September 14, 2014

Is ‘Progress’ good for humanity? & Naomi Klein says this changes everything

The idea that the Industrial Revolution made us happier, wealthier, more productive is deeply ingrained. What if it actually made things worse? The article below has been adapted from Jeremy Caradonna’s new book, Sustainability: A History, Oxford University Press, September, 2014. From the publisher’s description:

In this illuminating and fascinating primer, Jeremy L. Caradonna does just that, approaching sustainability from a historical perspective and revealing the conditions that gave it shape. Locating the underpinnings of the movement as far back as the 1660s, Caradonna considers the origins of sustainability across many fields throughout Europe and North America. Taking us from the emergence of thoughts guiding sustainable yield forestry in the late 17th and 18th centuries, through the challenges of the Industrial Revolution, the birth of the environmental movement, and the emergence of a concrete effort to promote a balanced approach to development in the latter half of the 20th century, he shows that while sustainability draws upon ideas of social justice, ecological economics, and environmental conservation, it is more than the sum of its parts and blends these ideas together into a dynamic philosophy.

Caradonna’s book broadens our understanding of what “sustainability” means, revealing how it progressed from a relatively marginal concept to an ideal that shapes everything from individual lifestyles, government and corporate strategies, and even national and international policy. For anyone seeking understand the history of those striving to make the world a better place to live, here’s a place to start.

Is ‘Progress’ good for humanity?
Jeremy Caradonna The Atlantic USA September 9, 2014


Rage against the machine: Luddites smashing a loom. Image: Chris Sunde/Wikimedia Commons. Visit this page for its embedded links.

The stock narrative of the Industrial Revolution is one of moral and economic progress. Indeed, economic progress is cast as moral progress.

The story tends to go something like this: Inventors, economists, and statesmen in Western Europe dreamed up a new industrialized world. Fueled by the optimism and scientific know-how of the Enlightenment, a series of heroic men—James Watt, Adam Smith, William Huskisson, and so on—fought back against the stultifying effects of regulated economies, irrational laws and customs, and a traditional guild structure that quashed innovation. By the mid-19th century, they had managed to implement a laissez-faire (“free”) economy that ran on new machines and was centered around modern factories and an urban working class. It was a long and difficult process, but this revolution eventually brought Europeans to a new plateau of civilization. In the end, Europeans lived in a new world based on wage labor, easy mobility, and the consumption of sparkling products.

Europe had rescued itself from the pre-industrial misery that had hampered humankind since the dawn of time. Cheap and abundant fossil fuel powered the trains and other steam engines that drove humankind into this brave new future. Later, around the time that Europeans decided that colonial slavery wasn’t such a good idea, they exported this revolution to other parts of the world, so that everyone could participate in freedom and industrialized modernity. They did this, in part, by “opening up markets” in primitive agrarian societies. The net result has been increased human happiness, wealth, and productivity—the attainment of our true potential as a species.

Sadly, this saccharine story still sweetens our societal self-image. Indeed, it is deeply ingrained in the collective identity of the industrialized world. The narrative has gotten more complex but remains à la base a triumphalist story. Consider, for instance, the closing lines of Joel Mokyr’s 2009 The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain, 1700–1850: “Material life in Britain and in the industrialized world that followed it is far better today than could have been imagined by the most wild-eyed optimistic 18th-century philosophe—and whereas this outcome may have been an unforeseen consequence, most economists, at least, would regard it as an undivided blessing.”

The idea that the Industrial Revolution has made us not only more technologically advanced and materially furnished but also better for it is a powerful narrative and one that’s hard to shake. It makes it difficult to dissent from the idea that new technologies, economic growth, and a consumer society are absolutely necessary. To criticize industrial modernity is somehow to criticize the moral advancement of humankind, since a central theme in this narrative is the idea that industrialization revolutionized our humanity, too. Those who criticize industrial society are often met with defensive snarkiness: “So you’d like us to go back to living in caves, would ya?” or “you can’t stop progress!”

Narratives are inevitably moralistic; they are never created spontaneously from “the facts” but are rather stories imposed upon a range of phenomena that always include implicit ideas about what’s right and what’s wrong. The proponents of the Industrial Revolution inherited from the philosophers of the Enlightenment the narrative of human (read: European) progress over time but placed technological advancement and economic liberalization at the center of their conception of progress. This narrative remains today an ingrained operating principle that propels us in a seemingly unstoppable way toward more growth and more technology, because the assumption is that these things are ultimately beneficial for humanity.

Advocates of sustainability are not opposed to industrialization per se, and don’t seek a return to the Stone Age. But what they do oppose is the dubious narrative of progress caricatured above. Along with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, they acknowledge the objective advancement of technology, but they don’t necessarily think that it has made us more virtuous, and they don’t assume that the key values of the Industrial Revolution are beyond reproach: social inequality for the sake of private wealth; economic growth at the expense of everything, including the integrity of the environment; and the assumption that mechanized newness is always a positive thing. Above all, sustainability-minded thinkers question whether the Industrial Revolution has jeopardized humankind’s ability to live happily and sustainably upon the Earth. Have the fossil-fueled good times put future generations at risk of returning to the same misery that industrialists were in such a rush to leave behind?

But what if we rethink the narrative of progress? What if we believe that the inventions in and after the Industrial Revolution have made some things better and some things worse? What if we adopt a more critical and skeptical attitude toward the values we’ve inherited from the past? Moreover, what if we write environmental factors back in to the story of progress? Suddenly, things begin to seem less rosy. Indeed, in many ways, the ecological crisis of the present day has roots in the Industrial Revolution.

All of this is to say that the simple-minded narrative of progress needs to be rethought. This is not a new idea: In fact, critics of industrialization lived throughout the Industrial Revolution, even if their message was often drowned out by the clanking sounds of primitive engines. In their own particular ways, thinkers and activists as diverse as Thomas Malthus, Friedrich Engels, the Luddites, John Stuart Mill, Henry David Thoreau, William Wordsworth, and John Muir criticized some or all aspects of the Industrial Revolution. The narrative of industrial-growth-as-progress that became the story of the period occurred despite their varied protestations. The Luddites questioned the necessity of machines that put so many people out of work. Engels questioned the horrendous living and working conditions experienced by the working classes and drew links between economic changes, social inequality, and environmental destruction. Thoreau questioned the need for modern luxuries. Mill questioned the logic of an economic system that spurred endless growth. Muir revalorized the natural world, which had been seen as little more than a hindrance to wealth creation and the spread of European settler societies around the globe.

