been sued more times through investor-state dispute settlement than any other developed country in the world,” said Scott Sinclair, who authored the study.


There are currently eight cases against the Canadian government asking for a total of $6 billion in damages. All of them were brought by U.S. companies.


The study notes that although NAFTA proponents claimed that ISDS was needed to address concerns about corruption in the Mexican court system, most investor-state challenges involve public policy and regulatory matters. Sixty three per cent of claims against Canada involve challenges to environmental protection or resource management measures.

Currently, Canada faces nine active ISDS claims challenging a wide range of government measures that allegedly interfere with the expected profitability of foreign investments. Foreign investors are seeking over $6 billion in damages from the Canadian government.

These include challenges to a ban on fracking by the Quebec provincial government (Lone Pine); a decision by a Canadian federal court to invalidate a pharmaceutical patent on the basis that it was not sufficiently innovative or useful (Eli Lilly); provisions to promote the rapid adoption of renewable energies (Mesa); a moratorium on offshore wind projects in Lake Ontario (Windstream); and the decision to block a controversial mega-quarry in Nova Scotia (Clayton/Bilcon).

Canada has already lost or settled six claims, paid out damages totaling over $170 million and incurred tens of millions more in legal costs. Mexico has lost five cases and paid damages of US$204 million. The U.S. has never lost a NAFTA investor-state case.

More: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/news-releases/nafta-investor-state-claims-against-canada-are-out-control-study

Seventy Years after the “Great Patriotic War” “Let No One Forget, Let Nothing Be Forgotten”

by Walter C. Uhler / May 9th, 2015

V-E Day, or Victory in Europe Day, is celebrated every May 8th in Western Europe and the United States, but is celebrated as Victory Day every May 9th in Russia. Why? Because the Soviet Union’s representative had no authority to sign the German document of surrender at Reims, France, on 7 May 1945, but also because, on 8 May, Soviet forces were still shelling German units in Czechoslovakia that had refused to surrender. Thus, when the surrender ceremony was repeated in Berlin on 8 May, it already was 9 May in the Soviet Union.

Recently, the Ukrainian Prime Minister told German TV: “I will not allow the Russians to march across Ukraine and Germany, as they did in WWII.” Putting aside the impossibility of the feeble and feckless government in Kiev doing any such thing, one needs to ask the Prime Minister whether he would have preferred the preservation of the Ukraine – admittedly suffering under Nazi repression, but besmirched during World War II by so many Nazi sympathizers and collaborators — and whether he would have preferred the preservation of the Third Reich?

Recently, three former U.S. Ambassadors to Ukraine, Steven Pifer, John Herbst, and William Taylor absurdly recommended that V-E Day be celebrated in Kiev. Such a recommendation indicates not only profound ignorance of the magnitude of Ukrainian collaboration with the Nazis, but also insufficient appreciation for the accomplishments of the Russians during World War II.

For example, in the first year of the war, Nazi collaborators in Ukraine (a minority of who were Russian) “provided German forces on the Eastern Front with 80 percent of their bread, 83 percent of their meats, 77 percent of their sugar and 70 percent of their potatoes.”1 Such Ukrainian collaboration helped to enable German forces to attack Russian civilians and largely Russian forces deep into western Russia.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/05/seventy-years-after-the-great-patriotic-war/#more-58310

Podemos and the ‘Democratic Revolution’ in Spain

By Raul Zelik
Source: The Bullet
May 8, 2015

(Translation by Eric Canepa)

Even if one almost always goes wrong with such prognoses, the fact is that the Spanish state is facing the biggest rupture since the end of the Franco dictatorship. In several large cities, the left radical-democratic lists of the Guanyem / Ganemos Initiatives have real chances of winning the mayoral elections in May. In recent months in Catalonia, millions were on the street calling for the democratic right to self-determination, to which Madrid could only answer with new prohibitions. But it is above all the left party Podemos (We Can) that is dominating Spain’s political landscape. According to some current polls, Podemos, though founded only in January 2014, is the strongest party today with an almost 28 per cent voter approval, one year before the parliamentary elections.