These figures have provided wisdom and intellectual inspiration to the sustainability movement. John Stuart Mill and John Muir, for instance, have each been “rediscovered” in recent decades, respectively, by ecological economists and environmentalists in search of a historical lineage. For the sustainability-minded thinkers of the present day, it was these figures, and others like them, who were the true visionaries of the age.

Related audio: Naomi Klein says this changes everything
“Sunday Edition” CBC Radio One Canada September 14, 2014


Photo: Ed Kashi

You can listen to the interview (43:55) from a pop-up link on this page.

An existential crisis for the human species, a clear and present danger to civilization, a death sentence for the planet, a weapon of mass destruction: these are just some of the phrases you will find in Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything. The book is a wake-up call about the state of the environment.

Ms. Klein argues that nothing else matters – war, pestilence, disease, economic collapse – if we don’t have clean air to breathe and water to drink. But we seem to be sleep-walking en masse towards a point of no return.

Naomi Klein is a bestselling author. No Logo – about how we have become slaves to globalization and brand culture – was translated into more than 25 languages and sold more than a million copies. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism also became an international bestseller.

Michael Enright spoke to Naomi Klein in our Toronto studio.

Posted at: September 14, 2014 - 1:04 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

The speech on diplomacy that Obama should have given last week

The speech on diplomacy that Obama should have given last night
Phyllis Bennis The Nation USA September 11, 2014


Photo: Saul Loeb/AP/Pool

Too often in the United States—most especially since 9/11—we equate “doing something” with “doing something military.” George W. Bush gave a traumatized, near-paralyzed US public two options: we either go to war, or we let ‘em get away with it. Faced with that choice, it was hardly surprising that 88 percent or so of people in this country chose war.

But the reality is that when there are no military solutions—which is most of the time, for those who care to notice, including on September 12, 2001—the alternative is not nothing, but active non-military engagement. Diplomacy becomes even more important. President Obama has said it over and over again: there is no US military solution in Iraq or Syria. He’s right. And yet military actions—in coalitions, with local partners, counter-terrorism but not counter-insurgency—were pretty much all we heard in his speech last night.

Obama’s four-part strategy to “degrade and destroy” ISIS (which he persists in calling ISIL, referencing the Levant, the old French colonial term for Greater Syria or al-Shams) tilts strongly towards the military. First, airstrikes, in Syria as well as Iraq. Second, military support to forces fighting ISIS on the ground, including support to the “moderate” Syrian opposition who challenge ISIS. Third, counter-terrorism strategies to “cut off its funding, improve our intelligence, strengthen our defenses, counter its warped ideology and stem the flow of foreign fighters.” And fourth, the only one not solely or primarily military, humanitarian assistance.

What’s missing is a real focus, a real explanation to people in this country and to people and governments in the Middle East and around the world, on just what a political solution to the ISIS crisis would really require and what kind of diplomacy will be needed to get there.

President Obama should have spent his fifteen minutes of prime time tonight talking about diplomacy. Instead of a four-part mostly military plan, he should have outlined four key diplomatic moves.

Related: Typical hyperbole sees the United States pledging to pursue Islamic State militants “to the gates of hell”. With international unity and resolve in short supply, the main tools in the demonic chase appear to be cupidity and cowardly opportunism. Even with US air, missile, and drone strikes, that’s not a sure recipe for success.

US pivots at the gates of hell
Peter Lee Asia Times Online Hong Kong September 9, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded and appended links.

believe that President Obama tipped his hand as to the basic US strategy for dealing with Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria when he stated that the US goal was to reduce IS to “a manageable problem”.

Once the appalling implications of this apparent endorsement of a permanent presence for the transnational, decapitation-happy caliphate sank in, his Vice President Joe Biden was sent out for damage control with the hyperbolic message that the US would pursue IS “to the gates of hell”.

Well, truth be told, actually entering the gates of hell and thoroughly sorting out the mess it created in the Middle East is apparently the one thing that the US isn’t very eager to do.

One of the ironic things about the current situation is that, as the United States has pinned the “Hitler of the Month” label on a succession of adversaries – Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Kim Jung-eun, Bashar al-Assad, Vladmir Putin – it seems unwilling and unable to so characterize the most Hitlery of forces to emerge in recent years, the IS Caliphate.

The IS Caliphate is an expansionist, belligerent, intolerant, and eliminationist threat to people and states in the region.

With IS, US getting ready for its “Suez Crisis” post-imperial close-up
Peter Lee China Matters Canada September 12, 2014

Though an anti-war type I am not on the same page with many anti-war types when it comes to poo-pooing President Obama’s call for military action against the IS caliphate.

The caliphate is a big deal, in my opinion, a big bad transnational deal with significant consequences throughout Asia, and something should be done. “Something”, unfortunately, would be a big, disruptive military campaign coordinated through the UN Security Council and Arab League, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and involving lots of Saudi and Turkish casualties, both military and civilian, and a prolonged, agonizing, and expensive effort to reassert the control of the Iraqi and Syrian governments over the territory they had lost.

Understandably, nobody, including the United States, is willing or able to make sure that something actually gets done and it looks like what we are getting is a collection of ineffectual half-measures justified by hyped-up “threat to the homeland” agitation whose main purpose is to exploit the crISis in order to enhance US clout in the region.

IS took root in Iraq and Syria, in large part because of the Obama administration’s willingness to enable a jihadi solution to its dump-Assad problem and the very, very bad decision of Turkey and Saudi Arabia to support the operation. I don’t think President Obama and his foreign policy team should be judged generously for their casual “let ‘er drift” casual approach to the dangerous and unpredictable mechanics of regime collapse through jihadi insurgency, with the details handled by two rather incompetent local allies who claim to be regional powers but are actually risk averse opportunists who look to the United States to do all the heavy lifting.

The depressing part of the US strategy is that, as far as I can tell, it views the anti-IS campaign as a Trojan Horse, a chance to favor, strengthen, and advance anti-Assad forces. So instead of cooperating with literally the only Middle Eastern state willing to field an army against IS—Syria—the US is refusing to work with Syria and instead will train and equip an anti-Assad and anti-IS force, reportedly in Saudi Arabia, that is less of a US-backed militia of venal “insurgents” and more of a controlled and disciplined military strike force created, controlled, and deployed by the CIA and, unlike our most famous previous experiment in this vein, the Bay of Pigs invasion, this force will have lots and lots of airpower.

The idea, presumably, is that as IS is pummeled by drones and air strikes (and its fleet of tanker trucks ferrying crude oil to Turkey is destroyed) and retreats, the US-backed force will advance and occupy the vacated territories before Assad can. And hopefully, the force will attract the fairweather allies of IS who prefer a US paycheck and immunity from air strikes to getting plastered. And then the US can orchestrate demands from a finally viable Syrian opposition for Assad to step down in the name of national unity, full US support, and an all-out war against IS. Victory!

Posted at: September 14, 2014 - 1:00 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

The road to post-surgical recovery is slow and bumpy

Jim comment:

Just before I was admitted to hospital for surgery, I wrote (September 5): “All should be back to normal by late next week.
Certainly, I believe, by Sunday September 14.”

Once again I was wrong.

I grow stronger and more comfortable every day. But I have still a ways to go before I am back to normal.

Posts this week will be as frequent and as well edited/selected as I am able.

Bear with me. We’ll get there—to where we were before.

Posted at: September 14, 2014 - 12:58 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

September 13, 2014

Weekly Headlines

Click on a headline below to go to that news item

Friday, September 12, 2014

Commentary

Comments on Canada’s irresponsible federal government: “The House of Commons, especially one in a majority setting, has long abandoned assigning any value to its role of serving as a check on government spending or of vetting proposed government initiatives or legislation”

Commentary

Canadian soldiers can help in Iraq. Here’s how & Is the war on ISIS illegal?

Regional News

British Columbia’s morally bankrupt government: Ideologically driven coastal ferry quasi-privatization and subsequent fare hikes and service cuts cost province $2.3 billion in lost economic activity

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Living

The bonding power of shared suffering

Commentary

Hamas does not equal ISIL, no matter what Israel says

World News

Effort continues to see 9/11’s secret 28-page history released & Malaysian Flight 17: Making the news fit the politics

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sovereignty

Kurdistan region ‘Iraq’: American Christians proselytizing; battle-hardened Kurds from Turkey—guerillas, partisans—killing the bloodthirsty marauders of IS

Sovereignty

Ukraine: Commentary and news. Ukrainian ceasefire Q&A/FAQ and RFC; OSCE reveals Minsk protocol stipulates Ukraine to be decentralized, special status for Lugansk, Donetsk; sporadic shelling in E. Ukraine threatens ceasefire, parties trade blame

Sovereignty

Scotland independence: With recent surge of support, decision too close to call; allegations by unionists of vote rigging; allegations by independence supporters of dirty tricks and demand apology from Better Together campaigners

Sovereignty

Not only has Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain team been chainsawing trees in a Burnaby Mountain conservation area, they are now applying to dramatically change the boundaries of four B.C. parks

Posted at: September 13, 2014 - 7:01 am -- Posted by: SSNews -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

September 12, 2014

Comments on Canada’s irresponsible federal government: “The House of Commons, especially one in a majority setting, has long abandoned assigning any value to its role of serving as a check on government spending or of vetting proposed government initiatives or legislation”

Oh, well!? But, hell, in British Columbia, since the coming to power of the Campbell/Clark coalition, they don’t even try to fake it. Our province’s legislative assembly hardly even sits at all. British Columbia is governed by the fascist executive’s orders in council.

Interview: Brent Rathgeber on our irresponsible governance
Aaron Wherry Maclean’s Canada September 12, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links and audio interview (19:41).

Brent Rathgeber’s book about the state of governance in Ottawa, Irresponsible Government, is officially released this week. At the risk of spoiling the plot for you, he doesn’t think it’s going particularly well (perhaps you gathered as much from the title).

I wrote about Rathgeber’s life as an independent MP back in January and I’ve closely followed his one-man experiment in parliamentary democracy. This week we have an excerpt from the book—the Globe went over some of the highlights and the Post has an excerpt too—and here is an exclusive extended interview with the Independent MP for Edmonton-St. Albert.

Rathgeber himself is interesting in various ways. The book he’s produced serves as a nice companion to the year’s other major study in the state of Parliament, Tragedy in the Commons, written by the founders of Samara. And those two books nicely tee up the House’s impending decision on the Reform Act (even in its new imagined form), which will be debated when Parliament reconvenes next week.

The version of the House of Commons that Rathgeber describes is something all MPs might be asked to confront.

MPs stand and read canned speeches in the House, sometimes on topics they are not at all familiar with. Rather than ask actual questions of the government during QP, Conservative backbenchers are reduced to taking part in scripted infomercials. Committee business is stage managed. When he runs afoul of the government, he is assigned to an obscure committee and has his seat moved to the other side of the House.

I think if you ask the other 307 MPs about all this, you’ll hear 307 different perspectives. I don’t think they all rely on scripts, I don’t think they all submit themselves entirely to their party. But party discipline is an inherent feature of the system and it is reasonable to ask each MP how he or she interacts with it.

And where it matters most is in how it impacts the ability of the legislature to properly hold the government to account. “The House of Commons, especially one in a majority setting, has long abandoned assigning any value to its role of serving as a check on government spending or of vetting proposed government initiatives or legislation,” Rathgeber writes. He is nowhere near the first person to suggest as much, but it’s probably worth remembering to not take that concern for granted.

That the opposition is entitled to the opportunity to stand and yell at the government on a regular basis is a wonderful part of our system. But it shouldn’t obscure the goal of and need for a system that can fully vet and air the laws, programs, policies and concerns of the day.