What is more remarkable about Podemos than the poll results, which can merely be volatile snapshots of the moment, is the social mobilization that the organization set in motion. 900 Podemos base groups, so called circles, have formed throughout the whole country. Almost 10,000 people took part in the party’s founding congress in October. And in municipal district assemblies hundreds of neighbours discuss the crisis, capitalism, and ‘real democracy’ – and in this case ‘neighbours’ means literally neighbours. Podemos has left the subcultural milieus behind.

The level of debate is astounding, determined as it is, on the one hand, by a pragmatism directed at the 2015 elections and, on the other, by sharp criticism of neoliberalism and bourgeois political routine.

Crisis of Representation

Podemos is the expression of a crisis of representation that has gripped many countries with a neoliberal regime since the 1990s. That is, Podemos is not the product of a gradual process of growth but appears to have emerged out of a political vacuum and is expanding in an explosive manner. No existing political structures (such as trade unions, the larger NGOs or the media) have supported the project; the party activists – most of them under 35 – belong to the generation characterized as apolitical, and its immense popularity among the population is not easily explained. In the Spanish mainstream, left positions were decidedly marginal until 2011.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/podemos-and-the-democratic-revolution-in-spain/

Israeli soldier: We bombed civilian targets in Gaza for entertainment

By Middle East Monitor
Source: Middle East Monitor
May 8, 2015

An Israeli soldier said that he and his colleagues bombed civilian targets in the Gaza Strip during last year’s war on the enclave for entertainment.

During an interview with French Le Monde newspaper in Jerusalem yesterday, the soldier who identified himself as Arieh, 20, said: “I was called to service early on July 2014 and was deployed to the Gaza Strip but until that time the operation was not announced yet. Only some soldiers speculated that there will be war, but later our commander told us to imagine a 200 metre radius and to immediately shoot anything moving inside this circle.”

“We bombed civilian targets for entertainment,” he said, adding that “one day at about 8am we went to the Al-Bureij; a highly dense residential area in central Gaza, and the commander told us to select a random target and shoot it, at the time we did not see any Hamas fighters, no one shot at us, but the commander told us jokingly: ‘We have to send Bureij a morning greeting from the Israeli army’.”

Arieh is one of about 60 Israeli soldiers who agreed to testify in a report prepared by Israeli human rights organisation Breaking the Silence.

The 237-page report concluded that the Israeli army left “unprecedented harm” among Palestinian civilians during the war through random firing and the application of loose rules of engagement

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/israeli-soldier-we-bombed-civilian-targets-in-gaza-for-entertainment/

Ukraine: Coup, Couth, and Consequences

By Ray McGovern
Source: Counterpunch
April 25, 2015

The controversy over alleged Russian “aggression” in Ukraine is already raining on the Kremlin parade with which Russia will mark the 70th anniversary of the Allies’ victory over Adolf Hitler and the Nazis on May 9. U.S. President Barack Obama set the tone by turning down the Kremlin’s invitation to take part in the celebration, and allies in Western Europe have been equally uncouth in saying No.

The fanfare on Red Square will be a “Last Hurrah” for most surviving World War II veterans, since few are likely to be able to be there for the 75th or 80th anniversaries. Though I was only five years old on V-E Day – marking the victory in Europe – I was delighted to receive an invitation to go to Russia this week for a smaller-scale celebration marking an equally important 70th anniversary – April 25, 1945, the historic day on which U.S. and Russian troops met at the Elbe River.

On V-E Day, which came a couple of weeks later on May 9, 1945, I recall the thundering celebration as one of my most vivid early memories. So I find it a particular shame that for this year’s 70th anniversary the usual thunderclaps of applause will be muted.

Tragically divided once again by hate, greed, and power-lust, Europe lies in the shadow of war, as the violence percolating in Ukraine threatens to result in wider, more open military intervention from outside. Equally sad, responsibility for the turmoil in Ukraine lies mostly at the doorstep of Washington. Worse still for one who normally pretends to understand what drives foreign policy, how shall I explain to my hosts what lies behind U.S. actions in central Europe, when – try as I may to come up with cogent explanations that make some sense – the reasons elude me.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/ukraine-coup-couth-and-consequences/
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