Posted at: September 12, 2014 - 2:36 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Canadian soldiers can help in Iraq. Here’s how & Is the war on ISIS illegal?

The decision to deploy (special forces) troops suggests they might be training Iraqi Special Forces on how to laser-sight targets and direct coordinated close air support … a skill-set the Iraqis badly need if they’re to exploit their air war advantage over Islamic State. - Stewart Webb. Stewart Webb is the editor of DefenceReport. He holds an MScEcon in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University (Wales) and a BA in Political Science from Acadia University. He is the co-editor of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Modern War, coming out next year by Taylor & Francis. Stewart Webb lives on Salt Spring Island. You also can find this article on the iPolitics site.

Let’s start with the obvious: Iraq today is not the Iraq of 11 years ago. The threat facing the West in Islamic State, or ISIS, bears no resemblance to the situation Canada opted out of when the U.S. invaded in 2003.

At the time we were told that al-Qaida had a strong presence in Iraq. Islamic State actually lost its al-Qaida franchise because of the overt brutality of its tactics in Syria. And this is the threat the federal government is trying to contain with the deployment of 100 soldiers from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment. But nothing in Iraq is ever easy; if Islamic State can be contained, Iraq will need some deft diplomacy to ensure that it doesn’t revert to a sectarian quagmire.

Right now, Islamic State controls an area equivalent to that of the United Kingdom, spanning Iraq and Syria. Its list of atrocities is long: the beheadings, the kidnappings, the mass executions and widespread use of rape as a weapon of war. And Islamic State has shown no reluctance to publicize its nauseating cruelty; video of the journalists’ decapitations was distributed far and wide not to warn off the West but to show us that they are able to inspire our own citizens to commit these barbaric acts.

Foreign fighters are swelling the ranks of Islamic State. According to a recent estimate, the jihadi army is composed of 81 nationalities; one report suggests Islamic State’s recruitment efforts have been so successful, the Afghan Taliban have been running low on foreign fighters.

The Harper government has been at pains to insist the mission is small-scale and advisory only; it will not involve a combat role. The first fifty soldiers deployed will be providing “critical advice to forces in northern Iraq as they continue to hold back the terrorist advance” according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Another fifty will arrive in Iraq at a later point.

If Iraq today is not Iraq in 2003, it’s also not Afghanistan. It seems doubtful that Canada’s advisory role will encompass any training of raw recruits; CSOR will be training Iraqi Special Forces, and probably regular soldiers, in their unique tradecraft. That training probably will include reconnaissance and gathering human intelligence.

And proper intelligence-gathering may prove to be critical in this mission. Many analysts have stated that, although the Iraqi Air Force is being equipped this year with new Russian Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets, the hardware won’t be much use without better intelligence and on-the-ground target observation. The decision to deploy CSOR troops suggests they might be training Iraqi Special Forces on how to laser-sight targets and direct coordinated close air support. This training can be performed at a safe distance from battle lines, but it is a skill-set the Iraqis badly need if they’re to exploit their air war advantage over Islamic State.

Canadian military advice could play a key role in putting the Iraqis in a position to contain and defeat the Islamic State problem before it spills over. That would just leave us with the non-military questions. What happens to Iraqi territorial integrity in the face of a reenergized Kurdish independence movement? What pacifies and unites the various Kurdish militia groups that routinely fight each another? Our diplomatic efforts should be concentrating on these questions right now, to avoid problems later.

Canada has a strong international reputation in ‘peacekeeping,’ but that’s just one leg of a tripod that also involves peacebuilding and peacemaking. Islamic State’s occupation of Iraq demonstrates that Canadian military deployments are still necessary at times, even if they don’t involve direct combat. Canada should be taking steps to ensure, once Islamic State is routed, renewed fighting between the Iraqi government and the various Kurdish factions will not occur.

Related: Is the war on ISIS illegal?
Zoë Carpenter The Nation USA September 11, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

Last year, when President Obama declared his intention to take the United States off “perpetual war footing,” he identified a crucial mechanism for doing so: repealing the resolution that Congress passed in 2001 authorizing George W. Bush to use military force against those who “planned, authorized, committed or aided” in the September 11 attacks—namely, Al Qaeda.

“Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight or continue to grant presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states,” Obama said during the speech, adding that his intention was to “refine and ultimately repeal the AUMF’s mandate.”

Now, as the president seeks to vastly expand the footprint of American military action in Iraq and Syria, he’s using that very same 2001 authorization as legal justification for skirting Congress. “I have the authority to address the threat of ISIL,” Obama declared on Wednesday evening in a speech laying out his plans for an indefinite military campaign against militants in Iraq and Syria. He said he would “welcome congressional support,” but indicated he wouldn’t wait for it.

“We believe he can rely on the 2001 AUMF for the airstrikes he is authorizing against ISIL,” senior administration officials said on a press call before the speech. The administration does believe it needs Congress to explicitly approve funding to train and equip Syrian rebels, which is part of the strategy Obama outlined on Wednesday.

The administration’s reliance on the AUMF isn’t just ironic. It’s also based on very tenuous logic. The White House argues the resolution covers a multi-country war on ISIL because the organization is “the true inheritor of Usama bin Laden’s legacy,” according to a statement from the administration, “notwithstanding the recent public split between [Al Qaeda]’s senior leadership and ISIL.”

Some legal scholars view this argument skeptically. Writing in Time, Harvard law professor and former Justice Department official Jack Goldsmith called it “unconvincing,” noting that “if this remarkably loose affiliation with Al Qaeda brings a terrorist organization under the 2001 law, then Congress has authorized the President to use force endlessly against practically any ambitious jihadist terrorist group that fights against the United States.”

The White House’s dismissal of the need for congressional approval is also in conflict with positions Obama himself expressed as a presidential candidate. “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” Obama declared to The Boston Globe in 2008.

Posted at: September 12, 2014 - 2:01 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

British Columbia’s morally bankrupt government: Ideologically driven coastal ferry quasi-privatization and subsequent fare hikes and service cuts cost province $2.3 billion in lost economic activity

There is no joy in saying we told you so. When the Campbell coalition (now the Clark coalition) took power in 2001 BC Ferries was basically debt free. By 2003, this government had set up a phoney baloney ‘corporation’, hired a million dollar a year American chief executive, and sold the provincial-owned Crown Corporation’s assets to this new Ferries Inc. for about 600 million. The new company stopped building its vessels in British Columbia, raised fares and cut schedules and services. It now owes billions to the international financial sector and B.C.’s coastal communities are dying—one bad decision, one painful cut at a time. Cruel and painful punishment that we knew was coming.

BC Ferries fare hikes cost B.C. $2.3 billion in lost economic activity – report
Matthew Robinson Vancouver Sun British Columbia Canada September 10, 2014


Photo: Glenn Baglo/Vancouver Sun. The report was commissioned by the Union of BC Municipalities and the Association of Vancouver Island & Coastal Communities.

BC Ferries fare hikes have cost the province $2.3 billion in lost economic activity over the past decade, according to a new policy paper commissioned by the Union of BC Municipalities.

Those staggering losses are the result of declines in ferry ridership on nearly every route, something that is strongly related to fare increases that have outpaced inflation, according to the report, prepared by Larose Research & Strategy.

The report, titled “Boatswains to the Bollards: A Socioeconomic Impact Analysis of BC Ferries”, comes after a provincial announcement in November 2013 that BC Ferry fares would continue to rise at the same time as services to some communities would be trimmed back.

Municipal leaders and residents across the B.C. coast claimed increased fares and route cuts would hurt local businesses, spark job losses, and cause property values to decline, an argument taken up in numerous columns by The Vancouver Sun’s Stephen Hume in the months following the provincial announcement.

Among the key findings of the report was that BC Ferries is among the global leaders in operating cost recovery, on-time performance, labour cost ratios, safety, customer satisfaction and other areas.

“Despite common criticism … BC Ferries compares favourably with its competitors in nearly all categories of operational performance,” stated the report.

But in the category of “value for money,” it is weak and worsening, a trend that comes while passengers are price sensitive, and increasingly so, according to the report.

Ferry ridership declined 6.8 per cent overall from 2003 to 2013, while most other modes of transportation in the province experienced jumps in volume, according to the report.

Ridership declined across the province, with the exception of just a few routes, the report found, but northern routes in particular saw the largest drops (between 20 and 40 per cent) from 2003 to 2013. In comparison, ridership dropped 10 to 20 per cent on minor routes and five to eight per cent on major routes.

During that time, average fees increased the most for minor routes, followed by northern and major routes.

The economic losses the report attributes to a decline in ridership over the past decade include $203 million in finance, insurance and real estate, $161 million in manufacturing, and $67 million in the construction industry.

In coastal regions, the damage caused by high ferry fares include lower rates of business formation and stunted housing starts relative to other regions in the province.

But the impact of a decline in ridership is felt far beyond the ferry dependant communities served by the ferry system — even as far away as Ottawa, according to the report.

It noted that provincial, federal and municipal coffers suffered from a combined $609 million in lost tax revenues on the back of B.C.’s stunted gross domestic product.

Below: Claire Trevena was first elected May 17, 2005 as the Member of the B.C. Legislative Assembly (MLA) for North Island [Vancouver Island] and was re-elected May 12, 2009 and again on May 14, 2013. She is currently Opposition Critic for the Ministry of Transportation, which also includes BC Ferries.

Report shows B.C. Liberal ferry policies are costing the province
Claire Trevena Claire Trevena British Columbia Canada September 10, 2014

A report released today shows that B.C. Liberal hikes to ferry fares are causing economic damage across the province, say the New Democrats.

“This new report does the work the government should have done years ago. It connects the dots between fare hikes, falling ridership numbers, and the loss of economic activity and tax dollars,” said New Democrat ferries spokesperson Claire Trevena.

“The conclusion that it reaches is that the B.C. Liberal policy for ferries is a complete and utter failure. And that means a failure for the whole of the province, not just coastal communities and those dependent on ferries.”

The report, “Boatswains to the Bollards: A Socioeconomic Impact Analysis of BC Ferries”, was commissioned by the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities. The report found that due to skyrocketing fares between 2003 and 2013, B.C. Ferries lost out on a 19 per cent growth in passenger volume, which would have added $2.3 billion to the provincial GDP, and $609 million to federal, provincial and local government tax revenues.

“The report shows that these policies have been hurting the province for years, and as time goes on, it will be increasingly challenging to get our ferry service back on track. Transportation Minister Todd Stone needs to have a serious look at these findings before he continues to defend his reckless cuts to services and hikes to rates,” said Trevena.

“Thousands of British Columbians have told this government that ferry services have become increasingly unaffordable and unsustainable. Now, after this report, I hope they will finally listen. It’s time to move away from policies that are devastating communities and costing our province money, and towards an approach that finally recognizes our ferry routes as integral parts of our highway system.”

Ferry fare hikes killed $2.3 billion in economic activity: Report
Andrew MacLeod TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada September 10, 2014

Skyrocketing ferry fares killed $2.3 billion in economic activity over the last decade, says a consultant’s report released today.

High ferry fares also reduce government revenues and may make coastal communities unsustainable, said “Boatswains to Bollards: A Socioeconomic Impact Analysis of BC Ferries”, which Larose Research & Strategy prepared for the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities.

The decade’s foregone economic activity led to tax revenue losses of $325 million for the federal government, $231 million to B.C., and $53 million to municipalities, it said.

“The economic impact of BC Ferries on coastal communities and the provincial economy as a whole is substantial,” said the report. “While some routes are more price sensitive than others, in the longer term, overall ridership will continue to decline as fares continue to increase. This downward trend does not bode well for coastal ferry sustainability.”

The provincial government has said its goal is to have an affordable, efficient and sustainable coastal ferry service system, the report said. “It is difficult to see how the present policy of increasing ferry fares while reducing ferry service will enable the achievement of such a goal.”

UBCM members will gather in Whistler between Sept. 22 and 26, where they’ll be asked to vote on a policy paper calling on the province to restore service levels and ferry fares to their 2013 levels. They will vote on requesting the province to take a “pause” and commit to further socioeconomic analysis, to recognize the ferry system as part of the highway system and fund it accordingly, and to work with coastal communities and others on a long-term strategy for the system.

Posted at: September 12, 2014 - 10:02 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

September 11, 2014

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The bonding power of shared suffering

Australian researchers find sharing painful experiences creates feelings of solidarity.

The bonding power of shared suffering
Tom Jacobs Pacific Standard USA September 9, 2014

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A new study from Australia suggests rituals such as arduous initiation rites serve a real purpose. It reports experiencing physical discomfort is an effective way for a group of strangers to cohere into a close-knit group.

”Shared pain may be an important trigger for group formation,” a research team led by psychologist Brock Bastian of the University of New South Wales writes in the journal Psychological Science. “Pain, it seems, has the capacity to act as social glue, building cooperation within novel social collectives.”

Bastian and his colleagues describe three experiments that provide evidence for this proposition, which was first proposed by such social theorists as Emile Durkheim. In the first, 54 university students each spent 90 seconds dipping one hand in a jug of water, ostensibly to manipulate some metal balls at the bottom.

Half of them enjoyed room-temperature water; the others endured bitterly cold ice water. Afterwards, those whose hand had just been freezing were instructed to “maintain an upright wall squat” for as long as possible, while those in the comfort group performed a far easier task, balancing on one leg for one minute (with aids if necessary).

Afterwards, all responded to a series of statements such as “I feel a sense of solidarity with the other participants” and “I feel I can trust the other participants.” They rated each on a five-point scale, from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”

“Participants in the pain condition reported higher bonding,” the researchers report.

A second experiment featured 62 students who followed the same protocol. Afterwards, they played an economic cooperation game in which they were instructed to choose a number between one and seven. A low number ensured a reward for the individual at the expense of the group; a high number increased personal risk, but maximized the potential benefit for the entire group.

The result: Those who had been feeling pain “opted for higher numbers than did those in the non-pain condition,” Bastian and his colleagues write. A third experiment that utilized a different form of pain (eating very hot chili, as opposed to hard candy) produced the same results.

The researchers argue that pain promotes cooperation because of its “well-demonstrated capacity to capture attention and focus awareness.” When you and others feel it simultaneously, they write, your fellow sufferers assume a prominent place in your mind.

“Sharing pain therefore is an especially powerful form of shared experience,” the researchers write, adding that it “promotes bonding, solidarity, and, ultimately, cooperation.”

Related: Jim comment: Although the above study had a very limited focus, it stimulated my imagination to think of all the struggles of peoples around the world against occupation and oppression—Aboriginals, Catalans, Kurds, Palestinians, Scots, Tuaregs, Uiygars, Ukrainians, underclasses everywhere, to name but a few. Resistance is not futile in the long run. There is discontent and turmoil roiling against the many injustices and outright crimes being perpetrated. The dominant ideology in the world today cannot survive. It causes too much pain, diverse and widespread pain. Below, one teenage boy’s pain.

For Gaza’s children, ‘safety’ is just a word
Samer Badawi Defence for Children International-Palestine Section Switzerland/Israel September 9, 2014

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Ramallah, September 9, 2014—As the smoke clears over Gaza and its residents begin to assess the damage of Israel’s 50-day war, no group has been more traumatized than this enclave’s children. They represent roughly half of Gaza’s population and, according to a report released on August 27, died at a rate of twelve a day, every day, during the conflict. Their parents, too, have perished in unprecedented numbers, leaving more than 1,500 of Gaza’s children orphaned.

Alaa Balata is one of them.

I met Alaa during one of the war’s temporary ceasefires. Israeli drones buzzed overhead, and the 17-year-old was surrounded by relatives who had been keeping a close eye on him since his parents perished. It had been fewer than two weeks since the incident, and Alaa spoke in the steady understatement of a person in shock, damming the sadness — at least for now.

When I asked him what happened, Alaa gestured toward the heap of rubble that was his uncle’s home. We were sitting on plastic chairs in a dirt alley flanked by cinder-block walls — a familiar scene in any Palestinian refugee camp. But here, in the heart of Jabalia, the path was strewn with shrapnel—the same dense metal that tore through every member of Alaa’s immediate family on the afternoon of July 29.

“It was the second day of Eid,” Alaa told me. A day earlier, on the first day of the Muslim feast marking the end of Ramadan, Alaa’s father decided to move the family to his brother’s house, which was was deep inside the camp and farther from the Israeli tanks shelling everywhere along Gaza’s border.

“He thought we would be safer here,” Alaa said.

What happened to the Balatas next speaks to a defining truth in Israel’s war-of-one-army: It is that no logic could spare the innocent. Children, especially, had no refuge, despite their parents’ best efforts to shield them. And even if they had a calculus—a way to hedge against the fixed-wings or the drones—that formula failed when the tanks came.

The Geneva-based Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights estimates that, from the beginning of their ground operations on July 17, Israeli tank units fired more than 36,000 artillery shells into Gaza. Although the sheer number of artillery strikes was astounding, what made this Israeli tactic so devastating was its randomness, say military experts.

In January 2009, during Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza, Human Rights Watch said the tactic violated “the prohibition under the laws of war against indiscriminate attacks and should be stopped immediately.” An earlier report published by the watchdog group said the artillery attacks showed “insufficient regard for civilian life.” The 2007 report also condemned Hamas for its indiscriminate firing of rockets into civilian areas.

Abdel Karim Balata said that a human rights organization (he couldn’t recall the name) had visited his house to collect evidence of the July 29 attack, including shrapnel from artillery shells. But Israel has denied entry to Gaza for both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, both of which had been seeking entry to the enclave since July 8. Israel has also barred an investigative commission appointed by the UN’s Human Rights Council.

For his part, Alaa shows no interest in waging a legal battle. He is like so many in this battered land, where those who have suffered most inevitably say the least. It is a hallmark of victims everywhere, but here, in this teeming refugee camp, the reminders — of Palestinian dispossession, of repeated military assaults, of irreplaceable loss — leave the grief-stricken in a seemingly permanent state of shock.

This week, Alaa was supposed to start a new school year. It would have been a welcome distraction from the memories that have haunted him since that day at his uncle’s house. But like fellow students across Gaza, Alaa has had to stay home, as dozens of Gaza’s schools continue to shelter displaced families. With tens of thousands of homes destroyed, especially along Gaza’s eastern and northern borders, Alaa is lucky to have his relatives caring for him.

“He lost everything, this child,” his uncle says. “And, to think, they came here to hide.”

“In Gaza, there is nowhere to hide.”

Posted at: September 11, 2014 - 10:22 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Hamas does not equal ISIL, no matter what Israel says

Israel’s cynical bid to paint ISIL and Hamas as equals ignores reality, writes Jonathan Cook. Jonathan Cook, a British journalist, won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). Since 2001, he has lived in Nazareth, Israel.

Hamas does not equal ISIL, no matter what Israel says
Jonathan Cook The National Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates September 9, 2014

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An image speaks a thousand words – and that is presumably what Israel’s supporters hoped for with their latest ad in the New York Times.

Two photographs are presented side by side. One, titled ISIL, is the now-iconic image of a kneeling James Foley, guarded by a black-hooded executioner, awaiting his terrible fate. The other, titled Hamas, is a scene from Gaza, where a similarly masked killer stands over two victims, who cower in fear.

A headline stating “This is the face of radical Islam” tries, like the images, to equate the two organisations.

We have heard this line before from Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who tweeted “Hamas is ISIL” after the video of Foley’s beheading aired. In a recent speech he called Hamas and ISIL, “tentacles of a violent Islamist terrorism”.

Mr Netanyahu’s depiction of Hamas and ISIL as “branches of the same poisonous tree” is a travesty of the truth. The two have entirely different – in fact, opposed – political projects.

Members of Hamas may disagree on that state’s territorial limits but even the most ambitious expect no more than the historic borders of a Palestine that existed decades ago. ISIL, by contrast, aims to sweep away Palestine and every other Arab state.

That is the key to interpreting the very different, if equally brutal, events depicted in the two images.

ISIL killed Foley, dressed in Guantanamo-style orange jumpsuit, purely as spectacle – a graphic message to the world of its menacing intent. Hamas’s cruelty was directed at those in Gaza who collaborate with Israel, undermining hope of liberation from Israel’s occupation.

ISIL’s 20,000 foot soldiers have taken over large chunks of Iraq and Syria in a murderous and uncompromising campaign against anyone who rejects not only Islam but their specific interpretation of it.

According to reports last week, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal joined Mr Abbas in demanding the most diminutive Palestinian state possible, inside the 1967 borders.

Mr Netanyahu, meanwhile, refuses to negotiate with either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority (PA) of Mahmoud Abbas.

In casting Hamas as ISIL, Mr Netanyahu has tarred all Palestinians as bloodthirsty Islamic extremists. And here we reach Israel’s true goal in equating the two groups.

Mr Netanyahu’s comparison has a recent parallel. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks on the US, Ariel Sharon made a similar equivalence between Al Qaeda and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Israel’s intelligence officials even called the destruction of the Twin Towers a “Hanukkah miracle”, a view echoed by Mr Netanyahu years later. All understood that 9/11 reframed the Oslo-inspired debate about the Palestinians needing statehood to one about an evil axis of Middle East terror.

Sharon revelled in calling Arafat the head of an “infrastructure of terror”, justifying Israel’s crushing the uprising of the second intifada.

Similarly, Mr Netanyahu’s efforts are designed to discredit all – not just the Islamic variety of – Palestinian resistance to Israel’s occupation. He hopes to be the silent partner to Barack Obama’s new coalition against ISIL.

Posted at: September 11, 2014 - 10:18 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Effort continues to see 9/11’s secret 28-page history released & Malaysian Flight 17: Making the news fit the politics

Intro: Saudi Arabia: Bandar, the godfather of takfirism is back & Far from supporting the Palestinians, the Saudi regime has opened its big guns against the people of Gaza & On Gaza, Israel is losing the Obama coalition
Salt Spring News British Columbia Canada August 4, 2014

Four links. We introduced them thus:

It was premature to write off Bandar when he was relieved of his duties as the Saudi spy chief in May. He has re-emerged as special advisor to the king. Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (born March 2, 1949) is a member of the House of Saud and was Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005. In 2005, he was named as secretary general of the National Security Council. He was director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014. On July 1 he was appointed King Abdullah’s special envoy. …

One of the four links begins:

Public pronouncements by Saudi officials against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), now renamed the Islamic State (IS, for short), notwithstanding, the fact is, this monster is a Saudi creation. And it did not emerge last week or month; the House of Saud has nurtured it for nearly a decade as part of a long-term strategy to contain the growing influence of Islamic Iran in the region.

The man responsible for the ISIS file, and indeed the entire takfiri project is none other than Bandar bin Sultan, the illegitimate son of Sultan bin Abdul Aziz who died in 2012 after suffering a long battle with cancer. Last April when it was announced that Bandar had been relieved of his responsibilities as Saudi intelligence chief, it was assumed that this was because of his failure to bring down the Bashar al-Asad government in Syria. He re-emerged in late June in his new role as special advisor to and envoy of the aged and ailing King Abdullah.

Item: The Twenty-Eight Pages
Lawrence Wright The New Yorker USA September 9, 2014


President George W. Bush meets with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, on August 27, 2002, at Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. Photo: Eric Drapper/The White House via Getty

On the bottom floor of the United States Capitol’s new underground visitors’ center, there is a secure room where the House Intelligence Committee maintains highly classified files. One of those files is titled “Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters.” It is twenty-eight pages long. In 2002, the Administration of George W. Bush excised those pages from the report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. President Bush said then that publication of that section of the report would damage American intelligence operations, revealing “sources and methods that would make it harder for us to win the war on terror.”

“There’s nothing in it about national security,” Walter Jones, a Republican congressman from North Carolina who has read the missing pages, contends. “It’s about the Bush Administration and its relationship with the Saudis.” Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat, told me that the document is “stunning in its clarity,” and that it offers direct evidence of complicity on the part of certain Saudi individuals and entities in Al Qaeda’s attack on America. “Those twenty-eight pages tell a story that has been completely removed from the 9/11 Report,” Lynch maintains. Another congressman who has read the document said that the evidence of Saudi government support for the 9/11 hijacking is “very disturbing,” and that “the real question is whether it was sanctioned at the royal-family level or beneath that, and whether these leads were followed through.” Now, in a rare example of bipartisanship, Jones and Lynch have co-sponsored a resolution requesting that the Obama Administration declassify the pages.

The Saudis have also publicly demanded that the material be released. “Twenty-eight blanked-out pages are being used by some to malign our country and our people,” Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was the Saudi Ambassador to the United States at the time of the 9/11 attacks, has declared. “Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages.”

The effort to declassify the document comes at a time when a lawsuit, brought ten years ago on behalf of the victims of the attacks and their families, along with the insurers who paid out claims, is advancing through the American court system. The suit targets Saudi charities, banks, and individuals. In 2005, the government of Saudi Arabia was dismissed from the suit on the ground of sovereign immunity, but in July the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the Kingdom as a defendant. The plaintiffs believe that the withheld twenty-eight pages will support their allegation that the 9/11 hijackers received direct assistance from Saudi government officials in the United States. According to representatives of the families of 9/11 victims, President Obama has twice promised to release the material but so far has failed to do so. “The redaction of the twenty-eight pages has become a coverup by two Presidents, and coverup implies complicity,” Sharon Premoli, who is co-chair of 9/11 Families United for Justice Against Terrorism, said. “The families and survivors have the right to know the whole truth about the brutal murder of three thousand loved ones and the injuries of thousands more.”

Those advocating declassification present a powerful and oftentimes emotional argument, but others offer compelling reasons that the document should remain buried under the Capitol. …

September 11th may be a part of history now, but some of the events that led to that horrible day remain veiled by the political considerations of the present. The intelligence community doesn’t want to light up its failures once again, and no doubt the Obama Administration doesn’t want to introduce additional strains on its relationship with the Saudis. In the meantime, the forces that led to catastrophe before are gathering strength once again. Thomas Massie, a Republican congressman from Kentucky and a sponsor of the House resolution to declassify the material, told me that the experience of reading those twenty-eight pages caused him to rethink how to handle the rise of ISIS. It has made him much more cautious about a military response. “We have to be careful, when we run the calculations of action, what the repercussions will be,” he said.

“In some ways, it’s more dangerous today,” Timothy Roemer, who was a member of both the Joint Inquiry and the 9/11 Commission, observed. “A more complex series of threats are coming together than even before 9/11, involving ISIS, Al Qaeda, and cyber-terrorist capabilities. The more the American people know about what happened thirteen years ago, the more we can have a credible, open debate” about our security needs. Releasing the twenty-eight pages, he said, might be a step forward. “Hopefully, after some initial shock and awe, it would make our process work better. Our government has an obligation to do this.”

Related: Finding conclusions where none exist in Dutch Flight 17 downing report.

Making the news fit the politics
Dave Lindorff CounterPunch USA September 11, 2014

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The New York Times, which has been misreporting on, and misleading its readers about the downing of Malaysian Flight 17 since the plane was downed last July 17, continues its sorry track record of flogging anti-Russian sentiment in the US and of supporting the post-putsch Ukrainian government in Kiev.

This time America’s leading “newspaper of record” is distorting the preliminary report of the Dutch Safety Board which has been leading an investigation into the cause of the Flight 17 crash that killed all 283 passengers and 15 crew members of a Boeing 777 aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Malaysia.

In an article published Wednesday, headlined “Report Finds Missile Strike Likely in Crash of Flight 17” and datelined Brussles, Times reporters Andrew Higgens and Nicola Clark write in their lead paragraph that “investigators, in their first account of the calamity, released evidence on Tuesday consistent with an attack by a surface-to-air missile but shed no clear light on who was responsible.”

They go on to write, however, on the basis of no evidence at all, that the preliminary report “…gave some indirect support to assertions by the United States and Ukraine that pro-Russian rebels shot down the aircraft with an SA-11, or Buk, surface-to-air missile.”

Both paragraphs are completely at odds with the report, and that supposed “indirect support” is never mentioned. And no wonder: it doesn’t exist in the report.

In fact, the 34-page preliminary report, made public in full [1], makes absolutely no mention at all of an SA-11 missile being the cause of the downing. In fact, it states quite clearly:

“Noting that the investigation team has not yet had the opportunity to recover (the components of the cockpit and front of the plane) for forensic examination, photographs from the wreckage indicated that material around the holes was deformed in a manner consistent with being punctured by high-energy objects. The characteristics of the material deformation appear to indicate that the objects originated from outside the fuselage.”

The investigators also write:

“The pattern of damage observed in the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the aircraft was consistent with the damage that would be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.”

That’s it. There’s no mention of a specific missile, or even of a missile at all. This is important, because there are witnesses — eyewitnesses on the ground, and Russian radar records — that suggest that there were one or two Ukrainian fighter jets flying near the Malaysian jet just before it went down. And while the Obama White House, the Pentagon and the State Department (but, significantly, not analysts at the CIA [2]) have been insisting that the plane was downed by a Russian high-altitude Buk anti-aircraft missile, and that it was operated by separatist rebel forces, there are also those who suggest that the plane was downed by Ukrainian jets firing 30-cal. rapid-fire machine guns and possibly also air-to-air missiles. Both options would result in “a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside,” but the Times only presents one option — an SA-11 — in what is presented as being an objective news report about the release of the Dutch preliminary investigation.

Nowhere does the actual report suggest responsibility for the downing of Flight 17. Nowhere does it offer speculation or analysis that would eliminate one option or another as to what brought down the plane, or of who was responsible.

Later in the article, the reporters note that Tjibbe Joustra, chairman of the Dutch Safety Board, “said in a telephone interview from the Hague that a final report would be issued sometime in the middle of next year and investigators hoped to clarify ‘the type of object that penetrated the plane.’”

But clearly, that would mean that as of now investigators have no idea what or whose it was.

Posted at: September 11, 2014 - 10:16 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post